Sunday, December 28, 2008

The first Snowman

Snow day -- Friday Dec 18

We woke up on Friday just like any other morning. Got up, made lunches, ate breakfast, checked my email, and headed out to walk the kids to the bus. It was a regular day, with nothing too out of the ordinary. The bus seemed late though. And after waiting for 10 minutes or so, our neighbor popped her head out the front door and yelled -- "There's no school today - it is a SNOW DAY!" Are you kidding? Doesn't there have to be snow to have a snow day? I walked straight home and took this picture -- as you can all clearly see -- NO SNOW. I called my mother-in-law who was on her way to school where she is a teacher. In Utah they had gotten 12 inches the day before and were currently getting about 6 more and they still had school!

However here is a picture of our house taken at 12:30. As you can see the snow did in fact arrive. We got 9 inches on Friday and then another 9 on Sunday!

The neighborhood kids all got together to play in it around 2.
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The second big adventure with Melissa

After recovering on Friday from our big city adventure on Thursday, we all (Trent, too!) headed back for more fun in the city on Saturday! This time is was blue skies (thankfully) but the high was only 25. IT WAS COLD! We bundled up and didn't let the temperature keep us down!

The only thing the pictures don't do justice too is how crowded and really unimpresive Rockefeller Center is. If we were to do that over, we probably would just skip it!

Adventures with Melissa!

Trent's sister Melissa came to visit and we had a great time. She got here on Monday and braved the subways and streets to meet Trent in times square to ride the train home with him.

Tuesday and Wednesday we hung out here in Fairfield county, but on Thursday we ventured in to the city. Julianne and Catherine got out of school at 1:15 and in a very well orchestrated timing miracle we all caught the 1:27 train to Grand Central. It was cold and raining -- with occasional downpours. We kept hoping the rain would stop -- IT DID NOT! So once we got to times square, I left all 4 kids with Melissa, grabbed an umbrella and braved the weather to wait in the TKTS booth line. TKTS sells same day tickets to anything in New York for half price. The times square booth opens at 3:00 and I got right in line. 45 minutes of standing in line in the cold, pouring rain and we all had half price tickets to the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular with the Rockettes. But with the weather so bad we still had several subway rides ahead of us. We raced through the subway and even picked up dinner (which we quickly consumed) and made it to Radio City for the 5:00 show (without ever walking in the rain with the kids!)

The show was awesome! Then we headed by Subway to Macy's on 34'th street to go to Santaland. That too was a lot of fun. Everyone had warned us about the lines, but apparently when the weather is really horrible nobody else goes out, so we had no lines at all!

The first play in snow day

On Dec 7, it snowed enough for the kids to want to play in it! (a scant 1/2 inch). They were more than eager to try on all the snow gear (it only took 45 minutes to dress them all). They had a great time!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Our 2008 Christmas Card!

Dear Family and Friends,

Every year as we write our holiday greetings, we think of the wonderful friends and family with which we have been blessed. If only time and distance did not matter and we could reunite with each of you, but as it is, this digital greeting will have to suffice. We want you to know how grateful we are for all the love and support during this past year. As we were reading last
year's Christmas letter, we laughed at how completely unaware we were of all the changes that lay ahead. Here is to the unpredictable future. We are excited for this Christmas season in our home in New Canaan, Connecticut. It will be the first Christmas without any extended family or longtime friends nearby, but we are excited to experience new traditions with new friends. So may your upcoming days be merry and bright and maybe, just maybe our Christmas will be white. (Enjoy the photos -- longer, detailed, boring letter below with links to highlights if you are interested)

We started the year with a trip to Disney world in Florida. We had a great time; much of Jamie's family was there with us. We returned back to our home in Katy and returned back to the normal swing of things. In February, we found out we were expecting our 5th child, due sometime in Oct. At the beginning of March, we celebrated our 1st year anniversary in that home, but by the end of March Trent had decided to transfer with Ernst & Young to their National Office in Manhattan. We took our first trip out here in April and placed our home for rent. At the end of April we excitedly went in for our ultrasound to see what we were having only to get very sad news when they could not find a heartbeat. So many of you helped us through that difficult time-- thanks again! In June we had a lot of family gather with us for Julianne's baptism. We finished out June with another house hunting trip where we found a house! The first 2 weeks of July we were packed up and moved out and we went to Utah for a vacation. We flew to New York on the 30th of July and thanks to a lot of help from Trent's mom who made the trip with us and stayed for 2 weeks-- we quickly got settled. We have since been busy enjoying the visitors who find us way out here!
Julianne (8 years) is fun and happy. She loved swim team this summer, loves playing with friends, and thinks playing the piano is OK. She is the best helper. This year she got glasses and was baptized. She enjoys her new school (her 3rd elem. school in 4 years) and loves to read.Catherine (6 years) is happy and silly. She too loved swim team . Catherine graduated from Kindergarten, lost her first tooth and is the first child of ours to go to the ER for stitches. She loves to read and play and can make friends with anyone.
Madelyn (4 years) still has us wrapped tightly around her finger. She has eyes that will melt any resolve. She is still in speech and improving daily, but what she lacks in enunciation she makes up for in vocabulary. She says some of the funniest things.
Adam (2 years) is all about trains, balls, cars, and puzzles. He keeps right up with the girls and will not miss out on anything. He still is mischievous and good at making messes, but he is also so loving and tender.

