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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving highlights.

Thanksgiving 08': Mark's Famous Corn Pudding

I realize that I'm a little late with these, but I've been preoccupied with various other things this past weekend. Luckily, Mark's famous corn pudding looks just as good now as it did four days ago.

Lauren in her Thanksgiving finery.

Here's Lauren on one of the two days out of the year that I bother dress her up.

Thanksgiving '08:  Uncle Craig Post Traumatic Dip Syndrome.

This is Uncle Craig suffering from what we call, "Post Traumatic Dip Syndrome."

Thanksgiving '08:  At least Aunt Phyllis was happy.

At least Aunt Phyllis was having a good time.

Thanksgiving '08:  Daisy begging to Pappy.

For some reason, Daisy always likes to sit at the table with Pappy. It couldn't be because he always feeds her table scraps, could it?

Thanksgiving '08: Me drying dishes.

And here I am, just giddy over drying all the dishes. Or maybe it was all the wine I drank.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

We are thankful.


I am thankful for a husband who cleans. A lot.

Almost as good as being there.

Lauren is always thankful for a good tv show.


And Daisy is thankful for friends who share.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Taking a break from all your worries.

Scout Poster - 27

I meant to post this a couple of days ago when it hit 25, but then a couple more photos snuck in a day later - go figure! Usually my photos go into Explore weeks to months after upload. Sometimes they don't have a lot of activity right out of the gate, but more of a slow build over time. My home decorating photos are definitely the most popular - I guess that must be my niche. As long as my subject is staying completely still, I'm good to go.

Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I cannot express how thankful I am to be off today. Work has been consuming my soul lately, so it's good for me to have a day not to think about it all. Because all of my staff is off the day after Thanksgiving, I'm going to put in some time on Friday, but since my boss is allowing me to work from my laptop at home, it's the next best thing to being off. My plans for today consisted of scrapbooking and mash potato making, but Lauren has seen fit that neither has happened yet. And the only decision that I made today was which version of Mary, Did You Know? should I download from iTunes - Kenny Rogers or Clay Aiken (Clay won.)? Mark is baking pies for tomorrow which is making the house smell scrumptious right now.

In other news, we had our first successful visit with Santa last night, ironically, exactly one year after this fiasco. Even paid out the nose to get a photo to prove it! I'm sorry to say that I won't be showing it off just yet, because, unless I can come up with something better, I'm probably going to use it for our Christmas cards. Still, I can tell you that Lauren chatted with Santa and told him what she wanted (A dinosaur and an elephant). However, while she did refuse to sit on his lap, you have to give the kid credit for choosing not to sit on the lap of a guy that she just met, even if he was willing to bring her presents in exchange for it. I think her favorite part of the experience was the candy cane that he gave her. Yes, candy canes are the new popcorn.

Speaking of presents, I think I'm about half way finished with my Christmas shopping. I used to be one of those people who would scoff at those who would start like in July or even October, but each year I buy gifts earlier and earlier. Since you can take your time finding just the right gift, it just makes the task more enjoyable. Lately, I've become completely addicted to Etsy, so this year I'm giving a lot of handmade presents. I love the concept of buying directly from the maker. It's like going back to the way things used to be when everyone shopped at mom and pop stores. I added an Etsy widget on the sidebar to the right, because what does the blog need but more crap on the sidebar.

Since Lauren is still too small to make her exact wishes known, I've been working very closely with Santa's elves as her proxy. One elf is making her a special elephant while another is making her a tea set, complete with cookies and cupcakes. They also scoured Santa's old stock and found her a Fisher Price cash register just like I had when I was a little girl. I think she's really going to dig it.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Gettin' Grinchy wit' it.

2008 Christmas Tree Lighting

Our town just held it's annual "light up" night. Usually we opt to stay home and watch the fireworks from our house, but this year we decided to venture out and see what the excitement was all about.

Although it was dreadfully cold, everyone was in good spirits. The ceremony was relatively short, after the introductions of Christmas luminaries such as Frosty, Rudolph and Santa and Mrs. Claus, they hit the lights. The crowd then ooo'd and ah'd appropriately.

