Thursday, December 30, 2010

Hello! And yes, I am still alive. Thanks for asking!

O.k. so no one asked but just in case anyone was wondering and was just too shy to ask, I am still alive!  Kicking, even!

Since my last post, I have completed all of my Christmas preparations, packed up the family, driven to MA from NC, wrapped all the presents, and celebrated a lovely Christmas with the family and Dan's family. 

We have also endured a blizzard, dug out from the blizzard, gone sledding multiple times in borrowed snow pants because the only thing I forgot to pack were the kid's snow pants, and have eaten so much Brigham's ice cream that I now have what I like to refer to as "ice cream gut" or sometimes "big fat Brigham's belly". 

We are in MA until Sunday after which point life will resume as normal on Monday morning.  And normal means work for Dad, school for the kids and Wal-mart for me.  I may even try to get in a run...which hasn't happened since Thanksgiving Day. 

Monday could be a bad day with lots of tears for everyone.  I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The REAL Princess, indeed!

I was flipping through my People magazine this weekend and Sarah started quizzing me about the pretty girl with the long brown hair.

"Who is she, Mommy?" she asked.

"That's Kate Middleton.  "And she is going to marry him, "I said pointing to Prince William who gets horse-ier looking by the year.  "And then she will be the princess."

Sarah looked at me as if I had slapped her across the face.

"Hmmph!  I'M the real princess!  Not her," she said as she crossed her arms and stomped her right foot.

I guess she's right - sort of - because Sarah really does mean "princess" after all!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Loaves and fishes...buns and hot dogs. However you tell it, it's still a miracle!

My mom and dad were asked to prepare and serve chicken stew to their church after the children's play on Sunday evening.  My mom asked my brother to cook the stew and Dan and I were going to help in the kitchen and serve the meal.  Peter and Sarah were to play quietly in the background while we were working.

In addition to chicken stew the meal was to include hot dogs for the kids and for any adults who didn't want chicken stew.

My brother had two giant vats of chicken stew going and we cooked up 60 hot dogs.  We had 80 but somehow we only had buns for 60.  I have that problem at home too...seems like my dog count and my bun count never match up.

We looked out of the kitchen and guesstimated that there were at least 75 to 100 folks out there.  I started to get uneasy because I knew that many adults were going to want stew and hot dogs.

It was 6:00 and time to start serving.  Mom and Dad were in charge of serving the stew and Dan and I were in charge of serving and dressing the hots dogs.  Dan looked at the long line of people waiting to be served and said, "We are going to run out of buns."

And sure enough, almost everyone that came through the line wanted chicken stew and a hot dog.  My stomach grew a little queasy and then I prayed, "God help us have enough hot dogs buns. Amen."

We continued to serve and for every one that didn't want a hot dog with their stew, I said a little prayer of thanks.  And then there was the woman who said, "I don't want a hot dog."  Thank you Lord! I prayed.  "Just give me a bun with chili and slaw," she continued.

I laughed and thought to myself, "Good one God!  You have such a great sense of humor!"

As the line dwindled, so did the hot dog buns.  There were about 10 people left in line and less than that many buns.  And I felt my stomach sink when I realized there several teenagers in line.  Surely they are going to want hot dogs.

But what do you know!  The teenagers wanted chicken stew only!  We completed serving dinner with exactly zero buns left and everyone that had wanted a hot dog had received one with a bun.

And just like God  - It was perfect!  A true loaves and fishes moment - 2010 style!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ugly sweatshirts and a cute gingerbread house.

Now that all of my Christmas shopping is done, I can relax and enjoy the holidays. (Well, at least until we get to Massachusetts where I will have exactly one day to get everything wrapped. But I'll worry about that next week!)

On Friday night, while Dan and the kids were baking Gingerbread cookies...

...I attended an Ugly Christmas Sweater party.  At first I was reluctant to attend, but once I found an ugly Christmas sweatshirt to wear, I was ready to go!

My grandmother made the sweatshirts that Jennifer and I area wearing in the picture below, in the late 80's. She was very proud of her handiwork. I think I only wore mine once or twice...I was in college at the time and it wasn't really cool for a 20-year-old to wear a sweater with a teddy bear on it.

There were quite a few ugly sweatshirts at the party. And the winner of the Ugliest Sweater award was in fact wearing an ugly sweatshirt dress.  There were gold glitter embellishments on the sleves and the hem of the dress.  And to think, someone wore that holiday sweatshirt dress with pride in the late 80's! 
Gives me cold chills.
Here we are with the winner of the Ugly Sweater Award.

But I would have to say that the best part of the evening was Dirty Santa.  There were some horrible gifts in the mix but that made the game even funnier.  I had tears running down my face I was laughing so hard. 

After Sarah's basketball game on Saturday, we headed to our church to make a gingerbread house.  The kids insisted that they do all of the decorating  themselves this year, so Dan and I happily sat back and relaxed as they did all of the work.  I think they did a great job!

The finished product!

Monday, December 13, 2010

The bigger the gap, the cuter the Sarah!

Sarah has lost two teeth already - both on the bottom.  And now after much wiggling and tugging, she has finally lost one on top.

She has always had a gap between her two front teeth.  She loves that gap and had been concerned that she wouldn't look the same without it.  My brother calls it her "David Letterman gap".  I just call it cute!

