Afternoon in the Country

What could be better than an afternoon in the country? After a trip to Build-A-Bear? Along with delicious grilled burgers and roasted marshmallows? And ducks, horses, tractors and dogs?

Not much.

Thanks Aunt Karen, Uncle Bill and Uncle Ron for such a fun afternoon!


We Survived the Gingerbread Construction of 2007

In a sentimental moment, possibly brought on by Hallmark card commercials, I bought one of those gingerbread house kits at JoAnn's. I imagined a mother daughter afternoon of delightful crafting, holiday music, maybe even some cocoa. Together we would create a masterpiece of gingerbread and sugar.

Somewhere between JoAnn's and home, I got over my holiday dream. The kit sat in its bag, on our table for over a week. Soon, A. even quit asking about it. Could I shirk it off until next year?

The guilt was resting heavily on my shoulders when I decided there was no more putting it off. We were down to the Christmas wire. Time to open up that box. Instructions? Who needs em? It's just frosting, some crackers and candy, right? We whipped that icing up, scooped it into the bag, and the frosting joy began.

Enter Scott. Who begins to read the instructions. He mentions something about the frosting tip.

Huh? Frosting tip? Oh, you mean this? I was supposed to put it in the bag first? Hmmm... Oh well, we gotta make do...let's frost this puppy.

Needless to say my hopes of creating a detailed Swiss Chalet or Evergreen Cottage were dashed. The icing went where it wanted in lines and globs. Scott tried to make lattice across the roof. Nice touch. As it slid down the roof and onto the counter, I just laughed with delirious glee and A. and I kept sticking on candy. Here is our finished creation with the Lead Designer:

Truth be told, messy drippy icing and all, it turned out to be pretty fun. A. certainly enjoyed making it, so that's most important. This smile is definitely sugar inspired.

MERRY CHRISTMAS from our house to yours!!


Look What the Cat Dragged In!

5 (and some change) hours after beginning this quest, I am proud to report that I finished!! Today I didn't have any expectations other than to finish, hopefully feeling better than when I did 18miles a few weeks ago. Guess what? I did.

Pause for quick happy dance.

I am thankful for Bay Area Fit and all of the support from not only the coaches, but also fellow Fitters. They provided 2 well stocked aid stations and drove the course frequently checking on everyone. It was such an heart bursting moment to approach the high school and still see people waiting to cheer me, a self-proclaimed turtle, across the finish line. Did I mention it took me 5+ hours--and they still waited. I'm without words.

I am thankful for the pretzels and the most delicious orange wedge EVAH. I probably looked like some strange animal devouring every last bit.

I am thankful for Scott and Annelise driving out to see me along the course. That was such a big boost.

I am even thankful for the rain showers that hit about 3 miles from the finish line. It cooled things off and actually was quite refreshing. Now the 4 cars that splashed me, not so much.

So. There you have it. I did it. Woo. And a Hoo.

3 weeks until 26.2!! Bring. It. On.


The Jolly Postman

A few weeks ago, in an ambitious state of mind, I unearthed several books from my jumble of teaching materials living over our garage. I was like a kid in a candy store, because I LOVE books (of course candy's not too shabby either). It was like visiting old friends.

Even though I taught 4th grade, I had a large library of picture books, and used them often. My theory is you are never too old for a picture book. Never. I was just giddy to introduce many of them to Annelise.

I've established that she likes mail, right? Yes. Well, she is enamored by these two books lately. Have you heard of them?

What makes these books so captivating is the assortment of letters, postcards, invitations, etc., delivered by The Jolly Postman to various storybook characters (Goldilocks, Three Little Pigs, Cinderella, etc.). There are envelopes with these little treasures tucked inside that accompany the story. So clever.

As a little Advent treat I ordered this:

Needless to say, it has been a hit.
What are some of your favorite picture books? Do you have favorite holiday books ?


