Still Catching Up...

I wish I could devote more time to blogging these days, but the best I can do is to post when I can.

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Novel Concept

Well, it took almost the entire year, but finally I made good on one of my 2009 resolutions and finished a novel. Quiet time to read a book is usually hard to come by with two little ones demanding my attention, and while the number of books (not counting numerous picture books) that I managed to read in the past year can still be counted on one hand, it is at least 2 times the number of books I have finished in any of the years since I had kids. And for some reason when I do make time to read I always seem to be reading some sort of non-fiction (organizing, parenting, etc), and this year I managed to squeeze in some fiction as well. Hey, every little bit counts, right?

I guess that means it is time to look back and see what things I accomplished in the past year and start making my next round of resolutions... here comes 2010!

Monday, December 28, 2009


Sometimes the Tumbleweed just puzzles me. From trying to stump with goofy questions to reverting to 2-year-old behavior for attention, she is determined to keep us on our parenting toes. The latest development is her affinity for writing her name backwards...

I can't say whether this is something she is doing for fun or to get attention or because she is bored, but it is almost a struggle to get her to write her name forwards these days. I hope she out grows it soon or I am going to be getting notes home from the teacher!

Aside from the backwards name, she seems to be coming right along in the reading program at school and continues to bring books home to show us what she can do. She is still a little reluctant to try new books, but once she realizes that she knows most of the words on the first page she does a great job. I think that is because she is adjusting from memorizing books to actually reading them.

She is still very into going to the library to choose new books, although she still needs to work on her method of choosing. Currently she goes to one shelf and picks out the first 5 or 6 she can get her hands on. Unfortunately this does not always lead to taking home books that she enjoys or that she is ready to read. Now that I have her system figured out, I slip a few more appropriate ones in while she isn't looking :)

Friday, December 25, 2009

"He came!"

Christmas morning, the kids were excited to get up and see if Santa had come, but cooperated and came to wake us up before going into the living room...

Some of the Tumbleweed's favorite Santa gifts:

Pop N Style Cabbage Patch
Leapster Games
Mosaic Crown Set
Zhu Zhu Pet Hampster

Some of the Dandelion's favorite Santa gifts:

Mack Car Carrier
Buzz & Woody
Gordon & Henry
Motor Works Train
"My Lobster" [Zhu Zhu pet hampster]
*(if the Zhu Zhu Lobster is the hottest toy in 2010, he thought of it first!)

After the initial Santa excitement, we exchanged gifts with each other. The kids got things started by swapping their gifts. They could hardly wait - they were certainly the gifts that they had been eying the most leading up to Christmas. The Tumbleweed had spent a lot of time choosing the right Mega Block "Cars" for the Dandelion, and I helped the Dandelion pick out a pink Webkinz Lizard for the Tumbleweed.

The Tumbleweed was also very excited to give us a special project from school which she had brought home while we were away and had hidden under the couch. She also gave the Eagle a new Rubik's cube, which she got from the Box Tops prize box at school, to replace the one that she mixed up and couldn't put back.

The Eagle saved the best for last --- surprising me with a new camera! [nope, no picture of that...LOL]

It was a great morning... and then we were off to Nana & Papa's...

'Twas the Night before Christmas

Ready for Santa!

By Christmas Eve we had already had our first Christmas celebration with my family in New York and had headed home to make sure the big guy didn't forget us. The kids had a great time at Grandma & Grandpa's and were sad to leave so quick, but there was also much excitement about Santa's arrival. Before we left and all the way home, we used NORAD to track Santa's progress, turning "Are we there yet?" into "Where is Santa now?" A welcome change!

On our way home, the Tumbleweed reminded us that we had to put out cookies, chocolate milk, and carrots ["for the reindeer!"]. Of course, since we had been traveling so much I knew we didn't have carrots so we made an emergency stop half way home at Walmart before all the stores closed for the night. It was a good thing I did, because she didn't forget and counted out 9 carrots - one for each reindeer - to put out with the cookies she had made before we left and chocolate milk she and the Eagle mixed up "just the way Santa likes it".