Trent (34 years) is all about trains (commuter ones), balls (juggling life), cars, and puzzles (the accounting kind). He keeps right up with the girls. He still is
mischievous and good at cleaning messes, and he is a loving and tender husband and father.

Jamie (32 years) just jogs behind trying to keep up with the family and her projects. She loves being a mom and loves any hobby (she is trying to learn them all).

Come visit us!

Monday, December 1, 2008

The first REAL snow

Sunday, Nov 30 -- the first real snow -- but it all melted by the afternoon!

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My favorite sign of the day

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The American Museum of Natural History

We headed back into the city on Saturday to go to the American museum of Natural History. Every tour guide will tell you that this is a must see. And they were right, it was awesome. Here are just a few things that might interest you.
  • There are over 34 million things on exhibit.
  • It is the largest museum in the world and is housed in 25 buildings and 45 exhibition halls
  • It is where Night at the Museum was filmed and many of the exhibits and items in the movie are found there (that was my kids favorite part -- finding the things in the movie)

We got there around 10 am and left at 3 pm and we saw tons. It is really a nicely kept museum -- everything seemed new and recently done. Definately worth doing!

Fat Squirrels

When we got home from the Macy's parade, we found our two small pumpkins absolutely demolished by some creature. We immediately suspected the raccoons. However a little while later we saw a very fat squirrel happily chomping on a piece of the pumpkin in the bushes. All of the squirrels around here are enormous right now. I thought it was because they are getting ready for winter and the lean months that lie ahead. . . Now I know it is because all the humans are feeding them pumpkin and pumpkin seeds.

Every pumpkin seed was shelled and eaten -- the shells you see in the picture are all missing the seed. Those squirrels have skills.
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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Being new to the Greater New York area, we just had to make the trek into the city for the parade. In Houston, we went every year to the parade that changes names every year (Foley's, HEB, WAMU -- I don't even know who sponsored the Houston parade this year). But in NEW YORK, it is always the Macy's parade. With blue skies in the forecast and a few additional adults on hand to help us maneuver the 4 kids, we decided to try it out.

Our day started very early! We caught the 6:27 a.m. train from New Canaan. We then headed on the subway to Columbus circle where we joined roughly 45 million other people (OK only 2 million, but it seemed much busier!) We did not know where to go. We walked this way, then back, then this way, then back. The kids were getting tired and so were the adults. It seemed we may never even be able to see it. . . but we pushed on -- after all this was a lot of work to get up, bundle up, haul everything, and we did not want it wasted! Finally we found the perfect spot! Up on a hill overlooking the route with a great view, where we could sit and wrap the blankets all around the 6 layers we were wearing.

Was it cold? Oh, man was it cold! We used everything we had -- long underwear, shirts, sweaters, fleeces, parkas, snow pants, hand warmers, toe warmers, every pair of gloves, scarves, hats, and every blanket we could carry (each person except Madelyn and Adam) had a back pack filled with stuff to keep you warm. Each person was using 4-6 hand warmers. I found I loved to put them on my ears under may hat.

Was it worth the effort? At least once. It really is something to see it all live and to see all the people . . . everywhere! We recorded it on TV and came home to watch the performances and it was really fun knowing we had been there. We were a little disappointed that not everyone on TV actually walked the parade (like the Rockettes for example -- so we never saw them except on TV).

Enjoy the pictures!

My Girls in the Blue Hat!

Julianne (above)

Catherine (above)
And those cheeks . . . they are MADELYN'S!!!! (7 of you got it right!)

Thanks for playing!
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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

4th file, 4th photo -- But who is it????

