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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Merry Christmas!

Santa

Okay, not quite "Wordless" --

The boys and I went to the mall yesterday so they could see Santa. We were trying to decide if this was a Santa Helper or the Real Santa while we waited.

When we got up there, Santa told the boys to "Be good so they would STAY on the Good List."

Josh was so excited because Santa told him he was on the Good List!!! He said,
"Mom, this must be the REAL Santa because only the Real Santa knows who's on the Good List!"
Today we're busy getting ready for the "Big Day!" We're Tracking Santa all day and then off to see "The Tale of Despereaux" this afternoon. We read the book and are so excited to see the movie. The book has made it up to one of our all time favorites! Hope the movie doesn't disappoint!

Merry Christmas everyone!




More Wordless Wednesday here!

Monday, December 22, 2008

My Five Minutes of Fame

My big television debut was this weekend.

The folks over at The Savvy Source lined it up for me. I was on CW69's Focus Atlanta. The segment was taped two weeks ago and just aired this week.

One thing that made me feel a bit better was it was a taped segment. I had visions of making all sorts of goofs and laughing or saying, "um...." a lot. Thankfully, I didn't.

The host of the show (and CW69's Public Affairs Director), Keisha Lancelin was very friendly and warm and did a great job of making me feel comfortable.

They did put the wrong website information up though. They have "www.atlanta.savvysource.com" and there is no "www" in the front. But all is not lost. The web address brings you to Savvy Source Main Page, just not directly to the "Atlanta" site.

Before we get to the video, let me just say it's really weird watching yourself on T.V. I could go on and on with all the things in the video that bother me, but, I'm not. I'm just going to say I think I did pretty well.

So, here we go....

Saturday, December 20, 2008

I Don't Know What He Calls it Then.....

Sam and I had a great time this week. He ended school on Tuesday so Wednesday we decided to take it easy and not do much.

I dragged the Pirates of the Caribbean MegaBlocks toy we have downstairs for him to play with and he played with it all day. I did some stuff around the house while listening to him play. It was really sweet!

I also had the TV on and every so often I'd look up and see Sam watching TV.

At one point I said, "What are you watching Sam?"

Sam: "Imagination Movers. It's good."

Me: "Oh, is it teaching you how to move your imagination."

Sam: "No, I don't have any imagination."

Oh really?

Friday, December 19, 2008

My Edible Ornaments

I think I mentioned already I got the "Hello, Cupcake!" book this month. I'm having lots of fun with it!

Today was Josh's class party and he wanted me to make the "ornament" cup cakes pictured here:

Picture from book

This is a picture I took of the picture in the book.


I learned something from making the snowmen for Sam's school. That is, you can't really do much ahead of time. I did make the cupcakes on Tuesday and then froze them. And I tried to make the little "tops" of the ornaments early -- I put the black liquorish laces into the gum drops. That was a bit FAIL -- the gumdrops split and broke. Luckily I was able to save them -- for the most part.

Anyway, I knew I would be pressed for time. Sam had a dentist appointment this morning at 8:30. And since I could be out by 9:00 or 10:00 because the dentist is a total zoo, I was a bit worried. Luckily we were in and out quickly (no cavities) and home by 9:30.

I spent the rest of the morning decorating the cupcakes and here is the result:

My Edible Ornaments

Edible Ornaments

It was a bit more "fiddly" than I thought, but it was lots of fun. I think I cut too big a hole in the plastic bag that I was using to pipe the frosting on the cupcake (for decorating), but it still worked out.

And the kids loved them! One boy in Josh's class told me they were "Smack your mama good" -- whatever that means!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: "I Wrote My Name!"

I wrote my Name!

The "S" was difficult so he followed my finger to make it. But the rest he did by himself! And "S" is a hard letter! I remember Josh having difficulty with it as well.

More Wordless Wednesday here.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Our Toaster is Toasted.

So our toaster died this weekend.

I'm quite bummed as we've had it for 6 years. We have a 2-slice one that we've had for as long too -- but the 4-slicer packed it up this weekend.

So my mission was to find a new one. Our old one (and the new one) is a Toastmaster. It worked great and wasn't too expensive. I bought it at Target so that is where my search took me.

No luck. They had two four slice toasters so I opted for the Oster. For some reason I just can't bring myself to buy Hamilton Beach. Bad experiences I guess. Well, I got the toaster home and it didn't even hold a piece of bread. It had extra WIDE slices, it was too small length and depth.

Then we started looking at toaster ovens. I decided to try it out. Again. No luck. It just seemed there was too much work involved to just "make toast." So back that went.

We looked on line -- do you realize some toasters cost over $100? I don't know, that just seems a bit excessive to me! Is it worth it?

I've given up my search for the time being. Who knew it would be this hard to find a toaster? Thankfully I have a back up with the 2-slice.

Any recommendations on toaster vs. toaster oven or what makes are good would be greatly appreciated!

Anyway, I thought I would share a Samism with you....

We were eating breakfast and he was not sitting down.

Rich: Sam, sit down and eat your breakfast -- and chew with your mouth shut.

Sam: Okay. There is a button on my bum and when I sit on it my mouth chews. Watch!

Crazy kid.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Rainy Days

I have to say this has been one weird week.

Monday I had my TV interview. It went really well. I think. I did manage to get all my points across (except one) so that was good. Of course the first question she asked me was something I was totally unprepared for, but in hindsight, a fairly good question.

