Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas

A bit late, but still heartfelt wishes from our family. We are still on the go, having arrived at Matt's parents house yesterday afternoon and had our last Christmas hurrah (i.e, the kids tearing wrapping paper off gifts at the speed of light) with his family last night.

This morning Ella cried when she realized that her Pop Pop Bernie had gone to work. "Pap Pap (my dad) stayed home for Christmas, why can't Pop Pop Bernie?" I had to explain that Christmas was last week and even though we're still celebrating, life goes on for the rest of the world. I actually really like our extended celebations (minus packing and unpacking the car and traveling) because it gives us a Christmas week rather than just a Christmas day.

Some highlights so far...

Getting their gifts from Santa, a Cinderella bike for Ella and a baby doll crib/bassinett for Catherine. As soon as Catherine saw her crib she turned around, ran back upstairs and came hurrying back down with her arms full of baby dolls. Too cute!

They got a puppet stage and puppets from my parents and along with their cousins Isaac and The and the help of my mom, performed the funniest puppet show ever.

I think the $5 Barbie Rapunzel movie I bought for them is one of their favorite gifts.

Is it bad that I honestly cannot remember much more of what they got? I'm sure I could if I stopped and thought, but I would have to think about it - it is not readily available in my brain.

They both got Fancy Nancy slippers and leg warmers and Catherine loved them so much she wore them to my parents church on Sunday - along with a nice navy blue velvet dress. Aaahhh the joys of having girls!

My brother Matt and sis in law Chrissie got a Wii as a family gift and already had Guitar Hero ready and waiting. That proved to be our main source of entertainment, especially when they started battling. I only wish we had video footage of my bro Mike rocking it out to the point that no one could compete against him because it made them laugh too much and Chrissie throwing a fit because she couldn't "throw" her weapons during a battle. If you don't know, don't ask - I barely understand it either. But I did try it a few times and am starting to get the hang of it. Meaning, I don't get boo'd off the stage after 10 seconds. Yay me!!!

Last night we watched Kung Fu Panda. It was really funny! Who knew? I supposed everyone except me.

Now we are hanging at his parents deciding when to hit the malls for some post Christmas deals. The girls are running around in their new Tinkerbell dresses looking adorable and occasionally asking when they can open their Baby Alive Learns to Potty. Oh my goodnesss - it's a doll that actually poops and pees. I know I told Matt's mom they wanted it but now that we have it I'm scared.

PS - The robe incident was a non incident. Ella loves her robe. She wore it more in two days than I have worn mine in two years.

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and that you are as lucky as us to still be celebrating and enjoying the season.

The Christmas of the bathrobe

It's been a busy week getting ready for Christmas. Thank you all so much for taking the time to share your Christmas's with us. I had so much fun reading all of your posts. I also loved reading all the comments on other's posts and seeing the various connections being made. Blogging is a great way to stay in touch with friends and families and a way to record memories. It also serves as a sort of community and support system as we so often read about people we have never met in real life, experiencing life in a way that we can really relate to. I definitely feel like I have made some new friends and rekindled old friendships through reading and commenting on these blogs. In fact, it was a treat to actually talk to Crafty P on the phone the other day so she could confirm my address to send me the goodies I won on her blog (am keeping my eye out for the mailman). We did go to college together and were bridesmaidsin a wedding together(over nine years ago)but I can't remember the last time we've seen each other in person. It was almost surreal to actually hear rather than read her voice, but yet we both talked for a few minutes about random stuff like her tricking her kids into sleeping and how late I stayed in bed that morning. Not the typical first phone conversation you have with someone, but then again maybe it is if you've been reading each other's blogs for years!

I kind of went on a little tangent there. I just want to say I am thankful to all you stop by here. I almost wish I could just hang out with you all for a few hours or few days. Hmmm...maybe I should start planning something! ;)

Anyway, we are going to make cut out cookies today and finish packing for our trip to my parents tomorrow. I am a strong believer in being home for Christmas if possible so the kids can wake up and come downstairs to their own tree in their own house. I'm fine leaving a few hours later to see family and celebrate together, but I had always had Christmas morning at home and I want that for my kids. Them...not so much. They have been asking for days to go to grandma's house and were honestly a little disappointed that they weren't going to be there for Christmas morning. Matt has to help at the Christmas Eve service so are staying put despite their pleas.

I want to share a funny story and let you make some predictions for Christmas morning, based on all you've read about my girls.

A few months ago Ella mentioned that she really wanted a bathrobe. I store that in my head, as any parent does when their child asks for something that isn't a giant Barbie Princess Castle or Disney Princess scooter and also happens to be useful and inexpensive. I was at Kohl's last month and I saw a couple different types of robes. I choose the softest and fluffiest one I could find and it was pink with little hearts. I though the ones with characters on them weren't as soft and Ella would never know what she was missing.

Fast forward to last Saturday night. We had returned home from spending time with our friends Jon and Renee, home for a few weeks from California. Matt headed out to Kohl's (yes, my husband likes to shop) to use his 30% coupon (yes, he has his own Kohl's card) and get a few things he had promised my parents he would help them find. I told him that it looked like we needed one more thing for Catherine and could he please find a bathrobe for her. Even though she didn't ask for one, I know she would want one once Ella had one. The next morning I was checking out his purchases. I pulled out the robe he got for Catherine. It was pink. With a light up Hello Kitty on it. Light up. Helly Kitty. I was immediately worried that Ella might be a bit unhappy with her robe compared to Catherine's.

But it gets worse. The other night she got out of the bath and I was drying her off. All of a sudden she remembered. "A robe. I want a robe, I need to put that on my Christmas list. I want a pink robe. With Hello Kitty on it." Uh oh. Can anyone sense trouble coming?!

I tried to lead her a bit saying that if I could pick any robe I would pick one that was soft and fluffy, that was what was most important. Maybe it would be cool if it had hearts on it too. Thankfully she agreed.

So what do you think will happen Christmas morning when Catherine opens her light up Hello Kitty robe. Do you think that all our teaching about being kind and gracious when you receive gifts will be evident in Ella's reaction? Have I really convinced her that a soft robe with hearts is much cooler than a pink Hello Kitty robe? Or do you think we'll be heading to Kohl's a in a few days to make an exchange?

I will let you ponder this as you do the final preparations for Christmas.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sharing Christmas '09

Update: People have been signing up throughout the day so please continue to check in over the next couple of days for new additions to the list!

Welcome to my home! Thanks for stopping by...

I didn't do the greatest job taking pictures this year. Mostly because I've had a hard time keeping the house in a clean enough state to share over the internet. We were supposed to be hosting a Christmas party at our house tonight and I figured I would have the house spotless for that and take pictures right beforehand. But then we changed it the location to someone else's house (relief!) and I had no reason to clean at all. So that is why many of my pictures are close up shots. I just shifted the mess aside and took the shots I needed....just being honest!

Anyway, when you walk in the door and turn to the left...this is what you'll see. This is the first time we've had the tree in this corner and it's fun to have it near the front
window so you can see the lights from outside. Our tree is decorated with ornaments I received growing up as well as some special ones we've collected over the years. You might only be able to see it if you click on the picture to enlarge it, but on the lower right side of the tree you can catch a glimpse of my oreo ornament. Classic!

