Friday, February 27, 2009

Update

Why haven't I been blogging? Because I am crazy busy at work. I work all morning, all day, and all night, sometimes without even the smallest hint of a break. Nonetheless, time at home is spent... sleeping!

We had a staff workload status update yesterday. The good news is that we have completed 55% of our session workload during the past 5 weeks. The bad news is that we have to complete the other 45% in less than 3 weeks. Gulp! Cry me a river!

While I have been working, this is what else has been going on at home.

The Great Science Fair Mystery.

It looks like we Emily will be making rock candy growing sugar crystals for her science fair project. The question is, Do sugar crystals grow better on certain types of string. Emily plans to grow the crystals on thick rope, yarn, and fishing line.


The idea is that you boil some water and add tons of sugar to the hot water until you can barely add anymore. Then you pour the sugar water into a clean jar. Hang a piece of string down into the sugar mixture. Wait, wait, wait, wait, (a few days to a few weeks, depending) and then you will have sugar crystals growing on your string. Yes, real edible, delicious, sugar crystals.


Walking: Brody walks short distances, in a very Frankenstein-type fashion, but nothing monumental yet. Oh, and he was sick... again... but now he is better... again!


Middle school: Lulu came home with a course selection sheet for middle school next year. Obviously, there are some main courses that all of the kids take. They are also permitted to select some electives fun classes.


Her choices include a variety of dance, music, and art classes. Wanna know her top most favorite class choice is, that she just can't live without? (NO sarcasm here.) Strategies for Academic Success. She is overjoyed about this study skills class and "really hopes" that she "gets this class." Ha ha ha ha! Gotta love her! Seriously, this class teaches basic study skills, typing, how to create Power Point presentations, formatting business documents, and more. She is as excited about this class as she has ever been about anything. Too funny!


Dale: Dale, the beloved family pet, ate Bro's brand new shoes.








Wine: I had one two three glasses of wine. This is only so monumental because I am not a drinker, at all. Gosh, it felt so good! It's been a long time!

Oh, I almost forgot...

Dating: Apparently, a boy at school "asked Lulu out." Well, he sent her a note that said, "What would you say if I asked you out?" I don't promote this dating thing (certainly not for 5th graders) and so I just try to remain as nonpartial as I can. Back to the story, I asked her what she said. She said, "I told him that I would have to get back to him about it." Ha! I asked her where they would "go" for this "going out" event. She said that she didn't know because another friend told her that this boy only has one dollar and so he can't afford to really take her anywhere nice. Ha! I'll let you know how the story unfolds.

flickr rock candy photo courtesy of noeknit

Sunday, February 22, 2009

5 Random Questions

Five Random Questions

One of my blog friends tagged me with 5 random questions. Here are her answers to the 5 random questions that she was given.

OK - here are the questions that she tagged me with as well as my answers.

1. How did you find my blog, and why do you read it?

I don't remember how I found your blog. If I had to guess, I would say that you must have left a comment on another blog that I read. I saw your comment and then found your blog from there. Or, maybe I read a blog that links to your blog either (1) on their side bar or (2) maybe they mentioned you in one of their posts.

I read your blog because you seem friendly, you have a daughter roughly the same age as my son, and we seem to have a somewhat similar lifestyle (both working moms, married, love to take pictures of and write about our children, and so on).

2) I know you like to cook, what is your favorite kind of food, both to make, and to eat?

I do like to cook. I love to eat pasta. Love, love, love to eat pasta. I love baked goods... all kinds of baked goods. I would choose a cookie over any piece of candy any day!

Lately, I have been making and eating lots of quesadillas. It seems that I will make a quesadilla out of anything. Really, this topic needs its own post. My most favorite recent concoction was my bacon cheeseburger quesadilla. I browned the meat with my favorite homemade hamburger spices. I cooked the bacon till it was crisp. I added the meat, bacon, and cheddar cheese to a wrap and cooked it in a pan. Yum! We added sour cream to ours and it was so good. Slurp!

3) How have you changed since you've had children?

Wow! Lots! I was young when I had my little Lulu. I had to grow up quickly when I had her. Having said that, I have noticed one big change with me since I had Bro. That is, I am more laid back than I was before. I'm still a little high strung (type A) but I have learned to slow down and to really appreciate my time with him and, thus, with Lulu. In the past, when I had been doing things with Lulu, I would think about all of the productive/constructive things that I should be doing. Now, for some reason, I don't worry about the things on my to-do list - they aren't that important.

4) What is one thing you'd like me to know about you?

