Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas


We had a wonderful Christmas. Celebrating the birth of Christ in a beautiful Christmas Eve service at church and waking up Christmas morning, together, as a family. The kids opened their stockings first, which were filled with trinket toys and candies. While the kids opened their stockings I made a pot of coffee for myself, Charlie and our buddy, Harold, who stayed the night to celebrate Christmas with us first thing before going to his various family members houses throughout the rest of the day.

Finding a spot on the floor to take pictures and sipping on some coffee we started giving out the gifts. It was so nice to see the kids open their gifts and see the smiles on their faces and hear them exclaiming "Oh COOL!" or listen to their delighted giggles as the paper was torn away from the packaging.

After all the gifts were opened I made my way back into the kitchen and cooked up scrambled eggs and bacon for everyone. Charlie and Harold got to work gathering up the wrapping paper and packaging from gifts that had already found their way out of their packaging. After brunch the kids went back to playing with all their new goodies.

Around noon Harold said his goodbyes and headed out to go visit with his family and Charlie and I got the kids packed up in the car to go to my parents house to exchange gifts with them and spend time together. Dinner was starting to be put together when we arrived. Turkey was in the roaster and the ham was in the oven. The kids all found something to do, Charlie found his spot on the couch and talked with my Aunt Sylvia and I made my way to the kitchen to see what I could help with.

We all sat down to a delicious meal and ate more then we should. After dinner we sat down in the living room and exchanged gifts. The house was filled with conversation, laughter and thoughtful gifts. I couldn't ask for a better day. Merry Christmas to all and Happy Birthday Jesus, Thank you for your ultimate gift of eternal life.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Double Birthday Party


My girls birthday's are 10 days apart in November. This year Tabytha turned 9 and Jessi turned 2. We decided to have a joint birthday party for the girls. It was pretty low key, just family, but it was very nice. Tabytha picked the menu for the festivities and chose lunch meat, rolls and birthday cake (Chocolate cake with vanilla frosting). My mom made smokey Joe's and meatballs, we also had chips and dip and sodas.

My mom made Tabytha a 'Holly Hobbie" pillow and made Jessi a quilt. The quilt is very special because it's the 3rd one made with patches from the pattern she made for me when I was a teenager. The 4 corners of the quilt have a 'Precious Moments' bear sitting on a cloud from the original material used to make my quilt so many years ago. My mom also made a quilt for Tabytha when she was a baby using some precious moments squares, just like mine. This may not mean much to anyone, but it's beyond special for me. Tabytha's quilt and Jessi's quilt both contain squares from the very same material my mom used to make my quilt 16 yrs ago. All of our quilts are tied together and it's just for us girls. I hope when they're grown it'll mean as much to them as it does to me.

Tabby and Jessi got other wonderful gifts from everyone else who was there. It was actually a very nice day outside, weather wise, and before all our party guests arrived Charlie, our friend Harold and the kids all went outside and played a little football in the front yard. When my parents arrived my youngest sister, Hannah, joined in on all the fun and then my dad jumped in and played a bit, too.

All in all, the day was great and everyone had a good time celebrating the girls birthday and enjoying each other's company.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Last Minute Costumes For Some Trick-or-Treating Fun


Today was just as busy and hectic as yesterday was. This morning Charlie, the kids and I headed over the bridge to go to the church Charlie's sister, Faye, attends. She was getting re-baptized to show (outwardly) her rededication to the Lord. After service we went back to Faye's house for lunch and let the kids play with their cousin, Shelby, for a little while.

We got home a little after 4pm. Charlie's buddy, Harold, came by a few minutes after we got home and brought new headlights for Charlie's little pickup truck he's been borrowing lately. They went outside to get the headlights replaced and check the fluids in my van.

With today being Halloween, I called a friend to find out what time trick-or-treating was suppose to "start" in their neighborhood so I could let Charlie know what time he and Tabytha needed to head out. The plan was for Charlie to take Tabytha trick-or-treating because she had a costume from her mommom and I was going to stay home with John and Jessi because we didn't have costumes for them.

The time rolls around for Charlie and Tabytha (who was dressed up like Gisel from the movie 'Enchanted') to get going and John decided he wanted to go with them. Well, we didn't have a costume for him. So, we scoured through his dresser trying to come up with some kind of plan or idea of what he could be. No luck in his room. Charlie and I check in the girls closet, hoping for inspiration to hit and Charlie sees his dirt bike helmet and gets a flash of genius. I hand him the helmet and goggles and John sees it and says he wants to be a 'motorcycle dude'. Awesome! John got his boots and jacket on and Charlie helped him put on the helmet and he was all set, and he was happy with it. He thought he looked like a real 'motorcycle dude'.

I noticed a Cinderella dress Tabytha used to play dress-up with when she was smaller and then I got my own flash of genius (so to speak). Jessi could be Cinderella and wear Tabytha's old dress! The dress was made from a thin material, so I put a long sleeved shirt and sweat pants on Jessi first and then put the dress on over top and she was all set.

At first she was against putting on the dress and started fighting to get it off, but once she heard mention of candy she stopped fighting the dress and ran to the front door to go. Harold came with us so we took my van because it can fit the 6 of us, unlike my camry which only seats 5.

Everyone was buckled in and we were off to Greensboro. I parked in the parking lot of Tabytha's school and we walked around the neighborhood next to it. I was so pleased with how well the kids did walking around. Today was the 2nd day of busy/hectic and no naps. John never cried to get the helmet off and Tabytha didn't complain about her feet hurting in the heels she was wearing (as part of the costume). Even Jessi was good and didn't fuss. This was actually her first time trick-or-treating. All the kids said 'Trick-or-Treat' when they got to the doors of the people handing out candy and said 'Thank You' after receiving candy in their pumpkin buckets.

One person was so charmed by Jessi saying 'trick-or-treat' and 'Thank you', he said "You're so cute you get 2 pieces of candy". Jessi was so excited to see them put more candy in her bucket, she must have thought she won the lottery.

All in all, the weekend was hectic and busy, but it was also filled with a lot of friends, family and fun. When we got home Charlie and I got the kids ready for bed and gave them a couple pieces of candy from their buckets. When they finished their candy they brushed their teeth and went to bed and Charlie and I plopped on the couch and watched a cheesy 'horror' movie to top off "Halloween" night.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Fall Festival

Earlier in the day my kids had fun playing with their friends and after they left we were invited by our neighbor, Nick, to go to his church for a 'Fall Festival'. I asked him what time it started and he didn't remember at first and told me he'd find out and call me right back.

At first I tried to think of an excuse for us not to go. I thought I could just tell him Jessi didn't get a nap this afternoon and would probably be miserable and I was going to try to get the kids to bed early to make up for the hectic fun filled day of playing. But, that wasn't really the truth. Jessi didn't get a nap, that part was true, but, in reality, I was the one who was tired from trying to keep after 8 kids while Charlie and Brian were working in the garage. Nick called back and told me what time the fall festival was and I told him it sounded like fun and we'd probably see him there after Charlie got cleaned up.

Charlie and Brian finished up in the garage and then Brian got his kids all packed up in their Hummer and headed back home. Charlie got cleaned up and we all packed in the car and went to the fall festival at Nick's church.

There was a lot going on when we got there. We noticed a small bon fire where people were roasting marshmallow's to make S'mores, a huge moon bounce for the kids, hot dogs and chips for everyone to eat and several people had the trunks of their cars/suv's decorated and had games for kids to play, like at a carnival, and would be rewarded with candy.

After roasting some marshmallow's, bouncing around the moon bounce and playing the carnival trunk games we got in line to go on a hay ride. While we were waiting for our turn the kids got to watch someone make cotton candy. Jessi was completely mesmerized by the process. She couldn't take her eyes off of the cotton candy machine blow pink and blue sugary goodness and watch the man spin it around the stick and put it in bags for everyone to enjoy. All the kids got a bag of cotton candy, and for Jessi, most of it found it's way all over her face.

The truck pulling the hay wagon returned, the first batch of riders got off and it was now our turn. We piled in with several other people and off we went. The kids loved it. Somewhere in the middle of the ride Charlie thought it would be funny to toss of few straws of hay on John and Tabytha. Tabytha and John both threw some back at him and this led to a full fledged hay battle with everyone riding with us. Lots of laughs, giggles and hay everywhere.

When the ride brought us back to the church Charlie and I decided to call it a night and take the kids home to put them to bed. It was already past their bedtimes. We found Nick, told him how much fun we had, thanked him for inviting us and headed home to put the kids to bed.

