Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I am an only child and thus, I don't fully understand some things...

I am an only child and, thus, I don't fully understand some things... like... matching pajamas... until now.

When I first saw matching pajamas I was like.... who wears these things... who does this... I know that these matching jammies don't sell... what a terrible idea.

Then, I had more than one child... and wanted cute Christmas morning pictures... and scoured the internet for matching pajamas for the kids... and found matching pajamas... FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY!!!!  {{Ding-ding light bulb goes 'on'}}

Families wear matching pajamas for Christmas morning pictures... of course!!!!  Now I get it!

My bubble was deflated when I told Dear Husband that I was thinking that we could get matching pajamas for Christmas next year....

His reply?  {{with a look of total shock and awe}}  "That's a TERRIBLE idea."

After more thought, I realized... you know what... I don't think that we have even ONE Christmas 2009 photo with me in it... a shame.

Monday, December 28, 2009


I read this quote (below) in the book that Lulu gave me for Christmas.  It just spoke so loudly to me about the role of mothers... I loved it... so I am sharing it with you.

There was a new force in Michael Oher's life:  a woman paying extremely close attention to him who had an eye for detail, a nose for trouble, the heart of a lion, and the will of a storm trooper.  A mother. 
from The Blind Side

Am I the only person on the planet who had not heard of this book - The Blind Side?????

Lulu gave me The Blind Side for Christmas.  Um... look at this book cover (see right)... why on Earth would she pick this for me?

Not wanting to hurt her feelings, and NOT having ANYTHING else in the house to read, I started reading her recommendation.  Um... I was completely taken in by this book.  I could hardly go to sleep because I wanted to keep reading... I woke up early to keep reading the next day.... I was reading to Dear husband in the car on the way to look at a new oven for the house... most shocking - I skipped my N-A-P to keep reading the book.

Prior to Christmas Day 2009, I had never heard of the Blind Side or Michael Oher {{gasp}} Shocking?  Apparently.  For all I knew... the star character died at the end of the book... again, NO IDEA how this book ended.

Please, do yourself a favor, go out and get this book... it is 50% the story of Michael Oher (a very inspirational story) and 50% history of football:  passing game vs running game; player compensation, college recruitment, and so on.  I can almost go as far to say that you WILL love it because of the heartwarming story, and even a fairly knowledgable football fan will find LOTS of great football information that they never even thought to think about before.  {{Does that make sense?}}

Run... don't walk... to the store to get this book.

Also, here is some eye candy for all of you book lovers out there... a vintage kids books blog.  Oh my gosh... these are ALL of the books that I grew up with.  Click over to this book-a-day-blog and take a trip down memory lane.

What NEW book are you reading over the holiday break?  

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Gingerbread House

Lulu made her annual gingerbread house with BFF Gator and Fairy Grandmother.

Here are the results.

looking closer...

this is a reminder NOT TO EAT YELLOW SNOW...

... and here (on the roof) is "prep and landing gear" which made the girls giggle every time they said it... whatever that means...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

... well... because... Grandma wants to know... Don't you Grams?

I'm am NOT behind the 8-ball this year.  I have most of my Christmas gifts (thanks to my new BFF - Amazon.com) and mostly they have been wrapped... but we don't have ribbons or bows this year (because they are still in the basement of the old house). 

Also, some of you received Christmas cards from me... and some didn't. 

Why didn't some people get cards yet ("YET" is the key word here)?  ... because I can't find my address book.

Why did some people get cards already?  ... because they have kids and I wanted to get the OFFICIAL North Pole Orchard stickers to them immediately.  You can print out a set for yourself via the link.  Go ahead and print them on regular label paper.... one of those little oranges is bound to print right-smack-dab in the middle of a label... perfect-o.

But, I am your sister-in-law (with several amazing little boys) and I didn't get a card OR MY STICKERS???  I know, that's because I thought that I was going to give you your card IN PERSON on Saturday.... but I was snowed in instead.  Sorry.

I have, however, somewhat planned my Christmas menu... here is our Christmas Day eating game plan...


Make-ahead and bake-in-the-oven french toast.  I don't remember where I found the recipe, but here is a similar one.  My oven is not working correctly, but it does heat up and I have found that I can heat it up to 500 degrees and cook most stuff just fine.

Pastries that I ordered from Kringle.com.  They are, in fact, delicious.

Snacking throughout the day Lunch.

Baked brie with cherries and wrapped in dough (although, can you eat brie when you are pregnant?).

Spinach dip and veggies.

Leftover breakfast.


Amazing pork tenderloin in the slow cooker.

