Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Easy Make Your Own Manger for Kids

Last weekend, my Sunday School class and I made these adorable little make your own mangers - a craft that I found on Pinterest!  I teach Sunday School to 8 third graders (my own third grader included!) and I am always looking for easy, not too messy things for us to do during class!  This craft only involved brown paper lunch bags, newspaper (1 piece crumpled in the bottom for stability and space filler!), yellow tissue paper cut into strips, a print-out from the website that originally posted it (link below), scissors, tape and crayons.  The website has the picture of the star and the baby Jesus in color, but my class likes to color, so when I printed, I chose to print it "grayscale" so it came out in black and white and then my class added their own colors!  This came out so cute -- we made enough for each child to take one home, and we left one extra on the table in the rectory for our pastor to enjoy!

Click here to get the full directions and to print out the star and Baby Jesus for your own manger! 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

My girls on Thanksgiving
We had a wonderful Thanksgiving this year!  This was my first year taking over the tradition of hosting Thanksgiving for my mom's side of the family (our New England relatives).  Thanksgiving has traditionally been the big family holiday on Mom's side -- when she was younger, my grandfather's side of the family would have huge celebrations often holding them at the church hall or in the lodge at the ski tow that my grandfather and his brothers ran.  Over the years, family members spread out across the country, some passed away, and the Thanksgiving group got smaller.  I believe the last church hall Thanksgiving was when I was a baby -- I've heard the story of my parents driving with me as a baby from NY to NH in a Volkswagen Beetle through such a terrible snow storm that the windshield wipers couldn't move all of the snow.  My dad, an engineer, got out and rigged string to the wipers and I believe he and Mom each held and string and pulled to move the wipers and clear the snow!  That's dedication to a holiday gathering -- or craziness...  ;)  They made it just in time for dessert!  My childhood memories are of Thanksgiving at my grandparents' house in NH.  Nana took over hosting for a number of years and many of my fondest childhood memories are of traveling Weds to Sun and spending the whole time playing with my cousins and surrounded by my family!  After my grandparents passed away in the '80's, my aunt took over and the celebration moved to her house in CT and then a number of years later she moved back to NH and so did Thanksgiving.  The location changed but the traditions remained the same, as well as my love for that particular holiday.

Last November, when we moved here to NH, Auntie Sandra told me that she was turning the reins over to me and that in 2014 I would get to take over hosting Thanksgiving (when she told me this my kitchen was a sea of moving boxes and I had no fridge for two weeks around Thanksgiving!!).  My family - cousins - teased me all year saying this would be a test run and they'd see how I did before we made it permanent!  We kept some of the same traditions -- we invited everyone to stay, even though almost everyone lives no more than 90 mins from us.  I was excited for my girls to get to experience Thanksgiving the way I remember it -- it's more than just a meal or a day in our family, it's a weekend-long sleepover!  Most everyone was planning to come on Weds and stay until Friday.  Then we got QUITE the storm, so most of the family decided to wait and come on Thursday.  My cousin Matt, who lives the closest at 35 minutes away, decided to leave early and come around noon on Weds.  It took him 2 hours, but he made it -- he walked in at 2:00pm and wouldn't you know, at 2:15pm we LOST POWER!  For FIVE HOURS!!  He is the best person to have around in a power outage though!  He kept the girls and I entertained for hours with stories, funny voices, and he and I even sang a few show tunes!  I absolutely LOVE candles -- some call it an obsession -- so I went around and lit tons of candles.  I had a house FULL of food, although most of it still needed to be cooked -- the power outage really put a kink into my prep plans!  We had ham sandwiches for dinner that night.  In spite of the lack of power, I did what I could to keep plugging along with my preparations, hoping that everyone would still be able to make it for Thanksgiving.  I mixed together a batch of my Nana's pumpkin bread -- realized before it was too late that I had mistakenly put 2/3 cup of sugar in instead of 2-2/3 cups!  I fixed that fortunately -- hey, it was dark!  When the power finally came on, I put a turkey in the oven (I made 2 -- had 15 people with a bunch staying over so I wanted leftovers!) and the pumpkin bread, which I again, in the dark (by candlelight) misread the recipe and put the whole batter into ONE loaf pan instead of TWO...  Matt and I entertained the girls by trying to clean out the horrible, smoking mess that occurred when the pumpkin bread batter spilled over onto the bottom of the oven!  We had a lot of laughs!  The pumpkin bread was a horrible mess but it was tasty!

Turkey Candy Nut Cups by Candlelight
Matt was impressed that I made all of these cute little turkey candy/nut cups (Nana and Auntie Sandra always put out cups with candy and nuts in them for everyone -- I just added my own twist with the beak and feathers!) by candlelight -- 15 of them!  Although he did tease me about turkey part -- said that's why I am hosting, because only I care about those little details!  Hey, they are adorable and festive, and my girls love them!  The rest of the holiday went without a hitch.  We had 15 altogether including my dad and stepmother who came out from NY.  A few family members stayed with us, a few stayed at a nearby inn, and a few headed home after dinner.  The kids had a wonderful time playing with their cousins and they all enjoyed playing out in all of the snow we got -- 13-1/2"!  On Friday, we kept up another tradition of a group of us (usually the women, although my dad joined in!) going shopping -- no "Black Friday" trips to the malls for us -- we stopped that years ago!  We always like to go to the adorable little country stores that are up in our area -- we've been doing that since Thanksgiving was hosted in CT.  This was the first time that some of the family got to go to the cute shops in my town and we also enjoyed lunch at a nice cafe in town.  My daughters stayed home and played with their cousins -- all four of the kids, my two and my cousin's two, were all so sad when it was time for the cousins to go home to CT!  My eldest daughter said she was so sad that Thanksgiving was over because she'd been looking forward to it all year!  Like mother, like daughter!  :)

I guess I did ok because my cousin Brett sent me a text later saying that I passed the preliminary test and can proceed with scheduling next year to further evaluate my capabilities!  ;)  Bunch of jokers in this family -- that's another longstanding tradition!  We only tease the ones we love!
Not too shabby for making them in the dark!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Our First Year in New Hampshire

Daniel Webster, a NH native, once wrote, "Men hang out their signs indicative of their respective trades; shoe makers hang out a gigantic shoe; jewelers a monster watch, and the dentist hangs out a gold tooth; but up in the Mountains of New Hampshire, God Almighty has hung out a sign to show that there He makes men."  Growing up visiting my grandparents in New Hampshire every year, I have always felt like a New Englander at heart, always wanted to live here -- it truly is my "happy place" -- and always loved the "Old Man of the Mountain" to which Daniel Webster referred.

We moved here a year ago on November 21, 2014.  My husband had been working and living up in New England with my relatives for three months while I stayed in New York trying to sell our house.  He worked the day before we moved and then drove to my dad's house in NY where the girls, the dog and I had been living for the last month.  He arrived sometime around 2:00am and slept until around 9:00am.  We got up, packed our things in our two cars -- our good Toyota Sienna and our little 2001 Dodge Stratus that we hoped and prayed would make the trip!  We all went to breakfast at the diner with my dad, something he and I had enjoyed at least once a week while we lived with him and my step-mother.  It was bittersweet -- we were excited but also sad to leave our family and knew that my dad was devastated.  Fortunately, he and Gramby had plans to come out to NH just the following week for Thanksgiving, so that helped!