A 'Herd' Of Kids


Charlie's friend, Brian, brought his car over to work on it in our garage. He's come over before to work on his car, but, this time he brought his brood of kids with him. He and his wife have 5. My own children were bouncing off the walls excited to hear that Mr. Brian was bringing his kids over to play while he and Charlie worked in the garage.

It was a very pleasant day outside. The weather was cool and the sun was shining. We have two power-wheels toys, a 4-wheeler and a dune buggy, along with a swing/slide/see-saw, play house, roller coaster and a very large penned in area to run around and play in. The kids all seemed to like the power wheel cars the most and all took turns riding. The bigger kids took the littler kids for rides.

After awhile I took all 8 kids next door to our neighbor, Nick's, house to see his sheep, goats and llama's. One of Nick's goats is very friendly and even comes up to people and lets them pet him, so the kids all got a kick out of that. (The goats name is Sprocket, pictured above). To top it all off, Nick said the kids could feed the animals and they all squealed with excitement.

All in all, everyone had a blast playing and goofing around and their favorite part of the Barbitta's visit was going to see and feed the animals next door.

(In the picture from left to right is John, CJ, Sprocket the goat, Tabytha, Jessi, Chloe peeking out from behind Tabytha, Brian, Camryn and Cayden bent over next to Jessi)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Baking Love Into Grandma's Birthday


Yesterday was my mom's birthday. She turned 50, which is still difficult for me to wrap my head around. (much like me turning 30 two weeks ago).

My oldest daughter, Tabytha, wanted to do something special for her grandma for her birthday. She asked if she could make grandma a birthday cake. What a sweetheart!
Tabytha didn't have school yesterday (teacher inservice day), so when Jessi went down for her nap I gathered what we needed to make a cake.

John wanted to help make Grandma's cake, too. Tabytha cracked the eggs into the mixing bowl and John poured the water, cake mix and butter into the bowl. I got the batter started until there was no fear of cake mix flying all over the kitchen.
John got to use the hand mixer first, with some assistance from Tabytha. Then, Tabytha finished up the mixing until the batter was nice and smooth.
I poured the cake mix into the cake pans and put them in the oven to bake. When they were done I transferred them to the cooling rack. After the cakes were cooled I frosted the center layer of the cake and then let Tabytha and John frost the top and sides of the cake.

They had so much fun frosting the cake and talking about how much Grandma was going to love her cake. After going through a can and a half of frosting the cake was finished. I placed the cake in a cake carrier and today we were off to Grandma's house to celebrate her birthday.

Tabytha and John were nearly busting at the seams to give Grandma her birthday cake and couldn't wait for Grandma to share it with them.

After lunch Grandma brought the cake to the table and cut a slice for everyone. The cake was moist and delicious. Tabytha and John did a fantastic job and worked very well together.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hide-n-Seek


My youngest, Jessi, is a well blended mix of my husband and me. She gets her looks from me and her personality from Charlie. She's the most daring of my 3 children. She began crawling at 6 months old and walking by 10 1/2 months. When you have a sister who's 7 yrs older then you and a rambunctious brother barely 18 months older, you feel a need to speed up your "mobility milestones" just to keep up with your older siblings. I wouldn't know these things from personal experience because I'm the oldest of 4. I can only assume these things based on what I see and even our pediatrician agrees with my assumption. He says he sees these things very often with each subsequent child in a family.

I used to joke about Jessi keeping a secret notebook stashed away in her crib and writing down the things she learned from her big brother about how to test mommy's patience and get into mischief each day.

After Tabytha and John I didn't really think there was anything she could do that I hadn't seen before. I was wrong. After John had gotten on his bus for school, Jessi and I did a couple puzzles and watched some Mickey Mouse Clubhouse together. Somewhere in the time I went into the kitchen to get lunch made for her she went back into her room (which she shares with Tabytha). I could hear her playing and giggling so I didn't think she was getting into anything.

I went back to the room to get her so she could have lunch and I didn't see her right away. My first thought was she was on the other side of the chair in the room where she likes to "hide". I did see that 3 of the drawers in her dresser were open all the way. So, before checking around the chair for her I started shutting the drawers of the dresser. I closed the 1st drawer, then, as I started closing the 2nd drawer she let out a giggle and I saw her laying in the bottom drawer just as happy as could be, like she had gotten away with something.

I couldn't help but laugh at the sight of her so pleased with herself in her dresser drawer. I grabbed the camera and snapped a few pictures to share with Charlie when he got home of how adorable she looked in the dresser.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Getting Older


Today is my birthday. I'm now the 'dirty thirty'. It's the begining of a new decade in my life. I've been dreading this day for years. I can't explain it and I have to legitimate reason for my 'fear' of being 30. I'm married, I have 3 beautiful children and I have a head of brunette hair sprinkled with grey. I SHOULD be at least 30.

I think maybe some of the issues I was having grasping this particular age is the fact that I'm the oldest of 4 children. I have a 27 year old brother who is also married and has two super adorable boys, I have a sister who's 16 juggling high school, marching band, a Jr. police academy course and college classes. My youngest sister is almost 7, being homeschooled in 1st grade.

Maybe having such young siblings has made it difficult to wrap my head around the idea of turning 30. Do you want to know something? Now that the day has arrived, it's really not as bad as I imagined it to be. I've come to terms with it and have accepted it.

I'm busy with my daily responsibilities as wife and mother to 3 kids. I have a nearly 9 yr old daughter in 3rd grade, a 3 yr old son now in preschool and a nearly 2 yr old daughter home with me all day on top of getting my daily housework done, running errands, cooking the meals, doing the laundry and so on. It only makes sense that I'd be 30.

Thinking of all the things I have in my life and the responsibilities I have has helped me realize how silly it's been to worry about turning 30. Now, I look forward to seeing what's in store for this new decade of my life.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Getting A Head Start


My son, John, turned 3 early in the summer. For a year now he's been working with a Speech Therapist, Ms. June. John's a very smart boy. He was evaluated by the state and is right on track with his development, cognitive and comprehension skills. The only issue is his speech. His very first evaluation he was 27 months old and his speech was evaluated to be at the level of a 19 month old. He had very few actual words in his vocabulary and everything else was baby babble. In his mind he was really talking to us, but we couldn't understand him and it was a major source of frustration and aggravation with him and everyone else who tried to communicate with him.

John's made amazing progress since he started working with Ms. June. Another great advantage of him getting help with his speech development through the state is that been the fact that he's now been accepted into the states "Head Start" program. It's a structured program for children to get them acclimated to a school setting.

Today was John's first official day of school. The bus came to the house and picked him up around 11:15am. He was excited to ride his very own school bus, just like big sister, Tabytha. I walked him to the bus and the bus assistant helped him in and got him buckled in. When he realized I wasn't getting on the bus with him he got upset and started fussing with the bus assistant. I blew him a kiss, told him I loved him and would see him when he was done with school and waved goodbye as the bus driver closed the door and drove down the road.

His class started at 12:15pm and went until 3:45pm. The bus arrived with John around 4:45pm and I signed the clipboard stating I got my child off the bus. He was tired and a little grumpy but seemed to have had a good first day of school. It's hard to know for sure how his day went because he is only 3 and it's still kind of hard to understand some of the things he says. But, no note came home with him saying he misbehaved or cried to come home, so I can only assume things went well.

I'm looking forward to the first parent/teacher conference to find out how he's adjusting to his new surroundings and how he's getting along with his new friends at school.

Friday, August 27, 2010

As American As Apple Pie . . . Bars


I receive "Family Fun" magazine each month. I usually cut out recipes of meals that look appealing and would probably be enjoyed by my family. I rarely cut out dessert type recipes, because, I'm not the best baker. Sure, I can bake a cake from a box and spread some store bought frosting on it and it's alright, but it's not 'homemade' in the sense that I gathered all the specific ingredients to make the cake batter and frosting.

My cousin once told me that it's still "homemade" even when it's from a box because I still took the time to add the final ingredients to bake the cake and open the top to the frosting and spread it over the cake myself. So, when you put it that way, I'm actually not bad at baking.

Reading through my "Family Fun" magazine the other day I came across a recipe that caught my eye. It was "Apple Pie Bars". I was intrigued. It called for me to make the pie crust from scratch, not just use a store bought crust. I also cored, peeled and thinly sliced the baking apples, not just buy apple pie filling. The final touch to the Apple Pie Bars was an icing drizzle, also made from scratch and not just thinned down store bought vanilla frosting.