Can you tell which child of mine this is????? Everyone relies on hair color to do it -- so see if you can do it without! Leave a comment and I will let you know tomorrow!
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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

8 things TAG

8 Shows I Watch: (not in any favorite order)
1. The Biggest Loser
2. Amazing Race
3. Psych
4. Monk
5. The Office
6. Max & Ruby
7. Hannah Montana
8. Dora

8 Things that happened yesterday:
1. Took a shower
2. Did laundry
3. Made breakfast, lunch and dinner
4. Designed some images to be made into custom stamps
5. played with the kids
6. Had Family night
7. watched amazing race on the dvr
8. Dishes

8 Places I like to Eat!: (not in any favorite order)
1. Churrasco's -- in Houston
2. Scott's -- San Franscisco
3. Sweet Tomatoes
4. Pappasitos - Houston
5. Pappadeaux - Houston
6. Taco Bell
7. Chick-fil-a
8. Anywhere

8 Things I Look Forward to: (not in any favorite order)
1. Thanksgiving
2. Christmas
3. Seeing Family
4. Warm weather
5. Swimming
6. Reading good books
7. Craft time -- with friends not kids
8. Eating icecream

8 Things on my Wish List:(not in any favorite order)
1. Adobe CS3
2. Boots
3. A vinyl cutter
4. A long arm quilting machine
5. An embroidery machine
6. New teflon skillets
7. A juice pitcher from pampered chef
8. Martha Stewart new cooking school cookbook

I tag -- whoever reads this -- (yes, you!) leave a comment here if you do it, so I can for sure see what you said!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Car Wash Follow up

We brought in the hoses and they started thawing and Trent headed out to Norwalk to a car wash. He returned an hour and a half later and finding the hoses thawed decided to wash the mini-van here. He did not want to do the drive and he did not really like the car wash place (when you have always done it yourself, you do get a little picky).

Besides, it was 27 now and practically summer. So he started washing. He should have clued in when he kept having to knock off the little icicles forming along the bottom of the car, but he persevered and washed and dried it and it was only as he went to pull it in the garage that he looked around and noticed the large ice skating rink he had created right there in our own driveway. The soap suds and everything froze so that it looked like an ice rink, with a fresh dusting of snow!

And so let me remind all of you . . . Water turns to ice at 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

We only knew it in theory until Saturday, but now we know it in practice.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Saturday Car Washing Ritual -- New England Style

As those of you who know Trent are keenly aware, he loves to wash the cars every Saturday morning. He loves a clean car and he loves the physical effort to do it. In Houston, he rarely missed a Saturday -- here in New England things haven't been quite as routine. Many a Saturday has passed without him washing the cars. Most often it has been because it is raining. Sometimes he has just been too exhausted from a long week. Lucky for him we don't do near as much driving so the cars have not needed it as badly.

But today was gonna be the day. It has been 3 weeks since they were washed and Trent had no choice at the Train station this week but to park under a tree and his car is completely covered with bird poop.

He said last night, "I'm just gonna get up early and get it done and out of the way."

The trouble this morning is that it was 18 degrees and windy when he got up and was gonna head out. He waited 4 hours (a warm and balmy 23.7 degrees) and then headed out. Now in the winter here, you turn off the outside hose bibs so they don't freeze, so he turned them on and water came right out. Then he connected the hose and turned it on. No water came out of the hose.

Us Texans never once thought about taking the hoses themselves inside. And so he is out there with 100 yards of frozen hose. (and I am inside trying not to laugh too hard and researching car wash locations). Now, there's a lesson you just won't ever learn in Houston. But now (once they are unfrozen) our hoses will have a new warm special place in the garage.

Friday, November 21, 2008

My morning routine

Here is the perfect morning routine for me. I rarely get it all done, but most of the time I get pretty close. I try hard to work hard until 9:30 or 10:00 and then spend the rest of the day playing, socializing, crafting, cooking, napping, etc. . .

First, I decide on 3 critical times.
  • The time we have to head downstairs
  • The time we call dad on the phone for family prayer (since he is long gone by now -- catching the 6:21 train)
  • The time we have to leave

On a regular school day, we have to head downstairs by 7:45

We call dad (Trent) at 8:20.

And we have to leave by 8:27.

I usually awake when my kids start to awake (sometime between 6:30 and 7:30 right now-- if I have to be ready and leave for somewhere at the same time as the kids, then I for sure get up by 6:45, but if not-- I sleep as long as they do. And as a note, I have NEVER had to awaken my children, no alarms, nothing. They just get up. -- except on Saturday they get up an hour earlier, go figure???)

