Monday, December 28, 2009

All Work And No Play

All work and no play makes Jack a tired boy! A car ride is about the only way to get this kid to fall asleep right now, and these are some of the pictures Jay has submitted as proof of nap.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mele Ukulele

Now THIS is how you rock a ukulele! We're dealing with a triple fever situation in this house and cabin fever is starting to set in. So in searching for ways to keep us all entertained, I came across this adorable kid singing "I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz. It didn't bring down the kids' fevers, but it did make them laugh and Elizabeth told me I needed to dot com it on our blog.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Happiest Tree I Know

Meet Mr. Branch. Why is he so happy? I have no idea. He lives on the edge of my parents' driveway and is always super psyched when we come to visit.

A few years ago this whole tree was set ablaze by a landscape light malfunction and Mr. Branch took the brunt of the damage. He had to be cut off to save the tree. He took it like a champ and has been smiling ever since.

The Artist at Six

Elizabeth's art was chosen as part of her school's "Out in the Town" art exhibit program. Her funky flower piece is described as "like VanGogh" and it's the only first grade art on the wall.

It will be on display at Sheer Designs Hair Salon in Lexington until December 11th. Elizabeth turns seven in a few days, so this is your last chance to get a glimpse of the artist at six!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Amanda is FIVE!

Amanda has been five for three weeks but I'm just now posting the birthday pictures. Per her wish, we celebrated at the beach!

We had to shorten the trip to a 24 hour stay because an H1N1 flu shot clinic was offered for preschoolers at the last minute. We had no idea what that would involve, so we packed up and decided to "swing by" on our way to the beach. All five of us ended up standing in line outside the health department for three hours. We even had Sully with us, and he was the only dog there so he felt like a celebrity. As we got closer to the front of the line we discovered that they did not have enough for parents and non-preschool siblings, so Jay took Elizabeth and Sully for a car ride while I took Jack and Amanda inside.

It was not Amanda's idea of a birthday party. Once we stepped inside, the three hours of anticipation combined with a DMV like waiting room made Amanda snap. She went into full panic mode, tried to escape and kept yelling "I'm bustin' outta here!" She threatened to take her clothes off and "be naked" but she was wearing her fancy birthday dress and couldn't reach the zipper. The other parents were trying to distract their children from their inevitable fate, and Amanda was quite a distraction. From the looks of death shot in my direction, I could tell the parents didn't see it that way. But in hindsight I think they would agree that the 30 minutes their children spent watching Amanda was actually a blessing. Even Jack was in such a state of shock and awe that he didn't move, complain, or cry. I don't even think he blinked.

Amanda required "extra nurse assistance" but stopped crying as soon as the shot was over. She walked passed the same crowd on the way out like it was no big whoop. Jack's coma-like state ended as soon as he felt the needle and he screamed until he eventually fell asleep in the car. It felt like an awful way to start Amanda's birthday celebration, but the kids had forgotten all about it before we even reached Charleston. I was the only one still twitching when we reached the beach.

When we finally pulled up to my parents' house, we were greeted with balloons and a huge "Happy Birthday Amanda!" banner hanging on the front porch. My mom went all out to decorate the house for the birthday girl, and it was perfect. Amanda was smiling from ear to ear.

Here is the birthday girl rocking out with her new purple boots and a purple guitar.

When my mom offered to make the cake, I forwarded her a "rainbow cake" recipe that I found on tastespotting. I'm an evil, evil daughter. But look at this cake!!! It was so fun to cut into and see the look on Amanda's face when she saw the rainbow. Even the chef looked surprised that it came out this perfect. Thank you Gaga!

It's hard to believe Amanda is already five. I keep telling her I'm going to put a brick on her head so she stays little forever. In true Amanda style, she refused to keep her birthday wish a secret when she blew out her candles. Despite about 10 attempts to stop her from blurting it out, she wanted to say it out loud. Her simple wish: "I wish I would turn five."

