Thursday, January 29, 2009

Trip to the Zoo and School Reports

Yesterday I had Josh's school conference. No surprise, he did exceedingly well. All 3's (that's the highest mark). And really, she said the only things he needs to work on are handwriting and math -- although his math is above average.

And in ALP he had a project he did before Thanksgiving and had to present to the whole class (the unit was "Mystery" so he chose "Mystery Word Charades"). When the got the assignment, the teacher told them that very few people would get "4's" on the marking. She said it was only for going beyond what was asked for. Well of the 8 things she was evaluating him on, he got ALL 4's! Perfect marks!

He was so happy when he and Rich called and I could tell him! Apparently they had lots of fun in London yesterday and it completely wore him out! But he loved the Science Museum. I can't to hear more about it when he gets back.

And today Sam and I went to the Zoo. It was cold but sunny. And there were a lot of animals off exhibit because of the cold, so we were only charged 1/2 price. But, we did get to see the baby panda they have. He didn't come out of his little shelter, but we could see him in there playing. Mamma Panda was eating right in front of us and Daddy Panda was munching right along in the next pen. The baby lion cubs were off exhibit today so we didn't get to see them, but I have a feeling we'll be back when it's warmer.

It had been a while since we'd been to Zoo Atlanta and WOW! They've made a lot of changes. There's a really cool Naked Mole Rat exhibit, new playgrounds, an indoor play place (it was closed today), warthogs, and so much more... and they're building more too. So great to see the improvements to an already wonderful zoo!

Since Josh and Rich have my camera I don't have any snaps of us there, but it was lots of fun and very cold!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Hangin' Out With Sam

This week Josh and Rich are visiting his family in London.

We were supposed to make our "family" trip this year, but decided that next year would be best financially. So, we made the decision that Rich would go visit his family and take Josh as a special treat.

The boys only have 1/2 days this week so it's a good time for Josh to miss school. Plus, his teacher gave him some homework to do so he won't get too far behind. I also bought him a journal to write in every day and he's got my camera to take pictures. Nanny seems to be doing a good job keeping him on track.

We've spoken to the boys almost every day they've been gone, and video called on the computer so we could see them too. We won't get a chance to talk today because they're going in to the city and visiting the Science Museum and then spending the night with some friends that live in the city.

Josh is very excited about the Science Museum. They are studying "Time and Space" in his ALP (Gifted) class and he wants to see the space exhibit there.

Anyway, since Daddy and Josh are having their own little vacation, Sam and I are at home by ourselves. Sam was a bit disappointed that he could not go, but he's such a Mommy's Boy he would have been a nightmare for Rich to have there. Plus, he's a bit more high maintenance than Josh is right now.

So Sam and I have been doing some special things. We went to our favorite indoor play place earlier this week and it looks like the weather is going to be sunny and 55 tomorrow so we're playing hooky and going to the Zoo!

And, we've been playing on the PS2 every day... Lego Batman, Lego StarWars (I & II) and Lego Indiana Jones games. Sam also got a new Lego Indiana Jones set so we've played with the Lego's a bit too.

Can you tell Sam is a bit obsessed with Lego's?

It's been really strange not having Rich and Josh here. Sam's been really well behaved. Not that he's normally horrid, but he's just been better behaved than usual -- I guess there isn't anyone to bother!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Random Updates and Things.

As you've probably noticed from my lack of updates, things have been a bit all over the place lately here.

We're really busy, but there's really not much going on. So today I just thought I'd fill you in on some of the randomness that's going on right now. It's really not all that interesting, but I'm sure my parents are dying for an update of some sort.


So, as you know, our heating has been on the blink. Last weekend it got so bad we decided that maybe there was something wrong with it and we should call someone out.

And with our luck lately -- we seem to be hemorrhaging money at the moment -- we fully expected to need a new furnace. When we bought the house, the inspector told us it really wasn't sufficient to heat our whole house. Which is why we weren't really clued in that it may actually be broken.

So, I called out to a neighbor that has a HVAC company. He came over and said ignitor switch was broken. $55 part, $65 labor. Needless to say, we were thrilled at the $120 price tag as opposed to the $5000 one we thought we may need.

And he said the heater WAS good enough for the house and showed us how to actually set the flow to regulate upstairs-downstairs. We've all been very happy and warm this week!

Our garage door is still hosed but that will have to wait. We're just parking outside at the moment.


I've been doing a lot of substitute teaching for Sam's school this week. Even though it's only 4 hours a day, it's so tiring! We get home and it's almost time to get Josh from the bus. I never realized how much I missed my mornings and how much I got done until I didn't have them.

One of the teachers at the school is quite ill -- she's in the hospital with some sort of virus and they don't really know what's wrong at the moment. The school did some teacher shuffling since it looks like she'll be out for a bit longer, so I'm only there 2 days this week, and they're short days.


And finally, as most of you know, we're a bit uncertain what will happen with Rich's job this year. He works for an IT company that has a contract with a large mobile phone/telecomm company. Rich works on the billing application there. The "client" has decided to not use that outsourced application any longer and instead migrate everyone over to their own in-house system.

