Thursday, December 30, 2010

Still Importing from Homeschool Blogger

If you follow me on Google Reader, you may think I've been a busy, busy writer this evening. However, I have just been importing more posts from my old blog at Homeschool Blogger. I am down to just one page left--something I will do tomorrow while we wait for the new year to roll in. I really know how to party, don't I?

So that is it...just an explanation.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My Favorite Things (aka You Capture: Holiday Favorites)

Kids in new PJs
new PJs
and looks of surprises,

Michael presents
bright colored gifts in all shapes and all sizes,

Christmas tree Cara

big chocolate bar, oh the joy that it brings...


These are a few of my favorite things!

Traditional Christmas morn’ cinnamon sweets,
cinnamon roll
precious lil' princesses doling out treats,

Audrey tea
big brother doing his sister's assembling...
bed building 3
These are a few of my favorite things!



10 Confessions of a Blizzard Survivor

So maybe you're wondering how we weathered the blizzard, and here I am prattling on and on about inane topics like pine needles. In short, we survived. But I do have a few confessions to make:

Confession #1
This blizzard was my fault. I have been watching the forecast for weeks hoping against hope there would be snow during my parents' visit. I really, really wanted them to see it. Obviously, I got my wish, but all the white stuff here made us housebound, which meant that, although my folks got to see the snow, they didn't get to see anything else of New England. We had a good Christmas week anyway. And turns out they could have had a white Christmas if they had stayed at home.

Confession #2
Credit should be given to me and my family for the first white Christmas in Georgia in over a century. I know this because good things always happen when we leave a place. I mean, look at all of the shopping centers that sprang up all over the little town of Winder when we left 7 years ago. Not little town anymore, but more like big metropolis.

To all of my Georgia friends - you are welcome.

Confession #3
I already knew what my first real snow would be like. I had visions of me standing by the window, hot beverage in hand, watching big, fluffy snowflakes fall serenely from the heavens to alight gently on the delicate branches of the backyard trees. Instead those soft, gentle snowflakes were more like white streaks. And there was no serenity about it; the white streaks were hurled violently to the ground by furious wind.

Confession #4
The wind caused me great angst. It howled, it groaned. It threatened to snap the power lines; it threatened to pick up the house and dump it in the Land of Oz. It went on and on for a day and a night and a day. Even through double-paned windows, it snuck in, causing the curtains to flutter a bit. Moreover, because of the wind, all of the trees and many a hill were left naked. No soft, fluffy snow outlining each branch and creating a postcard perfect winter picture.

Confession #5
As this blizzard made its way up the east coast, I read a few blogs that depicted happy families cozying up for the blustery day, enjoying the snowbound time together. There were descriptions of games and fireplaces and hot cider and happy smiles. We didn't do anything. I am a preparer. I should have been more prepared. I should have had ready a List of Things to Do When We are Snowbound.

Confession #6
Remember that snow blower our landlord left us that my handy dandy husband was sure to fix? Neither he nor our neighbor could get it to work. I'd probably feel better saying that this meant Mark and I got out and shoveled the driveway and all of the sidewalks ourselves, but no. We hired someone to do it for us. Which will work out just fine for me when TravelDaddy is gone thankyouverymuch. Plus, I have my little men to help out if need be.

Confession #7
As shocking as it was to my Facebook friends who saw my pictures of the blizzard, I played outside with the kids. I even enjoyed it. I can do stuff, you know.

Confession #8
When I saw the elderly neighbor shoveling his driveway, I convinced the kids to be good neighbors and help him.

I watched them be good neighbors from the window. I felt bad because it took them about an hour. But I was proud. So I made them hot chocolate with lots and lots of marshmallows.

Confession #9
I'm a little bit terrified nervous about driving in this stuff. My husband drove us to the airport this morning to drop off my parents. It seemed a little bit intimidating. My dear friend Tisha sent me a ha-ha-very-funny gift a few weeks ago. Actually, not so much ha-ha-very-funny but ha-ha-if-only-it-weren't-so-true. I plan to slap it on my car as soon as I decide to get behind the wheel and slide down the hill to the store venture out into the white wonderland.
bumper sticker

I continue to check obsessively for the next storm on the horizon. It will be lovely with big, giant, fluffy snowflakes that float gently to the ground. And even with the snow on the ground, it will be 80 degrees outside. Oh wait, that is my vision of Heaven.





