Friday, December 31, 2010

Gifting


[Are you getting tired of these family pictures yet?]

Over the past 25+ odd years (yes, I was a child bride! :)) I have received some, say we say interesting, gifts from Mr. Tennis. A couple that really stand out include a bed pillow for an anniversary gift (odd and not well-received by moi at all) and one year, a coupon stating he would pay for me to have the spider veins in my legs zapped! Obviously, he never heard the way to a girl's heart is jewelry. Although now, I would love a coupon for some Botox*. [He actually is a great gift-giver and has the biggest heart, but thought I'd have some fun with some of his ideas over the years. All gifts mentioned are true and not fictional!]

His gift giving expertise has improved a bit over the years. One of my all-time favorite Christmas gifts was seat heaters for my jeep! Oh my -- I love them and say thank you every single time I hop into that cold car. They heat up really fast -- way quicker than the car heater! Guess I do love practical gifts after all! This year, I received a wide stretchy belt and he thought it was just the thing fashionable (ha!) me would love! Picture a big corset-type belt --yeah, really! Well, truthfully, I hate tight things around my waist (waist, what waist??) and am afraid such a belt would accent my flab rather than hide it, but it was a sweet thought.
He did figure out one great item this year -- a six-pack of tonic water, some limes, beverage stirrers and a bottle of the finest gin around. Yep, guess he heard about how much I enjoyed that "Death by Gin" drink I had in Chicago last summer!
Anyone care to join me in a G&T??
Cheers!!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Quick Update!


While I planned to get lots of blog-reading and blogging done over the holidays, it clearly hasn't happened. Remember how I thought how my new Black Friday laptop would make me a speed-demon on blogland and I would be blog-hopping and posting like crazy? Well, not so much. The laptop is a bit different (duh) than a desktop, and it's taking me some time to get used to it and the keyboard, etc. So, basically, I'm slower than ever!!

Laptop stuff aside, we had a wonderful holiday. Made up luminaries on Christmas Eve to light in the evening. Our street has the most beautiful glow -- it's so special. We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas with Cboo and Maddy, visited my dear sweet parents on the 26th and had Christmas with Philip, Catherine and Janie on the 28th. We are spreading out the joy and it has been fun! Would post tons of photos, but I didn't get many and, oh yeah, haven't figured out how to get the photos from my camera to the laptop! (Another big duh, for me, eh!).

Miss Muffy, our Scottie, had a great Christmas too! She's enjoying staying home with us this week out of puppy daycare. At least, I think she's enjoying it! :) However, the yard is taking a beating. You know those little solar lights you might have in your yard? We had some --had being the operative word as she has pulled them out and chewed up whatever she can. Yes, I am buying her some more outdoor toys! She's also chewed up mulch, torn apart tennis balls and hunted down squirrels -- I'd say she's having fun!


We are looking forward to all the possibilities and promise of the new year!
Even though it's an odd-numbered year (not generally my faves),
I think 2011 will be fabulous!
Happy New Year!

Monday, December 20, 2010

To My 9 Year Old!

My dear sweet Maddy -- it's time to celebrate your 9th birthday!

The years since we met you have simply flown by and your sweetness of spirit and generosity has grown just like you.

What a busy year it's been! One of the biggest events of the year was your preparation for First Confession and First Communion. Oh my, there were lots of prayers and sacraments to learn about and you did a fabulous job. Dad and I are so proud of how much you've grown in your faith in the last year.


Another big event was the birth of Philip and Catherine's baby girl, Janie. It was a little difficult at first to no longer be the youngest, but you've grown into your role as Auntie Maddy. I know that Janie is going to look up to you and want to be just like you. You and she had so much fun together at Thanksgiving! Being an Auntie is great!


You and Dad managed to acquire that puppy you've been patiently longing for during the past couple of years. And what a special puppy you decided on, a Scottie! We met and brought home sweet Muffy in July. I know that you two will share many secrets in the years to come and that you are most definitely her very best friend!



School has been a little bit trickier in 3rd grade, but you (and I) with help from our wonderful tutor and friend, Courtney, have managed to figure out the best way to study and learn. Your teachers love you and your determination (I do too)!



A fun trip to Chicago completed our summer where we met up with Amy and Grace and Cboo too! You girls know how to have fun and showed us that you can be Big City girls! From now on, a "girls only" trip is going to be our summer tradition every single year!


I hope you know that I have the most wonderful job in the world of being your Mother. You make my heart sing with your sweet drawings, sayings and our fun car-dancing! I've been blessed beyond words and wish you the very best year to come as my special 9-year old!

Love,
Momma

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Program!