It was all a little more time consuming then I anticipated, but, completely worth it. It took most of Jessi's nap time, but my day was going smoothly as far as housework and laundry, plus, John and Jessi didn't completely destroy the living room during play time before nap/quiet time. I was able to actually relax and enjoy the process of making and baking this yummy looking dessert.

As it was baking in the oven the warm comforting smell of apples and cinnamon began filling the house. When it was finished I placed the pan on the counter to cool and took a picture with my phone to send it to Charlie, teasingly telling him "If only this picture could tell you how good this smelled".

It cooled for an hour before I cut it and tried a small slice. It . . . was . . . Delicious! Everything I hoped for. Jessi and Tabytha both shared the slice I cut and really liked it. As soon as Charlie got home he tried it and said it was the best apple pie he'd ever had!

I guess I'm starting to get the hang of this baking thing after all!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A New School Year


Another school year has begun. Today Tabytha went off to her first day of 3rd grade. Sometimes it seems like time has flown by and other times it seems like it's going by in slow motion.

I got a postcard earlier this week stating Tabytha's new school bus pick up and drop off times for this school year. She would be picked up at 8:12am and dropped off at 4:10pm. This morning the pick up time was WAAAY off. Unless 8:58am is the new 8:12am. But, I didn't get that particular memo.

The first week or two of school is typically filled with a lot of waiting for the bus to show up at an undetermined time after they say the bus will be there. It's understandable. There's new students to be included in the bus route meaning new houses to drive to in order to pick up the new students. After a week or two when the bus routine has been established the bus driver is pretty consistent with the pick up and drop off times.

Long story shortened. Tabytha, Jessi and I (while John was still asleep) made our way outside about 5 minutes before the bus was scheduled to be there, so I could get some pictures of Tabby on her first day back to school. Charlie called to wish Tabby a good first day of school and then we sat and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Around 8:35am I started trying to call the Dept. Of Transportation to find out how much longer the bus might be. Busy signal. I waited a few minutes and tried again. Busy. Again. Called back again (now around 8:45am) and got through. The gentleman on the phone called the bus driver over the 2 way radio and the bus driver said he was about 7 minutes away. I thanked the guy on the phone and went back to waiting. But, now, with the knowledge that the bus was in fact on its way.

The bus finally made its way down our road and stopped in front of the house to pick Tabytha up. The clock read 8:58am. That's 2 minutes before school is scheduled to start for the day! No biggie, really. At least we didn't miss the bus completely ending with me packing all the kids up to drive her to school.

A little extra waiting (45 minutes) wasn't the end of the world and Tab is now at school as an official 3rd grader. I'm looking forward to hearing all about how her day went when she gets home tonight.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Beating The Heat


There's a term all Marylander's know well, and will gladly tell visitors from other states. "If you don't like the weather, just wait 5 minutes". This year our seasons have been just about as extreme as you could imagine. This past winter brought the most snow in a season we've ever seen. Cumulative accumulations of over 8 ft. We didn't have much of a 'Spring'. Things seemed to jump from being buried in several feet of snow to hot and humid very quickly. Watching the evening news last week the weatherman said we've already had about 35 days this summer over 95 degree's, which in itself is a record for Maryland.

I have never liked summer time for that reason alone. I hate being hot and sweaty. Last Saturday the weather topped off at 108 degrees. CRAZY HOT! The air conditioner can't keep up with that kind of heat. Inside the house the thermostat was reading 84 degrees. I had all the ceiling fans set on 'high' and all that did was blow the hot air around, which was better then nothing. So, Saturday night I told Charlie I wanted to go out and get an inflatable pool for the kids and I to splash around in and keep cool during the day.

After dinner I left the kids home with Charlie and went out in search of a small pool. Something small enough that wasn't too expensive and yet big enough that I could sit in there with the kiddies and cool down, too.

My first stop was Target. They had a pretty good selection of small inflatable pools. Big enough for my two little ones to play in, but not much room left for big sister or mommy. So, I left and went to the next store I thought might have something. Kmart. Literally had no pools of any kind. Left there and went to the next store down the road. Toys R Us. They were also out of any kind of pool. Now I'm getting a little bummed out. I leave and try my luck at Walmart. They also have nothing available. Not even little plastic baby pools (you know, the little tiny preformed plastic pool that's about 3 ft around and 6 inches deep). I'm getting disheartened now, but am still determined to come home with a pool for the kids. Last stop, Big Lots. The woman at the register was pretty sure they didn't have pools, but IF they did they would probably be in the kids toy section. I check. Nothing. Not even a water gun.

Totally bummed out I leave the store, empty handed. I decide to go back to Target, because at least there, they had small inflatable pools which would give the kids something to at least splash around in a little and have fun. I go back to the isle that has the baby and toddler pools. I found a decent sized baby pool that looked pretty good and it was only $9.99. I grab it and then see a Toy Story themed pool with Buzz Lightyear on it and it comes with 2 Buzz Lightyear water guns that attach to a hose for added fun in the pool. It was on Clearance!!! As if it was meant to be. With these 2 inflatable pools and water guns that come with one of the pools there's plenty of water fun to be had by all the kids in the backyard.

So, 2 hours after I began my hunt for a pool, ending at the store I started at, I made my way home with both the pools. Sunday afternoon Charlie used his air hose to inflate the pools and I filled them up. A storm passed through while the pools were filling up and we all got soaked, which wasn't so bad for the kids cuz they were already in their swim suits, but I was still fully dressed. When the lightening started we all went into the house to wait it out. It passed by quickly. I got my swim suit on and we all went back out to play. John LOVED the Buzz Lightyear pool and water guns. The 'baby' pool is actually bigger then the Toy Story pool and is big enough for the 5 of us to sit in, but isn't room for playing around. That's one of the reasons I got 2 pools. One for me to relax in and the other for the kids to play around in.

We've already had a lot of fun in the little pools and look forward to more fun the rest of the summer.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Summer Evening Fun

Yesterday was our nations birthday. The 4th of July. Traditionally celebrated with wearing red, white and blue, cookouts and fireworks. When I was a youngster I remember my parents taking my brother and I to a park in Glen Burnie to watch the fireworks. We always had a blast and were mesmerized by the fireworks show. I can still see the beautiful bursts of color in my mind.

I've never actually taken my kids to go see fireworks. Tabytha spends the 4th at her biological grandmother's house and I feel like John and Jessi are still a bit to young to take out late at night to watch fireworks. In the next couple of years I plan to take them, but for now, we stay home.

We had our own fun last night, however. Instead of fireworks, we had waterworks. After dinner I was in the backyard with John and Jessi holding the hose and spraying it into the yard while John and Jessi put their hands into the stream of water squealing and giggling. Jessi doesn't like to be sprayed by the hose, but enjoys playing in the spray on her own terms. She must be the one to approach the water, not the other way around. John wanted to spray the water, so I let him. I held on to the hose while he held down the nozzle to release the water.

All the while we're having fun, laughing and getting wet. I hear the back door open and Charlie was coming to see what we were up to. I gave him a smile and went back to playing with the kids. Suddenly my back is soaked with freezing cold water from the water bottle Charlie was drinking from. I pulled the hose out of John's hand real quick and turned it on Charlie to "get him back". He ducked back into the house and I thought that was the end. Little did I know this was going to spawn a 'water war'. Charlie got hold of John's big water gun and filled it up in the house, went out the front door and came around to the back gate where the kids and I were (still spraying the garden hose). My back gets soaked again, but I didn't know where it was coming from at first.

I found him and turned the hose on him, again, and he retreated out of range. John and Jessi thought this was hysterical. Charlie came back to spray us with the water gun again and I would spray him with the hose, again. Our buddy, Harold, was also at the house and came out to see what all the ruckus was and Charlie and I both turned on him. John and Jessi were running around the yard shrieking and laughing. We were all running around laughing and having a good time.

This went on for about 45 minutes. It was great. So, no, we didn't pack up in the car and go fight the crowds for a good seat to see a fireworks show somewhere, but, we had a lot of fun playing in our own backyard. John and Jessi aren't likely going to remember these times, but I will and I look forward to telling these stories to them when they're older.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Summer Begins

I've been 'absent' from blogging lately, so here I am to catch y'all up with the happenings in my zoo.

Summer break started with Tabytha finishing 2nd grade and John turning 3. Tabytha's last day of school was the 11th. She brought home her final report card and she did great. Next year she'll receive actual letter grades for her work and I can't wait. It's so much easier to read a report card with "A", "B", "C", etc. . . instead of "C" for consistently demonstrates skill, "P" for progressing, "O" often demonstrates skill, etc. . .