And then keeping the first time in mind I start on the list working in order of importance.

  • Get everyone dressed to their shoes, fix their hair (myself included)-- whenever there is time I shower and get ready also
  • Make the beds
  • Fold and put away the jammies
  • Straighten each room
  • Gather all the dirty clothes, garbage, drycleaning if it is a Mon or Thurs

At about 7:40, we all kick into high gear, we have been known to all get the whole list done in 5 minutes. I expect all my kids to help out, but every bit of encouragement helps. I often say things like, "Here, I'll make your bed, while you get dressed let's see who wins?" Anything to get them in gear. Julianne is especially aware that if you hang out upstairs with items open, you will get recruited to help even more so most mornings she gets dressed, makes her bed, cleans up her room and then bring me the hair stuff to fix her hair so that she can head downstairs and avoid me.

At 7:45 we all head downstairs -- any unfinished items will have to wait for later.

From 7:45 - 8:20 we work on this list

  • Empty the dishwasher (julianne does the top, catherine the bottom and madelyn the silverware -- adam "helps" everyone) -- It is always clean in the morning-- I start it every night no matter how full or empty it is -- It may not be the most economical, but it is the one thing that helps me be the most efficient.
  • Eat Breakfast & clean up it
  • Pack snacks and lunches
  • Practice the piano (the 2 big girls take turns, one practices for 15 min while the other eats and does the dishwasher and then they switch)
  • Sort the laundry I brought down and start a load.
  • Load the backpacks

At 8:20 we call Trent's office and he participates in Family prayer via speaker phone.

From there, we put on sweaters, sweatshirts, hoodies, heavy coats, mittens, hats, scarves, and backpacks and head to the bus stop. (I wish I could say I was kidding about all the layers, but I am not.)

Once the big girls are off and if the 2 lists are done, I walk in the house at 8:40 and Madelyn, Adam and I are ready for the day, the upstairs is all cleaned and now off limits, and the kitchen is clean and closed. Then I take the next 20-30 mintues and do whatever chores are in store for the day

  • Monday -- the upstairs -- dust, sweep, floormate if necessary, change the sheets (I don't make the beds on Mondays, instead we strip the beds
  • Tuesday -- dust and vacuum the basements and stairs
  • Wednesday -- dust and vacuum (floormate) the office, living/dining room and hall
  • Thursday -- dust and vacuum (floormate) the family room, breakfast room, and Kitchen. Clean the countertops and appliances
  • Friday -- the bathrooms

On a good day, we are done by 9:30 and have the rest of the day to play. I also try to fold, iron, and put away 2 loads of laundry a day. My goal is to have everything done so we can play as a family on Saturday and rest as a family on Sunday.

It rarely works out just perfect, but it at least gives me the framework so I don't feel overwhelmed. I don't have to do it all in one day, I just work hard on the chores of the day and once that part is finished, I can relax and enjoy the rest of the day.

The best part is that the afternoons and the afterschool/evening times are now free to do whatever. My kids know that if they did not do their piano before school then they cannot play with friends afterschool until it is done. As a result they rarely miss their morning practice. I think they like getting the chores and practice out of the way early in the day just as much as I do.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

How do you keep your house so clean?

If I had a dollar for everytime that question was asked I would be rich! And so here is my best explanation.

1. Don't be fooled -- it is not always clean -- but whenever it is clean I reward myself and have friends over. That is my motivation -- I love to have people over -- I love to just hang out and watch the kids play --

2. This is a hard lesson to understand until you have been keeping up your house for a while. "Keeping your house clean on a daily basis will occupy far less time than bailing your disaster out once a week (or once a month or however often you do it)." And you will be happier -- very, very, very much happier.

3. There is no special skill set, talent, or personality trait that makes keeping your home nice a "fun" task. I don't like cleaning, you don't like cleaning, no one likes cleaning -- but I like the results and so I do it. It is like most things in life -- the means to the end is well worth it in the end.

4. There is no one method that works for everyone. My way will not be your way. But you should figure out your way (and the only way to do that is trial and error).

One of the best helps out there is

It provides a framework for getting started even if you are in the worst possible way. Here is my favorite thing. . . she asks

  • "Are you living in C.H.A.O.S? (Can't have anyone over syndrome?) Do you feel overwhelmed, overextended, and overdrawn? Hopeless and you don't know where to start? Don't worry friend, we've been there, too."

  • She has "baby steps" to help anyone get started on a whole new way. The first step is to shine your sink.