[Getting ready to go!]

Maddy's school Christmas program was held the other night at church with the K-4 grades singing. It was so much fun to see the kids all dressed up and out of their uniforms.
The girls looked so pretty and sweet! And the boys . . . well, you know boys . . .
they looked uncomfortable and very squirrely!


[Striking a silly pose!]

They sang from the altar and Mr. Tennis said the altar was full of angels -- he was right!
It was a wonderful program and the songs filled the air and our hearts with the joy of season.
Wow -- I'm getting a little mushy, aren't I!?!
I can't help it -- it just gets to me every single year!

Maddy loves her teachers! Here she is with Mrs. S -- who is truly an incredible teacher.
Her love for the kids and teaching shines through every single day.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Girl and Her Puppy

Brrrrr -- hello Winter! OH MY WORD!!!
We had an Arctic blast over the weekend and it's wasn't a fun one!
It was so incredibly cold and windy. The high temps were around 10 with wind chills at -20, and it was incredibly windy with blowing snow all over the place.
It was a day to stay inside on Saturday!




Our pup, Miss Muffy, wore her puffy vest outside whenever she ventured out.
Unfortunately, she moves so fast, we never got a photo of her in her little vesty. But, rest assured, it did its job and kept her warm! We tried to call her to come in right away on Sunday, but no, she had her own plans. There she was . . . out in the backyard --
throwing her ball around and playing in the snow, all on her own.

Yes, Scotties are one of the smartest dogs ever!!


Maddy and I are trying to train a little bit. She loves treats and will sit and stay.
We actually haven't gotten much beyond "come, sit, stay and crash (lie down)."
Someday we hope to teach her to speak and maybe shake, but for now,
we're going with the easy tasks. She and Maddy just love each other so much!
They are already "besties"!


Even though, I complain (what, me complain???) about Muffy sometimes,
she is a good little dog,
and I know that she will be a trusted companion and confidante
for Maddy in the years to come!

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Zoo in Winter


Let me tell you -- the zoo looks a whole lot different in the winter! For one thing -- not very many people are visiting. The zoo is now closed, but is having "winter weekends" and open each weekend in December. For some crazy reason, Maddy and I decided to visit on Sunday, when the high temp hit a balmy 20 degrees! Can you say BRRRRR!! It was so cold!!

Maddy visited the reindeer. They are preparing for an epic journey soon!




Pretended to be an Eagle!



Visited famous zoo landmark, Leo the Lion -- he eats trash -- really, he does!



Saw the new Penguin habitat.
Our new penguins are warm weather penguins and
were off in an indoor heated pool somewhere - aren't they smart!



And posed with our fave little bear wearing shades -- she said he was really cold!



And we ended our visit with someone very special in the Zoo boutique --
more about that later! :)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving Day Recap


The Kids - Connor, Philip holding Janie, Catherine and Maddy

Even though the temperature outside was about 12 degrees on Thanksgiving Day, we had a wonderful day full of warmth and love and food and chocolate! What more could a person want?

Everything was so yummy! Well, except for the awful, horribly dry and tasteless stuffing -- ugh! I thought cornbread stuffing sounded good, but no, it wasn't!
Note to self -- don't try something new at Thanksgiving!

Philip & Catherine came with darling baby Janie and brought a most delicious thunderbird salad. So tasty and I don't like salad, but I love that one! It has bacon and mayonnaise in it -- what's not to love, eh!

Cboo brought beer and wine -- yep, he's my favorite son! Just kidding!!! :) Since he is now in the bar business, he knows a few things about wine and we were the lucky recipients of that knowledge!

Of course, I made the turkey and Lisa's fabulous mashed potatoes. Thank God for those potatoes since that stuffing was so awful. Also on the menu -- delish green beans, cranberry jello, dinner rolls, pumpkin pie, fudge and marble cheesecake with homemade raspberry sauce! So, all those people who think I can't cook -- I just proved you wrong, didn't I! Just because I like fast or frozen food a lot of the time, I do know how to make a few things! :)

Maddy feeding Janie her first taste of yummy mashed potatoes! She loved em!

I had read about some handy little "dinner conversation starters" so printed those out, folded them up and put them in a bowl. Everyone had to take one, read it aloud and then we all took a turn answering the query. It was so fun! I know Mr. Tennis was rolling his eyes about it beforehand, but he loved it too!

The most special part of the day was watching Maddy love on little Janie. The highpoint was hearing Maddy excitedly say, "Mom, did you see that? Janie hugged me!!!" My heart melted and I know Philip and Catherine's did too. So much sweetness in one place!


Our original little family unit!