Saturday, October 31, 2009


Halloween 2009, a.k.a. the first year we flipped Disney the bird.

It wasn't until Boo at the Zoo that I realized we had no Disney anything for Halloween. No princess, no fairy, no Winnie the Pooh, nada. And it feels GOOD! Take that Disney, we'll show you! Disney, you are everywhere in this house. We have your movies, DVDs, character toys, books, video games, toothbrushes, clothing, undergarments, socks, shoes, hats, backpacks, bedding, wall paint, wall decals, bikes, helmets, dinnerware and everything else Disney under the sun.

The thing is, when you're surrounded by Disney products, kids ask almost daily when they get to go to Disneyworld. So we made that first trip to Disneyworld, and it was truly the most magical vacation ever. Nothing can ever compare to Disneyworld, and two years later the kids are still asking when we can go back. But a trip to Disneyworld is expensive! Who can afford that kind of trip on a regular basis? So I say pfffffffffffffft to you Disney, we didn't even need you this year.

But psst. Disney, I love you, I really do, we'll be back soon. Tell Mickey to send me some coupons or something, would ya?

The scary face picture. Note the spooky backdrop...

A closer look at our Halloween central by the front door. The idea just came to me when I realized hundreds of trick-or-treaters would get a glimpse of the "playroom" which at this moment has been deemed unfit for actual human play. So instead of cleaning it, I blocked it off and labeled it a crime scene.

People were really freaked out by these mice. Mostly it was the parents who jumped back a bit when they saw the mice.

Zombie Sully will eat your eyeballs. Not really, but he kept stealing this decoration and hiding it from us. It's a slimy ball with about 20 eyeballs dangling from long red stretchy optic nerves.

This is what Zombie Sully looks like when he is trying to say "please don't take my eyeballs away again, I love these eyeballs, please I keep?"

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Introducing... Hedwig the Pony!

My stepmother bought her a couple of weeks ago. She is half Welsh pony and half Arabian, and she apparently doesn't like to be clean. She is all white but rolled in the mud as soon as she came home to her new digs. But I think it just makes her look more authentically Hedwig, no? Her roommate is named Dudley, and they seem to be getting along so far...

We have Hedwig as our computer wallpaper and everyday Jack says "dat horse roll in da mud?" and when I say yes he says "awwwwww, silly horse!"

Unfortunately for us, Hedwig lives in Vermont! But a road trip may in order soon so we can all meet this silly horse.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Boo at the Zoo

Tonight we went to Boo at the Zoo. This is the first year with the new policy of buying tickets in advance for a specific night. No tickets were sold the night of the event. It was supposed to ease flow and provide a better family experience. But honestly, I think it was MORE crowded than past years.

But no crowd could stop our Doctor, Superman and Batgirl from having an absolute blast. Jay had bronchitis and has been in bed (taking antibiotics) for the past couple of days trying to get it out of his system. He rallied like a champ and was up and ready for Boo at the Zoo tonight.

Superman Jack (with kryptonite), Dr. "I Call the Shots" Amanda, and Batgirl Elizabeth

Jack and Amanda scoping out the dance floor. It was too early for the fog machines and strobe lights to have much effect, so we decided to come back when it got darker.

Most of the animals were already in their private zoo beds by the time we got there. This bear was fast asleep out in the open, even with the Halloween dance music blasting right next to him.

The bat cave was perfect because all of the flashing bats were hot pink...

And it made our Batgirl come alive!

The kids also went trick or treating at all of the mini houses around the zoo, Elizabeth was able to see one elephant before it went to bed, we rode the haunted train, roasted marshmallows, went through the haunted pirate maze, and danced the night away until around 8:15 when it all started to fall apart.

Elizabeth could have danced all night, she was in heaven bouncing around to every batgirl, batwoman, batman, batboy, or batbaby just to make a connection and then get them to jump up and down with her on the dance floor. But Jack was OVER IT and was starting to talk gibberish. Amanda was stabbed in the hair by a marshmallow stick so she was ready to take her clumpy marshmallow head home.

