Wednesday, August 31

Back to School


Edmund and Charles went back to school today. They were very excited about seeing old friends, making new friends and getting back to a regular schedule. Our Summer was a busy one and our routines were way off.

Backpacks were loaded, lunches were made and snacks were packed. We were ready and out waiting for the bus 10 minutes before it's estimated arrival time. That 10 minutes took an eternity. We have a new bus company this year and that means new bus drivers. The bus finally arrived half an hour late - 15 minutes after school actually started! The driver promised it would be better tomorrow.

The boys are in school, Topher is anxiously awaiting their return and I am taking back my home. Order will once again return to Our Home on the Hill.

In the mean time, I'll enjoy the quiet.


Tuesday, August 30

Getting ready for school

School starts tomorrow so today was spent taking care of those pesky last minutes things. All three boys were looking a little shaggy around the ears (and down the backs of their necks) so off to the barber we went. This errand was met with mixed emotions. One was cheering. He loves to look neat and tidy (I just wish he would carry that over to his room!) One was complaining. He is more umm.. relaxed in his appearance. The third was confused. He didn't know which brother to emulate.

Three haircuts, three lollypops and three very handsome boys later, we were off to lunch. We decided to check out the newly opened Panera. What a great place! Lunch was wonderful and oh so relaxing. I nearly forgot that I was the mall!

Finally it was off to the office supply to pick up the rest of the school supplies. After seeing the lists that so many others had, I feel fortunate that ours was so short! For 3rd grade - a 1/2" binder, a single subject notebook, a folder and a box of tissues. Of course he insists he needs more so we will see after school actually starts. For 1st grade all that was needed was a folder. We also had to pick up some binders and page inserts so the boys can reorganize their baseball cards. I passed up all the cool looking pens, pencils, notebooks, post-its, etc etc etc. I'm like a kid in a candy store when I go to the office supply!

Now to pack those backpacks.

Monday, August 29

Secret Pal Surprise


It seems I was inadvertently assign a Secret Pal Angel. What a sweet angel she is too! (Check her out here.)

The envelope was covered in a map which excited me. I love maps! This one was a map of my very own area and as it turns out, also my angel's area too. She is from right across the Sound from me. I can practically wave at her! (well if the weather were clear and I had some good binoculars)

In the package was a bar of dark chocolate from France. Mmmm. This will be savored and enjoyed slowly.

There were also some personalized care instruction tags for me to use on my knitting. They have adorable little hedgehogs on them and they say "Handmade for you by Emily" with a spot to write in the wash instructions and the fiber content. I can't wait to knit up some little gifts so I can use them!

She wrote a lovely note on a beautiful handmade card. Again it had hedgehogs on it as well as a pink teapot. Very feminine and very me!

Thank you so much! I love the package and it really brightened my day!

Sunday, August 28

Yankee Stadium


Yesterday Chris took us all in to "The City" for an afternoon of baseball. What a day we had! We rode the train in to Harlem and then switched to the subway. Just the trip in was a thrill for the kids!

We got to the stadium early enough to watch the teams warm up. The boys were armed with their gloves in hopes that a ball would be hit in our direction. Unfortunately the only thing flying through the air in our section were bags of peanuts and Crackerjacks.

We had hot dogs (nothing better than a ball park dog!) and peanuts (what is better than being able to just drop your shells right there!) and sodas (a rare treat for the boys!) and a few snacks that we brought from home.

There were some great plays but it was not looking good for the Yankees. Yep, this Red Sox fan was able to enjoy watching "the other team". I even cheered hard for them! The Yankees were down 7-3 in the 9th inning. (I think that the pitcher for the Royals was throwing balls to intentionally walk some of the power hitters to prevent them from scoring) An error was made by KC and suddenly it all turned around! The Yankees pulled ahead to win it 8-7! It was all very exciting!

Things got a little exciting in the stands too. There was a large group of people sitting several rows behind us that got a bit rowdy (and really drunk!). Some of the language was unbelievable. Eventually the entire group was evicted from the game. I would say there were probably about 20 in the group. In addition to stadium security, 3 police officers and the stadium chief were required to remove the group. I'm sure this group viewed it as a huge success to be evicted. The rest of us were pretty pleased to see them go.

We were all pretty tired by the time we got home. It was a good tired though. We had a great day!


Friday, August 26

Weekly Weigh In #1

I had my first weigh in today after recommitting to Weight Watchers. I did really well this past week. I journaled absolutely everything I ate. I hit my Daily Points Target each day and only ended up using 5 of my 35 allowed Flex Points. I never felt deprived or hungry either. I got my water in each day and 4 out of 7 days I got my 2 milk servings. The other 3 days I got at least 1, sometimes 1 1/2. I also got in all 5 fruits and vegetables each day. I'm feeling really good about myself! I stood on the scale at my weigh in center and I was down 2 pounds! That is 2 pounds closer to my goal!

