Tuesday, November 29

Self Portrait Tuesday - Identity #4

Lost But Not Quite Forgotten

Chris and I met when I was in college. I was young and wild. Sometimes TOO wild! Sure I learned a lot in college but I also had fun. Lots and lots of fun.

We dated for awhile and then got married. After several years of marriage, the kids came along. Three of them in 3 1/2 years! Suddenly I was an adult. Eventually the adult me completely overshadowed the wild me.

Occasionally Chris will comment that he misses the "girl" he married. We've been together for 14 years - I'm older now and I'm a wife and a mom, too. Apparently, in my mind, that equates to being more serious and less spontaneous. You know what, though? I sometimes miss that wild side too.

Monday, November 28

Sleeping Giant


This weekend we took the boys to Sleeping Giant State Park for a hike. We had a great day for it - the weather was perfect! There was some snow on the trails near the top but not at the bottom. It was fun to see the snow as we climbed higher.

The view was spectacular:


The shelter at the top was a treat to discover:


We had such a great time and I can't wait to go again. Chris and I used to hike all the time but we haven't done a real hike in a number of years. (Lots of walks in the woods though!) I've missed it but I didn't realize how much until this weekend.

Sunday, November 27

Celebrating Advent - Week 1


Our family has so many special traditions at this time of year. One of them is our observance of Advent. Today marks the first Sunday in Advent and so tonight we light the first candle in our wreath. This is the first purple candle and it represents "Hope".

Charles gets to light the first candle and say a special dinner prayer. That candle will then be lit each night this week during dinner. (Topher is too young to light a candle so he gets to blow them out). Each Sunday, we have a special dinner and I usually make sugar cookies shaped like stars and dusted with glistening sanding sugar. Tonight's dinner was a favorite of mine:

"Family Favorite" Brisket in the Crockpot
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Last year, Edmund learned a sweet little Advent Song in Church. I'd like to incorporate this song in to our our Advent celebrations at home.


Verse 1:

Light the Advent Candle one
Now the waiting has begun
We have started on our way
Time to think of Christmas Day


Candle, candle, burning bright
Shining in the cold winter night
Candle, candle, burning bright
Fill our hearts with Christmas Light

Verse 2:

Light the Advent Candle two
Think of humble shepherds who
Filled with wonder at the sight
Of the child on Christmas night


Verse 3:

Light the Advent Candle three
Think of heavenly harmony
Angels singing "Peace on Earth"
At the Blessed Saviour's birth


Verse 4:

Light the Advent Candle four
Think of joy forever more
Christchild in a stable born
Gift of love that Chrismas morn


Friday, November 25

First Snow of the Season


We woke up yesterday to a veil of snow. Not quite a blanket but enough to let us know that the season is starting. It stayed on the ground for several hours which was a nice treat.

It really got me in the mood for the upcoming Winter holidays. I'm ready to pull the boxes of ornaments and garland down from attic. Today we are listening to Christmas carols and drinking mulled cider. This weekend we'll pack away the fall decorations and start decking the halls!

I can hardly wait!

Thursday, November 24

Giving Thanks


Some of the many things that we are thankful for this year:

- Family
- Friends
- Our health
- A warm home and a roof that doesn't leak
- Good jobs
- Our Faith
- Apples
- Books
- Yellow

Happy Thanksgiving to those of you who celebrate!

... and Thank You for being interested in what I have to say.

Wednesday, November 23

Little Sprouts


Topher is such a little thing. He's in the 5th percentile for height and weight - if he's lucky. Because of this, I have such a hard finding pants to fit him. If they fit in the waist, they are too short. If they fit in length, they fall down because the waist is so big. The only solution is for me to make him some pants that fit.

I whipped up these hunter green corduroy pants in no time. The pattern is Simplicity 5284 and it is indeed simple. I left off the cargo pockets as I am not a big fan of them. I've got a few more pairs planned for him and then he should be set for the Winter.

The sun came out and there are still leaves all around. Topher and I took the opportunity to watch the ducks swim in the pond across the street. The mallards are just beautiful! Topher found a long willowy stick that was perfect for "fishing". We kicked up leaves and listened to them crunch under our feet as we walked along the stone wall. It's one of my favorite sounds of the season!