I did not find this website until after I had figured out my own method, but then as I read her lessons, I could not believe how similar what I was doing is to what she recommends. It would have saved me a lot of trial and error, had I found her website first.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Laundry Tips

I have not been posting as often lately, because I have been doing all the little mundane things that Mom's do and I think, No one cares to hear about that! But just in case you do, I thought I would write down some of my tips and tricks so that when my children have children and are wondering how I did certain things, they can look here (since I will have long forgotten how to do all the boring, painful and tedious things and only remember the fun, happy times).

So here is one of my Laundry tips --

Since I have 3 girls, close in age, sorting their clothing was something close to a nightmare. Only I could do it. The kids couldn't tell them apart, my husband couldn't figure out whose clothes were whose, and so the task of laundry was mine and mine alone. Then I read this idea in a "Hints from Heloise" column.

"Instead of writing your child's name on clothing to tell who's jeans (socks...underwear...etc.) are whose, use the dot system. Mark the clothing with permanent marker in a discreet place... One dot for the biggest kid (notice I said biggest, not oldest), two dots for the next biggest, etc. That way, when you hand something down to the next kid, you can just add a second dot, and you'll always know which clothing belongs to whom. This is especially helpful on on socks and underwear, which all look alike!"

I got out my sharpie and went to town, placing dots on everything, one for Julianne, two for Catherine and three for Madelyn. It is great. Anyone can sort the laundry, anyone can figure out whose is whose, and if a kid is wearing something and it looks too small, I add a dot and it gets put in the next girls closet. I put the dots right on the tags and they are very tiny -- most would not even notice them unless I pointed it out.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Snow. . . finally

This morning it finally happened. The moment all my kids have been eagerly awaiting. There were snow flurries when they awoke and a light dusting on the ground (read -- EXTREMELY LIGHT DUSTING) -- but it was enough for them. They were so excited. Catherine wanted to make a snowman -- I laughed. There is certainly not enough snow collectively in the entire town put together to make even one good sized snowball let alone a whole snowman. Although with Catherine's recent infatuation with Calvin and Hobbes combined with her artistic flair, I too, can't wait until she can make a snowman-- I just hope the neighbor's don't think we are crazy. Here is her favorite snowman calvin and hobbes cartoon.

I just love having kids. It might as well have been Christmas this morning they were so excited and it does rub off on me. (which I needed as the idea of trudging in the snow with 4 kids is not exactly my idea of the best time ever) But to be able to do it with their exciting faces made it sound like a lot of fun!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Where oh where have I been?

My Mom came in town and we were just too busy to take pictures or blog! We had a lot of fun in 5 days. We went to Boston and visited my sister Carrie (we were rear-ended and since then I have spent a lot of time getting the car fixed).

Catherine fell at school and got a 1/2 inch star shaped wound in the middle of her forehead, but thanks to the plastic surgeon it will now be a nice straight line scar across her forehead. This picture is before the stitch up job, while waiting for the plastic surgeon to arrive. I will post more later . . . She can't take her bandages off until Tuesday. She stayed home from school today (although I think she was just feeling embarassed about the head bandages)

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Saturday, November 1, 2008


Our first Halloween in New England!

Halloween is a big day here. The school had a Halloween costume parade and party. In Texas, we might have a party, but no costumes at school so this was a lot of fun for the kids. The weather was really nice. Our neighbor said to me, "I don't think you can appreciate how warm it is this year on Halloween -- most years it is not like this, everyone is all bundled up and miserably cold!" I replied, "I don't think you can appreciate how cold it is this year on Halloween to us-- the kids might actually keep their costumes on -- as they often got too hot to wear them!"

We trick or treated to our 5 closest neighbors (it took an hour-- as kids walk slow and the houses are far apart and we visited with each neighbor a little) and then we drove into town to one street that had houses closer together. The street was packed! One house ran out of candy and commented that they thought they would have had enough since they bought 15 large bags.

The kids did not last too long. As soon as the sun was down it was dark (no street lights here) so it was hard to see and maneuver (no sidewalks here). And even though the high yesterday was 50, once the sun was down the temperature quickly dropped and the kids were all cold.

But we have plenty of candy (especially since I bought 4 bags) and we had only 2 trick'r'treaters at our house.

Hope you all had a happy Halloween too!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

What do your kids want when they are 16?

I love kids. You just can't make up some of the things they say. I kid you not . . . Madelyn just asked me

"Mom, when I am 16, will you get me an accordian?"

Where did she get that idea?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Autumn or Fall

As a kids I was always wondering why this season had two names. Summer doesn't, winter doesn't, spring doesn't. Why is this one so special? So here is my 2 cents!