This is a really tough question. What one thing would I really want anyone to know about me? Seriously... I am just sitting here thinking... this is kinda like asking me what is the meaning of life? What one thing would I want anyone to know about me?

I want you to know that I love my family. I love my dear husband, even though you wouldn't know how much I love him by reading my blog because it is all about the children (more about DH in question #5).

I love my children; and, when I write about them it is not to brag (because I know that everyone's children are equally as special), but I write to show how excited I am to have them in my life and to experience this life with them (and because my grandma reads my blog and she actually is quite interested in what might seem like day-to-day ramblings to everyone else).

I love my parents. I write about them because I love to see them interact with my kids. It warms my heart to see pictures of them and to write about them - I miss them when they are not with me.

I love my grandma (Grand Matriarch) because she has done so much to shape me into who I am today. She is one of my most favorite people on the whole planet and can do no wrong in my eyes.

I love them all. I love all of my family... there are soooooooo many! I won't even begin to list them all, but each and every one of them is dear to me! So, in short, I love my family and I am inspired to write about them and share them with my extended family, my friends, and, from time to time, some strangers too.

5) I'll recycle one: If you met your husband 10 years before you did, would you have hit it off?

This is a great question. My husband and I have known each other since high school. We also worked together at a local video store during that time. I knew him very well. I did not like him at all. He pestered me - he pestered me all of the time. Years later he confessed that he did this because he liked me. Isn't that 3rd grade behavior, not high school behavior?

Nonetheless, we lost contact when we went off to high school. Years later, he contacted my mom (real estate agent) to help him buy a house. She was all giggles when she met with him. Finally I told her, in my most sassy voice, "MAWM - we are talking about DH for crying out loud." "Well, he's all grown up!" was her reply.

So, DH and I casually went out to lunch one day just to talk about all times. I was not too interested in the lunch but I went anyways. Uh... he was all grown up. So, we hung out casually as friends for several months before we started dating and then we got married.

I am hardly deserving of such a wonderful person in my life. I still think that he is so handsome (because he is), he still makes me laugh, I still love to share my day with him and listen about his day, he treats me like a princess... everyday, and more. sigh! Nonetheless, sometimes it is hard to think that he is the rascally high schooler who used to pick on me all of the time... pick - pick - pick - pick!


Thanks for the great questions. Anyone else wanna play? (Mim already answered her 5 questions.) If so, leave me a comment letting me know that you want 5 questions and I'll send them your way.


Flickr photo from zevotron

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Recent activities

Just a few videos to pass the time away.

Here we have Lulu playing speed stacks. If you haven't heard, speed stacks is all the rage for this age group. She says that it is her favorite sport. There are rules that dictate exactly how to stack the cups. Anyways, you can see it here for yourself. She is playing with mini cups in the first video and standard cups in the second video. This gets really frustrating fun when Bro tries to play too interrupt her. (wink, wink)



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This last clip is Bro playing in the sand over Valentine's Day weekend. Soon, I will have video of him walking!!!!!

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p.s. As of the writing of this post, Bro is home sick with a 102 degree temperature. Yuck! The really disappointing news is that Lulu had her dance competition tonight and I am here with Bro (DH is working) instead of at her competition. It breaks my heart to not be there for her. I am sure that I am missing her more than she is missing me though. I would have loved to have seen her perform. :-(

p.p.s. A few days ago, we discovered that Bro really likes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!!!! So far, he doesn't seem to have a peanut allergy.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Great Backyard Bird Count: 2009 Results

The results are in! We saw 100 birds on Saturday.

Here are our results, in no particular order:

Canada Goose - 60

Red-tailed Hawk - 2

Mourning Dove - 4

Blue Jay - 1

American Crow - 2

Carolina Chickadee - 5

Tufted Titmouse - 1

Carolina Wren - 7

American Robin - 9

Song Sparrow - 7

Northern Cardinal - 1

Red-winged Blackbird - 1

We saw one sea gull, but it isn't part of the GBBC checklist.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Science Fair

The papers came home. Yep. That's right! Lulu's school is having a science fair this year and she has to come up with a project idea.

I'm not the biggest science fair fan. It's just that science fair projects have lots of rules and are a whole lotta work for not a lot of fun (in my opinion). Well, as an adult I would like to participate, but it was never fun for me as a child.

Last night we/I reminisced my science fair projects from my childhood.

Let's see. There was the time that I dropped objects out of the barn hayloft to answer the question: Does the weight of an object affect its freefall to the ground?











The next year I hid my science fair paper and ended up growing mold on bread at the last minute.