And here it is all lit up...

Next is our entertainment center which is decorated with candles and garland.

And here it is all lit up!
I love to watch tv at night or read a book with just lights of the tree and the the garlands and the candles (ok, maybe not read a book with no other light. But, if you look closely enough you can see that I do watch tv like that!)

Moving into our dining room, we have this lovely garland lighting up the way. Matt did that this year. He add the flowers and berries to a regular plain garland and made it super fancy!

And next is our dining room table, with Christmas placemats and centerpiece.
Here's a closeup for everyone who wants to see the place mats that desperately need to be ironed!

Our radiator provides another great place to add some Christmas color. The phallic looking plant in the background is one of those winter bulbs that Matt and the girls planted a few days ago. Apparently it needs a lot of light and must be right by a window. Yay!Here you'll see where the girl's stocking hang throughout the month. On Christmas Eve we'll hang them on the entertainment center. Oh how I want a fireplace! Also, Santa is up top keeping watch on the them day and night. Just kidding. I guess Matt plopped him up there one day while we were decorating and that's where he's stayed! He's from the Polar Express and says "The First Gift of Christmas..." and something about believing...
Also hanging out on our china cabinet are the three wise men on their journey to the stable. I stole the idea from Crafty P of setting up the Little People's Nativity set and having the "characters" journey closer and closer as Christmas approaches.
Every other day I find them all hanging out in the stable and I have to return them to their respective routes. When I first put them out I couldn't find Mary anywhere and was a little worried about how that would go over, but thankfully she turned up. How could we have Christmas without Mary?!

The last picture of the dining room is this little table here that showcases some of my cute little country type snowmen. I don't really decorate in this style much anymore, but I love all these and can't help it! The picture says "There's no place like HOME for the holidays" - so true!
The final picture is of the kitchen. On our window sills. Two cute snowmen hanging out - too cute!
I must have forgotten to take pictures of the kitchen this year? How did that happen?! You can always check out last year's Sharing Christmas for a view of it. I wish I had my act together because our kitchen has changed a bit and I would have liked to show it, but not in it's current state!
This year we will having Christmas at home and then leave sometime Christmas day to go to my parent's house and celebrate with the entire family. After the weekend we'll move on to Matt's family and celebrate with them. It's our Christmas road trip week - a lot of traveling but the kids love seeing their cousins and grandparents and we really think the time spent with family is worth it.
As far as presents, each girl gets a "bigger" gift and then some small things. This year Ella is getting a new bike and Catherine is getting a baby crib and they are getting a singalong micrphone stand to share. I so look forward to seeing their faces as they come down the stairs Christmas morning!
I grew up having lots of traditions for Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. We are just now starting to establish our own traditions. It takes time and a little trial and error to figure out what is important enough to be called a tradition. So far the Christmas morning meal is something I've latched onto.
I like to make Sausage Egg Scramble and Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes by Rachael Ray. I posted the recipes last year, so you can click on them to get all the information. I can't tell you how could they are. I love it because it's a combinations of sweet and salty that just makes my taste buds happy.
I always like to bake a ton of Christmas cookies. This year I organized some Christmas caroling to folks in need in the community and we gave out cookies at the houses where we caroled. So after baking dozens upon dozens (too many in fact) of cookies for that I'm a bit burnt out. Instead of more cookies (to give as gifts to the people Matt works with) I'm going to make batches of homemade granola and give that out, perhaps with some homemade biscotti as well. Different and a tiny bit healthier!
Here is the recipe for the granola. My Bible study leader made this for us last year and I loved it. I hope when I make it it turns out as good!
Homemade Granola
1/2 cup vegetable oil or canola oil
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup raisins
1 cup dried cranberries

Heat oil, honey, peanut butter, vanilla and cinnamon together over low heat. Mix together all other ingredients EXCEPT raisins and cranberries (they'll be added after baking). Pour heated mixture over the other dry ingredients. Combine and stir thoroughly. Pour mixture onto a cookie sheet and let bake at 300 degrees for 20 minutes.Take from oven, stir on cookie sheet, and let mixture cool. When mixture is cooled, add raisins and cranberries - mixing thoroughly. Store in airtight container. Makes approximately 8 cups.

And just because I cannot publish a post without sharing a story about my kids, I leave you with this conversation between Matt and Ella after she had been misbehaving...

Matt: Ella, you better stop acting like this because Santa sees you being bad and won't bring you gifts (I don't neccesarily condone this type of parenting - but desperate times...)

Ella: Santa can't see me, he's not like Jesus. (oooohh, touche!)

Matt: (still desperate apparently) Well the elves are watching you to see if you're good or bad.

Ella: Nuh uh. There aren't any short little men watching me!

Matt....silence. He's got nothing left to say!

Thanks for joining me as I shared my Christmas with you. I hope you have a blessed holiday season and make many new memories with your loved ones (that you can share on your blog after Christmas!) Please let me know that you stopped by! To share your Christmas, just add your blog to the list below! I can't wait to see all of your homes. Check in throughout the day and next couple of days to see who's new to the list. I hope you can take the time to visit all the homes and "say" hello and thanks for sharing to all who've opened up their homes.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Reminder for Sharing Christmas

Feel free to post about it on your blog and let your blog readers know they can join in the fun - either by adding their home to the list or visiting the various blogs that are participating.
I still hope to have a Mr. Linky on the blog so that all you do is come to my site on Thursday morning (or...if I'm really on the ball, late Wednesday night) and add your link - make sure and link directly to your Sharing Christmas post and not your general blog. This will make it easy for people to find your post and allow you to continue with your regular blogging. I am hoping that Mr. Linky works - this is my first time trying it and I am not very good with html code and all that fun stuff!
Ideas for your post:
A picture says a thousand words! The more the merrier - take pictures of your tree, your presents (wrapped of course), your decorations inside and out, how you display your Christmas cards, any Christmas goodies you might have already prepared...and so on and so on...
Tell us about your Christmas this year? Where will you be spending it and with whom? What are some traditions your family has and are you doing anything new or differently this year.
Food! Sharing some of your favorite Christmas recipes is a great way to share Christmas. I definitely look forward to those!
Be creative and have fun. I can't wait till Thursday!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Five Years Old!

I think one of the reasons it's taken me so long to get this post written, is that there is so much to say and so much of it is hard to put into words.

How can I adequately portray the complex personality of my, now five year old Ella? It just doesn't seem possible.

This will probably just be a hodge podge of thoughts

Ella is an amazing little girl. At times her thoughts show a depth that I wouldn't expect at her age. Lately she started asking about what happens when we die and got very sad about being in heaven without mom and dad. I reassured her that we would all be together (while heading my own tears at the thought of being apart from her) while being surprised that this thoughts are swirling around in her brain. Soon after that she asked if this (referring to everything around her) was "all a dream"? Wow! I remember have those types of thoughts - but definitely not at five!

She does very well in school. I was in her class last week for her birthday and her teachers had such nice things to say about her. They told me that she was very mature and often helped the other kids in the class, but was kind, not bossy. I have to hold onto those thoughts when my mature little girl comes this close to a meltdown because she can't have stuffed crust pizza for dinner (darn you Matt, getting her hooked on that horrible Pizza Hut pizza).

