Saturday, December 22, 2007



I had plans to write a post about our fabulous trip to Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg. (Here's the lowdown. The kids loved the waterslides. Claire went on one, that Brian went on after sending her down. When he got to the bottom he said, "if I had gone on first I would never have let her do that." But by the time he got to the bottom I had gotten her calm by telling her what a big girl she was, and how brave, etc. Having a room on the waterpark level is nice, but when you walk by the waterslides 297 times and the kids want to go in every.single.time. saying "not now" becomes a bit exhausting. I also rediscovered that my husband is an arcade junkie, and Claire looks to be not far behind, even though she is too young to really play any of the games they had. All in all, a great trip, and I look forward to going again.)

I planned to write about how thrilled Claire's teacher was that part of our Christmas gifts was a class gift of a new bird feeder since Claire constantly tells me how the bird feeder is broken, and she wishes they could feed the birds.

I planned to write about how the largest grocery store in town does not carry a single jar of plum preserves, but does have vidalia onion jelly. However, the smallest store? Had three different kinds of plum preserves, at different price points.

I planned to write about our upcoming trip to Texas, and how I am panicking a bit about taking an almost-two and a three-and-a-half year old on an airplane for 3+ hours and staying sane in the process.

But all of that is going to have to wait because oh the craziness of the last few days. Thursday, approximately three minutes before I needed to leave to pick up Claire from school, I discovered a giant wet spot on the basement carpet. It was wet enough that it went "squelch" every time I took a step. Ugh. Then I looked closely at the laminate flooring. Hmmm, the seams shouldn't peak up like that. I've never noticed that before. Then a quick look in the closet with the furnace, water heater, and plumbing for Brian's bar sink. Wet everywhere. Ack. Panic. Have to leave the house. After consulting my parents (helpful), and Brian (not) while I drove to and from school, I started calling around for plumbers when I got home. I had one recommendation, one whose van I'd seen around, and another who a neighbor had seen in another neighbor's driveway. Good enough. The first two weren't available to come out that day, but the third was. So I spent the rest of my afternoon learning how to turn off the water to and drain a water heater, find the master water shutoff for the house, and trying my best to sop up the wet with a variety of towels while I waited for the plumber. Not exactly how I'd planned my day. (Big thank you to my dad who drove up to help, and like me, couldn't find the leak, but certainly calmed me down a little.) The plumber arrived around 5:30, but unfortunately, he couldn't find any leak either. So we went to bed with no answers, and a very damp basement.

Friday I ran to the grocery store before the cleanup people were supposed to come between 9 and 11 to do a lot of the grocery shopping for Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. Then I waited. And waited. And waited. They came around 12:45. Their estimate for cleaning up the damage was a little less than I anticipated, but they would only rip up the Pergo and clean underneath it, not replace it. I said I'd be in touch. They did not pull up any carpet (which I'd hoped for as our plumber had said it was possible we had a cracked foundation). So instead I foisted Claire off on a generous neighbor, left Ben fussing in his crib, ripped up carpet and set up a fan myself so that it was no longer sitting on the sodden pad, and could dry out. Then Ben and I headed over to the neighbors so that I could just pretend the problem didn't exist for a little while. When I came home Brian was home, and we went downstairs together. At this point nearly everything was dry except the base of the furnace which is attached to a humidifier, so we put in a call to the company that services our furnace. The guy came right over, and shortly he and Brian discovered the problem. The pipe from the humidifier wasn't sloped correctly, and had developed a small clog, causing it to back up when the humidifier was going strong. Not visible when the furnace/humidifier wasn't running. So the problem has been found, and fixed. Now we need to figure out how to clean the mess up. Fun. Or not.

Needless to say the goodies I usually make for friends and neighbors? Will be New Year's goodies, not Christmas ones. And our holiday cards and letter? Happy New Year everyone. That's when you'll get your card. I had to take some things off of my plate, or I would not survive the next three days. I decided how could I celebrate properly the true reason for the season if I didn't give myself a little peace on earth? I hope to, but may not, have the chance to post again before Christmas. So a very Merry Christmas to all, and to all a restful night.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Best Shot(s) Monday - Christmas photos

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A few weeks ago I took 280 photos trying to find the three that were just right for the Christmas card. I frankly wasn't thrilled with the lighting I had in any of the shots, and if I had had time, I would have redone them at a different time of day, or in a different room, but I didn't. Here are three that didn't make the card, but deserve to be spotlighted, anyway.