The interview was set up by the folks at Being Savvy as part of my involvement over there. It was for a local Atlanta TV show called Focus Atlanta and the subject was "Stress Free Travel with Kids." She asked me, "What's better, traveling by plane or driving?" Of course it threw me a bit, but I think I managed okay.

We'll see when it airs. If you live in Atlanta, it's on 12/21 at noon on channel CW69.

Josh was home sick on Tuesday. I don't know what was wrong, but he had a 102 temp on Monday night and it wasn't gone on Tuesday morning so I kept him home. Seemed like the right thing to do and he was fit as a fiddle yesterday so off to school he went. But when he got home, every little thing made him upset and cry. Really too many to mention. I hope it was just tiredness, but boy he was not happy yesterday.

Yesterday we had rain. Lots and lots of rain. Not a slow drizzle, but heavy downpours all day long. From the time we woke up. Of course I had to run out and do errands.

Sam changed his mind on the gift he wants from Santa. We got him the Playmobil Pirates to go with the set he got for his birthday. He saw an advertisement for the Playmobil Knights and Castles and decided that is what he wanted. So... I had to go return what we bought.

I knew that set was cheaper at Target so I went to Target. They didn't have what I wanted, off to Toys-r-Us to return what I had and pick up what he wanted. Of course they didn't have it either. Off to Wal-Mart. No luck there either.

I traipsed all over Kennesaw, in the pouring rain and couldn't find it. It was EVERYWHERE two weeks ago. So I came home, checked Amazon and there it was -- on sale as well.

Sam's Christmas pageant is today so when I came home yesterday I made the snowmen cupcakes. Big mistake. The "hats" all fell off over night.

So, woke up this morning, still pouring rain mind you, and had to try and fix all the snowmen's hats. I think they'll be okay. Of course they probably look cuter than they taste, but who cares. They are adorable!

SnowMan Patrol

I really hope the rain lets up just a bit. Rich is supposed to be going in to the office today and I hate when he has to drive in all that yucky weather. Of course his phone's just rung so it may be a day when he "plans" to go in, but never quite makes it!

I'm off to get ready for the day. I'll let you know how his pageant went. He was quite excited, but he may be the kid that decides he doesn't want to do it when he sees all the people. I don't know whether to hide in the back or be front and center!

Cheesey Grin

We were watching "Dennis The Menace's Christmas" and Dennis the Menace was wearing that same sweater. There was something about Dennis that was just so Sam-like.

This weekend we'll try to get the leaves finished -- we're up over 60 bags now. And we have our annual Santa Parade downtown.

And then more rain expected all week next week.

Drought-schmout.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Dear Santa....

After I wrote the post about Josh and the Santa Dilemma, I was contacted by a Macy's representative telling me about the Macy's Believe program.

This year Macy's wants everyone to embrace the holiday spirit of love and charity.

Macy's stores all over the country have special mailboxes for letters to Santa. All you have to do is have your kids write a letter to Santa, affix postage and address it to Santa at the North Pole. Macy's will deliver the letters and donate $1 for every letter received up to $1,000,000 to the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

I know what I'll be doing with the kids this week!

I really love this idea, even more so now with Josh "on the brink." We can write a letter together and then post it at Macy's. I know Josh will have fun writing the letter -- I've already found several little "Dear Santa" notes around the house. And supports a good cause!

The site is pretty cool too. You can download stationary to write your letter, read the famous letter from Virginia to the Editor of the New York Sun, and his wonderfully, beautiful reply (something I need to keep on hand to help explain things when Josh starts asking again).

There is even a "Be Claus" feature where you can upload your own photo and turn yourself into Santa Claus! I tried to do it, but my first picture was too big and my second too small.

I'll give it another go and try again. If I can get it to work, I'll repost!



Sunday, December 7, 2008

Cupcakes!

I bought the most amazing book the other day.

The book is Hello, Cupcake! And it is just way too cool!



Both the boys love it too! I picked it up at Costco the other day and the boys have not been able to put it down.

So, we had to make some cupcakes this weekend. I have several school functions for both the boys that I need to "provide" something for and this is just perfect.

After looking through the book, several times... we found some that we thought would be okay. I loved the snowmen family but thought it may be a bit ambitious for a first timer.

Then I notice the current issue of Taste of Home Magazine has these cupcakes featured on them. And there was the perfect cupcake to start our cupcake decorating experiences with on the front cover.

I can't find a picture on line, so here's a picture of the front cover:


See those cute little snowmen at the bottom?

We made those. And they turned out great! Here are the boys showing off their snowmen:

Modeling Snowmen

Today was just the "test run" to see how easy or difficult they were. I have to bring something to Sam's school later this week for his Christmas Pageant. I think these are a go!

It was so easy, even a four year old could make them! I did frost each of the cupcakes and I cut the cookies for the hat, but the boys did the rest. I showed them what to do and they did it.

Our Snowmen Cupcakes

From left to right: mine, Josh's, Sam's.

In fact, it these would be a great class project for elementary kids. If you frost the cupcakes, and come with the supplies already the kids can decorate them and eat them!

The boys had a great time and we decorated a couple other cupcakes in a more "creative" way:

Here's Josh's creative design:
Josh's Creative Cupcake

And Sam's:
Sam's creative cupcake

These were so much fun to do together with the boys. It was perfect for today -- a bit cold outside, Josh wasn't feeling well this morning so it gave him something fun to focus on...