The week before school let out we celebrated John's 3rd birthday. It wasn't a big event. We kept it pretty low key. My parents, Charlie's parents, my sisters, Charlie's sister and family, Harold and my friend Drea and her family were our party guests. We would have loved to have all our friends with us to celebrate, but space in our home limited how many we could invite. Everyone had a nice time. I made slow cooked pulled bbq chicken, we grilled hot dogs and burgers, my mom made smokey Joe's, my MIL brought soda's and my SIL brought a watermelon. John got wonderful gifts from everyone and has enjoyed playing with all his new toys since he got them.

Last weekend was my niece, Shelby's, 3rd birthday. She's 9 days younger then John. Her party was at 2pm and we left our house just before 1pm. On our way to Charlie's sister's house we hit beach traffic. NOT fun. We FINALLY made it over the bridge and managed to get to Faye's house by 3:15pm. Yup, an hour and fifteen minutes after the party started. Aggravating traffic aside, we have a great time at Shelby's birthday party. She got a lot of very nice gifts and she was super excited when she opened our gift. At John's birthday party Faye told me she wanted a sunflower sprinkler and I got the last one at the store Faye suggested getting it at. When Shelby opened it she squealed in delight. That made my day knowing she was happy with her gift.

So far the summer has been relatively 'uneventful'. There's been playing in the sprinkler and in the backyard. We'd like to take a couple days later this summer and go to the Baltimore Aquarium and Port Discovery with the kids and my mom and sisters. We may even take a day trip or two to the beach.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

My Happy Mother's Day

I'm mother to 3 beautiful children. Each year, our calendars mark a day set aside to 'honor' mothers across the country. Tradition and commercialism tell you that you should give your mom flowers, breakfast in bed, chocolates, cards or some kind of gift.

All of these things are fine and good. As for me, what I wanted most for Mother's Day, was to do NOTHING. I didn't want to clean the house, do laundry or cook. Tending to the kids in some way was inevitable. One is still in diapers and one is in the middle of potty training.

Our friend, Harold, actually crashed on our couch Saturday night. He was nice enough to watch the kids late into the night while Charlie and I were at my friend's wedding. He woke up before the rest of us and went out to a quick mart and got Krispy Kreme doughnuts for everyone. And with that, breakfast was taken care of.

Late morning Charlie packed up the kids and went to the grocery store to pick up a few things and give me some quiet here at home. I uploaded some pictures to facebook, watched a movie and vegged on the couch. Charlie brought home Pizza Hut for lunch. Awesome. 2 meals taken care of, and neither of them by me! So far this day has been awesome!

Jessi took her regular afternoon nap after lunch and Charlie and I watched some tv in the living room while John and Tabby watched cartoons in our room. When Jessi woke up I went back to check on John and Tabby and laid down in my bed with them. I don't remember what they were watching because I was resting. I never actually fell asleep because all three kids were in my bed with me and being very good. I was able to relax and rest my eyes a bit.

Dinner time rolled around and I figured my lazy day was done and I'd have to get something put together for everyone to eat. Charlie actually had plans to make dinner. He's not good in the kitchen and never learned to cook. While he was at the store with the kids he picked up some Chicken tenders and tater tots to make for dinner. He got in the kitchen, told me to get out and got dinner started. No, it wasn't a big fancy meal, it was just chicken tenders and tater tots cooked in the oven, but he did it all himself. He even served me and the kids before himself.

All in all, the day was exactly what I wanted. A lazy day surrounded by the 3 blessings who made Mother's Day possible for me and a husband willing to give me a day off from cleaning, laundry, cooking and washing dishes. It was bliss.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Topping It Off With A Wedding


One of my dear friends, Kristin, got married today. This week, leading up to the wedding, was an eventful one for me. Monday my friend, Sarah, came into town. She's Kristin's cousin and one of her bridesmaids. Whenever Sarah's in town I try to make a point to visit with her and her daughter because she lives so far away. We made plans to have a play date Wednesday, so I could see her and our kids could play together for a while.

Well, Tuesday another friend of mine needed someone to watch her two youngest kids while she went to work. I told her I could watch them and asked if she didn't mind me taking them with me to visit with Sarah. She had no problem with it. Wednesday morning John had speech therapy. After he was done I packed up John and Jessi in the van, made my way over to Beth's house to pick up Emma and Noah and headed over the bridge to visit Sarah and Kaleena. I stopped by Einstein Bagels and got box of bagels for lunch for everyone.

We got to Sarah's and I got all the kids set up with a bagel and we all ate outside on the back deck. When we were done with lunch we all headed downstairs. The kids all played well together and Sarah and I chit-chatted. We had a nice visit and around 2pm I gathered the 4 kids I brought and headed home, dropping Emma and Noah off back at their house.

Friday another good friend of mine, Corinna, came into town for Kristin's wedding. She came over Friday night to spend time with me and my family. I haven't seen her in a couple years because she also lives far away. I made dinner and we sat and talked for awhile while John, Jessi and Tabytha were all charming her.

Kristin's wedding day finally came. My mother-in-law came over to watch the kids so Charlie and I could go to the wedding and reception. The wedding was beautiful, Kristin was radiant and all my friends were lovely. At the reception Kristin sat all us AACS'ers (me, Corinna, Holly, Drea and Julia. Sarah sat at the head table because she was a bridesmaid) together and we had a blast! Kristin is the last one in our circle of friends to get married. Somewhere during the reception we all got together for a group picture. All 7 of us gathered in and several pictures were taken with all our cameras. After our group picture was taken we all stood in a circle and put our left hands in the center for a picture of all our hands with our wedding rings. Since Kristin was the last to get married it seemed like a nice idea to get a picture of all our married hands.

After the reception Charlie and went to Drea and Ronnie's house to hang out more. Julia and her new hubby, David, were there, too. The day was long and Charlie had a few beers. Around midnight Charlie started dozing off so I took that cue and we said our goodbyes and headed home. We enjoyed the wedding, had a blast at the reception and got to hang out more with a few friends afterward.

It was a fantastic week and I loved every minute I got to spend with my friends. (the lovely ladies in the picture with me, far left, are Sarah, Corinna, Kristin, Holly, Drea & Julia)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Weekend Events

This weekend was an eventful one. Saturday the kids and I had plans to go to my friend, Drea's, house for her daughter's 4th birthday party. We left the house around noon. Kimi's birthday party was a Princess Theme. There was a giant castle moon bounce for all the kids to play in along with price crowns and princess tiara's with each child's name on it for them to color and decorate. Drea had necklaces, rings and wands for the girls and foam swords and knights helmets for the boys to play with.

Kimi's daddy, Ronnie, cooked hot dogs and hamburgers for all the party guests. Jessi ate 2 hot dogs, a couple cookies, a lollipop or two and a piece of birthday cake to tide her over. John was having too much fun with the big kids playing swords to be interested in eating anything. Tabytha got in on the action, too. John and Tabytha also enjoyed playing in the moon bounce.

I spent most of my time chasing after Jessi and keeping her from grabbing food off of other people's plates while John and Tabytha were playing with all the children at the party. The weather was great. The forecast, earlier in the week was calling for rain showers during the day, but the rain didn't come. It was cool, sunny and breezy. Great outdoor birthday party weather.

After all the fun at Kimi's birthday party the kids and I packed up and went to Bowie to meet up with another friend of mine, Holly, and her family for a 'family game night' at her church. We all got there around the same time and I FINALLY got to meet her new baby, Charlotte (who's only 4 weeks old). Inside the church auditorium different 'game' stations were set up. All of the stations were geared towards children. There was golf, bowling, bean bag toss, ring toss . . . and many more fun things to do. John, Jessi and Tabytha all took off to play at the different game stations.

At first I was a bit overwhelmed with all the activities they had set up and wondered how I'd keep all 3 kids corralled to play all the different games, but after about 20 minutes I kind of just let them go and play the games they wanted to play. Although, I did keep more of an eye on Jessi then I did on Tabby or John.

The church also offered a cookout dinner for everyone who attended. Hot dogs and hamburgers with snack bags of chips, apples and lemonade. We sat and Tabytha ate a hot dog and an apple, John ate about 1/4 of his apple, but wasn't interested in his hot dog. He wanted to keep playing, so off he went to play some more. After the kids were done with their food, Tabytha took Holly's oldest daughter, Emma, to go play so Holly and I could sit and relax.

The kids and I didn't stay the whole time because of the long ride home. I went around collecting the kids and said goodbye to Holly and baby Charlotte (I couldn't find Joe or Emma to say goodbye to). On our way out the kids were given goodie bags for participating in the family game night.

