Tuesday, December 30, 2008

When It Rains, It Pours

Recently, we discovered that our 15 year old dishwasher is beginning to leak. We put a towel under it, continue to run it once a day, and purchased a new dishwasher that is sitting in the dining room in the box waiting to be installed. Why is it waiting to be installed? Because the shut-off valve to the dishwasher hasn't been used in 15 years and is frozen shut and needs to be replaced first. Of course, Steve wants to do this himself -- it's not that hard a job and a plumber will charge a fortune. He needs a new tool for the job, though....

In the meantime... I was out to dinner with some friends a couple of weeks ago and mentioned how we were thinking about a new type of water heater because ours is 15 years old and it's rated for about 10 years. I was promptly chastised by my friends for living with the old water heater on borrowed time. This is a disaster waiting to happen! Well, a couple of days before Christmas we discovered that there's a small leak in our water heater. So now Steve is scrambling to figure out what new water heater we will and can get before this one completely blows. (We'd like to get a super-efficient one -- even if the cost doesn't justify the payback, we feel that someone needs to start creating demand for environmentally friendly products or they'll never become commonplace!) But getting plumbers to call back, give quotes, and find non-standard water heaters during the holidays is frustrating, to say the least.

So, every night before we go to bed and any time we go out of the house for an extended period of time, we shut off the water supply to the water heater. (If it does fail, the most that would get on the floor is what's in the tank.) Oh, and we used to run the dishwasher every night when we went to bed because the old one is so noisy. But I don't want to run it without hot water... so I'm constantly looking for a time when I can run it and it's thrown off our dish usage habits!

I sure hope that the water heater doesn't fail next week when Steve's away! There's a plumber coming Monday, just to see if it's possible to install a direct-vent water heater. Then it could be 3 more weeks before we could get our hands on one of these models. Cross your fingers, everyone!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Winter Wonderland

In Friday's storm we got about 8 inches. I had to run the snowblower at midnight to clear out enough of the driveway for Steve to get in. (He had to drive home from JFK because US Airways diverted his flight home there and then cancelled it. Now there saying that they successfully completed his flight! Nothing like a good fight with an airline. And then Steve rented car with 2 guys in his row and drove back to Logan. Think, "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.") In yesterday's storm we got another 12 inches. It stopped snowing around 9pm, so Steve was able to completely clear the driveway before we went to bed. Bummer there still wasn't any school today!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Survey

I got this from a friend's blog and thought I'd post my answers here:

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Both... whatever works best. I usually buy wrapping paper and reuse gift bags that have been given to me.
2. Real tree or Artificial? Real
3. When do you put up the tree? Usually a week or 2 after Thanksgiving, but if we're too busy, it might go up right before Christmas.
4. When do you take the tree down? Jan 6, or as close to it as the tree pick-up schedule will allow. (12 days of Christmas, remember?)
5. Do you like eggnog? Yum! But these days I only drink Silk Nog when I can find it.
6. Favorite gift received ever? I can't remember... brain cells gone...
7. Hardest person to buy for? Mostly Steve. He's always so particular about what he likes, usually he just has to tell me what he wants. This year he even shopped for the best price and said, "Buy it today because the sale is over at midnight." It's a really nice gift, though!
8. Easiest person to buy for? Kids.
9. Do you have a nativity scene? No. Someday I might like to get one because it's a really cool piece of art, though.
10. Mail or email Christmas cards? mail
11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? The year Santa brought my sister a baton in her stocking and my "comparable" gift was a toy broom. I was convinced that Santa mixed up my sister's and my stockings, but there wasn't anything I could do about it.
12. Favorite Christmas Movie? A Christmas Story with Jean Shepherd. "You'll shoot your eye out, kid."
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? varies, usually around Thanksgiving
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? I don't think so.
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Cookies.
16. Lights on the tree? I've always prefered white (lots), not blinking, at most, twinkling. These days I'm more sold on colored lights. But I really do hate when they blink in patterns.
17. Favorite Christmas song? The "putting up the lights" version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas"
18. Travel at Christmas or stay at home? Travelling to local relatives (then I don't have to clean, but I don't have to sleep away from home.)
19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Yes.
20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Star, but I have an angel that I made a long time ago that I hope to re-use someday.
21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? morning
22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? Crowds at the stores
23. What theme or color are you using? Theme... I'm supposed to have a theme? It's whatever minimal decorations are in the boxes from the attic.
24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? Whatever, I'm easy.
25. What do you want for Christmas this year? Happy, excited children on Christmas morning.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