My own little sprout is eyeing some lovely baby Brussels Sprouts that we picked up at the farm market. They are so tiny - just about the size of a Hershey's Kiss. We'll have them roasted with caramelized onions tomorrow. I can hardly wait!

(and yes, the boys eat them too)

Tuesday, November 22

Self Portrait Tuesday - Identity #3

Mom, Mommy, Mother, Momma

I know that this is an identity that so many of us share. I need to document it as part of this series, though, because it really is a big part of who I am.

I've known many women who feel that they have lost their identity or perhaps it is on hold while they play the part of "Mom". And that is exactly how they look at it - playing a part. Being a mom is not really who they are but rather a role they must assume for a short time. They count the days, minutes, years, until they can go back to work- to who they "really" are.

Being a mom IS who I am. I dreamt of being a mom. I longed for it.

It is a difficult job and often a frustrating job. There are times that I just cringe at hearing "Moooommmmyyyyyy" for the 43rd time in an hour and I fantasize about changing my name. But really, I wouldn't trade this job for anything. When a little face looks up at me with those big round eyes and says "You are the most bestest mommy EVER", I know - I am a mom and I love it!

Monday, November 21

Autumn Leaves


We've really enjoyed the leaves this year. The colors were just beautiful! Unfortunately they didn't last too long and since it is raining (and blustery, too) this week, what is left is sure to be gone soon.

So we've decided to create our own long lasting Fall foliage. The boys and I ironed crayon scrapings between waxed paper and made a garland for the living room. We had a great time doing it and it will be fun to pull it back out again each year.

My new fleece jacket will also be a joy to pull out of the closet each year. It's so warm and cozy, it's already gotten a lot of wear. The pattern is Butterick B4293 and the fabric is from JoAnn's. It was a quick and easy project and I'm already planning of using the pattern again.

Sunday, November 20

Out with the Old/In with the New


I've had this sewing machine for the past 12 or so years. My mother gave it to me right about the time I got married. My grandmother gave it to my mother about 35 years ago when my mom was pregnant with me. She made my baby clothes, costumes, prom dresses, bridesmaids dresses, even my wedding dress on this machine. As a young girl, I learned to sew on this machine. I made baby clothes for my boys, blankets, crib bumpers, and costumes on this machine. I loved this machine.

Unfortunately I put the needle through my finger and nail while sewing last year and the machine has not been the same since. I've taken it in for service but it still is not right. I stopped sewing for just over a year because I couldn't handle the frustration.

I finally realized that it was time to face the facts - my machine has served me well but it is time to be retired. I need a new machine.


Last week, Chris told me to treat myself to an early birthday present and pick out a machine. I picked something with a variety of features but not too elaborate. (I don't need a machine that embroiders.) I've had it for a week now and I've been sewing non-stop. I love my new machine!

I'm not sure yet what will become of the old machine but I'm not quite ready to completely get rid of it.

Friday, November 18

Weekly Weigh In #13

I'm cruising right along!

I made it to my Weight Watcher's meeting today so I was able to "officially" weigh in. I'm down 2.2 pounds from my last official weigh in 2 weeks ago. (down 1.2 pounds from last weeks weigh in at home). I'm as pleased as punch about my progress!

I should probably take some measurements and start monitoring changes in my body and not just my weight. Once I get back to my goal, I know I'll still have a little work to do. I need to perk up a few areas, if you know what I mean. I'm not taking measurements tonight though. I'm not in the mood.

Today's WW meeting was about enjoying Thanksgiving with out overdoing it. Did you know that a slice of pumpkin pie is 9 Weight Watcher points! WOW! Luckily I have a recipe for a much healthier version. Only 2 points if you cut it in to 12 slices, 3 points if it serves 8.

Ginger-Spiced Pumpkin Pie

1 large egg(s)
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp table salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
15 oz canned pumpkin
3/4 cup fat-free evaporated milk
1 average pie crust, 9-inch, unbaked

Preheat oven to 425°F (220°). In a large bowl, lightly beat egg. Stir in sugar, salt, cinnamon, vanilla, ginger and nutmeg. Add pumpkin and evaporated milk. Stir until well combined. Pour into pie shell.

Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F (175°C) and bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool before serving.


Wednesday, November 16

My New Purse


Just another picture of the bag my Secret Pal sent. It's very cute and stylish. I just love it and I love using it. I'm just amazed that is was made with something as simple as duct tape!

She got it from etsy. If you haven't browsed there yet, go take a look. There are so many creative people out there selling some really neat things.

Thank You, Secret Pal!


I've been a little remiss in publicly acknowledging the wonderful packages that my Secret Pal has sent. I've emailed her privately but I really need to show off the goodies. They are just too fabulous!

I just received my second package and I barely got a picture taken before I put the goodies to use! I opened the box and was instantly thrilled to see the red tissue paper wrapping. (I love red, you know!) She sent a very clever bag that she bought on etsy (and the proceeds went to Katrina Relief). Believe it or not, the bag is made entirely of duct tape! WOW! (Love the little roses!) I've been using it and I've gotten quite a few compliments on it.

In the bag, I found a luscious ball of Filatura Di Crosa 501. I've never seen this yarn before but I love it. The color is just perfect, too. I've been rubbing the yarn on my cheek - it's so soft. I think it is going to become a lace scarf. A variation on Branching Out perhaps.

Next was a kit to make a felted rose pin. I've never felted anything before (on purpose, anyway). I wasted no time getting started on this project. One episode of E-Ring later and it was ready for the washer. Unfortunately I don't have the best machine for felting so it took a very looooong time but the end results were worth it! I'll be putting the pieces together today.

Also included were three little Ghiradelli chocolate squares. These squares are just the perfect size. Each square was a different flavor and I refuse to pick a favorite. I love them all in different ways.

The last little treat was a little medallion of soap. It's green apple cinnamon and it smells good enough to eat. I had to be careful of it because it almost looks like a bit of candy and I think the kids were a bit tempted!

My first package from my Secret Pal was equally as wonderful. It came last month in the midst of the big game of Chutes and Ladders.

Click the teaser pictures to biggify!

SP6-Package-1-books First out the box were four knitting magazines that I've never seen before. I've been having lots of fun looking through them - planning projects, reading articles, learning new things. I've already bookmarked a few patterns and I'm sure that the more I look at them, the more I'll mark!

SP6-Package-1-yarn Next out of the box were several skeins of Shachenmayr Nomotta Micro. This is another yarn I've never seen (nor heard of) before.) The color is absolutely amazing! Such a rich gorgeous red. The yarn feels heavenly. I want to do something really special with it. I'm just not sure what that is yet.

SP6-Package-1-treats Also in the package were several little treats. There were some homemade stitch markers (which for some reason I was unable to get a good picture of). They are made with some lovely rectangular amber colored beads. I've put the to use already. She included a bottle of French Lavender body milk and bath. Mmm so relaxing! Then there were two Ghiradelli chocolate squares. (yumm yumm yumm!) and a nice little note of a cute card with shoes.

Thanks so much, Secret Pal!! Your packages are absolutely perfect and I really appreciate the effort you are making. I feel like you know me. I just can't wait to know who YOU are!

Tuesday, November 15

Self Portrait Tuesday - Identity #2



I live the life of the (mostly) Happy Housewife. I used to dream of being June Cleaver. In college (and sometimes even now) I was referred to as Donna Reed.

I make weekly dinner menus. I cook from scratch. I bake for my family, for school and for church. I sew. I knit. I needlepoint. (and so much more)

On occasion, I even clean!

I enjoy being domestic. I get a feeling of accomplishment when I make something with my own hands. It's so satisfying to see the kitchen sink shine or the bathroom sparkle.

After 12 years of marriage (8 of them as a mom) I am finally starting to figure it all out. I'm understanding the line that must be maintained to keep a healthy balance. Eventually it will all click.

In the meantime the laundry is piling up but Edmund has new curtains in his room and the cookies are ready to come out of the oven.

