Thursday, December 24, 2009

'Twas the Night Before Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house...Not a creature was stirring...

--Especially not this mouse! (this poor little guy apparantly couldn't get out of this vase that he crawled into)


The rats were nestled all snug in their bed...


While visions of sugar plums (I.E.--hideously decorated Christmas cookies--I forgot to buy red hots, Christmas jimmies and colored sugar to embellish them with)



and monkey bread (for Christmas morning) danced in their heads...



The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas
soon would be there...


(I love these stockings, Katie!--I think of you every year we put them up)



The Christmas Eve table was set for the brood...

with shrimp, jr. league salad and rice...it's their favorite food!


I'm feeling a little like the cat in the hat with all of this rhyming...plus the fact that I don't have a picture of me in a kerchief and Brian in his cap...(note to self--better planning next year!)


Other than the fact that Jake was cranky most of the day (he wasn't feeling well so I think this was part of it), and there was some fighting over who was going to get to be Mary for our nativity reenactment, the day went pretty well...

We all watched Mr. Krueger's Christmas and then the Nativity afterwards...
I made the mistake of showing the kids the wrapped gifts (pj's) that they would get to open after we watched the movie and all Ellie did during the show was obsess over which present was hers...
Serenity Now! Serenity Now!



video
Here was our weak attempt at portraying Luke:2
(If only child birth could be that easy!)
Merry Christmas to all, and to ALL a good night!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Five for Friday (the midweek edition)

1. Ellie got invited to a birthday party last Saturday (the day of the big snow storm).
I had been trump carding this party for weeks...("Put your clothes away or your not going to get to go to the birthday party"..."Get your pajamas on or you can't go to the birthday party"...)
I was certain that it would be cancelled, but fortunately, they still had it and I maintained my credibility in Ellie's eyes.
I always marvel at the elaborate measures people go to for children's birthday parties these days...
At this party, the mother had hired a professional face painter and everyone left with a goodie bag with gift cards to a local bookstore! (Whatever happened to party bags stuffed with junky toys, candy and a pencil?) The dog face that they painted on Ellie was so well done...
I will admit that for Jake's 8th birthday, I went all out and hired a traveling zoo to come to our house. It was a little over the top, so memorable... But hey! You don't turn 8 everyday...
The next big shin dig will be his wedding....We should be done paying for the zoo party by then...


2. A sight like this can only mean one thing....
A MOUSE!
Why is it that I can own rats and hamsters as pets and rescue baby field mice, but the thought of a wild mouse running loose in my house scares the crap out of me?
The cats held a vigil the entire morning....
(update: I found the mouse at the bottom of a tall cylinder vase in my potting room a little while ago---dead). The poor thing got into it somehow, but wasn't able to escape)


3. Our little ratlings are getting bigger...
Brian will not be happy to know that I'm posting a picture of him with one of the rats on his shoulders...I stuck her there for a quick second and snapped a picture...(I think he is secretly intrigued by them)
They love to hang out in our sleeves and poke their head out. It's like a human hammock of sorts...
(this one's for you, Kelly!)


4. Ellie had her pre-school Christmas program yesterday...
She was so excited to sing all the songs that her class had been practicing...
This picture just really captures her spirit...




5. Bella and Lilly Atkinson spent part of the day with us...(Leisha had a few class parties to help out with so I watched the girls...)
Ellie was so excited that Lilly was going to be coming over...
She was so good with her--showing her age appropriate toys, feeding her fruit loops, patting her on the head. It was like the ultimate Christmas present!--A living doll...Nothing she gets from Santa will be able to compare to this...

Monday, December 21, 2009

Baby it's cold outside

We had our first big blizzard of the year on Saturday...


Since everything that we had going on that day got cancelled, I stoked up the fire, curled up to a great book (The Concubine's Daughter) and basically hung out in my pajamas and read the entire day. Why am I so facinated by concubines? good grief!



I can only think of one thing missing in this picture...




Ahhh...that's better!









I did a few breaks from the cozy to help assemble the kids' snow gear and to make up a huge pitcher of hot chocolate...




and to shovel out a path for the ducks...I spent a good part of an hour shoveling it out for them only to have them scurry through the huge drifts of snow to get to the pond...(notice their tracks to the right of my path?)