Oh, and in other news...

I'm going to be interviewed tomorrow on a local TV station. The subject: Tantrum Free Travel with Toddlers this holiday season.

It's going to air on Sunday 12/21. Once I know how things go, I'll post more!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Savvy Gift Guide and Giveaway

The folks over at The Savvy Source have a new Holiday guide. There are all sorts of great holiday tips, crafts, present ideas and more.

But best of all, they are having a daily giveaway starting December 9th and running through the 20th. There are all sorts of great prizes to be won.

And with so many of us on tighter than normal budgets these days, who wouldn't want to win some fantastic prizes just in time for Christmas?

Check these out:
Details on how to win these prizes can be found on the Holiday Giveaway guide site.

And their is a GRAND PRIZE drawing on December 22nd which includes:

  • A smashing "Capture the Moments" package with a Motorola MOTOZINE ZN5 camera phone,
  • an HP photo printer with Creative Studio software,
  • and a one year premium subscription to the photo-editing website Picnik
All you have to do to win the Grand Prize is help spread the word!

To enter the Grand Prize giveaway, simply add one of the badges on the Give away site to your blog or website, and then send an email to giveaways [at] savvysource.com with your URL enclosed and HOLIDAY GIVEAWAY in the subject line. All entries must be received no later than Midnight PST on December 21. We’ll draw one winner at random on December 22 and announce the lucky recipient on Being Savvy.



Unfortunately, since I write for the Savvy Source, I'm not eligible to win... but you are!

So head over and enter the give aways!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Santa Dilemma

Sam, at 4, is at the perfect age for Christmas this year.

He's old enough to remember a bit about last year; he's excited about all the lights and the decorations.... We watch Christmas TV shows and movies and sing Christmas songs all the time! And he's so excited about Santa.

Every thing he sees on TV, he's asking Santa for. We've had to do some serious expectation setting this year (for both boys). He's narrowed down his list, but still... It's exciting to see him so enchanted by the whole Christmas Spirit.

But, then enter Josh. He's seven. He's in the second grade. Last year someone in his class told him there was no Santa. He said this boys mom said "Santa" was the parents. (This is the same mom that didn't call me when Josh broke his arm at her house earlier this year so she was already not high on my list.)

Luckily, Josh didn't believe him because we can watch Santa on the computer! Thank you Norad Santa Tracker!

But this year, he came home from school and said there are more kids in his class that don't believe.

And he's talking about this in front of Sam.

We've been able to laugh with him about how ridiculous those kids in his class are and say, "Well of course there's a Santa!" I think he still WANTS to believe, but the time is coming... very soon... when he won't believe any longer.

I don't want this knowledge to ruin the magic for Sam. Realistically, you only have a handful of years, maybe 3 or 4, for the whole "Santa" thing with the kids when they really and truly believe.

Rich and I have talked about what to do and say to Josh. Do we tell him? It would crush him. If he brings it up again, do we pull him aside and tell him to stop talking about it in front of Sam? Because it's just not fair to Sam to take the magic away this soon. We can't ignore it and hope it goes away, because it won't.

This is our last year with Josh believing. I don't want it to be Sam's last either.

Monday, December 1, 2008

If Only He Got Paid For it...

The other day Sam and I went to the grocery store.

Sam did not want to go, he wanted to stay home with Daddy and Josh.

Me: But Sam, we're lucky. They're home working and we don't have to work.

Sam: But I do work!

Me: Oh yeah? What's your job?

Sam -- without missing a beat: Bothering people.

At least he's honest! And he does a great job at it too!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Lies We Tell Our Kids...

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Today marks the first day we can officially start singing Christmas Carols in our house.

We put away all the Christmas CD's and DVD's just after New Year and tell the kids we're not allowed to play them after January 6th.

We, meaning Rich, came up with "The Christmas Carol Police" -- they will come and give you a fine if they hear you singing Christmas Carols or watching Christmas TV shows after Jan 6th and before Thanksgiving.

Believe me, it's necessary. I can't tell you the number of times I've had to watch Mickey's Once (or Twice) Upon a Christmas -- and the number of times I've had to say "No, it's July." And, "No, we're not listening to Jingle Bells today, it's Easter."

Yesterday, the boys were all excited because today we could start listening to Christmas Carols -- which we did at 8:00 this morning -- and start watching Christmas TV shows and movies (they're watching Mickey's Twice Upon A Christmas now).

I admit, "The Christmas Carol Police" is a convenient lie. But it works. It's going to be a long 4 weeks until Christmas!

So I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving. I'm counting my blessings today, and believe me I have many!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

And Thanksgiving starts with a Bang (to the head)

I know tomorrow is Turkey Day not today, but wanted to get my wishes out early (for a change).

It's been a bit crazy around here this week. The boys have had the week off so we've all been chillin' out and relaxing.

I was not feeling well at all yesterday. I spent most of the day on the couch while the kids played. I'd just ordered a bunch of library books for the kids and they were ready to be picked up. So we went there, picked them up and sat on the couch and read them.

Luckily an early night sleeping in the basement guest room seemed to be all I needed. I was woken up at 7:00 this morning by Josh. Daddy needed me because Sam fell and hit his head.

He and Josh were playing; he fell, hit his head on the coffee table and was bleeding -- a lot. He is FINE! Running around and causing mayhem and disturbing Josh. He's just fine. No need to worry....

