Monday, December 29, 2008

Maddy G. Meets Junie B.

One of Miss M's favorite gifts from Santa is a book about Junie B. Jones. Santa generally tries to bring one thing to play with, one thing to read and one thing to wear. This year, Santa brought Junie B., First Grader (at last!). In this book, Junie B. has just started first grade and has all kinds of things going on. Her bestest friend from kindergarten has a new best friend, her bus friend won't sit with her and Junie B. can't see the board and ends up with glasses. It's such a fun book and at just the right level for Maddy -- it keeps her interest and she can read most of it herself! Truth be told, Junie B. has a little bit of snark thrown in, but that's ok with me as Maddy is fairly quiet and maybe Junie B. will help her realize it's ok to speak up for yourself. Maddy and I took turns reading pages of the book and got through a couple chapters that way. Then we decided to read it a bit more at bedtime. At the end of each chapter, we both wanted to read one more and so we read the rest of the book and finished it one night.

Learning to read and having my kids enjoy reading is one of my absolute favorite parts of being a Mom. It's so sweet when the little light bulb goes off in their head and they figure out they can read all by themselves!!! I remember when I learned to read (about a million years ago actually), and I hope Maddy loves reading as much as I do.

Oh, and Maddy's middle initial is not really "G", but part of her Chinese name begins with G and Mr. Tennis usually calls her Maddy G! Of course, Maddy G. rhymes better with Junie B. than Maddy M. (her real middle initial and another part of her Chinese name), and I am all about rhyming blog titles! :)

Anyway, we are now planning on heading to our local bookstore and library to pick up some more Junie B. books. She's headed to the library tomorrow and we just practiced asking the librarian for Junie B. books. Can't wait to see what she finds!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Revisited

Wow -- am I slow or what with updating the old blog?!? Hey, I was still decorating the house on Dec. 22!! Well anyway, we had a lovely holiday with the family! On Christmas Eve day, we put out luminaries and lit them before leaving for mass at 4:30 PM. One of our wonderful neighbors provides the bags and sand every year, so all you need to do is provide the candles for your walkway and on the boulevard in front of your house and light them up. Our street has quite the reputation for decorating (not us really, but everybody else!), and there is a steady stream of traffic all evening long. Other years, we've waited until getting home from church in the cold and dark to light the candles. Finally [duh], this year we figured out that we should light the candles before we left! And it worked perfectly! The street has an incredibly lovely warm glow from the luminaries -- very magical indeed.

Maddy getting ready to go to church and wondering if she can take Santa Bear along too -- doesn't everyone take a stuffed animal to church on Christmas Eve??

And on Christmas morning, Santa really came through!! I'm calling this the year of the Wi*i and Wi*i Fit and the year of the dog. I've heard that Wi*i is loads of fun. We still have one Wi*i left and I'm thinking of keeping it. Mr. Tennis thinks I should just return it, but I may be able to finally improve my tennis game by practicing with a Wi*i. Anybody else get one? Let me know if you like it and if it's difficult to figure out. Mr. Tennis and I are not the most technologically proficient!! :)

Guess what Maddy got?? A pet --no, not just one, but two dogs!! Electronic dogs, that is! I love them! No vet bills, no messes to clean up and when they get annoying, you can just turn them off. Santa brought her Biscuit (a big, sweet Golden Retriever) and she received Lucky, the wonder pup, from her aunt and uncle. She loves her doggies!! I think one of her favorite gifts is an ATM bank! Oh no -- where'd she figure out how to use an ATM so well, I wonder???

Of course, we should have spent a lot of our free time cleaning the house, etc. but we didn't. We slept late, shopped, put money into the bank ATM, took money out of both the toy and real ATM and dinked around a lot -- a perfect break!! I didn't take as many photos as I should have.

Maybe I'll get more of our rockin New Year's Eve celebration!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Need a Last Minute or Hostess Gift?