It really does feel like 2 seasons. Autumn is fun and beautiful and gorgeous. It is really something to see here in New England. We have enjoyed the crispness in the air, the apple picking, the desire to bake, the amazing colors!

But before you know it, it is fall. The leaves are fallen, there is still a hint of color, but the ground is getting to be pretty uniformly brown and yellow, there are more empty trees than full, the colors are all faded, it is still cold . . . you are tired of the cold, tired of eating the 50 pounds of apples, sick of cooking, wanting to wear flip flops and most of all not wanting to rake.

The Silent Auction

The Silent auction is over. It was yesterday. It was a lot of work. I was new to the town . . . new to the school . . . and had very little help, guidance, or idea as to what was expected. I think I did a great job. In the end we earned just over 8800 dollars. Here are the pictures of the project.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Not this cute boy?

These pictures are from the Stamford Nature Center (we went there yesterday). The story described in the captions is from tonight. (Note this makes 2 posts in a row on Adam's mischeviousness . . . will I survive this boy?)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Adam, the troublemaker

When I opened the pantry, I noticed sugar and rice spilled on the floor. ADAM!!!!!!!! I was surprised at how little he spilled though, and then I realized it was because he . . .
was pouring the rice container into the sugar container and then back into the rice container. Does anyone know anything I can make with sugar/rice?
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Apple Picking

Wild Onion Weeds

The only weed we have growing in our flower beds are wild onion. They are a pain. They are deep and you have to get the bulb part. But I told the kids they needed to go get the onions and they were in heaven. Who knew pulling weeds could be so fun? The kids loved picking the onions. Here is the pungent pile.
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Getting out the Halloween Box

Since it is October, we got out our Halloween stuff. The kids favorite thing is the box of costumes. They will play dress up for a solid month.

The Boringest Blog Post Ever

Here it is folks. Don't bother watching the slides. I had the nature center come out and help me identify the shrubs, plants, flowers, and trees in our yard. The whole Connecticut landscape is a far cry from Texas. So here is what I learned, and I posted it so I wouldn't forget!

Why buy them toys?

Last weekend my girls played all day Saturday and all day Sunday with these Houses. They designed and built them themselves. They printed off pictures of gardens and pools, they made paper people, cars, furniture and more. And they were so happy and pleased with themselves. It makes me wonder with all our kids imaginations why we even bother to buy toys and such. When left to their own devices they can really create some amazingly fun times and memories.

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Adam's 2nd birthday

So, Adam's birthday was pretty low key. It was on a Friday and I had big plans to celebrate at home that night . . . but then Trent missed the New Canaan train and would have had to wait an hour for the next on which would mean that all the kids would be asleep. So, instead, Trent hopped the train to Stamford (because there is one every 10 minutes), we all hopped in the car and we picked him up and went to eat at California Pizza Kitchen. We had a great time, but alas . . . NO PICTURES since I was in a hurry to get to the train station.

Here we are on Saturday morning. Instead of birthday cake, we had pancakes. Instead of candles, we had matches. Instead of extended family all gathered round . . .

we had Skype video phone calls.
And you know, Adam didn't seem to mind one bit!
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Monday, September 22, 2008

The MOST important thing!

I know my kids. I know what they lik!e; I know what they don't like. I know whose socks are whose; I know what they eat for breakfast lunch and dinner; I know their friends; I know what they are learning at school. I AM AN INVOLVED PARENT.

So HOW? How?? could I miss that my daughter could not see??????

She came home from school on Friday and casually mentioned she was having a hard time seeing the smart board in her class at school. Her desk is in the very back of the room at a funny angle to the smart board (which is just like an enormous computer screen). I heard what she said, but I guess I just didn't really HEAR what she was trying to tell me.

Saturday, we were at the mall and I pointed to a sign and all of us read it and Julianne said, "What sign???"

"What do you mean, what sign??" said I, the clueless mother. "The big, gigantic sign not 15 feet in front of us . . . " (she whipped her head left and right with a bewildered look). "Honey, the big black one in the middle." I said pointing.

She still looked clueless and started walking toward it. Suddenly about 6 feet from the sign she could finally see it. Trent and I looked at eachother. HOW? How could we not have known??? How has she lived like this??????

I started calling first thing this morning. (Do you know how many optometrists do not work on Monday???) I finally found one and at 10:30 had her appointment and by 1:15 she had new, cute glasses and a perma grin. The whole drive home she was bobbing her head up and down. She would first look over the top of the glasses to the "Original blurry" view and then through the glasses. She would laugh and smile and say some of these things.