Tired from the long day, the pictures of the kids in their cute jammies were not to be had, and neither were the pictures of "Twas the Night before Christmas" (read by Grandma via a special new recordable book).

Once the children were nestled all snug in their beds, the "prep & landing elves" went to work taking the toys out of their packages, putting batteries in, and "testing" everything to make sure they worked. Finally, about 4 hours later with numerous papercuts and broken nails, we went to bed.

Thursday, December 24, 2009


With only a couple of days between the last day of school and Christmas, we made a very quick trip to Honeoye Falls to visit my family. We were there less than 48 hours, but we had time to visit with lots of family who dropped by, go to a neighborhood holiday party, bake cookies, make last minute holiday shopping trips and lots more!

As usual, Grandma & Grandpa put a lot of work into making Christmas gifts for all of us. From coasters made out of a branch of the cherry tree in our yard that was cut down this past spring to clothes & doll clothes, they made some very special Christmas gifts!

My dad was still busy in his workshop while we were there, working on his special project for the Dandelion (shhhh... it's a Secret!)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Edible Art

One of the messiest projects of the holidays is frosting the cutout cookies. I have a love hate relationship with these cookies - I love to eat them, I hate to clean up after making them.

This year I decided to let the kids try their hand at decorating some cookies for Santa. Frosting, food coloring, sprinkles, crumbs - there isn't much that isn't messy about the process even when I do them by myself so why not let them get the mess started, right? They both enjoyed it. The Dandelion pretty much just ate the toppings straight, but the Tumbleweed really got into it and decorated 3 cookies "for Santa" and asked if she could do "just one more" for herself. She really seemed to put a lot of careful thought into the decorating, making quite the edible art. But I think she ate enough of the toppings along the way that she didn't even want to eat her cookie when she finished!

Once they were done, I spent the better part of 2 hours decorating the remaining cookies... and cleaning up the mess.

"Ups an Eyes Down"

I thought it was about time to record a few more toddler-isms as the Dandelion approaches the two-and-a-half mark. Since he is getting better with words, and talking in longer sentences, it is getting easier to understand him - and harder to find silly words & phrases. Here are a couple of my favorites...

"Ups an eyes down" - Upside down
"Buzz My-Ear" - Buzz Lightyear
"My-ting MaQueen" - Lightning McQueen
"Mr. You-part" - Mr. Lopeheart (from Handy Manny)
"Gamage" - Garage
"Come-ratee" - Karate

His version of the alphabet... "ABCD ESG HIJK ElmoP QRF TUV WXY an Z"

He really likes to pretend to be a robot and walks around saying "I am a wobot. I am a wobot." (from Max & Ruby)

He also like to quote Swiper the Fox: [taking something and running away] "You'll never find it now! Ha Ha Ha!" I know, not the best role model to copy, but it sure is cute when he does it. It is SO HARD not to laugh!

Also, I am enjoying watching him take in the Christmas traditions this year. He did better with Santa this year, but seemed a little unimpressed (perhaps not understanding the massive undertaking of delivering presents to so many children in one night). He frequently asks if Santa is coming today and gives a little pouty lip when the answer is no. And we have had a little confusion after I let him wrap his present for the Tumbleweed. He thinks it is his and asks every day if it is time to open it. So far he hasn't tried to unwrap it (which might be impossible with the amount of tape he used) but he has been seen pushing it around in the stroller. But overall he seems glad Christmas is coming! Can't wait to see what he thinks on Christmas morning :)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Welcome Home Snow

Isn't it fitting that we got a whole pile of snow 24 hours after we got back from our warm weather trip? This weekend's storm added up to about 11 inches of white, fluffy snow at our house. We actually put some thought into the preparations for the storm and purchased a second, and third, snow shovel and two sleds (although I forgot to buy snow pants & boots for the Dandelion, again). It was a good thing we did because the snow ended around noon, providing the perfect opportunity to go out.

We started out as the shoveling brigade, with the Eagle & I working on clearing the driveway. The Tumbleweed had a new shovel and was eager to help. The Dandelion tried out a sand shovel and a dustpan before deciding that riding his bike was a better idea.