He never lost consciousness and was not throwing up so I suspected he was going to be okay. But gosh he was bleeding a lot. So I called our pediatrician and they told us we had to bring him to Scottish Rite/Children's Healthcare of Atlanta (the kid's hospital near us). Apparently, because it was a head injury they didn't want to take any chances.

So Sam and I headed down to CHOA. I'm always impressed with them when we go there for Sam's kidney ultrasounds and the Emergency Room visit was the best I've ever had. All ER's should be like this.

They have complementary, manditory valet parking so you drive up, get your kid out of the car and you're where you need to be. No fussing with finding a parking place, no wondering where to go or park...

As soon as we got in, we were taken straight to triage and back to a room. The nurse had hardly left when the doctor came in -- took one look at Sam said the cut was small enough it did NOT need stitches -- and we were done. She wanted to discharge us, but they were so quick they didn't have time to admit us yet!

It is a 30 minute drive to get there (when there is no traffic), and we do pass another ER on the way (where I brought Josh for his broken arm), but it was totally worth the trip.

So, hopefully that will be our last ER trip this year! Some how I suspect that with each passing year and with two active boys our ER visits are only going to become more and more frequent.

Hope everyone has a happy and safe Thanksgiving and you all eat too much!

Monday, November 24, 2008

At Least He's Listening?

Last week Sam had a stuffy nose and I was a bit concerned so I kept asking him if he felt okay.

He was obviously annoyed by my constant questions so I told him I was just a bit worried about him.

His response....

Why don't you worry about you and I'll worry about me. Okay MOM!
+++++++++

And for those keeping track... our leaf bag "total" is 53. Hopefully, we're over half way!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: First Santa Sighting

With "Santa's Helper"



Okay, not quite "wordless" -- Josh had a chorus concert yesterday at the local grocery store. They were having a "holiday party" with lots of free food samples and the chorus from Josh's school and some other local schools came and sang Christmas carols.

We heard "Santa" was roaming around and Sam said he wanted to "give Santa a cuddle." Then when he saw Santa, he was looking and looking at him. Finally he said to Rich (who was holding him), "That's not the real Santa. That's Santa' helper. He's the Fake Santa."

And enjoy the picture because my camera is broken... just in time. The warranty expires tomorrow! Off to Sony for you camera!

More Wordless Wednesday posts here.

Monday, November 17, 2008

More Outside Fun

Saturday was Josh's baseball trophy party.

My Trophy!

It was quite cool and windy that day, but the kids had fun anyway.

Rolling down the hill

They were FILTHY from rolling and sliding down the hill at the amphitheater! Apparently a filthy kid is a happy kid because they were truly filthy and happy!

Sam, up the hill

And yes, that is Sam's Spiderman costume he's wearing. He's worn it more often than not since Halloween. Apparently it makes him strong AND fast!

Of course right before we were due to leave Rich's work called so he was a bit late. We were just getting ready to leave when he showed up. Which meant we stayed longer so the boys could run around with Daddy.

I'm coming! Cropped


That evening I took the boys to McDonald's for dinner -- because we had no food in the house clearly pizza for lunch and McDonald's for dinner will land me in the "Best Mom Ever Hall of Fame" as voted by my kids. On the way home from McD's we had to stop at the grocery store for more wine food.

The boys and I were telling the worlds worst jokes EVER to pass the time at the shop. Such classics like, "Why did the Thanksgiving Turkey cross the road? Because it was in the human's stomach."

When Sam looks up and says, "Mom, what did one Cheeto say to the other Cheeto?"
Me, "I don't know."
Sam: "Nothing! Everyone knows Cheetoes can't talk!"

Yes, my just-turned-4-year-old told the best joke of the night!

And for those keeping score -- Sunday we raked up 13 more bags of leaves. We got a late start (Rich's work again) so we only had a few hours outside. Our total so far is 22 bags.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Giveaway! Always and Everywhere

I have a give away for you over at Being Savvy Atlanta.

I first heard of Laura Bowman and Margie LaSalle through a mutual friend. Their story moved me so much I want to get the word out and am doing my part.

Here's the article from Savvy, to enter the drawing, please leave a comment with a valid email address on the SAVVY SITE (not here). You will probably have to sign in to leave a comment.

++++++++++

Laura Bowman, today's guest author, is a local artist, mother and friend. She has written her first children's book, Always and Everywhere, for her friend Margie LaSalle, who is suffering from Breast Cancer, and Margie's children.

------

This is my first children's book. I am a professional artist living and working in the Atlanta area and normally paint contemporary landscapes and figures. Writing and illustrating a children's book was completely foreign to me and a complete learning experience.

The inspiration for 'Always and Everywhere ' came from a desire to help raise money for my dear friend, Margie LaSalle and her family. Margie is the wife of Chris and mother of five year old John Mark and seven year old Claire. Margie was diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2007. A few months after mastectomy surgery, Doctors informed Margie the cancer had metastasized. Statistically, the Stage IV diagnosis includes a life expectancy of two to four years. Margie's world is upside down right now. She is in continual pain from the cancer in her pelvis which makes it hard to navigate the stairs in their 2 bedroom condo.