"Mom, did you see that billboard? I can read it!"

"Hey, there's numbers on the dashboard!"

"Oh, look at all the trees!"

And then afterschool at home these were her comments. . .

"Wow, check out our backyard -- you can see the flowers!"

"I never knew the U in my name (a large wooden letter hanging on her wall) had little fireworks on it."

And the all time favorite, "Mom, Mom, I can read the tvguide info on the screen as I scroll through the channels while sitting on the couch!" (I think that once and for all explains the number of times Trent and I have said, "Julianne, don't stand right in front of the TV!"

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Waveny Park

I took the kids to playgroup at Waveny Park this morning and got a bunch of cute shots of them playing. Enjoy!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Funny things my kids say

Yesterday, while teaching Julianne piano lessons she was getting very frustrated. She wants every song (old or brand new) to be perfect from the very beginning. I said to her, "Honey, it doesn't have to be perfect everytime . . . especially when you are just starting it." She replied "MOM, that would ruin everything. My life is 100% totally perfect and if I mess up this song it will ruin everything!!!!"

HOW IS THAT FOR DRAMA??? And she is only 8. We'll be working on that whole perfectionist thing for a while.

Then today, Madelyn came in and said, "Mom, when I do this to my eyes, I see 2 of everything. (and she pulled the skin next to her eyes tight (like chinese eyes) (sorry if that is offensive, but that is the only way to describe what she did) Then she said, "That is because my eyes are magic. I can make 2 of everything and then they disappear when I want them to."

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Day in the City with my Sister Carrie

Hurricane Ike

Just an update for any of you who may care . . . Our home in Katy is just fine. During the heavy winds a little water came in one of the windows, but our renters were able to dry it and it caused no problem. Our neighborhood in Katy was fortunate enough to weather the storm without losing power. That is a huge deal!!! It is the difference between enjoying the recovery and abhorring it.

My parents and my brother, Shad's family really took the brunt of the storm. They live more central in Houston and had a very long noisy night and lost power at about 11pm. They still do not have power and are sweltering. My parents have a generator on their fridge and have a small room (about 15 feet by 12 feet) that has a window unit AC, but it also has all their food storage and shelves. I am sure tonight it will be close quarters with my Mom and Dad, Tyler, Shad, Amy and their 3 kids. The AC is little, and that is a lot of body heat in a small space. Hopefully it can keep up.

Here is the update I sent out for them . . .

Dear Everyone,

I just got off the phone with my Mom. They are still doing well. They still do not have power, but the phone is working (it sounds as if it is ringing off the hook, so they may actually start wishing it would go out too! ha ha)

They did learn a very valuable lesson that she wanted me to pass on to all of you if you ever find yourself "hunkering" down through a natural disaster.

IMPORTANT LESSON - Do not store all of your tools, gas, and emergency essentials in a garage that has no door or access other than the electric garage door opener. If you do and the power goes out you will be unable to get to them.

It would have been so easy for them to have just pulled the cord which would have let them get in and out easily, but they never thought about it. They have since squished through the attic crawl space and lifted "an attic" access (that has no stairs or ladder) and my Dad very gingerly landed in the dark on top of all the tools and stuff with a tremendous thud. He managed to do it with just drawing a little blood. They pulled the cord and got in. Since then my Mom thinks she accidentally reengaged it and they can't get in again. Maybe this time, they will set up a ladder under the attic access hole.

Their home is getting muggy and hot and they are preparing to move out to the back room and plug in the window AC. The problem is then they have to give up the big screen TV and I don't think they will do that until the BYU football game is over. I mean they still at least have their priorities in check! My Mom was out picking up debris in the yard and the pool (to cool off) and my Dad was on his way to a ward member's house to assess the damage there. He had heard it was pretty bad.

Now, don't feel too bad for them. Their dear neighbor, Helen Viola, has cooked up all her brisket and shrimp and having them for dinner tonight. When the power is out, you either eat it or lose it!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Berry picking

Since we first moved here many, many people have mentioned berry picking. Almost daily the kids have asked when we can go raspberry picking and I have put it off over and over again. Today we had some time to kill and we were in town by a park where I had heard there were wild raspberries growing. We decided to go check it out. My hope was that we would quickly find one or two and call it a day. Madelyn would be able to say we picked berries and I would not be on the "bad mother" list in her eyes for avoiding berry picking once again.