I brought out the sleds when it appeared that interest in shoveling was dwindling and they were a big hit. The Dandelion only went down twice, mostly because he didn't like climbing back up the hill, but the Tumbleweed loved it! She must have spent about an hour sledding, for a total of 1.5 hours outside, which was just shy of the amount of time it took the Eagle to finish shoveling the rest of the driveway. We were both amazed.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The House is Still Standing

We did it. The Eagle & I went away for 6 days and came home to everything as it should be. Hopefully Nana will have time to recover before Christmas!

I have several post ideas that I jotted down while we were at sea, and I will be posting them over the next few days so be sure to scroll down because the new post may not be at the top.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Longest Hour

Admission: I like to have a schedule.

I do not do well when I don't have a plan, so for the day at sea I was looking forward to lots of shipboard activities to keep me busy. I was a tad bit disappointed that there weren't a few more things scheduled, but I did enjoy the towel folding class (Carnival is big into towel origami) and Christmas kids' show (a *momentary* twinge of sadness that our kids weren't there). However, I had a hard time getting into sitting in a lounge chair and reading a magazine. Crazy, I know. I am just so used to "doing" that it was hard to have "nothing" to do. I lasted less than an hour before deciding to go on the waterslide.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Eeyore & Rabbit

We had a great table assignment in the dining room for dinner. We enjoyed the company of the other couples from the first night, but it wasn't until the final day at sea that we fully understood how lucky we were.

That day we decided to eat in the main dining hall for lunch, because we preferred the food. Unfortunately that subjected us to the random will of the waitresses, who seated us with a grumpy retired couple who seemed to be able to complain about everything from raking leaves to bamboo towels. They could even complain about two separate things at the same time. When we finally escaped, Mike said "Wasn't that like eating with Eeyore?" I had to agree. And how fitting that Eeyore married Rabbit. If everyone is happy on a cruise, then I can't imagine these two at home.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

We are the Champions

There is nothing I like better than a little competition, so it probably isn't that much of surprise that we decided to do the "Amazing Cozumel Race" as an excursion.

We had a blast running all over Cozumel following maps and figuring out clues, just like they do on the TV show "The Amazing Race". We got to go to the museum, find statues & landmarks, figure out secret codes and the Eagle even got to snorkel in some to the clearest ocean around. We had a great time running all around town --- and we finished in an amazing 1 hour and 33 minutes, a half hour faster than the next fastest team.

We even stopped for a some pictures (although that was a bit of a conflict of interest)...

For more info on the Amazing Cozumel Race, check out their website. We definitely recommend it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Big 3

That was the name of our excursion on Key West. We boarded a boat first thing in the morning for adventures in kayaking and snorkeling and a little dolphin watching mixed in. We started the morning hunting for the dolphins, but they were no where to be found, so it was off to kayak in the mangroves but not before seeing a cool rainbow.

The kayaking and snorkeling pictures are on an underwater camera, but overall I think both went really well considering I had never done them before. While kayaking we saw a baby bowhead shark, a horseshoe crab, green & white heron, water snakes and lots of little fish. I also managed to snorkel this time - I failed miserably on our honeymoon - and saw lots of coral & fish, including a clown fish. After everyone was back on board, we were able to see a bottlenose dolphin on our way back to the docks.

After a little shopping in town, our stop at Key West was over. I think it was quite a success!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Shoes 1, Feet 0

They were almost too perfect. Shoes that seemed to fit the casual & summer nature of the trip, and would also double for the formal night were obviously too good to be true. After about a block of walking in South Beach my feet were killing me. After walking to CVS for band-aids, I had blisters. Ugh. I hate when shoes turn out to have little razor blades in them.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

It Stinks

Sometimes you just wish you could turn off your sense of smell. The first leg of our journey to Florida for our anniversary getaway got us off to a smelly start. From the woman on the plane with too much perfume to the lady behind me who had to be told this by the flight attendant, "Ma'am, you can't use nail polish on the airplane."