The One in Which She Does Crafts

Gather necessary materials. This would consist of foam cone things, toothpicks and gumdrops. Copious amounts of gumdrops. Also a large cup of coffee for Mama. That one is a deal breaker.

Break toothpicks in half (at least). Randomly poke into floral cone thing. Poke gumdrop onto toothpick. Be sure to taste each of the colors before starting, not sure why, but seems to make process more enjoyable.

Listen to holiday music and poke, poke, poke. Boogie Woogie Santa Claus is ideal gumdrop tree making music, by the way.

Display gumdrop trees proudly! Ignore gaps, see the bigger picture. (Plus we ran out of gumdrops.)

Next project...a gingerbread house. Ahem. This may require several cups of coffee for Mama.


A Holiday Confession

I have a small confession. I dislike classroom parties. There, I admitted it.

Go ahead with your Scrooge-ish comments, I can take it.

10 or so 3-4 year olds in a confined space with plates full of cupcakes/cookies/candy/chips with a juice box on the side just makes me antsy. A little twitchy too.

But I schlepped my tray of apples and cheese through the rain to attend A.'s little soiree. Upon setting my load down onto the respective file cabinet, I was met with a resounding "Mama!! You came to my party!!!!" Just imagine the decibel level.

Her sweet enthusiasm squelched my Scroogeness for a while. Although, truth be told, when it was over, I did have an extra pep in my step to be on my merry way. I'm just saying.

Annelise with her sweet teacher. Bless her!


The Final 50

They're here, they're here! I had not forgotten, just took a tidbit break. Just in case you would like to review the first 150, they are now conveniently located on my sidebar. So sit back, relax and enjoy the last installment of fascinating facts about moi.

150. My birthday is also the anniversary of the Kennedy assassination (November 22), except I was born 5 years later. Got it?

151. I do not believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.

152. Two words: Grassy Knoll.

153. I've always been fascinated with the details, mysteries, stories surrounding JFK and his untimely death.

154. But I'm not a nut.

155. Really.

156. I like to hide behind wear big sunglasses.

157. However I'm not brave or cool enough to wear big round ones, a' la Jackie O.

157a. Plus I would most likely look like a bug.

158. Like Jeff Goldblum in The Fly.

159. I like fresh citrus scents, maybe with just a hint of spice.

160. I love to burn money candles.

161. In the spring and summer I like to wear light, floral perfumes. I rotate through several.

162. In the winter I like to wear Clinique Aromatics Elixer.

163. I have a weakness for liquid hand soaps, like from Bath & Body Works.

164. I feel safer with a well stocked cabinet of paper towels and toilet paper.

165. Not sure what this means.

166. I don't chew gum often.

167. I do like Altoids.

168. Except they make me sneeze.

169. I love to people-watch. It's a guilty pleasure.

170. I imagine what their lives/jobs/families are like. Occasionally I might have a "grass is greener" moment, but usually I am reminded of just how lucky I am.

171. I have a love-hate relationship with the phone.

172. I like having a cell phone in case I need it, but I don't walk or drive around with it glued to my ear.

173. I don't have that much to say.

174. Seriously, Bluetooth? Have those people ever caught a glimpse of themselves?

175. Don't even get me started on telemarketers.

176. Naturally, the bulk of our phone calls are from "Unknown Caller".

177. Annelise thinks this is an actual person.

178. Silence doesn't bother me.

179. If I have my choice, I don't usually try clothes on before I buy them.

180. This does lead to returns from time to time.

181. But it keeps me out of the dressing room.

182. Even though I am the epitome of suburbia, I often fantasize about living in a big city, like New York or Chicago. Just to see if I could.