At her birthday party Saturday night one of the moms from preschool told me that she described Ella to her husband as one of the popular kids in class who is nice to everyone and plays with everyone. Of course we all want to hear that our kids are liked, but liked for the right reasons. I pray she can hold on to that and always be someone who is kind and friendly and not clicky (believe me, it starts in preschool!). I pray that she can be strong in who she is and not feel the pressure to conform and be like those around her.

Ella is very creative. She loves to draw and sing. When she sings sometimes she makes me copy down the words to her songs. While they don't make a lot of sense, she does have an ability for just putting her thoughts out there. I wouldn't be surprised if she was a songwriter someday! Also, sometimes when she sings, she's really singing. In the type of voice you might hear on stage (not comparing it quality wise, but that's the way she's singing - make sense?). Her friend's mom remarked on it after Ella had been over for a day - even suggesting that at some point we could consider voice lessons. As someone who was not blessed with musical abilities I am excited that Ella takes after her dad and not me!

Ella is very loyal and very attached to people and her special "things". Recently Catherine lost her most special blankie that she'd had since she was a baby. It was when we were away for Thanksgiving and it seemed to disappear into thin air. Catherine was sad the first night we got back, but then I took her to Carters and we picked out a replacement. She happily snuggled up with it and told people "I got a new soft blankie because my old one is lost forever." I was shocked. This was a blankie that was a comfort to Catherine all the time and I didn't think she'd get over it so easily. Ella, on the other hand, knew for a fact that she wouldn't have. She told me "I wouldn't have handled it so well". She tells me that she never wants to lose her blankie - I think she'll be like her mom and bring it to college with her.
She loves her family so much. We're the ones she is the most difficult with, but, while I don't like it, I know it's because she feels secure in our love that she can let it all hang out. And boy does she. Ella has a temper and she has developed an attitude that can drive me to the edge of my rope. It seems like every few weeks she gets into a mood and I'm not sure if we'll both make it through the day. If a study ever comes out showing that kids can have some sort of PMS (ok, not the PM part, but just the grumpiness) I will not be surprised.
Her and Catherine are best buds. They also fight like cats and dogs, but I guess that comes with the territory. It never fails to warm my heart when they greet each other after school with hugs and smiles. Since I never had a sister I love to see the bond between them. I know they'll have a tough road ahead of them at times, but I pray that their love for each other only grows stronger as they get older.
Ella can be a challenge, but when she's have fun it's infectious! Her laugh and smile just light up a room. Sometimes I'll do silly things just to hear her laugh and see her smile. When she's having fun she has endless amounts of energy. If not, she tires out suspiciously quickly.

Ella is my snuggler. Every morning she wakes up and comes into bed and snuggles up next to me. For the first ten minutes or so she lays still and I love the feeling of have her next to me. But then she starts to wiggle and my arm falls asleep and it's time to wake up. Ella never passes up a chance for a snuggle or a hug. The other morning I was trying to get her to give me a hug before we both got out of bed and she was staying to the side of me trying to put her arms around my neck. I grabbed her and pulled her over and gave her a real hug and she said "I didn't think I could do that now that I'm five!" Break my heart! I told her she's always my baby and is never to old for snuggle hugs.

Ella is also a nurturer. When someone else is hurt or sad she is compassionate and comforting. Now, if she is the one who has done the hurting, that compassion is not as evident!

Thankfully she is a pretty good eater, but often it depends, as does everything, on her mood. For instance, nothing seems good when you decide that you want stuffed crust pizza!

I love my Ella and I can't believe she's five already. She is growing up right before my eyes. I pray most importantly that she continues to love Jesus and follow him and that her heart would be soft towards those in need around her.
Thanks for sticking with me as I bragged a bit - I'm a proud momma! :)

Sunday, December 07, 2008

I spent more time on a title than I did on the post

Is it tomorrow already?

I know I said that on Thursday I would do a birthday post for Ella and it is now Sunday and I still don't have anything up.

I am recovering from a busy weekend. Ella's birthday party was a pajama party theme and we had 20 girls running around our church for three hours last night. The kids had a blast and some of them even thought that they were really sleeping over. Thanks goodness no, they all went home around 7pm and we had to get the church cleaned up for worship the next day.

Today we had a Christmas gathering with people from church and came home around 4:30 so I could watch the Steelers steal a victory away from Dallas in the final minutes.

Now it's time to regroup, clean the house, put the new toys away and figure out what's next. Oh yeah...Christmas!

I still plan on dedicating a post to my first born. And posting pics from the birthday party (I made a Hello Kitty cake that turned out pretty good!). But first I have to find the cord to plug in the camera and I am pretty sure if I don't push publish right now this exciting post will never see the light of day.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Tree is Up

After a busy Thanksgiving full of family, friends, food, shopping, weddings and driving we returned home late on Sunday tired, but ready to start the Christmas season.

Yesterday Matt took the girls out to get our Christmas tree. Like so many of you, we have a Christmas tree tradition at our house. To best explain it, in the words of Ella "We go to the daddy store and buy our Christmas tree." I bet you can figure out what the daddy store is? Why of course it's Home Depot! Although this year we deviated a bit and went to Lowes! We get complimented every year on our tree and although there is a lot of fun in making an event of picking your own, it's one way we save some money.

We dragged it out as long as possible. Monday night was the big event of bringing the tree into the house and letting it settle into place.

Yesterday when Matt got home from work he went through all the Christmas lights to figure out which ones worked (barely any) and he went out and rounded up some more.

Finally tonight the whole family filled it with ornaments and Ella even snuck some garland into the play room and decorate in there.

I have a long list of things to do in the next few days but it was nice to slow down and enjoy the evening together. The girls get so excited about the ornaments they find. My parents gave us all an ornament each Christmas growing up, and it was always related to something we were into or experiencing that year. Ella and Catherine have gotten a kick out of my ornaments - many soccer players, moons (there's a story behind it), Care Bears, Cabbage Patch Kids, Miss Piggy, an oreo cookie (who knows?) and many other interesting choices. Definitely an example of how pendulum of popularity has swung back to toys like Cabbage Patch Kids and Care Bears. But some things, like oreos, are timeless. I don't need the expensive Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments - I have a homemade cloth oreo cookie!

Tomorrow Ella turns five so stop back in tomorrow for some birthday wishes for my baby! And now I'm off to decorate cupcakes and fill a letter can with "J" items for Ella's school day tomorrow. I hope to get a shower at some point too. That would be nice...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Weekend Roundup

The last of our nonbusy weekends is gone.

From here on out it's go go go until after New Years! I have to admit that as someone who has introverted tendencies that seems a bit daunting, but it's all things that I am looking forward to doing and people I am looking forward to seeing.

So how did we spend this weekend? In typical deMontaigne fashion we did nothing too exciting at all.