Spiced stone fruit chutney (from a cooking show I saw... it looked better on the show then it does on the website).

Mac-n-cheese (the box kind, for the kids).

Some type of steamed veggie (that I'll find in my freezer and no one will eat, but it will be on the table anyways).


Haven't figured this one out yet.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Snowed In

We were snowed in (and I didn't have internet, remember?).

Day 1 - Trying to keep up with the shoveling.  Kids and Husband in the snow... Napmom... um...  documenting it all from the comfort of our warm home. 

Day 1 (evening)

Kids are forced to play with each other... or die of boredom.  AKA "Here Bro, you can play with this one item right here..."

Dear Husband takes the Polar Bear Plunge...

... and then realizes that snow is c-o-l-d.

Day 2

Neighbor comes to rescue us Dear Husband from shoveling the driveway.

Lulu plays in her fort (the scraper in her hand is her weapon).

Bro gets pulled along the road in this sled that we have owned for like 6 years but used maybe twice.

Fairy Grandmother brought over these no-bake cookies.  They were delicious.  As soon as I saw them I was reminded of a cookie that my Grandma made when I was younger.  Grand Matriarch - do you remember the cookie... do you have the recipe???

Have you ever taken a Polar Bear Plunge?


Holidailies disclaimer:  By participating in Holidailies, I solemnly vowed to blog every-single-day until... sometime in January.  Well, little did I know at the time that I would be snowed in for 3 WHOLE DAYS with NO INTERNET!  I know.  My apologies.  You are not near as sorry as I am, trust me!

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

I went to me first-ever cookie swap.  Met lots of great women.  Ate great snacks.  It was as fabulous as I had hoped it would be!!!!!

Came home with a few cookies...

Here's the close-up shot...

Then, we got snowed in with these cookies... see?

... which is an awful picture of me, I know.  I specifically instructed Dear Husband to get my stomach in the picture so that ALL would know that I was pregnant... hello???

And Lulu ate cookies too but just not during these pictures. 

What did you eat during the great snow of 2009?

Friday, December 18, 2009

What are you reading now?

We are keeping up with our holiday reading.  Are you?

What are you reading now?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Yummy Thursday

Remember the oreo dream truffles that I have been wanting to make for a year now?  I made them.  And they were EASY... and they were DELICIOUS!

Tip:  Mine were measured in 1 tablespoon size balls.  Um... these are very chocolatey... you really could make them smaller than that.  I'm just sayin'.

Oreo Dream Truffles
As adapted from the Kraft Foods Website

1 pkg. (1 lb. 2 oz.) OREO Cookies, finely crushed
1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
2 pkg. (8 squares each) BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate, melted

MIX  the cookie crumbs and the cream cheese until well blended. Shape into 42 (1-inch) balls.

DIP balls in melted chocolate; place on waxed paper-covered baking sheet. (Any leftover melted chocolate can be stored in tightly covered container at room temperature and saved for another use.) Sprinkle with colored sprinkles of your choice.

REFRIGERATE 1 hour or until firm. Store any leftover truffles in tightly covered container in refrigerator.

Here are the no bake Scotcheroos (for the cookie swap, remember?).

Tip:  After you cool these in the refrigerator... let them warm to room temp before cutting.  You'd have better luck cutting wood for the fireplace with a steak knife then cutting these right after they come out of the refirgerator.  I'm just sayin'.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Home Tour

In the blog world, this time of year, many bloggers give picture tours of their festive homes.  This year, because of my particular home drama, this tradition cracks me up... I found a few "before" pics of our new-to-us house.  And, now that our basement has been ripped up... I have some "after" pictures too.  I'll get proper pics of the bedrooms... but you'll get the general idea.

Welcome to my humble abode.

We live in a cozy split-foyer home.  Here is Lulu placing the "It's a Girl" stickers on the front window.

We'll go down to the basement first... so that we can end the tour on a good note.  :-)

This is the basement before we moved in... the basement that I fell in love with when I exclaimed in glee, "Honey, it's perfect!"  Yep, those words actually came out of my mouth.

The owners left that nice beige rug, but it was ruined in the first flooding. 

Here is a view of the fireplace heating bill reducer.

This is the basement with our stuff in it... purposely not organized... as we were preparing to rip up the floor to waterproof the basement because it flooded (little fact that the seller forgot to mention to us)... and on THIS particular day... we got the pictures to prove it.

See?  Look closely!  Water on the floor.  Dearest Husband sucked 12 shop vacuums of water off of the floor this day.

And... water in front of the fireplace.