183. I am a terrible procrastinator.

184. What I thought was just a phase in high school and college has lasted well into adulthood.

185. I would much rather be cold than hot and sweaty.

186. Unless of course, I am pool side in some fabulous tropical locale.

187. Yes, I live in Texas where 90% of the year we have hot and humid weather.

188. I don't think I have major fears or phobias.

189. Except for extreme heights, without a rail and maybe snakes.

190. So, no bungee jumping or sky diving in my future.

191. Or snake charming.

192. I'd love to travel around Europe someday.

193. I'd also like to visit all 50 states, at least once.

194. I am math challenged.

195. I appreciate chivalrous gestures like opening/holding doors and ladies first.

196. They are NOT overrated.

197. Sometimes I wish I lived in Victorian times where parts of the day were specifically dedicated to correspondence, reading and needlework.

198. In my fantasy I am the lady of the manor and not the servant girl, of course.

199. I need attention and approval. (Don't you?)

200. Blogging fills this need.

That's it. The essence of me distilled down into 200 tidbits. Thanks for helping me celebrate my 200th post! I'll have details about a little giveaway coming soon...


Spreading Some Holiday Joy

No, your eyes aren't deceiving you. Yes, that IS a snowman playing a ukulele while sitting on a flamingo.
So I was thinking...
Would anyone like to receive a holiday card from little 'ol moi?


This idea has been whirling around in my head and I finally decided just to ask y'all. I know several of you that comment are either friends in real life or you are Bloggy Friends that are on Jill's Good Mail List. That still leaves other Bloggy Friends that, if you'd like, I'd enjoy sending you a holiday card. I say holiday, because I plan to stamp some cards and I can't promise they'll arrive by Christmas Day...but they WILL arrive. Promise.

You don't even need to feel obligated to send one in return, unless you want to. Sending and receiving good mail is just a lot of fun, I think.

So, if you are not already on Jill's Good Mail list, and would like to do this, just zip me an email (on my sidebar) with your address.

What do you think?


The Interview Might Sound Something Like This...

Hello, My name is Annelise and I am here to apply for the job.

Where should I put my backpack?

Yes, I feel I have the necessary skills to be an investigator. I am relentless with my questioning and will ask repeatedly until the perp spills the beans or bangs his head into the wall. Whichever comes first, I'm your girl.

I am 4.

When is snack time?

Yes, I have references.

Just ask my mom.


SPT: It's Ornamental

One of my favorite times during the holiday season is opening up the boxes of ornaments that have been tucked away for the last 11 months. Sorting through them and admiring each one is so special because there is a memory attached to every single one.

Our main tree is a mix of all the ornaments we have collected over the years. Each year, Scott and I try to exchange ornaments (sometimes we forget in the hustle bustle) and we also like to get one for Annelise.

I remember making ornaments with my mom and then decorating the tree with them. Note to self: must ask Daddy where they are now, hopefully in his attic. I want to continue this tradition with Annelise, but I haven't attempted crafting ornaments with her yet. Another note to self: go to JoAnn's and get some supplies and Just Do It.

Here are some of my favorites from our tree this year:

This darling stack of coffee cups was an early Pink Christmas gift from my secret girlfriend. Such a nice surprise!! Thank you!

This heart was sent to us from Scott's Aunt Jerry and Uncle Dan the year we adopted Annelise. Their neighbors make beautiful pottery and when we visited Maine this summer we got to see their studio.

Over the last several years I have collected pieces by Jim Shore, the Heartwood Creek series. I love his quilt themed Santas and snowmen. Each year we try to add to our stash. Here is a Santa bell ornament.

It's true, I love all things Charlie Brown. This little ornament plays, fittingly, "O Christmas Tree". If you toured our tree, you'd find several Snoopys too. I am a child of the Seventies after all.

Finally, on my Flamingo Tree I have several lovelies. Each year I hunt for a new flamingo ornament to join the flock. Did you know that in his off time Santa likes to dance with flamingos? I have proof, see?

EDITED to add: I realized I forgot a very important element of SPT, um, the self part. Yep, I am a dork. So, here I am with two ornaments we picked up from our trip to Maine in September(I even forgot to put them on the tree until tonight). One is an oyster shell with a lighthouse painted on it and the other is a little silver spoon, all bendy, with a santa painted on it.