Which really makes sense. Why run 2 billing applications when you can run one and why pay for outsourcing when you have a team already running it.

So we've known for over a year that Rich's job would be going away eventually. Well it looks like "eventually" is sometime this year.

He's been looking for jobs internally and found a prospect with the same client in the same building doing something he's quite excited about. He's been persuing this opportunity for about 9 months but it looks like things will finally fall into place in February.

He found out yesterday there are some internal politics at play that may have been the reason for the long, drawn out process. But the manager of the group wants Rich and has a good case for him. Hopefully the decision will be made this week or early next week.

Rich is really excited about working with this team, the manager and on the team. He'll be learning something new, and we all know how he loves to learn!

So, please keep us in your thoughts, prayers, whatever... and that this finally comes to a conclusion (one way or the other) this week. It's starting to stress Rich out a bit!


I've been knitting like crazy. Once I finished Rich's sweater I got the bug! I made a pair of "topless" mittens that I love (I'll post a picture soon). And I am working on a baby sweater for a friend who is having a baby soon.

I still have a queue a mile long of things I want to make. The boys still want me to make some hats for them and I really want to make something for me. I can't work on more than one thing at a time -- I'll get confused!


That's about it for us for now. I'll try to come back again this week and post more. I'm solo parenting Sam this week. Josh and Rich are on an adventure together and have my camera. More about that later.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Exploiting My Friend's Kids.

Facebook is one of my new obsessions.

Yes, I feel a bit "stalker-ish" sometimes -- or feel I've been stalked, but still, when you have moved around as much as I have, you have friends far and wide!

Of course one of the true advantages is when you meet up with an old friend -- or friend of a friend -- they can ask you for favors. This has happened to me.

One of my friends from way back when asked me to exploit his kids. His name is Bob Osborne and he's a red head. And... he has three of the most beautiful red-headed daughters who are lucky enough to be part of the Little Red Head Project... "Little Red Heads Across America." This is a book all about Red Headed kids.

Bob's kids are in this book, and he asked me if I'd help spread the word. The Book, "Little Red Heads Across America" features pictures of red-headed children from all over the U.S., fun facts about red hair (did you know only 2% of American's have red hair? In Ireland... 10%), some funny myths and superstitions about red hair (like they're all related), famous people with red hair and other bits of trivia and tidbits that will make your red headed child feel special.

The webite is very cute and the book looks cute too. My sister has red hair -- she was strawberry blonde growing up and now has the most beautiful shade of hair -- sort of auburn-ish... it's beautiful. And her youngest has gorgeous red curly hair just like she did! Maybe this would make a great gift for Katy and Hannah!

Check out the book and if you have a red head in your family -- or wish you did -- this would make a great gift!

And if there is a Little Red Head book 2, I know the most gorgeous toddler that would be the perfect cover girl!

Monday, January 19, 2009

They Say Things Come in 3's.... Right?

Well, if that's the case, we're set for a bit...

I'm sure you all remember our little car issue -- the transmission needing to be replaced?

If you've friended me on Facebook, I'm sure you're aware of our heating issue... if not, let me fill you in.

We've had unseasonably cold weather here in Georgia. Now, for those up North that are accustomed to sub-zero weather... more power to you. Our problem comes in when we get zero degree weather -- or just below freezing -- our heater can't heat the house.

Luckily, we have a fully furnished, comfortable basement that has it's own heating system. This weekend in Atlanta the highs were in the teens and the lows were below zero. Our house -- the main living area -- didn't get above 49 degrees all weekend.

So we moved into the basement. Thankfully, it started to warm up yesterday and we actually could spend time in the main house and sleep in our beds again! But we're expecting a few more cold days this week so I have someone coming out to look at the heater this evening.

And, because when one thing falls apart, so does another and another.... We were getting ready to go to Target this weekend -- just to get out of the house and warm ourselves up -- and the garage door broke. The opener ripped a huge chunk right off the back of the door.

When that happened, Josh said, "Man! It seems like the whole house is falling apart!"

But, even though we've had a string of "issues" come up -- at least all have our health and we had some nice "quality family time" while we were stuck in the basement together.

And I made a hat for Rich to go with his sweater....

Rich's hat

Here's Josh modeling it... and looking quite enthused.

Looking enthused.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Finally Finished!

I started knitting a sweater for Rich way back in July. My goal was to be done by Christmas.

Well, I didn't make it. I Was almost done -- only one arm to go -- and I ran out of yarn. So I changed my goal to be done before the end of this month.

I finished it yesterday.

Here he is modeling it. It's called the "Backbone Sweater" because of the cabling up the back...

Backbone sweater, back

The front has a "hand print" knitted in by using the knits and purls...

Backbone Sweater, front

And the front detail.....

Backbone Sweater, front design

And the back detail....

Backbone Sweater, back design

Even though it took me forever to knit it, I really had fun with this. I found a mistake in the pattern, and since I'm still learning, I didn't know what to do. So, I contacted the designer, both by email and Ravelry (fantastic knitting site) and she emailed me back! She said no one had ever caught the error before so she fixed it for me and is updating the pattern.

I'm making him a hat out of the left over yarn now. Then after that, I think I'll make something for me!

