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!