We headed out -- me and my little girlie in the van, my husband and our eldest daughter in the Stratus.  I remember that the Stratus did not have a radio -- there had been a short in it years earlier that drained the battery.  The mechanic did not agree with me that that was the problem, but I finally got him to humor me and disconnect the radio, just to see -- hmm...  never had that problem again!  ;)  But, never replaced the radio, either!  Our eldest played music on my husband's iPhone and chatted away to keep him entertained on the 6 - 7 hour ride.  It was a fairly uneventful ride -- I was so thankful that the Stratus made it all the way!!  I remember that it was dark when we crossed the Vermont border into New Hampshire, and I remember seeing the big sign that welcomes you to New Hampshire -- in English and French!  And I'll never forget my husband calling me on my cell phone as we crossed, just so he could say, "Welcome home!"  It was very touching because it was a childhood dream coming true for me, a nearly 20 year dream for him coming true (he's wanted to move here since the first time he came with me to visit my family), and after 3 months of living apart and the stress of that and the stress of selling our house -- those two little words meant more than I can say!

We had our dog, Mabel, with us, and I had searched around to find a hotel/motel that would allow us to have Mabel for one night.  I found one but it was an hour past our new town.  On the way to the motel, even though it was getting late, I followed my husband and he quickly drove us past our new house and through our new town -- a drive he had taken many times in excitement of our arrival.  We made it to the motel and grabbed the kids, dog and the bare minimum for the night.  After a somewhat restless night between the excitement and nervousness of closing on the new house the next day, and the DOG jumping back and forth between the beds (!!) we woke early, got ready and raced an hour back to our new house for the final walk through.  It was so exciting to see an empty slate -- and a little overwhelming -- I knew right away that we had some work cut out for us to make it our own -- and a LOT of paint!!!!  After a quick trip through with the realtors, we went to their office for the closing.  The girls sat SO patiently as all of the paperwork was signed, and then we were handed a big check from the closing of our house in NY (long story -- that house sale was a nightmare...) and we went right across the street to our new bank and made a deposit.  Then off to our new home where Auntie Sandra and Uncle Bill were waiting to greet us!  They live 90 minutes North of us and my husband had lived with them for over 2 months while he was up here working.  Every time he took a trip to NY to visit us, he would head back up to their house with a van-load of our belongings.  Auntie & Uncle brought a truckload of our things with them and quickly helped us unload everything into the house.  Then my husband had to go back to work for the afternoon and Auntie & Uncle headed home.

The girls and I were on our own for the afternoon -- I think I started cleaning and they helped where they could and explored, etc.  It was Friday, and the 18-wheeler with all of the rest of our belongings would not arrive until Monday or Tuesday!  At that point, we had the kitchen island (which is a permanent fixture) and the 4 counter-height chairs that came with the house.  That and air mattresses -- that was it for furniture those first couple of nights!  No computer, no tv, no phone -- we were roughing it for sure!  We didn't even have a fridge -- it had died before we closed on the house and we needed to find a new one quick.  That took 2 weeks (!!) and a lot of headaches to get a fridge -- who knew we lived "over the mountain" from all of the big stores and deliveries are made once a week.  Thankfully we had coolers and it was November in New England -- the whole backyard was our "auxiliary fridge!"  I remember our first dinner in our new house was a little roasted chicken, salads, and a banana cream pie that my husband brought home from Market Basket -- our new grocery store.  On Saturday, my Aunt Pam, cousin Matt and his girlfriend Deb came over bright and early to help.  I had visions of painting bedrooms -- in particular, the girls' -- before all of the furniture came, but my husband was at work and no one else was too up for helping me with the painting, so instead my cousin took down an overhead light and replaced it with a new one we had purchased and he also took down the most unattractive, hard-plastic, accordian doors that covered the closet in the girls' bathroom -- we had all decided those needed to go quickly!!  Deb and I worked on lining all of the drawers and cupboards in the kitchen -- so helpful!  My husband came home and we all had pizza and visited.  I think on Sunday we ventured out to Lowes - 30 mins away - and started looking for a fridge.  This is when we discovered that you don't just buy and fridge and it shows up the next day or day after that when you live in our town...  Especially not late in fall -- apparently trucks only go "over the mountain" once a week and we'd missed out!  We moved on to other stores including Sears where after what seemed an eternity (our girls were SO patient!) we finally settled on a fridge that I didn't love but that would keep food cold...  And we were given a delivery date but told "although, if it snows, they won't come over the mountain!"  Oh my -- hadn't realized how "in the mountains" we lived until then!  Long story short, we never got the Sears fridge but eventually got the one I wanted -- French doors on top, freezer on bottom -- about 12 days into our NH adventure.  We got quite used to going outside to get the milk, and we ate a LOT of take out!!  I do remember going to the grocery store and buying just what I needed to make a home-cooked meal for my family and what a wonderful feeling that was!!

The 18-wheeler with all of our belongings came on one of the coldest days in November and my husband was working and my Aunt Sandra drove 90 minutes to show up early and help me set things up as the movers unloaded everything.  It was an exhausting day -- box after box after box, question after question -- that day is kind of a blur!  I remember feeling like I was on an episode of Hoarders at the end of the day -- there were SO many boxes!!  Could barely walk through the kitchen/dining room!  Some things fit perfectly -- the piano had been a big issue when we were planning to move and the spot I moved it into is absolutely perfect for it!  Some things, not so great -- I would never choose the layout my couches are in under normal circumstances, but that's how they fit in the room.  The movers were great -- they unloaded everything, they put the beds together, the dining room hutch, dining room table...  Auntie and I placed the area rugs and made decisions about where the big stuff would go.  Grandpa and Gramby came two days later and we had some things put away by then -- I think the guest room where they slept and my 8-year-old's room were both in pretty good shape!  Gramby spent Thanksgiving vacation unpacking boxes in the kitchen and setting the kitchen up for me.  They also helped us find our fridge and we went to Lowes again and I spent a small fortune on paint, lights, and a snowblower!!  We all drove up to Auntie Sandra's for Thanksgiving and my my husband had to work -- he was working around the clock this time last year!  He ate an early dinner with us, took a brief nap on the couch and drove 90 minutes back to work.  I remember he got home late that night and got a call from the alarm company and had to drive back to work at around 1:00am -- I was so worried about him!

After Thanksgiving, the girls started their new schools.  They were both nervous on the first day and when I picked them up at the end of the day, my eldest told me she wanted to go home -- my heart sank and I refrained from telling her we WERE home!  My little one seemed to have done better and the next day when my husband tried to walk her in she said, "I'm ok, bye Daddy!" and walked in by herself!  It took 3 days for my eldest to feel better about school -- that was due in large part to Lilly, a girl who came up to her on the 3rd day and said, "I could use some more friends, would you like to be my friend?"  I still tear up thinking about that -- I can't tell her how much that meant to my daughter and in turn, to me!  She started making friends, particularly with the kids in band -- they were pretty impressed with her when she was ready to be in the Christmas concert a week after starting school!  The girls were getting acclimated to school, we were all getting used to our new town, and I got the girls started in Sunday School and we began attending church every Sunday -- something we were not great about before moving!  Through church, the girls met some other kids and I began meeting people too -- now I help out with Youth Ministry, here and there, and I teach Sunday School (my 8-year-old's class) every Sunday. My little one is also in a Girl Scout troop this year, making friends, and I help out with the troop which has been nice!  I find when we go into town, we almost always see people we know which makes us feel like we are not the new kids, but are really becoming part of the community.