I think after she saw the new giant space on top, she was no longer worried because she's even cuter with the bigger space!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

If Mommy won't buy one for me then I'll make one myself...or maybe call Grandma!

"Mom?  Do you know those shirts that have Jack-o-Lanterns on them at Halloween and Santa on them at Christmas and hearts on them at Valentine's Day?"  Sarah quizzed me after school on Monday.

"Yep.  Holiday shirts.  I know what you are talking about," I replied knowing where this conversation was headed.

"Why don't you ever get me any of those?  All of my friends at school have them." 

Um...because I'm cheap and they seem like a waste of money.

I didn't respond that way but that's what I was thinking.  I've seen the holiday shirts and they are adorable but a shirt that can only be worn a few times each season and then outgrown by the next seems frivolous to me.  

That night at bedtime, she had her markers out and asked me for a white shirt.  She told me she was going to make a holiday shirt since I wouldn't buy her one. The thought of her wearing a t-shirt to school that she had drawn on saddened me a little so I told her I was headed to Target the next morning and would get one for her.

I guess she wanted to have all of her bases covered in case I didn't buy her one because I found this hidden on the other side of her bed the next afternoon:

She took stickers and spelled out "reindeer".  (Which would explain why she came downstairs with a pad and pen after I tucked her in and asked how to spell it.)  And when she ran out of "R's" she made one out of another sticker.  Industrious, isn't she?

And of course, when Grandma found out about the whole thing, she purchased  FOUR Christmas/winter themed t-shirts for Sarah.

Looks like Sarah is going to know who to go see when she when February 14th rolls around!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

It's ugly CHRISTMAS sweater...

I'm going to on Ugly Christmas Sweater Party on Friday night.  All of the ladies who have been invited are supposed to wear one of those ugly Christmas sweaters that you see when you are out and about this time of year.  Usually they are being sported by little old ladies.

I was at the dinner table the other night and reminded Dan that I had an "ugly sweater party" to go to.  I inadvertantly left out the word Christmas because he knew what I was talking about.

I then mentioned to him that I didn't have anything to wear.

Sarah piped in and said, "But Mom, you have lots of ugly sweaters!" 

Monday, December 6, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. (Or alternately titled...I hate to be cold.)

We had snow on Saturday.  Apparently Mother Nature failed to get the memo that I don't like snow or cold weather.  I'm such an old curmudgeon.

As the kids squeezed their feet in their too small boots, I realized that I needed to make a purchase before we head to Massacusetts in a couple of weeks - where it is supposed to be cold and snowy by the way.  Not here.  There.

They played in the light dusting of snow just long enough to get wet and rosy cheeked and then came in demanding hot chocolate.  So I obliged like the good mom that I am and then cleaned up the  mess of shoes, boots, gloves and hats that were dumped at my backdoor.

And even though I complained about the cold weather and the snow, it was all very Christmasy and put me in the mood to finally sit down and shop.  Which is a very good thing because I am running out of time.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Goals! You've got to have goals!

I ran in my third 5k on Thanksgiving Day. 

My official chip time was 30:21 which is slightly better than the other two I've completed.  I guess I'm a little annoyed that I'm not getting any fast but at the same time, I'm not training to get faster.  And there were hills on this course.  Lots of hills.

So I've got something to work on before my next 5k...or dare I say it 10k.  I think Jennifer and I have decided we would like to try something a little longer next time.

You've got to have goals  - and a great friend to run with doesn't hurt either.

 Here we are before the race...and the hills.

Here is the official photo of me taken at the finish line.  I could see the photographer and was attempting a smile. (And if anyone from Carolina Snapshot is reading, please don't get mad that I've posted this picture here. I've actually ordered a copy from you.

And here is the picture Dan took of me after crossing the finish line.  I didn't see him, so no smile.  Plus I'm gasping for air. This is pretty much what I looked like throughout the entire race.  Did I mention there were hills?  Lots of hills.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Bah! Humbug! In the largest order!

I just returned from the mailbox dejected. 

It is a full three days before I will be sitting down to a large table full of family and friends, giving thanks to God for all of the blessings he has bestowed on our family and eating copious amounts of food turkey and potatoes and pie.  And in my hand I am clutching a...Christmas card!

I have spent the last week deleting "Order your Black Friday specials NOW!!!" emails from my inbox and watching Christmas decorations sprout up through the neighborhood.  And what about the stores who have been displaying Christmas goodies since Halloween?

I can overlook all of that I suppose but the Christmas card three days before Thanksgiving?  It is just too much for me to take.  Especially when I haven't even given our Christmas card one single thought. 

I would love to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving but apparently Merry Christmas is in order.

Little Star

You may remember a post I did a while back about the book Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To by Anthony DeStefano.  If you don't remember the post, I highly recommend going back and reading it.  

Anthony DeStefano has just released a children's book entitled Little Star.  I received a copy from him to read and review.

I flipped through it when I first received it and immediately was drawn to the illustrations.  The Little Star has a tuft of hair coming out of his top point.  How can you not immediately fall in love with that?

The story, in a nutshell and without giving anything away, is about a little star who is ignored by the other stars because of his size. When Little Star finds out Jesus is being born, he wants to burn the brightest of all the stars. But how can he do this?  After all, he is the littlest star.