Tuesday, December 28, 2010


About the massively thick trail of pine needles left from where the dead Christmas tree stood to where the dead Christmas tree exited the house, my husband said, "Let this be a lesson to you next year when you tell me you want a real Christmas tree because that is how Northerners do it."

Thing is, there was something so housewifingly* gratifying about vacuuming up the piles and piles of needles...

how each one came to life as the suction came closer and closer,

how they finally gave a jump and then disappeared,

the faint zzt, zzt, zzt as each tiny needle hurdled up into the canister,

the way all of the needles danced around together in the canister,

the dead pine smell that will softly emanate from the vacuum the first few times I use it after this very moment.

Clearly, I may need to purchase another coniferous tree this spring and kill it just so I can once again have the opportunity to indulge in such an activity.

*housewifingly (adv.) (haus-wīf-ing-lē) - A word used to describe any adjective describing any duty of a housewife. Example: The apron-clad woman was struck by the housewifingly lovely sight of the 100th stack of dishes that Christmas week with guests in the house, though she was quite sure that the 101st stack might not prove to be so housewifingly alluring.

(from The Kathleen's Dictionary, 1st Edition)

Sunday, December 26, 2010


I've always kind of assumed the term blizzard to be an exaggeration, hyperbole. Sort of like when someone says, "It's raining cats and dogs" or "It's hot as you-know-what". But, no, there it is on the forecast for today: Blizzard.

I have been watching the forecast for weeks now with much anticipation, waiting for my first "real" snow. A blizzard was not what I had in mind, however, for my initiation into the Arctic.

In true Southern fashion, we are preparing with a mindset that is just about right at Panic. We got ready for church but then decided to opt out this week so Mark could hit some of the stores for things we might need to keep alive for the next couple of days. Of course, we don't need food since this is the day after our Christmas feast, but we do need gas for a snowblower our landlord left for us to use. Of course, we do not know how to use it, but I'm sure my handy dandy husband will figure it out. We also need firewood in the event the worst occurs.

The Worst, a power outage, was certainly not in my picture of how the first real storm would play out. The way I imagined it, I would be inside a warm house, a cup of hot tea in hand, watching from the window as the children merrily played out in the soft, gentle snow. I hadn't really thought about the possibility of sitting in a dark, freezing cold house. Because this is the North, right? They know how to deal with this stuff without all of the problems, right? Maybe not, at least according to the local news.

And did I mention my parents are here visiting from Georgia? I have to keep them warm too.

My children do not share my anxieties over this pending white doom. When I told them a blizzard was forecasted for the day, they cheered. I think they have been a little misguided too, however: Somehow I think that their ideas for the first "real" snow may not have included hurricane force winds accompanying the flakes.

So if you don't hear from me, I'm either huddled around a fire trying to stay warm. Or I'm dead. If we do survive our first blizzard, I'm sure there will be lots of pictures to follow of the kids playing in our expected 10-20" of snow. After the wind has died down, of course.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Best Day Out


My husband and I are competitive people. So when he takes the boys out for a Boys' Day Out, and I venture out with my sweet girls for a Girls' Day Out, there has to be a little competitive edge thrown in. Just for fun. Not that we set out this morning to make it a competition, but I guess I perpetuated it by sending friendly text messages to my husband throughout the day that said something like, "I bet we're having more fun than you." Because, honestly, who doesn't want to be the cool parent the kids all want to hang with?

So who won? Well, you can be the judge.

First, we breakfasted at Starbucks where the girls enjoyed some divine Hot Chocolate paired with scrumptious donuts and cinnamon rolls.


Alex cinnamon roll

Then we were off to the mall. First stop: the salon where we all had manicures, which included festive designs painted on our nails.

nail salon


Following the salon, we did a little shopping, including a stop at Bath and Body Works where the girls chose their favorite scent and left with luxurious bath products in that fragrance.

Our tummies were rumbly at this point, so we lunched at one of our favorites: California Pizza Kitchen. Only problem? My recently birthdayed 11-year-old is no longer on a kids' menu. So a new era in our lives begins.


A girls' day is not complete without chocolate, so our next stop was at the Rainforest Cafe where we ate way too much of a Volcano.


elephant Audrey

A little more fun shopping for last minute Christmas gifts, and we headed home.

Around this time, I texted my husband "See? More fun!!" accompanied by this picture:
Rainforest Cafe

He texted me back with this "picture":


Something about breakfast, haircuts, lunch, and video games.

