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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What A Way To End The Year

It was such fun to have all my lovely children around me during this blessed Christmas holiday!

And these are the moments:

*Picking up Maryn from the airport---and a big juicy hug---finally!
*Decorated the cookies and put on final Christmas touches.
*Clayton and Brinna coming in----lots of hugs and gaiety!
*First night of caroling----got lost in Hudson----and boy, was it cold---but we love to do this tradition----so great to harmonize with my kids.
*Fun day for last minute shopping, wrapping, and another night of caroling---this time we got more done and I heard the comment, "Why do we have to go to so many people?" And, "Couldn't we just go to the houses that give us something?" Uh, huh----they are kids.....
*Spent the next day doing last minute shopping and wrapping, got the house all cleaned, the rolls out, the soup made, things set out for guests.
*Some great friends over for Christmas Eve. Both families are moving in 2010----so sad.
*Fun carols, Texas and Cajun Night Before Christmas, Chimes played, and finishing up with the Nativity Scene.
*Christmas jammies from Mrs. Claus----fun to take crazy pictures.
*Up at 7:30 a.m.----finding Santa had come! Still great----as we all become small children again!
*Pictures all around---a couple of disappointed remarks---but that's what Christmas is all about, right?
*Blueberry muffins, omelets and hot chocolate----these are our traditional Christmas breakfast fare.
*Time to open presents----more pictures----a bit of a spat between me and the hubby. (long story...sigh)
*Time for the hubby and the kids to play games, put together mechanical toys, as I go to.......bed.........for a long winters nap. Aaaaaahhhhhh.....
*Get up, still in Christmas jammies, put in the ham----Clayton had put out more rolls----good. Cook the potatoes, sweet potatoes and corn. Go take a shower, and change.
*A Christmas feast. An amazing time with people you love the most....the best.
*Brinna leaves to visit friends----sorry to see her go.
*Dinner is done---we bring out the "Black Adder" DVD collection from Santa----to the family----and start watching.
*Next day---general cleanup for me----well, yeah----I'm still a Mom----and kids and hubby go to the mall. I wouldn't take a step out there the day after Christmas---no sirr--eee!
*Go to a movie with my oldest kids----"Nine"---not the best musical, but it makes me happy---and I ADORE Daniel Day Lewis!
*Sunday----our church Christmas program. (we were snowed out the Sunday before) I am a bit stressed as I am the choir director and wrote the program, but things go well.....ahhh, a sigh of relief from me.....
*We go home, have a delicious dinner----Pad Thai----home-made by Clayton, my chef. Delish!
*Brinna comes back and we prepare for one of our favorite things to do-----TAKE OUR FAMILY PICTURES! Ahhh---remember last year? (They were technically posted the beginning of this year---but who's counting?)
*Go to the Mill Building---where my theatre is---my hubby, Bret, gets his things set up---and we do what we do best---be hams!
Want to hire a great photographer? BBSNAPS.NET---(of course, you have to be in the New England area)

It began pretty normally....

...then we mixed it up a bit.

Yep, we got just a bit more absurd.

Everyone in their own world---uh, huh---that's my family!

Got the kids looking adorable....

....right before we let them go wild!

A big jump!

We took time to take a few of Bret and I---taken by my young son, Aydan.

Individual shots:
Beautiful Brinna.

Handsome Clayton.

My little minx, Maryn.

My little cutie guy, Aydan.

(Of course, we are missing part of the family, as my daughter, Hailey, her hubby Ben, and my G-babies live across the country----be sure to visit them HERE)

What a way to end the year.....with my favorite people in all the world.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Traditions----Part Four And Five

One of the favorite traditions in our family is to have a baking day on the third Saturday in December. Unfortunately, this year, I had to go to the recital of my son's voice teacher. Well----it wasn't unfortunate in that she has an amazing voice, but it was unfortunate that we had to put off the baking until the next day.

The kids and I have always made several different types of cookies and goodies----and they have changed over the years. We used to make fudge, caramel popcorn, sugar cookies and divinity. Then----I ended up taking out the fudge, because no one would eat it, and when I married the hubby that I have now, I took out the caramel popcorn, as he doesn't like chewy, sticky treats. Then last year, I stopped making the divinity, as it was too sweet and even Aydan didn't eat it anymore. But, I still make the sugar cookies---only I make them with the 50% less sugar mix and use almond extract in them---with a butter cream frosting----so good! Of course, part of Christmas has to be the decorating of the sugar cookies----and the eating, of course....