How Bad Could a Little Frozen Rain Be?

Last Thursday night and early Friday morning we had an ice storm here. I had no idea what we were in for, but before I went to bed, I kept hearing "CRACK, crash, crash, crash!" in the back yard. (It was really freaky to hear so much going on in woods and not being able to see it!) This went on all night long. In the morning we were treated to this:

We were also treated to a 7 am phone automated phone call from the town declaring a state of emergency and closed schools. We were planning on leaving for my cousin's wedding in NJ that morning at 10, but delayed until noon, mostly just to give some time for roads to be cleared of tree limbs and such. (Well, and to finish packing, too....) We had no trouble getting out and were gone until 11:30 pm Sunday night. That's when I found out that our town was essentially entirely without power on Friday (except for small areas, including where we are) and many areas are still without power now (Tuesday night) and one of the schools is still acting as a shelter.

I find it so amazing that a bunch of rain at the wrong temperature can cause so much damage and chaos. So many perfectly healthy trees in our back yard suffered the loss of so many limbs. Most of the limbs fell, but many of them are just hanging with no clear indication of when they may fall. I imagine that everyone around here needs to be careful in any wooded area for a while, because there may be unintentional booby traps!

Thankfully, the weather warmed up the past couple of days, so people were able to get out and clean up without freezing, but tonight we have snow forecast, and they cancelled school again tomorrow....

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Favorite Holiday Recipes

I thought I'd share a couple of my favorite holiday recipes that I made for Thanksgiving this year. They are equally good for other holiday meals. The Cranberry Apple Relish comes from my mother-in-law and has been an Atkins family tradition for a long time. The Cheesy Olive recipe is from my mother. She used to make them as an appetizer at the holidays and I would eat the cheesy part and leave the olive. Now I appreciate the amazing combination of flavors!

Cranberry Apple Relish

(I'm including the amounts here for a small or large batch.)
This recipe is simple if you own a grinder that can easily grind up the cranberries and raisins. Without a good grinder, it becomes very challenging. I own a grinder attachment for my KitchenAid mixer and it works great!

Cranberries: 3 c. for small or 7 c. (2 12 oz bags) for large batch
Raisins: 3/8 c. or 7/8 c.
Apple: 3/4 c. or 1 3/4 c.
Sugar: 1 c. or 2.5 c.
Lemon Juice: 3/4 t. or 1 3/4 t.

Wash & pick over the cranberries, then grind or chop. Grind or chop raisins and add to cranberries. Chop apples by hand and add. Add & stir in sugar and lemon juice.
After everything has been mixed in, let it stand at room temperature, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has completely dissolved and some juice has been formed. Then keep in refrigerator or freeze. (Make a big batch at Thanksgiving and freeze half for Christmas.)

Cheesy Olives

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (do not use pre-shredded as it will not mush into the dough properly.)
1/2 cup butter soft / melted
1/2 tsp. paprika
Dash hot sauce
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
~72 olives (green with pimentos)

Mix cheese, butter, paprika, and hot sauce.
Stir in flour and salt to make dough.
Let stand 10-15 minutes.
Roll 1/2 - 1 tsp. dough around each olive.
(Can be prepared ahead and refrigerated before baking.)
Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Cranberries are a Diuretic

Happy Thanksgiving! I was thankful that I was able to spend Thanksgiving with family (my brother-in-law's family and his in-laws, who are all very nice.) Everyone brought something so that Jane, my sister-in-law, wouldn't have to cook everything (although she did an awful lot of it!) Most everything was a special recipe from scratch, so it was a particularly yummy Thanksgiving dinner. So, what do my kids eat at Thanksgiving? Aside from the desserts and snacks, which they're going to love in any setting, they each had a very unique, but not very varied plateful of food.