I read Little Star to myself  before I read it to the kids and immediately loved it.  It was such a sweet story without being overly maudlin or gooey. 

When I read it to Sarah, she grabbed the book from me and insisted she hold it and turn the pages.  I knew she was captivated.  She thoroughly enjoyed the story and the illustrations.  Even Peter, who was playing and listening from another part of the room, stopped what he was doing several times so he could come over and join us. 

Little Star is a sweet story that talks about the birth of Jesus and it's meaning in a different way than your typical children's Christmas story.  It gets 6 thumbs up from the Cotell household!

And just as a cool side note - Anthony Destefano was 15 years old when he wrote this book.  He was taking a  writing class that was taught by Frank McCourt, author of Angela's Ashes.  The assignment was to write a children's book and Little Star was born.  Mr. Destefano considers this his greatest work.  The teacher must have liked it as well because he got an A!

Please note - I was given a copy this book to review.  That was my only compensation for this post. 

Friday, November 19, 2010

At the time I did wonder when Sarah had been eating vanilla ice cream in the car.

It was Wednesday afternoon.  I had just found out that Sarah did in fact have basketball practice at 6:00 that evening which meant she needed to change her clothes immediately if we were going to get to the allergist's office in time to get Peter's allergy shots before we had to be at church for Faith Formation class.

I raised my voice to a level somewhere in between panicked yelling and angry screaming so that the kids would know that I really meant it when I said, "Get in the car now!  Move it!  We are going to be late if we don't MOVE IT!"  Because, apparently if I'm not loud, either the kids don't hear me or they don't believe me.

The kids finally got in the car, I started backing out of the garage and right in the middle of my "I really wish you kids would do what I ask the first time I ask it" lecture when Peter screamed, "It's a BIRD!"

Peter and Sarah both started screaming and right as I was about to scream at them for screaming in the car, I looked in the rear view mirror and saw A BIRD flying around in the back of our car.

I threw the car in park while rolling down the windows, screamed at the kids to "Get out!  Get out!" and ran around to the back of the car to open the hatch.  The whole time I was doing this, I could hear the dull thumping noises of the scared bird flying into the hatch window.

She finally found an open window and made her way out of the car.  I ushered the kids back into the car and we began to make our way to the allergist's office.

Right in the middle of my pondering the expression "bird brain", I suddenly realized the watery white substance I had wiped off the center console with my fingers was probably not melted vanilla ice cream as I had originally suspected.

Thank goodness for the large bottle of hand sanitizer I keep in the car.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"Grown up"

Last night before dinner Peter said, "Mom, I need a knife at the table every night instead of just a fork.  I'm eight now so I can handle a knife.  Oh and I'm going to need a real glass instead of just a plastic cup for my milk, because I'm eight now you know.  I'm grown up."

Images of broken glass and cut fingers filled my mind but he's right.  He is eight you know. 

As we gathered around the table Sarah turned up her nose, crossed her arms and huffed, "Now that you're grown up are you gonna read the newspaper every night?"

My husband and I exploded with laughter.  If she knew what air quotes were, she would have used them when she said "grown up".

Peter replied, "Well, only the comics."

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Highlights from Peter's 8th Birthday Party

Around the beginning of October, Peter told me what he wanted to do for his 8th birthday party.  He wanted to take his best friend to Washington, D.C. to visit the Smithsonian.

My sister-in-law Cathy, lives in Alexandria, VA which is a suburb of D.C. so I knew we would have a place to stay.  I got the o.k. from my husband, from Cathy, and from Colton's mom and we had a party scheduled!

We left as soon as my husband got home from work on Thursday night.  We arrived at Cathy's around midnight.  We were up at at 'em early on Friday morning.

We visited the Museum of American History and the Museum of Natural History.  The kids rode the Metro with Cathy. We went to Peter's favorite Mexican restaurant, La Lomita, for dinner.  We took a Ghost Tour through Alexandria and then we called it a day!

On Saturday, we went to the Farmer's Market in Alexandria, Arlington National Cemetary where we saw the changing of the guard ceremony and the changing to the wreath ceremony.  We visited the Iwo Jima Memorial and we went to the Air and Space Museum. Then we headed back to Aunt Cathy's for dinner and cake and presents. 

And finally on Sunday we went to church and headed back home. Whew!  We packed a lot in but it was a great weekend.  The weather was wonderful.  We got to visit three Smithsonian Museums (4 if you count our visit into the original building where John Smithson's remains are kept in a crypt) and we got to see a lot of other great sites.

Colton said it was the best birthday party he had ever been to.  I would have to agree!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Eight is....

Eight is...

A great reader 
A loyal friend
A momma's boy
A good student
A Cub Scout
A people-pleaser

Eight has my heart.

Eight loves to...

Play Roblox on the computer
Build with his Legos
Yell at his sister when she's pushing his buttons
Play with his best friend Colton
Go to the beach
Sing when no one is listening
Watch You Tube Videos
Play in the pool
Eat cereal

Right this very minute, Eight is in Washington, DC with his best friend Colton visiting several of the Smithsonian Museums!

Happy Eighth Birthday, Peter!  Mommy loves you more than you will ever know.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

It's easy to be a good sport when you win something!