Even though I have been woefully behind on everything this holiday season from shopping to baking to Christmas cards and especially cleaning up that drywall dust that is everywhere, etc., I have been working on a little craft project too. It's so much more fun to do than cleaning! I saw this on Shell in Your Pocket (and Sandy Toes generously allowed me to borrow her photo above). So, I have been making some coasters for neighbors and family as little holiday and/or hostess gifts. Aren't they adorable! I've already given some to neighbors at two different holiday parties and the recipients thought I was the craftiest, sweetest neighbor ever!! Here are the two different designs I've done! Who can resist a Fleur-de-Lis?

I made these on a travertine-type tile. It also works on shinier ceramic tile. The image is definitely sharper on ceramic tile, but I like this look better. If you use the ceramic tile, I think you need to spray the tiles with an acrylic sealer as the stamp may run if you put down a wet glass (and I know I would). Then, as the Queen Bee would say, tie it up with some ribbon and you've got yourself a great little gift! :)

And -- woohoo -- this is my 100th post!! Who knew I could write 100 posts in a year! What a great way to keep track of what's been going on in my life -- which works for me since my memory is not that great! Bonus -- it's been so much fun meeting and making so many new friends in bloggerland. More fun awaits, I'm sure in 2009! Now back to my baking and wrapping!
Merry Christmas to All!

A Holiday Diversion - Typealyzer

Here's a fun little diversion if you have a few minutes and want a break from the baking and wrapping of gifts or just to avoid cleaning up. Seems that lately I will do about anything to avoid tidying up the incredibly messy and dusty house. If you want to play, enter your blog URL into the Typealyzer, and it will analyze your blog and come up with an approximation of your (actually, your blog's) Myers-Briggs personality type. Here's mine:

ESFP - The Performers

The entertaining and friendly type. They are especially attuned to pleasure and beauty and like to fill their surroundings with soft fabrics, bright colors and sweet smells. They live in the present moment and don´t like to plan ahead - they are always in risk of exhausting themselves. [Probably why I am so behind in Christmas gift wrapping and meal planning, eh!]

They enjoy work that makes them able to help other people in a concrete and visible way. They tend to avoid conflicts and rarely initiate confrontation - qualities that can make it hard for them in management positions. [Hmmm -- so true and this is a little freaky-- that girl with the drink in her hand even looks like me!! :) ]

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Weekend Update - It's a Visit From Santa!!

What a busy weekend!!! On Friday evening, our new neighbors (they moved in about 6-7 months ago, so it's their first Christmas on the block) hosted a wonderful Christmas party. They said they did it every year at their former home and are planning on continuing the tradition in their new house! So many new friends to meet as they invited friends from their old neighborhood and all the kids too. Guess who was the star of the evening??? Of course -- Santa and his elf!! And he brought a gift -- a book for every child. [Parents had been informed ahead of time to get a book, wrap it and put your child's name on it and stash it in a red bag (of course!) on their side porch during the week leading up to the party!] It was so much fun and Santa was in great form! He brought Maddy the book called "A Very Marley Christmas." I think a movie is coming out soon based on Marley, but this book was not the Jennifer Anis*ston, Owen Wils*on version. I checked with Maddy to see what she asked Santa to bring her and she said a surprise! So sweet!

And then Saturday was Maddy's 7th birthday! She accompanied me on some shopping and then we went to the movies and saw Desperaux!! He's not a mouse -- he's a gentleman!! Even though I do not like rodents of any kind, it was a good movie! Last evening, the temps were below zero with wind chills well below zero (like -20) so we opted for pizza at home instead of going out to eat. A good decision, I think as the streets were very icy.

And then just before bed, another exciting thing happened! Maddy lost one of her top front teeth! She had two bottom teeth pulled last year due to their slowness in falling out, so this was really the first one to lose on her own. Actually, I helped it along and pulled it -- not one of my favorite parental duties. Her smile is so different and so cute!

