Monday, December 31, 2012


Here's to noisemakers, shiny hats, shinier faces, sparkling cider, a crackling fire, midnight champagne toasts, and the promise of things to come.

Happy New Year, from our family to yours!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Holly Jolly

Christmas, In Brief:

We had two - one with just the four of us, and another extended one that involved my entire family, separated by a rather lengthy car trip. Fun was had all around, and we even got sleep! Except that night in the hotel when all four of us shared one room, and Lucy coughed a lot. But all the other nights, sleep! And fun! And presents, oh so many presents. M. and I did exceptionally well with the gifting, I think. I got him a new hobby (beer making!), and he got me, among other things, a fabulous new winter puffy coat that magically doesn't make me look puffy, and a tripod. There was a little snow, there were a lot of cousins, there was even some church time (ack! we survived, but barely! Note to self, next time, don't sit in the balcony!). We drove home on Thursday (a very long, long drive), and we're now faced with the prospect of reintegrating into real life again tomorrow.

Christmas, In Photo:

I could go on and on, but instead, I shall overwhelm you with photos and go to bed, because it is late. I have no photos from our little Christmas at home on Saturday morning, these start with Sunday afternoon in Massachusetts:

My mom dug out my wedding dress and veil for Lucy. The dress is sadly pretty stained, but the veil looked as beautiful as ever. Doesn't she look saintly?

Since it came down to her ankles, I wouldn't let her wear it for very long.

Tried to capture an "artistic" photo on the sly.

Looks much better without flash. Would prefer it if Finn was in focus instead, though. Too bad he moves so damn fast all the time.

This is my two-year-old niece Josephine. Isn't she cute?

This is what the kids wore on Christmas Eve. Lucy is wearing an old dress of mine, a velvet jumper. Finn wore this sweater for exactly 5 seconds after we walked in the door from church, then whipped it off in favor of the Angry Birds T-shirt he had on underneath it.

Needless to say, I didn't have much luck getting them to pose prettily for me.

My mom and brother somehow managed to color coordinate on Christmas Eve.

After a big dinner, stockings were hung (by the chimney, with utmost care, of course). Finn is the only grandkid to have a stocking knitted for him (by one of my dad's co-workers) - such privileges are often afforded to first grandkids. Everyone else had to pick a generic stocking from a pile.

Lucy picked the one with Rudolph (or "Redolph," as she likes to call him).

Then my brother read all the kids "The Night Before Christmas."

They MOSTLY listened intently, and there were only a couple of potty breaks and other random interruptions.

The kids fell asleep, stockings were stuffed, and morning came. Surprisingly, not as early as I thought it would. We actually had to go into Finn and Lucy's bedroom to rouse them. Here are the kids waiting to bust into the closed family room to see if Santa came. Santa had zip-tied the door shut just in case there were any midnight wanderings...

Once the stockings were emptied and the Santa gifts were properly played with, we all got out of our jammies and moved down to the living room to open family gifts.

The display of gifts was a tad overwhelming in an "embarrassment of riches" kind of way.

Lucy waited patiently to open her gifts, and helped Bumpa with his.

Finn got a little antsy that he had nothing to open (since we had already exchanged gifts, he had fewer than his cousins), but finally scored with a new Angry Birds backpack and the Lego Star Wars game for his Nintendo DS.

My dad got a new hat.

Some of you may have seen a similar photo on Facebook - me snuggling with a happy Lucy.

All the girls received a sack of girly princess things (nailpolish, tiaras, rings, wands, necklaces) from my brother and his girlfriend. Here is Penny modeling the tiara and wand.

My siblings and I gifted Mom with a couple of rustic looking hand-hooked pillows for the Maine lake house - the moose was a must.

Me and my oldest cutie.

The night before we left Massachusetts, I headed over to my wonderful friend Natalie's house for a little kid-free get-together. Here is a photo of my two sisters (Stacey on the left, Kristin on the right).

And one of the group of us - me, Amy, Stacey, Natalie, Kristin, and Helen in the front. It's hard to believe that we've known each other for almost 30 years (since first grade!!).

Back in Maryland, I unpacked one of my gifts from my mom - a real, honest-to-goodness, Le Creuset dutch oven - and made a pretty kick-ass vegetable soup. I love, love, love this pot!!

And M. started his first batch of beer.

In just a few weeks, he won't be holding a Sam Adams, he'll be holding a... hmm, a what? Clearly, we need to come up with a name for this brewery. Anyway, soon he'll be holding and drinking his own homemade beer (and so will I! I get extra bonus points for helping M. start a new hobby that ALSO benefits me!).

Hope you all had wonderful holidays, too. See you next year!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Dancing the Night Away

Lucy has been taking a ballet/tap class once a week since September, every Saturday morning at 9:15 a.m. It's perhaps not the most convenient time (we are usually scrambling to get everyone dressed and in the car right as my body is screaming for another cup of coffee and a seat on the couch), but we do it because she absolutely loves it. She is an enthusiastic participant, even if some of the finer points of instruction pass her by :-). And on Friday, her dance school had a "Winter Dance Review," a sort of informal recital that gave all the students a chance to dance onstage without those expensive dance costumes (never fear, those ARE coming - in June).