Friday night was exciting for me because I got to go see the movie Twilight. I went with my friend Rachael and two of her work friends that are equally addicted. We ordered the tickets online last week and were going to an early showing because Rachael had to leave that night to go out of town. The theater was five minutes from my house and the movie started at 4pm. I figured leaving at 4 gave me plenty of time to get there, park and meet up with them to get my ticket. At 3:45 Rachael called and said that the electricity was out at the theater but they were giving them passes to go to anothe theater nearby, but 10 minutes further than the one we planned on going to. I continued to get ready to go and five minutes later Rachael called back saying that it was for the 4:15 showing. Of course that meant I had to go flying out the door in a bit of a panic to get there on time. I was waiting for Rachael where you have to give your tickets and I must have looked pretty pathetic because the ticketer (?) guy told me to go ahead and just come back with the ticket.

That was my big night (although I don't think 4:00 counts as night time!) out. Saturday was a wonderfully lazy morning. When we were all finally out of bed we through on clothes and headed out for a breakfast at McDonalds. Ella's fear of the Chic Fil A cow has suddenly expanded to include all fast food restaurants. The whole way there she was afraid that Ronald McDonald would be inside. Can anyone tell me the last time you've actually seen Ronald McDonald? I mean, where did she even get the idea of Ronald McDonald? She told us it didn't matter if he was there or not there, she didn't want to go inside. So we parked nice and close the entrance where we could keep an eye on the car, locked the door and ate inside without her. We did check on her a few times and she was quietly reading a book and was happy where she was. At this rate Catherine is going to be ready for Disney World (no trip planned, just hopeful thinking that someday they'll conquer these fears so we can take them) before Ella.

The rest of the day was pretty uneventful. Matt did a lot of cleaning and work up in our attic. It's hands down the most overwhelming place in our house and it was great to start weeding through the bags and bags of stuff up there. While we worked the girls played really well together for the rest of the afternoon. I feel horrible saying it, but no one stopped for lunch, including the kids. It was one of those days where you weren't super busy but also got a lot accomplished.

Sunday was church, watching the Eagles lose and being thankful that I'm a Steelers fan. I mean, that game was so painful I was begging Matt to change the channel.

That was our slow, but relaxing, weekend.

This week we leave on Wednesday to head down to Baltimore to visit Matt's family for Thanksgiving. My parents are joining us as well which is always fun because both our parents enjoy getting to spend time together. Friday we'll be waking up early to do some shopping, it's crazy, but the prices really can't be beat. That night we'll hang out for a few hours with some friends who live in the area. Saturday we live the kids behind and drive up to Harrisburg for the wedding of a dear friend. We're staying the night and heading back down to Baltimore to pick up the kids and head home, and stopping to visit some friends along the way.

I'm tired just thinking about it! But as tiring as it is, I love the time with family and reconnecting with friends is always worth it!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Good Night's Sleep

In the past two weeks I have become just a tiny bit obsessed with the Twilight series written by Stephenie Meyer. In case you don't watch TV and haven't seen the trailer for the soon to be released movie advertised over and over again, it's basically a love story....oh yeah, and there just might be vampires involved! (Edited to add that there may be some details/spoilers about the series in the comments so if you are reading or planning on reading them, you can still leave a comment, just don't read the others! I know, I know - overkill, but I'm one of those who wants to know nothing about endings or plot twists at all!)

It was similar to reading the Harry Potter books because once I started reading, I couldn't put the book down. The big advantage with Harry Potter was that I read them as they were released so I had a few years to wait in between each book. A few days of obsessive reading = no big deal, right? But with this series, all four were already published by the time I got hooked. So that meant I had four 600 (approx, the last one was more like 750) paged books to read. Because there was just no way I could stop and take a break when I didn't have to!

So that has been what I've been doing in my free time for the last two weeks and I am happy to say that now I am done. Last night I powered through the last few hundred pages of Breaking Dawn because I really need to reclaim my life!

What does this have to do with sleep? Well for one thing, vampires don't that's not it! I've been staying up late reading and when I do finally tear myself away it's not because I'm that tired, it's because Matt is next to me mumbling "go to bed", and I finally do. Unfortunately that means that I am laying in bed wide awake, because it's not like I've been reading a book of bedtime stories. So then my wide awake brain starts thinking of all sorts of random things, mostly things I need to do or forgot to do during the day. Or I start thinking about Christmas shopping or planning Ella's birthday party. Just imagine trying to go to bed right after watching your favorite team win a big game or an intense action movie and that's how I am. Unless you are all blessed in the same way my husband is and you can fall right asleep no matter what.

So I've been feeling pretty tired but I can't blame my vampire books totally for my lack of sleep. Catherine and Ella both have had colds/coughs for the past week and just recently Ella started waking up at night coughing and coming in to our room so I was awake with her for a few nights. A side note...we took her and Catherine to the Dr's after their coughs wouldn't go away and found out Catherine has bronchitis and double ear infections and Ella is moving in the same direction! Anyway, a coughing child and intense books have kept me up late a few nights in a row. I woke up yesterday and I had a headache already. Add that to the fact that I was out of my favorite creamer and had add milk to my coffee. Ugh. The headache was a whopper and Motrin eventually did the trick, but I still felt kind of sluggish. I went to the grocery store and to get medicine for the girls and felt like I was in slow motion the whole time.

I knew that I really needed to get a good night of sleep and start feeling normal again. Around 10:45 pm (yup, still awake - I always have more energy at night, no matter how tired I felt during the day) I decided to take not one, but two Tylenol PM's. I rarely take them and when I have in the past I only take one at a time. The directed amount is two, but I have this fear of falling so dead asleep that I am not awoken by my kids crying in need (Matt is such a heavy sleeper that I don't have confidence that he, even in a drug free sleep, would wake up.) It was a big thing for me to actually take two, but I knew that I really needed some good sleep. I remember laying in bed around 11:15 feeling pretty sleepy. I also remember thinking that I better fall asleep soon and then I opened my eyes and saw that it was 6:45 AM! Do you know what a good feeling that was? I shut my eyes and opened them again at 8:00 AM because Ella snuggled in next me and exposed me to the frigid air of our unheated (oops, Matt forgot to turn the heat on after working on the plumbing yesterday) bedroom.

So now I know that two Tylenol PM's really will put me to sleep! I also feel so much better getting eight solid hours of shut eye. I also don't have anymore vampire books to read and Ella has antibiotics and cough medicine so I think my sleepless nights are over!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Christmas Reminder

You can blame my friend Julie whose latest post features a scene from Charlie Brown's Christmas. Now I've got Christmas on my mind!

I figure now is a good time to let you all know that this year I will be hosting Sharing Christmas again. It's an idea I got from the lovely Boomama, when you invite your blogging friends into your home via our blogs to share your Christmas decorations, baking, traditions and good old fashioned Christmas spirit! I had such a fun time seeing everyone's home's last year and I hope even more will participate this year.

It's a fun way to share your home, but also to document that year in your life. I know many of you are in new homes, new states, with new babies - all sorts of new things going on out there. What a great to show us how you will be celebrating Christmas in 2008. Even if it's not the same or even if it is exactly the same, each year is special and full of memories being made. I thought December 18th - exactly one week before Christmas, would be a good day to Share Christmas together!

For those who participated last year, please do so again and encourage your fellow blogging friends to do the same. The more the merrier!