It was such a fun day. We got home around 7:30pm. Just in time for the kids to get ready for bed. We actually came home to a straightened up house. While we were away Charlie took it upon himself to do the dishes, straighten up the living room and wash his own clothes (and that included folding them and putting them away! Be still my heart!)

Sunday came and I felt awful. My head was stuffed up, my throat hurt and I had a bad headache. I wasn't up for going to church. So I bummed around waiting for the Tylenol to kick in and drank some hot tea to soothe my soar throat. The kids and I hung around inside for the morning while Charlie and his buddy, Harold, were in the garage working on a side job Charlie's doing. The house was pretty chilly so instead of turing the heat on to the whole house I thought I'd just use one of the electric space heaters we have in the living room, since that's where the kids and I were.

Around noon I straightened up the toys that the kids weren't playing with anymore and did some vacuuming. Well, I guess the vacuum and space heater being plugged into the same outlet was too much for it. It tripped the breaker and the power went out in the living room. I unplugged the vacuum and space heater and went back to the laundry room to flip the breaker back on. Power was back on.

About an hour later the power in the living room went out. Again. This time I wasn't vacuuming. I wasn't sure what could have tripped the breaker. I went back flip it back on, but it wasn't tripped. It was still in the 'on' position. Strange. No power in the living room, and the breaker wasn't tripped. So, I flipped it off, waited a few seconds and flipped it back on. Still no power. I turned it off again and this time waited for a few minutes. During this time I went out to the garage to let Charlie know the power in the living room was out and I'd already tried resetting the breaker.

He wasn't happy. He was in the middle of doing some body work on the car he was working on and didn't really feel like dealing with this. Understandably so. He finished up doing what he was doing and while he was doing that I fixed him lunch. He came in to eat and stayed inside to see if he could figure out how to get the power back on in the living room. He tried the breaker (even though I'd done it several times myself with no luck, but you know men.) He called our neighbor to ask for his advice and tried whatever he said, again, with no luck. He finally decided it could POSSIBLY be the breaker switch itself. Reluctantly, Charlie got in the car and drove to Home Depot to get a new breaker switch. When he got home it took the old out and replaced it with the new. He flipped the switch and. . .

Still NO Power!

He tried flipping the switch again. Nothing. He came back into the living room and looked at the outlet where the heater was plugged in thinking maybe the problem was with that. He replaced the outlet and tried the switch again.

Still

No

Power!

ARG! We didn't know what else to do. I called my dad and told him what was going on and everything we'd done so far and asked if he could think of anything else we could try. He said that without being there to look at it all himself he really couldn't think of anything else we could try. I thanked him for trying to help and we hung up. We were at a loss. Charlie and I didn't want to call an electrician because we really couldn't afford it. My mom actually suggested going to all the outlets in the house that had a reset button on them and resetting them and seeing if that worked. Well. There's only 2 outlets in the house that do that. In the back bathroom and the outlet by the front door outside. I reset the one in the bathroom, but the one outside wouldn't reset.

Charlie thought maybe that was the problem and called my dad to ask him about it. My mom answered the phone. Charlie asked for dad and mom said he was on his way over. What?!?! Mom said that dad couldn't put our power outage out of his mind, so he decided to come over and see if he could help Charlie.

Charlie said he was surprised, but in a way, I wasn't. That's how my dad is. If someone has a problem with something and he can't fix/figure it out in a phone call, he'll find the answer himself and call back or go to the person's house to help out.

While dad was on his way to our house he got into a minor fender bender at the bay bridge toll booth. He was in line to pay his toll and the big pickup truck in front of him had an EZ-Pass. When the truck's pass triggered the toll booth the light came up yellow so the guy backed up to ask the person in the toll booth why the light was yellow. (it meant the balance on his EZ-Pass funds were low, but he was fine to continue through) Well, when he backed up to talk to the toll booth person he neglected to put his truck back into drive. When he finished talking to the toll booth person he stomped on his accelerator (forgetting he was still in Reverse) and plowed into dad's car. His trailer hitch punched a whole in the bumper below the passenger side head light and the bumper of his truck buckled the hood of dads car. Dad and the guy exchanged insurance info and dad was back on his way.

When he arrived, he and Charlie got to work trying to find the source of the problem before the sun went down. I took the kids outside to keep out of the way. Sometime during the search for the outage source our neighbor, Nick, called saying he missed a call from Charlie. I told him my dad was here helping out, but he was welcome to come and offer up any suggestions he may have.

Charlie, Dad and Nick searched and discussed and searched and checked the breaker box for quite awhile. The guys focused on the wall with the outside outlet in it, since that outlet couldn't be reset. They decided to look at the wiring behind the light switch by the front door and discovered that's where the "common wires" were. Nick touched something and got shocked. In him getting shocked something in the wiring case sparked and all three of them had an "Aha!" moment and finally located the problem. They fixed it and tried the breaker switch again and there was Power!!!!!

Nick was fine and everyone was happy it was fixed and have the lights on again. I thanked Nick and my dad for all their help and offered them both something to eat before they went back to their homes. (Both declined the offer). The power was back on just in time to get the kids ready for bed. I got them all ready and tucked them all in and Charlie and I sat down in our living room enjoying the restored power and our 'after the kids go to bed' snacks and a little TV.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Little Chefs

My son is not quite 3 yet and is slowly trying to be more independent or 'help' me when I'm doing something for him. I think it's great. When I fill up his sippy cup he likes to 'help' pour the drink and put the top on all by himself. He's still not fully potty trained yet, so if I need to change him, he'll get a pull up out of the diaper container and grab the wipes and bring them to me. When he's all cleaned up, he throws the dirty pull up away.

Yesterday I decided I'd make pancakes for dinner. I rarely have time in the morning to cook breakfast, so I make 'breakfast' for dinner occasionally. Everyone enjoys it.

While I was in the kitchen making up the pancake batter the kids were in the living room playing together. John seems to have inherited my picky eater habits and doesn't eat much. But I've noticed if he picks out what he wants to eat, he's more inclined to eat it.

Just before I was ready to pour the batter into the pan to cook the pancakes I thought the John might want to 'help' and in helping may want to actually eat his food! I called John into the kitchen and asked if he wanted to make pancakes with mommy. He got so excited. I got a chair from the kitchen table for him to stand on and he got up and stood at the stove with me. I poured the batter into 2 circles in the pan. When the pancake batter began to bubble on top it was time to flip.

I stood behind John and helped him hold the spatula, scoop under the pancake in the pan and flip it over. Then, we did it again for the other pancake in the pan. He LOVED it! He pointed to one pancake and said "John food?". I said "yes". He pointed to the other and said "Baby food?". I smiled and said "Yes". When the pancakes were cooked on both sides I helped him slide the spatula under each pancake and place one on his plate and the other on Jessi's plate. I cut up the pancakes and John helped pour the syrup on his pancake and was in a rush to get to the table to eat.

While John and Jessi were eating Tabytha had her turn. I poured the batter into the pan. She waited for the bubbles and flipped the pancakes (without my assistance). She had a blast helping make the pancakes, too. When John was done with his pancake he asked for more. He brought the chair back over to the stove and we poured more batter into the pan and he flipped the pancakes again.

The kids all enjoyed their dinner. When Charlie came home from work John wanted another pancake and got to show his daddy how he flips his pancake. After he was finished I realized John ate 3 entire pancakes! I can't remember the last time he ate that much food in one meal.

Now that Charlie was home Tabytha got to show him what a good cook she was and made his pancakes for him. While he was eating his pancakes, I had cut up some scrapple and Tabytha cooked it up. She felt so grown up being able to cook. She did a great job and listened to all my instructions.

Tonight Tabytha's gonna help me cook dinner again. Tonight is garlic roasted whole chicken legs and baked potatoes. With her help I know it'll be delicious.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Febreeze Fresh

I like to start my day off with news in the morning. Then, after Tabytha gets on her bus for school, I'll put on PBS for John and Jessi. TV is mostly just backround noise that they glance up at now and again while they're pulling all their toys out of their toy boxes and playing in the living room.

While Sesame Street was on this morning, John and Jessi were both sitting on the couch. Seemingly captivated by Elmo and his friends. So, I took the opportunity to get the few dishes in the sink washed up.

When I was just about finished I started to smell something. It was a good smell so it didn't register that the kids could be up to something. (won't make THAT mistake again!). I finished drying off my hands and I hear something. At first I thought maybe John was in the bathroom with the faucet running. As I round the corner to come into the living room I see Jessi sitting on the couch, where she was when I went into the kitchen to do dishes. And then I see John. Standing my the side table by the front door with an aerosol Febreeze can in his hand and a puddle of febreeze on the side table.

