Friday, January 29, 2010

Happy Birthday, Reilly!


A few hours after this picture was taken on January 29, 2003, Reilly was born in the Doylestown Hospital. Brian and I left early in the morning on this snowy day for me to be induced. (She was due to be born on my birthday a few days later, but I opted to be induced).

She was 8lbs 9oz and beautiful! She had the most gorgeous lips ever!


Years later, here we are celebrating her 7th birthday.



Reilly has a creative, independent and determined spirit. She loves to help out and is very reliable and responsible. Her favorite subject in school is math. (She does not take after me in this department!) She loves animals (especially pigs and horses). Her favorite food is spinach tortellini and pizza. When she grows up she wants to be a first grade teacher and a "barbara" (barber).

video
We arranged to have her favorite dog, Roo, sing a song to her today.
Happy 7th birthday, Reilly!
We love you!!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What the heck Wednesday...

We have needed a new kitchen since the day we moved into this house! We've put it off and done other remodeling projects in the meantime, but recently, it has become more of a need than a want that we undergo an extensive kitchen remodel. (Things are breaking and leaking and at this point, it just makes sense to start from scratch). I need a new kitchen more than anything! I spend 80% of my time in there.


I've been in the process of meeting with a wonderful kitchen designer (thanks to Susan Taylor's recommendation) and have been loving to wake up each day knowing that in a few short months, my ultimate dream of having a fresh, new, roomy, functional kitchen will be a reality.


We decided to get a home equity loan through refinancing. Yesterday, the loan officer called and told us that due to the bad economy, appraisers are low balling the price of homes and because of this, after all is said and done, we will only end up with $5,000. #!*!@#




Translation: Unless a miracle happens, this is any many other gross aspects of my kitchen is what I'll be looking at for years to come.


The only way I can describe how I feel right now is as if I was treading water out in the ocean, waiting for someone to rescue me, and was told that help was on its way, only to find out that no one was coming after all...

SUCK!



And then, I went out to start my car this morning and found this CRAP FEST all over my stupid van.
Why is it that robins always come back a month too early? And WHERE, pray tell, are they finding all these berries this time of year? P.S. And why my van? Hasn't it been through enough already?



And last but not least, I spent over an HOUR in the @#!%@! doctors office today waiting for a simple ear recheck for Ellie.
Ellie has had a double ear infection since Sunday, but the antibiotic hasn't seemed to work. (Thank goodness I didn't take the doctor's advice when he said to hold off giving it to her as long as possible so she wouldn't run the risk of building up an immunity to antibiotics). P.S. I hate that guy! I would have loved for him to be at our house at around 10:30pm Sunday night when Ellie was dilerious with pain (even with Motrin).
She continued complaining that her one ear still hurt this morning so I called the doctor's office to see if they could just recheck her and possibly give her something stronger.
I was so disgusted that I had to wait for 45 minutes just to have a simple ear check that I actually walked out of the waiting room and flagged down the doctor! I'm sure I didn't endear him to me guessing by the flustered look on his face, but that's how it goes. I'm still not sure why a nurse practitioner couldn't have just done a quick check! Seriously! A baboon could have diagnosed this!
Ellie is on a higher dose of antibiotics now. Thank you very much...
I know there are big problems in the world. Seriously! These poor people in Haiti are suffering and are just wishing for the basics in life. I feel guilty for complaining over something so petty.
What does this say about me that I get so bent up about something cosmetic like a new kitchen?
Enough venting.
I'm over this day already!
Have you been pooped on today?


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Reilly's Chinese New Year party

Every year, the first grade class at our elementary school studies a segment on China.
This year, I got to go in and help out...




The kids parade in costume around the whole school chanting, "Hung Mey Fat Choy"



Reilly was self conscience in her hat...in fact, she hid from me when she saw me standing in the hall...



I loved the pandas on the back of these costumes made out of pillowcases...



Mr. Schwartz, the principle, proudly wearing a traditional Chinese outfit...



A local Chinese restaurant caters lunches for the kids...
I would have died with excitement if I got this kind of thing in first grade...
The kids seemed excited, but no over the moon excited like I would have been!
Ca'mon people! We're talking RESTAURANT FOOD!





This is Julie, Reilly's 6th grade buddy...




Look at this feast! I was drooling the whole time...
I almost had a heart attack when I saw the amounts of food being thrown away...
I had to keep reminding myself about the Seinfeld where George got accused of trash picking...