Last night Philip and Catherine came to spend the night. Maddy and I made blueberry muffins this morning for breakfast. She is so excited to have Philip and Catherine here for a visit. They are headed to the Children's Museum for some more fun this afternoon! What a weekend! And yes, Philip is a bit of a bed-head in this photo, but he consented to have his picture taken so bloggy friends can see Maddy's smile without that tooth!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sounds of the Season

Tonight was the annual Christmas program for Maddy's school at our church. Last night was decision time . . . what to wear??? For her, not me! Yes, her outfits are more important than mine -- when did that happen?? She wanted to wear a Christmas dress -- a size 4T Christmas dress! Although it still fit last year, it was definitely getting a bit too small. A few weeks ago, I bought her a darling little plaid skirt at the G*ap and black turtleneck, so she modeled it for Rick last night. He told it looked like a dress and was very pretty -- just what she needed to hear. Yay -- fashion emergency averted!

It was so incredibly sweet. I just love hearing those little voices singing such beautiful Christmas songs. Maddy says her favorite is "Joy to the World" -- that's one of my favs too and it was the finale --they did such a good job. I almost thought the program might be cancelled as we are having below zero temps here and had about 3-4 inches of snow today. It certainly would have been enough for me to call it off, but the program went on without a hitch. The kids looked so cute all dressed up instead of in their usual uniform jumpers and khakis. Funny -- Maddy was pointing out some of the kids in her class -- noting how cute one looked in his blazer (he used to sit next to her, so I think he is a special friend). She also pointed out her friend Ian. Earlier this school year, when she talked about Ian, he was always described as being shorter than her (very important as she does not like being the smallest in class). but he seems to have suddenly gotten taller. And, of course, her friend Mei was there --- she's a 2nd grader and loads of fun! Mei is only about 9 months older than Maddy, but quite a bit taller as you can see. Such sweet pretty girls!

It was a perfect ending to a crazy day! Can I just say how much I admire you folks in Colorado and up North in the wintertime!! We always have snow here and I'm sure I'll get used to driving in it, but oy-- it makes me a little crazy and I am a very nervous driver! Whew -- I had to talk to myself (out loud) all the way home and tell myself what a great job I was doing! Seriously, I'm thinking of taking the bus back and forth to work!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A New Tradition

Last year Maddy and I attempted to make a gingerbread house at home. Yes, I say attempted because we were not very successful. Who reads those instructions before you start anyway??? I thought it would be a great afternoon activity, but it ended up taking all day as first we had to put the sides together and wait a while; then the roof and wait again. There was more waiting than decorating -- it took forever!! So, this year I decided we would try a different way to make a gingerbread house. Today our Children's Museum had Gingerbread House Day -- it was a great way to decorate a GB house without having any of the delay and mess at home! Perfect!!

Maddy and I arrived at our scheduled appointment and were given a darling cardboard house and four containers of frosting! And add to that every imaginable candy, cereal, lollipop, colored popcorn, pretzels, candy canes, etc., available for decorating the house. We were a teensy bit disappointed that we couldn't eat any of the candy, but our house turned out lovely . . . in our eyes anyway. Some of the participants were extremely organized and had a plan of action in their design and decorating -- like the sides matched or there was some "theme" to their house. Ours was . . . more spontaneous. No matter, we loved it! A new tradition is born!

Bonus -- we got to play at the Children's Museum both before and after the house decorating. And guess who went shopping at their little gift shop looking for a gift for me??? You guessed it -- Maddy! She was determined to buy me a Christmas gift. Hey, who knew that I had a Webkinz whale on my list!!! :)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Flashback Friday

Flashing back this week to nearly two years ago when my sister, Amy, and I along with our daughters, Grace and Maddy, went on a Dis*ney cruise with our Aunt and cousins. It was loads of fun! Yes, we left the Hubs and other kids (boys) at home -- it was a girls trip and we need to do those more often! Grace is the closest in age cousin of Maddy's -- all the other cousins are quite a bit older. Mad and Grace have fun together and are about 2-1/2 years apart in age. Unfortunately, Amy and her family live in Florida and we are in Nebraska, so we don't get to see each other too often.

Grace is very special to me as I traveled with Amy in 2000 to China to meet Grace. What an incredible journey! And now that sweet 9 month old baby that I met in March 2000 will turn 10 years old in June. We will be spending a week in July at Hilton Head with Amy's family and Group 182 travel group -- a very special group of people and their amazing children. I can hardly wait!