We had planned on going home to watch the fireworks, but since they started immediately after the tree lighting, we decided to watch them from ground zero. Lauren couldn't take her eyes off the sky.

Afterward, everyone crowded into the school cafeteria for cookies and hot cocoa. While all the kids rushed off to Santa, Lauren instead preferred to meet her Christmas idol:

Gettin' Grinchy wit' it.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Christmas at my old house.

Christmas 2003:  Living Room

Since there continues to be a drought of new subject matter, I thought it would be fun to post some old photos. Okay, not really old, just from five years ago - 2003 to be exact. Hey, for me a lot has happened since then.

Christmas 2003: Our tree.

Sometimes I miss decorating cottage style. I have a split personality when it comes to decorating - part of me likes country/vintage/retro/cutesy style while the other part likes colonial/graphic arts/clean lines/Pottery Barn style. Am I making any sense? Probably not - why would a person with two personalities make sense?

Christmas 2003:  Shiny Brite Ornaments.

I decided to retire the Shiny Brights after Lauren learned how to walk. Too sparkly, too tempting, too breakable. I do miss them. Mark my words, they will make a come back on our tree someday.

Christmas 2003: Mantle.

We always used real greenery on our mantle. It was a horrible mess to clean up after the holidays, but it was worth it.

Christmas 2003:  Cottages

These little paper cottages are my favorite things.

Christmas 2003:  Wreath

The wreath above our mantle was decorated with random things - bottle brush tail birds, more paper cottages, ornaments from my father's childhood, a skeleton key and even a funky tea spoon.

Christmas 2003: Daisy and Depression Glass.

Here's a spry four year-old Daisy posing with the Depression Glass. To those of you who visit our house - the blue bubble glass is back in the cabinet. I gave up on the Butterprint Pyrex.

Christmas 2003:  Me & Spud.

And lastly, here is the 2003 version of me. Young, carefree...and blonde.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Under construction.

Under construction.

Sorry for the lack of updates. I've been working a lot of overtime during the last week, so not only have I been too busy working to update, but I've been too busy working to do anything that's worth updating about - if that makes any sense.

The biggest news around here is that our long planned family room project is finally underway. This is something that we've been wanting to do since the beginning of the year. After discussing the project with a few contractors, we had gotten to the point where we didn't think we were going to be able to enclose our porch without major construction and had all but given up on the idea. Then, one of the contractors that we spoke to during the spring contacted us a couple of weeks ago and said that he could start working on it right away. We were skeptical that we would even be issued a building permit, but we thought we'd let him give it a shot. The work is to be complete by the end of the week, with the exception of the floor that Mark is going to install himself.

Pucker up.

When I'm not working, I'm off doing stupid things, like giving Lauren a bad haircut. While I spend a shameful amount of money to get my own hair done, I refuse to take Lauren to a professional and instead continue to delude myself that I can do it on my own. This approach has been ingrained in me since childhood. I didn't have my first haircut until I was about seven years old. In junior high, my mother ran her own "salon" out of our basement, where I was treated to several home perms and Sun In treatments. When I was a junior in high school, I was invited to go to the prom by a senior. Of course, this called for a special hair coloring session. Unfortunately, the dark hair coloring gave my hair a lovely green cast where the Sun In had lightened it. Yes, I went to the prom with GREEN HAIR. Definitely one of the highlights of my teenage years (no pun intended!). Afterward, my parents had our neighbor (who was a beautician) fix it.

The front of Lauren's hair looks okay, but the back looks all chopped off and uneven. Since she doesn't have to go to the prom any time soon, I guess I'll just let it grow out.

Vestiges of fall.

Lastly, I completely forgot that I had taken this photo. It's from a few weeks ago when Lauren and I were gathering leaves in the yard. I have leaf envy no more!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Remembrance Day.

WW II Memorial:  Pennsylvania

On the way to work this morning, I was lamenting to myself about how little content I have for the blog at the moment. Now that we've changed the clocks back to Standard Time, it's pitch black when I arrive home in the evening. Not very conducive to photo taking.