Lucy's class of 2-5 year olds performed a tap number, and I captured it on film, for your enjoyment. The performance gives a very clear picture of exactly what each Saturday is like, where at any given moment some of the girls might be following the teacher's instructions, caught up doing a previous dance move, singing to themselves, lying on the floor, or refusing to participate altogether. Lucy, bless her heart, managed to do a fair number of the steps (at least, when she was actually watching her teacher who was hiding in the wings), though she did get a bit caught up "flashing" the audience for a few beats of the song. She is the one in the middle with a blond pony tail, 5 girls in from the right (just to the left of the girl holding her hands over her ears). Enjoy!

Lucy was not nervous at all, but Finn was nervous enough FOR her. He kept asking her if she was afraid that she would mess up, despite my repeated attempts to get him to shut the hell up. Luckily, he didn't phase her at all - she was excited at every step of the way.

Here she is with her proud/nervous big brother, before we left for the theater:

And a rare still-ish moment backstage, where she mostly ran around like a monkey on speed:

Man she likes playing with that skirt ;-):

At the end, everyone came out to take a bow. Lucy wiggled her way to the front, and then saw us sitting in the audience:

I know that next time, when she will have TWO! COSTUMES! (a hot pink tutu for ballet and a "duck" outfit for tap), she will be just over the moon. Here's hoping that she and her classmates remember a few more of the steps by then ;-).

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Flying By


That was a longer blogging break than intended. In fact, I had hoped to follow up within a day or two of my last post to write ecstatic things about the triumph of good over evil.

Sorry about that.  Then again, I'm sure you weren't waiting with baited breath for MY assessment of the election.

Anyway, where have I been?

Well, watching Moonshiners, for one. I am all over any show that prominently features characters named Tickle and Jim Tom. This show has given me a new appreciation for a segment of the population that I would swear could barely pass a Redbook quiz, but can somehow manage to construct an IED. Seriously.

I've also been working A LOT, helping to fill the shoes of a superhuman colleague who has been out with some scary health issues. I wouldn't ever want to NOT do it, but it has been keeping me busy.

And time left over  has been spent capturing the holiday spirit, because I HEART Christmas. We've decorated our tree, decked the halls, hidden that Elf (who is rarely on the shelf) a ridiculous number of times, started the Christmas cookie baking, gone shopping, and listened to lots and lots of Christmas music. However, I have taken exactly zero pictures of all of this. Cue sad face and accusations of bad mom blogger status. I should be capturing twinkly pictures of cherubic faces and Bokeh-ed up Christmas lights - I am clearly not cut out to make it in the blogging world. Good thing this is really just a hobby and a way to get pictures to my grandmother (Hi Mimi!) :-).

In other news, I gave up on ever trying to find skinny jeans I like, and bought a pair of jeggings. People, THEY ARE SO COMFORTABLE. I'm a wee bit embarrassed to wear them (though I do!). But I am a stickler for making sure I only wear them with shirts that cover my butt, so that should count for something, right?

I also just started reading Gone Girl. I hear good things, and am hopeful to have more than 5 minutes a night to read this.

Hm, what else? Well, Lucy managed to break a whole carton of eggs on the floor of the supermarket when I was solo shopping with both kids today. I was not as mortified as I maybe should have been. Maybe because Finn has been SUCH a TREAT as school lately (sarcasm is dripping here, people) that I can't get myself too worked up about a few broken eggs. He's racking up a streak of reds and yellows on the Ol' Behavior Chart lately, and also managed to get a black eye while instigating a round of "Let's Throw Rocks" on the playground the other day. He's also getting in trouble for having a "smart mouth" with his teacher. Pretty sure I know where he got that trait.

But, but, but... it's not all bad, not even half bad. We're in the holiday spirit, and sprinting to the finish line - very much looking forward to getting away and getting up to New England for Christmas. It's going to be a lot more work over the next two weeks, but at least it's just two weeks! And then I'm hopeful that life will return to its normal fast pace, instead of the crazy "just took a handful of uppers" pace that it's been on lately.

I did a half-hearted attempt at some gift guides last year. An attempt that stopped when I realized exactly how much work it takes to put a gift guide together (Hint: A LOT). Instead, this year, I'll try to hop back on after Christmas and tell you what I actually bought the people in my life. Sure, half the stuff will be out of stock by next Christmas, but it may give us all some ideas to start with when we start heavy-breathing at our blank gift lists next November.

Hey! Here are some pictures! They are old!



Hope you are all having a fabulous Advent/Hanukkah season! I'll be back, eventually!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Let's Do This Thing

I know I owe this space a photo-heavy post on Halloween and fall activities (leaf pile jumping! The kids did it! I have photos!). But I need to pause for a moment, on the eve before the election, to make a plea that comes from my heart.

Tomorrow, Maryland becomes one of 36 states to offer a public vote on legalizing gay marriage.

Three other states have a similar vote on their own ballots.