Seriously. Is there even a contest?

Monday, December 20, 2010

A New Do a Must Do

I was busy making green chocolate Christmas trees that I plan to use for a special treat on Christmas Day. And I mean busy. I wasn't going to look up lest my chocolate hand forget what it was doing and swirl chocolate in all the wrong places. No, I was not going to look up no matter how many times my sweet little princess implored, "Mommy, do you notice anything different about my hair?"

Besides, the last time I had looked at her, all I noticed was the big rat's nest that had formed on the side of her head as a result of not having brushed her hair all day long. "Audrey, I can't look up right now," I emphasized for the 7th time.

Finally I finished the trees. And finally I looked up. Now, I have heard other moms talk about this event; in fact, it seems to happen in all families. Except mine. I think Michael may have done it once, but it was barely noticeable. But Audrey...well, she really took those scissors to her hair.

I know the moment I looked up, I said, "YOU CUT YOUR HAIR??!!" which must have come out angry instead of my heartfelt emotion of surprise because Audrey went from an attitude of Wow! Look at what I accomplished! to Oh no! What have I done to my hair? I quickly consoled her and assured her it looked, um, good. And stylish. Honestly, the one side did look kind of cute. As a start anyway.

Audrey 2

Audrey 4

Coincidentally, I had planned on taking Audrey in for a trim on Wednesday. Trim being the operative word. Since we have plans to go out tomorrow, though, I thought I might prefer my daughter not to be lopsided. So she got her new do this evening, and she quite likes it.

Audrey 5

Quick Goody Bites

There are times that call for a shortcut. Let's say, for example, that you have a Christmas cookie decorating party one day, and there are a lot of leftover cookies. And let's say that you could use those leftover cookies to make pretty Christmas goody trays for your neighbors. But then suppose you your greedy children eat all of those leftover cookies, and there is nothing left for the neighbors. And let's further suppose that you have procrastinated and not made any other goodies.

Of course that's just a hypothetical, but it really could happen. Really it could. And if it did, you would need a quick, easy solution: homemade chocolate covered pretzels. OK, so the pretzels are not homemade, but these have a nice homey touch anyway.

Here are the simple ingredients:

Why, yes, that is a 72 oz. bag of chocolate chips. I do see how some might think my relationship with chocolate unhealthy. In my defense, we made a trip to Sam's this past weekend.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. I actually prefer using a large glass bowl over a pot of boiling water. The glass bowl is wider and therefore easier to bathe the pretzels in. Plus, it does not have that obnoxious groove all of my double boilers have had; the groove is so difficult to clean.

melted chocolate

Then submerge the pretzels in the chocolate. Lucky pretzels.

pretzel bath

(Sidebar: According to something I saw sometime on Food Network, there is a spa in Hershey, PA, which offers a chocolate bath. I've joked about bathing in chocolate before. Now that I live in the Arctic, I am so close to Hershey, PA, it is actually a possibility. I just need to convince my husband to fork over the hotel points so I can spend a day (or two) in the chocolate city.)

Using a skewer or some other tool that will get the job done, fish the pretzels out of their chocolate bath and let some of the excess chocolate drip off. It is entertaining to watch all of the chocolate designs the drips form in the bowl. Isn't chocolate divine?

dripping pretzel

Let the bathed pretzels drain and dry.

naked pretzels

Now it's ready to decorate. You need two pastry bags for each color of chocolate you will decorate with. I use the disposable ones because who wants to try to clean chocolate out of a pastry bag in order to reuse it? Not me. You also need chocolate wafers in the colors of your choosing. You can get these at Michaels or Hobby Lobby (I miss Hobby Lobby). Most normal Wal-Marts that are not the Wal-Mart down the street from me carry them also.

Place the chocolate wafers in one bag and place that bag in the second bag (this will keep water from getting into the chocolate filled bag). Fill a glass with very hot water and submerge the double bagged chocolate wafers. Give it a few minutes so the chocolate can melt, then snip off the very tip of the inner bag that contains the chocolate. Now, with a flick of your wrist, swirl the chocolate all over the pretzels. It's very technical.

chocolate bags

Well, not so much.


Had I not been working so hard to fend off hungry little fingers, I would have a picture of the finished product in the cute little goody boxes...

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Arby at Boarding in Bedlam just gave me the Stylish Blog Award. To accept, I have to list 7 random facts about me and then pass it on.