I'm torn between a warm, cozy wrap/poncho -- like the one on this blog. But the time it would take is a bit daunting.... or a and a summery-lacy top like the one on this blog.

Of course the boys both want me to do something for them. So maybe I'll sneak in a hat for the boys.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Now It's Your Turn to be a Winner!

So yesterday I posted about some things I've won recently....

Well today I've just got a quick post to tell you about some things I have up for grabs over at Being Savvy Atlanta.

Give away number one ends tomorrow so hurry up and enter... It's for a Global Wonders DVD. The Global Wonders DVD series introduce your child to the vibrant and varied cultures from around the neighborhood and around the world. Through live footage and animation, your children will discover new foods, games, music, and holidays around the world. With Global Wonders, your child can gain a broader understanding of themselves and the world around them, fostering a stronger self-identity, increased self-esteem, and improved cultural and social skills.

To enter, follow this link and leave a comment with your email address...

The second is a 10 year membership to is an on-line meal planning service for customized web-based meal planning, recipes, customized shopping lists, wine pairings, techniques and ideas. We'll provide you with hundreds of choices of meal plans and recipes you will love and more importantly, your kids will eat.

I have one membership to giveaway at being Savvy Atlanta. To enter the Savvy contest, follow this link.

And because I think is a great meal planning site, I have a membership to giveaway here too! I know meal planning is a big hurdle for a lot of us, but it really does save time and money in the long run. Not to mention the stress of "what to have for dinner!"

If you'd like to win a membership to on this site, please leave a comment below (and please include a valid email address so I can contact you) with your family's favorite meal.

Contest is open until midnight EST Friday, February 16th. I'll randomly pick a winner.

One entry per person please.

Good Luck!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I'm a Winner!

It seems I've been on a bit of a winning streak -- blog contest wise.

I recently won a Land's End cashmere sweater from my friend Shannan at Mommy Bits Reviews. It is wonderful and beautiful and so comfortable! Thank you Shannan!

I also recently won a recipe contest over at MomCooks. MomCooks and were holding a contest for recipes and I submitted several and one of mine one! My Mexican Tilapia. It's over on the emealsforyou Blog and now one of the recipes on the website.

It really is a super easy recipe and very yummy.

And I won a Little JetSet backpack by Little Piggy from MomTrends. We gave this to Sam for Christmas and he LOVES it!

So, while my car is in getting a new transmission -- at least I'm still a winner!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Playing Catch Up!

I can't believe it's been almost 2 weeks since I wrote last!

We've been busy and been having lots of fun this Christmas break! So... where to begin...

We went to see The Tale of Despereaux on Christmas Eve and both the boys loved it! We'd read the book, which is fantastic, and I knew the movie would be different so I was a bit concerned how Josh would take it.

The movie was different -- but the message in the movie and the book are the same. And it wasn't too different. I thought it was a great movie. Of course, I liked the book better, but both the boys really enjoyed the movie and that's what matters.

Christmas day was fun too. We managed to hold the kids off until about 6:30 or so. Then came downstairs and opened a few presents. We were a bit unfortunate... Sam's only present he asked Santa for was the Playmobil Knights and Castles set. I found one about 2 weeks before Christmas on Amazon and ordered it in plenty of time for a Christmas delivery. We got the notice that it would be delivered on 12/19... and it still hadn't come by Christmas Eve! I wrote Amazon and they told me to "wait until 12/26." Yeah. I don't think so.

I had to go out and buy something else for Sam (I got the Playmobil Skatepark for him). Santa left a note saying the elves ran out of the item he asked for, He was a bit disappointed Santa didn't get him the set he asked for, but still loves the Skatepark anyway.

The boys got a Wii and some games for it from the Grandparents (both sets chipped in for the unit plus a few games, extra controller, etc...). So that has been the main source of entertainment for the past week.

We've been having all sorts of fun "Family Challenges" on the Wii Sport.

We took the kids on a Nature Scavenger hunt one day, and to the Tennessee Aquarium one day. Both were lots of fun and there are pictures up on my Flickr page.

We also had a bit of bad news about our car. On Christmas Eve when I was driving all over trying to get Sam's gift, I noticed the speedometer had stopped working. So we brought it to the dealer shortly after Christmas and discovered it needed (among other things) a new transmission.

We hummed and hawed over getting the repairs or buying a new car and when I mentioned to the dealer we may be interested in a new car, he told me he couldn't help me out there. No wonder they need a bail out!

When that happened, we decided to cut our losses and bring it to an independant garage for a 2nd opinion. He was so nice! He looked at our car and spent a lot of time diagnosing it. He called us frequently and let us know what was going on. Bottom line tough -- yes it did need a new tranny.

We were prepared for this, so we'd been looking at some new car options and decided, for now, the best thing is to keep our car and do the repairs. I love my car and am just not ready to give up on it, downsize or settle for something I don't really want. Hopefully we'll get the car back later in the week.

The boys start back at school on Tuesday. Sam told me the other day he missed his friends and wanted to go back to school. Josh is ready to go back too!

So that's pretty much up to date -- the abridged version anyway!

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year! Here's to new beginnings, and a prosperous 2009!
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