The other 32? The ones that already held their votes? Every. single. one. voted to reject the legality of gay marriage. Every. single. one. decided that marriage is something only to be allowed between a man and a woman. Every. single. one. reinforced inequality, a separate degree of citizenship, the idea that some people are "less than," that they somehow don't deserve the same rights everyone else does, just because of who they love.

One day, I really do believe, this will all be in the past. Our grandkids will read about how lesbian and gay couples achieved the right to marry the same way we read now about how women achieved the right to vote (FINALLY, FOR THE LOVE OF...) in 1920. In history class, in social studies class, in that "look how far we've come" kind of lesson, of which we've had so many in the course of our country's history. We are moving that way, it is coming, it won't be stopped.

It is never wrong to be more inclusive. To give more social rights. To bring equality to a group that doesn't have it. To promote family, even if it's not what YOUR family looks like.

Because that's really what this is about. Giving people the chance to have a legally recognized family.

There may not be a right or wrong answer when it comes to who you vote for President, but there is a right answer here. We need to do what no other state has done yet, and that's pass Question 6.

Let's do it.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Flying High

Someone turned SIX this weekend! And even more excitingly, M. and I FINALLY managed to throw an (semi-) outdoor birthday party that was blessed with nice weather. But let's not make this all about ME and my weather issues, let's focus on the birthday boy, who by all accounts, had a very excellent birthday weekend.

There were presents and friends and cake and hiking and LOTS of angry birds - what more could a boy want?

The theme of Finn's birthday party was, in fact, angry birds. I don't normally "do" themes for parties, but Finn picked out angry bird party invitations (none of which were actually sent out because I ended up e-mailing all the parents instead, owing to the fact that I did not know most of their mailing addresses), and we just kind of ran with it. It helped that a friend of mine at work had recently thrown an angry bird birthday party for HER son, and she gave us some extra decorations that really spiffed the party up.

Plus, those angry birds are pretty darn addictive and fun.

This is Finn's impression of an angry bird.

He spent a lot of the day acting silly. And wearing a crown.

His actual birthday AND the party were both on Saturday. We had just a handful of kids and their parents over - nothing too overwhelming for our little townhouse. It felt like exactly the right number of people, and exactly the right amount of planned activities vs. free play time.

Some photos of the house before the onslaught of guests:

Angry Birds birthday banner

The "craft" table


We set up a mini angry bird game, with styrofoam cups decorated as the king pig, and ping pong balls painted to look like the birds.

Aren't they ridiculously cute?
Unfortunately, many of them are now eyeless. Next time I'll use superglue.

The goody bags. I did the cutting, and Finn and Lucy did the gluing. And Finn helped me stuff them. It was very much a team effort, and the kids loved helping.

The craft table was set up with some angry bird coloring pages I printed out from the Internet (free!), beads for making necklaces/bracelets, and a little "make-your-own-monster-on-a-popsicle-stick" kit that we got at Michaels.

Only the girls did the crafts. The boys just played with some of Finn's new toys.

Then we brought them out back for a little bouncing. We used a timer, and the two groups of kids (girls and boys - they self sorted. I think there is something to this "gender identity" thing...) took turns alternately bouncing

and playing in our "sand" (actually full of pea gravel) box.

Then there was cake. I didn't go all out and bake Finn's cake myself, unlike the one I did for Lucy's last birthday. M. was out of town most of last week, and I knew better than to get myself in over my head while he was out. Instead, I bought a sheet cake, and then decorated it to look like a scene out of the angry birds game using bird and pig figures I bought from Amazon and Twix bars:

Both kids thought it was awesome, and didn't care at all that it wasn't homemade. In fact, given how they react to most of my baking projects, they probably preferred it because it wasn't.

Finn was all over the singing and blowing out candles bit:

All in all, it was a great time - low key enough that I wasn't too stressed about prepping for it (a little more arts and crafts heavy than I'm used to, but thank god for free online printables because they made things MUCH easier), and fun enough that Finn didn't mention going to a "Pump It Up" or other big box birthday place once.

Then today, after M. left me sleep in until ALMOST 9 (I felt like a teenager again!), we went for a hike at a state park. It was a park we've never really been to, other than to drive through the Christmas lights display they set up every year, so we didn't really know what to expect. We started walking around the lake, which looked deceptively small on the map we were holding (a map that did not have mileage noted, by the way). Three and a half hours later, we finally made it back to the car. Needless to say, there were a lot of hidden coves and elevated areas that really added up. Lucy told us she was tired and wanted to be carried about 30 seconds into the walk, but somehow we kept her on her feet the whole time. We looked up the distance online once we got home, and learned that we had walked 3.7 miles. With a three-year-old. What a trooper!

Since 3.7 miles is a long distance for a 35-year-old to walk, too, I'm tired. So please excuse the lack of captions on the following photos:

Finally, just because I can't let the birthday of a child of mine pass without reflecting back on the day they were born, I leave you with a link back to Finn's "birth story" (air quotes to allow for the fact that it was written about 4 years after he was born, so some facts may have been altered by fautly memory and lack of sleep...). Hope you all had as nice a weekend as we did!