Things have not always gone smoothly -- the job we moved here for ended up being a disaster.  My husband worked incredibly hard to turn this failing store around -- we didn't find out until after we'd moved that he was the 6th store manager in the 3 years the store had been open! -- only to be let go the day after Easter.  And actually, over July 4th weekend, he got a text from the person who turned out to be the 7th store manager (his replacement) who wanted to talk to him because he could see that he too was going to be let go soon!  Thankfully, we made it through that incredibly difficult time -- no one had a job in our house! -- and within a month's time he had gone back to the same job he'd been doing for 7 years prior, only here in NH!  He's doing very well there and we are so thankful and look at the previous job only as the thing that got us here, and we truly believe that's all it was meant to be.  We see the value in his current job -- it's stable, the people are great, they are happy to have him, and when he leaves for the day he is done -- no being on call around the clock!  We are already looking forward to a much more relaxed holiday season than he had last year!!  And I have found a part time, flexible job working at home as a virtual assistant -- it works perfectly for our family right now!

It has not been smooth sailing, and at some points we've felt that our will was being tested to see if we were cut out to be here, but at this moment, things are going pretty well and we're happy where we are!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Banana Cake Recipe

Since we moved to New Hampshire, and I have more time at home, I also have more time to cook!  My family seems to be enjoying a wider variety of meals -- we were in a real rut when I was working 35 hours a week and getting home close to 6:00pm Monday through Thursday.  I have found that I enjoy cooking now that I have more time and I'm not feeling rushed to make dinner for my family.  For the first time in years, I have had time to actually make some of the thousands of recipes that I have pinned on Pinterest!  I also have been airing out my poor, neglected recipe box.  I bought myself a little white board that fits perfectly into one of my kitchen cupboards and I have taken to making actual meal plans -- actually going through recipes, deciding what I am going to make for the week, and then shopping once a week and picking everything up for my recipes.  It's quite amazing!  ;)

One of the recipes I found while going through my recipe box is actually an email I sent to two friends and former coworkers -- in 2009!!!  Here's what I typed in the reference line -- "Totally making this -- thought I'd share!"  Yeah, that I was in 2009 -- totally did not make this, until 2014!!  It's super easy and a nice alternative to use those overripe bananas sitting in my fruit bowl, as opposed to the banana bread I seem to make ALL the time!  (Thankfully my girls love it, but still, variety is the spice of life they say!)

Banana Cake

1 yellow cake mix
2 eggs
1/4 cup oil
1 cup water
2 ripe bananas

1 can of vanilla frosting (and 1 more banana -- optional)

Mix cake mix and the rest of the ingredients (except for the frosting and optional extra banana) in a large bowl with mixer.

Pour into a cake pan (I used a 9" x 13" Pyrex dish) that you have buttered or sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake for 45-50 mins or test with a toothpick.   Remove from the oven, let cool for 10 - 15 minutes and then frost. 

I just used plain vanilla frosting which was quite yummy, but the recipe called for microwaving a (plastic) can of vanilla frosting until it is slightly melted and then mashing the 3rd banana in a bowl and combining that with the melted frosting.  Then you can pour the banana/frosting mixture over the cake and let it run down the sides of the cake.  That sounds delicious, but I took the easy route. 

Regardless, my family loved it!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Pumpkin Fairy House

We carved pumpkins on Sunday -- beautiful fall day!  We were able to do most of the messy stuff outside on the table in the backyard -- no fuss, no muss!  ;)  My husband helped my 13-year-old, and she chose a "tri-force" (3 triangles that make up 1 large triangle -- it's from Legend of Zelda, if I'm not mistaken!) and I carved a pumpkin fairy house for my little one!  As my 13-year-old said, "Mommy, I think your inner child is coming out in this one!"  True story!  I saw a picture of this online (Pinterest?) and I had kept it in mind for this Halloween, as my 8-year-old is ALL about fairies!!  It was quite simple, actually. 

First, I carved the top, as you would with most pumpkins.  Then I carved a "door" on the front side of the pumpkin -- as you can see in the picture, I tried to be artsy and I kind of angled the top -- totally up to you what shape you want to use!  This "door" is really just the opening to the fairy house -- can be any shape and you can just throw that piece out -- no need to keep it.  Then I carved 2 windows, one on either side of the door.  I cleaned out all of the "guts" and seeds -- saved the seeds to roast, of course!  My little girlie found some sticks in the backyard and I used those to make panes in the windows -- simply cut them (broke them) to be a tiny bit bigger than the windows and then stuck them into the flesh of the pumpkin.  They fit perfectly! 

I had purchased some of the battery-operated candles for our pumpkins this year -- safer than lit candles -- and I put one of them inside as though it were a little campfire for the fairies.  I also added some acorns and small pine cones that I found around our yard (use whatever you think fairies would decorate with!).  I also made a little ladder our of twigs, twine, and some pony beads, just for a little bling!  ;)  As a finishing touch, I put some white glue on the top of the pumpkin and dusted it with white glitter so that it would look snow-capped or fairy-dusted -- use your imagination! 

After I was all done, Tinkerbell and her sister Periwinkle moved in and my daughter could not be happier!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Anti-Bullying Campaign - #loveoneanother

I would like to share something that is very near and dear to my heart.  My sister-in-law, Jenny, has recently started an anti-bullying campaign as a way to try to make a difference on behalf of her 8-year-old daughter who has been a target of bullying since Kindergarten.  I say "target" and not "victim", because my sweet niece does not let the bullying get to her -- in fact, she frequently tells her parents that she feels sorry for them, that they must have issues at home that make them the way they are.  Amazing insight and empathy in such a little girl -- I couldn't be more proud of her!  And I also couldn't be more heartbroken about this situation.  My youngest daughter, her cousin, is also 8 -- we have another niece in the family that is 8 (big year in our family!) -- I CANNOT IMAGINE anyone bullying my littlest daughter!  I CANNOT IMAGINE how that would make her feel, what that would do to her self-confidence, the sweet smile on her face, the joy she shows every day.  How dare someone try to take those things away from her!  My husband and I have always taught our girls -- "you don't have to be everyone's best friend, but you do have to try to be as nice as you can to everyone."  Seems simple enough.  My sister-in-law Jenny's campaign fits perfectly with that.

Jenny is a photographer and recently, friends on Facebook have seen pictures that she has taken in her town of people holding a sign that says, "Love one another."  Yesterday she posted this explanation on Facebook, and I wanted to try and help get this message out in any way that I can, so here it is:

"So what is the what with this sign?! Well thanks for asking! The ‪#‎loveoneanother‬ sign is one that I happily purchased from a NoFo thrift shop for ten bucks about 3 years ago. It's been hanging in our den until about a month ago when I had an idea for a photo shoot.

What if we were surrounded by messages like this regularly? On billboards, in magazines or Buzzfeed, anywhere, everywhere? What would our world be like if we loved one another regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, waist size, bank account size, etc. What if we taught our children this? What if this simple phrase or idea was everywhere you looked? On Facebook or after a hashtag or on a tee shirt? Would it make a difference at all? Would it start trending? If it did, wouldn't that be amazing? 