As if that wasn't bad enough, we were lucky enough to sit next to a woman on the bus from the airport who smelled like urine. Yuck. And of course that reminded me that a whole bunch of stinky people just like her had probably been sitting in my seat before me. Yuck again.

But smells aside, we were thrilled to arrive in South Beach.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

"A mice and a light pink gumdrop"

Today was the Tumbleweed's first performance in The Nutcracker for her dance studio. If you asked her what she was going to be in the show, she would say "A mice and a light pink gumdrop". Well, after a couple weeks we sorted the "mice" vs. "mouse" part out, but there was almost a disaster during the dress rehearsal when the girls helping with the changing gave light pink to another girl and tried to put the dark green on her. But that was sorted out and it was on with the show. She did a great job up on stage. We were do proud :)

Note: I was forced to take pictures without a flash during the show so I took a bunch during the dress rehearsal, however the ones from 13 rows back during the actual show turned out better than the ones from the front row of dress rehearsal which all had horrible red-eye. Go figure.

Our Little Mouse


With her present - taken by a photo fairy with a great camera :)

The mice cry over the mouse king

Our Light Pink Gumdrop

A sweet dance for Clara (another photo from the photo fairy)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

First Snow Day of the Season

Well it is that time of the year... we woke up to 5" of snow with the snow still falling, the roads untreated, the MOMS Holiday party canceled, and no school.

We got a very late start to the day when both kids slept in! Woo-hoo! I didn't get up until 7:45 and the Dandelion wasn't up then either. After it became apparent that we weren't going anywhere, I set the kids up with "Prep & Landing" which I DVRed last night while I gathered snow clothes. Since I hadn't gotten the Dandelion a new pair of snowpants yet, I pulled out the ones he wore last year. They were also the ones he wore the year before that - size 6-9 months. Oops. He did fit in them though - they were just about 1 inch too short so I image he would have been tripping over a 2T. Poor kid needs boots too, as I stuck him in rain boots, so I will have to make a point of getting them once the streets are cleared.

Once we were all dressed, we ventured out. The Dandelion was still pretty unsure about the whole process, he trekked out after his big sis but wasn't about to lay down in the snow & make a snow angel! He lasted about 10 minutes before going inside. The Tumbleweed stayed out longer & made a cute snowman - who melted by lunchtime:( I attempted to shovel, but managed only a few strips before it was time to go in.

While we all warmed up, I put in The Muppets Take Manhattan. It is one of my favorite snow day movies. The kids did lose interest a few times, but for the most part enjoyed watching "Miss Pig" and "Hermit". My favorite part was when the Tumbleweed was listening to Fozzie Bear singing and said "Hey Mommy! He sounds like Bert!", which was followed a little while later by "Her-, I mean, Kermit sounds like Ernie. Are Ernie & Bert in this movie?"

After lunch was calmer, with the Dandelion napping, the Tumbleweed doing a Christmas puzzle and playing some Leapster games. I got out and shoveled part of the driveway and refilled the windshield washer fluid in my car. And just like that naptime was over and dinnertime was upon us. Somewhere in there the Tumbleweed was upset with her brother and made a sign for her bedroom door - "DO NOT ENTAR". Of course while I was in the middle of cooking dinner he entered her room, prompting a squabble... "Didn't you read my sign?!? You can't come in." Poor little guy was so puzzled.

Sometimes it amazes me how slow a morning at home seems to go, but in the end how fast the day passes. I hope the roads are clear tomorrow and life gets back to normal. Life is crazy enough at this time of the year!

January 2009 Snow Day:
Snow Day Plan
Snow Day Recap


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Visiting Santa

Instead of going to the grocery store this morning, the kids & I headed out to see Santa. After examining our busy schedule I started thinking that we might not get a chance to fit it in - so off to the mall we went.