I felt so helpless when it came to Margie's cancer. With two young children of my own, I couldn't contribute my time or money, but I could produce this children's book for her in my spare time. Initially, the book provided an opportunity to help the LaSalle's with expenses (for her continuing medical bills and for expenses involved with moving into a more manageable house). However, writing the book was a cathartic experience. I was able to collaborate on the book with Margie and our mutual friends, which makes the message so much more meaningful. I also painted quite a few of the illustrations at her house while Margie and friends watched my young children. This special time with Margie was unforgettable. I learned so much about courage, the importance of friends and family and the will-to-live.

Margie does not believe her fate is dependent on generalities or statistics. While Margie undergoes chemotherapy and radiation, she and Chris work to keep life normal and consistent for their children. The well-being of John Mark and Claire is their most significant concern and challenge. Margie also reassures her children; when she leaves the physical world - two years from now or fifty years from now - she will still be with them, always and everywhere.

"Always and Everywhere" is a light-hearted children's book featuring Margie and her two children, John Mark and Claire. It reminds us that even when mom isn't by our side, the lessons that she taught will always be there. At the end of the book the children ask mom about angels. Mom reassures Claire and John Mark that if they believe in angels, then they will always be by their side.

A wise friend of mine said that what we are doing is comparable to how dolphins behave. "When one is sick or injured another one joins them until they recover or die..they are never left alone to face trials of this nature. Very wise, Godly creatures are dolphins!" Writing and illustrating "Always and Everywhere" was such a powerful experience for me. I will definitely illustrate another children's book in the near future.

We are having a book launch event on November 20 where the book will be available for purchase and the original illustrations will be auctioned.



Book Launch Details:


Thursday, November 20
5 - 9 PM
Mason Murer Projects
325 E. Paces Ferry Road
Atlanta, GA 30305
404.551.3900

Live music, Book signing and silent auction of the original artwork from the book.

All proceeds go to the Margie LaSalle Cancer Fund


If you can't make the event but would still like to help the LaSalle's by purchasing a book or bidding on the artwork, please visit our website at www.alwaysandeverywhere.org

+++++++++

Win it: I have a signed book available. If you would like to win a copy of this book, please leave your name and a valid email address in the comments section on Being Savvy Atlanta. I will pick a winner at random on December 1st. If you have a blog please feel free to post about the contest. If you don't have a blog, be sure tell all your friends and neighbors about this book and this worthy cause!




ETA: Apparently the Savvy Site is having problems with comments. If you leave a comment there with an email, use "at" instead of @ -- if that still does not work, then leave a comment below and I will add you in.

Only one entry per person please!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

He's Four Now, you know...

Yesterday was Sam's 4th birthday!

And I think Monday and Tuesday were two of the busiest days in my whole life! Poor Sam has never had a birthday party before. But, to be fair, this is the first year that he's really been old enough to enjoy it. We have celebrated with him and made the day special for him, but this year we decided he could have a party.

Luckily, our subdivision just opened a really nice club house that I was able to rent out for a very reasonable fee! And, even though I only rented 1/4 of the clubhouse, they let us have free reign over the whole thing. Bonus!

Our big present to Sam was redoing his room. We took it from a "little boy room" into a "Big Boy Room." We got a new border for the wall, got him some StarWars Saga sheets and comforters and found some posters for the walls.

Our plan was to quickly strip the old boarder on Monday and get the room sorted for him on Tuesday while he was at school. That was the plan. The old border had other plans. It did NOT want to budge! It took all day to strip that darn stuff off! Sam slept in Josh's room that night. Not only was he excited about his birthday and the mini "sleepover" in Josh's room, but we were making noise getting that wall paper off until after 9:00.

And of course he was up and down all night because he was excited. I tell you, I have never seen such excitement in one little boy in my life!

Tuesday, his actual birthday, we got up earlier than usual (due to excitement) and let him open the present Josh had for him. Then we got Nanny and Grandad on the computer...

talking to Nanny & Grandad

So he could open the present they gave him.

GeoTrax Airport!

Wow! The one thing he wanted more than anything in the world! The GeoTrax Airport!!!! He was sooooo excited... I put it together straight away and it didn't work.

Poor kid. I'm so surprised he didn't throw a tantrum because I sure wanted too! He played with it -- even though it was broken -- before school. I got him off to school and ran back to help Rich get the room sorted out.

Then, because the GeoTrax was broken, I had to run to Target to exchange it for a new one (which works -- yay!).

By the time all that was done, it was time to pick him up from school, have lunch and let him open more presents. I was just about to go get in the shower, when I realized it was 2:30 and I had to get Josh from the bus stop and I still had not finished getting the things ready for the party.

As soon as Josh got home I rushed to the shower. I didn't even have time to blow dry my hair or put make up on -- so forgive the way I look in the picture -- and we ran down to the club house.

Thankfully, everyone had fun. I made a Lego Cake for him. It was lots of fun to make and a HUGE hit! The marshmallows were hard to frost and it was messy, but fairly easy. As you can tell though, I'm not a perfectionist!

Sam's Lego Cake

I brought a bunch of toys from our house -- mostly Legos and puzzles and just let the kids play. We had pizza and we played one game -- pass the parcel. I used up left over Halloween candy for treats and goody bags (cheap or resourceful, you decide?).

Pass the parcel

Here he is blowing out the candles...

blowing out candles

And here we are, tired and frazzled but very happy!

The four of us

The party was a huge success! The kids had fun, got fed and tired out. I didn't have to clean the house or cook dinner so that was a bonus. And the party itself, hall rental, goody bags, pizza, cake, decorations... all up cost me $75. Not too bad if I do say so myself!