Trying to get two kids to look happy at the same time?
Ain't gonna happen. At least at this point they were having fun!

Even the weird lighting can't disguise that pretty smile!

Hello, GQ called. They're ready for the "toddler" edition.

To see more pictures from Best Shot Monday visit Tracey over at Picture This, and look for more adorable links in her comments.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A bevy of contests

Wow! There are tons of opportunities right now to pick up some great prizes!

5 Minutes for Mom has quite a few contests up right now. Every woman knows that finding the right jeans is not an easy task. The ones that fit nicely, and feel comfortable, and make you feel good about how you look? Yeah, not easy to find. But True Jeans really tries to help. You enter your measurements, and they'll give you alist of what jeans to try. And right now by entering this contest, you could win a $200 gift certificate! Wow!

The lovely sisters also scored a great prize from Best Buy. You could win a shelf system from Insignia, that includes an iPod dock, a CD/DVD player, and much more. Wow again!

Over at A Readable Feast, Anne-Marie is giving away a great big basket of children's books. At our house new books are always a big hit.

Hmmm, I'm convinced there were more contests that I was going to mention here, but I can't think of them now. It is almost bedtime, so my brain cells are done for the day, I think.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


One of my favorite Christmas stories is Olive the other Reindeer. It's about a dog named Olive who hears people singing Rudolph, and thinks that instead of saying "all of the other reindeer" they are saying "Olive, the other reindeer" so she heads off to the North Pole to help Santa out.

Claire chose to have that story read to her 2 or 3 times on Sunday, and then later that evening I caught her singing to herself as she looked at the book, "all of the other reindeer...Olive the other reindeer...Lucky the other reindeer." It was so cute. And fitting given how we had tortured dressed Lucky up on Saturday when we went to pick out our tree.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Best Shot Monday - birthday pie

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Ben seems to be thoroughly enjoying the birthday pie on Saturday.

To see more pictures from Best Shot Monday visit Tracey over at Picture This, and look for the links in her comments.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Long time no type.

Well, I certainly hadn't intended to finish off a month of posting daily by not posting for an entire week. Sadly, we found out last Thursday that Brian's grandma had passed away, so the next few days were a blur of making plans, doing laundry, cleaning up, doing laundry, packing, doing laundry - you get the drift.

Our trip was too fast, and it was - of course - sad, but at the same time we got to spend some quality time with family that we don't see often enough. That, at least, was a blessing. I am grateful that Grandma got to meet and hold both of her great-grandchildren. She loved holding them in her lap, and they loved that she wore long dangly necklaces that they could tug on. Brian has lots of stories from when he used to fly out to Texas every summer to see his grandparents, and when the kids are older they will get to hear about Grandma Norma, and what a strong woman she was. Brian was excited to find an ice cream maker that he used to use with his grandparents when he was out there visiting, and he shipped it home so that he can make ice cream with Claire and Ben. (Hopefully that's one item that was on my Christmas list that I won't get this year!) I know they won't have their own memories of meeting her, but we have lots of pictures to show them, and hopefully that will be enough.

We came back to two little ones who have been physically on top of me for the last 48 hours. Or at least that's what it feels like. Just five minutes ago Claire asked me, "why are you under that blanket?" I told her I was cold, and she said, "I'm cold, too." So she went upstairs to get her blanket. On her way up the stairs she said, "do you want me to sit next to you?" with the most hopeful lilt in her voice. It obviously meant, "may I please sit next to you?" Of course this means she is currently laying on top of one of my forearms while I type, touching my lips and chin and giggling.

Friday, November 30, 2007


Well, it is day 30. Thirty days of daily blogging, come to an end. Somedays it was hard to find inspiration (and occasionally, internet connectivity), but I managed to make it through. Goodbye NaBloPoMo - see you again next year - maybe.

In other exciting news - today Claire made the brilliant observation, "when we walk faster, it doesn't take as long to get there." Perhaps she will become a scientist one day. Ben was laughing and charming as we ran errands - until I didn't have a quarter at the store to let him ride in one of those mechanical trucks that they put right next to the front doors to torment parents. And so I carried him, screaming, while pushing a cart full of bulk food purchases to the car, and then strapped him into his car seat while he made sounds as though I was torturing him. I saw the other mothers watching. Some looked sympathetic, but a few looked triumphant. I think they were just glad to see that it wasn't only their kids who do that. He did befriend lots of people, including one of the barristas (sp?), by getting his groove on at Starbucks. All in all, it wasn't a bad day.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

I changed the look again to reflect the season. However, I'm not sure that I like how the photos show up on this background. We'll see, I might change my mind. I reserve that right.