After that I added different types of manure to plants to see which one worked best for plant growth (which is really cool for a budding tween-ager - thanks Grand Matriarch). I added horse, rabbit, and goat manure to my plants. If I remember correctly, the rabbit manure worked the best.



My middle school project was inspired by copied from someone I knew who was a few years older than me. It dealt with acid rain. I won for my grade level, in my tiny school, and went on to the county science fair. At the county fair, I was most embarrassed when one of the judges asked me what the acidity level was for the rain in my area and I didn't know. The judge just looked at me and said, "Well, ask that guy over there." That guy was a competitor standing across the aisle. Great!

And there ended my science fair adventures.

Lulu wants to test "if age affects the areas where certain tastes are detected on a tongue." She came up with this all on her own. We have a week to change our minds.

Do you have any favorite science fair projects from your childhood? Please - do share!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day, Part II

Oh we are having a wonderful day. One of Lulu's best friends spent the night last night. Due to redistricting of the school zones, Lulu doesn't go to school with this friend anymore so they don't get to see each other very much. It was great to see them together again.


We had heart-shaped pancakes for breakfast.



We did the Great Backyard Bird Count this morning. More on that later!

We walked to a nearby park, which we refer to as the sand park.



Bro played in the sand... one finger at a time.


He played on the slide.

Lulu played on the monkey bars, as usual.

Bro took one quick picture with mom...

... and two great pictures with big sister!

Dear Husband, not pictured, went to the grocery store to buy all of the supplies needed for our heart-shaped pizzas tonight!

Much love to all of you!!!!!

Happy Valentine's Day

Today is Valentine's Day! Yesterday the kids had their respective Valentine parties at school. Brody gave out these Pooh Valentines and Lulu distributed the Tinker Bell ones with the pencils.

I know that Bro is a bit young to be giving out Valentines but I didn't want to be the the only parent who didn't send in the cards and I didn't know what other parents would do... so I sent them in: cards for his friends and cards for his teachers.

Lulu is in a new school this year; it is a newly-built school so it is new to all of us and we are all still trying to adjust to the new ways of doing things, both good and bad. I mention this because the first week of February a note came home saying that the 5th graders would not be exchanging Valentines this year. They would have a party, but no cards. That rule is absolutely unheard of. Again... let me reiterate... I've never heard of such a thing.

Well, just this week a different note came home. Apparently, according to the note, after "much parent input" they decided to let the 5th graders exchange cards, with a few rules:

(1) Each student will bring in one card for every other student (well DUH).
(2) The cards will be kind in nature (again, DUH).
(3) The cards will be dropped into each student's bag and the bag will be stapled shut.
(4) The students may open their bags and Valentine cards when they get home.

Okay, I understand that kids can be mean. However, it has always been stressed that (1) you have to give one card to everyone and (2) they have to be nice cards. What the heck is going on with the 5th graders at the school that there is such hysteria about these cards? It sounds to me like the problem is more than just the cards and these Valentine cards rules aren't going to solve the much bigger overall problem. It sounds to me like, instead of receiving this cryptic 10-step Valentine Code of Conduct, I should have received a letter talking about being nice to others, being nice to our friends, the bullying policy review, or something.

I know that there are some teachers who read this blog - does your school have these Valentine issues? Parents? Comments? I am dumbfounded.

Check out this picture of Bro and Lulu from last Valentine's Day. Uh - melts my heart!

Alas, I hope that you are all having a happy day. I think that we are going to have homemade heart-shaped pizzas for dinner. I'll let you know.

Friday, February 13, 2009

To keep or not to keep? That is the question.

As you know, several weeks ago we celebrated Bro's birthday. As you might know, I am a pack rat.

pack rat n. Informal A collector or accumulator of miscellaneous objects.

From what I can tell, from observing other close family members (ahem - Grand Matriarch), this is a dominant genetic trait in my family tree.

Bro has some Mylar balloons that have been floating in our living room since his party. (You know, mylar balloons are the thick silver balloons with pictures on them.) Unlike some of Lulu's birthday balloons (which tend to be related to her particular theme and, thus, of no good use from year to year), Bro's balloons were relatively generic and "Happy Birthday" in style. So, I thought that we could save Bro's balloons (four Mylar balloons in all) and use them again another year. This seems perfectly logical to me?

I inserted a straw into the balloons ends so that I could let out the air (a trick that DH didn't know -ha ha ha ha ha). Then, I deflated the balloons and folded them in a bag for next year. DH thinks that I am crazy for saving the balloons.