If you plan on joining in the fun, leave me a comment and let me know. It won't commit you to anything, just give me an idea of whether or not I should spring for a Mr. Linky so people can easily add their post when they're ready. I'll have more details as it gets closer....but for now, save the date!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Ribs, Trips, Skulls and Birthdays - all in one post!

I am sitting on the couch, laptop on my lap, watching Indiana Jones, recovering from a very large dinner of barbeque ribs, pulled pork, french fries, other types of barbequed meats, and many sides. Matt mom is in town for work and treated us to dinner. We may have over ordered and may have enough leftovers for the next few days. I also may not feel like eating again in that time period.

In other news we had a nice, but quick visit in Clearfield with my parents and my nephews Isaac and Theo, niece Nora and sister in law Chrissie. I'm hoping to retrieve the pictures we took over the weekend from my parents camera and when I do I'll give more details about the trip. We had a good time despite the kiddies all feeling a little under the weather with coughing and sniffling.

Today was spent recovering from making the lovely four hour drive to central PA with just myself and the girls. Ella and Catherine are not easy travelers. They always want something and rarely do they fall asleep. They were both awake the entire drive both ways.

While we were gone Matt got to work on our bathroom. He redid the plumbing so we can install a two sink vanity and ended up fixing some other plumbing issues while he was at it. The good news? We are moving in the right direction and some of the biggest jobs are done. The bad news? We didn't have a working toilet, sink or bathtub from Friday until around 8pm tonight. Thankfully I missed two of those days. Ella was not so happy about not having somewhere to pee in the middle of the night. She insisted that she wasn't a baby and she would not pee in the training potty. Matt had to take her down to the basement when woke up nice and early this morning.

I wish I could find my camera so I could post some pictures of our demolished bathroom. It's truly a sight to see.

In other news, tomorrow is Matt's birthday! I think he forgot until I reminded him so obviously he is not expecting a big celebration, but I'm looking forward to at least making a yummy meal and some cupcakes (his request - not a real exciting request, but hey, it's his birthday) and let the kids help put up some decorations and make a sign.

Indiana Jones is over now and I can't say that I really enjoyed it. Not sure what I was expecting, because I have always liked the Indy series, but this one just didn't do it for me. Sorry Harrison, not this time.

Now I'm off to find a new ringtone for my phone. I've got a busy and important life people, you're lucky I take time away from it to post such interesting updates! ;)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Toys Worth Buying

I had been hoping to get this post up earlier, but I was obsessed with finishing Twilight and couldn't be distracted (aside from feeding the kids and all that stuff!).

Anyway, Shannon at Rocks In My Dryer is doing a WFMW Best Toys Edition. I figured I would take a few minutes to share some of ours. My girls, Ella and Catherine, are 5 (almost) and just over 3. These are toys that both of them have loved and not gotten tired of playing with over time.

The first is the Play Wonder Kitchen found at Target. (click on the picture to link to the site)

The version we have is blue and red and a little different because it's a few years old. I think this one looks like it has a few adjustments that changed the price from $99 to $129. Still very reasonable for a wooden kitchen. Also, on Black Friday it was marked down at least $10. Every kid, boy or girl, that comes over loves playing with this kitchen. Also, it's not obnoxiously big like many of the play kitchens currently out there.

To go with the kitchen I love the various Play Wonder and Melissa and Doug wooden food sets. It does cost a bit more, but I think it's worth it. Many of them have velcro so the pieces can attach together - to make a pizza, a sandwich or a birthday cake.
There are many different options and Play Wonder sells much of their food in little carriers that are great for storing the food in the kitchen and transporting it around the house (which is what my girls love to do!).
Another favorite is the Fisher Price Loving Family Dollhouse. Again, my girls love it and it's one of the most played with toys they have, AND all their friends want to play with it too. The furniture that you can get to go with it is so sweet and adorable. I have to admit that a few times after the girls have gone to bed I have set all the furniture up the right way. I promise I haven't gone as far as actually playing with the family by myself...yet! They sell way more furniture sets than actually fit in the house, but I have a small tupperware bin that we put the furniture in and they set it up according to what they're feeling that day.

Obviously this dollhouse is filled to the max with accessories, but you really don't need that much to start with. Most stores sell them with a room of furniture included and you can gradually add to it. Plus, you can find older versions of the furniture at yard sales and consignment sales for pretty cheap. Also, on Black Friday Toys R Us had them on sale for buy one get one free - a great deal if you're craziness enough to go out shopping (obviously I am!).
This can be found at all the normal stores, Wal-Mart, Target, Toys R Us, etc, so I didn't put a link to any specific place. I did find that it was sold out online as Christmas approached, but I did see them in stock in the stores.
Those are a few of our favorite toys. To get more ideas head over to Shannon's for this week's themed edition of Works for Me Wednesday!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Only a few days late - a Halloween post

I hope you all enjoyed your weekend. It was a double wammy for us, and I'm assuming you, with Halloween one night and Daylight Savings the next. I remember the days when the Fall Daylight Savings meant an extra hour of sleep. Now it just means the kids wake up an hour early for a few days.
If you're on the East coast I imagine you enjoyed a seasonably warm Halloween evening. This is the second year in a row with this weather so we're starting to get used to it. I remember clearly last year that Catherine refused to put a long sleeve shirt under her cheerleader costume and it was warm enough out that I didn't feel like too bad of a parent for letting her go out that way.

Anyway, back on track, our costumes this year were completely chosen by the girls. They each came up with what they wanted to be on their own and I have to admit I was a little surprised by their choices. Catherine wanted to a pumpkin, which is definitely an easy costume to find. Ella, on the other hand, wanted to be a Dalmatian dog and never swayed from that decision. I was secretly pleased that neither one of them picked princess, because it was nice to have a break from all things princess. That said, I saw so many beautiful princesses and I'm not down on that at all - it's more me being glad that the girls branched out a bit from their typical love of all things sparkly and pink!
I decided to make a big pot of vegetable soup so I wouldn't have to be messing around with dinner at the same time we were trying to get the kids into their costumes. Also, I figured all the vegetables would help to counterbalance the candy that would be consumed later in the night. Ella has become quite a help in the kitchen. Here she is peeling carrots...

And here is a big pot of soup simmering away all afternoon

On Thursday I cooked and pureed a pumpkin for the first time. On Friday I used the pumpkin puree to make Pumpkin Chocolate Chip cookies. I made some substitutions to make the cookies a lot less sinful and with the pumpkin and whole wheat flour I can honestly say they might have been a bit healthy. Just a bit, because I didn't skimp on the chocolate chips. The girls love to help with baking so I am going to be experimenting with healthier substitutions and alternatives so we can enjoy the results without packing on the pounds. Most of you know that I love baked goods and have no control when faced with fresh baked cookies!

Here is a batch of cookies cooling before they get gobbled up....

After dinner it was time to start painting Ella's face. Matt did a great job because Ella really doesn't know how to sit still. The concept just eludes her. At one point after Matt had asked her a million times to sit still, she finally did. And then she started singing.

I don't have the greatest picture of our cute little pumpkin. Catherine was very distracted by our neighbors' cat who was right outside our door. She kept telling him he couldn't come in and to go find his own Halloween. Not sure what this face is all about, but she's cute!