This past weekend was the Cub Scouts annual Raingutter Regatta.  Last years race ended with tears and lectures about sportsmanship.  This years race ended with smiles and sleepovers - no lectures involved.

Peter won third place out of the Wolves which meant in addition to receiving a nice medal, he also got to race in the overall competition.  He didn't win anything there but the excitement of getting to continue to compete seemed to be enough for him.

Peter's best friend Colton took first place out of the Wolves and second place overall.  Way to go guys!

And thanks to Jennifer who invited Peter over to spend the night after the Regatta.

Races.  Medals.  BFFs.  Sleepovers.  That's the stuff memories are made of!

This is Peter blowing into the sail of his "The Wimpy Kid" boat!  Didn't my husband do a great job with the drawing on the sail?

This is Colton and Peter in fierce boat-to-boat battle! 

Aren't they cute?  Look at those smiles - nd this was even before they found out they were going to have a sleep over!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Fight Pray Write

As a mom, it is my wish and my prayer that my kids get along.  They are so close in age, so different in temperament and so stubborn that they fight. A lot.

Sarah likes to harass Peter.  Peter can't control his anger. So they fight.  A lot.

And the more they fight, the more I lecture them on loving one another.  And the more I lecture them, the more I pray for them - because I know those lectures are going in one ear and out the other.

Or are they?

On Friday evening,  I sat down at my computer to check my emails and this note from Sarah was laying on top of the pile of papers in front of my monitor:

Let me translate:

We might get in fights but I know deep inside that we love one another.

I'm not sure whether she was writing this as affirmation to herself or whether she was writing this to calm my fears.  Either way, I love it.

Now if I could just find a similar note from Peter.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

I'm always looking for an easy recipe, but this might be taking it a step too far.

My cooking isn't very good.  I'll be the first to admit that.  Scratch that.  My family would be the first to admit that.  I wonder how they would feel if I served this latest "dish" being marketed by the makers of Campbell's Soup:

Recipe (in case you can't figure it out by looking at the little handy graphic):

Heat up a can of soup
Cook a cup of rice.
Dump soup over rice. 

My family might actually like it.  Although, in reality, I would be a 90-year-old woman in the rest home with my dear husband and he would still be saying, "Remember the time you tried to serve us a can of soup of rice?"  Emphasis on still.  I can't risk hearing about it for the next 49 years.

If anyone else has tried this, let me know.  I would be interested to hear how your family liked it.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Real men like Pixie Stix.

Peter had strep throat last week.  And you know what they do when you get strep throat, right?  They prescribe Amoxicillin.

"Can he swallow pills?" the doctor asked as she was pulling out her prescription pad.

"Well, he can swallow Zyrtec and Singular," I replied, "but they're pretty small."

"Better write it for the liquid," she said with authority.  "Amoxicillin tablets are pretty big."

After picking up the medicine from the pharmacy, I shook the bottle according to the instructions, removed the lid and the moment the stench of rubbery bubble gum hit my nose, I knew I was in trouble.

Peter was going to have to swallow this foul-smelling pink elixir twice a day for ten days.  I quickly calculated that I was going to have to hear all of the moaning and whining associated with getting this medicine down 20 times before it was gone.  20 times.

And my boy can whine and moan and  fake cry and foot stomp and arm-fold-over-the-chest with the best of them.  He's a pro in that department.

So for three days, I had to beg and plead and cajole and offer chasers of Coke Zero and Sprite, anything just to get him to swallow the antibiotic.

Dan even stepped in a couple of times and did the "be a man son and just take your medicine" routine. When he intervened, Peter would shorten the baby routine but there was still a lot of yelling and tears whenever it was time to administer a dose of the pink stuff.

And then came Halloween.

And instead of Sprite and Coke Zero chasers, we used minature Twix chasers and Starburst chasers. 

And right before he left for Boy Scouts last night, dressed in his little uniform complete with hat and neckerchief, he stood proudly in front of his Dad and exclaimed, "Look Dad!  I can take it like a man!"

And he opened his mouth, turned the little dosing cup filled with the pink liquid up to his lips, threw his head back and in one giant gulp took his medicine like a man.  

"Aren't you proud of me Daddy?"  he asked with a big grin and a puffed out chest.

And so what if he chased it with a couple of Pixie Stix  Real men like Pixie Stix.  Don't they?

Monday, November 1, 2010

It wouldn't be All Saints Day without a bunch of pictures from Halloween, now would it?

Here are my little cuties all dressed up in their spooky costumes.
Please note that Peter is wearing an old skeleton costume underneath his ripped clothes. He is supposed to be some sort of spooky zombie creature that has come to life.  However neither he nor the spooky witch with fang teeth seem to be scaring my dear little grandmother.  (Isn't she cute in her Halloween sweater and turtleneck?)

And here are my little spookies along with the rest of the bunch we went Trick-of-Treating with.  Aren't they a motley little crew?  And I mean that in the best Halloween way!

And here are the kids eating their traditional pre-Trick-or-Treating Mummy pizzas.  Sarah looks a bit like the undead in this picture.  I blame it on the fact that she had already been into her stash of candy from the Trunk-or-Treat we went to the night before!