Pirate Night -- ARGHH Matey!!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Monday, December 8, 2008

Craft Ornament + Paint = Christmas Tree Mishap

You know how you see those adorable crafts in magazines or on some blogs and you think -- wow, that looks easy, I could do that! Well, that's what I thought too. I bought some of those glass craft ornaments a while back and had some acrylic paints on hand. What a great idea -- recycle that paint and make some new original ornaments for the tree! Sounds good, doesn't it! So, I squirted some paint into the ornaments, swirled it around, let them dry. Voila -- a masterpiece!! Initially, I was going to send my creations around the country in an ornament exchange. But, they were taking forever to dry out and I didn't think the others in the exchange would be too keen on receiving ornaments oozing paint! Not to worry, I made little star ornaments out of scrapbook paper [yes, adorable -- but no photos] -- it was a green - recycle exchange. Anyway, I thought my paint masterpieces were surely dry -- it had been days and they didn't seem to be leaking paint anymore - definitely a good sign, or so I thought.

Look -- aren't they so pretty!! :)

I hung one on the tree. Gorgeous -- damn, I'm an artist, I thought! I hung another ornament, stood back to admire its beauty and then . . . it fell and shattered, splattering paint all over the wood floor! YIKES!!! At least it was just acrylic paint and it cleaned right up -- so don't tell the Hub what happened, will you. He already went to bed so he knows nothing about the mishap and great ornament disaster of 2008! It'll be our little secret, ok!?!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Flashback Friday -- The Birthday Edition

Maddy will be 7 in a couple weeks, so I thought it would be fun to look back at some of her earlier birthdays. Here she is turning 3 -- as you can see!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Having a Party!

While the basement project continues and dust collects and settles EVERYWHERE (it is so thick already and the re-drywalling hasn't even started --aaaack!), let's turn our attention to something more fun, shall we? Someone special is turning 7 soon -- another reason to celebrate in December!! Yes, Miss Maddy turns 7 just a few days before Christmas. Since it is a very busy time for a birthday party, we are having her girlfriend party the first weekend in December. Then we'll have a family get-together on her actual birthday, so she gets to celebrate twice--yay!! In keeping with her fondness for all things "stuffed", her party is going to be at a Build-@-Bear-type place since there is no Build-@-Bear in our lovely city. It's the same general principal as BAB, but is called the "Animal Creation Station." Since she is a girl who LOVES stuffed animals, how divine to have her birthday party at a place where stuffed animals are created and celebrated!!!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Deconstructing and Reconstructing

While many of you are putting up your Christmas trees and holiday decorations, we are instead tearing our basement up! Remember last May when we had torrential downpours, tornadoes, simply terrible weather here in the Midwest and the resulting flood in our basement? Yes, it is a distant unhappy memory for me too. But finally, tomorrow we are having drain tile and a sump pump installed. So, we (and by we I mean Mr. Tennis, Connor and me) are cutting 2' feet of drywall, insulation and whatever else is there around the whole front and one side wall of the basement. It's a much larger job than imagined! I'm assisting by carting drywall pieces to the trash, sweeping the floor, pulling up carpet -- the easier jobs! Yes, there goes the rest of the carpet that had not been destroyed by the flooding. OY!! Cboo had no idea what he was getting himself into when he volunteered to assist. Maddy and I moved toys and other items to the dining room -- my neat, uncluttered dining room is no more. After the drain tile and sump pump are put in, we need to have someone come in and re-insulate and drywall. The project just gets bigger and bigger as we will also need to have tile installed on the floor -- no more carpet -- not gonna do that again! Fun times people, fun times indeed! :)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Turkeyday Recap

Even though the title suggests otherwise, we had ham instead of turkey this year. We do like turkey, but Philip and Catherine were headed to her parents later in the day for turkey, so we decided to have ham instead. We had a bit of an eclectic menu including the ham, cheese potatoes, coleslaw salad, fruit salad, ham and cheese quiche, dinner rolls, veggie tray, pumpkin pie and an incredibly yummy chocolate and vanilla marble cake (cheesecake). Amazing that I pulled it off, but everything was ready at the same time -- I love it when a plan comes together like that! Also had a delightful white wine (white goes with ham, right??) Really, I think it goes with anything to tell the truth, don't you?? :)

Ooops -- did I have too much wine? I forgot to take my apron off for the picture!