I don't understand why I can't make some of my pictures larger...
It's a complete mystery to me...
But anyway, here we are after the food frenzy that I was not a part of...


Monday, January 25, 2010

Gung Hey Fat Choy

My friend Leisha inspired me to throw a Chinese New Year's party...
(The official Chinese New Year isn't until Feb. 14th) but this did not deter us...

Since space was an issue in my house, we decided to keep it to just the Atkinson family and Olivia Webster and her daughter...(Olivia's husband, Bill was out of town)...



I felt more pressure knowing that Olivia was coming (she is from Hong Kong). I didn't want her to think I was making a mockery out of their holiday...
I think she was curious to see what an American Chinese New Year party would be like...


I've never been to a Chinese New Year party so I had no idea what the traditional decorations looked like. This was my Americanized interpretation...





Fresh flowers signify a prosperous new year...

Oranges mean good health and long life...

Red is a symbol of happiness and gold means wealth and happiness...




Olivia lent me this Chinese lantern that looked so authentic hanging in front of my fireplace...



The kids helped me make red paper lanterns that I hung in the doorway...






I hung red ribbons with different Chinese characters attached that said things like "Love", "Faith", "Prosperity", and "The Year of the Tiger"...




Olivia brought this circular candy tray called "The Tray of Togetherness". It is a Chinese tradition to have this at a New Year's party. Each item represents some kind of good fortune.



Our menu consisted of Broccoli and Beef, Chicken Fried Rice, Dumplings, White Rice, Fried Won-Tons, and Fried Spring Rolls...



It was so delicious and festive...


I felt so authentic at one point that I almost started spewing out chinese words...(which would basically consist of "wonton" and "chop suey")





I

Another tradition is for the adults to give the children red envelopes ("lee see") filled with money...

Leisha and Olivia both brought envelopes to give the kids...





Before the kids can have the envelope, they first must all say,

"Gung Hey Fat Choy" (Happy New Year)






Much enthusiasm was shown once they all knew money was involved!



I love the expression on Olivia's face...She is such a genuine person...




Here are some of the things I learned about the traditions and superstitions about Chinese New Year:



1) Wear brand new clothes and shoes (preferably red)

2) Don't wash your hair

3) Don't sweep the floor

4) Don't greet people who are in mourning

5) Don't drop your chopsticks

6) Don't say the number 'four' (Chinese homonym for death)

7) Don't borrow or lend money



For dessert, I wanted to make something special, so I
made these graham cracker tartlets out of egg roll wrappers.

(recipe courtesy of my sister, Nella)

The recipe for this can be found at www.ftko.blogspot.com ("Crisp Tart Shells")


Having this little mini Chinese New Year party was a great way for us all to learn some new things about the Chinese culture.





***Did you learn something new?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Harrisburg Farm Show

I've been dying to go to the big Farm Show in Harrisburg for years. I always forget that it's in January, though...it seems like a strange time to have something like this...



I took my kids out of school last Friday and we drove the 2 hour drive with my friend, Leisha and 4 of her children. I was so excited that she was up for the adventure...(We had 7 children all together, ages 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 1)...



Now we're talking icecream!

Meet "Steve"...the biggest rabbit I think I've ever seen! (I think the fact that his name is Steve makes him even cuter)


We were all gushing over him...



How about them femur bones?




Here we all are in the horse arena...



The kids all got to see cows being milked which they loved.
This sweet baby calf was nearby...






We all enjoyed watching sheep shearing as well...We learned about the different stages of how wool goes from the sheep to being made into a sweater.




All of the pigs (except this one) had been sent home earlier on in the week because people were freaking out over the swine flu. (Holy over-reaction!)
Fortunately, this lactating mother and her 11 suckling pigs stuck around for us to enjoy...
This picture actually shows her standing up taking a drink out of a water fountain...


After a delicious lunch of farm show food (homemade fried mozzarella balls and fresh creamy milkshakes and all) it was onto the much anticipated POULTRY ROOM!
Jake recently joined "Buck's Clucks" which is the poultry chapter in our local 4-H. I originally thought we'd be raising more ducks, but he wants to raise a chicken to show in the grange fair in August, so we've (I've) been doing much researching (obsessing) over chickens lately.
We were all very excited to see all the different varieties of chickens that were available. Jake brought along his notes and I took pictures of some of our favorites...



Check out this "Fizzle" bantam--Love her!
We were originally thinking about raising bantams (tiny chickens) but recently found out that there is no way to know if they are male or female when you order them. I don't want to run the risk of getting a male, so we are going to get full sized birds.