Before bed last night, Sarah was lamenting the fact that Halloween was over.  I told her that  it wasn't over until the last piece of candy was gone.  She declared that she was going to save her candy so that Halloween would last for ever. 

And then she thought about it some more and said, "Nah.  I think I'll just go ahead and eat it all and start waiting for next Halloween."

Good idea sweetie cause Mommy knows where your stash is and Mommy isn't good with waiting...especially if chocolate and peanut butter are involved!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Not lazy. Weird.

This morning my husband opened the silverware drawer and asked, "Where are all the spoons?"

"I forgot to start the dishwasher last night," was my reply. "Just get one out of the dishwasher and wash it by hand."

A few minutes later I was shocked to notice my husband eating his oatmeal with a FORK. Oatmeal with a fork!

And no, it's not because he was too lazy to wash it.  Nope.  It's just because my husband is strange.

I have long known of my husband's issues regarding the things and people that touch his food.  He will not take a bite of something if I already have and don't even think about asking him to share something with one of the kids. That sends literal shivers down his spine.

If we go to a get together where food is being served buffet style, he will only eat food that I have made or that my mom has made.  Although I think he is slowly but surely starting to come around on that one now that he has gotten to know the rest of my extended family over that last fifteen years!

So, no, it's not laziness that forced my husband to use a fork to eat oatmeal.  He's just weird!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Because if one goes, then they all want to go.

"Mom?  Why can't you home school me and Peter?"

Cold chills went down my spine as I replied, "I have a hard enough time getting you to do your homework. I can only imagine how hard it would be to home school you."

Sarah laughed knowingly and said, "Wanna know why I want to be homeschooled?"

"Oh, do tell."

"Because you would let me go to the bathroom whenever I wanted!  Mrs. P. always says, 'Sarah, we just went like 10 hours ago' or 'Sarah, can't you wait until we all go in like 2 hours or something?'"

I think Sarah has already learned how to exaggerate for effect. Like, totally.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Get to Arby's! Now!

We took the family to Arby's last night for dinner. 

Peter wolfed down his entire Jr. Roast Beef, licked his apple sauce cup clean and ate a large portion of my curly fries.  This is rare for Peter.  Other than cereal, he rarely eats anything with gusto and he never cleans his plate when I'm the chef.

So how could I resist when he looked up at me with his big brown eyes and said, "Can I have dessert Mom?  I cleaned my plate.  How about one of those Chocolate Turnovers?  I saw the sign for them.  They're only one dollar!"

I sent him up to the counter with $3 and told him to get two turnovers and that one of them would be for his sister.

He came back with a tray and two decent sized chocolate turnovers.  He began to eat his and Sarah started to eat hers.  It wasn't long before her shirt was covered in pastry - these things were flaky!  And it wasn't long before his mouth was covered in chocolate - they were indeed chocolaty!

Sarah couldn't finish hers.  "It's very rich, Mommy."  So I gladly finished it off for her. 

It was delicious. 

I'm not normally one for sweets. I prefer salty and crunchy but oh my goodness!  Peter ate almost 3/4 of his and I felt it was my motherly duty to eat the other 1/4. I mean there are children starving in Africa after all.  We can't let good food go to waste.

Do you see how the chocolate is oozing out of the center of the turnover?  Well, it is oozing because the center of the turnover is filled with chocolate!  Filled! 

Flakey!  Chocolatey!  And only $1!  Get  to Arby's right now before they take it off their dollar menu.  This pastry is well worth  $1. 

And now, since I didn't let my kid's leftover Chocolate Turnover go to waste - I've got to go for a run so it doesn't go to waist. 

I guess now I can go back to talking like a grown up.

I had been helping with the school's Fall Book Fair.  The school day was over and I gathered the kids and their backpacks and all their other paraphenalia and we were heading out the door to get Peter's allergy shots and then on to Faith Formation.  I knew we would be in the car for at least 20 minutes so I turned to Peter and said, "Do you need to go to the potty before we get in the car?"

He nervously looked over his shoulder and then looked up at me and said with great disdain, "Potty?  Seriously Mom!"

Baby talk is a hard habit to break after almost 8 years.  I'll do my best to try though because I would hate to embarrass my kids. 

"By the way honey, your shirt's on backwards," I whispered.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

After almost eight years and I still don't know what I'm doing!

Every afternoon after school the homework battle begins.  I've been working at the school Book Fair this week so the fight to get homework done was occuring later than than normal last night. 

When my husband walked through the door from work, I was still struggling to get Peter to finish his.  (He spends more time complaining about having to do the homework than the actual homework takes.)

A couple of strong words from my husband and about 8 minutes later it was done. 


When I tell my kids to do something, it takes 10 times before they do it.

My husband tells them once and they are scurrying off to complete the task.

Peter woke up yesterday morning and was mad at me.  I asked him why he was mad and he told me that he woke up scared in the middle of the night and came to my room to tell me.  However, he couldn't get me to wake up.  So he went back to bed mad and woke up that way.

I asked him why he didn't try to wake up his father and he said, "Because Dad would just tell me to go back to bed!"

So then why is he mad at me?

I'm doing something wrong, just not sure what it is!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Man cannot live by bread alone...

...he needs lots of butter too!