Before dinner, Maddy challenged the guys to a series of checkers games to determine who is the reigning checkers champion. Can you guess who it is?? Yes, it's Maddy. She beat Philip and Connor in a number of matches very easily.

Later, Maddy and I carried on an old Thanksgiving tradition -- we went to the movies!! We saw Bolt -- a very good movie. Ok, I admit I snoozed a teensy bit during the movie. Actually I missed a key part, but still enjoyed the movie and could answer most of M's questions afterwards.

I ordered this darling "milkmaid frock" for Maddy after seeing it on another blog. Isn't it adorable? And look how excited she is below hearing that we are going to see Bolt!

And now the long weekend, some shopping and some holiday craftwork begins.

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Early Edition

Here we go with the Thankful Thursday and Flashback Friday- The Early Edition -- all rolled into one post! We have so very much to be thankful for this year.

  • Of course, number one on my list is my dear Hub and incredibly sweet children. You are all absolutely the best!

  • For my parents, Rickster's Mom and our brothers and sisters and their families. Such a wonderful group -- I'm sure we'd all be friends, even if we weren't related.

  • For our good health. There have been a couple blips on the screen in years past, so I am so thankful that we are all feeling good and strong and happy this Thanksgiving. Let's keep it up and stay out of hospitals!

  • For our jobs and all of wonderful co-workers. Work would not be half as fun without you. I know, I know -- you're asking . . . work is fun??? Yeah, sometimes it can be.

  • For all of our friends, far and wide, in real life and in the bloggy world.

Happy Thanksgiving!

And the Flashback Friday photo is from our 2005 holiday photo card.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Weekend Update - Leaves are Falling!

Hey -- news alert -- leaves are falling!! That is definitely better news than snow falling! Last Sunday when the Rickster was out of town, I mowed the lawn in order to pick up leaves. It usually takes me about 15 minutes to mow the front lawn. It took over an hour because I had to empty the bag thingy about 15 times. But, the lawn looked so lovely when I was finished and I do like a nice-looking lawn. Well , guess what . . . the neighbor's tree finally started losing its leaves and my lovely lawn was covered with way MORE leaves than last weekend! Leaves were at least 2-3 inches thick! At least Mr. Tennis was home to assist and we used one of those bag things that basically sucks up the leaves -- way faster than mowing.

Isn't this fun -- watch me toss the leaves that Mom just raked into a big pile!

All the neighbors were putting up their holiday lights and decorations today. How are they all so organized?? Usually, we wait until it is bitterly cold and then quick throw some lights out and hope it looks ok. Our street is a little bit like Chevy Chase's -- everyone (and I mean everyone -- even the little old ladies) puts lights up for the holidays. The Rickster and the guy across the street get especially competitive some years and add new things and more lights weekly. It is crazy ... but fun! And, I'm planning on copying some of the really clever holiday ideas from other bloggers -- you know who you are, right? Will update on that at a later date.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Coronation Revisited or The Ball - Part Deux

Remember when we went to the "big event" in Omaha in October? Guess what . . . we had some family photos taken there. I mean really, how could I resist?? We were all so dressed up and that rarely happens, and . . . surprise, surprise, the event organizers had photographers right there ready to snap as many photos as you wanted! No doubt, a Mom somewhere in the organization knew that other Moms (moi included) would want some some concrete evidence of how good everyone (guys especially) can look if they just focus, get some spiffy duds and take some time to clean up a bit, right?! Love the family shot above (from left Philip, Connor, Rick) and in front (Catherine - Philip's wife- and me) and this one of me and Connor. When did he get so tall anyway??

But, it's obvious, isn't it -- someone is missing from the photos. And little Miss M would not be happy to see photos that she was not a part of --as it is, when she sees an old family photo from when the boys were young, she gets a very sad look on her little face and says, "Where was I? Why wasn't I in the picture?" So, I figured out a way to keep my little princess happy AND get to wear my dress again! Since she is a girl that likes to get dressed up, she and I put on our fancy dresses (yes, I dragged that damn Spanx out again!) and had our photos taken together.