Friday, November 11

Weekly Weigh In #12

I didn't go to my Weight Watcher's meeting this week because the boys were off school today. I didn't really want to take them along and make them sit through it. It's so boring for them and they get restless. I also worry about them being a distraction.

I did stand on my home scale this week and I was down 1 pound. Last week my scale measured the same as the one at the meeting center so I'll take that as my official weight this week. Needless to say, I'm pleased. I am 4.5 pounds away from my goal. I'm hoping to get there by Christmas. I think that is do-able.

I've noticed that my skin has been dry lately - my lips especially. Now that the heat is on and the air is dryer, I'm feeling it. I really need to make sure I get plenty of water each day. I have such a hard time drinking enough water at this time of the year. It's so much easier in the Summer months.

Tuesday, November 8

Self Portrait Tuesday - Identity

I've been lurking over at Self Portrait Tuesday for awhile and I love seeing all the submissions. So much thought goes in to them and so many of them have made me think about my own sense of self. I've been tempted to take the plunge and participate but have been a little too afraid to put myself out there.

November's theme is an Exploration of Self Identity. As soon as the theme was posted, I knew that this is the time for me to join. I had an idea and I couldn't stop thinking about it. I'm feeling a little vulnerable but I'm ready to dive in.


Desperate Housewife

- Desperate to have a perfect home. A home that is neat and tidy and organized. A home that is warm, comforting and inviting. A home without scuff marks on the baseboards, with out dust bunnies under beds or stray socks under the sofa.

- Desperate to be the perfect mother. A mother who greets her children each day after school with freshly baked (wholesome) treats. A mother who may occasionally raise her voice but is not a fishwife. A mother who always has clean, sweet smelling laundry and never has to scramble looking for the other sock 5 minutes before the bus comes.

- Desperate to be the perfect wife. A wife who gets up and makes her husband a hot breakfast before he leaves for work. A wife who also packs him a hearty lunch to go. A wife who greets her husband at the end of the day looking fresh and put together. A wife who is never too tired or worn down for a little "adult time".

- Desperate to be the perfect hostess. A hostess who is always ready for drop in guests. Who always has a wonderful little something waiting in the wings to offer up with a cup of tea. A hostess who doesn't need to grab and stash when someone pulls up to the house.

I am failing. I am not perfect and I never will be. No one is. And yet, I desperately dream of appearing that way. I foolishly strive to be Wonder Woman? Mrs. Incredible? Super Mom?

I'm not completely unrealistic though.

I'm desperate to not feel overwhelmed. To not feel like I am clawing my way out of a deep hole while the walls are crumbling around me. To not just see but to actually reach the light at the end. To not completely shut down in the face or stress.

I'm desperate to not feel tired. I'm physically tired, I'm emotionally tired and I'm spiritually tired. I'm worn down and I need to feel recharged and refreshed.

I'm desperate to be a good homemaker. To not let the dishes pile up in the sink, to get the library books back on time, or to not wonder which unidentifiable item in the refrigerator is causing that smell.

I'm desperate to be a good person. To be liked. To feel important.

Friday, November 4

Weekly Weigh In #9, #10, and #11

Yet again, you get a combined update. This time it's 3 in 1. I'll try to do better.

The last three weeks have gone pretty well health-wise, though. I'm down 3 pounds which thrills me. I've lost the 2.2 I gained before that plus a little more. I'm so close to being back at my goal weight and even closer to not having to pay for my Weight Watcher's meetings. YAY!

Last weekend when my sister was visiting, we walked. I love walking. Unfortunately I don't really have many opportunities to walk right now. I also bought a resistance band and some small hand weights a few weeks ago and have been using those each day. Something is better than nothing.

Now that the weather has shifted and it's colder, I'm finding it a little harder to drink all my water each day. This week I really want to focus on that. I've made a little chart to hang on my fridge to help remind me to drink those 8 glasses each day. Wish me luck!

Thursday, November 3

Chutes and Ladders

Not long ago, I read where someone compared her weekend to a game of Chutes and Ladders. What a fitting way to look at all those little ups and downs we face in life. We just have to pray for more ladders (or at least bigger ladders) than chutes.