I also got a few ideas from bloggers----one from Rae over at My Life On The East Coast. She had a great recipe for some Turtle type goodies----except that I don't like nuts, and decided to just make them without nuts. Aydan really got into making these----they were so easy to do----and I only had to help him flatten them after they had warmed up for 5 mi9nutes in the stove. They were super yummy and he gave a bag full of them to his bus driver! (Didn't get a picture of them.)

We also got a great idea for another delicious treat from super blogger, Tiburon, from Shark Bait. She had a great recipe for Peppermint Bark Popcorn----and it sounded delish, so we gave it a try----with a bit of a twist! I used white chocolate instead of almond bark----and put the peppermint directly into the melted white chocolate----then drizzled it over the popcorn. Ohhhhh, how yummy it was! (Notice I say, "was", because its gone now....)
But definitely check out Tiburons recipe to get the real scoop on how to make this delicious treat!
I put this in bags and gave it out to friends when we went caroling this evening.....

Here is the popcorn laid out with the chocolate drizzled on it.... I mention that I made some delicious Pumpkin Pie Bars?

Everything in ready for getting the cookies going.

Aydan is hard at work----and his shirt definitely shows it! (Note to self:
NEED to get aprons!)

And success----just look at the chocolate smile!

My daughter, Maryn, helped out with the decorating end of things
when she got into town the next day.

Here we are with my big head stuck in the frame---stylish hat on head----hey--its cold
outside! Love the look on Aydans face----and what the heck are you doing, Maryn?

.....Which brings me to my fifth Christmas tradition! We always go caroling to our friends, some work mates and members of our church. I have been doing this tradition since my children were small, and they still love doing it! It is the highlight of our Christmas, and we usually go to about 15 or so homes, sharing a few carols and some fun harmonies, as well as lots of smiles and good cheer! (and a small bit of goodies) This is really our way of sharing our talents as well as our love for these people at Christmastime.

I hope that you have all been able to do all the traditions that you are used to. I pray that during this festive time of year that there haven't been too many hardships, and that your lives are as blessed as mine. I love this time of year-----the goodness, the peace, worshiping Christ, and feeling the joy of family and good friends. It seems a time when people are trying to be congenial and pleasant, even though there is stress abounding.

Its a time to reflect, and restore oneself---to prepare for the new year.

May you all feel this perfect peace during your Holiday!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Fabulous Find For A Friday-----Two Talented Sons

This past week, I was able to go and experience both of my sons' different activities. First----was Aydan. He started taking Karate about a month ago, and really takes it seriously. He is a smallish boy, so we wanted to give him something to do to give him confidence and lets face it-----it helps with agility and muscle buildup, etc. Its all good.

The guy who owns the place and teaches is really a neat, easygoing man. He goofs around with the students, and speaks in different dialects, so Aydan feels at home---- and he is enjoying himself!

After Aydans class, we went into Boston to see my other son, Claytons' voice recital at his University. He is a senior, and is working up to a Music Education Degree----and his voice is MAH-VE-LOUS!! (Ok, so I admit that he was forced to take voice from me when he was growing up, so I am a bit biased...)

He did some classical songs---not his Broadway numbers, so that was great for me-----as he has a great classical voice. And yes, I am his BIGGEST FAN! He and I have very similar voices---matching vibratos and all----and had also been lucky enough to sing together the day before in church. It was a treat!

All in all.....a great week for me. I am so lucky to have such fantastic boys---they are truly super----and if you can't tell----I love them alot!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Traditions----Part Two And Three

The second weekend of December, we always go and get a new ornament for the tree----you remember----the one that we put up the first Saturday----or we try to make some. I asked Aydan which he would like to do this year, and since it has been YEARS since we made ornaments, he chose that.

But how do I do that, exactly?

Well, we head to Michaels! I figured that if there was a great place to find ideas for making ornaments, it would be Michaels. And away we went....

It was good and busy, thats for sure, but we managed to get some supplies and headed home to use some of our Christmas creativity!

What did we use? We opted to get some foam pieces in bright Christmas-ey colors, some sparkly, some not, some Snowman and Tree shapes, some glue, several pairs of scissors and we went to town!