And then the next morning -- shocker--I got up at 4 AM to catch a Black Friday Sale!
Scored a nice new laptop -- Merry Christmas to me!!! :)

Monday, November 29, 2010

So Crafty!



I try to be crafty sometimes, esp. around the holidays -- sometimes I'm successful;
sometimes, not so much.

A week ago, a friend of Maddy's was over to play. Since I know both girls like to do
crafts, I figured I had the perfect thing for them to work on.
Go figure, both lost interest very quickly and guess who ended up
finishing their projects while they colored? Moi, of course!



Anyhoo, we made these adorable (in my mind) jars with snow Epsom salts, a votive candle, twine and bells around the top and the girls wanted bows on their jars.
Let me just say, it looked a lot cuter on another blog,
but the smiles on these two cuties faces made it all worthwhile.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thankful . . .


For each morning with its light,

For rest and shelter of the night,

For health and food, for love and friends,

For everything Thy goodness sends.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson


This year, as every year, I am incredibly thankful

for my sweet and wonderful family --

my dear parents with their up-beat attitude despite health issues;

to my sweet and cute Hubs (Mr. Tennis);

my wonderful children - the big ones (Philip & Catherine; Connor),

my little sweetie, Maddy, cutie-pie granddaughter Janie

and couldn't forget our not-too-naughty puppy, Muffy.

We are so very blessed!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Traditions

[Fantasy Fudge from Kraft.com]

What are your holiday traditions?

Any special recipes?

One of my fave foods for Thanksgiving is fudge!
Yes, you read that right -- fudge.

Not surprising is it -- knowing my love of all things chocolate?

I make Fantasy Fudge every year at Thanksgiving!

I'm not going to tell you how much of it I eat -- let's just say . . . a lot!


The last few years, I've also started to make a marble cheesecake.

Well, actually it's called Chocolate and Vanilla Flourless cake -- but let's get real --

it's cheesecake, only better (and probably less calories)!

I don't even like cheesecake, but it is so delicious!

Maddy and I already made that and I'm making some homemade raspberry sauce to go over it.

Do you kind of get the idea that desserts are my favorite parts of Thanksgiving dinner?

Yep, that's right! :)

Do tell your fave desserts!


P.S. Also LOVE pumpkin pie! :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

All About Chocolate!


Do you have a hall monitor in your life? I do -- actually more than one -- a little scary , isn't it! Even scarier -- a chocolate monitor!!!!

I suppose the first step to recovery is admitting there is a problem, so ok, ok,
I have a problem -- I'm a chocolate addict!
I have a bit of chocolate in the morning, mid-morning, lunch, afternoon and evening.

What??
Is that too much??

I don't really think so and am wishing the chocolate monitor would stop already.
My enjoyment of chocolate is being curtailed and that is not a good thing.





So, while I was thinking of chocolate and plotting where to nab another mini-candy bar the other day, I decided to check out the Hershey store. One of our favorite parts of visiting Chicago last summer was the Hershey store -- YUM!

Guess what -- I found a ton of PERFECT Christmas gifts for those other lucky people who love chocolate and . . . who will share with me!

Mr. Tennis is definitely getting this adorable cup full of Hershey kisses from me and Miss Maddy!

Just what every tween girl needs -- some chocolate lip gloss!


Hey look, I am hitting the four basic food groups with my love of all things chocolate!

Next up -- my blossoming Star*bucks addiction!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Falllllling Temps!



Definitely fall around these parts! The number of leaves that have fallen and clogged up my gutters and the lawn is at an all-time high right now. We rake and rake and clear the lawn off and then more leaves fill it up again sometimes within an hour or two!


Last Friday evening the torrential rain that we'd been hammered with decided on a whim to turn to snow!! Yep -- snow! Mark your calendar -- first snow of 2010 season on Nov. 12! At least it was about a month later than the first snow of 2009, so that made me happy! Unfortunately, not all the yard work has been completed . . . really, is it ever? So, these poor roses met an untimely demise due to snow and ice!



Little Miss Muffy, our Scottie puppy, did not know what to make of the snow and alternated between giddy delight and downright annoyance. She ran, barked, rolled in it and barked at it some more! We had about 10 towels on the kitchen floor to dry her off repeatedly after her many visits outside. It may be a long winter and am thinking the washing machine is going to get lots of use!

Haven't posted about Miss Muffy lately and it is so difficult to get a good photo of her because she's always on the run.
She is a sweet girl and goes to bed so nicely at the same time as Maddy . . .
mainly because Maddy wouldn't have it any other way.
When Maddy goes up to bed, Muffy climbs into her kennel
because it really would not be "fair" if Muffy got to stay up later. Works for me!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Black and White Wednesday - Maddy and Her Guys!