I had a "Bravo" moment this week. I went to the grocery to pick up some milk. I was having a rather stressful day which came on the heels of 3 other stressful days. I am a stress eater for sure! They had just made some popcorn chicken in the deli dept. I love the popcorn chicken and it would have been so easy to go pick up a cup and eat it while shopping. BUT! I knew that it wouldn't really make me feel any better and actually I would probably end up feeling worse after eating it. So I bought a container of grape tomatoes instead. Yay me!

My goal for this week is going to be to try to add in some activity points. It will be a bit of a challenge to exercise with the boys still home from school but I'll see what I can do.

How are you all doing? Do you have a "Bravo" moment? Are you feeling committed?

Thursday, August 25

McDonalds Playland


Charles' teacher from this past year (kindergarten) held a little reunion of sorts at our local McDonalds. The kids were all very excited to see one another again after a long Summer apart. The teacher was thrilled to see "her children" again. She bought them all Happy Meals and then they played in the Playland. What fun!

While we were there and the children were waiting for their food, I sat and pulled out another sock I am knitting. One of the little girls came up really close to me and asked if I was knitting. She was very curious about it, wanted to know what it was, if it was complicated and why the needles were so small. She decided she wanted me to teach her so she practically took the needles and the sock right out of my hands to try. I made her watch me a few times and then I let her give it a shot. She did a great job! She knit about 20 stitches (complaining that it was so complicated the entire time) before her food came and she gave it back to me. I told her that I would have to remember to carry some bigger needles with me for next time.

5:00 AM

It's 5:00am and I am lying here in bed wishing I were asleep. I've not been sleeping well lately. I go through periods like this when I just can't get a good night's sleep. Unfortunately, it makes for some less than productive days.

These days I need all the stamina I can muster to handle that Beast that has some how taken possession of my children. They are loud and they are messy. Of course they are also boys so that is to be expected. But they are also suddenly deaf. I get a better response talking to the tree in the front yard than I do talking to them. Perhaps I have the gift to speak at a decibel that is inaudible to human ears under the age of 10? If this is my superpower, I'd like to know if I can get a refund.

There has also been a mutiny at Our Home on the Hill. Apparently the inmates have taken over the asylum because the boys (mistakenly) think that they are the ones that set the rules around here. I'm only needed for cooking cleaning and taxi service. I don't think so.

The winds of change are upon us like a hurricane!

Chris has gone back to work. He was home for sometime recovering from foot surgery - unable to get around. He hobbled off on his crutches fleeing the chaos we call life with kids. He'll miss the excitement I'm sure!

School starts next week and with that comes a more structured schedule. I'll be laying down the letter of the law and whipping things back in to shape. The Beast will be banished from our home. I'm sure there will be occasional visits but hopefully they will become few and far between.

Today I don the sheriff's badge. Tonight Tylenol PM.

Wednesday, August 24

Sockpal-2-za: One Done


I'm at the halfway mark with my socks for my Sockpal-2-za pal. It still needs to be washed and blocked but looks great! I just hope it fits great too. She has a completely different foot measurement than I do so I can't try it on to get a feel for the fit.

Sock number 2 is on hold for a moment. I had a bit of a knitting casualty. I should be able to start the next sock this weekend though.

Friday, August 19

Weekly Weigh In - A Fresh Start

For quite some time now (I don't know how long and, really, I don't want to think about it) I have "trying" to do Weight Watchers on my own to get back to my goal weight. I KNOW I can do it - I am a lifetime member after all. I lost nearly 60 pounds after Topher was born! Apparently, though, I just can't do it on my own. I need to be accountable to some one besides myself and my computer. (Your comments and your support have been so encouraging and I really DO appreciate them, by the way.)

So today I went back to the meetings. I went to a couple of meetings last year but it didn't really work out for me. Topher was in school on Tuesdays and Thursdays so those are the days I wanted to go. I drop him at school at 9:15 (and no matter how hard I would try, I was never able to drop and run. Not because of him though, the other moms or the teachers would chat with me for a few minutes and I do like to chat!) and the meetings started at 9:30. The two are about 20 minutes apart. I was always late. By the time I stood in line to check in and get weighed, I had pretty much missed most of the meeting. Not worth it. I also never really "clicked" with meeting leaders on Tuesdays or Thursdays. They were very nice and did a great job but I just didn't feel excited or motivated after the meetings.

This year Topher is in school on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays. He will still be dropped off at 9:15 and I'm sure I'll still spend a few minutes chatting with the other moms. However, the Friday meetings are at 10 am! Perfect!