They aren't the brightest matches in the box... (or maybe it's me that's not too bright)






This is the first time Hershey (the brown khaki campbell duck) has seen snow...

He was an Easter duckling last year...



The girls and I had fun searching for mysterious animal tracks in the snow...

--it's one of my favorite things to do after a snow storm...



We got a good solid 9 inches from this storm...



I'm really bugged that I can't make this last batch of pictures larger from Smugmug...arrhhhggg...I'm not sure why some of them worked but not others...



I love picturing what the area around this birdbath will look like in a few months...






I'm not sure how Ellie got by me with these cotton capri pants! I'm pretty sure that ANYTHING would be warmer than these....


She made a sweet snow angel, though...




As did Reilly...



It looks like we're on our way to having a white Christmas!


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas miscellaney



My friend, Terry, (the one who gave us the rats) made this absolutely exquisite gingerbread house for us. She even hand crafted miniature rats out of fondant. Can you see the one by the front door?

I can honestly say that I've never seen a cuter gingerbread house...I feel so honored to be the recipient of one of her masterpieces...


This is a picture of the back of the house....




We finally got to take my mom to Longwood Gardens while she was here visiting over Thanksgiving...It's about a hour away from our house...



The Merrills (Heather) joined us as well...


This is always such a wonderful way to start off the Christmas season.

A visit to Longwood Gardens has become one of our Christmas traditions...




I love these orange winterberries mixed with orange/peach poinsettias and paperwhites...



I liked this Christmas tree that was made entirely out of coleus (I think) and some sort of waxy leaf.

Due to the lighting, my camera wasn't able to capture some of my most favorite displays...




Trust me when I say that it's a pretty spectacular place...



There was a lot of grumbling going on before this picture was taken, so don't let these smiles fool you...

What is it anyway with kids and their constant need for snacks!?!




Reilly and I went to see the Nutcracker last Saturday...
Our neighbor and friend Regina was Clara this year, so we went to see her in the performance...

How is it that some people are blessed with the gift of coordination and grace (her) while others are so clodhopper-ish?! (me) sigh!

(Not sure what's up with Reilly's mouth in this picture...it looks very bulbous and weird)

It was the best picture of me out of the 20 or so self portraits that we took and so that's why I chose that one...
Is that wrong that I choose our pictures based on how I look in them?


We had a great time at our ward party this year...
I'd say it was one of the best ones we've ever had...


Although I brought my camera, I didn't end up taking any action shots except for Jake and Ellie sitting on Santa's (Dom) lap...


I love this one of Ellie....

I can still here her now..."And I want a doll that goes pee pee and poo poo and a makeup center and a ballet costume and a music box and a ...."


I gave "Santa" permission to cut her off after about the 10th gift request...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Thanksgiving memories

After our day with Martha, we just hung out at home and worked on some projects...




My mom had an upcoming open house for her shop and she needed to get the invitations addressed to her customers...


Here she is HAND WRITING them! What the?!!!! How primitive can she be? What's worse is that she roped me into finishing the names from F to Z...arrhhhgggg....I convinced her to have the addresses loaded onto her computer for next year...







We signed up to decorate and fill a few "Giving Bags" for an inner city charity.
The kids had a great time embellishing the bags....


This was a picture of our Thanksgiving table...

I'm so grateful to be able to incorporate my Grandma Aikin's fostoria ware into the mix...




My mom makes the best crust! She stepped it up a notch this year and added the kids' initials to the top...

At Ellie's pre-school, the kids all got to choose Indian er..uh...I mean, "Native American" names.
Some of the names were things like, "Running Wolf", or "Cool Water". Ellie chose the name, "Big Rainbow" which I found completely hilarious...
Here is "Big Rainbow" wearing her hat with pride at our Thanksgiving feast...


I hate making cutout cookies...I'm completely challenged when it comes to baking. My mom makes my cutouts every year and freezes them until we get around to frosting them right before Christmas...
I love that she does this...and the kids always get to participate...
She has far more patience than me when it comes to most things...


One of my goals this year is to compile a cookbook of just our family's favorite tried and true recipes and have pictures that are associated with the recipe...
For example, my mom has the tastiest sugar cookie recipe...
I think this would be a cute picture to put next to her recipe in the book...



Helping Hands...