Can I just say while I love all the photos, the ones of Maddy and me together just totally made my day! It's like a dream -- a wonderful, happy dream to have her in our family! I know I am totally gushing here, but she is such a sweet girl. She really made our family complete!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Weekend (Sat) Update

So, how was your Saturday?? Ours was fairly busy, but uneventful if you know what I mean. Mr. Tennis was out of town, so M and I were on our own. I pictured myself getting all kinds of things accomplished, including some cleaning, laundry, decorating, raking leaves, mowing the lawn, reading, a variety of household projects, etc. But . . . I didn't get all that much done really.

Mad and I shopped a little bit. She used her own money to buy a little stuffed pug dog that barks. Yes, another stuffed animal -- they are taking over the house!

I did manage to get some stuff thrown out and the dining room cleaned up a bit. Rumor has it that Thanksgiving isn't too far off -- must get the table cleared so people can eat! However, the dining room still has paint, paint brushes, plastic drop cloths in it from the kitchen painting project that continues into week 4 or 5, but who's counting!

And I did get a little craft project done -- yay me!! I put some ribbon trim on a couple of lampshades that were incredibly blah and boring-looking. Before you think I am so clever, wait --I actually had to call my Mom to figure out the double-sided tape! I am not kidding you -- it was a little trickier than it sounds! :) Wow -- what an exciting day -- maybe I"ll have even more to report from Sunday!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Flashback - Photo Christmas Cards!

As I get ready to do this year's card, I thought it would be fun to look at some old ones. This one is from 2003 -- the first year Maddy was home for Christmas. She was just about to have her 2nd birthday -- what a sweet little round face, eh!! :) My oldest son (in the back) was a freshman in college here and Cboo was a junior in high school. It was such a great holiday season having a little one in the house again!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

Decorating Advice Needed

Oh wise Internet bloggers -- can you help a girl out?? There's my fireplace, yeah, right there. I need some advice on some sconces for my living room. I checked into putting electric light sconces up years ago, but the electrician spent a great deal of time scratching his head trying to figure out the wiring or some such, so I discarded that idea. But, having been inspired by Lisa's cool decorations and the Queen Bee's great re-dos, I found these great wood sconces on sale at Micha*ls for 80% off -- yes, they were only $6 each. So, my question is -- do I just put them up like this or paint them? And if I paint them -- what color - black? white? other? As you can see the fireplace and the wood trim all over the house is painted white.

Here is one of the wood sconces -- so aptly (albeit reluctantly) held in place by the Hub. Other furniture in the room is fairly dark (like cherry) wood. So, do tell, what should I do?

Friday, November 7, 2008

Flashback Friday!

Since it is a bit chilly and windy today (wind chills in the teens - yikes!) and a couple days ago, we had a record high of 79 -- I'm already thinking of warmer times. This photo is from a 2005 vacation to Mexico. It was loads of fun and Maddy loved seeing the towel animals every day! Ummm yeah, I liked those too, but loved the Margaritas! :)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Rockstar? Doctor? Teacher? Mother?

What shall I be when I grow up?? This is the big question lately from my little first-grader. Indeed, what shall she be when she grows up? A Rockstar?(watching too much Hannah Mon*tana perhaps); a Doctor?? A Teacher?? A Mother?? She seriously contemplates each career path, discussing the pluses and minuses of each. Hmmm -- a Rockstar would be a really busy life -- so she thinks that maybe she'll need to do that first while she's young. Then maybe become a Doctor-- because that takes a lot of school, so she doesn't want to wait too long to start. A Mommy - she definitely wants to be a Mom, so that makes her think maybe her career should be as a Teacher -- since teachers get the summers and holidays off. So, it seems she has decided that she will be a Rockstar first, then a Doctor, then a Teacher and a Mother! Who said you can't do it all, eh!! :) While the decision is a long ways off for her, as a Mother, I've tried to encourage all my kids to follow their dreams, find something they love and do their very best. That's all we Mothers really want, isn't it!