Below is the perimeter of the basement as it is being waterproofed.  This is before they put down the concrete.  Eventually we will carpet the main part of the basement and tile in front of the fireplace.  I told Lulu that she can have a slumber party... after we get the carpet in.  Note: she came home with a list of 21 friends to invite.  Um... I told her that she needs to whittle down that list a bit.

The laundry room... during the waterproofing phase.

This is the dryer's home... which is now wet concrete... which Luvs2Boat let Lulu carve her name in.  BUSTED!

Moving upstairs... this is the main living room... and home of the Christmas tree.  This window also overlooks the home of my fabulous new neighbors the aforementioned barking dog.  {{Dear neighbors... when we become friends... and you discover my blog... just know... that I really do love you... and Rover!}} 

If you turn your back to the window, you will see the BEFORE picture of the kitchen (and deck).  Dear Husband ripped down the kitchen wall paper and painted the wall beige.  The red curtains have been replaced with brown curtains and there is now a microwave over that stove.

Down the hall are 3 bedrooms and 1 bathroom.  Yep, one bathroom on the main level.  NO master bath.  ;-)  I don't have pics of the kids' rooms... but here is a priceless pic of Bro getting caught with his sister's cell phone... when he KNOWS that he isn't supposed to be in her room.

You know the drill... when the toddler is silent.. he is getting into trouble.

Here is the back deck...

... and the view of the back of our house. 

I hope you enjoyed the {{ahem}} tour.  Happy holidays!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

College? out of the mouth of babes...

Taking the safety class at the local community college prompted lots of college-related questions from Lulu.

Our habit, for the 5 classes, was to grab a to-go dinner and eat in one of the buildings and then walk around campus and get a feel for the college scene (albeit a community college scene).

Lulu loved being on a real college campus.  She was full of questions.

Topics of discussion included:

studying, tests, quizzes, class attendance, life in college...  you don't go to class ALL day, you can schedule your classes, generally NO class on weekends... and so on.

She asked why there were "old" people at this college (and then pointed to someone YOUNGER than me)... which was great because it gave me a chance to reiterate what a privilege it is to be able to go to college, the cost of college, the value of good grades and scholarships, how hard some people work to send themselves through college (not everyone has a parent who can afford it), and so on.

We had so much to talk about during those dinners.  I was truly elated to have such great discussions with her... while holding back the tears thinking that someday she is actually going to go to college.  For real... thinking about Lulu at college... makes me lose my breath.

I think that she might follow in her mother's footsteps though... and this is NOT a good thing. 

You see, my college days included what I considered to be the right mix of the maximum amount of fun and the minimum amount of work.... which is the WRONG philosophy to have, I know, I know.  My friends used to say... "Napmom is here to get a degree NOT an education."  I got pregnant with Lulu towards the end of my college career.  Then, my goals changed... quickly.  My final semester, I was a single parent, working a full-time job, taking a full college class load... and getting straight "A"s.  It was THEN that I was motivated to get the education... not just the degree.

I saw Lulu dancing to some hip-hop songs recently and, remembering life out dancing with the girls when I was in college, I commented, "Lulu, you are going to love going out and dancing in college."  To which she replied, "Oh... mom... when I get to college... I'M GONNA BE THE FUN MAKER!"

Let me repeat that for you, in case you missed it... "I'M GONNA BE THE FUN MAKER."  Exactly what does a FUN MAKER do?  Can you put that on a resume?  She's not only going to have fun... she is going to make the fun.  {{chin on floor}} 

Ugh... uh... obviously... I have more work to do.

Monday, December 14, 2009

I am "no baking" my way through the holidays

I am sure that I have mentioned that we do not have a working oven right now.  For example, it took me an HOUR to cook crescent rolls, which were supposed to cook in 11 minutes.  Dear Husband said that he tested the oven temp at 400 degrees and it registered at 200 degrees.  Ugh!

We are waiting on the home warranty company to either fix or replace the oven.  No, I'm not going to go out and buy a replacement if I can help it... I am that thrifty stubborn.

Thus, I am joyously no baking my way though the holiday.

We started with the snowman cookies.  Remember?

I am making these no bake Scotcheroos for the cookie swap.  I explained my situation to the hostess and asked for her mercy ('cause I'm not actually baking the cookies)... her reply was awesome!!!!!  And so, I will be attending my first ever cookie swap on Friday!!!!

I am making the snowman cookies as well as oreo dream truffles for Lulu's scout "Winter Wonderland" party.  Yep - I volunteered to make the cookies... knowing that I don't have an oven.  Crazy Stubborn!