I was actually relieved. It looked like that was the only spot he sprayed the febreeze. I asked him to give me the can and I put it out of reach. John said "Eye, Eye" and pointing to his eyes. I asked if he got some spray on his face and he said he did. I took him into the bathroom and cleaned his face off with a washcloth and he seemed fine.

The whole time I was focusing on John and the febreeze puddle on the side table that I didn't take the time to look at Jessi. When I was done cleaning John and the side table I looked up to see Jessi. She normally has straight hair with a hint of curl at the bottom when it's dry. When her hair is wet it's actually very curly. Well. Her hair was super curly and for a nanosecond I wondered why her hair looked wet.

Then it hit me.

She was SOAKED . . . in FEBREEZE!!!! I picked her up at arms length and took her to the bathroom, striped her down and hosed her off. I scrubbed and scrubbed the poor kid. I HOPE I got it all cleaned off of her, but I can't tell.

My living room is saturated in the smell of "Carnival Cruise" febreeze. The smell is so thick I can actually taste it. I opened all the windows to help air it out. But I think this smell is staying around for next week or so.

(These are the moments I think to myself "I hope you have kids JUST LIKE YOU when you grow up").

Rarely a dull moment here at my Zoo.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Easter & Egg Hunts


The week leading up to Easter was filled with lots of Easter Egg hunts for Tabytha and a couple for John, too. Tabytha's first Easter Egg hunt was at her grandparents house the weekend before Easter. She brought home lots of treats and goodies.

In the middle of the week there was a nighttime Easter Egg Hunt at Tabytha's school. Kids were told to bring their own flashlight for the hunt. Charlie got home from work early that night (well, early for him, around 7:15pm) which gave him time to eat dinner and shower before taking Tabytha to her school for the 8:30pm egg hunt. Charlie said the egg hunt wasn't all that great and kids were rude and pushed Tabytha around. She said it was true, but she still had a good time.

The day before Easter I took Tabytha and John to the church we attend in Dover for and egg hunt. This was Tabytha's 3rd hunt and John's 1st. They divided the kids up by grade/age. Tabytha went with her group of 1st-3rd graders and I stayed with John in the 0-3yr old group. The groups were lead out to their area of the egg hunt and let loose. John had a blast! He saw all the eggs on the ground and started running. He gathered up eggs and put them in his basket and when our area was 'cleaned out' we went looking for Tabytha.

We found her and John couldn't wait to show her all the plastic eggs he found. She found a lot of eggs herself and said she had a lot of fun. We all went back into the auditorium of the church and emptied the eggs into the baskets and gave the plastic eggs back to the church to be used again for next year's egg hunt.

There was a few people doing face painting so we waited in line and Tabytha got her face painted. She asked for 2 hearts (one red and one green) but it unfortunately looked like 2 blobs on her cheek. After all the fun at church we stopped by the grocery store to pick up a few things and then came home to show daddy all the bounty from the egg hunt.

Easter Sunday we woke up, got dressed and headed over the bridge to celebrate Jesus resurrection at our home church with my parents and sisters. My sister, Bethany, stayed in the nursery with John and Jessi while Charlie, Tabytha and I sat in the sanctuary with my mom, dad and youngest sister, Hannah. I enjoyed the service and my dad played the bagpipes to end the service.

We all went back to my mom and dad's to enjoy the feast my mom prepared. She made a ham, roasted chicken, candied sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, green beans, homemade dinner rolls and stuffing. YUMMY! After lunch I laid Jessi down for a nap and went outside with Bethany and Charlie to scatter more eggs around the yard for Hannah, Tabytha and John to 'hunt'.

John, Tabytha and Hannah ran around and scooped up all the eggs into their baskets and we all enjoyed the day together. The rest of the afternoon mom, dad, Charlie and I sat around talking while the kids all played. It was very relaxing.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Popcorn & Oreo's

My kids bedtime is often my favorite part of the day. Not that I don't love my kids, because I do. I'm grateful everyday that I'm able to be a stay-at-home mom. I love that I'm home to see my oldest off to school and here for her to come home to at the end of her school day. I love that I spend my day playing with and tending to my two other children, not old enough to go to school yet.

I'm not saying that everyday is 'sunshine and rainbows' wonderful. Some days are tough. Kids are cranky, housework overwhelming, the phone is ringing off the hook with solicitors. Some days I dream of having a job outside of the home to get a break from it all. Overall, however, I'm thankful that my husband works as hard as he does to provide for us so I can stay home to raise our children, tend to our home and run the errands.

But. At the end of the day. When my husband comes home and the kids go to bed, it's 'our' time to unwind and relax. We can kick back and enjoy our time.

Charlie unwinds with a handful of oreo cookies and milk and I have a mini bag of popcorn drizzled with a little olive oil. It's the part of our day where we don't have kids hanging off of us, begging for our food.

We wait until the kids are all in bed so we can sit down and relax with our snack without hiding in a corner somewhere trying to devour it before the kids notice and come begging for some. Not that I mind sharing my food or snack with the kids, but it's the one time of day where my snack is just that. . . mine.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Goodbye Roxy. Hello Bertha.


Last weekend Charlie went up the street to the auto salvage yard in our tiny town. While he was there he noticed a conversion van for sale out in front of the property. It still runs and it's super clean inside considering how old it is. (it's a '90 Chevy). We have a '91 GMC Suburban (affectionately known as 'Roxy') that Charlie rebuilt and painted for me and is big enough to fit all 5 of us very comfortably.

However. Roxy has been giving us some trouble over the past year and when Charlie fixes what he thinks is the problem or replaces something that's old something else starts going bad. So, we haven't driven Roxy in a year. She's just been sitting taking up driveway space and costing us a few bucks a month in insurance costs. We got 2 good years out of the ol' girl.


When Charlie got home from the salvage yard he told me about the van he'd seen but wasn't sure if it would be something I'd be interested in. The van has a sink, mini fridge, microwave, TV, VCR and CB in it. The bench seat in the back lays flat and has an extension piece to make it a full size bed. There is a bucket seat in the middle row behind the passenger seat, but the 'kitchenette' is behind the driver seat. When he finished telling me about it I asked how much they wanted for it and it the salvage yard owner was selling it for $2,000.

Jokingly I said "I wonder if he'll trade the van for our suburban." I think Charlie was kinda hoping I'd say that. We'd talked about trying to sell Roxy, just to get it off our hands.

Today, Charlie went back up to the salvage yard and asked the owner if he'd be willing to trade the van for our suburban and the man said "Sure". Charlie came home and took me up to see the van to make sure I actually liked it in person first before making the 'deal' official.

I loved it! It would work great for our family. Plenty of room for everyone to be comfortable and the kids would love being able to watch a movie in the van and if we take a day trip somewhere we have the mini fridge to keep drinks in and the microwave to heat up food and storage space under the sink for snacks.

The deal was made. The owner gave us the title and I drove the van home and Charlie got Roxy and took it up to the salvage yard. I brought the title up 2 days later when the owner's wife was home so she could give me the proper paperwork to go along with the van title for me to get the van tagged in my name and I signed over the title of the suburban for them.

I was a little sad to see Roxy go because of all the hard work Charlie put into it for me, but, I'm super excited about the van. It took me a week to figure a name for the van. (a silly 'tradition' my mom started when I was a kid) but, I think I've settled on a name for her.

Big Bertha.

I think it fits her nicely.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Sleep Walking

When I was a youngster I would occasionally talk in my sleep. My grandmother told me once that I had an entire conversation with her in my sleep. Of course I have no recollection of it, but it was pretty funny according to her.

This seems to be a trait I've passed down to my oldest.

The one time I'll never forget and look forward to telling her about was the day she lost her 1st two baby teeth. (Yes, she lost 2 in one day, sweet payday from the tooth fairy that night!).

It was July, 2007. John was a month old and we had gone to DE that day to visit with extended family for a 4th of July cookout/graduation party for my 2nd cousin. Tabytha lost her 1st baby tooth before we left for DE and the 2nd baby tooth while we were at my Aunt Sandy's house.

That night when we got home Tabytha got her 'tooth fairy pillow' out and put both her teeth in the pocket, tucked it under her pillow and went to bed. Some time later, when Charlie and I were going to bed for the night I got her $2 ($1 per tooth) and went in her room to retrieve the teeth and put the money in the pocket of the tooth fairy pillow. I didn't turn on any lights, so I was working with the light from the hallway.

