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.
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