We even had 2 pizza's left over. I brought one to my neighbor and Rich and I ate the other for our dinner when we got home. And yes, we opened a bottle of wine!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen, place your bets...

The official "Fall Raking Season" at Casa J has begun.

We're Raking!

Last year, by the time we were done, we had 91 bags of leaves.

That's a lot of leaves!

We didn't have any plans to rake this weekend, but it was so beautiful, and the kids wanted to jump in the leaf pile...

Ahhh!

This one just makes me itch looking at them in the leaves...

Nap time


We ended up with 9 bags of leaves yesterday. I think we usually have a lot done by Thanksgiving weekend or the weekend after.

So, place your bets, ladies and gentlemen... how many bags do you think we'll get this year?

Will we break 100?

Or will there be less than 90?

Leave a guess and the closest one may win something... bragging rights for sure.

Friday, November 7, 2008

What? The Weekend already?

It's been a weird week. With Josh home sick on Monday, then no school Tuesday... my week's just been thrown off kilter!

On Tuesday night Rich and I stayed up and watched the election results. Of course, we had to. And I've been processing the results. It was a bit surreal. While I did not vote for Obama, watching the crowd react was surreal. And the significance of the occasion was not lost on me. I really felt like I was watching an historical moment.

On one hand, I don't agree with Obama's politics so I was disappointed. But on the other hand, I was proud at what we've accomplished as a nation. The turn out for this election was amazing, that so many of us exercised our right to vote is part of what makes this country great. And the passion in the election too. I don't think I've ever seen an election with so much hype and following!

I did watch McCain's concession speech and I was really moved by it. I thought he did a great job and I thought it really showed what a stand up guy he really is. Made me proud that I'd voted for him.

I had to substitute 3 year olds the next morning so I did not watch Obama's speech. But, I knew I'd be able to find it on the internet -- which I did. I thought he gave a good speech too. Very passionate, which proved he's got a gift for oration.

So, I wish Mr. Obama well in his new job -- after all, he is now my President and I really want him to do a great job. He's got a tough job ahead of him.

Moving on...

Like I said, Tuesday just threw my whole week off. And then the substituting -- which is lots of fun, plus it brings in a bit of extra cash -- also shifted my week. Now it's Friday!

We're getting ready for Sam's birthday next week. So this weekend I'm sure I'll be baking cookies or cup cakes for his class as well as making a birthday cake and putting the final touches on the party. I think Josh has his baseball party/trophy thing this weekend too... but I'm not 100% sure!

Now, I'm just waiting for my new dishwasher to be installed (insert happy dance here) and then off to bring Sam to gymanstics!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! And here's a nice fall picture that Josh drew at school for you all to enjoy...



Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I Voted!

Yep, I went out and let my voice be heard.

I know how lucky I am to live in a country where I can vote. Where I can vote for the person I choose and where I can vote without fear. And where we can discuss politics openly.

Over the last few weeks we've had early voting here in Georgia. The lines have been long -- like 2-4 hour wait times -- and the weather last week was colder than normal. I decided not to do the early voting strictly because of the wait times and hoped that today would be better.

Thankfully, a friend took both the boys so I didn't have to worry about entertaining them while in line. Trust me, it could have gone horribly wrong! And, while the thought of trying to entertain the kids for hours while in line was not at the top of my to-do list.

Thankfully, I was in and out in less than 15 minutes.

While I was standing in line, I was chatting with the ladies near me. When we were up close to the front a young man came out, proudly wearing his "Georgia Voter" sticker and a huge grin! He said hello to the lady in front of me then asked her if she was voting. I thought that was cute and smiled. Because of course she was there to vote. Why else would she be standing in the line?

She turned around and said he just turned 18 a few months ago and this is his first election and he's so excited to be able to vote. She said he is so passionate about voting and the voting process and democracy. She said he talks about it all the time and not about the politics, but about the process and the right to vote.

I couldn't help but think, as I watched him walk away... the pride on his face, the spring in his step. What a fantastic election to be voting for the first time.

No matter who wins, this has been an interesting election year. The outcome will be historic, no matter who wins.

He's excited about being able to vote.

And that just warmed my heart. And made me excited about voting as well.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Have you come down from the Sugar Rush yet?

Wow, what a weekend! Seems like Halloween was weeks away, not days!

The boys had a great time this year. Sam and I went in to Josh's class and helped with some fun Halloween activities. The kids in his class are fantastic. He's got a wonderful teacher -- but she's been out since mid-September (she had back surgery). Thankfully, the supply teacher is wonderful too! Apparently the teacher expects to be back after Thanksgiving. I know the kids will really miss Ms. Barlow, but it will be good to have Mrs. Waterfall back too!

Anyway, I want to share a few photos...

Here is this year's pumpkin. Since I seem to be the only one willing to carve them, I decided only one this year. Of course the kids picked out the pattern...

This years pumpkin

Josh and Sam in costume... Red Power Ranger and Spiderman.

Very serious stuff

I told the kids I was not buying any costumes this year and they had to make do with what we had. A friend gave us the Red Power Ranger suit in exchange for an old Buzz Lightyear we'd loaned her years ago. I got the better end of the deal!

Showing off

Sam then wanted to be Spiderman so they could be Superheroes together.

