Sunday, December 21, 2008

Let it Snow

Our first snow storm of the season rolled through on Friday. School was cancelled for the whole day, before the snow even started. The storm brought almost a foot of snow. So don't you know Saturday morning the troops were out for some snowy fun. Dad promised Jack he could help with the snow thrower. We wouldn't trust just any kid...but Jack is, as I mentioned, responsible and cautious.



After a bit, Jack tells Dad his hands are freezing. He comes in and I get him warmers for his hands and new gloves. He then proceeded to stay out and play for a long while.


Ben, Luke and Amy also bundled up and came out. Luke was back in with snow in his gloves and boots before I even got the camera out. Ben played with Chewie, our cockapoo. This was a funny site.







Buddy loved it as well. He looked so handsome running through the snow.



The night before the storm my kids performed some new ritual where they were praying for snow...and cancelled school. They wore their pajama pants on backwards, put spoons under their pillows, put ice cubes in the toilet and put a shoe upside down under their beds. Well, their crazy ritual worked! They'll have their white Christmas this year!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Mr. Independent

Jack loves to cook. He love also loves to watch cooking shows. He is also very independent, cautious and careful. And I'm happy to report that twice now he has made a banana bread from scratch completely on his own. How psyched am I? Sometimes those bananas are just sitting there for what seems like forever. Although it doesn't take that long, I just can't seem to find the time or motivation lately to make the bread myself. But now I have Jack!

During his last baking session I grabbed my camera to get some good blogging material. I did not use flash and it was dusk, so the pictures don't look that hot. But at least they aren't all washed out and shadowy. I am not digging flash at all these days.

He used the 'ole Kitchen-aid mixer to make the bread. This is a little nerve-wracking, but he is very careful. This recipe is very simple and the bread comes out so moist. Thank you to Grandma's friend, Pat, for passing it along.


I let him spray the pan this time too.

He carefully scrapes the batter into the pan.


That's right...I gave birth to that beautiful head.

The whole time he knows I'm snapping away. He's very into the blog and also interested in photography. I think he will be my picture taker as he gets older. The bread is ready to go....

A few licks of the batter (pretty sure this is why he even wants to make the bread...can't blame him)...


About 55 minutes later, his masterpiece is complete.


And without question, he is the first to cut himself a piece.



Am I right or will the ladies be all over this some day?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Ten on Tuesday - It's Tuesday Again?!

How can Tuesday have come up again so quickly? Yikes! In the last week we had a little more snow, decorated for Christmas, had some indoor soccer....everything else was pretty much status quo. But here are some Tuesday thoughts:

1. If you haven't voted for my hawk picture on Boston.com....please do! Voting ends 12/10 (Wed). It's easy! Follow this link and drag your favorite pictures to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place boxes.

2. Christmas season is in full force. I've received a handful of Christmas cards. This time a year I love getting the mail and looking at all of the photo cards, especially of friends' kids who I never get to see. I still have not decided on a Christmas picture yet. Trying not to stress. I usually get my pictures when I'm not trying too hard.

3. Speaking of Christmas, do you all have your favorite ornaments or Christmas decorations? Well, here is a picture of mine. It doesn't have any particular sentimental value. I just really like it.

4. And speaking of Christmas favorites, tonight I stopped by and snapped a picture of my favorite Christmas decoration in town. I think you can tell by the garage how big this tree is. I just love this tree when it is decorated for Christmas. It makes my night when I drive by and see it lit. I figured out that the people who own the house and tree are the parents of a boy that Jack and Ben played soccer with this fall. I'm sure it's no easy task getting the lights on this tree. Tonight I emailed them a thank you with my picture attached so they'd know their efforts were appreciated.

5. And we had a little more snow over the weekend. This is another thing that gets the boys so excited. Luke was the first to get the snow gear on and the big brothers followed suit. I snuck out front and grabbed a few shots of the first snowball fight of the season.

6. This will make all of my in-laws squeal with delight. Jack's list for Santa has more than 50% hockey items. I knew these new hockey friends would be bad influences. Also.. Jack, Ben, the Chiefs and some other neighbors have been playing hockey after school and Jack is just hooked. AND..he likes goalie. Nini will love this. But Jack knows our stance on hockey. I told him he could play in high school. Sound fair?