In other news, the other night Ben counted from eight to thirteen twice. I have been unable to get him past eleven on repeat attempts, though. It was entirely random, too. I told the car to change the radio station, and after I said the numbers of the station I wanted he chimed in with the counting.

This week Claire's class is studying Japan. So she now says, "sayonara" when prompted, and is learning to eat pretend food with chopsticks. She is thrilled that this week all of her friends are back at school, as a few of them took extra time off last week for Thanksgiving trips. In fact she told me yesterday, when we talked about wearing a new outfit we'd bought at the mall to school, "they're going to be so proud of me!" When I asked for clarification she told me, "My teachers, and all my friends. They're going to be so proud of me wearing my new clothes to school!"

Tonight as I got them ready for bed they were pretending there were monsters in some of the rooms, and running around shrieking. We all went in Ben's room, and closed the door to keep the monsters out. Claire told me they were "just pretend", so I wasn't scared. In the middle of putting on his PJs, Ben said to me, "mon-stah" in a very deep growly voice, and then shrieked this high-pitched piercing shriek. Then he laughed hysterically. Later Claire pretended to zerbert the floor, and told me she'd zerberted the monster. She continued by telling me the monster was in her belly now so he couldn't eat us. Whew! I'm glad she took care of it, I was starting to get worried.

The minds of children are amazing things.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Today after picking Claire up from school, we picked Brian up for lunch and headed over to the mall for some food court goodness, and a little Christmas shopping. Up until that point the day had gone pretty well.

At lunch Ben dropped a full cup of ketchup under the table. Then Claire kept trying to crawl down there to play. Brian got sick from something he ate, and had to bail early. Then, after losing Claire for about 3 minutes in Macy's (oh the gray hairs - the thoughts that run through your head. I was already mentally composing the description I would give people so we could start an all-out childhunt), Ben fell asleep in the stroller. This may seem like a good thing. But, firstly, he is too big for the stroller, and during much of his sleeping his feet rested on the front wheels which meant I had to tip the stroller up onto only its two rear wheels for a lot of the navigating. And, secondly, that he absolutely would not nap until after we got home.

On the ride home, in the back seat for several minutes all I could hear was, "yes!" and "no!" The kicker? They were not arguing about anything. There was no question to be answered. They just wanted to be ornery, so were disagreeing with each other. Over nothing. at. all. It was funny, but also, mildly annoying.

Ben's lack of nap at home meant that today, after I got up, I did not have a single child-free minute until about 30 minutes ago when Claire was tucked into bed. That makes for a very. long. day. No matter how cute the children are. Mama needs a break.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Your daily dose of cute

The kids are growing up SO fast. I can hardly believe the changes.

Claire has suddenly decided that she's a "big girl". So now I am not Mommy, or Mama. Simply Mom. Her conversations are peppered with, "right, Mom?" and, "OK, Mom?" Like this one in the car Sunday as we talked about going out for lunch.

"Hey Mom! You can sit next to me. Because we're both girls. Right, Mom? RIGHT, MOM? And Daddy can sit with Ben. OK, Mom?"

And Ben is constantly cracking me up. This morning Claire got in the car first, and when I lifted him up into his seat he reached over to grab her hand. "Ho hans, Cwawe?" Then again on the ride home he asked to hold her hand. She kindly obliged.

On at least three occasions this morning he climbed into my lap, rolled over to look up at me, and with his best flirting smile said, "hewwo" and then reached up for hugs and kisses. When I smother him in kisses or tickles he almost always belly laughs and then asks for it "AGAIN!" And he has this sweet little voice when he is asking for something he really wants. Like this morning when I was having pumpkin roll for breakfast he climbed up beside me, and sweetly asked, "I twy?" How could anyone resist that? The glint in his eye tells you he knows that he is irresistible, and he loves it.

So much sweet. It'll almost give you a toothache. But it is so worth it.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Best Shot Monday - leaves

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Even the dreariest November day is brightened when you can look out your door and see this.

There are a lot more Best Shot Monday pictures to see, so you better "leaf" here and head over to Tracey's (don't forget to look for all of the links in the comments)!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thanksgiving day in pictures

In addition to tons and tons of great food (which reminds me - it's about time for a slice of delicious leftover pumpkin roll!), there was a lot of other fun going on.