But I remembered that today is Veteran's Day. Then I remembered that I had saved some photos that I had taken of the World War II Memorial just for the occasion. How's that for saving for a rainy day?

WW II Memorial.

During our short visit to Washington D.C. this summer, I was particularly impressed by the World War II Memorial. While it doesn't have the emotional impact of the seemingly endless names of the Vietnam Memorial, it's design really gives you a sense of the scale of the conflict.

WW II Memorial: Medallion.

My Pap Pap fought in World War II. He was sent overseas to Naples, Italy. There, he lost most of his hearing in one ear when a granade detonated nearby. Pap pap used to his war injury as an excuse to get out of jury duty. Yes, I come from a long line of jury duty dodgers. But unlike the rest of us slackers, Pap pap deserved at least that much for his sacrifice.

So be like an elephant - and always remember the sacrifices made by our military.

Happy Veteran's Day.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Say it ain't so, Joe.

Say it ain't so, Joe.

I forgot to post this photo for Halloween, but somehow, it seems more appropriate for today.

Here is a little more fall goodness. I can't take credit for these, as Mark did the photographing.

Fall wreath.

Crazy kid.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day tidbits.

Today, I gave Lauren some cinnamon alphabet cookie for her snack. After awhile, I noticed that she wasn't eating. When I looked on her plate, I saw that she had arranged the letters to spell out a name...

Obama '08 - No cookie for you McCain!

It was an Election Day miracle!

But don't worry - this post isn't about politics. Instead of blathering on about why you should vote for one guy over another, I thought I'd tell some Election Day anecdotes.

I first learned about elections when I was four years old. My mom and dad took me to the nearby school that was their assigned polling place. Back then, they didn't have those new fangled touch screens, but the kind of machines where you would step up to the machine and a curtain would close behind you and you would pull levers to place your vote. After my mother checked in, one of the oh-so important electoral representatives pulled me aside and sternly told me that absolutely under no circumstances was I to touch anything. From then on, I was absolutely petrified of voting and being in proximity to curtain would be enough to send me in a panic.

Maybe that's why my parents haven't voted since the Carter administration. No, actually my parents don't vote because they believe that registering to vote is a one way ticket to jury duty, which as I have been rightfully taught, is a fate worse than death. I must be a real freak because I kinda enjoyed the one time that I did serve on a jury and found the whole experience to be fascinating. Then again, my case involved a mailman who claimed to have injured his back when a dog jumped at him, causing him to stumbled down a couple of steps. FYI, we ruled in favor of the dog.

The next experience that shaped my electoral identity occurred was I was a junior in high school. My AP US History teacher, Mr. Modic, was quite an idealist who had us watch Shane and American Graffitti and would make us guess which character he most identified with in the movie. John Kennedy was his hero, so it was only natural that he brainwashed us all to register Democratic when we turned eighteen (Now, you may be thinking that his teachings were inappropriate, but this was twenty years ago when life wasn't so politically correct. In fact, I remember singing the theme to M*A*S*H, during music class when I was in elementary school. Picture a group of eight year olds singing off key about how "Suicide is painless..." Crazy, but true!) Come to think of it, when we held a mock presidential election, the class elected Michael Dukakis. Looking back, I wonder if Mr. Modic fixed our election in favor of the Democrats...

I eventually did get over my fear of voting and did register when I turned eighteen. I also married someone who's passionate about politics. I remember during a recent election, Mark went directly to the polls to vote right before work. That evening, he went back to the polling place with me. Then, we went to pick up Grandma Gert and took her there so she could vote. At this point, the nice ladies who check in the voters teased Mark that he must be in charge of shuttling people in from all across the district. Speaking of Grandma Gert, last we talked to her she was voting for McCain, which is quite shocking since she's referred to our incumbent president as "ol' Bushy Boy" for the last eight years. We believe that this is mostly a spite vote since Barack beat her girl Hillary in the primaries.

Now go vote!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The circus came to town.

Greatest Show on Earth.

Yesterday, we took Lauren to see the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus. This was both Lauren and Mark's first visit to the circus. I have a very vague memory of going to the circus when I was very small, but since I never confirmed with my parents that this event truly occurred, I'm not sure that actually counts as a visit.