Maddy has such a deep love for everyone in our family -- especially for her Dad and her brothers! Aren't they all so cute!
Cboo moved into an apt a couple months ago and is really busy, so we haven't seen too much of him and she misses him so much. She misses Philip too, but is more used to him being gone since he lives about an hour away. Maddy is scheming to set up a blind date between Connor and Taylor Swift -- hoping that someday, Taylor would become her sister! Wouldn't that be sweet!! So, if anyone knows Taylor and would like to assist in setting those two up, please advise.


Here's the photo above in color!
Love Maddy's red dress and the red tie on Mr. Tennis!



How time flies! This photo of Mr. Tennis and Maddy was taken when we went out to lunch after her Nebraska adoption hearing in November, 2003! Those two are so adorable!


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Happy Birthday to my Mum!

Today is my dear sweet Mother's birthday!! Happy Birthday Mum! I'm not going to say how old she is because both she and I have a tendency to not count birthdays. We celebrate, of course, but don't add the years on, which is totally fine in my book!


[On their wedding day! No wonder I have curly hair, eh!]

She's an amazing Mom! She had to find a job and go to work when I was 10 years old because my Dad (a/k/a Al) fell off a roof, broke his hip and was laid up for quite some time. She became a working mom way before it was the norm.

She encouraged me and my brothers and sisters, always telling us we could be or do anything we set our minds to do. She listened and commiserated when we called her with tales of woe. Shortly after Mr. Tennis and I got married, we moved to Philadelphia for the Hubs to attend law school. One disaster after another on the road led me to call her crying repeatedly (at least two or three times, maybe more). After one of those desperate telephone calls, I do recall that she questioned whether the priest actually signed our marriage license and said maybe I could just come home and leave the Hubs to deal with a broken-down U-haul in the mountains of Pennsylvania! Funny!! She didn't really mean it, but it did make me feel better!


She's had many health issues over the past ten years and especially the last year,
and I am so thankful that she is with us and able to celebrate her birthday!
Love you Mom!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Sport for Life!

When our boys were young, the Hubs and I encouraged the boys in sports. We wanted them to be active and enjoy sports. I taught them to ride bicycles (former bicycle champion, you know!!) and they played soccer and basketball and took swimming lessons.




As they got older, Hubs said, "it's time to pick a sport -- they can't play everything!" And so, with some guidance and nudging from him, they picked tennis! Both enjoyed it and played on their high school varsity teams. Watch out -- bragging ahead -- their teams were state champs and Cboo won the State Championship two years in a row at the No.2 singles position. So, we are kind of a tennis family. I say "kind of" because everyone plays but me. I tried, I really did! I got the skirts, the fancy panties, took clinics and lessons, but was never, ever able to perfect a serve - heck, I couldn't even get one in. I simply could not learn to serve, so I finally gave up and became an official tennis mom!



Unlike many sports, tennis is truly a sport you can play for life! You really don't see many adults playing soccer or football -- well, football -- maybe if you're a Kennedy! :) Mr. Tennis plays every single weekend -- getting up very early on one of the only days he could sleep late! My sister plays all the time, and truly, I would play if I could figure out a serve.




Anywhooo, Miss Maddy takes gymnastics and has not been interested in soccer or volleyball.
She has hit some tennis balls in the past with the Rickster and enjoyed it, so that's her new sport. Her class meets once a week for 45 minutes. There are only six kids in the group, so with two pros, it's almost like private lessons!
Plus, who doesn't love the cute tennis outfits!!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!


[Our zoo director and the cutest ladybug ever!]


Whoa --we've been having the most fabulous fall weather ever!!
The entire month of October has been so lovely -- cool in the mornings, warm during the day - not too much rain, though a bit windy at times, but I'm not complaining!
Last year, Halloween was nearly cancelled due to the cold weather,
so we are really enjoying this reprieve . . . and hope it continues! :)





On Friday, Maddy and I ventured out to our local "Boo at the ZOO" for some trick or treating fun with lots of friends that we just haven't met yet -- i.e., it was crowded!
Luckily, we went early and are members, so sailed through!
The costumes on the candy-givers were so cool!




[Husker cheerleaders -- so pretty and sweet!]


It was a blast! What could possibly be more fun? Well, the parking lot was packed, so we parked at an alternate location and got to take a shuttle bus!!!! Oh my -- it reminded someone of Disney** and made her (and me) wish we had a trip planned there too!


[Do you recognize the Nescafe bunny? He gave out chocolate milk!]


Happy Halloween! Beware - Ladybugs can be scary!!