Have I gone too far? Do you save your Mylar balloons? If not, then what do you do with them? I hate to throw them away.

Note to self: In case I forget, I put the balloons in the top-level hall closet, next to the garden flags.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Great Backyard Bird Count

Don't forget that the Great Backyard Bird Count is this weekend. You just need to observe birds for 15 minutes. Most of all, don't forget to go online and log in your bird count.

Easy participation directions are here.

A checklist of common birds in your area is here.

Please check back with me to let me know which birds you see.

Oh, and have a happy Valentine's Day!

Garlic and Sapphires

I read Ruth Reichl’s Garlic and Sapphires.

I liked it for several reasons. First, this is the real-life story of a food critic, not just any food critic, but the food critic for the New York Times. So, I loved reading about the adventures of a food critic and what life is like working for the NY Times. I have somewhat always been interested in writing for a major newspaper and the newspaper process in general so it was fun to see that side of the news industry. Plus, it was very interesteing to see Reichl's take on the prejudices of the food industry when it comes to service to their paying guests.

I learned, however, that my taste buds are not very advanced, for lack of a better word. I’m not much for exotic foods. I wish that I could say that I would even eat something as mainstream as sushi, but I won’t .

Also, I liked the book because I didn’t have to worry about forgetting what was going on in the book if I didn’t get a chance to read it for a few days.

Garlic and Sapphires was a fun and pleasant read, especially for me since I enjoyed the glimpse into the life of a food critic and writer for a major newspaper. If you are interested in either of these two topics then you will probably like Garlic and Sapphires too.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sunflower Still Life

I just read Lulu's school newsletter where they noted that they have been uploading the students' artwork onto Artsonia.

Once I got to Artsonia I did the appropriate searches and found this picture. I knew immediately that it was Lulu's. I love this picture. It was drawn in chalk. I am hoping to have it framed so that we can display it at home.

So, Artsonia is so great because the school uploads the artwork. From there, her friends and family can register as "fans" of her work. And, of course, we can also add her artwork to coffee mugs, shirts, and so on. However, the great part is that I can share this picture with you. She is so critical of her artwork and I really, really loved this picture. I'm so glad that Lulu's school put this on the web.

I mean, I know that she isn't the next Renoir (or whatever that guy's name was) but I just really, really like this picture. Plus, it really, really bothers me that the artwork comes home just shoved into a bookbag because then it gets wrinkled and ruined. This one made it home safe and sound.

Monday, February 9, 2009

America's Next Top Model

I was taking pictures off of Lulu's camera and putting them onto the computer to free up some memory on her card. I found these shots that she took of herself. She is so funny!



I also found some pictures that she took of her friends while they were at Girl Scout camp last year. Those were priceless. I can't wait to put them into a slide show and send them to their parents!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Siblings

I am an only child. I enjoy being an only child (for various reasons). Lulu was an only child until recently. This all seemed very normal to me.

Then, with the birth of Bro, I discovered the love of a sibling. Recently, I was tagged on facebook and asked to list 10 random things about me. One of my entries was, "Watching my children relate to each other as siblings has been one of my life's greatest joys." I have not stopped thinking about that statement ever since I wrote it and should have included sibling in my 's' list.

Just this morning DH and I were rushing to get out of the house. I ran downstairs and found this sight. Seriously, this is it folks. No posing here.

It melts my heart to see them together. Lulu has doted on Bro as much as any proud mother would. Bro, on the other hand, will let Lulu hold him all of the time - sometimes jumping out of my arms to get to her.

What do you think is better? Only child or siblings? Although, having said that, I still really don't feel the need to have a sibling in my life.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Donuts

Every Friday of the legislative session, someone from our office brings in donuts. Today was my day to bring them in - all 4 dozen of them.

I prepared my family to be ready for me to leave early in the morning, so that I could get the donuts for work. They insisted that I bring donuts for them too, which meant that I had to go out into the world and get the dounts and bring them back and then head back out into the world for the second time (at the crack of dawn).

I did as I was told. I got up bright and early, as the whole house was asleep. I got ready for work and walked to my local Dunkin' Donut shop. Yes, I walked; if I cut through the woods behind my house, I can get there and back in no time.

I bought the donuts and used a 50% off coupon (thanks Mom and Dad) from my coupon book - the highlight of my morning. Plus, I grabbed a vanilla latte for DH and myself.

On a side note, I know that we are in an economic downturn and that businesses are closing everywhere - including Starbucks. Well, two (not one, but two) Dunkin' Donuts have opened up in my neighborhood within the past year. And, judging from the crowd at the donut store this morning, America REALLY does run on Dunkin'. How many people can one Dunkin' Donut store hold at 6:30 in the morning? Apparently, a lot.

