Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Our suprising trip home - Hi Grandma!

We decided to make a surprise visit to Pa. to visit my Mom during the kids' Thanksgiving vacation. The kids were sworn to secrecy for several days before our trip. We decided to leave at night and drive straight through for the 10 hrs. that it would take us to get there. The drive was nice with no bad weather. The kids slept on and off during the trip. We got to see some huge snowflakes in Va. and a little more snow in W.Va. :)

We arrived at our destination really early in the morning. We stopped at the hotel and then headed over to my Mom's apartment building. You have to dial her phone so that she can open the door for you--now remember, she had NO idea that we were coming! We dialed her number and when she answered little sister said "Hi Grandma!" ....there was dead silence. I told my husband to say something quickly before she hangs up not knowing what was going on. On the other end, Mom was trying to click on her TV monitor to see who was calling her. By then my husband said " Hi G** ... Are you going to come down and get your family?" ...again silence...and then she saw us on the monitor and she started screaming....sort of like the TV commercials where they tell people that they've won 10 million dollars! It was perfect!! When we finally got upstairs, she was waiting for us. It was so wonderful to see her!!

My sister invited us to eat Thanksgiving dinner at her house. I can't believe how big my nephews have gotten! It was so nice to see all of them again.

Here's the gang

Little sister and Aunt "K"

This little guy decided to talk to me. Is he cute or what?!?

It was great to see all of my family again! Hopefully it won't be as long the next time until we visit again!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Kindergarten & 5th grade Christmas concert

All of kids' hard work finally paid off. My husband and I were proud of having both of our children singing in their school's Christmas concert this year. Each year the concert features the kindergarten and 5th grade students.

The little ones dressed in pjs for the concert. Can you tell that little sister is as excited as can be? She was so adorable in her pink snowman pjs. :)

Waiting for everyone to arrive

Big Brother is hanging out in the background with the Santa hat on his head (he's on the right).

Let the show begin!

The 5th grade sang first

Up close -- Big Brother is on the top left

Hear them sing a bit of North Pole Rock N Roll!

The kindergarteners sang next and little sister did such a great job singing out for everyone to hear!

Hear them sing a bit of Reindeer on the Roof!

To finish off the night, even the teachers got in on the singing. :)

The 5th grade teachers and the resource teachers sang "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas".

What a great night! A job well done by everyone!

Many thanks to Mr "Jeff", their music teacher, and all of the other teachers and everyone else who helped to coordinate this event!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to everyone reading our blog!

Enjoy all of the wonderful time spent with family and friends. I know that we are enjoying the time together even though we are all cuddled under blankets trying to recover from being sick - not just one of us this time...all four of us are sick! We'll muddle through, though!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Our suprising trip home to Pa. -- Pittsburgh

No trip back home to Pa. would've been complete without stopping at "The Strip". If you've never been there, it's like no other place that I've ever seen--although my NY-bred husband says that you can say it sort of like a tiny NYC area with all of the street vendors. History on the Strip District.

We were thinking that it might be empty there since it was Black Friday. Boy, nothing was further from the truth! It was packed with block after block of happy-go-lucky people (Steelers fans!!). The air was filled with "How yinz doin'?" and "How 'bout dem Stillers!!"

Some of my favorite places

Did someone say pasta? Oh my word!

The BEST Biscotti! This time my favorite was anise and hazelnut!

I'm from the land of the best fresh baked breads! How I miss going to the local bakery to pick up a fresh loaf of bread on Sundays. Take a look at this Sun-dried tomato and basil bread from Mancini's Bakery... It was beyond words good! I can't find anything like that here in NC.

A walk around town....

Yes, it's crazy. It's doesn't look that special to those who haven't been there but the people are so friendly and the food is great!

Dinner at The Spaghetti Warehouse

We are hoping to make another trip back up there this coming summer.


Nintendo DS - Pokemon Rangers

My son was never a Pokemon fan until he tried this game.

The game is described as a different kind of Pokemon game. You're still capturing and training Pokemon, but not for competition. Instead, you're working to protect them as a Pokemon Ranger! You use the DS stylus to catch Pokemon, then help them survive in the wild.

It is a strategy game with no real violence--which was a positive to me as a parent! The rules are simple and easy to understand--which is another positive!

Although this game might not be a favorite for the true die-hard Pokemon fans out there, it's a safe, fun alternative to the many violent video games that are out there now.

Nintendo DS - Personal Trainer: Cooking

Have you had a chance to try this game out yet?

I've had a chance to use it and I think that it's a good way to get your kids, who are stuck to their video games, into the kitchen with you. The cookbook contains recipes from several different countries all over the world. You can search for a recipe by the title, by country or by ingredient. You can create a shopping list for each recipe, too.

Your trainer goes into step-by-step details on how to prepare each recipe.