The bubbles were obviously a big hit.

Although Ben's technique leaves a bit to be desired.

And sometimes the results were a little puzzling.

And what would Thanksgiving be without a little football?

Legos provided plenty of fun while the kids waited patiently for the turkey to finish cooking.

And of course, after we were all stuffed, there was time for snuggling...

...and kisses.

And of course, a Thanksgiving nap. (Don't despair ladies - he's single!)

All in all it was a great day.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Home again, home again

Despite having some great times with family over the last few days, it felt so good to just drop into my favorite chair at home. There is so much to do, cleaning, decorating for the holidays, laundry and unpacking - even washing dishes left from making mashed potatoes Thursday morning. But yet I don't want to be anywhere else right now.

In some excellent news, we found out Friday that Grandma miraculously woke up from her coma. So we have even more to be thankful for than we thought. We were so thrilled to hear that she seems to be her usual feisty self. All I kept saying was, "Wow," and, "that's so amazing!"

Friday, November 23, 2007

Fall Fun

Earlier this week it was unseasonably warm. Which meant it was a great time to go outside and play in the leaves. The smell of fallen leaves, the rustling sounds - it all brought back memories of growing up, and raking leaves into piles and jumping in.

Ben thought running through the carpet of leaves was loads of fun. He also thought it was hysterical when Claire or I would toss a handful of leaves up in the air, and they would fall on him as they drifted back down to the ground.

Claire made "leaf angels" and threw handfuls of leaves up in the air (or at me) over and over and over again.

Even Tiger came outside to play.

And what would be the best way to end the afternoon of fun? Sharing popsicles with friends, of course.

(Note how both of my children are too consumed with eating
their popsicles to look at the camera.)

Thursday, November 22, 2007


There are so many things we have to be thankful for.

I am so amazingly thankful for my kids. They make me laugh each and every day, and somedays that's just what I need to keep me going.
I am thankful that I have a husband who loves me, understands me, and accepts me. And who works extra hard so that I can stay home right now.
I am thankful for our extended families. We have a truly amazing network of brothers and sisters, parents, etc.
I am thankful for my friends - old and new. They make my world a better place to be.
I am extremely thankful that we live in a neighborhood full of kids and families - neighbors that stop over just to say hello - that offer to help - that my kids love to stop by to visit.

And tonight - I was very thankful for a nice cold glass of a great white wine after I arrived at my parents house and got the kids tucked into bed.

ps - stay tuned - pictures coming soon!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving Eve

In the grand tradition of Thanksgiving Eves, we went out tonight. To test mattresses. Oddly enough, the store was quite empty. I can't imagine why there weren't more people out, trying to appear comfortable lying on a mattress in a brightly lit store while a salesperson stares at them. The store we went to was a "healthy back" store, so they had several giant exercise balls that the kids enjoyed knocking things over playing with, while we tried out some new mattresses.

We followed that up with a delicious dinner at an Italian restaurant near our house. The restaurant was nearly empty, not surprisingly. Almost all of the families that were there had kids close to the ages of ours, so I didn't feel quite so badly when they demanded spaghetti and meatballs, and then ate almost none. They did devour the vanilla bean gelato, though. I preferred the bread pudding myself.

Then home and bedtime, so we can get up in the morning. Cook a lot of potatoes, and head out to stuff ourselves full of food for the rest of the weekend. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Contests, contests everywhere!

Janice and Susan, the lovely ladies behind 5 Minutes for Mom, also run a store called Pedal Cars and Retro Collectibles. The stuff there - well, I pretty much would like to have any of it. And they are generously sponsoring a contest for one lucky person to win a retro pedal car for their very own.

They also have their fabulous Christmas giveaway going on. They already have 13 great contests going on, and it's not over yet!

Christmas Giveaway 2007 Sweepstakes

So take a few minutes to look at what they're offering - you won't regret it!

Monday, November 19, 2007

A conversation with Ben

Ben: Ben pulls my ear. "Eeeeah?" (he has a Boston accent)
Me: "Yes, Mommy's ear."
Ben: Ben pulls his ear. "Eeeeah?"
Me: "That's Ben's ear."
Ben: Ben pulls his other ear. "Eeeeah?"
Me: "Oh my goodness! You have another ear! Two ears! One, two."
Me: So then we count to two on my fingers a few times. "Two ears. One, two."
Ben: "I thwee."
Me: "No, you're not three. You're one. One." Holds up one finger.
Ben: "One." Looks at me coyly. "Thiwteen?"
Me: "No, Ben, you're not thirteen. You're one."
Ben: "I gwow?"
Me: "Yes, Ben. You'll grow."
Ben: full of big smiles

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Not much to say

We got some bad news today about Brian's grandma in Texas. We are busy sending up lots of prayers. That's about all that's on my mind right now, so sorry this is going to be brief.