Owen ate rolls with butter. He had seconds. And thirds. He may also have had some crackers with a bite or two of cheese.

Sierra ate cranberry relish (my mother-in-law's phenomenal recipe that I make every year because I have the grinder attachment for my kitchenaid mixer.) And to mix it up a little, she also ate cranberry sauce (the kind from a can.) In fact, it's likely that she ate a whole can's worth. (Certainly more than half a can!) As a result, she had to pee a lot! So, despite the fact that she was doing well using the potty and went a bunch of times successfully, she still had a couple of accidents. In fact, 5 minutes after she successfully used the potty, she she had an accident which left a significant puddle on the floor. That's when I started to think, "hmmm... I think cranberries are a diuretic!"

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Let's try them all!

My first child has always been a slave to routine and familiarity. He's much more willing to try new things than he used to be, but with something like, say, peeing on the potty, I would worry that he might have to go outside the house and just not be willing to use a strange toilet. It took a long time before he would even use the toilet at school.
My daughter, however, once she likes doing something, wants to try all the different variations. She would love to try every toilet. Last week she told me she had to pee while we were in the car. I had told her when we were getting in that I had a little portable potty in the car, so she should always tell me when she has to go, even if we're in the car. We stopped at a rest stop and I offered to take her in. No, she wanted to use the portable potty. But nothing came out. So we tried the potty inside the rest stop. Still nothing. (She just wanted to try them out.) Once at the mall, she tried at least two toilets (successfully.) She loves to go at school and will even request that her teacher help her with wiping rather than me, even if I'm there. And best of all, the other day we were coming home from the Boston Aquarium with friends in the car, stuck in traffic on Rt. 2, and she said she had to pee. "Can you hold it for a little while, or do you have to go now?" I asked. "I have to go now." So I pulled over at a gas station just off Rt. 2. Ooof! The smell hit hard from the one bathroom (no separate women's.) The nasty looking bar of soap sat on a sponge on the sink. "Ok, Sierra, don't touch anything. You're going to go quickly, and we'll wash our hands with wipes at the car." She was so proud of herself, using the gas station bathroom and staying dry!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I'm Due For a Sinus Infection...

Once a year, for the past I don't know how many years, I get a cold that develops into a sinus infection. I think this might be the one. On Oct. 26 I got some kind of chest infection which developed into pneumonia. I got better with antibiotics, but the cough hung on while my body continued to try to clear all the mucus out of my lungs. The cough was getting better, but I think the sickness weakened me, because now I've caught a head cold. It includes an extremely annoying tickle in my throat that's now developed into an unrelenting cough. The coughing is exhausting. But I can't sleep. Too much coughing. I can feel my sinuses filling up. The face pain is coming, I just know it. I think I'm in for another doctor visit....

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Dry All Day!

I'm in complete disbelief. Sierra was out of the house with me all day and managed to tell me every time she had to pee. We're 5 minutes before bedtime, and she's still wearing the same underwear she put on this morning. It's a miracle! Child 1: 2 years. Child 2: 4 days. I know, I know, there's bound to be setbacks, and she hasn't dealt with a poop well yet, but I really think this is huge!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A First Success!

Well, Sierra's been really struggling to figure out the mechanics of peeing during the four days she's been wearing the underwear. But just a minute ago she was standing in the kitchen and whispered to herself, "pee on the potty," and then said out loud to me, "I think I have to pee on the potty!" We rushed her into the bathroom where we found her dry and she proceeded to pee!! This is so very exciting!!!! (Keep in mind that earlier today, she peed in her pants just about a minute or two after having sat on the potty, unable to pee.)