October Chutes and Ladders-

I am enjoying working. The children are such fun and it doesn't feel like a "job". Heck, I get to play, sing songs, read stories, make crafts and have a snack. - AND I get paid to do it! (Ladder)

Chris also seems to be enjoying his new job. He says he is not feeling the stress he was feeling before. Unfortunately, he is not home much right now. He leaves before sun up. While the rest of civilized society is still sleeping he is catching the train. He gets home after most of us have gone to bed. He has lots of meetings etc during the day so I don't really get a chance to talk to him until the weekends. We all miss him. It's temporary though. He's still getting the company up and running. (Chute and Ladder)

Charles had a "mysterious" accident. He woke one morning and couldn't/wouldn't use his dominant arm. He held it close to his body and did everything (including writing) with his other arm. I took him in to the Dr who, after lots of probing, prodding and questions, decided he wasn't sure what the problem was. Charles was sent for x-rays and blood testing (which he refused to cooperate for) (Chute, scary chute)

Two days later, however, he was fine. It was as if it never happened. The Dr thinks that perhaps he had a dislocated elbow ("Nursemaids Elbow") and that when I was trying to see how much movement he had before bringing him in, I actually (unknowingly) popped it back in to place. (Ladder)

The boys and I took several days and headed South to Maryland to see my parents. My dad had a little date and went to the Symphony. It was really nice to spend some time with him. Plus I got to get dressed up and wear my "fancy shoes"! The entire trip was very relaxing which is exactly what I needed. (Ladder)

I got a fabulous package from my Secret Pal. I'll post some photos and details on the package. (Ladder)

We were all sick with Fall colds. Not fun. Once those left, we were hit with allergies. It's that time of the year. The leaves are turning and the weather is changing. The cold and allergy combo will hit again in the Spring. (Chute)

We got together with some friends for our monthly Couples Night. This month we did desserts and appetizers. Unfortunately the babysitters cancelled so Couples Night turned in to Family Night (We hire a few high school girls to babysit all the kids together). Most of the food ended up being "kid snacks" instead of adult type appetizers. The kids also kind of had the run of the place so it was chaotic. No one could talk or visit. We left early and came home to a little quite time together. (Chute)

The rain finally stopped and the sun came out. We were able to take a trip to our favorite farm to pick pumpkins. It was a beautiful day and we had a lovely time. The drive up was nice and we spent quite a bit of time walking about and enjoying the outdoors. We came home with some gorgeous pumpkins, mums, and a variety of winter squashes. While there, we treated ourselves to apple cider and giant pumpkin cranberry cookies. (Ladder)

My sister came for a weekend visit. We haven't seen her in quite awhile so this was really special. The boys had such fun with their Auntie. She is wonderful with them. (Ladder)

After much anticipation, Halloween came. Topher had a little party at school with costumes. The parents were invited and the children sang some special songs for us. It was so cute! My sister was still here (she came on Sat and left on Mon) so she got to go too. Charles and Edmund's school did a costume parade around the school for the parents. Topher and I went and Oo'ed and Ah'ed over all the clever costumes. Charles' class also had a Halloween party at school with lots of treats and crafts. Edmund's class didn't have a party but they did spend the day as "Mad Scientists". They had to bring in shirts to use as lab coats and they did lots of messy, smelly and exciting science experiments. (Ladder)

Halloween night brought no one. We didn't have any trick or treaters and we didn't see anyone while we were out. I have a bowl full of little bags (about 90) of pretzels shaped like pumpkins and bats. There were only 4 houses in the neighborhood with lights on. Since this is our first Halloween in this house, we didn't know what to expect. As it turns out, most of the neighborhood is members of a rather large local church that is very publicly opposed to Halloween. The houses that did give out treats more than made up for the others. The kids came home with just enough. (They don't eat a lot of candy anyway) They were a little disappointed not to see anyone else walking around but they weren't too disappointed in the number of houses that we went to. (Ladder and a little Chute)

I'm sure there is lots more that went on in October but those are highlights of the things that I can remember. Some chutes and some ladders. Some were big and some were small. In the end it looks like I made it to the top row or at least pretty darn close to it. October was busy month but not a bad month.

If you hit a chute, look for another ladder to bring you back up again.