We are thinking of you, Grandma.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Fun times

As expected, the Hokies won. After the game we went to Hokie House for food, beer, and pool. The people watching was excellent. There was one group of four, three men, and one woman, who kept us entertained with constant drama much of the evening. There was fighting, crying, hugging, and kissing. Over and over and over again. They did not all leave together.

There were also quite a few folks out, that I am sure, Clinton and Stacy would not approve of. Perhaps the young woman in the silver sequined top, layered with a pink cabled, hooded cardigan. Or the one in the black tank top with silver sequins at the hem and neckline, combined with a pair of hiking boots.

It certainly made for good conversation while Brian was busy playing pool and making new friends. I think he might be an honorary fraternity brother now.

Friday, November 16, 2007


Time away is a good thing. Tonight and tomorrow night Brian and I are in a lovely hotel, with no kids.

This afternoon we dropped our kids off at Grandma and Grandpa's house, consolidated cars, and headed down to Blacksburg with Don (Brian's brother) and Cindy (Don's wife). We stopped for dinner on the way. How nice is it to not have to ask for a kid's menu, pick-up 2,374 dropped items from the floor, and deal with tired temperamental kids at dinner? Now we're checked into the hotel, waiting for room service to bring a bottle of wine, figuring out what to order for breakfast in bed, and planning our day tomorrow (football game!).

I know that on Sunday I will be anxious to get lots of hugs and kisses from Claire and Ben, but for the moment? I am very happy to be right where I am. Four hours away.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Giddy with pride

Thursday's Theme over at Picture This is "giddy". This photo was taken at a playground after our apple picking adventure in September. I think that you can see in the photo how proud she is of climbing up all by herself.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Consumer Conundrum

Being a consumer these days isn't easy. Trying to be a conscientious consumer is even harder. On the brain, and the wallet.

There have been so many recalls on toys lately that I have become rather paranoid about bringing anything new that is "made in China" into our house. Fortunately the hilarious Chris over at Notes from the Trenches posted this website called Not Made in China. It has given me a number of ideas of fun, educational toys that aren't from China that won't break the bank. Of course, I did start some of my Christmas shopping months ago. In June. And both of the big presents for the kids that I already purchased? You guessed it. Made in China. Ugh.

Don't you just love the spending holiday season?

For those who are having trouble keeping up with all of the recalls, and what to do with your many lead-painted toys, my friend Carol sent me a link to a place called Not in My Cart, that keeps track of all of those pesky recalls in one place.

In other consumer-related news, I had to get gas this morning. Desperately. I was on 0 miles-to-go when I pulled into the gas station. I paid $2.93 per gallon, and couldn't believe it, as I'd paid $2.79 less than a week ago at the same station. Over $57 to fill up. Holy moly (as Claire would say)! Then I started paying attention to the rest of the gas stations that I passed as I ran errands. Three at $3.09, one at $3.07, one at $3.11, one at $3.14, two at $3.01, and one at $3.19 (yes, I wrote them all down so I wouldn't forget). I can't figure out why there is such a huge disparity in prices. The place I get gas now I typically get 10 cents off per gallon using my grocery store customer card. Anytime I spend more than $50 at the store in a single visit, I earn 10 cents off at the pump. Based on the other prices I saw, I guess I got a deal.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Everyday Bliss

Having kids is a lot of work.

But no matter how bad some parts of the day are, or how frustrated I get sometimes, at some point during the day (and frequently more often than that) my children do something that just makes me fill up with happiness.

Today, after Ben styled his hair with yogurt, and Claire tore a string cheese to bits and then tried to drop them all on the floor without eating any, they both got up, joined hands, and swung each other around in circles dancing to the DragonTales theme song. "Daaaaance, daaaance," Ben giggled. They were so happy, and having so much fun.

I hope there was a bit of bliss in your day today!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Best Shot Monday - better late than never!

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Do you ever feel like you're having a bad hair day?

This picture was taken back in September on National Alpaca Farm Day.