I'm so happy I peed on the potty and got a reward!

I'm so happy, I get a little reward every time Sierra has a success!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Potty Training Pain

Don't get me wrong. I'm really glad that Sierra has decided to give up pull-ups and start wearing underwear. But she doesn't know how to tell when she needs to go. Twice at school today (I was parent-helping) she had accidents right before I was planning to have her sit on the potty. Then she had another accident at home. It's only 2 o'clock! I'm hoping she figures it out quickly because I find all the cleaning up exhausting.

Oh, and I need to buy more underwear!

[Update: By the time she went to bed, she had had 6 (at least) accidents. While she sat on the potty once, she didn't actually pee there. On the plus side, she still wants to wear underwear -- at least she's not giving up!]

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Going on Safari!

Today's safari birthday party was a success. Steve set up a scavenger hunt "safari" with photos of animals all over the yard. The kids took their safari hats and binoculars and had to find and check all the animals off their list. Combined with a bounce house (a castle because they didn't have any animal ones,) a zebra pinata, and a hippo cake, it made for a fun day for the kids. (Sorry, I don't have photos of the safari yet. I took them on my brother's camera an I don't have them on my computer yet.)


Pinata goodies! (no candy)

The cake -- not bad, eh?

The photogenic birthday girl!


Sierra has decided that when you're 3, you wear underwear. She has been unsuccessful using the potty while wearing pulll-ups, but I'm hopeful that this "big girl" attitude will do the trick! I've heard of it happening with other kids. Her daddy is not very hopeful. He remembers Owen saying the same thing when he was 3... and when he was 4....

So, she's wearing underwear right now! And she's peed on the potty once today. Everyone keep your fingers crossed!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Dinosaur Dig Party

I'm finally getting around to posting something about Owen's 5th birthday party. We played up the whole dinosaur theme with the Triceratops cake (seen here), dinosaur decorations, and dinosaur activities. Steve made giant dinosaur footprint cutouts for the floor and walls, he made chalk footprints up the driveway, we had green streamers (I should have had more) and blow-up dinosaurs, and really great dinosaur tablecloths.

For activities, we did the following:
- The kids came in and decorated their own gift bags with fabric markers and puffy dinosaur stickers (which turned out to be a mistake because then I had to stuff the bags during the party.)
-The kids then went outside and dug through the sandbox for a dinosaur skeleton.
- Steve hid photographs of dinosaurs all over the yard and the kids went on a scavenger hunt to find them all and fill in the letters on their sheets to spell C-R-E-T-A-C-E-O-U-S.

-Steve then told the kids a whole story about protecting dinosaur eggs and they did a relay race with eggs (balloons) and putting them in nests.

-We had a triceratops pinata (filled with mini plastic dinos and other little toys, not candy.

- The kids played pin the pteranodon in the dino picture. (Most of them figured out how to cheat. Not the kid in this picture, though....)

- We were going to play a dinosaur version of musical chairs where you try to hide in the dinosaur footprint, but we ran out of time.

The activities really kept the kids busy and active for the whole 2 1/2 hours. Before the pinata, we stopped for a snack that included homemade cheddar dinosaur crackers. At the end, we ate the cake!

Tomorrow we're doing a Safari Party! Stay tuned for an update and cake photos!

Sunday, November 2, 2008


I love halloween! I just wish that I hadn't been sick this year. Maybe the kids won't remember that I never took them out to get pumpkins or spent much effort to decorate the house. Thankfully, I made the bulk of their costumes for our trip to Disney in September. But I never did finish painting the brown bits onto the sweatsuit for Owen's costume.... He didn't seem to mind.

Owen was a triceratops:

And Sierra was a hippo:

Very cute, if I do say so myself!

(Note: I bought Sierra's costume and added some details like the hands, toes on the feet, and the tail. My MIL made the hood with the horns for Owen's triceratops head. I added the frill and the paint to the hood and made the tail and the clawed hands and feet. Just in case you thought I was more crafty than I am....)