Here is Ella with her whole costume on and her Dalmatian pal Lucky.

We added Wyatt, AKA Captain Jack Sparrow, to the mix and the kids were ready to go.

We had a great night hitting the houses on our small street. I have a philosophy about Trick or Treating. If the lights are one, we go. I feel like when someone leaves their lights on they are essentially inviting you in and I don't like to refuse that invitation. Honestly, it's not at all about the candy because goodness knows we don't need it. Because we live on a small street and not a big neighborhood not many trick or treaters come through. But still a majority of the people stay home to pass out candy. I hate thinking about someone sitting there with a bowl of candy and not having anyone come to their house.
In fact, on our way back one of the side streets we made a small detour because I saw a light on at a little house on the street before ours that I drive by a few times a day to get out to the main road. I knew that the girl who lived there was in some sort of walker despite being young. Sometimes I would see her outside being picked up by a paratransit vehicle when I would pass by. We went up to the house, the only one with a light on on that street. The home owner was there and I assume that the two people with her were her parents. They all were dressed in festive attire and invited us to come in. As the kids picked out candy we chatted and I told them we live nearby on another street and I always drive by so when I saw their light on I wanted to stop by and say hello. They just seemed so happy that we stopped by, the mother said thank you at least three times. I left reminded of the reason that I like Halloween. Not the spookiness or creepiness of it, but the idea that you have opportunities to make connections, however small, with the people who live close to you. Whatever else comes of it, at least we made someone's night a little brighter.

Friday, October 31, 2008


This morning Catherine told me that she wanted to be a "buyer" when she grew up.

I told her she probably would be a buyer, because everytime I go to Target, I'm a buyer too.

Ella was playing with the shopping cart and Catherine got all excited saying that she was going to be a buyer and help Ella. I told her, that yes, there are people who help people shop and find things they like. I was envisioning a personal shopper at one of those fancy shmancy stores and what a cool job that would be.

Then she asked for her buyer thingie do (her newest word to describe everything!) so she could be a buyer. What? It took a couple explanations for me to realize that she meant her cash register!

Oh, so her dream job at the moment is to work a cash register! Even though I hope her dreams get a little bigger, it was so cute to hear her talking about growing up and thinking about the endless opportunities that await her!

Happy Halloween! Check back this weekend for pictures and a recap of our Halloween events as well as a flashback to one of my not so fun Halloween memories that apparently still has an effect on.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Chicken for dinner!

I'm freezing. The weather has gotten quite cold in the last day and the chill in our house has me convinced that I won't feel warm again until March, possibly April. A bit dramatic I know, considering the forecast will be back up to 60 degrees by Friday. Anyway, Matt's laptop always gives off a lot of heat so it gives me an excuse to blog while I warm myself up.

What's on my mind tonight? Chicken!

Chicken was on sale this week. Any ideas for healthier recipes? I'm kind of sick of the usuals, and haven't seen anything lately that interests me. Last night was chicken pot pie and later in the week we're having chicken enchiladas and on Halloween some yummy homemade vegetable beef soup (a break from chicken).

Also I like making chicken salads with the precooked/grilled chicken you buy in those little packs (I am having a mental block on the various brands so I hope someone knows what I'm talking about). I bought some extra chicken and would love to be able to get a similar taste on my own and save some money at the same time. Any ideas or suggestions on how to cook it or at least attempt to cook so it is flavorful and not too dry? The key being not dry. It's boneless skinless chicken breast - I don't have high expectations on flavor. I add it to a salad of mixed greens, craisins, pecans and feta cheese and top with a little raspberry pecan vinegarette - so that takes care of the flavor!

I really doubt anyone will be interested in my thoughts on chicken. I really did have some other thoughts when I initially sat down. I give you no excuses but just throwing it out there that I was watching The Mentalist (anyone, anyone?) while I typed this and had to concentrate so I wasn't up to my usual multi-tasking ability.

To make up for a rather mundane post (as opposed to my typical posts which are just BURSTING WITH EXCITEMENT) I will share you the latest favorite chicken (surprise!) recipe. It's yummy, not too hard, but also it can be kind of fancy and good for impressing dinner guests!

Stuffed Tomato Basil Chicken from Allrecipes

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 bottle garlic herb marinade
16 fresh basil leaves
1 large tomato, thinly sliced
4 slices provolone cheese
12 slices bacon
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Place chicken breasts on a cutting board. With a sharp knife, slice chicken breasts horizontally, without slicing them completely in half. Open the chicken breasts like a book. Place chicken and marinade into a large resealable plastic bag. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 500 degrees F (260 degrees C).
Place opened chicken breasts on a broiler pan. Place 4 basil leaves on the bottom half of each chicken breast. Top each with 2 or 3 tomato slices and 1 slice of cheese, and fold over top half of chicken (if necessary, fasten with toothpicks). Wrap 3 slices bacon around each chicken breast.
Cook in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Turn chicken, and cook 15 minutes more. Remove from oven, and sprinkle chicken with Parmesan. Return to oven, and cook until cheese is melted, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Ok, the first time I made this chicken I used the bacon and it was delicious. BUT, I don't feel that it' necessary and since then I haven't added the bacon and haven't missed it at all. Just a simple way to make it a bit healthier. Or just use turkey bacon.

The great thing about this recipe is it's versatility. I've made it using mozarella, provolone (per the recipe) and this time around I'm trying feta. Many many options and combinations and the garlic herb marinade (I used a store brand) added good flavor but wasn't overpowering.

Well I'm all warmed up, thanks in part to the heated corn bag at my feet. Now I need to go pick out a bathroom vanity combination so in two weeks we might almost have our bathroom back to normal. I promise pictures eventually!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

What I did with my day

Since you all know the kids were away Saturday and Saturday night I figured you would be interested in what I did with 24 (and a few) hours without my girls. Surprisingly, or probably not so surprisingly,

I grabbed a Chai Tea Latte from Starbucks (I like my Stash version better- their's was waaaay too sweet) and headed to the mall to check out the Disney Store. Last year I was able to get some amazing deals because I just happened to be there on a weekend when they had some amazing sales (hence the amazing deals) and figured it wouldn't hurt to stop in occasionally to see if I could do it again this year. Their Halloween costumes were 50% off so I got Ella a beautiful Bell dress up costume with shoes for her birthday - so great to have that out of the way a month in advance. Of course after I left I realized I could have stocked up on birthday gifts with some items that were marked way down.

After the mall it was on to the church where I had consigned bins and bins of clothing for Kids' Sale. I was hopeful that I would make some money that I could put towards Christmas gifts and clear out a ton of space in the attic. I felt like I priced stuff really reasonable and even on the low side, but there was so much inventory overall that it seemed like it would have been hard to pick through the piles. So I brought a lot of stuff home and left some stuff there to donate.

It was a dreary rainy day so I was seriously tempted to veg on the couch, but I decided to organize the closet/wardrobe units that Matt had installed for me in our room. To make it more fun I watched episodes of Ugly Betty while I purged piles of underwear and socks. I know none of this sounds exciting, but it definitely needed to get done and would not have happened it the girls were around. It is physically impossible for them to see piles of clothing, be it socks, underwear, bridesmaid dresses and especially shoes, without wearing it in weird combinations and then discarding it all over the house.