Beautiful colors!

Funny!

video

In addition to the many varieties of chickens, there were, of course, many ducks that had me drooling.
Have I ever mentioned how much I love ducks?!
Seeing these little ducklings was one of the highlights of the day...
There's nothing cuter than ducklings!
We were still all smiles after the long day of kid schlepping...
I love being able to take my kids on a field trip like this...
I had such a great time with Leisha...She is such an amazing person!
We had so much fun chatting in the car that the time totally just flew by...
This was the perfect thing to get me out of my January slump!
***What would your favorite part have been?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Som boty was listening!

For as many teaching moments that I give to my kids, I rarely feel like things are "sinking in"...
Two weeks ago, I substitute taught a class in primary. During sharing time, the story "The Last Straw" was told to the kids. In the story, the mother was trying to find a way to make her children become kinder to each other by serving one another. She had everyone draw names and be a secret elf to one of their family members. Over the course of the following week, every time one of them did something kind for someone they got to put a piece of straw into a manger. Some of the things that they did were to write someone a note, set their pajamas out on their bed, do someone's chore for them without them knowing, etc. The idea was that by the end of the week, the manger would be filled with enough straw to make the baby Jesus comfortable.
I'm really lousy at reiterating stories, but you get the drift...
Occasionally, as the story was being told, I glanced over to Reilly and Ellie to see if they were listening. They seemed dazed...

Imagine my surprise when, later on that night, (prompted by Reilly's badgering me that someone had given me a surprise in my room), I found my pajamas laid out on my bed...

along with these slippers...

and a note!


It was a break through moment in my motherhood journey...

It's so nice to know that "som boty" is listening to me from time to time...



Sunday, January 3, 2010

Christmas Cheer

We had a really nice Christmas this year...
I always regret not taking more action shots on Christmas mornings...
this year was no exception...
I tried to capture the cozy lighting feel by not using the flash, but the trade off was that the pictures were all a little blurry...

Mr. Boone (our good natured cat who is missing the tips of his ears thanks to Ellie a few years ago) always shows up for family gatherings (I.E. prayers, story time, Christmas morning, etc.)

It is tradition that I be the one to hand out all the non-Santa gifts every year...
It has taken me years of practice to master this skill!
Notice my new Phillie's hat?! Now the guys at Davis Feed Mill won't harrass me about being a Yankees fan!

Apparently, the doll that wets only comes with ONE diaper! Who was the master mind behind the packaging of that toy, I wonder?! Gese!
I found myself trying to potty train this *#@! doll later on that day....
Her signal that she's going to wet is that she starts "fussing" right before. I figured out how to avoid having to change her diaper by sticking her directly on the toy potty.
It provided Ellie hours of entertainment...(me...not so much!)

"Faux" UGGS for Reilly...(I hate these things but she was very excited to pick them out with the money that Grandma Judy and Grandpa Pete sent her)

Christmas cheer!

I was on such a blogging roll right up until Christmas Eve...
I had a wedding reception to decorate for on the 26th and then I've been on a major organizing kick ever since so blogging got put on the back burner--again!...
In addition to taking all of my Christmas decorations down, we did a massive overhaul/organization of our attic...


I also made and froze two more huge vats of Ina Garten's famous chicken soup (and just in
time as I came down with a nasty cold yesterday)

I took advantage of Brian being home for a few days over the New Year's holiday to help me work on a few projects...
I organized the side shelves in our pantry and Brian hung this shelf for me. I was so excited about this because it gives me a specific place to store things that I don't use on a daily basis...
I'm thrilled with the result and keep finding excuses for going in just to look at the shelf!
I should have taken BEFORE pictures of this to truly see the magnitude of this project...
This is our dank, wet , gross basement...
I have been storing all of my canning jars, pressure cooker, etc. down there but things were just thrown on the shelves...
I organized all of the jars in boxes according to size and labeled everything...
All of the lids were put in plastic containers so that nothing rusts...
We cleared off the grow light shelves so that I can start some seedlings in another few months and threw a bunch of stuff away...
One show you will NOT see me on is the hoarder show! I am addicted to throwing things out...
We don't have a lot of storage space, so this keeps me in check...
It's such a cleansing feeling to see a car load of things to taken to be donated at Good Will or to be recycled...
I can't think of a better way to start the New Year!
(fortunately, my head cold came at the tail end of my productivity spree)