7. The last few Tuesdays we've been going to Romp and Roll. This is basically where they open up the rollerskating rink in town to toddlers only so they can run around, skate, ride trikes and scooters, whack each other with pool noodles....you get the picture. Here is Chica multi-tasking by trying to drive the little bike thingy and hold a ball. She loves this place!!

And here Chica is searching for stray tickets so she can get herself a prize. The only success she had here was batting her eyes and convincing Bill to give her a little bracelet at the end of the morning.

Again, my own fault here. Luke is actually learning to rollerblade. Sometimes this is how the love for hockey starts. Must stop soon.

8. I wasn't going to get into this yet, but I'm having trouble getting to 10! Within the next week we will have new countertops (and new stove, sink and backsplash)! Gone with the off-white and in with the new! Here are the old tops....


Can't wait to show the before and after pictures!!

9. Chica is finally watching TV. She enjoys Dora, Diego (My-ayggo), Max and Ruby...and other shows of the like. You can find her perched up on the arm of the chair like so...sometimes enjoying a bagel or snack.


10. I'm always pooped by the time I get to ten. A big fat hen.

Nite nite.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Time to Vote Again!

I'm was pleasantly surprised when my "Motion" photo was selected in the Top 50 for the November Boston.com's RAW contest. There are some cool entries! Anyway, the voting is open until the 10th...so if you have the time and interest please go cast a vote! My picture is the hawk flying and looks like this:


I saw the hawk land in a tree out back and ran and grabbed my camera. Somehow I caught him taking off looking right at me! Click here to go vote! Thanks!!

Beyond

Christmas tree purchased and decorated? Check.

Saturday we ventured to a new spot to get a Christmas Tree. Our friend Li told us of a place where you can cut down a tree for $35. We usually drive down the road 3 minutes (literally) to a place in town and pay closer to $60 - plus $1 to bail it. So, with the economy the way it is...off to the new place we went. And boy was I glad we did. I don't know if the pictures can begin to tell how big this place is. Acres and acres of trees. What an operation.

The place was so big we didn't know where to begin. When asked where we could find a frasier fir, a friendly worker told us we could check just behind her...but it is a little picked over, or we could go beyond the grass to find 5 to 8 foot frasiers. Off we went....to the far away place. Here is a picture of us getting started....can you see where beyond the grass is? Four kids...no hats and mittens...this should be fun. I was scared.

When you walk beyond the grass to get a tree, we were told that a tractor will drive up there and your tree will be tagged and then brought back down to the parking lot to be bailed and roped to your car. That's how far away this area is. The trees went on....and on...and on. It was beautiful, actually.




It's not that we were trying to get the absolute perfect tree, but we were really looking hard at the size, shape, fullness, healthiness, etc. of the trees. We just kept walking and walking. With 6 people with different opinions, it took us a little while to find the right tree. But then we saw her:

Dad took turns sawing with Jack. Luke was being a super-helper holding back the branches. Ben was there for support and to keep Chica happy.

As soon as she was cut down, Luke, Chica and I headed back for the warm car. Dad, Jack and Luke stayed to wait for the tractor. Eventually they got sick of waiting and carried the tree all the way to the parking lot.

Here is a shot as we were walking back. We were no slouchers. We did not take the easy way out. We probably would not have gone so far if it had snowed.


And here is a picture of a really cool barn. I wish it had been brighter out!


We did not get to decorate the tree until after 8 pm. We had soccer and then dinner/clean-up. I had to untangle all of the lights but this was not the complete nightmare it usually is. The kids were SO excited. It reminded me of how exciting this time of year is for the little ones. One of my favorite things as a kid was to put up our Christmas tree. We had a fake one, but I loved helping put it together and decorate it. And my kids were equally excited. I wish I had had a tape recorder of the tree decorating process because there were nonstop questions being asked the entire time. Mom, are you almost done with the lights? Mom, can I help with the lights? Why can't I help with the lights? Mom, where should I put this one? Is this ornament too close to the others? Remember this ornament? Will you help me put up this one? Where did we get this ornment? This is just a sampling of the questions.