Filler Up


And thankfully he was Spiderman because at one point on Halloween night, he looked up at me and said, "It's a good thing I'm Spiderman with muscles so I'm strong enough to carry this bag of candy!"

We went to a friend's house and trick-or-treated with them. Here they are just before the candy fest began.

Trick-or-Treat!

We were only out for an hour and the kids collected 3 1/2 lbs of candy! Sam had a melt down at 7:30 and Josh was exhausted so we left. I think Trick-or-Treating ended at 8:30 anyway. But there is no way we could have made it out that long! On the way home Josh looked up at me and said, "Man Mom, I feel soooo gooooodddd!!!" At that point I began to wonder how much candy he had eaten enroute. The boys were so excited they were up early on Friday and Sam even asked if it was time to Trick-or-Treat at 7:00 AM!

But they had fun and we have HEAPS of candy!

On Saturday we were lucky enough to discover we needed a new dishwasher! Yea us! Our dishwasher has been producing black junk/mold/disgusting stuff. We clean it off, it comes back. And it's not cleaning or drying properly either.

So this weekend we decided to take it apart to clean it properly -- and the whole thing was gross. We decided if it was broken, it wouldn't be worth it to fix. We checked on line and if the heating element is gone (what we expect) it wouldn't be worth it to replace. What sucks is it's only 4 years old!

So, off we went to the shops and now I'm waiting installation of a new Bosch -- it's a quiet one so I'm quite excited. We have an "open plan" and it's hard to hear the TV when the dish washer is running.

And Saturday was Josh's last baseball game. I forgot to get pictures. Rich wasn't feeling well so I was solo at the game with both boys. And eventhough Rich wasn't feeling well, he had to sort out our garage door. So not only did we just get a new dishwasher, but we may need a new garage door soon too. I know. Lucky us. Don't be jealous, I'm sure you'll have the "everything breaks at once close to Christmas" sooner or later too.

Sunday Josh and Rich were both sick (just keeps getting better doesn't it?). I kept Josh home from school today so he can have ample time to recover. But it threw the whole weekend right out of whack.

And when Sam got in the car after preschool today he said something about making an instrument and I realized today was "Home Made Instrument Day" and I'd forgotten completely and didn't send one in with him! Yeah, I know, my nomination for Mother of the Year is almost a lock!

Both kids are home tomorrow too -- with the election and all. I hope the lines aren't too long. If they are, then God bless those in line around me! Maybe I'll bring the bag of Halloween Candy and pass it out to the others in line.

Don't forget to go out and vote tomorrow!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Things They Say

I haven't done any kidisms in a while.

And the boys have not stopped talking (and talking and talking and talking). They do come up with some good ones from time to time. It's hard to catch them all or remember them, so I do like to blog them here, just so I don't forget about them.

Here are some of the "latest" kidisms in our house.

Sam was not eating his lunch. He had 1/2 a tuna sandwich on his plate and it was cut into 2 pieces. He'd only eaten one bite out of each triangle.

Me: Sam, eat your lunch. (I should just record this because I have to say it EVERY meal time... "Eat your breakfast," "Eat your lunch," "Eat your dinner.")

Sam: It's all gone... look, only crust.

Me: No Sam, there's still lots of food there... here, let me help you. (I pick up one sandwich and break it in half so he can eat it easier without, heaven forbid, eating any crust).

Sam -- starts to cry: MOM! Now I have more!!! Don't do that!!!

Me: What?

Sam: Look, (counts his sandwich pieces)... 1, 2, 3! Now I have THREE not TWO!!!!

----------

Josh recently got a Golden Retriever Webkinz and he really loves it. We were at the park one day and a lady, walking a "real live Golden Retriever" stopped and the boys were petting him.

Josh (after telling the lady about his Webkinz) : This is the first Real Live Golden Retriever I've ever seen!

Lady: Really? Are you sure?

Josh: Well, I am seven so I've had a lot of time to forget stuff.

----------

Then this morning....

Sam: Mom, say something funny.

Me: Why?

Sam: Because I want to tell you something from Franklin. Just say something.

Me: Okay. Tomorrow is Halloween.

Sam: You can say that again!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Cheering for the Team

We had another fun, yet busy weekend.

I'm beginning to think, as the kid get older, weekends will get more and more hectic!

A couple Friday's ago, Sam started gymnastics at our local parks and rec. Let me tell you -- he LOVES it! And talks about going back all week. The only disappointing thing is it's only 1/2 hour -- the kids could go 45 minutes to an hour and still be okay.

One of the girls from his class is in their with him, as are several other friends we know from around the neighborhood. He's not the only boy either, which is good for him.

Sam at Gymnastics

But he loves it so I think we may continue with this for as long as we can. I'm not sure how long he'll be able to continue it, but gymnastics was not on "the list" of restricted activities from his nephrologist. So we'll see.

Josh's baseball season is coming to an end. Next week is his last game! He's done so well this year. Last weekend the coach on the opposing team called him out as a "big hitter!" He was so excited. We've been going to the playground in the evenings after dinner. He and Rich play catch to practice Josh's catching and throwing. It's just amazing what a difference a year makes!

Sunday was the important Liverpool v. Chelsea match up. The boys were all excited... both teams were undefeated and Chelsea hadn't lost at home in over 4 years... And they hadn't lost in the league since last December. But, records are made to be broken so we were all excited and gearing up for the match!