We are getting better at timing our exit, always before a tantrum sneaks up on us. Jay even bought a bag of popcorn on our way out, which worked like magic to get them to the car without a fuss or complaint. Once in the car, they made one request: can we come do it all again tomorrow???? I said maybe, which Amanda always tells me really means "no" in Spanish. She's usually right.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


I don't know what it is about bubbles that makes kids so happy! I give them bubbles and they scream like I just told them we are going to Disneyworld. Then they are in a trance watching each other make bubbles. Elizabeth summed it up well by saying "There is nothing more beautiful than watching bubbles." Seriously. My secret to calming that inevitable late afternoon/evening storm of tantrums: bubbles, man, bubbles.

Harvest Party

Amanda and Jack had fun at their preschool Harvest Party yesterday. They were both sick until yesterday, Jack had it the worst with croup. But they were magically fine and dandy for the party.

Amanda and Jack cuddling

Jack and his friend Lisabeth. Jay and Lisabeth's Dad work together so this year has been fun to have both of these cuties in the same class. The chubby cheeks in the two year old classes are too much!

Jack trying to figure out his craft. In the background it looks like Amanda is about to get punched in the nose.

Amanda doing the bean bag toss.

Last night we went right back to waking up during the night, crying, sniffling, coughing, etc. The finale is always my favorite: they climb into our KING size bed and develop tentacles that attach only to me. Amanda doesn't like to be the only one awake suffering, so she taps me constantly to make sure I'm "with her." Jack has to have a hold of my arm and scratch his tiny little toenails up and down my leg all night long. Jay has been hit with something nasty too, and he took NyQuil last night. NyQuil does weird things! I swear he was having dreams that he was a monster, I didn't know whether to laugh or save the children.

Hopefully one more good night sleep will get it out of everyone's system and we can enjoy some Boo at the Zoo this weekend!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Let the Wild Rumpus Begin!

I love this interview with Maurice Sendak about the Where the Wild Things Are movie.

I'm not sure Elizabeth is ready to see the movie, she is still more Little Bear than Where the Wild Things Are. But for some reason it all takes me back to elementary school when we would all gather in the "pod" to watch Really Rosie.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Happy Birthday Mike!

This was your very first birthday and I'm guessing the cake was chocolate??
And this was your first Halloween, back when Moms actually made costumes for their kids instead of buying them at Target.
I hope your day was wonderful. Happy Birthday little brother!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Today It's Fall

There is always one day that really feels like the first day of fall.
For me, today was the day.

The weather was perfect and the kids were pretty darn close! The whole day made me want to put on a cozy sweater and light a fire, but then I remembered it's only September and we live in South Carolina. It really isn't even brisk weather, there is just something about today that made it finally feel like fall. The leaves are green, people are still wearing shorts and flip flops, but today was definitely fall. I celebrated with lots of brown, orange and park green attire.

And the icing on the cake? We were actually able to have a meal, in a restaurant (gasp), without any temper tantrums. It was so enjoyable that for a moment I thought I had stepford children. The kids were eating their food (Elizabeth included), Jay was sipping an Oktoberfest brew, football was on every television in Red Robin (I didn't say it was a fancy restaurant). It was beyond enjoyable; even Jay commented "wow, if this keeps up, it could get expensive!"

Then something happened that made the day magical. Shortly after this picture was taken...

I got a little carried away and started using Amanda's balloon like a paddle ball, seeing how many times I could hold the string and punch the balloon with the same hand. I was too strong (and stupid) and the red balloon detached from the string and floated up, up, up and away.

There was screaming, Amanda was in tears, Jay gave me that look, and we all watched it go higher and higher.

BUT THEN, as we were watching, the red balloon deflated and came all the way BACK DOWN TO US. Seriously. It didn't even pop - it untied itself!!! It was bizarre. Even the balloon knew you don't mess with the first day that feels like fall.