Bret and Aydan work on their ornaments (MAN---look at the front
of that refrigerator----it is totally a mess of stuff!)

And here I am with my ornament---while Aydan works hard
in the background.

The final group of ornaments.....and one hand that kept speaking to me.....

.....and then, the next day, while I was taking a much needed rest.....more
cute ornaments appeared! Don't you love Aydans creativity? (LOVE the diaper tree!)
Ours are the two at the top left---the rest?

Another tradition that we do on the second Saturday of December is host the Christmas Community Concert at our church. All of the churches in my community come together with their congregations and have an evening of music and good food. Since I am the choir director for my church, I always have to pick the music, work with my choir for about two months on it, then direct my choir for the event, as well as direct a combined choir number. It is a wonderful evening that really gets the Christmas season off to a great start!

A very small picture of my choir! I'm somewhere on the right side---
out of the picture----doing my "thang!"

Stay tuned for even more traditions!....

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Fabulous Find For A Friday-----The Road

Two years ago, my favorite book was "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy. It was horrific, but so real, that it was genuinely disturbing and scary, but the writing was amazing, so I couldn't put it down.

Last weekend, I saw the movie.

Now, may I say that I went-----expecting to be disappointed, as most of the time my most favorite books are not represented very well when moved to the big screen. But, much to my dismay, I loved ita

Of course, it helped that the lead was played by Viggio Mortensen, one of my favorite actors. He did an amazing job, playing "The Man" who lives and is trying to survive in a world post apocalyptic-----its a dreary world, one where no nature nor insect nor animal lives. It is a world that is only inhabited by pitiful humans----a handful of them, scrounging off the land and in the trash for food of any kind.

Then there is "the boy", his son. A child that has grown up in this horrific world, has lost his mother (she decides to give up and 'leave' her family) and has managed to maintain a goodness and innocence despite it all. The actor that played this part was really believable and pretty amazing.

The director, John Hillcoat, and the person that wrote the screenplay, Joe Penhall, did a splendid job recreating the book---staying pretty true to the original story. The production was very well done, and I thought that even the computer generated graphics were even well done. After all, it isn't easy to make the entire world look devoid of trees unless they are burnt out and dead looking. And even though I knew what was going to happen, the movie still kept me on the edge of my seat, as I lived through each tragic moment.

And the best part of all-----it is a love story. Not between a woman and a man---even though the love of the boys mother and his father is brought up through flashbacks-----it is the love that is never ending between the man and his boy. One that we know this father has for his son, as he would even sacrifice his own child rather than leave him for torture and an ultimate grisly death at the hands of cannabalistic humans. And it is a story of good. Yes, good.

My favorite part of the book and then, the movie, is when the young boy keeps asking his father, "We are the good guys, right? No matter what-----we will always be the good guys, right?"

It makes me tear up just thinking about it. It really makes one realize that in the world where there is so much evil, the good will always be there.


The good will always prevail.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Christmas Traditions----Part One

We, as a family, have many Christmas traditions. Since this is one of my favorite times of the year, I am so all about keeping the traditions going, matter what else I have on my plate-----WHICH IS A TON RIGHT NOW!!!

So, our tradition the first Saturday of the month of December is to get our Christmas tree----not just get it, but find it, choose it, and cut it down ourselves. There are several places that we like to go, but our favorite place is behind someones house. They have a shed where you pick up your saw, and a wagon to carry your tree. You just go out to the field, cut your own and then leave a check through a slot in the shed door.

Yep---totally the honor system. And the trees are all $25.00! No matter what size!

We always pick a "Charlie Brown" type tree---one that isn't perfect, and needs someone to take it and make it special. I don't like fat, perfect trees,-----no, I like those that need some love.

The next day----on Sunday, we spend the evening decorating the tree and get all the Christmas decorations out and ready to put up around the house. It isn't the tradition to get it all up that night, or I would never be able to keep that tradition. We just get the tree done and do a bit each day, slowly but surely....

Bret and Aydan with the chosen one....

....and yes, was pouring rain!

Aydan----carrying the tree by himself....

....and there he goes across the field.

Now you can see all the ornaments all over the table----stuff everywhere!

Aydan and Bret decorating after I got the lights on.....

and Aydan and I continue to decorate.....until he gets tired of it.