I wanted to tell you  about The Bread.  It's a recipe I discovered on a little known blog called "Confessions of a Pioneer Woman". teehee

If you haven't made this bread yet, you must.  You have no reason not to make it.  It only requires two ingredients, it's easy to make and it's oh, so delicious.

I have made this four times since PW posted it on September 17th.  I serve it with spaghetti and since it's only October 15th, if you do the math, that means we have spaghetti a lot.

My kids now refer to this bread as "that really good bread".  For example, when the kids ask what's for dinner and I say "spaghetti and bread" instead of saying, "Spaghetti?  Again?", their little faces will light up and then they say, "Bread? That really good bread?"

It's that good.

Here's a picture of "that really good bread" that I took from that obscure little website because she is a much better photographer than I am and unlike PW, I don't typically cook with a camera nearby.

And no, it's not burnt.  In fact, mine was even blacker and I dare say, probably even better than her's. 

Go here for her recipe and please make it.  And don't worry about all that butter - butter is good for your soul - just ask Paula Deen!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Yummy Mummy Cookies (That's debatable!)

Peter decided that he wanted to make the Yummy Mummy Cookies from our Halloween cookbook.

I aim to please, so I made them this weekend.  And when I say "I" that's exactly what I mean.  I guess Peter really meant to say that he wanted to EAT Yummy Mummy Treats because neither he nor Sarah had any interest in helping make them.

The final product was supposed to look like this:

Cute, huh? It is basically a chocolate cookie rolled into a mummy shape and covered in white chocolate.

Here is what my chocolate cookies looked before I popped them into the oven:
 I couldn't stop giggling because I was reminded of these cookies. (Scroll to the bottom of this post.)

Ahem.  Back to the mummies.

I baked them and covered them in white chocolate and put on the chocolate chips for eyes.  And at that point, I realized that I should have splurged and gotten the miniature chocolate chips.  (We already had the regular sized ones and I figured eh, it won't make any difference.)

I was wrong.  Because my mummies look like strange alien-eyed ghosts.  Spooky but not quite the look I was going for.
Apparently a tiny detail can make a big difference in the world of Halloween confections.

And the taste - not wonderful.  Not horrible but not wonderful either. I won't be making these again but at least Peter had fun asking me to make them for him.

In case you are interested in a cute yet not very tasty Halloween recipe,  here is the recipe which was taken from Frightfully Fun Halloween Recipes.*


  • 2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup HERSHEY'S Mini Chips Semi-Sweet Chocolate
  • 1 to 2 packages (12 oz. each) HERSHEY'S Premium White Chips
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons shortening(do not use butter, margarine, spread or oil)
  • Additional HERSHEY'S Mini Chips Semi-Sweet Chocolate


1. Beat butter, sugar and vanilla in large bowl until creamy. Add eggs; beat well. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, beating well. Stir in 1 cup small chocolate chips. Refrigerate dough 20 minutes or until firm enough to handle.

2. Heat oven to 350°F. For mummy body, roll 1 tablespoon dough into 3-1/2 inch long carrot shape; place on ungreased cookie sheet. For head, roll 1 teaspoon dough, roll into ball the size of a grape; press onto wide end of body. Repeat procedure with remaining dough.

3. Bake 8 to 9 minutes or until set. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.

4. Microwave 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) white chips and 1 tablespoon shortening in microwave-safe pie plate or shallow bowl at MEDIUM (50%) 1 minute; stir. If necessary, microwave at MEDIUM an additional 15 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating, until chips are melted.

5. Place 1 cookie at a time on table knife or narrow metal spatula. Spoon white chip mixture over just the top of cookie to coat; place on wax paper. (If mixture begins to thicken, return to microwave for a few seconds.) Melt additional chips with shortening, if needed for additional coating. As coating begins to set on cookies, use toothpick to score lines in body and on face to resemble mummy . Place two small chocolate chips on each for eyes. Store, covered, in cool dry place.  Makes about 30 cookies.

*The photo was also taken from Frightfully Fun Halloween Recipes.  The book was published by Publications International in 2000.

Monday, October 11, 2010


Peter and Sarah love Halloween - Peter especially.  I think his true love for Halloween intensified 4 years ago when I won the book, Frightfully Fun Halloween Recipes at a MOPS meeting.

The kids were 3 and 4 at the time and demanded that we make the Frankenstein cake.  Mine didn't turn out quite as well as the one in the book but it made an impression on the kids nonetheless, because just the other day Peter said, "Do you still have that Halloween cookbook?  You know, the one with the Frankenstein cake in it that we made!" 

4 years later, he still remembers.  And 4 years to the 8-and-under crowd is like 20 adult years - or something like that.

So even though my cake didn't look quite as good as the one in the book, the kids loved it and still remember it.  And now we make at least one spooky Halloween  treat every October.

Come back tomorrow and I'll show you what we made this past weekend.  If you just can't wait until then to get your spooky on, here are a few things we've made before:

Graveyard Treats
Frankenstein Snack Mix (this is MY favorite!  So cute!)
Mummy Pizzas (another Halloween tradition.  Peter has already requested this before we go Trick-Or-Treating.)

Just look at my babies!  Look at their still-chubby faces and their bad haircuts!  Look at the way Peter is looking at Sarah.  I wonder what he was thinking.  Oh I wish I could squeeze their 3 and 4-year-old selves just one more time!  *sigh*

Thursday, October 7, 2010

There's a lesson in all of this.