As some of you know, my daughter has been bullied every year since she started Kindergarten. Same daughter, different bullies. It. Is. So. Hard. How do you explain to a child who has been raised to treat everyone with kindness, and respect, regardless of their life's circumstances, that she is not liked enough by some to receive that same respect and kindness? It is heartbreaking for her and everyone that loves her. And she is just one kid in a world of bullied kids. It's hard because as a parent I want to protect her from all heartache but I can't. I feel helpless. I'm idealistic, I know. I realize not everyone is going to #loveoneanother or even ‪#‎likeoneanother‬ but can we all just agree to be kind to each other anyway? 

So back to the sign...I guess it's my way of working through an ongoing crappy situation. My way of drumming up a little hope for the future. When I ask people if I can photograph them with the sign, I explain that I have been inspired by my daughter and her struggle with bullies. Every person so far has smiled when they read the sign and then held it for a photograph. Maybe it will catch on?! I hope so. All I know is that I am not the only mother struggling to understand why her child is singled out, made to feel alone, sad, anxious, hurt, picked apart. But it is my job to show her the good in this world and to me, the good are the folks in these pictures, especially this one. You can view more #loveoneanother photos on Instagram or JNI Photography. Take the ‪#‎loveoneanotherpledge‬ to ‪#‎teachyourchildrenwell‬ ‪#‎respecteveryone‬ ‪#‎endbullying‬ - make your own #loveoneanother sign, take a picture and share!"

We love you too, Eki!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

"A Law on Chores"

My 8-year-old came home with a "What's Your Opinion?" essay that she had to write in school regarding an article her class read about "A Law on Chores."  Apparently Spain might pass a law saying that kids have to do household chores and my daughter's class was supposed to write about their opinion on whether the United States should follow suit.  Here's my little darling's response:

"I don't think the US should pass the law for kids.  First, if the kids are doing chores what are the parents doing?  Second, kids need time for playing and other activities like going outside or going to the park.  Finally, some chores are too dangerous like dusting something that is glass that would hurt.  Those are three reasons why the US should not pass this law."

Now, she does make some valid points -- it is very important for kids to get outside for fresh air and exercise, and really, dusting glass can be very dangerous!  ;)  She lost me a little at "If kids are doing chores, what are the parents doing?"  Why, outside playing at the park!  ;) 

But in all honesty, I feel that chores are a good thing for kids -- at least simple, age-appropriate ones -- but I think this is something that parents should enforce, not the government -- in my opinion!  

I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Mouse in the House!

Eeek!!  Yes, I actually made that noise the other day...  My youngest was playing in the playroom and ran to tell me that she saw something "with feet and a tail" run under the recliner in there...  My husband is at work and my eldest daughter was in her room with her door closed.  I called to her - my other brave helper when Daddy is not home! - and said, "Can you come here and help Mommy with something?"  She said, "Sure!  What is it?"  I said, "I think there's a mouse in the playroom!"  And she said, "Yeah, I'm going to stay in my room then!"  Sigh.  Should have seen that coming!  I went in with a broom and when it scurried by me I screamed like a little girl (or little boy, as my eldest used to say when she was younger -- so cute!)!  The dog went into attack mode - against the BROOM, not the MOUSE!  She really hates the broom - almost as much as she hates the vacuum!  The mouse went behind the Barbie house and I tried to be brave and shoo it out the door and out of the house, but no luck.  When it darted by me again -- about 2 inches of cuteness, I'll be honest -- I screamed again and decided it was best to seal off the room (close the glass slider) and never go in there again (until my husband came home and took care of it!)!  I called him at work and told him we needed to move again!  I am nothing if not totally cool under pressure... 

He forgot to bring mousetraps home (have a heart kind -- my littlest dolly did NOT want us to kill the mouse -- just get it out of her playroom!), so we left the door closed until the following night (last night).  Yesterday afternoon, while the dog was sleeping peacefully -- hard to believe her obnoxiously loud SNORING did not wake her up -- the mouse came out of hiding and was lying in a sunny patch of carpet in the playroom -- totally toying with me, I just know it!  I felt like I was at the zoo, because the door is glass and so I sat in the kitchen and watched the mouse like it was an exhibit.  It woke up and darted about here and there and eventually laid down in the middle of the carpet again.  My girls got home shortly after that and my eldest just shuddered as she walked by, but the youngest watched it and then informed me that she thought it was dying!  I think she noticed it's breathing slowing, and it did not move from that spot.  By the time my husband got home, we were certain that it was dead.  My little one was happy that it was out of her playroom (don't worry, she has not been in there yet -- I did a THOROUGH Lysol-ing, absolutely coated everything in there with Lysol but I wanted to wait until it dried and then go in and do a thorough vacuuming and dusting!!), but my sweet girl was sad that the little mouse had died.  We talked about it reminding us of Stuart Little because we are certain (mouse droppings...) that the little guy was hanging out in the second floor of her Barbie house!  (Lysol-ed!!!)

We are living in the country, essentially in a forest, in the mountains...  It's getting colder...  I'm afraid this will not be our last uninvited guest!  Ugh. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Where Did the Summer Go?

I cannot believe that it is September 8th!  And that my last post was in June!  Where did the summer go?  Actually, if I look at my calendar, I can tell you that it flew by because we were SOOO busy!  We literally had only a handful of free days here and there.  It was a wonderful summer, but I have to admit, I was a little bit giddy standing in line at the grocery store before the kids went back to school.  Watching the groceries for lunches and home cooked dinners made me very excited to get back to a routine after the busy summer we had! 

We did just about everything on the list I made in June - and then some!  Trips to NY - Upstate and Long Island - to visit our families.  Lots of visitors -- my mom came up from Florida, my dad came from Upstate NY, my sister-in-law and her family came from Long Island, my brother-in-law came for a whirlwind 12 hours to drop off my goddaughter for a few days!  We set up our "little" pool -- epic fail...  The pool was a disappointment!  BUT, for $43 we purchased a family pass to our town pool which was wonderful!  It is a huge, well-kept pool with a twisting water slide that the girls (and my sister-in-law!) thoroughly enjoyed, it also has a fun splash area with lots of fun things to run through and get drenched!  We had a number of sleepovers with friends and with cousins, the kids had a great time at Vacation Bible Camp - their first time!  We had a wonderful 4th of July "up country" at my aunt & uncle's house in the Lakes Region of NH.  My cousin and his family joined us, we swam in the pool, went to see the fireworks, and just enjoyed hanging out with the family.  We went swimming at our local lake a number of times and drove up to the Lakes Region two more times - once with my mom and once with my goddaughter to go swimming at our favorite, Newfound Lake!  We never got back to Hampton Beach, NH's oceanfront, but we did have spend a wonderful day at the ocean in NY.  The girls spent almost a week with their grandparents in NY while my husband and I went back to NH so that he could get back to work.  That was a first for us, being away from the girls for so long, but they had a great time and it was nice for us to have some time to spend together on our own. 

We ended the summer with a family BBQ here with a surprise birthday party for my aunts.  Now the girls are back in school - we've already had an open house for my 8th grader which included a potluck dinner fundraiser for her band - I made delicious tortellini meatball soup to donate - yum!  We have another open house for our 3rd grader next week!  Girl Scouts will be starting up October 1st and religion classes and youth ministry start at the end of this month.  I was volunteered ;) to be the 3rd grade religion teacher (my little peanut is in the class), also to help out with the youth group AND that involves helping with making a float for our town's big 275th anniversary celebration!  Fall is looking almost as busy as the summer!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Summer Planning

So usually I try to make a "What we did this summer" recap list at the end of summer vacation.  It helps the girls to remember what they did before they get back to school and face the inevitable first week of school "What did you do this summer?" questions.  And, it is a nice keepsake for us to look back and remember the fun times we had.  Some summers fly by and I feel like we didn't get to do much, and then I am surprised when I sit down and type up my list.  This year I want to try something different and create a pre-summer list of all of things that we are hoping to do this summer and then I'll compare it at the end of the summer and see how well we did!