Now I'm putting the kids to bed before they ruin everything!

(P.S. I only made it to five, but I was robbed because the balloon ran away)

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Best Remote Control Ever

It's called the Control A Kid remote and it would be so much easier! I love it. I wonder if they have one for cats, dogs or spouses...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Today Amanda used her own dollars to buy ice cream as a special treat for the family. Jack and I went along for the ride, but Amanda did everything herself. She found the ice cream in the store, decided which kind she wanted, picked out some ice cream cones, and carried the ice cream to the check out counter. (Jack carried the cones). She counted the dollars that she took from her own purse, gave them to the cashier, put her change and receipt into her purse, said thank you, and carried her bag to the car.

This is proud Amanda right after her big purchase. It was adorable to watch her confidence soar, but this picture kind of scares me. This is the exact face Uma Thurman usually had in Kill Bill right before she kry-ateed someone.

Amanda and Jack, enjoying the fruits of labor. Poor Sully!

Saturday, September 19, 2009


The Greek Festival seems to get bigger every year - it seemed huge this year! Everything was, of course, delicious. I think having three kids is quite helpful in this situation because you end up eating (and drinking) much less. With Jack sitting on my lap, bouncing to the music, only about 30% of my food actually reached my mouth, and the cookie line was not even an option. We ended up sweating more and eating less - pretty good deal.

When Elizabeth saw this picture she said "hey, that picture makes me look like I'm in Italy!"

First Ferris wheel ride ever. It was a mini Ferris wheel, but they didn't know that. Only Jack is visible in this picture, but all three were sitting together in this red car. Elizabeth kept yelling "Amanda, stop rocking it, we're gonna fall!" and Jack just couldn't stop smiling.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Happy Grandparents' Day!

Happy Grandparents' Day to the coolest grandparents we know!

Happy and Buddy

Gramma Holly and Grampa Bob

Gaga and Grandpa

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sunday, September 6, 2009

5 Things I've Learned (So Far) About Dogs

1. I always thought having a dog would require too much energy. Turns out dogs give more energy than they take.

2. Chihuahuas like the ladies. If you are a woman, you are automatically a rock star. Men and children must earn this status.

3. No dog should be called tiny, toy, miniature, extra small, yipyip or catdog. Definitely not catdog. It's rude and I apologize to any dogs I may have offended in the past.

4. A hot dog stinks. I don't care how clean he is, a hot dog really stinks.

5. Don't let the dog back in until you've personally witnessed the post-potty boot-scoot. If he doesn't do it outside, he will do it inside!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Sea lion who?

The Riverbanks zoo finally announced what the new mystery exhibit will be...An Australian Walkabout!!! What???? Seriously, I didn't know you could even do that.

The kids were sad when the sea lion exhibit closed, but I'm pretty sure they'll get over it when they're hopping around with kangaroos and wallabies!

I never knew zoos did walk through encounters like this. But the timing couldn't be more perfect. Lost final season starts 2010 and the Australian Walkabout exhibit opens in 2010. I plan to fully maximize the Lost factor and can already imagine Jay rolling his eyes.

I know it isn't the real Australian Outback, but it will do. I also know that the walkabout Locke really was the island, but don't ruin this for me. I want my walkabout! At this point I don't know which end is up on Lost, the entire island could turn out to be just a speck sitting on Horton's clover. And in the final scene, Horton might wake up next to Bob Newhart and realize it was all just a dream.

Soooo... I'd be Horton?

Before we go to the zoo, I'll make sure to tell Jay or one of the kids "You know what you need? You need to go on a walkabout." And when leaving, I'll ask Jay "don't you feel like you went in thinking you were one thing, but came out another?" And he'll say "yeah man, I totally found out what I was made of."