Charlie went back to our room and was in the bathroom. He'd left the door open and his back was toward the door. While he was doing his business I was switching teeth for money. Just as I had gotten the teeth out of the pillow and was putting the money in it's place Tabytha sits up in her bed.

Since it was dark-ish in her room I put my back towards her hoping she wouldn't notice me standing in her room with her teeth. Apparently it worked. She got out of bed and went into our room. I guess seeing our bathroom light on and the door open she thought I'd be in there.

This was my chance to put the pillow back and get out. QUICK! I jumped across the hallway into John's room as if I was in there the whole time checking on him in his crib. While I was scampering, Tabytha walks into the bathroom and surprises Charlie. She says "Where's my mother?" As soon as I heard what she said I realized she was sleep walking. She never refers to me as "mother" when she's awake, I'm simply "mommy". Somewhere in Charlie's surprise he was able to reply with "I don't know where your mother is, maybe she's checking on the baby". She said "Oh, Ok" and she went back to her room and got back in her bed.

No sooner did I get into Charlie's and my bedroom then we both burst out laughing at the whole situation. Of course, the next morning she didn't know anything happened in the night and was so excited to discover the tooth fairy had given her $2.

SO. On to the real reason I'm writing. Last night after the kids were in bed and Charlie had gotten home from work we sat down together to watch a movie. Around 10:15pm we hear footsteps coming down the hallway.

It's Tabytha. She comes into the living room seemingly wide awake as if she was meant to be awake. She sat down in the chair and began petting our dog. (he was loving it!). Then Tabby twitched and I started giggling cuz I figured she, despite her eyes being open, was asleep. Charlie asked her what she was doing and she started saying something about her friend, Stephanie's, shoes.

It was so hard for me to stifle the laughter, so I got up from the couch and told her it was time to go to bed. She gave our dog one last pat and said goodnight to Charlie and I walked her back to her room, kissed & hugged her goodnight and she got into her bed.

I didn't even make it half way back to the living room before Charlie and I both burst out laughing. It's so funny when she does stuff like that in her sleep. This morning I asked her how she slept last night and she said she slept fine. I asked her if she stayed in her bed all night or if she got up at any point in the night. She looked at me a little puzzled and said she stayed in her bed all night. She didn't get up at all last night, why was I asking. So I told her about how she slept walked and came into the living room the night before while daddy and I were watching a movie. She thought it was hysterical.

I didn't lie, I told her I thought it was hysterical, too.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St. Patty's Day Rainbows


I receive Parenting and Family Fun magazines each month. They're both full of helpful, interesting and fun articles, crafts and recipes. The March issue of one of these magazines (can't remember which one specifically) focused on fun St. Patty's Day crafts and goodies. The recipe that caught my eye was rainbow cupcakes.

I tore out the page and put it aside until St. Patty's Day. I kept the article for the food dye measurements. I just used boxed vanilla cake mix, but needed the color chart to get the colors right.

I divided the cake mix into 6 small bowls, dropped the precise amount of food coloring into each bowl to get my Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue and Purple (I know, I know, there's no 'indigo' in there, but you get the point)

I put cupcake papers into my cupcake pan and then got out 6 zip top bags and filled each one with one of the colored cake mix batters. I began pipping one color into all the cupcake papers, then another, and another, building all the colors in a layer on top of the other.

Finally, I was done filling the cupcake papers. I put them in the oven and waited. I was excited to see the final result. When the timer went off I pulled the cupcakes out of the oven, took the cupcakes out of the pan and placed them on the cooling rack. I waited (a little impatiently) for them to cool so I could cut into one and see if my cupcakes really looked like rainbows.

Well, they weren't exactly 'rainbow's like in the picture from the magazine, they were more 'psychedelic' then 'rainbow', BUT, all 6 colors were definitely there.

It was a lot of fun using food coloring in the cake mix and I can't wait to try it again.

Oh, and the cupcakes were super moist and really yummy. They were actually so moist I didn't even bother frosting them.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Baking Cookies


Tabytha brings home a Fall Fundraiser and Spring Fundraiser each school year. This past fall fundraiser our friend, Harold (affectionately known to our children as 'Uncle Howie') bought 2 kinds of cookie mix.
So, over the weekend Harold came over to help Charlie in the garage on a car project Charlie was trying to finish up for another friend of ours. (doing body work and paint on a '57 Chevy wagon).

After they were both done getting cleaned up, I got the ingredients out needed for the cookie dough mix and Harold and Tabytha got started making cookies together.

Tabytha got to crack the eggs all by herself and put all the ingredients in the bowl. Harold mixed and they both scooped out dough and placed them on greased cookie sheets.

Harold put the cookie sheets in the oven and set the timer. When they were finished he took them out and he and Tabytha each took the freshly baked cookies from their cookie sheets and placed them on a cooling rack.

I took pictures throughout the whole process. The first batch of cookies Tabytha and Harold made were triple chocolate chip.

They were delicious!!!

Since it was still early enough in the evening they decided to make the second batch of cookies Harold ordered through her fundraiser. Hot Cocoa Cookies. Also delicious!


Tabytha had a blast baking cookies with her 'Uncle Howie' and I had fun taking pictures.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Eagerly Awaiting


My kids are typical siblings. One minute they love each other and play so nicely together and the next minute they're at each others throats and fighting.

Tabytha's the oldest. She's in school during the day, so John and Jessi only have each other to play with and my nerves to frazzle. John and Jessi are pretty much inseparable. Where one is getting into mischief the other isn't far behind.

Tabytha's bus picks her up in the morning and drops her off at night right at the end of our driveway each day. (such a blessing!). In the mornings Tabytha and I wait on the front porch for the bus while John and Jessi wait inside at the door (until the weather warms up, then they'll come outside, too). As Tabytha walks to the bus we wave our goodbye's and sign 'I Love You'. As the bus pulls away John and Jessi both hang out of the door waving goodbye to 'sissy' on her bus until it's out of sight.

In the afternoons I wait inside at the door. When the bus is in sight I call out "Here comes Sissy" and wherever John and Jessi are, no matter what they're doing, they come running and shrieking through the house to greet Tabytha. As the bus slows to a stop at the driveway John and Jessi go wild with excitement.

They're so eager to see her and hug her she often has trouble just trying to get in the door. It's really something I think is pretty incredible to witness. They love their big sister so much and can't wait to have her home each day.

To sit here and really think about it brings a tear to my eye. Children love with no limitations. Their love for each other overflows in their shouts and shrieks and little dances of joy are priceless to me.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Another Generation of Great Friendships

My friend, Sarah, was in town this week from NH. She has a 3 yr old, Kaleena, and we made plans to get together to hang out and let our kids play together before she had to get back to NH.

After Tabytha got on her school bus Monday morning I packed up John and Jessi and made the journey over the bridge to visit with Sarah and Kaleena. Jessi discovered the piano and commenced to climbing onto the piano bench and banging the keys. John wanted in on the action so he went over to the piano and proceeded to make 'music', too. Shortly after Kaleena wanted to join the fun and made her way to the piano to bang out some tunes.

No, they weren't playing anything distinguishable, but they were all getting along so well, it was music to my ears. Kaleena found a microphone and pretended to sing. John had a turn next and when they were done 'singing' they played with blocks and knick-knack toys Sarah's mom had for the kids to play with.

Shortly after arriving at Sarah's mom's house another friend of ours came to hang out. Julia showed up around lunchtime and brought pizza for all of us. We sat and got the kids started on their meals and all enjoyed a slice or two ourselves.

Then, today, my friend Jen came over to my house and brought Elaina. Elaina is only 3 weeks older then Jessi and get along pretty well. When Jen got here, Jessi was already down for her nap and John was playing 'shy' hiding in my room. So, Elaina had all the toys in the living room to herself for a bit. I think it worked out better this way. She was able to get used to her new surroundings without being overstimulated with John and Jessi in her face trying to play with her.

About an hour and a half into our visit, Jessi woke up from her nap (mostly because John burst into her room calling for her, "Baby! Baby! Wake Up!!!", lol. Naturally, she woke up. I brought her out and she sat in Jen's lap for a bit to wake up a little more before getting down to play.


The kids were getting along. Playing together and independently. Jessi kept going to Elaina with her arms open to hug her, but Elaina wasn't really sure about it and would walk away. No problem. She wasn't familiar with Jessi and that's alright. Jen worked it out that Jessi was able to give Elaina one hug and I snapped a picture. Not too long before Jen and Elaina left Jessi tried to give Elaina another hug and this time Elaina was willing to accept a hug from her.