Here goes:

- Work in the garden / yard
- Swim in our new pool (got one of those 15' round inflatable ring pools to help us deal with leaving our beautiful in-ground pool back in NY -- the one thing they couldn't get on the truck!)
- Campfire!
- S'mores!
- Visit the town playground
- Go see a play at our local theater -- planning to take the girls to see "The Emperor's New Clothes!"
- Sleepovers for our eldest daughter
- Playdates for our youngest
- Paint the living room (ok, that's a Mommy & Daddy project...)
- Paint the outside doors (again, Mommy & Daddy...)
- Paint rocks with the girls -- saw a cute craft we want to try!
- Visit the town library
- Try a new-to-us diner in the next town over
- Visit Cathedral of the Pines
- Lobsters at Brown's Lobster Pound  (ok, so we just did this with Grandpa last week, but I'm sure we'll go again!) - my eldest discovered crab cakes and loved them and my youngest discovered the little lobster legs and loved them!
- Swimming at Hampton Beach (NH's ocean beach)
- Swimming & a picnic at Newfound Lake
- 4th of July weekend "up country" at my aunt & uncle's house
- Fireworks
- Visit with my sister-in-law and her family when they come out in July (yay!)
- Nana's visit!
- 8th birthday celebration for Kenzie!
- Clean out the shed (Mom & Dad -- have to hold myself accountable for some items, might as well put them here!)
- Girls & Daddy play street hockey in the driveway -- one of their favorite outdoor pastimes!
- Swim at the town pool - beautiful with a splash park and water slide into the pool!
- Swim at the town's swimming pond
- Swim at the little lake that we found nearby - one of the girls' favorite places to go!
- Visit the NH State Park that is just down the road from us
- Go to see a movie - Planes 2 is coming out on Kenzie's birthday - she's very excited!
- Go to Kimball Farms for ice cream
- Find the Girl Scout store -- have to get my little Brownie a sash!  (Oh, and then sew everything on to the sash...)
- Go to see the summer production of "The Little Mermaid" musical at the high school (one of Liv's BFF's is in it!)
- Laura Ingalls Wilder Day at the Genesee Country Village & Museum - of course!!!  Wouldn't miss it!
- Trip to NY to visit Grandpa, Gramby, friends & family
- Trip to Long Island to visit Grammy & the LI relatives
- Girls to have an overnight with Grandpa & Gramby on their sailboat
- De-clutter toys in the girls' rooms and the play room -- not necessarily a fun activity, but important!
- "Street Name" project -- if Liv and I work on it this summer, I promise to share!
- Start playhouse project?  This one will be a LOT of work, so we'll have to see - again, if it gets done, I'll share!
- Buy a new car -- fun for the whole family!  ;)
- Bake with the girls
- Have Auntie Pam over to visit
- Try new recipes -- 1 a week?  Let's see if we can stick to this!
- Work on family scrapbook project
- Vacation Bible School -- Liv is required to do 20 hours of community service in 8th grade and has the opportunity to help out with our church's Vacation Bible School -- she can earn 15 hours!

Ok!  Sounds like a busy summer!  We'll see how far we get with all of this -- wish us luck!!  I'll let you know how it goes in September!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Brag Book for Child's Schoolwork

We are in the midst of the last week of school before summer vacation, and the girls (and teachers!) are cleaning out their desks and lockers and bringing home all of that great end of the year stuff!  All of that stuff that I look through and then think, "What do I do with all of this?"  Most years I put it into the girls' "special boxes" aka 20 gallon plastic tubs that are now stored in my big storage closet (because our new house doesn't have a basement).  I always think that I should pull those tubs out to make more room -- at the rate that I am going, by the time these girls are in their 20's they will each have no less than TEN "special tubs!" 

My littlest girlie came home with the most wonderful thing that her 2nd grade teacher - bless his heart - put together!  It's called a "brag book" and it's a 1" 3-ring view binder with plastic sleeve protectors inside and inside the plastic sleeve protectors are various things that my daughter did in school throughout the year!!  A few pieces of artwork, a few pieces of writing, a memory booklet that she made to remember 2nd grade, a birthday book filled with handwritten letters from her classmates -- those were wonderful!  What a FABULOUS idea!!  Anyone who worked with me at my former job knows how much I ADORE view binders!!  I had a floor to ceiling bookshelf filled with them -- all white, all with labels on the spine in the same style font -- a sight to behold!  I think this is a great solution to my schoolwork storage issue!  I can put together snapshots of my girls' schoolwork for each grade - nice and neat!  And I should be able to get all of their binders in ONE tub -- woo hoo!  An even less expensive, greater space-saving idea would be to put the work into 10" x 13" envelopes - one for each year.

If I were starting this with them when they were in Kindergarten or Preschool (because I have TONS of preschool stuff too...), using the view binders I would have had my girls draw a picture to slide in the front of the binder and write their own name and age -- what a sweet keepsake I think this will be!  I'm late to the party (as my 13-year-old would say), but I can still have the girls do that from here on out.  For the early binders I'll just find a piece of their artwork from each year that I can use.  If you use the envelope idea, you can do the same thing, having the child draw on the front of the envelope. 

Can't wait -- great summer project for us!

What do you do with all of the school stuff that your kids bring home at the end of the year?

Monday, June 9, 2014

Trying New Things - Breakfast Edition

The other day I was grocery shopping with my littlest one and I remembered that we were running out of the cereal that she seemed to like that week.  She's very particular about what she eats -- I hate to say that she is picky, because she eats a lot of different things, but she's very particular about what she wants for breakfast and lunch each day.  Some days she's all about pancakes, some days she wants a "big breakfix" as she calls it, with Daddy's omelets and sausage or bacon.  Sometimes she's in the mood for cinnamon rolls, sometimes she wants a peanut butter and banana sandwich, and sometimes she's on a kick with a specific cereal.  Even her cereal preferences vary greatly!  She likes everything from Lucky Charms to plain Cheerios (no sugar added -- I always needed sugar on those when I was a kid!) to Raisin Bran without the raisins!  I can't remember the cereal she was on last week, but I know we were running low so I asked if she wanted another box.  She said, "Let me see what they have" and began to browse through the cereal aisle.  She came back with Cinnamon Toast Crunch -- her older sister is a big cinnamon fan, but she herself does not usually gravitate toward cinnamon flavored things...  I said, "Really?  Are you sure?"  Yep, I'm sure.  "Have you TRIED it before?"  Oh yeah!  "And you liked it?"  Oh yeah!  "Ok, toss it in the cart."

This is always a struggle of mine -- when I think I know what my child likes and dislikes and they are insistent that I do not...  I hate to waste money on things they are not going to like -- I can't tell you how many times my poor husband has been stuck eating some bizarre "children's" yogurt that our youngest has insisted she will love!  She's famous for trying something and telling us that she likes it, but she's going to "save it for later."  That means she's never touching it again!  But I also hate to discourage my kids from trying new foods -- I've even used the argument, when trying to introduce something new that they are certain they will not like, "You should try it!  It could end up being your favorite thing and you don't know it yet!"  (Tried that with my eldest and oranges -- yep, not her favorite thing!) 