To see more pictures from Best Shot Monday visit Tracey over at Picture This, and look for the links in her comments.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Who is out there?

So I've been sitting here for a while trying to think of something to post about. And since I haven't downloaded pictures from the weekend yet, I can't use that fallback. So I thought I would try to see who is out there reading.

Based on the stats that are collected, in the last 24 hours I have had visits from:
Washington DC
San Antonio, TX
Boston, MA (hi Sarah!)
Chicago, IL
Reston, VA
Zagreb, Croatia (did a google search for claire danse - I think they may have meant claire danes?)
Pompano Beach, FL
Corpus Christi, TX
Metuchen, NJ
Mt. Laurel, NJ

So who are you? How do you wind up here? I know some family, and a few friends who regularly check in, but I have no idea who many of you are that are reading. I love when I check my email and have comments from readers - it's very gratifying. So please, introduce yourself - tell me a little about you. I'm very nice, and not at all stalkerish.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Let's go...


VT - 40
Florida State - 21

I think that that is all that needs to be said tonight.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Mother's Night

Last night was Mother's Night at Claire's school. She and I went to her school, and there was a ticket (or "chickit" as Claire says) with her name and four kinds of work listed on it. She was supposed to show me three of them.

It was so enjoyable to watch her in the classroom once she got over the strangeness of all of the moms being there. She wanted to start with "advanced pouring" work, and she got a tray off the shelf, took me over to a table, and showed me how she can pour the beans back and forth from one container to the other without spilling. Then we moved onto wood polishing work. She picked up the tray, and we went back to the table. Then she took all of the stuff of the tray while we sat there. Then she looks around and says, "Now we have to find some wood to polish. Oh, we'll go over there. Push in your chair." So we got up, pushed in our chairs, and went to another shelf to get a wooden elephant statue. She showed me where it had been broken, but Miss Fatima fixed it. Then we sat down, and she carefully narrated each step of the wood polishing process.

First we put the polish in the bowl. Here are two cloths. This one is polishing and this one is shining. You use two fingers, not three. Just two. Then you polish. Like this. And now shining. Now we need more polish. Whoops, three fingers. We only use two. OK, all done. We wash out the bowl. (We went to the sink and she used the sponge to clean the small glass bowl. Then back to the table.) We put these in the basket. (Back to the sink to put the two cloths in the laundry basket.) Now we get new ones. Polishing first. (She pulls a new polishing cloth out of the drawer, and takes it back to the tray.) Now shining. (Back over to the same drawer to get a shining cloth to take back to the table.)

Then she packed everything back up, and put the elephant, and then the tray back on the shelves where they belonged.

Next up was plant washing. I learned some very useful things. "You have to be very careful. And gentle." Also, "Start from the top. Go all the way to the bottom." She spilled water all over the floor carrying her bowl back to the sink to empty it, but before she could wipe it up she had to take the towel to the basket. And get a new one. And put it on the tray. And put the plant back. And put the tray back. Then we could clean up the floor.

It made me so happy to see how secure she feels in her classroom, and to watch her working so well on a variety of different tasks.


The one big negative to the night happened before we even pulled into the parking lot. The direction we come from causes us to drive by the first church driveway to the second one to pull in. That's how we do it every morning and afternoon. Well, the traffic light at the end of the road had caused a back up, so we were past the first driveway, but not at the second one yet. A jeep that was two cars behind me, suddenly pulls into the wrong lane, and I thought for a minute that they were just going to turn into the exit so they could get to the parking lot faster. But no. That would be giving them too much credit. Instead they drove in the wrong lane past approximately 6 cars so that they could get to the entrance driveway. OK, I get that being on time is important. And that there was no oncoming traffic. But what are you teaching your kid when you break laws. That they don't need to follow the rules if it's inconvenient to them? That it's ok to put yourself and others in danger if it suits your purposes? I just don't get it. People like that make me so angry.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Yankee Doodle went to Asheville....

Columbus Day weekend we headed down to the mountains of North Carolina to visit Papa, Grandma Laurel, Uncle Calvin, and Uncle Nigel. One of the big attractions, when we go there, is that they have horses. Well, one horse and two ponies. You can imagine that for a three year old this is something of a nirvana.

The first day they got to watch Laurel call the horses up from their pasture. Obviously the best way to watch horses run by is by climbing a fence.

Or trying to climb through it.

Claire got to give each of them a treat. Basil was a little freaked out by the clicking of the camera.