While I was busy with my stuff, Matt was busy doing this

This is where I was going to put a picture of our bathroom that he spent all Saturday demolishing. But part of the demolishing involved cutting the electricity in the room so when I went to take a picture tonight I realized that it was kind of pointless, even with a flash.

He hooked the sink back up to the plumbing because I complained that it wasn't sanitary to not be able to wash our hands after going to the bathroom (yes, I know we could have used the tub...but, really, who wants to do that!?). The mirror and all our toiletries are stored in Ella's room. She knows about the mirror - kind of hard to miss, but she doesn't know about the toiletries, three drawers full of creams and soaps and shampoos, and, because the mirror is in their so is all my makeup. I'm in trouble when she figures it out.

The bathroom project is something I'm really excited about because it's going to give us more space and a double sink vanity. Also, I am hoping and praying that everything works out for us to get radiant floor heating. Swoon! No cool feet during middle of the night bathroom trips or in in the early morning before the heat kicks on. This could be just the thing to make me a morning person!

After I was done with the closet I worked on a modge podge project for the girls' rooms. I always admire other people's creativity and feel like I've somewhat stifled mine and convinced myself that I can't do anything crafty or creative. Someone in my mom's group was encouraging me during a project we were doing (and yes, it involved modge podge t00, so that doesn't make me very creative) and I figured I had to start somewhere. Not sure if I like the results but I can always start over.

Then we headed out to dinner. We went Outback last night. Read that last sentence to the tune of the commercial - it fits perfectly! Enjoyed yummy food and good conversation. Drove home in a monsoon and worried that our newly demolished bathroom was flooded because the window was left wide open.

I know, not a very exciting day, but a good day. It felt good to accomplish some tasks and I love opening my wardrobe drawers and seeing my clothes nicely folded and my socks all matched up and shoes lined up. I'm glad Matt got started on the bathroom, even though I have no idea when it will be finished. When I ask for an estimation of completion he told me I watch too many home improvement shows where they finish these thing in two days. Hmmm....makes me think I'll be using a flashlight when I brush my teeth for awhile now.

We were thankful to have Rose, Renee's mom, watching the kids for the day and night. I think they wore her out and I know that Catherine was a little cranky, as she tends to be when she's out of her comfort zone. Catherine was so exhausted and grumpy after church and wanted to go to sleep in the car. We live two minutes from our church so I told her she couldn't go to sleep in the car, we were going home and she could be in her bed. To which she wailed "but Rose let's me sleep in the car!" Ella kept referring to her as Nana Rose or Grandma Rose and she was upset because she wanted to make her Halloween costume with Rose. Rose generously sewed a top and bottom in Dalmation print for Ella, but I guess Ella wanted in on the action. I think they loved their time away and I'm sure I'll be hearing stories about it all week. The thing that cracked me up the most, is when Renee's dad Joe told me that he was surprised when he started the bath for them and they both started ripping off their clothes. What can I say, they love their bathtime!

Well, I'm going to catch the end of the Phillies game and hope to have something to cheer about after that depressing Steeler's game. See ya later

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fall Fest and more

This past Saturday was our Fall Fest gathering. We ended up having a beautiful sunny day to get ready and do the final preparations in the yard, set up tables and chairs, figure out where we wanted to put all the food, get the fire circles ready and argue with Matt over where he was going to put the giant goards that looked like boa constrictors (not even kidding). At one point he was using them as a centerpiece on the table (again, not kidding). All of this was in addition to the cooking and cleaning I was doing inside. Needless to say, the kids were a bit antsy all day and at one point Ella started crying because she wanted her friends to be here NOW. So I shipped them down to the basement to watch Ariel's Beginning's and all was well!

I made the roast beef that Crafty P recommended just to have something different and found that it tasted remarkably similar to the roast beef I made the year before, but I liked the Italian seasonings that added a slight kick (not spicy) to it, so it is definitely a keeper! I also made the corn chowder that I mentioned in my previous post. My Aunt Lynne left me a message the other day and told me that I should make the same thing and have it be a tradition - I think I'm going to run with that and make it easy on myself next year. In addition to that I also made a big pan of Mac-n-Cheese for the kids and a hot spinach artichoke dip. To go with the dip I sliced some pocketless pitas into wedges and lightly brushed them with olive oil, salted them and put them in the oven for about 10 minutes. They were so yummy - I only wish there was a way to keep them warmer longer - they are best fresh out of the oven! I have another bag left and I'm dreaming of what I can use them with. I may just eat them plain.

We had the grill going to cook brats and hotdogs, both of which were popular with both kids and adults. In addition we also had (provided by friends) a spicy pumpkin soup and a parmesan pancetta torte. Hungry yet?

Most people brought desserts and our dessert table was literally overflowing with baked goods. Pumpkin was the flavor of the night, we had pumpkin whoopie pies (Every time Matt ate one he remarked about the name and wondered if it meant he would be having a good night - again, not kidding.), pumpkin roll, pumpkin cupcakes, pumpkin bread and pumpkin cookies. Along with that were two apple crisps and the most delicious carmel apples and Snicker's surprise cookies. If you weren't hungry before, you have to be now!

It was a great night. Everyone ate and talked and mingled. The kids ran around non stop for 3 hours. It was cute to see how the guys matched up with each other and the girls did the same. Most of these kids didn't know each other too well and some of them were meeting for the first time but that didn't stop them from having a blast together. Of course I totally forgot about the bag of glow sticks that I had as well - it probably would have helped because it was so dark back by our swingset. Around 8:30 (people got there at 5) Ella started to meltdown. By 8:45 she was passed out in bed, which should tell how hard she had played because she is one who will stay up as late as we'll let her.

My favorite thing about Fall Fest is that we invite a ton of people from our various circles of friends and even though a lot of them don't know each other, everyone enjoys talking and hanging out for the evening. We missed having some of our good friends there, but had fun hanging out with some couples for the first time outside of more formal situations (church, mom's groups).

I know, you're waiting for the pictures. I'm sorry to say that I have none. I was so busy for the first hour or so, moving food down and directing people where to put their stuff that by the time I took a breath it was dark out. I can tell you that on the tables I put pumpkins with flowers in them, along with candles and little tiny tins with candy corn in it. Someone told me that the pumpkins were very Martha Stewart. I can't pretend that it was even close to something Martha would do. At the very least Martha would have washed the pumpkins so they were nice and shiny and not dirty BEFORE SHE PUT THEM ON A TABLE. Oh well, it was dark and no one seemed to notice.

So that was Fall Fest.

Other stuff going on this week;

I am tagging tagging tagging clothes to consign in a kid's sale this weekend. I am hoping to make some money to help with Christmas expenses this year. I have to tell you that I am having a hard time letting go of some of the clothing. There are certain outfits I can picture so clearly on both girls and I would rather pass them along to friend's than say good bye forever! Could all this reminiscing be the reason I went to bed the other night with the strongest desire to have another baby that I've had in years?