Backpacks, shoes, folders, agendas, paperwork, homework, lunch boxes, afternoon snacks and both kids fighting to be heard over the other.  Every afternoon this same tornedo storms through my kitchen.

And every afternoon, I am left standing in it's wake instructing the kids, yet again, to please hang up their coats and to please put away their shoes. 

I sign field trip forms, write checks for the latest fundraiser, mark important dates on the calendar, look over the list of homework that needs to be completed, review the work that came home and clean out lunch boxes.

It's chaos.  And I've only got two kids. (Jennifer, I pray for you girl.  A lot.)

Normally when I am cleaning out Sarah's lunch box, I will go over what the school cafeteria is offering the next day and ask whether they want to pack or buy.  Noramlly Peter's answer is always "Buy!" and Sarah's answer is always "Pack!" 

But when they both decided to "Buy!" on Wednesday, I did a tiny little jig.  I hate to pack lunches. 

On Wedensday afternoon, after the debris had settled from the afternoon whirlwind, I asked Sarah how the school nuggets were.  She loves the school nuggets.

"I only had those dried out pickles you packed," she complained. 

"Dried out pickles?  What dried out pickles?"

And then it hit me.  I didn't take her lunchbox out of her backpack the day before and the pickles that she didn't eat on Tuesday remained in the lunchbox on Wednesday.  And when she saw the lunch box in her backpack on Wednesday morning, she assumed I packed lunch for her so she didn't place her nugget order wtih the cafeteria.

So poor Sarah didn't have any lunch on Wednesday.  Well, if there's a lesson to be learned in all this, it's not that I'm a horrible mother, it's that Sarah needs to start cleaning out her own lunch box.  That's the lesson.  Right?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

They heard my cry!

Every week as I passed the Sun Chips I would look longingly at them and hope that this would be the week I could finally buy them again.  I would take my index finger and gently touch the bag.  And week after week, I would jump back as if stung by something sharp each time I heard the obnoxious crinkling noise and with my head hung low, I would reach for a different, silent snack.*

Finally, Frito-Lay, the maker of Sun Chips has heard my cry and decided to replace the annoying crinkly bag with the normal bag!  Hooray!

And technically, I'm not sure if they heard my cry or if they decided to go back to their old packaging because sales have tumbled since January when they introduced the loud bag.  We eat a lot of Sun Chips around here but not enough to cause sales to tumble so I am assuming everyone hated that bag.

Wonder how long it will be until my Wal-Mart has the new packaging in?  I'm so excited.  Harvest Cheddar - here we come!

*And don't think I didn't do this every. single. week. since I gave up Sun Chips in my silent protest.  I knew it wouldn't be long  before Frito Lay came around, because sometimes, silence speaks louder than a crinkly, biodegradable bag!

Friday, October 1, 2010

My own little Pippi! Sort of.

From the time she had a few cute baby wisp until now when she's got lots of long hair, Sarah has hated for her hair to be controlled by any one other than herself.

I have a couple of cute pictures when she was younger of her hair in little tiny bows or cute little spouts that were snapped quickly before she jerked the clips or bows right out of her head.

I finally had enough of the battle and took her to get bangs cut into her little baby hair.  Big. Mistake.

The bangs on her giant round head made her resemble something close to a smiling pumpkin or perhaps a giggling basket ball.  I would post some pictures but I'm too lazy to dig out the albums so you are just going to have to trust me on this.  Bangs were not a flattering look for my little princess.

Even as she has matured, the horrible bangs have grown out and her hair has gotten longer, she still doesn't want anything in her hair.  And quite honestly, that's fine with me on most days.  She's a bit of a princess- tomboy anyway her unkempt hair and her pink dresses work for her.

A couple of days ago, she told me she wanted to wear braids the next day.  And I told her she was going to have to get up and get dressed quickly if she wanted me to try to put braids in.  I am horrible with hair - hers and mine and the last thing I needed was the extra pressure of trying to get braids in without missing the bus.

Finally this morning, she hopped out of bed with a cheerful disposition, quickly ate her breakfast and dressed and declared, "I'm ready for my braids!"

So, I gave it my best shot. She was moving around like crazy, my hands aren't very nimble any more (not sure if it's my age, my MS, or too much coffee!) 

It turned out o.k., I suppose.  If nothing else, she would make a great Pippi Longstocking for Halloween!

She was so excited about her braids that she took this picture of herself.  Guess it was worth the extra sweat at 7:00 am.  I just need to work on getting them tighter and more uniform.  (You can see all the "wild hairs" in the first picture.)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

In March, I plunked down 145 of Dan's hard-earned dollars and purchased an iPod Nano. 
And I have loved every minute of owning it.  It makes my runs fly by.  I couldn't imagine running without it.

My only problem with my iPod is that I have to hold it  I bought an arm band for it but was never happy with that.  It was either too tight or too loose and I would spend the whole run wishing that it wasn't on my arm. 

I made peace with the fact that I would just have to carry my iPod in my hand while running and that's what I've been doing.