And, I am making faux thin mints out of mint chocolate and ritz crackers.  I first saw this recipe on the Martha Stewart show... and Martha said that these cookies are oh-so-delicious.  So, I'm going to make them... for... well... because I can.  You will see lots of versions of this on the web now.  The web versions ask you to melt the chocolate and add some mint flavoring (yawn)... DO NOT DO THIS.  Instead, go to the cake decorating section of your craft store and buy the mint flavored melting wafers instead of making your own concoction.  I could not find the mint melting wafers in the craft store so I bought Andes Candies instead.  

No worries... this actually makes me happy... I'm no baking... well, that is, my kitchen is full of fun cookies and bars... and that totally makes me happy!

Home update:  In case you are keeping track, the microwave did not make it up the other night.  It turns out that the cabinet above it was hanging on by a thread... and had somewhat been nailed together to keep it together, but now it's just splitting apart.

The basement waterproofers came today to rip up the entire perimeter ofour basement to water proof it.  What?  I didn't tell you that the basement floods when it rains.  Oh, I must have missed that little detail.  ;-)  OK, well it doesn't exactly "flood" but the water is fairly deep.  I have video... and pics.  I'll share, I promise! 

Have you ever had to survive the holiday without an oven?


Sunday, December 13, 2009

O Christmas Tree... and other house related updates

By request (from my #1 blog fan -- Grand Matriarch) here are the pics of the tree.

Tree inside our house.  We had just put in the new rugs (on top of hardwood floors) so it's NOT in its prettiest state.  There is a manger that belongs under the tree.  It is there now... but NOT in this picture.

AHem... ignore the Amazon.com packages in the corner of the room.  Cyber Monday - what can I say?

The tree boasts three Tinker Bell ornaments.  Two of them light up.  It was Lulu's idea to use this one as a tree topper, of course.

Below is the view from outside.  I have always wanted to put a tree in the front window.  In our last home, the kitchen was at the front of the house.  Yes, I actually considered putting the tree in the kitchen.  Come on... I REALLY wanted a tree in the front window.

What's up with the bright light, you may ask???  Well, it's my self-induced safety feature.  The light is supposed to go on and off when it detects motion.  It doesn't work properly (of course) and so now the only way to get the lights to go off is to unscrew the bulbs.  Soooooo, pretend it isn't there.

Note:  Now, it isn't there now.  Dear Husband replaced the fixture today with a one-bulb fixture (instead of the two featured here).  He's just so "dear."  I hope to have an update picture soon. 

And, Dear Husband is putting a microwave up above the stove for me... right now... (it's my Christmas gift) so we can have more counter space.

In case you are keeping track... that means that this week: (1) we received some area rugs for our rooms (Christmas gift from Fairy Grandmother and Luvs2Boat), (2) "we" replaced the crazy motion detector, and (3) "we" put up a microwave.  Again, as previously posted, I use the word "we" lightly.  :-)

Also, we still don't have a working oven or dishwasher.  That's NOT gonna stop me from going to the cookie SWAP thanks to a great "no bake" dessert that I found on a blog.  Yes, I'll share the recipe... but I'm trying to get to bed at some point tonight.

Oh look what I found, a picture of Lulu setting the manger under the tree.  I told you that it was there.


To do this week:  Send out Christmas Cards; each card is going to include a set of "From Santa's Orchard" stickers.  I'm going to print the stickers and send a set for everyone to use on the oranges that they put in Christmas stockings (do you put oranges in Christmas stockings?)... or put them on oranges that you give as a gift for homemade potpourri.  I found an easy recipe somewhere.  I can't find it now.  It's something like... gather rind of one orange poked with cloves and 2 cinnamon sticks.  Put in pot with 2 cups water and boil.  Smells awesome!

What is your Christmas tree topper?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

How Do You Spell Fabulous?

Question? How Do You Spell Fabulous?

Answer: Trans-Siberian Orchestra






- From Christmas Eve
Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Trans-Siberian Orchestra (TSO), A Review

I have to be honest, when Fairy Grandmother asked me if I wanted to go see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, I said, "Yes," but I really meant, "No."  I like to go to shows, I like orchestras, I play 3 different instruments... blah, blah, blah... but... really... this tired preggo mommy really didn't want to (1) sit up for a symphony (2) until the middle of the night... (3) ON A THURSDAY.

Not having any way to get out of it, I went anyways.

The night started off right because our seats were front row balcony seats.  Wow!  At least I was gonna be able to stretch my legs while I slept listened to the orchestra.  Seriously!  The tickets were a gift from a friend so we didn't know where the seats were going to be!  Front Row Balcony (in my opinion) = Fabulous!!!  Fairy Grandmother is more of a 3rd-Row-Orchestra-Center seat person.  Me?  Seriously?  I prefer front row balcony.  Why?  (1) You don't have to stand up when the people in front of you decide to stand, dance, and sing through 75% of the show (drives me crazy)...and  (2)  Plenty of leg room - need I say more?