But it is a little late in the season for raspberries. We looked and looked and did not find any. But then we found these really beautiful berries that looked just like blueberries. (But having picked blueberries before they were in a cluster like a grape -- not spread all over the bushes).

I squeezed them -- they were purply -- just like blueberries. I looked close at them, but even though they looked exactly like blueberries, the way they grew seemed odd. We watched as the birds went wild over them. I picked several bunches, grabbed the leaves, put them in a ziplock and figured I would google them later.

As we left the park, I rolled down my window and asked if these 2 ladies knew what they were. One replied, that she thought they were wild blueberries. The other gasped and said, "No, they are inedible and will stain everything purple!" I passed another person, rolled down the window and asked. This person said, "Maybe huckleberries???"

I called my Mom, she googled it. She found nothing.

I came home, searched and searched. I entered the leaf type and the berry type and searched all kinds of plant taxonomy sites and found nothing. In desperation, I decided to call the extension service. I looked up UCONN extension and called. This is the conversation.

"Hello, I am so and so at the UCONN extension service, How can I help you?" She answered.

"Hi, I just moved here to Connecticut and found these beautiful blue berries that look like blue berries, but don't grow individually, they grow kind of like grapes. Do you know what it is?"

"Does it have a reddish, purplish stem?" She asked.

"Yes." I said.

"It is pokeweed. And it is poisenous."

"Thanks! Bye"

I found pokeweed on wikipedia. Here is what it says.

"The eating of nonfatal quantities of poke, perhaps of the shoots, may cause retching or vomiting after two hours or more. These signs may be followed by dyspnea, perspiration, spasms, severe purging, prostration, tremors, watery diarrhea (often bloody) and, sometimes, convulsions. If a fatal quantity is eaten, perhaps including roots, the above signs are followed by paralysis of the respiratory organs and other narcotic effects, culminating in the death of the poisoned person."

Good thing we did not try them out!!!!! Hip Hip Hooray for the extension service which saved the day!

I don't know when we will go berry picking again, but Madelyn has already asked 4 times since this morning.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Rain, words

The storm blew through quickly and we recieved 6 inches of rain. We did not think much of it, but apparently 6 inches is a lot for CT. At church today, we heard that several members had some flooding in their basement and that the church had also had a little water in the basement, so we were grateful to have had no issues.

After church, we invited another new family over for dinner. While we were eating they commented on how fun it was to do this so spontaneously. I replied that with 4 kids sometimes spontaneously is best. I said, "All too often I plan ahead and then end up with a sick kid or something and all the planning was for nothing. As we left church today, I thought hey, we should have someone over -- all the kids are healthy, there is plenty of food, it is nice weather -- it will be great!"

Seriously within 5 minutes of saying that Madelyn threw up. Trent said, "I guess we were wrong on the all kids healthy part."

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Tropical Storm Hanna

Can you believe the luck? We move away from the Gulf Coast, thinking we are through with tropical storms and hurricanes only to now be sitting at home, while tropical storm hanna roars through. So far we have just started getting the outer bands. (Just lots of rain) -- We have no idea what to expect??? A tropical storm in NEW ENGLAND???????

Saturday, August 30, 2008


We painted our bedroom last Saturday. It used to be dark, dark, chocolate brown. I called it the dungeon, because it just could not get bright and light no matter how many lights were on. But now, I love, love, love, it. I still need to get a rug for the wood floor.
The room is really big. And it took forever to paint. Fortunately for us, my cousins and aunt and uncle were coming to stay the night with us following the jets/giants game and so we knew we would be staying up late waiting for them to arrive. We figured better to stay up late painting than just sitting around.
We started to realize how big a project this was and how long it was taking . . .
but traffic was terrible out of NY and they did not arrive until 2:30 in the morning. We did not finish until 2:15 in the morning -- so it was perfect timing!!!!!
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Fire and Ice

One of my favorite poems is Fire and Ice by Robert Frost

SOME say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

After suffering these burns on my fingers, I think Fire would be worse. At least the ice that I had to keep sticking my fingers into only burned for 5 minutes or so and then turned it really numb. These photos are a week after the burn. They really hurt, STILL.

How did I do this???? Well, I bought a nice tea kettle for easily making my kids hot chocolate. It was whistling loud and I was pouring the water into their mugs and there was just a little water left and I just needed a little more so I was trying to get it all out when the lid came off and the boiling water poured over my fingers. I can't believe it. My mom's teapot doesn't even have a lid, because you fill it through the spout -- so with her's this could never have happened. But mine has a lid on top for filling and it comes off if you turn it over far enough. It was a tough lesson to learn.
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