Honestly, I'm not sure why I was given the award because

1. I am very stylishly challenged. I am not a sharp dresser. I don't do anything much with my hair. I usually put on a little make-up, but I most likely apply it incorrectly.

2. I do not like shopping (have I mentioned that before), a fact which plays a pivotal role in the fact that I am not very fashionable. You would think I would be fashionable because my idea of clothes shopping is to find something I like on a mannequin and buy it, and mannequins are usually pretty stylish, right? Problem is, the cheap stuff usually isn't what they dress the cute little mannequin in, so my husband helps me shop for clothes. He has much more patience than I do when it comes to digging through clothes racks looking for a good deal.

3. Besides lacking fashion sense, I am exceptionally mediocre at a lot of things. I can bake and cook, but you'd never find me on The Food Network. I can write, but I will likely never have a #1 bestseller (although my name is on obsolete GRE and SAT Study Guides). I can snap a picture, but I don't think I'll be asked to photograph any weddings any time soon. I can scrap a page of photos, but I'm not particularly crafty. I play volleyball, but I'm no longer as awesome as I was back in the day. I'm OK with this mediocrity, though, because I do my best in what I do, and that is really the important thing. Plus, I am exceedingly happy with my life just the way it is. Of course there is a list

4. I love lists.

5. of things at which I would love to become exceptionally exceptional: photography, writing, and cooking would top that list.

6. One of my favorite shows on TV right now is A&E's Hoarders. I realize that is a strange show to be hooked on, but the psychology behind all of the lives mercilessly dragged across the TV screen fascinates me.

7. If I had it to do over again, I would probably major in psychology instead of English. That or history. History fascinates me now that I have decided there is some value in knowing the past in order to make the present and future more bright.

8. Although I should not be admitting this since I have a little side business that depends upon my stellar teaching English skills, I do not favor "classic" novels/tales/books over your average Clancy/Ludlum/Grisham thriller. I find many of them tedious. Like Moby Dick. I have tried several times to read the book about the whale, but it simply bores me to tears. To Kill a Mockingbird is an exception; it is one of my favorite books.

9. If I had 3 wishes, they would be 1) a guarantee that my children will come to know, love, and grow in Christ, 2) to become a better mother, and 3) 6 never-ending plane tickets to anywhere we want to go whenever we want to get there (accommodations would be nice as well).

10. I do not like uneven numbers. When I turn the volume on the radio up, it must be set at even number intervals. Actually, the 5s are OK for radio volume too. I could have done 8 random things about myself to make this list even, but if I'm going to have 8, I may as well have 10 which is a much more rounded number than 8. And since I enjoy talking about myself, this works out quite well. Of course the fact that I like talking about myself could be #11, but then I would have to go to 15, and, well, I know there is just so much of this you can take.

So that is me in 10 random facts. I'm accepting of me. I'm accepting this award. And...I'm passing it on to: Days of Our Lives, Cheeky Cocoa Beans, and Down a Red Dirt Lane (just keepin' my Georgia peeps together!).

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Maybe we should part ways.

When I say Chick-fil-A and I have had a long relationship, I'm not kidding. During college, Chick-fil-A was my second job ever. And over the years, I have been a faithful customer and promoter of their chicken and good manners. At this juncture in my life, though, our relationship may be over. It soured a little this weekend anyway.

Perhaps I've mentioned this already, but when I received the Big News of our move, one of the very first things I did was write Chick-fil-A a very kind letter explaining that their absence in the state of Connecticut was causing much angst in my life. I received a very kind response in which I was informed that the state of Connecticut was not even a scribbled note on their plans for future expansion.

And so the days have passed with no sweet little Chicken Minis for breakfast, no Spicy Chicken Sandwich for lunch. All the while, I have kept my eye on the Chick-fil-A that is closest to my new home. In Paramus, New Jersey. 92.78 miles from here to be exact. But...only 11 miles from the hotel where we spent the beginning of this week.

You can imagine my excitement. The plan was to enjoy a delicious, hot breakfast at my beloved Chick-fil-A, then drive back beyond our hotel to the theater for The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, then head back to Chick-fil-A for lunch. Honestly, I could barely contain my enthusiasm as we got in the car in the early morning hours. But my enthusiasm waned a bit as we drew near because it seemed the GPS was leading us directly to a mall. No, I thought, this can't be. Surely it is a free-standing building we can enter and partake in a sit-down breakfast.