So imagine my excitement (and annoyance, if I'm being perfectly honest) when I saw a commercial for this the other week:

It is the new and improved iPod Nano.  Look how tiny it is.  Isn't it precious?  And the best part of all?  It has A CLIP on it!  A CLIP!!!  Oh, and a TOUCH SCREEN.  

Does anyone know if Apple has a trade-in program?   Because I know someone who has a perfectly good one they'd be willing to trade in.

*Photos courtesy of the Apple store at

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What do those teenagers know anyway?

I'm from Winston-Salem, North Carolina - home of Krispy Kreme Donuts.

My husband is from Boston, Massachusetts - home of Dunkin' Donuts.  (Well, technically Canton, MA is home of Dunkin' Donuts but that's splitting hairs considering how small Massachusetts is.)

My husband has often tried to engage me in a battle of Who Has the Best Donuts - Krispy Kreme or Dunkin' Donuts.  But I never play along because I think all donuts are pretty tasty so really, what does it matter? Plus, I don't like to play games.  Just ask the kids.

Donut competitions aside, I always concede to my husband on one point -  Dunkin' Donuts has THE BEST COFFEE and not just better than Krispy Kreme's, better than anyone's.

It is rich and robust (robust?  No, Juan Valdez did not hijack this computer) without the burnt taste of Starbucks and certainly without all the teenagers that think they are so cool sitting around drinking their expensive burnt coffee, texting, and snickering at the old lady in the corner who cringes every time she takes a sip of her latte... 

And why do I bring all of this up today?  On a rainy and cool Wednesday afternoon?

Because on Wednesdays after school, I take the kids to their Faith Formation class at church.  Last year, I would pass the hour and 15 minutes at the nearby Starbucks, nursing an overpriced latte and questioning what I was even doing there.  Yet, week after week, I continued to go. 

But not this year.  No!  This year, a Dunkin' Donuts has opened near the church! So now I can spend a mere  $1.15 and enjoy a  deliciously smooth cup of coffee while reading a book.  And the best part - I have yet to encounter one texting teenager in this Dunkin' Donuts.

Guess they haven't heard that America Runs on Dunkin'. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The tiny box.

I caught my breath when he handed me the tiny gift. It was wrapped in pretty paper and tied with a tiny bow.

"Happy Anniversary," he said.

"A gift? For me? But I didn't get you anything. We never exchange gifts," I stammered.

"Don't get excited.  It isn't much," he replied.

I held the tiny package in my hand, wondering what it could be.  Is it a charm, a locket?  A ring?  A ring! I held my breath as I began to gently remove the paper from the tiny box.

What if I don't like it, I thought to myself.  What if he spent too much money? Why didn't I get him something? He knows we don't exchange gifts.  My mind was racing.  It was the excitement of such a tiny package.  Or maybe it was the wine.

As I opened the tiny box, a small sheet of folded paper slipped out and onto the table.

I unfolded the paper.  I saw his familiar scrawl and read the words.   

Anniversary ring/Engagement ring upgrade.

I smiled, moved that he remember I had said long ago, before kids and mortgage payments and college funds, that I had wanted a diamond anniversary ring on our 10 year anniversary.

I thanked him for the gift and told him that I was touched by such a sweet gift.

I know that this anniversary isn't the one where I will be upgrading my engagement ring or getting an anniversary ring.  Maybe the 20th or the 25th.  Maybe never.  Really though, it doesn't even matter.

As I was unpacking from our trip, Sarah picked up the box, opened it, saw the tiny note and said, "That's it? That's all you got?"

"That's all I needed."

Monday, September 20, 2010

Edible Art

Dense almond flavored pound cake.  Rich butter cream icing. Lots of sweet memories.

My wedding cake was delicious.  It was so delicious that Dan and I could barely wait one whole year before eating the top level of our cake on our one year anniversary. (It had been tucked safely in our freezer to be eaten for good luck just as tradition mandated.) So for one whole year we waited and as they say, good things come...

It was as delicious one year later as it was on the night we cut into it at our wedding reception.  So good in face that we decided we would order another cake from the very same bakery every year for our anniversary as long as we both shall live.

And we did order a cake once but then we had kids with nap schedules and the bakery was on the other side of town and we seemed to be out of town on our anniversary and then we moved well over an hour away from the little bakery.  I guess you could say that married  life got in the way of having our delicious cake every year on our anniversary.

This year, Dan and I went to Charleston to celebrate our 10th anniversary. Mom and Dad watched the kids all weekend while we toured the beautiful town, took a carriage ride, ate out in nice restaurants, held hands, and had lots and lots of uninterrupted conversations.

It felt like we were dating again. **sigh**

On Sunday evening after arriving home from our trip, we were scheduled to have a nice dinner at my parent's house to continue our anniversary celebration and to celebrate our birthdays.  (Dan and I both have birthdays in September as well.)

Imagine our surprise and excitement when Mom revealed that she and Dad and Peter and Sarah had driven all the way to the little bakery in Charlotte to pick up a replica of our wedding cake.

The cake was just as delicious as I remembered.  Dan and I ate wedding cake four nights in a row and finally, due to expanding waistlines, had to put the rest in the freezer.

And I doubt we will wait until next year to eat it.  After all, I don't think there's any tradition associated with eating 10-year-anniversary cake on your 11th anniversary.  Is there?