Anyway, I gave in and bought the Cinnamon Toast Crunch and the next morning I serve it to my girlie who, as I might have guessed, picked at it and didn't eat much.  The day after that, I asked what she wanted for breakfast and she asked for the cereal that she had been eating the week before (you know, the kind I tried to talk her into in the store's cereal aisle...).  I resigned myself to the fact that I was now eating the Cinnamon Toast Crunch for breakfast and poured myself a bowl.  As I sat with her eating the cereal, I discovered that it gets soggy really quickly -- I was not a fan!  I said this to her and she said, "I KNOW!"  And I said, "So WHY did you want to buy this cereal?"  And she said, "I have NO idea!"  Sigh...

What do you do in situations like this?  Do you give in against your better judgment and hope for the best, or do you hold your ground?

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Birthmark - A Gift from God

My girls and I went to 5:00pm mass tonight at our church, and during the homily, our pastor spoke of the special gifts that God gives to us.  While he spoke of this, I noticed my 7-year-old touching her cheek over and over and she poked me to get my attention and then continued stroking her cheek.  I realized that she was stroking her "cafe au lait" birthmark on the side of her face!  She sat there through most of the homily, stroking her cheek, smiling, and nodding knowingly because since she was very young we have always told her that her birthmark came from God.  A couple of weeks ago during the homily, I noticed that she had dozed off (!!) so I was delighted to see that tonight she was a) awake, and b) apparently listening and relating to what the priest was saying!  So sweet! 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Making Connections in a New Town

Moving to a new place can seem overwhelming - you are essentially starting life over, needing to figure out where to shop, eat, buy gas, go for entertainment, and meet people!  We moved from a city of about 250,000 people to a town with around 6,000 people.  We have been here a little more than 6 months and we are still finding our way around in some aspects, but all in all we are feeling quite at home which is a great feeling!  We had a few things in our favor -- we moved to a place where we have some family connections.  My mom's family is from New Hampshire, and I have an aunt and uncle about 90 minutes north of us, another aunt about 60 minutes to the east, a cousin and his family about 90 minutes south, and another cousin about 40 minutes away.  Already, we have seen all of them more this year than we have in the past few years combined -- this has been a real blessing for us!

The other thing that we have in our favor, is that we have two school-aged children -- when you have children in school, you have so many opportunities to make connections and meet new people.  Over the winter when I was in hibernation mode, one of the only times I braved the cold each week was to take my daughters to Sunday school and to church (another great place to connect with people!).  Through my daughters' Sunday school I was asked to help out with this coming year's youth ministry (much to my eldest daughter's chagrin...) which will help me get more involved in our new community and meet some people.

Our eldest daughter, Olivia, has made some wonderful friends through school and I have had some very nice conversations with a couple of her friends' parents either while exchanging our kids for sleepovers or while attending school functions.  One of the moms and I have a lot in common from working in the same field and we are looking forward to planning a girls night out for dinner! 

While Olivia has made a number of great friends and absolutely loves school, it's harder to tell if our youngest, Mackenzie, is making connections.  She keeps things more closely to the vest than her older sister, who will have filled you in on her whole life each day by bedtime (not complaining -- LOVE that about her and pray that she always feels that comfortable talking to us!).  The little one tells us things more on a need to know basis, so I've been worrying about how to get her connected and making friends.  My eldest plays an instrument and was able to join the school band right away -- that was a wonderful way for her to connect right away with kids who shared a common interest.  Most of her very close friends are in band with her and that has also given the rest of us a connection to the town because we go to the school concerts and also enjoyed seeing her march with her marching band in our town's Memorial Day parade. 

Our little one does not play an instrument -- she's in 2nd grade and the school does not offer music until 5th (not to mention she is adamant about NOT wanting to play an instrument!  We'll see...).  As I've mentioned before, I was a Girl Scout leader back in NY and I was looking forward to getting my little girlie involved in Girl Scouts -- another great instant way to connect!  When we first arrived, she was finding it to be enough of a change to go to a new school -- was not interested in getting back into Girl Scouts right away.  That was ok with me at that point because we were living in a sea of boxes and just getting acclimated to a new house, town, etc.  One day at Sunday school, I overheard a mom talking about her daughter being in Girl Scouts -- another tip for making connections in a new town, keep your ears open and don't be afraid to join in (politely, of course!) on other people's conversations!  ;)  I asked about her daughter's troop but found out that it is in another town (our church encompasses 3 towns) so I decided to keep looking for something more close to home.  At some point after that, I sent an e-mail through the Girl Scout website, expressing interest.  They responded about a week later and someone was supposed to call me, but I never heard from anyone.  At that point we had missed the cookie sale and I decided to wait and get her enrolled for next year.  Enter last week's science fair at my eldest daughter's school!  While talking to one of her friend's mothers (who I had met at Medieval Night at her school a few months ago), she was asking about how my girls were transitioning and somehow I mentioned Mackenzie and wanting to get her into Girl Scouts.  This mom has an older daughter who is not in Girl Scouts and two young sons (also, obviously, not in Girl Scouts...), and yet she happens to be friends with the leader of a troop of 2nd graders who happen to meet at my youngest's school!  (I know, note to self, next time just call the school and ask directly!)  We exchanged e-mail addresses and she e-mailed me her friend's contact info. 

Coincidentally, the same day that I received the contact info for the troop leader, my husband and I took Mackenzie to the town playground (her sister was recovering from a sleepover) and she ran into a little girl that recognized her from school.  They had a wonderful time playing together - for 2 hours! - and I ended up talking to the girl's mother and it turns out her daughter is in the same Girl Scout troop!  Now Mackenzie, who had been hesitant to go back to Girl Scouts, is super excited about it!  While the other mom and I were chatting, she also filled me in on things like where to go for 4th of July fireworks, a referral for a good pediatrician, ideas for birthday party entertainment, and we exchanged contact info so that our girls can get together for a play date.  I e-mailed the troop leader and while the troop is wrapping up for the year (not a surprise, I just wanted to get her in for next year), she invited my daughter and I to join them for their last meeting which is this Weds.  I also volunteered to help out with the troop, which will give me something fun to do with my daughter and also help me to connect with some other parents. 

We've really been enjoying making connections here and establishing roots in our new town, and I'm so excited that my little Mackenzie has the opportunity to make some connections and meet new friends like her sister Olivia has!  And the fact that my husband and I are meeting people through our girls -- all the better!  It's great to be friendly with the parents of your children's friends -- not only does it give you peace of mind when your child is hanging out at their home, but it gives you something in common to talk about when you see them! 

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to help out at my little 2nd grader's school for "Art Day."  I helped out in the Health classroom and our art project was to create faces out of recycled materials.  It was a fun project for the kids and I loved getting to be there to see my daughter at school -- it also made me feel like I was back to being a Girl Scout leader! 