Chris was home today so I left the boys in his capable hands and went to the meeting. It went really well. I weighed in pretty much right where I expected I would. The meeting was a good one - I liked the leader and I liked the other members. The group looks like it is a nice mix of ages which is important to me.

I have about 15 pounds to get back to my goal weight. There are 18 weeks until Christmas and my birthday. My hope is to get back to my goal weight by then. I think that is a pretty attainable goal. Won't that be a great way to start the new year, at my goal weight?!

I'll still be posting my weekly weigh in updates. I should be much more consistent now though. I don't always remember to weigh myself at home which means I don't remember to write a weekly update. How about you? How are you doing?

Tuesday, August 16



The boys and I took a little trip over to Ikea today. It is a mere 15 minutes away - I love that!

We needed to exchange something that Chris bought last week so while we were there, we did a little shopping of our own. I just love walking through all the showrooms that they have set up. It makes me feel like I should run right home and redo my own home!

After all of that walking and browsing and shopping, we needed a little lunch break. Swedish meatballs all around! The boys wanted to bring a bag of their frozen meatballs home but can you believe they were out?! We did bring home a tray of their giant cinnamon rolls though. Mmm yummy!

Monday, August 15

Secret Pal Mail!

I came home from my trip to some good mail! A package from my Secret Pal arrived while I was away - actually it arrived the day I left. Chris called to let me know it was here waiting so all week I got to think about it and wonder what it was!


My Secret Pal sent me 2 balls of sock yarn. I LOVE sock yarn! The yarn she sent is Patons Kroy Socks in the Paint Box colorway. It's so pretty! There is already a lot of debating on who I will make socks for with this yarn! The colors remind me of some flowers that were in my grandmother's garden when I was a girl.

(I thought they were Indian Paintbrushes but after doing a little Google search, it looks like they were something else. I'll have to research it.)

Also in the package was a patten book. It's Patons Classics Happy Feet. Sock patterns to go with my sock yarn! Those long toe socks look fun - I'm just not sure if I could wear little gloves on my toes! Edmund wants some though.

There was also a mixed CD that my Pal made for me. We listened (and danced) to it immediately. It's a great mix of songs some of which were new to me and some I knew. It's going right in to my iPod, for sure!


My Secret Pal also sent a couple of treats that the boys clamored over! She sent a "bouquet" of Tootsie Roll Pops and some Spongebob Squarepants stickers!

Thanks Secret Pal!

Monday, August 8

On the Road Again!

The Mom-mobile is packed and we are off! First stop is the Ophthalmologist for Topher's post-op check up. Next stop - Grandmom and Grandpa's house! The boys and I will be spending this week with my parents in Maryland. We can't wait! We have big plans for big fun!

Friday, August 5

Resting Quietly


Topher had his surgery today. He was such a trooper! There is a reason he refers to himself as 'SuperTopher"! He was in very good spirits all morning- playing and coloring in the waiting room. When it came time for him to go in to the operating room, he took the doctor's hand and walked off with a smile. They said that you would have thought he was going to a party.

He went to sleep with the mask, they inserted an IV and got down to business. The surgery was very routine and straight forward. So far, the doctor is very pleased. Topher came out of recovery nicely. His throat was sore but was quickly appeased with a popsicle. A good popsicle can placate a variety of troubles!

He has been sleeping all afternoon. He is hungry but nauseous from the anesthesia. He is not in pain but his eyes are a bit itchy and he is frustrated by the fact that we won't let him rub them. His eyes are a bit pink in the corners and his lids are a little puffy but other than that, there are no visible signs that he had surgery. No bandages or anything! It's very nice.

I was a huge bundle of nerves over the whole thing. I know they say it is minor, it is routine, that I had nothing to worry about but I can't help it. I am a mom and as a mom it is my job to worry about things others tell you not to worry about. I checked my watch constantly. I think Chris was ready to take it away from me! I tried to busy myself with my sock. I got a fair amount of knitting done and only made 1 mistake (that I can tell) I'll leave it. It's not too obvious and it will be a gentle reminder of how grateful I am for modern medicine.

Thursday, August 4



The book is here! Go ahead, go look. Read the book description. Pay special attention to the "about the author" part. Yep! Chris Tarantino. That is MY Chris Tarantino!

We are very proud and very excited here On the Hill! It has been a long (and somewhat stressful) process but it is over and the book looks fantastic!

Buy the book, tell your friends to buy the book, tell your neighbors too! Oh heck, tell the strangers you pass on the street to buy the book. This book is going to "change the world of fashion photography!" (Plus I want the royalty checks! ha)

* I've just looked at the box that was delivered here of the book and it appears that the above cover is the "working cover". The final cover is quite different but it's still the same great book!