That's when it happened. Jessi went in for the hug and whether from the momentum of going in for the hug or Elaina stepping back, the girls fell backward. Jessi on top of Elaina and poor Elaina hit her head on one of John's toy trucks and the floor. I was closest, so I swooped her up and handed her over to Jen so she could comfort her little girl.

I felt sooo bad. She had a big knot on her head where it hit John's toy truck. I got the 'booboo pooh' and wrapped it in a paper towel. Jen applied it to the booboo. I got some baby Tylenol and Jen gave it to her. Jen rocked her and sang to her to calm her down and help her feel better.

Shortly after the big booboo it was time for Jen and Elaina to get going. We had a good visit, minus the head bashing.

I have great friends and love spending time with them whenever I get the chance. Now that we've all got kids growing up together I hope our kids will grow up to be as good of friends as my friends and I are.

Another generation of friendships could be starting now. It's pretty cool!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Through The Years

This weekend was my friend, Kristin's, surprise bridal shower. She and I have been friends for almost 15 years now.

In fact. All of the lovely women you see in this picture I've been friends with since high school. These 5 women have been the best girl friends anyone could ask for.

Over the years we've all grown up. We've gotten jobs, moved, met the men of our dreams, gotten married and started families. Our lives have gone in different directions through the years, but one thing remains.

Our friendship.

No, we don't see each other all the time or even as often as we'd like. That's part of having our own lives and families, but, we're always there for each other. Our bond is strong. Some of us have had our fallings out, but, that bond of friendship we have has always brought us back together.

I have several other wonderful friends outside of this little 'group' and I don't want anyone to feel left out, but these women you see pictured above (left to right ~ Julia, Drea, Kristin, Sarah, me and Holly) are so special and dear to me. I love them like sisters.

I'm truly blessed to have these women in my life as my friends.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

For Her Own Good


They say good fences make good neighbors. That may be true, but put a fence (aka: baby gate) in your house to keep a child out of something and you've just made an enemy for life.

Over the past month or so Jessi has been sharpening her climbing skills. Some time ago she learned how to climb the dinning room chairs at my mom's house and get on the table. Shortly after that discovery she tried it here at our house.

Inevitably I'd pluck her off the table or she'd fall trying to get down herself. After several tumbles I decided to put the chairs on top of the table to keep her from climbing and getting hurt.

Well, you can imagine how inconvenient that made things for us when it was meal time. So, I scoured the Internet searching for a gate to fit into the 5 1/2 ft wide entryway between the dinning room and living room. I spent an entire day looking.

I FINALLY found one that looked like it would work. So, I went to several store websites and no one had what I was looking for in stock. I googled the company and found their website. I called the contact number and explained what I was looking for. The woman on the phone told me which style of gate they made would work for what I needed. She also told me which online stores carried their pieces. I ordered the main gate w/door from Walmart.com and the extension piece from Target.com.

Within a few days both gate pieces were delivered and I joyfully installed the gate. I was so tickled with it I took a picture with my cell phone and sent it to my husband to show him.

Jessi and John on the other hand weren't nearly as pleased with it as I was. John and Jessi cried and cried and cried. Within 2 days John figured out how to work the gate latch. I wasn't that concerned about it. The main reason for the gate is to keep Jessi out of the dinning room and kitchen so her inquisitiveness for the world around her doesn't get her hurt anymore.

Everyday since the gate's been installed Jessi has pitched a fit of sort when I've gone into the dinning room and left her in the living room. Can you tell she's crying at the gate in the picture above?

Despite her dislike of the gate, I love it and think it was worth every penny. When she's all grown up and I tell her about the 'evil baby gate' she used to cry at everyday, she'll appreciate the lengths I went to in order to keep her safe from herself. Hopefully.

Makin' It All Better


This morning, shortly before Jessi went down for her nap, John threw a fit. I wouldn't turn on the TV in my room for him so he decided to run into my room and repeatedly open and slam the door. All the while screaming.

Par for the course around here. Whenever John doesn't get his way he throws a fit. Screaming and being destructive. (still attributing much of the tantrums to our lack of communication because his talking is still not that good. He's made a LOT of progress w/ speech therapy, but he's still not talking in many understandable words or sentences yet)


Jessi toddled down the hallway to check out John's tantrum and tried to go in my room while the door was open before being slammed shut. She got her hand in there and John shut the door on her pinkie finger. She began crying from the pain and I ran down the hallway to free her finger.

Now, typically, if John has done something that causes injury to baby, he runs and "hides". Not this time. He was still standing behind the door when I opened it to free baby's finger. The door hit him right in the face. He began crying.

So, now I have 2 injured children. I already had Jessi in my arms when John started crying from his "mommy induced" injury. I called for him to follow me as I brought Jessi into the living room to comfort her in one arm and comfort John in my other arm. I put them both down and went to the kitchen to get John's "Booboo Lightening" and he put it on his lip (which was a little bloody and swollen). I got Jessi's "Booboo Pooh" and she held it in her hand. As soon as they had their "booboo buddies" they stopped crying.

I felt SOOO bad about John's lip. I almost burst into tears myself. I felt like a horrible mother. Who does that?!?! Apparently I do.

After a few minutes pass I collected "Booboo Lightening" and "Booboo Pooh" and put them back in the freezer and life went on. Both John and Jessi are fine and you wouldn't know they were even hurt. I'm sure they've forgotten about it all by now, but it's still lingering in my mind. I keep playing it over and over in my mind.

Maybe that's just part of being a parent.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Snowed In


No one likes to admit when they're wrong. I'm no better.
The week before Christmas a foot and a half of snow fell. I remember Charlie saying "This is gonna be a really bad winter". I said "Nah, I doubt it".

All week the weathermen had been telling us a major snow storm was coming and would arrive by Friday (yesterday). Everyday I kept saying "It's not gonna be as bad as they're predicting". Thursday, late afternoon/early evening Tabytha's school called to say that school would close early in anticipation of the impending snow storm that was to hit us Friday afternoon. I waved it off and thought it was silly to close school early. It wasn't gonna be that bad.

I was wrong. (there, I said it)

We woke up this morning to find nearly 2 feet of snow had fallen overnight. Charlie got started shoveling around 8:30am. The snow continued to fall as Charlie was working to clear a path to the front door and dig out the car and his tow truck. When he was half way down the driveway the front porch and sidewalk were buried again under a fresh blanket of snow. The wind was blowing and the snow continued to fall.

According to the weather reports we're suppose to see up to 8 more inches of snow by midnight, bringing our grand total to almost 3 feet of snow in two days.

This 'blizzard' may top all the previous MD records. Ever.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Good Food Bringing Family Together


Yesterday was a snow day and schools were closed. I packed up the kids and went to my mom's house for the day. When we got there Tabytha, Hannah and John went out back to play in the snow. Jessi was in the living room playing with toys and Bethany was working on a report for school.

When I called mom in the morning before we left she said she was making spaghetti and homemade meat sauce for dinner

Perfect!!! I wanted to try out an Asiago and Herb bread recipe I got from a friend and it would go great with spaghetti. I've never made bread before so I was a little nervous.

Not because it was a difficult recipe, but because I'm not the best when it comes to baking. Sure, I can cook and my family isn't whithering away to nothing, but when it comes to baking, I'm just not that good. I usually resort to boxed cake mix and canned frosting.

I felt a little more confident making bread for the first time at my mom's house because she's a great cook and has made lots of bread in the past. Whatever questions I might have I knew she'd be able to answer.

We gathered all the ingredients and got started. I grated the cheese and mom chopped the rosemary. All the ingredients went into the mixer bowl. I started the mixer and slowly poured the water and watched as the dough formed in the bowl.

Once it was mixed and kneaded I drizzled olive oil over the dough and mom covered the bowl and set it in the oven to rise. 20 minutes later I took it out, punched it down and divided it into two balls of dough.

Following the last steps of the directions I put the dough into the oven and 40 minutes later the bread came out perfect!!! It looked just like the picture and the house smelled incredible!!! Bethany had taken her dog out for a walk while the bread was in the oven and when she came home the first thing she did when she stepped into the house was take a huge sniff of the air and say how good the bread smelled. If there was a way to send the fragrant aroma of the Asiago Herb bread through the picture I posted on this blog, you'd be drooling over it, too, lol!!!

The bread paired perfectly with mom's spaghetti and homemade meat sauce. We joked about having a little piece of Italy right there at my mom's house. It was a great day of family and good food.