So, it turned out great.....and even though a lot of people are going over to the fake tree.....I will always keep having a "live" tree----it is just tradition,-----and it makes me smile.

As long as I don't go out of town and leave the watering for my hubby this year.......

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

A Drive, A Buffet, A Few Movies, A Little Shopping, And Lots Of Eating

Well, its been a whirlwind of a week since last I posted. I am going to get back to reading your blogs soon, but I had to share our trip to Columbus, Ohio----to see my daughter, Maryn----or Merona, as I call her.

We left the Boston area at about 3:30 in the afternoon on Wed.----the day before Thanksgiving----and drove to the Scranton area of Pennslyvania, as we were dropping off my son's girlfriend, Meg. She is a cutie----and needless to say, we were packed to the tip top of my little car----but it was fun hanging together goin' down the road. Road trips are a favorite in my little family, and my kids all fondly remember most of the ones that we took together,-----mostly good times.... But since the gas prices have gone sky rocketing for the last few years, we haven't done a road trip in a while-----and we were looking forward to it!

So we dropped off our Meg at about 9:30ish and drove on another three hours-----or, well, I drove and everyone slept. I think that I have mentioned that I am a night owl? Yeah----pretty much because of the whole band business----and I, basically, have always been like that----so I don't mind driving at night.

We stayed in a small town in western Pennslyvania, and then got up the next morning to drive the final 4 hours to Columbus. My daughter had not been paying her phone bill----uh, huh----the life of the young----so she called on her friends cell phone, so we could let her know when we were arriving.

We got to Columbus in the afternoon, checked into our motel, and went to my daughters house----it was a fantastic house---huge with about 8 bedrooms and bathrooms with enormous jacuzzi tubs in them----ahhh----the life!

I had been stressing about where we could eat, as we all wanted good food----since it was Thanksgiving and lets face it-----its ALL about the good food!! But being in a strange city and not knowing what was good or where to eat. We were going on restaurants that served Thanksgiving buffets----that we found online. I know-----that can be SCARY-----but what could we do? We narrowed it down to two, and then made reservations. As it turned out, we discovered that one of the restaurants was an hour drive away----so we canned that idea and went with the first choice.

It was great! Have you ever been to one of those really old restaurants that are dark inside----with candles on the tables, done in reds with swagging curtains on the windows and those leather stackable restaurant chairs? Yep, this was like that. Very old school. And most everyone that ran it was over the age of 60...... A cute old lady with a fancy updo seated us, and we were off for our first adventure in eating Thanksgiving dinner "out". It wasn't bad----not amazing, but the ambiance made it fun and just being together made the day SO memorable....
My biggest complaint was the fact that there was no whipped cream for the pumpkin pie.

Well, the next few days went by quickly, as we went shopping, went to a few movies, and ate at a lot of different places. Yes, we got to experience a fantastic Waffle House, a great diner, some Mexican food, and even ice cream! And yes, I might as well admit it......I gained two lbs back......sigh.

It was great to see my daughter, and hang with my super special family again----I just wish that I could have had ALL the kids with us, but that just wasn't possible.

I'm still hoping for a cruise together someday.

Clayton and his girlfriend, Meg----squished in the back seat.

Aydan, humoring himself on the drive----with his lit cap.

Yes, of course we took the pups----here they are sleeping on my lap.

Finally got to Columbus-----outside the restaurant.

Maryn, enjoying the Thanksgiving buffet....
....and Bret and Aydan get their share.

Clayton is enjoying his meal.....

.....and I am just enjoying the ambiance!

The next day....eating the Waffle House.

Good food, great company!

A building in downtown Columbus.

And the capitol building that doesn't have a dome? Hmmmm?

A local diner----great food, by the way....

Here we are----in our diner booth---Clayton is taking the picture.

Maryns house----there were some amazing houses!

Maryn, walking around to the front door.

One of Maryns cats....

.....and the bathroom that Maryn uses----gee---I never had it this good when I
was in college!

Outside the front door, as we are about to leave.

My sweet daughter and I.

Then on to Megs parents house in PA----here she is with her Mom in
the background....

.....and the rest of the family-----except for her Dad----he had to work.

And here I am with Megs Mom----fun to visit them at their house!

So, anyone up for that cruise next year? Or another road trip? Nah....I'll take the cruise.
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