The next afternoon after Grandma Laurel brought them up to the barn, she let the kids take a ride on Basil. You can see that Claire was just thrilled about this.

She even helped take care of him afterwards.

Ben on the other hand, was not so sure about sitting on top of this very large animal.

He eventually gave in, but had no interest in walking anywhere.

Thanks for being so patient with my babies, Bas.

On another day we all enjoyed a carriage ride, thanks to Maisy. (If you look very carefully you can see the outline of the Blue Ridge mountains above the trees.)

Doesn't she look fancy in her driving gear?

The kids loved splashing in the puddles while Grandma Laurel hosed Maisy down. It's hard work pulling four adults and two kids, she deserved a warm shower.

Needless to say, a great time was had by all. Even those of us who didn't get pony rides.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Well then.

I was going to post a bunch of cute photos of the kids riding horses, feeding horses, and taking a carriage ride. But blogger won't let me.

So, the good news is that we have a new garage door opener. It is all kinds of fancy compared to what used to be there. It is quiet, and has a nifty keypad outside. The buttons at the door to the house give the option to just turn the light on, open the garage door, or lock the garage door.

I am slightly concerned because after the new opener was installed there were quite a few pieces leftover. I am less concerned because my father-in-law was here this morning for a very fast visit (including breakfast burritos from Anita's - yum!), and he did most of the labor helped Brian install the new opener.

So no cute pictures, but still, a good day.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

It got better before it got worse.

So last week both kids had high fevers. I took them to the doctor's because Claire's school has sent home two notices about reports of strep throat, and we wanted to rule that out. Of course Ben who had been listless all morning long - like overcooked spaghetti - perked up immediately when we got to the doctor's office. He was giving high-fives, pointing out everything that he knew the name of, and showing the PA how very very ticklish he is. Both kids checked out. No strep, no ear infections, just a virus. And by Wednesday they were back to their usual perky selves.

The rest of the week was normal. And then Saturday at 1 AM Claire climbed into our bed. When she woke me up I got up to go the bathroom, and she followed me saying she needed to show me something. I took her back to her room only to find that her bed was covered in barf. Ugh. I changed her into clean pajamas, wiped her face and nose, and tucked her into bed beside Brian while I put sheets in the laundry, made the trundle bed, and found a basin. She was up sick twice more during the night, and several times in the morning.
All day long she alternated between napping and lying on top of me. Fortunately Brian was home to take care of the boys (did I mention we'd had our nephew overnight). By about 8 PM Claire was showing signs of life, and we tucked her into her trundle bed feeling pretty confident that she was over this bug.

Sunday was fine for everyone, but we kept it low-key, and didn't leave the house all day. Then Monday it was Ben's turn to be sick.
So I spent another day masquerading as a pillow, although it was a little harder to keep Claire busy and away from Ben when she couldn't climb up on me, or go outside to play, or have the picnic that - judging by her tantrum - she so desperately, desperately needed. Everyone seemed to be healthy today, so I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that we are done with the viruses for a while. I cannot count the number of loads of laundry I have done over the past four days. I hope to finish cleaning and disinfecting the house tomorrow.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Best Shot Monday - tired

little bsm button

The aftermath of International Day was one tired little girl.

To see more pictures from Best Shot Monday visit Tracey over at Picture This, and look for the links in her comments.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

International Day

In addition to getting ready for Halloween, Claire had International Day at her school the previous Friday. So we needed another costume for that. Fortunately Claire has had two aunts go to Hawaii, both of whom bought her presents. So we had a hula girl costume, and a Hawaiian dress from when Claire was about 9 months old. The dress made a great shirt, and she wore the grass skirt and shell lei from the other costume. She originally had a flower in her hair, but despite the four barrettes I used to anchor it in her hair, she tore it out and ruined it about five minutes into the car ride to school. She was pretty cute anyway!

When the parents arrived at school, we went into the classrooms where the children were all lined up ready to perform. They sang about three or four songs, and then we all went upstairs to the chapel (her school is in the basement of a church), and they had a parade. It was all supposed to be done outside, but the rain put a damper (ha!) on that.