Friday, October 31, 2008


Steve came home last night instead of this afternoon. Good thing, too. I took the opportunity to see the doctor before the weekend because I really felt that my symptoms warranted a visit. She heard crackling -- pneumonia! Antibiotics and cough syrup with codine for me. I hope that Owen fights this off!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I feel crummy!

My body decided that after Owen's party was over it was ok to get sick. I've got this awful chest cold with aching, fever, and constant coughing. Steve's away this week (of course) but he's coming home a little bit early for me. I know there is no good time to be sick, but Halloween and then Sierra's birthday party to plan for? And Owen is sick now, too. Not coughing much yet, but I'm worried. I hope he can go trick-or-treating.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What is it?

I had mixed feelings about the cake I made for Owen's birthday. Take a look and tell me what you think it looks like:

Monday, October 27, 2008

It's good luck!

I was parent-helping at preschool today when the teacher brought Sierra in to me because a bird pooped on her head. Now I wish I had a photo. It was a really big meconium-like poop right on top of her head. It didn't want to come out! The teacher said that in her 21 years teaching preschool, that had never happened to one of her students before. I had to wash her hair four times to get it all out -- once with Dawn dishwashing liquid. What was that bird eating??

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Owen is 5 years old! I'm really proud of him and how far he's come socially. We had a very successful dinosaur party at our house today. We had a whole schedule of dinosaur-related activities planned and a triceratops birthday cake. It was exhausting for Steve and I to set up and plan, but seeing how much fun the kids had made it very rewarding. I hope to post some pictures tomorrow. I'm too exhausted right now.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Seriously Funny

Oh my! I stole this from another blog and couldn't resist posting it here. If your kids ever wonder why it's important to learn how to spell... now you know.

Friday, October 17, 2008

I Love Fall in NE

May used to be my favorite month. Spring: the flowers all bloom, the weather warms up, my birthday rolls around.... But lately I think October is replacing May as my favorite. Certainly my birthday is losing its magic as I get older.... I really think that nothing compares to seeing the leaves change in New England. The weather turns crisp and cool. Putting on a fleece jacket and going for a walk with the kids just before sunset is like heaven! I really wish I had remembered to carry my camera around with me about three days ago -- that's when the color was really peaking here. But here's a few photos that were taken last weekend at a party on a lake:

And here's a few I took today around my yard and neighborhood:

Bad to the Bone!

I babysit for one of Owen's friends every Wednesday. A couple of times she has given him an "earring". Have a look:

The friend educated him on earrings: boys only wear one, girls wear two. She put it on his right ear, whatever that means these days! (BTW, it's a sticker.)

Sierra got a pair one day, too:

Monday, October 13, 2008

Only steps from the toilet...

This morning, Sierra didn't seem herself. She told me that her mouth hurt (teething) so I gave her some motrin. Then I hung out with her in her bed until she said her teeth felt better. But she still seemed off. I kept asking if something else was wrong -- no answer. I finally got her dressed, but she was still pretty lethargic. I went into the hallway holding her and she proceeded to vomit on herself, me, and her stuffed hippo.


There was something else wrong. Why didn't you tell me? I think she just doesn't yet have the vocabulary for "I feel like I'm going to vomit." After all, I don't think she's ever done that before....

Thankfully, she was better after that -- no fever, no more vomiting.

We worried a bit about the hippo (her favorite), but after making sure we could order another one, I put him through the washer and dryer. We were imagining him floating up for air periodically in the washer.... He did come out fresh and clean and all in one piece.

Now let's just hope that both kids are healthy tomorrow when they both have school and I really don't want to have to cancel any of the many obligations or activities of the day.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I guess this about sums me up!

You Are Oregano

You have are charming, funny, witty, and smart.

You love to party - and people love to party with you.

You are always friendly and warm. You are able to help people get along.