During the whole chaotic decorating process, Jack decides he wants to try and take a few pictures with my good camera. I trust him and he is a good picture taker. So he starts taking shots and is having issues with blur and wants to try no flash and then flash..and then want to delete some. So amid the questions above that were coming rapid fire, I was also guiding Jack on how to adjust the camera settings, etc. He insists on showing me some of the pics and telling me which ones are worthy of Dig Our Pics (I post pics with some friends based on weekly themes). Here is one of Jack's shots showing Luke and Chica helping decorate.


We finished very late and I was anxious to get the kids to bed, as they were up very late the night before. They got all snuggled up in bed, I came downstairs and snapped a shot of the finished tree (minus star), took 2 motrin to relieve my splitting headache and then went to sleep myself. Ahhh....the holidays.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Ten on Tuesday - Thanksgiving Edition

In a blink, turkey day has come and gone. It was a nice long weekend. We had our special friends from NJ visit us on their way up to visit their family in Rockport, MA. Our special friends have two special kids and one special dog...named Scout. Here is a Thanksgiving wrap-up as part of a my first ever second Ten on Tuesday post:

1. Our NJ friends have two children. Their oldest child, Mr. H, loves to visit and play with our Luke. They are only about ten months apart and play very well together. Here are the two of them in their jammers posing for a shot:

2. Now Mr. H has a beautiful little sister, Miss A. Miss A is also Chris' and my goddaughter. I was desperate to get a few shots of Miss A, but she was scooting around so much it was nearly impossible. Especially when you are trying to get a shot with natural lighting and you need her by a window! I did get this shot which I thought came out cute..

3. Mr. H and Miss A. have another brother. He is 12.5 years old and his name is Scout. Scout got to sleep over our house while his family went to Rockport. I can even begin to explain how funny Scout is. He makes lots of noise when he breathes and has the strangest bark. But we love Scout and enjoyed his visit.

One thing about Scout that I never really realized was how his ears bend backwards at the top. Check it out.

Here is Chica laying next to Scout on Buddy's bed.


4. Our Nini was nice to host Thanksgiving dinner. I brought the ever famous "stinky potatoes" which were gobbled up by everyone as expected. And I decided to make Pioneer Woman's sweet potato recipe. Jack was right by my side helping to make them. I have to say, they seemed to be a BIG hit with everyone who tried them. Highly recommend. Here is a picture of Jack with the pre-cooked sweet potatoes.

5. Part of the excitement for Chica when she visits Nini's house is that she gets to go with Nini to feed the horses. Before dinner, off the two went to give the horses a snack. Unfortunately, once we got in the barn, there wasn't any light to get a shot of Chica cowering away from the horsies. She's hoping Nini is going to start riding lessons this summer.

6. Thanksgiving dinner was delicious. The table was set beautifully and Uncle Peter made cute place cards for all of us. I was seated with Andrew to my left and directly across from my other two nephews, TJ and Peter...and Peter's girlfriend (our favorite babysitter) Missy. Well, the three of them just got going laughing, telling jokes, imitating. I have never seen the three of them laugh so hard. I had tears in my eyes and was laughing so hard at them. And finally, I just couldn't take it anymore and I accidentally spit/sprayed my red wine across the table. It was in a V-formation. So Peter (directly across) was spared, but poor TJ and Missy almost got hit. Embarrassing, indeed. Just thankful the family let me off easy. It will be a Thanksgiving to remember..and I may never live it down.

7. Other non-Thanksgiving news: Chica may be the artist of the family:

8. Boston.com's RAW has Motion for the monthly photo contest. I'm sort of out of my league with this one, but I did submit this picture I took of our friendly neighbor, Mr. Redtail Hawk.

9. I certainly can't have a post with a picture of everyone in my family except my Benjamin! Here is my Ben playing two-hand touch football recently with a bunch of boys in the front yard!

10. I'm not quite in the Xmas spirit yet. Haven't done a ton of shopping yet and no decorating. Hoping that I get in the spirit soon! Maybe if we get a little more of this..