I crept back into the house - everyone still sleeping. I woke up my DH and told him that I had coffee and donuts waiting for him downstairs. He smiled. "Really?" he asked. Really! Then, I woke up little Lu and she was excited too. DH eats the cruellers and Lulu grabbed the glazed; I thought she would have grabbed the one with pink icing and sprinkles. Who knew?

I took the rest to work. Yum!


By the way, which coffee do you think is better Dunkin or Starbucks? I am NOT a Starbucks snob, but it is the preferred coffee store within walking distance to my office. The other coffee shop is less than clean. I only get the regular coffee - no yummy mochas for me (except for today) - so, it isn't that expensive. Confession: I don't even go to the coffee shop that often anymore; saving my $$ for the kids, ya know. Still, I was shocked to see that Dunkin is the preferred coffee.

Winter ONEderland Cake

Before I got sick with the flu, we celebrated Bro's birthday. I made the Snowman cake and I was fairly happy with the results. If I had to do it all over again, I would add more of the sugar cubes. DH and Lulu agreed that he needed arms, which I did not add because I didn't really have a way to get them on once the snowman was iced. Plus, DH wanted me to make a 3-ball snowman; you notice that mine is only made of 2 balls (like the one that I was copying). Also, I don't know what happened, but the cake was a little lopsided.

Anyway, here he is.


"Happy Birthday to Bro."

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Bro eats cake.

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Here he is licking his plate. This clip is a bit staged because he stopped licking his plate right before we started filming.

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All in all we had a great time. We offered lasagna for the meat eaters (store-bought but better than nothing). Our non-meat dishes included: hearty butternut squash and corn chowder, divine spinach salad, bountiful beer bread with ranch dip, and awesome artichoke spread with crackers. Thanks to everyone for the great veggie suggestions. Our nanny said that she does eat pizza, so we could have had pizza-for-1 (love it) but it just didn't turn out that way.

Is anyone else out there an amateur cake baker? I'd love to see your cakes.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

I thought that I looked cute.

So, I did it. I bought a new shirt. I never, ever buy new clothes for myself. I am lucky enough to be the same size as my mom and she buys tons a fair amount of new clothes for herself so I just wear the ones that she doesn't want need anymore. Don't know what I'll do if I actually do lose these 20 10 pounds or she stops going to the gym. Well, if she stops going to the gym then I really WILL have tons of new to me clothes.

Back to my story. I bought a new shirt. Kinda like this one pictured here which is now on sale on e-bay. My shirt came from Kohl's and it was majorly on sale and it is new and it is not black a cute color and it goes well with black pants and it is cute and I look so cute in this shirt. I mean, when Lulu hugged me good-bye this morning she said, "Mom, you look so cute today!"

Fast foward to my day at work. I got on the elevator with a co-worker and he asked me, "So, are you in the matronly way again?" (or something like that). I played it off and said, "No, not yet," because everyone has been asking me when hubby and I will try again. Well, then he said, "Oh, you just have some extra weight to lose?" Yes. He really said that... and, there were other people on the elevator with us. I mean, how embarrassing is that. So, I replied, "I know. I do have more to lose. Probably won't lose it all before the next one comes along though." Then, the elevator doors opened and he left. The doors closed and I had to ride up one more floor in complete silence with the other folks on the elevator. I bet they had something to talk about when they got back to their offices.

I adore this particular co-worker and this is fine, but... I thought that I looked cute today.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Healthy

I'm back and Tamiflu is my friend. Next year, I will get my flu shot. Never never, never, never, never again will I laugh at the wimps smart folks who get their flu shot each year.


A most wonderful thing happened to me while I was in bed and curled up in the fetal position. I was tagged... for the very first time! Me? Little ol' me? Sitting in front of the computer and curled up in my jammies... and I was tagged with a most beautiful butterfly award. Thanks Mim!



The rules for this tag are as follows:



1. Put the logo on your blog.


3. Award up to ten other blogs.

4. Add links to those blogs on yours.

5. Leave a message for your awardees on their blogs.


I think that some of the coolest blogs are:
Our Day to Day (a new blog, I know, but give her some time... she's really cool)
20 Something and in the Air Force (because I used to babysit her when she was little and now she's all grown up)


Coming up: I will post the birthday cake pictures, Bro graduated to a forward facing car seat, and DH set out some bird feed to attract some birds in anticipation of the Great Backyard Bird Count.