I discovered it is very hard to keep an almost 2 year old still in a classroom full of intriguing things to touch and explore, so partway through the songs I had to leave the room since Ben was screaming as I tried to hold him still and take pictures with my other hand. I did enjoy hearing the continents song, and wish I'd been able to stay for the rest because Claire was so darn cute singing with all of her friends. Poor Claire kept looking around the room for me after I stepped outside (I could see her through a window, but she couldn't see me over the heads of the other parents). She thought she'd been deserted. She was delighted to see us upstairs in the chapel, though. All in all she had a fun day, and enjoyed having an extra day to dress up.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Photographic Memory

Claire was up sick several times last night. Which meant I was up most of the night. Every time I would clean her up, and then I'd have to wait out the adrenaline rush that hits whenever one of your children wakes you at night.

Thankfully, Tracey posted this question today over at Picture This:

How is it that YOU came across your first camera and when did you discover that photography was something you loved??

Ahh, that makes today's post easy to write.

I remember a Christmas when I was young - my guess would be fourth grade or so - when my older sister and I each received a 110mm camera. You know - they were just black rectangles, and you stuck a flash thing in the top, and every time it flashed a lightbulb in it would pop, and after you used four you had to take it out and turn it over to use the other four? Yeah, one of those. In boxes and albums downstairs I have some very old and fuzzy pictures taken with this camera. I remember specifically that we got the cameras from Santa and then film from my Uncle Barry, or vice versa. At any rate, it made me curious as to how Santa and the family each knew what the other was giving us for Christmas. Suspicious to say the least. This was one of the few (only?) Christmases that all three of my grandparents were with us for Christmas. It is the only Christmas that I can remember spending with my Nonna from California.

From there I remember trying to take as many photography options as I could in school or in camps. I attended a Saturday school where I took a class where we made our own pinhole cameras. I am also nearly certain that I took at least one photography class at either College Gate or College Academy (summer camps that we used to attend). In high school I fit in as many photography classes with Mr. Berube as possible given the rest of my schedule.

I can remember using my dad's old 35mm. Then at one point there were at least three members of my family who owned (still own probably) a Canon Rebel. I used my Rebel a lot, even after we had a digital camera because I preferred the quality of the prints over those initially available from digital cameras. Then when Claire was born we purchased an Olympus Camedia digital, and moved almost exclusively to digital photos. Now that I have the Digital Rebel I can't imagine why or when I would go back to using my film camera.

Claire already pretends that her viewmaster is a camera, and will point it at you and tell you to say cheese. Then she will offer to show you your picture on the back of it. I imagine that before long she will have her own digital camera to mess about with.

And that's my photographic memory. What's yours?

Friday, November 02, 2007


Did you know that November is National Blog Posting Month? So in the spirit of the season, I am playing along this year, which means that I will make every attempt to post every day in November.

My sister suggested that I could post a photo a day, but I don't want to intrude on her gig. Or gigs. But chances are if I'm going to be posting every day there may be lots of photos ahead.

However for today, I share with you a conversation Ben and I had the other day. We were looking at letters.

Me: Aaaaahhh, aaaaahhh, aaaaapple.
Ben: Aaaaahhh, aaaaahhh, bapple!
Me: Bbbbbb, bbbbbb, Benjamin.
Ben: Bbbbbb, bbbbbb, Cware!

I think he may not quite understand yet.

Two days down, only 28 to go. Yahoo.

PS - If you don't understand the text that goes with the image, check out LOLCats.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Halloween Photos

Tabblo: Halloween 2007

We had a lovely "good witch", and a not-so-happy cat.  Once they started getting treats in their buckets, though, all apprehension seemed to vanish.  Ben and Claire charmed everyone with their good manners. When we got home they each chose 5 pieces of candy, and we put the rest on the porch for the Great Pumpkin who left some fun presents for them to find in the morning.
... See my Tabblo>

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Pumpkin Carving 101

Step 1: Spend far, far, far too long at's pumpkin stencil maker. Here's a sample of the conversation:
Me: How about these eyes?
Claire: Are they scary?
Me: No.
Claire: OK. No, not those.

Repeat that about 60 times (we needed to choose eyes, nose, and mouth you know. Print, and you wind up with something like this:

Step 2: Use a large sharp knife to make a hole in the top of the pumpkin while your children look on in awe.

Step 3: Clean out the pumpkin guts. You may be able to recruit help for this.

Step 4: Tape the stencil to the pumpkin, and poke many many little holes in it with small plastic pointy objects.

Step 5: Unpeel stencil, and hurriedly carve the pumpkin face. After the kids admire it and go to bed bring it back inside to clean up the fine details.

Step 6: Force the children to pose with the pumpkin.

Step 7: When dusk settles, and the trick-or-treaters start arriving, light the pumpkin for a final photo.