Getting Ready for the Game

Josh's Liverpool shirt has "16 Pennant" on the back but he wanted "9 Torres." Sam had no number so we made signs and pinned them on their backs.

Getting Ready for the Game

We invited Josh's baseball coach over to watch too. He is from Ireland and a Liverpool supporter as well. He's got 4 boys (triplets in 1st grade and another Sam's age) and all but one are Liverpool supporters... the other is a Chelsea fan. It was lots of fun for all the boys. I think Rich really loved watching and talking football with someone. And another Liverpool fan as well just made it all the more fun.

Josh and Sam had a great time playing with the kids too. They're all so cute. I tried to get a picture of them all but the camera was acting up.

Anyway, the result of the game....

Liverpool scored in the first 10 minutes (ish) of the game and set the speed. They had several good chances to add to the score but never managed another goal. Thankfully, Chelsea didn't capitalize on any chances either so the final score...

Liverpool 1-Chelsea 0 final score

And we are top of the table and all happy in the house...

go Liverpool!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Conversations that make you wonder...

I was at the grocery store this week and this is an actual conversation I had with the check out clerk... Now, to be fair, it was SuperTarget, not my usual grocery store. But still.

She's scanning my produce, stops, looks at something and asks, "What is this?"

Me, slightly confused...: "A potato."

Clerk: "Do you know what kind?"

Me: "Idaho? Baking?"

Clerk, now looking at her list of look up codes: "Oh, Idaho..."

She continues with my order...

Pretty soon she stops, inspects a bag of produce and asks, "And what do you call these?"

Me: "Green beans."

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Puppies Together

Sam & Annie

Sam with my parents' new puppy Annie. It was so cute to see them play together. We don't have pets so the whole puppy thing was new for Sam. And she's such a cute puppy!

More Wordless Wednesday here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Home Again

I'm back home!

My mom had back surgery one week ago today. She had several misaligned discs and some spurs and all sorts of pain. She was in the hospital for several days.

So Sam and I went up on Saturday (the day she got out) to help my dad and her get settled in.

She's got a long road to recovery ahead of her. She's pretty much bed-ridden until Thanksgiving. Then she has a doctor's appointment and they tell her how what her next restrictions are.

Right now she can only sit for 30 minutes. Then she has to either walk or lay down for 1 1/2 hours. She's not allowed to bend, lift, twist, push or pull. She's also not allowed to do any cooking or cleaning for 6 months (at least). Her the most she can lift is 5 lbs. That's about 1/2 a gallon of milk.... and to be honest she can't do that right now.

So, Sam and I went up to help my dad get her settled when she got home. She can't sit in a car except to go to the doctors office so we needed someone with her at all times. I think as she heals and the more used to this new set of restrictions piles on, my dad will leave her for longer bits of time. So he can go to the grocery store and stuff.

Anyway, Sam and I just got home. While we were gone, Rich and Josh stayed home and had some father/son bonding time.

I think they both really enjoyed it, but I know Josh missed me. He called me at least 3 times a day!

Anyway, now we're home, hopefully I'll be able to update a bit more often!

And prayers and well wishes for my mom's speedy recovery are greatly appreciated!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain

Last week Josh had a concert with the 2nd grade chorus. They sang for the PTSA.

Here's a bit of video of them singing...


video

They did really well. Very cute!

I've had a terrible cough this week, so my posting has been less than consistent. Hopefully, now that I have some antibiotics for my sinus infection, I'll start to feel better and have a bit more time!

Until then, enjoy the video of Josh!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Rain Won't Ruin Our Fun!

Yesterday I chaperoned Josh's class trip to the Etowah Indian Mounds.

We've been enjoying some beautiful weather here lately. Sunny, mild, not too hot. It's been beautiful.

So, of course, it rained yesterday. It rained a lot! But we still had fun.

Etowah Indian MoundsThe Etowah Indian Mounds is the most intact Mississippian Culture site in the Southeastern United States. It was home to several thousand Native Americans between 1000 AD and 1550 AD. The mounds are where the chief's lived -- elevated above the villagers and common areas.

One thing Josh thought was interesting was how each chief had to be up higher than the chief before him... so the mounds kept growing and growing.

Here we are on our way out to the mounds --

Walking out to the mounds

There are three that are clearly visible. The largest, Mound A, is where the chief lived, Mound B is where the second in command -- I guess we can say "vice-chief" since we're so close to an election -- and then Mound C which is the burial mound and where many of the artifacts in the museum were excavated.

We climbed to the top of Mound A and had a nice view...

View from Top: Etowah Indian Mounds

The kids counted 124 steps (I think) on the way down.

Going Down

We even got to go inside the "Wattle and Daub" hut they are re-constructing.

Mud Hut

The website has lots of great pictures of volunteers rebuilding the hut. They expect it to be fully finished in the next few weeks.

The Wattle Roof and Daubed wall

We were quite lucky -- the second graders were split into two groups. One went to the mounds first and the other did the inside museum first, then they switched. We were lucky -- we got inside first when the rain was heaviest.

It was really interesting -- lots of cool artifacts, a dugout canoe, one ranger talked about the weapons they used (Josh liked this best) and how they progressively got better and better.

It's a shame it was wet and rainy because we really only got to go up Mound A and back down again. There is much more to the site -- you can walk trails up to the river and back to see where they fished, there is a large open field where they lived and also where they had their ceremonies and sports events. It was really cool!

And then when we got home, it really started to downpour!

DSC03290
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