My mom watched the kids while Brian and I went out to dinner...
Every time she comes, she makes "A Mexican Dinner" which she and they sing and chant several hours leading up to it...they always look forward to this...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Martha! Martha! Martha!



These past 3 1/2 weeks have been torture for me as our computer hard drive went on the blink...


I was already behind on posting things even before the computer crisis hit, so I'm super behind on postings...but it feels great to be clicking away on these keys again...


During the Thanksgiving holiday, my mom came for a visit.

She did this last year as well and both times were so much fun...It gives us a chance to spend Thanksgiving together as well as celebrate some early Christmas traditions since we aren't together for Christmas.





A few months ago, I requested tickets for the Martha Stewart Show. Fortunately, my first date request (the Tuesday before Thanksgiving) was granted!

I invited my mom as well as my sweet friends, Heather and Angela to join me...

Angela lives in NYC so my mom, Heather and I just took the train into the city and met her there.

The studio was located in Chelsea so we decided to get a bite to eat in the area...


We ended up going to this cute, hip little market for lunch...



There were lots of specialty shops and cafe's in Chelsea Market.
I couldn't resist taking a picture of this fabulous cake in one of the bakeries...



After lunch, we headed on over to the studio. We were all a bit irritated that the Martha Stewart staff treated everyone like herds of cattle..I don't know why this surprised me.
They were all very "hungry with power" (as Jill would say!) ...





The studio set was absolutely beautiful!


I took a few pictures at different angles...Could you just die over those copper pots?!
Unfortunately, we weren't able to photograph once the show started (too bad, because Claire Daines was the guest star that day and she was so cute!)



This was a shot of the seasonal set where they featured the craft segment.
We each left with a pop up book called "White Noise"....

It was so much fun to all be together for this fun experience...



After the show, Martha had a question and answer session...
It wasn't overly riveting...it was clear that she ONLY did this out of pure obligation. She didn't interact or even acknowledge the audience any other time during the show except for the end.


The highlight of the day was actually what came after the show....
My friend, Angela knows the senior style editor for Martha Weddings and she was able to arrange for us to have a tour of Martha Stewart Omnimedia...(where all of the magic happens--I.E.--Martha Weddings, Martha Stewart Living magazine, Body and Soul, etc. are all published...)
While we were waiting in the lobby, Emeril Lagasse came strolling down...so apparently he does something there as well...I forgot to ask...


There is actually a place that exists for real and not just in my dreams...also known as The Library!!!!...it was here in this warehouse that I experienced a major case of the greeds....for it is in here that EVERYTHING is stored that would ever need to be used for the show set, or magazine spreads...
I was having some serious heart palpitations/anxiety attacks just looking at all of this...

Whenever you are finished using one of the items, you just return it on the cart....



There were collections of every kind....from candlesticks to birdcages....



to clocks...


fabrics, rugs, and flooring....


cake stands...



fabulous painted furniture of every kind....


ramekins and other thingy's....


white and creamware!!!....



and more cake stands...



We got to catch a glimpse of their glorious craft room...(can you imagine having any resource at your disposal?!)



and MARTHA'S OFFICE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I kid you not!
P.S. while we were looking at all of the offices, we passed by a room where several people were meeting and Martha was in there....!


The view from her office which overlooks Chelsea Piers
...you can see the Statue of Liberty off in the distance...



This was Darci Miller's office (she's the editor for Martha Weddings)...

Behold!--the test kitchen! Glorious!!
After our special tour that far exceeded my expectations, Heather, Angela, my mom, me, Katie Hatch (the senior style editor) and her assistant were standing by the outer door just chatting for a few minutes when we heard a voice saying, "What are you girls up to?" Yes, my friends....it was indeed Martha....and I almost pooped my pants.
I couldn't think of anything intelligent to say, and I quickly became flustered when my mother started chanting (as she was walking out) "Ask her about her chickens! Ask her about her chickens!" (I'm getting a few bantam hens in the spring, but seriously, this was soooo not the person nor the place to talk chickens!)
I so desperately wanted to get a picture with her, but I didn't feel right about asking since we were in a place where tourists generally aren't allowed...
We ended our evening with a fabulous Thai dinner and headed home.
So there you have it...a dream come true kind of day...
This was one of those Bucket List kind of things, I'd say...
***Are you a Martha fan?
***What section in the "Library" would you have lingered in?
***Would this have been a day you would have enjoyed?