If you don't understand how to do a certain step -- for example, how to saute -- you can ask for more info and the trainer will go into a deeper explination of how to saute food. This is really helpful for older kids who are learning to cook more complicated meals.

The program understands voice commands so that you can cook and not worry about touching any buttons to advance the recipe.

Although this game will never take the place of my love of cookbooks, I do think that it provides some fun family time cooking. I would like to see them come out with a kids cooking version next. In the meantime, my kids and I will continue to have fun trying out new recipes in this one.

Friday, November 14, 2008

It's a girl for Mr & Mrs. L!

Since the beginning of the school year, the kids in Big Brother's class have been waiting and waiting and waiting for the birth of their teacher's baby. They've shared stories and pictures and even met Mrs. L. in person. They took early tests, had early teacher/parent conferences and even voted early in case their little one showed up before ..or on her Election Day due date, Nov. 4. I talked to the nervous Dad-to-be and he told us that they were all ready at home.

It didn't happen. Wednesday, the 5th came and went, Friday the 7th came and went...

It didn't happen. So they waited and waited and waited more.... I don't know who was more nervous, Mr. L or his students!

Big Brother knew that his teacher wasn't going to be in school on Monday due to scheduled teachers' meetings so he waited to hear something. Then there was a visit from Mr. G. ...he had news!

Mr. L. was finally a daddy! Mrs. L. had given birth to a healthy 9 lb. 2 oz. baby girl on Monday, Nov. 10th!!

Big Brother couldn't wait to get home to share the news with us. We're thrilled!!

Mr. L. has been in to visit with his students already. He brought in pictures of Mom and their baby. :)

Now they are awaiting the return of their teacher! They all agree that things just aren't the same without him there.

Congratulations Mr & Mrs. L.!

Enjoy the time with your new baby but
hurry back to us!

~~ Big Brother and the rest of your students

Halloween ~ Better late than never!

We decided not to go trick or treating this year...instead we volunteered at the kids' school fall carnival. The kids' still had a good time participating in the carnival games.

I was in charge of the "Ghost Bowling" game. What a hoot! We made it fun and had a line for much of the night backed out into the main floor. lol! Thankfully 3 other parents showed up to help out + I put Dad to work, too. It certainly was a family event! The money that was spent on tickets to play the games went toward buying new books for the library. :)

Before the carnival:

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Make A Difference Day ~ Oct 25

What is Make A Difference Day?

Make A Difference Day is a celebration of neighbors helping neighbors. Everyone can participate. Created by USA WEEKEND Magazine, Make A Difference Day is an annual event that takes place on the fourth Saturday of every October.

This year, Make A Difference Day is Saturday, October 25, 2008.

Millions have participated. In 2007, 3 million people cared enough about their communities to volunteer on that day, accomplishing thousands of projects in hundreds of towns.
Your project can be as large or as small as you wish! Look around your community and see what needs to be done.

After participating Oct. 25, please send in an entry form so you will be counted among the millions of volunteers and be considered for an award.

Anyone. Young and old, individuals and groups, anyone can carry out a volunteer project that helps others. It might be as ambitious as collecting truckloads of clothing for the homeless, or as personal as spending an afternoon helping an elderly neighbor or relative. USA WEEKEND features volunteers and their projects in articles and photos. Click here for project ideas and an idea generator.

Click here for more information on Make A Difference Day and to find projects that are going on around you.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Mother Nature's Beauty

The Catawba River runs near our house. We decided to stop at one of the boat docks while waiting for the pharmacy to fill my son's prescriptions - he's recoverying from Bronchitis. :(

The fall colors are just starting to peek out at us. The weathermen say to give it about two weeks for the prime color viewing is here.

Mr. Goose was being nosey and decided to come over to see what we were doing.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Steelers Pride

Steelers Pride reigns nationwide!

Once a Steelers fan, always a Steelers matter where you live!! There are SO many Steelers fans here in NC! We proudly wear our colors!!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

"Falling Leaves" Science Project

UPDATE: Andy earned an "A+" on this project! Way to go, Andy!!!

Andy is hard at work on his science project. This year the focus is on leaves. He loved going out on the search to find as many different types of leaves that he could find.

He found 14 different leaves on his first search. Here they are seperated into baggies with the name of each leaf written on the bag.

What he didn't expect to come up with on this excursion was another case of poison oak. UGH! He's itchy (and a little grouchy) but he'll survive once the medication starts working. This isn't our first round with poison oak, so we knew just what we had to do. ;) Hopefully Little Sister won't get it, too.

Andy learned more than he expected to learn working on this project. Not only did he learn about the leaves around us, but he learned to create a WORD document and how to laminate items.

Here is what the binder consists of:

Front Cover

Front Cover-Close Up

He's now anxiously awaiting to see what grade he receives on it.
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