It was indeed in the mall. We went in anyway because people in malls like to eat breakfast, right? Apparently in New Jersey they do like to eat breakfast, just not Chick-fil-A. It was closed for breakfast. I had to eat breakfast at the McDonald's 2 restaurants down from Chick-fil-A.

So we went to the movie and returned. At least it was open for lunch. And I ordered, but here's the real stinker. No one was friendly. Or polite. I mean the guy who served me did give me the obligatory "My pleasure" when I thanked him, but it was clearly not his pleasure as he issued the response with a growl, dare I say, a snarl.

And so it is that I am at this turning point in my relationship with the wonderful franchise with the ridiculously fun and creative cow ads, the yummy nuggets (made with real chicken), and the delicious sweet tea. I know a relationship should not be broken based on one disappointment.

Perhaps I should just avoid New Jersey.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

11 and Counting

I cannot believe my little girl is 11 today! I honestly don't know how it happened so fast.

a Nyack Alex birthday girl

We spent a couple days in New York just outside the city. We saw the new Chronicles of Narnia movie in 3D,
a Nyack movie

we had a scrumptious birthday dinner at The Cheesecake Factory, we went to the American Museum of Natural History, and

Dum Dum 2

now her daddy, The Chef, is cooking her a delicious steak dinner.

Friday, December 10, 2010

As far as I'm concerned, today was Christmas.

If you know me at all, you know that, materialistically speaking, there are few things I care about besides books. I do not have a shoe fetish. I care about clothes only because I wish to be warm (oh, and not naked), and if my husband bought me expensive jewelry, I would return it to the jeweler...and use the money to buy books.

That is why I was in Book Heaven this morning. Shortly have the children stumbled out of bed [at 9am], we piled into the car and made the hour-long trek to the Scholastic Book warehouse sale. You already know the special relationship I have with Learning Things in Georgia. I have missed LT, but I am afraid LT may have been replaced. The aisles at Scholastic were endless, and everytime I thought we were at the end, there was another turn...and another row of books.

In addition to the rows upon rows of 50% off books, I was handed a good sized box and told that whatever I could fit into the box was mine for $24.99. You better believe I packed and repacked that box until not an item more could be squeezed in.

I was at first hesitant about the whole trip because I knew I would have to drag the kids along, and there's nothing that ruins a stroll through a bookstore more than impatient, whiny kids. I know this from experience. They were not as fond of Learning Things as I was. The difference between LT and Scholastic, however, is that there are just regular ol' books at Scholastic versus the curriculum-type products that fill most of the shelves at LT. The kids were even more cooperative because I was rather liberal today in my agreement on how many items would be allowed in to the cart.

The kids made out like little Book Bandits, and I have already resolved to get a babysitter (or a daddy) next time so that, instead of making it immediately into the precious hands of my children, items such as the ones they got today can be wrapped up and placed under the tree.

As if all of the goodies they scored at the warehouse were not enough, they were further spoiled by lunch at Friendly's. AND they were permitted to order from Level 2 which means the ice cream sundae that followed their meal was even bigger. Spoiled rotten. Who was the mother that took my children out today anyway? I did at least have a coupon for Friendly's. And besides, this is the Christmas, generosity, and all that other stuff, right?

Friendlys Jake

Friendlys Mike

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

You Capture - Sweet

We had a sweet field trip lined up for the afternoon: a Gingerbread House display followed by an opportunity to decorate a personal gingerbread boy (or girl). We got shoes and socks on, hair brushed, coats on, and headed out to the car where everyone buckled in.

I turned the key over.


I wasn't surprised. Someone (*cough* me) left the dome light on for several hours yesterday.

We got unbuckled, went back inside, took off our coats and our shoes. Not a very sweet predicament to be in, missing a field trip and all.

So we turned our missed outing into our own sweet field trip. We got out the gingerbread house kit we purchased yesterday, and contruction began.

Sweet, precious children hard at work.

gingerbread house Audrey

gingerbread house Jacob

gingerbread house Michael

gingerbread house Alex

Sweet little fingers placing candy atop the icing roof.

gingerbread house hand

Mischeivous little ones sneaking sweet treats, though I could never catch them in the act.

gingerbread house candy

And, in the end, a sweet house!

gingerbread house

For more Sweet captures, visit I Should Be Folding Laundry.