I purchased the discount tickets as part of my company's group rate, so we had really good seats in the center of the arena. As the show began, I remembered that out of pure hatred for that annoying Bello the Clown, the star of Ringling's shows, I had once sworn to only attend the Shrine Circus, but by that time it was too late to get up and leave.


So when I wasn't busy tearing at my eyes and ears each time Bello showed up, my mind kept coming to the same question - why don't I have a job like that? Why can't I train toy poodles to do tricks in little dresses? Why can't I ride on a elephant wearing a Vegas showgirl costume? Why can't I be shot out of a canon with Mark, like the husband and wife duo at the end of the show? Their act was all of five minutes. Just how much do they get paid to do that?

Tiger tamer.

Mark and I both agreed that the one job that we didn't want was that of the tiger tamer. Cause those tigers were none too happy to be rolling over and begging. No sir. There were several instances where they looked mighty ticked and were outwardly refusing to do what the tamer wanted. Now that guy earns his paycheck.

For the most part, Lauren was more into the bag of popcorn that we bought her than she was the actual show. I would venture to guess that her favorite part was the 10+ elephants. I would have to agree that the animals were the best part of the show, especially when the trapeze artists missed their dual triple flip that was the grand finale of their act.

With all the singing and dancing between acts, I kept thinking, "Mark is so hating this," but he was more bothered by trying to fit his 6 ft 5 in. frame into his seat. Even as someone who loves musicals and variety shows, all the cheese left me feeling a little lactose intolerant, but since no one smelled like cabbage or had small hands, I guess I can't be too critical. All those elephants occupying a small space, however, was a little stinky.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Holly jolly Halloween.

Three lil' ghosts.

Only 55 days 'til Christmas, you know!

But before we get ahead of ourselves, let's talk Halloween. Since it was a Friday night, we decided to have ourselves a little party. We were very impressed by the creativity our guests put into their costumes.

Josie and the Wolfman.

Josie of Josie and the Pussycats came with The Wolfman.

Is that a member of al qaeda?

Someone even came as a member of Al Qaeda. Or maybe that was just Mel C. wearing Lauren's t-shirt on her head.

Although we only had approximately 12 visitors to our house, we had a ball going door to door. Lauren was the only kid in the neighborhood with her very own entourage. I have to say that she was the perfect trick-or-treater - she said thank you at every house and chatted with all the neighbors. When the kid is good, she is very, very good.

Cue Vince Guaraldi.

Cue Vince Guaraldi.

It's been a busy couple of days, so we have a lot to cover! Let's start with the long awaited Halloween 2008 costume photos!

Happiness is a warm puppy.

Lauren was adamant about being Snoopy for Halloween. She had her mind made up as early as August, which was good because it gave us plenty of time to track down a costume. You see, no one is currently manufacturing Snoopy costumes. And when I went to my usual go to place for hard to get items, I found out that a lot of other folk's children were adamant about being Snoopy for Halloween. So adamant, that their parents were willing to shell out $80 - $100 for a Snoopy costume.

Lauren dressed as Snoopy for Halloween.

But not this parent. Plan B was to make a Snoopy costume. I thought this was something I could tackle: Buy a white hooded sweatshirt and sweatpants, fasten some black felt for ears, a pom pom for a nose and voila! - Charlie Brown's best friend. Then I found out child sized sweats aren't really sold in white and were almost impossible to find. Luckily, Daddy saved the day by stalking Ebay and found a bonafide Snoopy costume for $19.99 plus shipping. Someone must not have searched the completed auctions for the going rate.

Good grief, Charlie Brown! A dog dressed like a bird!

I decided early on that in order for Lauren to be identifiable as Snoopy and not just any old pup, that this had to be a group effort. Our original plan was to have Daddy dress up as the Red Baron, but when I found Woodstock costumes for dogs, Daddy got a reprieve. This one is a large, but it was just a little on the small side for Daisy, who I would consider a medium sized dog. I think she's going to have to cut down on the biscuits.