How would I describe TSO?  Um, imagine mixing up...

fairly hard rock
Pink Floyd light show
traditional Christmas carols

Weird!  I know!

First Half of Show

TSO captured my attention at the very first note and I was not bored for one microsecond of the whole show.  The first half of the show featured rock versions of holiday carols... I am NOT a rock 'n roll person... but this was SO BEYOND fabulous.  The lights and the music... let's just say... and I am NOT kidding... I was almost in tears several times over, within the first 15 minutes of the show.  I was in awe of how they totally captured me... and the holiday spirit.  I felt like I could have actually been seeing real angels in heaven announcing Jesus' birth.  It was crazy!

Second Half of Show

I was a little deflated during intermission when the band announced that the Christmas portion of the show was over and that the second half of the show would feature songs from their new album.  My thoughts on this?  Blah, blah, blah, blah, blaaaaaah.  Um, I couldn't have been more wrong.  The second half of the show might have been even better.  I'm telling you - this was like nothing you have ever seen before... well, I haven't anyways.  It ROCKED!!!!  By the end of the show... the entire arena was on their feet and screaming and it was awesome... and yes, even Napmom, in my comfy front row balcony seats... dude...I was on my feet... I was screaming... it was amazing.  I have never, ever, ever felt so much energy in my life.  Seriously... people can stop doing drugs now... just go to one of these concerts instead... it's all the "high" you'll ever need.  And, it's totally family friendly... weird, huh!


A few days ago I started a list of my 13 Favorite Holiday Memories (for a Thursday 13 list).  Um... I need to update my list because this show was so over the top.  It's gonna be my new tradition.  I'm going back every year... I'm taking everyone I know.

Bits and Pieces

Other tidbits of information from the show.

Hair:  The violinist was awesome.  But, the hair?  Check her out in this 32 sec YouTube clip below.  Why does she have to keep flipping her head back and forth like that?  Imagine how knotty the hair was by the end of the night.  After all of that brushing and pulling... I am surprised that she has any hair left.  Ladies... I play the violin... I can play Christmas carols... in all of my years... I have NEVER been compelled to flip my hair back-n-forth like that.  Have you?       

Near Death Experience

Fire:  Pink Floyd concerts (now, Pink Floyd Tribute Band concerts) are very well known for their light shows.  The first time I went to one of these tribute band concerts, with Dear Husband of course, I found myself in a small and old room that was standing room only... for this concert/light show.  I was TOTALLY consumed with fear that we were gonna die in that place because the pyrotechnics were gonna catch the place on fire and we weren't going to be able to get out?  Don't believe me?  It happens. 

I since learned that Pink Floyd was lasers and not real fire and so now I can go to Pink Floyd Tribute Band concerts without fear.

Well, shortly in to the TSO light show... I started to get a little nervous that they would use fire and not just lasers.  I was very relieved to see fire images on the large screens behind the stage, a few songs into their show.  Whew!  Uh, wrong!  Next thing I know, they are shooting up fire behind them.  It happened only once.  Then, I could smell the smoke.  I was planning my exit.  I spent the next 25 minutes planning my exit and calculating how long it would take me to get out of that building.  We were lucky because we were near an exit and near the stairs... I don't know HOW all of those people on the first floor would get out of there... uh... they wouldn't.

Luckily, they didn't have any more fire for most of the rest of the show.

Somewhere midway through the second half of the show, they started shooting up flames.  Large and VERY HOT flames.

I looked at Fairy Grandmother, "Um, just so you know, if this place catches on fire... it's every man for himself.  We are getting the hell out of here."

"I'm not leaving without you honey... the exit is right there," she assured me.

"Uh... yeah... I already noticed that... I think that we have a pretty good chance of making it out of here before all of those people {{looking down}}," I noted.  "But, I'm leaving...  I'm not waiting... if the need arises... fire is NOT my thing."

I only wish that I had a twitter account that I could update live from the concert because if I could... this would have been my account of the last few minutes of the concert... as I was on my feet clapping and screaming in awe and lovin' life...

"OMG - why are they shooting up those sparks?"

"Now they are shooting red flames"

"Now they are shooting green flames"

"OMG - they are spitting fire all across the stage."



End of tweets.

But guess what?  After all of that, I'm goin' back... you can't stop me!

Have you ever been to see TSO?  Did you love it?