For Art Day, they had mixed the kids into groups with other students from the elementary school -- kids that were not necessarily in their usual class or even grade.  My girl was sitting across from another little 2nd grade girl who was not from her regular class.  She seemed like a very sweet little girl and she and my daughter got along nicely.  At one point, my daughter mentioned a boy from her class who she is friends with (she had just seen his brother), and the other girl said, "He's so weird!  He said he wants to be a GIRL!  He said he was going to come to school dressed as a girl!  But you know what he came dressed as instead?  A pencil!  He's so weird though, I mean, who would want to be a girl?"  I was so thankful and proud (and slightly amused) that my daughter's only comment was, "Who wants to be a pencil?"

I hope we can always count on her to be so open and non-judgmental!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day 2014

So proud of our daughter, Olivia, for doing a great job of marching with her school's marching band in not one, but two town parades today!  This was not her first parade - she has marched in every Memorial Day parade that our old town had from the time she was 4 years old (preschool, dance school, Girl Scouts...), but this was her first time playing in a marching band (just like her Nana did, growing up in New Hampshire!). 

She marched in our town's parade this morning and the kids all stood in the sun for a very moving (but long) memorial service in honor of our town's fallen soldiers.  Then the kids hopped on buses and headed to do the same thing at the next town over -- this time in the pouring rain!  But she loved it and said she's ready to do it again!  (Veteran's Day...) 

My husband and I absolutely love living in a small town -- it was such a lovely event today and really gave us a sense of our small town community! 

And we were honored to be there to remember all of the service men and women who have sacrificed so much for our freedom.

God bless America!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

"A Daughter Needs A Dad..."

Saw this great quote posted by a friend on Facebook this week!

"A daughter needs 
a dad to be the standard 
against which she will judge all men." 

- Unknown

I am happy to say that my husband has set a great standard for our girls!  (As I think my dad did for me! ;)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Enterprise City

Today my eldest, Livvie, is off to Enterprise City with her fellow 7th graders.  Enterprise City is an amazing program where students get to apply lessons they've learned in a real world setting.  It's a great part of the 7th grade curriculum here, and they have been preparing for this trip for about a month now.  In school they've been learning about things like banking (filling out a checkbook register, writing a check -- things my husband and I never learned in school!), creating a resume, filling out a job application, and interviewing for a job.  The program incorporates aspects from a number of standard classes such as math, language arts, social studies, as well as finance, civics, and creative arts.

The kids got to learn about different jobs that were available, create their own resume, fill out an application, and interview for their desired job.  They are hired for a job and learn about it in preparation to actually DO the job when they are at Enterprise City for the day.  Jobs ranged from police officer, postal worker, banker, retailer, newspaper staff - they even have a little Dunkin Donuts in there (it IS in New England -- we LOVE our Dunkin Donuts here!).  Our daughter was interested in being the co-editor of the newspaper and applied for and interviewed for that job.  After her interview she was optimistic that she would get it.  A couple of days later, my husband and I picked her up from school and she was NOT a happy camper!  She said she'd received her job assignment but didn't get the job she applied for -- instead of co-editor of the newspaper, she was hired as Managing Editor, which means she runs the show!  The kids receive "paychecks" for the job and get to deposit them at the bank and use their "money" at the other businesses in Enterprise City.  Our girl is apparently the highest paid person in the City!  Who wouldn't be happy with all of that?  Who goes on a job interview for one job and gets a promotion before even starting?  Her irritation was because with this job (given to her by her teacher who thinks the world of her!) she has to give a speech in front of everyone at the beginning of the day, AND at the end of the day!  She's not a fan of public speaking, but my husband and I think it's a great experience for her and we're thrilled that our girls will both have the opportunity to participate in a program like this one!  (I wish I could be there to tape her speeches and take pictures, but of course she's 13 and that would be so embarrassing to her...)

If you are anywhere near the Southern NH area and home school your children, they have a home school program as well!  They also have summer camps.  Check them out --!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

First Communion

My sweet girl in church
This past weekend we celebrated my sweet little daughter's First Communion!  She was fortunate to be surrounded with family for her special day -- my mother-in-law (Grammy) and her sister (Cici) came up from Long Island, my dad (Grandpa) my step-mother (Gramby) and her mom (Mema) came up from Upstate NY, and my aunts, my cousin, and his girlfriend all came from here in NH - it was a wonderful group that represented all sides of our family!

The back of my girlie's dress AND the new kitchen wall color!  ;)
In preparation for the big day, we did what everyone does when they are getting ready for their child's First Communion -- we painted!!  (Right?  That's what people do, don't they?)  We worked on painting the downstairs bathroom which on a regular day is the girls' bathroom, or when we have guests, it's the guest bathroom -- we are in the process of turning a very dark green bathroom with a truly gross closet into a white and pink haven for girls!  Almost there -- just have to put up the shelves in the closet.  We also painted the kitchen - originally it was a light yellow color, but we painted it a reddish color -- kind of a Sante Fe-looking red. It's a paint from Lowe's, actually Sienna Red, I believe.  Red is my favorite color and I've painted the dining room in my last two houses red -- my dining room is part of my kitchen in this house...  I guess that means 3 red dining rooms now!  :)  Anyway, that's just what people do when they are having company come over, isn't it?  You make some food, clean the bathroom, paint the kitchen?  ;)  That's what we do at our house, anyway!  I love having company -- it always gives us a deadline for getting projects done!!

My eldest daughter with her dress & veil
After moving up to New Hampshire about 6 months ago, I've been finding my way around in our new town and the surrounding area -- learning where things are, finding new places to go to eat, to shop, etc.  I was having a hard time finding a place to go to get my daughter's First Communion dress, so I hit the internet and started searching.  I finally found a dress that my little girlie and I both liked on, a site that had all sorts of things (like patio furniture...).  It looked beautiful online and it was a great price, but I made sure to order it early so that I could return it and keep looking if it was not quite what we expected.  But no worries -- it was a beautiful dress!  My eldest daughter even commented at church on Sunday that she liked her sister's dress better than the dress she had picked for herself when it was her First Communion day!  At the time (5 years ago), we finally found her dress at a store called Burlington -- they had an amazingly large selection of First Communion dresses but not a great selection of veils.  For that, I went to David's Bridal and bought a "blusher" which the bride actually would wear over her face, but it works perfectly for a little girl's communion veil.  I also bought a little ring/wreath type headpiece that had two ribbons trailing down the back -- I spent a small fortune on this at the time, but I have kept both pieces safely tucked away in a hatbox for 5 years so that my little one could wear it too!  My eldest wore both pieces together, and my little one decided she just wanted the wreath (I have no idea what that is really called...).  The nice part about that is they each had their own look and it didn't look like they were wearing the same thing!

After church we invited the family back to our house for a luncheon.  All of the New Yorkers' were over before church and Grammy & Gramby helped me pull together baked pasta with mozzarella, meatballs & sauce in the crockpot, Italian sausage with peppers & onions, and a tossed salad.  Everything was ready by the time we got back to the house - just had to heat up the pasta and the rolls!  While we were waiting, I put out cheese, crackers & grapes for people to munch on.  It was a nice, simple meal that I didn't have to prepare while everyone was there!  For dessert, I ordered a delicious ice cream cake from Ava Marie Handmade Chocolates & Ice Cream.  We found a Party City store nearby and went out the other night to pick up plates & napkins in a pretty pink (our girlie's signature color!) pattern with a cross on them.  Note to self for the future -- I had seen these online prior to driving to the store, and they were on sale on the website -- not so in the actual store!  If I had thought about it sooner, I could have placed an order and had the stuff shipped to me UPS Ground and saved myself some money!  Good to know for next time!