The kids were pretty excited, although I probably should have built it up a little better for the Dandelion since he is getting old enough. First we stopped at Macy's to write out our postcards to Santa for their Believe Campaign. The Tumbleweed was pretty organized and knew the 5 things* she wanted to ask Santa for. *I told her that's all you can write in a letter for Santa. When she looked a little disappointed that there might be things she couldn't write, I reminded her that Elfie could always tell Santa if there was a change. The Dandelion just enjoyed coloring with a pen.

We took our letters with us to see Santa. The line was actually pretty small, but unfortunately it did not move very fast. After a couple of minutes in line I think both kids were ready to skip Santa and go ride the mall train instead. But we survived the 30 minute line (I know not bad - but it felt like an eternity), and got to see Santa. The Tumbleweed went over the items on her list in great detail - just so Santa wouldn't miss something. The Dandelion and I had practiced what he was going to ask for, but I don't think Santa could understand him too well so the Tumbleweed translated for Santa. And we got a pretty good picture this year - no tears!

Afterward, to distract from the train which we no longer had time to ride because the Tumbleweed had to get to school, we headed to the Macy's mailbox to mail our Santa letters off to the North Pole.

Now we just have to get back to the mall to ride the train at some point!

Monday, December 7, 2009


I have a lot of ornaments.

I think it all started when my childhood babysitter (we spent days at her house when not in school) used have us play "I Spy" while standing around her Christmas Tree. She had all kinds of cool ornaments from the popsicle stick ornaments her kids made when they were little to fancy ornaments purchased on vacation. My mom also enjoyed the tradition of decorating the tree, and we enjoyed helping her and talking about the history of the ornaments.

Somewhere along the way, I picked up a love for Christmas ornaments. I have some to remember places I have visited, I have some ornaments that were mine as a child, I have lots of ornaments from the time that I worked at Hallmark and I have ornaments that I have gotten for the kids. I enjoy getting them out each year because they bring back a lot of great memories. These days I do this by myself after the kids go to bed, but I imagine soon I will have two little helpers.

This year I decided that the kids were almost ready for the "I Spy" game, so I made a small modification. I took the above picture of some of their ornaments before putting them on the tree, then I printed it out and had the kids find them on the tree. They have both enjoyed this. I only wish I had taken pictures of several different groups of ornaments for multiple different rounds of the game. Looks like we will be playing "I Spy" after all!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Christmas Magic Chairs

It has been a while since I had a magic chairs update. Just when it seemed like the chairs were being used as chairs, I found the Dandelion helping with the Christmas tree decorating.


Christmas cookies are a big part of my holiday traditions. They were a big part of our wedding, where each table had a different kind of Christmas cookies. These days I host the annual MOMS Club Cookie Swap, which is my primary reason for baking every holiday season.

My love for cookies comes from my childhood. Growing up, my mom made a couple dozen types of cookies (and still does) to put on plates and give to friends & neighbors. At the beginning of December the types of cookies were decided, ingredients purchased and the process began. A couple weeks of making & freezing dough and then 3-4 days of baking & decorating batches of 20 different kinds of cookies. Finally there was plating the cookies neatly and, of course, delivering them.

Throughout the process there were only a couple of opportunities to eat cookies... when they are considered "rejects"...

1- Sugar cookie dough that had been rolled out too many times to be rolled out again.
2- Broken cookies that have fallen off the tray/spatula
3- Cookies that didn't look "right" - over cooked, deformed, etc.
4- Cookies off a plate that was unsuccessfully delivered (family was away)

Now that I don't live at my parents, we actually get a plate of cookies so I don't have to only eat the rejects. But, when I am baking we still follow the "reject rule".

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Welcome to the North Pole

It only took the entire day, but I got the mantle cleared and the North Pole Village out. I feel like putting out the actual houses was a lot easier this year, but perhaps that was because I had to spend so much time cleaning things off the mantle that decorating it seemed easy.

I love my mantle because it is perfect for displaying my village houses - and they are out of the reach of little hands. It was for that same reason that it was so hard to clean, as for the rest of the year it collects various things that I want to keep out of the reach of the kids. Pictures, broken toys in need of repair, paperwork, scissors - you name it, it was probably there. Which brings me to my first New Year's Resolution...

I will not clutter the mantle.