Ella has a playdate this Friday with a little boy from her class. First time she's gone to a boy's house from a playdate and I'm feeling a little nervous about it, even though I feel like I know the mom well enough since the kids were in class together last year. Ella told me that this boy is the nicest boy in class, even though Matt told me he was also the wildest. Ella doesn't usually like the wild boys (Pray that this stays true for all her life!! actually Matt may have been considered one of the wild boys at one point so perhaps I'll have to to amend that prayer at some time.) and she tells me that they play Prince and Princess on the playground. Should be interesting!

Finally, the girls are going away for a day and a night this weekend. Renee's mom is taking them Saturday morning and is going to entertain them with a day full of fun activities and then they'll sleep there and I'll see them in church on Sunday. I don't know what I'll do with myself for a whole day without kids. Matt will be busy demolitioning our bathroom, something I am glad not to be a part of. I know we'll go out to dinner that night, but any suggestions for the rest of the day?

Demolitioning our bathroom is one of a couple projects we have going on around here. I promise to put up pictures of the last project we were working on - it has proven to be a success and so far has made my life easier. The bathroom project coincides with getting rid of the closet in our room and passing my dresser along to Ella so we could have install a wall to wall warddrobe/closet combination. All my clothes have been piled on the ground for a few weeks now. I dig through a trash bag to find socks in the morning. I regularly see the girls wearing various items of clothing, usually lingerie, because how can they resist the big piles of dress up clothes!?

Ok, that's enough for now. I'm sure I've spilled way too much info and you need to take a break anyway!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Modern Irish ballad

My parents went to Ireland this past June and enjoyed a 10-day tour visiting the castles, cliffs, beautiful countryside and the cities. One of my mom's favorite parts was visiting the local pub where there was always someone up front singing Irish songs and the crowd would often join in and sing along. It was during this trip when she saw the statue of Molly Malone and heard the song, which is supposedly the unofficial anthem of Dublin. Here are the lyrics;
In Dublin's fair city, where the girls are so pretty
I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone
As she wheeled her wheelbarrow through streets broad and narrow
Crying cockles and mussels alive a-live O!
A-live a-live O! A-live a-live O!
Crying cockles and mussels alive a-live O!
She was a fishmonger and sure it was no wonder
For so were her father and mother before
And they both wheeled their barrows through streets broad and narrow
Crying cockles and mussels alive a-live O!
A-live a-live O! A-live a-live O!
Crying cockles and mussels alive a-live O!
She died of a fever and no one could save her
And that was the end of sweet Molly Malone
Now her ghost wheels her barrow through streets broad and narrow
Crying cockles and mussels alive a-live O!
A-live a-live O! A-live a-live O!
Crying cockles and mussels alive a-live O!
A-live a-live O! A-live a-live
O!Crying cockles and mussels alive a-live O!
She bought a CD of an Irish woman who they heard performing and of course, Molly Malone was one of the songs on it. A few months later Ella visited my parents for a week and my mom gave her some gifts from Ireland and taught her some new Irish songs. Can ya guess which one Ella just fell in love with? Yup, the rather depressing one about a woman who dies in the end and haunts the streets of Dublin with her wheelbarrow. Ella wanted to have it sung to her a lot after first learning it (Matt was so baffled when he went to put her to bed one night and she was demanding him sing Molly Malone.) and now has the whole song memorized.
We haven't heard much about Molly Malone in the past few weeks. In fact tonight, I think Ella has moved on to the point that she has developed her own Irish ballad, which she performed tonight in the bath tub.

It goes like this (I promise I am not making this up - I wish I wrote it down right away so I would have it verbatim);
I had a friend Marina, I loved her and then she died
I had a friend Marina, I loved her and then she died
I had a friend Marina, I loved her and then she died....
No more Marina.
No more Marina,
No more Marina,
No more Marina...
She died of the fever.
There you have it, the unofficial ballad of the deMontaigne household. I am just thankful that she didn't put cockles and mussles alive, alive-O, in there! And no, she does not have any friends named Marina - thank goodness!

Monday, October 13, 2008

I want to be a part of it.....New York....

This weekend our friends Shannon and Greg were gracious enough to host us at their home for a night and take us for our first trip as a family to New York City. It's something I've wanted to do with the girls for awhile now and this weekend was a great pick because we had gorgeous fall weather. Matt and I are not city people and while I think we could have done fine with just the four of us, it was so much more fun to be there with good friends who just happen to live close enough to be pretty familar with the city and how to navigate through it.

I looked through all the pictures and I realize we don't have any amazing NYC pictures - the ones that just shout out - "hey, look we're in NY". That's mainly because we didn't get the camera out while in Times Square or the mega Toys R Us (because a certain giraffe was there and we were too busy calming the girls). We had a great day - Ferry Ride, Bus ride, Subway ride - I think the kids were most excited by the various forms of transportation they got to try out. Ella actually starting through a fit when we got off the bus because there was so much traffic it was easier to walk. She was loving looking out the windows and checking out the sites. Most of the pictures are from the Central Park Zoo. I think I could have spent all day walking in Central Park -and people watching. After a long day and LOTS of walking we were all exhausted and the kids passed out during the car ride home. I think they had fun and were so interested in all the different off beat attractions that are so common in New York City. In fact, Ella told us her favorite part were seeing the Statue of Liberties. That's right, plural. At two different points we passed street mimes fully dressed as Lady Liberty and she found that fascinating -go figure! But we're scared of Geoffrey the Giraffe??

And now the pictures. There's a bunch so enjoy!

Ella and Jack on the Ferry ride from Weehawken

Catherine wasn't so sure about the boat ride at first, but she warmed up to it
Catherine, Ella and Jack enjoying the Sea Lions at the Zoo. For those of you who know Catherine, you'll realize what a breakthrough this is - for the last year she's been very scared of animals - her interest in the animals this weekend was so surprising.

Super cool Polar Bear. He would swim on his back right over to where we were standing and then use his feet to push off against the glass and go back.
Ok, here is a progression of pictures that I found entertaining. We want a picture of the four kids under the eagle. Cade wasn't having it and tried to escape.
Good grab Catherine- not gonna let him get away...

Ella's helping out. Meanwhile Jack is chillin with his water bottle...

The girls are working hard to get Cade in the picture. They think this is great. Jack, still chillin...
If you look closely, it seems like Catherine is scolding Cade. Jack's still waiting for us to take the picture. After the scolding Cade took off for good so this was as close as we got with all the kids together.

Ella in a turtle shell

Catherine on the stone bunny

On the ferry ride home, exhausted after a long day.

The real Statue of Liberty is over there in the distance...

The view from New Jersey. I love the NYC skyline at night. It made me want to take another boat across and join in the nightlife. Instead I was asleep by 10:30!
The reason for the title (besides the obvious) is that I kept singing the song "Start spreading the news... "for Ella since it's part of Madagascar which she loves and there were buses promoting the 2nd Madagascar all over so it was in my head. On Sunday she kept singing/saying "New York, I want to be part of it." over and over -in a totally different tune. I honestly had no idea what she was talking about when she asked me "why does he want to be part of it?"
It's too hard for me to put into words, but I know I liked being a part of it, if only for a day!

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