Wednesday, August 3

Beat the Heat


Today the boys and I had some errands to do. While we were out, they said they were hot and thirsty. Hot and thirsty boys makes for cranky boys. Cranky boys makes for a cranky mom and that won't do! So what else could we do but stop at Starbucks for a refreshing treat.

Some lemonade, green tea lemonade and iced green tea and we were good to go!

Sockpal-2-za: Mini Update


I got a lovely e-postcard from my Sockpal-2-za pal last week (and a Monet - my favorite!). She is working on my socks (how exciting it is that someone is making something JUST FOR ME!) and she indicated that one is already done. I can hardly wait!

My socks for my pal are coming along. I've restarted yet again so they don't look any different than the last picture I posted. I went up a needle size and they are working up much nicer now. (from a 2.25mm to a 2.75mm - I am a tight knitter)

For those that have asked, I am using Patons Grace in Apricot. It is such a beautiful color! I thought that the cotton yarn combined with the lacy pattern would make a nice Summery sock.

Tuesday, August 2

Cocktails with Friends


Recently we got together with friends for cocktails and appetizers. All the kids - 11 of them! were at one house with a couple of babysitters and the adults were at another house. We try to do this on a regular basis. It is such a fun way to get out and have some "adult time".

This time we were hosting and I chose "tropical" as our theme. We had a beautiful night for it so we sat in the back yard by the pool surrounded by Tiki Torches wearing our Hawaiian prints!

~Cindy and Jon brought a pineapple and chicken dish called "Aloha Chicken" and several batches of Pina Coladas.
~Dawn and Howard brought Candied Nuts with Chipotle and Jerk Chicken Skewers.
~Lynea and Jeff brought a Caribbean style shredded beef dish and Pork and Chipotle Finger Sandwiches with a Fresh Salsa.
~I made Roasted Cice Nuts, Salmon Spread with Crackers, Crostini with Peaches, and Hawaiian Lemonade.

We had such a great night! So much food and all of it very tasty! The drinks were flowing freely as was the conversation! We are all looking forward to our next "Couples Night"!

Roasted Cice Nuts

2 (15 oz) cans chickpeas, drained
1/4 c olive oil
garlic powder
cayenne pepper
Creole Seasoning blend

Preheat oven to 450F. Blot chickpeas with paper towel to dry. Toss with the oil and season to taste. Spread on a baking sheet on a single layer. Roast 40 minutes, until golden brown and crunchy.

Salmon Spread

1 lb salmon fillet, poached
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 c sour cream
2 green onions
1/2 tsp salt
dash of hot sauce
2 Tbls lemon juice
1 Tbls Worcestershire sauce

Dump all in to the food processor and whirr. Refrigerate before serving.

Crostini with Peaches

3 c peaches, peeled and thinly sliced
2 Tbls balsamic vinegar
4 oz blue cheese, crumbled
fresh ground black pepper
36 thin slices of baguette
olive oil

Lightly brush the baguette with the olive oil and broil until toasted and crisp. Let cool.

Toss peaches with the vinegar and black pepper. Just before serving, top crostini with the peaches and sprinkle with the blue cheese.

Hawaiian Lemonade

10 oz vodka
16 oz pineapple juice
32 oz fresh lemonade
1 lemon sliced
1 can pineapple rings, drained

Mix together in a tall pitcher and chill. Serve over ice

Those Crazy Days of Summer!

So much going on at our Home on the Hill! We are all doing well, though. We have spent a lot of time time swimming in the pool which has been a sanity saver during those "3H" days! (Hazy Hot and Humid)


~ Edmund spent a week at Cub Scout Day Camp, Topher spent 2 weeks at Pre-School Half Day Camp, and Charles spent a very special week getting some quality one on one mom time.

~ Chris and I celebrated 12 years of wedded bliss!

~ We spent a very laid back weekend visiting my sister-in-law and her family. (The boys always love to see their cousins.)

~ We spent 4 days in the woods, living in a tent and cooking over an open fire. Four days just didn't seem long enough!

~ I spent an afternoon with my 3 boys plus 3 more boys. My girlfriend was left in a baby sitting lurch. What a blast it was to have a house full of boys!

~ We had a few couples over for a Tropical themed "Cocktails and Appetizers Night". Good food, good drink, and good friends!

Details on all of this and more to come! (Plus pictures and a few recipes, too!)


By the way, I want to thank all of who emailed me about my friend. She had her her mastectomy and is recovering nicely. Thanks for your thoughts!

Also, thank you Chris for emailing me about my long blog absence. It meant a lot to me and was the much needed kick in the pants to take a few minutes to post an update. Sorry about the rambling email in which I griped and complained about something so stupid. It was early and I was having one of those days.