My husband and I went back and forth about finding just the right gift for our little one.  When her sister had her First Communion, I found a beautiful sterling silver beaded bracelet (she's wearing it in the picture above) from Things Remembered and I bought one for her -- I think I had the heart on it engraved with her name and the date of her First Communion.  I also bought the same bracelet for her cousin who is my Goddaughter -- they are 2 months apart in age, best friends, and celebrated their First Communions right around the same time, so it was perfect for both of them!  I would have loved to have gotten the same thing for my little one, but no such luck -- they didn't have that same bracelet.  From there we looked at gold crosses, but my little girlie has been asking for a locket for a couple of years and she absolutely loves the silver heart locket that my husband and girls gave me for Mother's Day (the first Mother's Day after my second daughter was born) and I wear just about every day.  That led my husband and I to the local jewelry store where we were able to order a silver heart locket (she's wearing it in her picture) - very similar to Mommy's! - and they sent it out to have a cross and her name engraved on the front and "Love, Mommy & Daddy" engraved on the back.  She just loved it when we gave it to her to wear on Sunday for her First Communion!

If you've spent any time reading this blog, you know that I LOVE to decorate -- the house in general, for holidays, special events, you name it!  This wasn't the 4th of July, so I kept it toned down a bit...  Aside from the paper goods, the only "decoration" that I bought was a bunch of pink tulips from the grocery store -- pink because it is my girlie's favorite color and tulips because they are such a sign of Spring!  After that, I just used my own favorite decorating tip -- I "shopped my house!"  I am always telling my friends to do this -- go through your house and see what you already own that you can use to decorate in a new way!  
I drew a cross on my little chalkboard, put out a little pink milk glass vase (pink - thinking of whose special day this was!), a white vase that reminded me of a First Communion, and a little angel that used to be my grandmother's.
I love this mirror that I use as a base for centerpieces on my dining room table!  In addition to the pink tulips, I added a picture from my little girl's baptism, as well as her baptismal candle, and a little angel bell that I have of my grandmother's (Gram loves angels!!)

This is actually something I made a couple of years ago, intending it to be an Easter decoration, but I like it so much that now I leave it in my front entry year round!  So easy to make -- 2 twigs tied together with a little bit of twine.
I am a detail person -- I tend to notice the little things and I like to focus on little touches when I am decorating my house whether it's for everyday living or if I am decorating for a special event or party like my daughter's First Communion.  I know not everyone will notice, but it always makes me happy to put a little extra effort in to show my family and friends that they are special to me.  Everyone seemed to have a lovely time (regardless of my decorating, I'm sure!) and I know my sweet girl had a special day that she will hopefully always remember!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Spring Awakening

I've been in a modified hibernation mode a little bit this winter -- we moved here to New Hampshire at the end of November and it's pretty much been winter ever since!  I have been keeping myself busy with indoor activities - laundry (so much laundry!), expanding my horizons with cooking, keeping house for my family, and painting / decorating the house.  We live in a beautiful New England-y neighborhood and I've seen neighbors out walking their dogs all through the winter.  I had every intention of following suit, but frankly -- I'm cold!  It's funny, because I'm from Upstate NY - we KNOW cold.  We do cold winters - and this winter was a particularly bad one in our old city.  Generally speaking, I don't think our winter here in NH was any worse than NY - I actually think it was a little milder.  Our first major purchase in NH - after the house! - was a new snow blower and when we used it a few times but not as much as I had anticipated.  My favorite purchase for winter?  A $20 oscillating, electric heater for my girls to use in our playroom, which is technically an enclosed porch.  We made it a "4-season" porch with the little heater and a mandate to wear a sweater or robe out there!  That has worked out well and now the weather is warming up and that will be an enjoyable room without the heater and robe!  Next year when I see those heaters on sale again, I'll be grabbing another one for the living room -- when the girls weren't using it on the porch I would have it in the living room with me!!

Anyway, in some ways it feels like time is flying by, and in other ways it seems as though it has been winter forever!!  We have been thrilled to see the temperatures start to rise, the snow melt and spring is in the air.  Since we moved here at the end of the fall / beginning of winter, our new yard has been hidden under leaves or snow.  It's exciting to discover what is out there as the snow melts away.  We have a stone wall (which we knew about -- it's much more visible now!) and my youngest loves to climb up on one side of it when she gets off the bus each day.  That's her special spot, she tells me.  My eldest wants to plant some flowers under her bedroom window - I told her I'm excited to see what comes up in the yard!  Mabel (our Boston Terrier) and I took a "sniff" (a LOT of her stopping and sniffing - not so much walking) around the front and backyard the other day after getting my little one on the school bus.  I think I see hydrangeas which are my favorite, so it will be exciting to see what colors they are!  That day was particularly nice with warm temps and blue sky so I found a place to sit on the back patio (needs a LOT of TLC -- can't wait to work on that next week!) and I enjoyed relaxing and listening to the birds chirping as Mabel sniffed around the patio and the backyard.

I think we can all use a bit of fresh, spring air at this point!  Yesterday, my husband had the day off and after spending much of the day finishing up painting projects, he picked the girls up from school and took our little one to both of the playgrounds in town!  She's been able to play on her school playground at recess -- and has enjoyed sledding at recess.  But now she's happy to go on the slides and swings -- some of the fun things of spring and summer!  She was extremely excited to finally get to play at the town playground which has been covered by snow most of the time that we've lived here! 

Looking forward to Easter with the family, including my mom who is coming up from Florida -- can't wait to show her our house and town!  Looking forward to putting my little heater away and opening the windows, and most of all, looking forward to shaking off hibernation mode, getting my energy up, and getting out in the neighborhood to walk my dog and meet the neighbors!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Settling In

The girls in front of our new home!
I'm still here!  Well, my physical "here" has changed, but I've missed my blog terribly and am anxious to get back to writing!  The past four or five months have been very busy for us - my husband got a new job in New Hampshire and the girls and I were back in in New York packing and trying to sell our house while he was staying with wonderful relatives and working for 3 months!  Then the girls (and Mabel, the dog!) and I moved in with my dad and stepmother for almost a month while we waited to close on both houses (selling the one, buying the new one) and the girls continued to go to school.  Now we are finally up in beautiful New Hampshire, and all together again!

Fit for a princess!
We're getting settled in - almost all of the boxes are unpacked (yay!!) - although I have not ventured up to the attic yet...  My 7-year-old's room was the first to be completed -- it looks lovely and pink and princess-y -- just like her!  My 12 - I mean, nearly 13-year-old's (this month -- a teenager!!) room need some work.  We're in the process of painting it - really just need to paint the trim now - and the other day I spent some time sorting through the last of the big boxes in there.  She assures me that it will all come together when Daddy finds the hardware to hang her two Pottery Barn floating shelves -- seems like a lot to ask of two little shelves, but we'll see!  At this point most of what needs to be done is painting and hanging things -- every day that my husband has off, I grab him to hang some more things around the house!  Right now I am enjoying being a full-time stay-at-home mom!  At some point I will probably look for something but at the most it will be part-time so that I can be home with the kids on their vacations, summer, etc.  It's really a dream come true for me -- I love being home when they get home, hearing about their days, helping my little one with homework, making hot cocoa, snuggling on the couch!

I look forward to telling you more about our adventure!  Hopefully this will be a wonderful new year for my family and yours!