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Benefits of Being a Pack Rat

Most of the time, my pack rat tendencies are detrimental. My house is a disorganized mess, I have trouble finding things (but I usually do, because I know they're here somewhere!), and I drive my husband crazy. But every once in a while, I find that something I've been meaning to get rid of, but allowed to sit around the house anyway, does become useful again.

Lately, my almost-three-year-old has been chewing on her fingers incessantly because her 2-year molars are coming in. Today, she was putting a super ball in her mouth, I believe to chew on it. I had to take it away because she kept doing it, even when I told her it was dangerous. So I went and dug through the bin of toys that I'd planned to get rid of and found three teethers to wash off and give to her. She's having a blast right now trying them all. She's especially intrigued by the one that vibrates when you bite it. Ironically, she never used teethers when she was a baby.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Thanks, we needed that!

This past weekend, Steve and I dropped the kids off at my parents' house on Saturday afternoon and then went in to Boston for an overnight date. How awesome is that? We checked in to the Hilton Back Bay, ate dinner at P.F.Changs, and then drove over to the Bay Side Expo to see Cirque du Soleil - Kooza. After that, we went out for dessert a the Cheesecake Factory (I know, we should have gone to some Boston original restaurants instead of the chains, but it was raining and we stuck with places in the Prudential Center so we wouldn't have to walk outside for more than a block.) Dessert was overkill -- I couldn't even finish half of mine -- but it was nice to have such a decadent evening. On Sunday we slept in until 10:00!!! And then after having brunch and browsing around the mall for a while, we took a nap! Oh my, the decadence has no end!! And oddly enough, the rain was a blessing in some ways because Steve didn't spend the weekend thinking about all the work he could be doing on the house!

I highly recommend a weekend away from your house with your significant other as a wonderful gift to yourselves. Happy 7th anniversary to us!!

Friday, September 19, 2008

I Inspired Someone??

I discovered the other day that a friend of a friend commented on my blog about the Danskin Triathlon. Apparently, her and a friend did the Danskin in the NY area, and read my blog for tips and inspiration. They both did phenomenally well (especially compared to me) so it's hard to comprehend how I could be an inspiration to them, but it feels good that I was!

Coincidentally, the race took place in NJ really close to where I grew up. And the friend of a friend, who did the race, lives across the street from the other house in NJ where I grew up. Small world. It would be fun to try to do that one next year. Maybe by then I can train well enough to as do well as they did.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Growing Up!

Today was Sierra's first day of school. She was a natural! The first day, parents are required to stay. Tomorrow, I can leave her on her own, if she's ready. She tells me that she's ready! (I stayed at school with Owen his first year until April. Yes, April. He had a hard time adjusting.)

Saturday, September 13, 2008


We spent 8 days at Disney World.

Sheesh... that was exhausting, but fun! We got back late on Monday night (5 days ago) and I'm finally feeling recovered. Why do we need a vacation after our vacations? School starts this week for the kids. Sierra has her first day of pre-school on Monday (sniff, sniff... when did my baby girl grow up?) I'm finally getting all the fall activities scheduled. It's gymnastics and soccer so far. Maybe swimming and ballet later this fall.

When my brain turns back on, perhaps I'll come up with some more interesting blog posts.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

My big boy!

I went with my kids, and a bunch of my moms' group friends and their kids, to Great Brook State Farm in Carlisle today. Basically, we had a picnic, the kids played in a big field, and then we went for ice cream and to look at the cows and other animals. After everyone else had gone, I took Owen over to building with the bathrooms. He examined the signs:

Free Clipart Picture of a Women's Restroom Sign. Click Here to Get Free Images at Clipart Guide.com Free Clipart Image of a Blue Restroom Sign. Click Here to Get Free Images at Clipart Garden.com

and then refused to enter the women's room with me. "I want to go in the boys room!" There seemed to be no one around, so I let him. I let him know that I couldn't go in there, and he didn't have a problem with that. (I did, however, have to go in to help him turn on the water, but I made sure there was no one in there first.)

Every day, my little boy shows me how he's growing up!