Friday, August 28, 2009

It's Love

Greek Sliders

I've never posted a non-cupcake recipe before, probably because I'm no Barefoot Contessa! However, I found a recipe through Tastespotting that, after a little tweaking, has become a weekly favorite in our house. The original recipe is for full size Greek Burgers made with ground pork and can be found here.

I used ground turkey instead of pork, cut the burger recipe in half, and turned the burgers into sliders. We used King's Hawaiian Savory Butter Rolls, topped the slider with thinly sliced red onion, lettuce and of course lots of the tzatziki sauce. Served them with french fries, and Jay even plated his up so we could document our new favorite.

Please try them, you will not be sorry! You will however be unkissable.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Today was the first day of preschool for Amanda and Jack.

Jack is officially a preschooler now! He is the second youngest in the two-year old class, and he brought home a note that said he cried for the entire three hours. At first my heart broke, and then I thought - wait a minute! I looked back to this post and remembered that Jack used the same con last year! When I asked him about his day he was giggling and smiling, then when I asked if he cried he scrunched his face up in a pout and said "I kyyyyyy cause cause cause Mommy and Daddy and Manny and Viveff, I sad, I kyyyy." But his mood said otherwise, he seemed like he had really enjoyed himself. I asked him about his favorite part of school and he just kept saying "gapoo" over and over again. He finally added "!" and I realized he was talking about carpool. Gapoo was my favorite part too, because Jack hopped right into his seat, Amanda buckled him in, hopped into her own seat, buckled herself, and we were off. It has NEVER worked like that before. Gapoo rocks this year!

And the most wonderful part of the first day of preschool was seeing Amanda's friend sitting in her classroom. Earlier this year this classmate was fighting for her life in the hospital. She became very sick from an E. coli infection (traced back to cookie dough) and ended up in total renal failure. She started having strokes and was in a medically induced coma to help save her tiny body. Not only did she make it through this critical state, she fought an uphill battle during rehabilitation this summer. And there she was, sitting in her chair on the first day of school. Same sweet little girl, looking like she had spent her summer on the beach. I don't even know what else to say about how amazing this kid is! Speechless.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Other Show Worth Watching

This is the other show I'm excited to watch. It starts in two weeks, which is sooo much better than having to wait until January! (talking to you, ABC - Fox has it going on).

Saturday, August 22, 2009


This is Sully, the newest member of our family! I will write more about him later, but wanted to give him a proper introduction on the interwebs.
We named him Sully. As in watch-me-land-this-plane-on-the-Hudson Sully. Also as in the big blue monster in Monsters, Inc. It seemed a fine name for a dog of his stature, esp. since his new pal is a cat named Moose. Moose and Sully. Now we are complete.

Friday, August 21, 2009


A very mean person on facebook keeps reminding me that the final season of Lost doesn't start until January of 2010. But then she redeemed herself by creating a great Lost playmix and I forgave her. I started to get excited again. Maybe a little too excited because Amanda had a message for me:
For anyone who doesn't watch Lost...shame on you!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Bus Rider

Today was Elizabeth's second day as a first grader and her first day as a bus rider.

I tried to get a picture of her getting off of the bus, but there was a glitch. She was so excited about being on the bus that she froze and didn't get off.

After the regulars got off, the bus just sat there for almost 3 minutes. I tried waving my arms, Amanda was screaming "Elizabeth!" and Jack was screaming "Vivefff!" The bus driver finally started walking up and down the aisle, searching. It was a packed house and he just kept looking at me like "this one?" From the looks of it he started checking paperwork to figure out which kid was mine. Every single kid on the bus was looking at me except my child! The bus driver finally came up to the front and said "sorry about that, she wasn't sure if this was her stop." When she stepped out, all she could say was "I've never been on a driving bus before, that was awesome."

The sweetest part was when Elizabeth's teacher called to make sure she got home okay. She said Elizabeth looked a little nervous and she just wanted to make sure everything went okay. She also found an older "bus buddy" to keep her eye on Elizabeth. (Like I said, there was a glitch)

I have a feeling this year is gonna be a great one.