If you get a chance, visit Lelly's blog to peruse other ornamental musings.

Do you have any ornament traditions? What are some of your favorite ornaments? Have you made ornaments with your children? Am I big ol' chicken for NOT doing it yet?


A Gazebo, A Girl...and Some Turtles

Excuse me, you want to do what exactly Mama? Take pictures for a Christmas Card? Hmmm...

Didn't we do this yesterday after we saw The Nutcracker? Oh yes, your battery died just as I smiled my best smile in my itchy dress. So we have to try again today? Okay, but I'm wearing my comfy cotton dress, k?

Sorry, something just struck me as hilarious.

Remember, I'm 4.

Yes Ma'am, I am.

Um, can we go see the turtles again? PL-U-U-EE-SE?


No less than 3 trips to the gazebo, 2 costume changes, 1 bow emergency, 4 turtle sightings, and 90+ pictures snapped=
a couple of contenders for our holiday card this year.

None of these made the cut, but thankfully, I did end up with a few good shots. They are now ordered and I will be anxiously checking the mailbox for their arrival. Nothing like waiting until the last minute, right?


SPT: Christmas Cards

One of the many things I enjoy each holiday season is the daily anticipation of checking the mailbox. (Of course, I always like to visit the mailbox in the hope of Good Mail.) To me, Christmas cards are like mini presents to open while waiting for Christmas Day. I love to catch up with friends and family and I especially like to see pictures.

Several years ago, I made this card holder. It's made from an embroidery hoop, small clothespins and ribbon. I found this idea in an issue of THIS and felt like it was something I could actually, you know, do.

A girl and her glue gun... it's a dangerous combination.

Right now it looks a bit sad, since it's empty. Sniff.

However , I have hope that it will fill up soon to make a colorful wreath of holiday wishes!

Thanks Lelly for a fun SPT challenge this week. Take a peek over at her blog for other ways people display their holiday cards.

How do you display your holiday cards? Do you send out cards? If so, are you an early bird mailer or a Happy New Year well wisher? (I am NOT an early mailer, somewhere in between--just before the shadow of Christmas Day. Hopefully.)


It's Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas

Little elves have been scurrying around in a holiday decorating frenzy these past few days. Scott is the official box carrier, light hanger and light fiddler elf. (Woe to the bulbs that dare burn out on his watch! ) I am the overseer elf and Annelise is the littlest elf that tries to "help" with everything.

To keep me company in the kitchen is a little tree decorated with gingerbread men , cookie cutters and ribbons. It makes me happy to plug this little tree in every morning.

Annelise has loved visiting the little Advent stockings each day.
Right after Thanksgiving, I get my winter dishes out and use them through January. As a dish girl, this makes me quite happy.
These wooden Father Christmases are from Russia. I look forward to setting them out each year.
I ask you, what home is complete without a Flamingo themed tree? I hope you won't judge me too harshly or evict me to an Airstream trailer, but I LOVE my flamingo tree. This way I can celebrate my love for pink, for flamingos and all things just this side of gaudy.

I hope this doesn't put you over the edge, but Flo my flamingo has the holiday spirit as well!
I also look forward to hanging my Christmas tree quilt every year. This was one of the last sewing projects I completed before mommy hood.

Have you watched Rudolph yet this holiday season? It's one of Scott's favorite holiday movies and he and Annelise quote lines and act out parts of the action. Oh yes. This year he let Annelise play with his old set of Rudolph figurines, only because he bought a bigger and better set. He decorates his cubicle with Rudolph and friends. Oh yes.

Tonight we decorated our big Christmas tree. For the last couple of years we have had real trees, Frasier Fir is our favorite. I just have to breathe deeply and ignore the dropping needles.

It certainly feels good to get most of our decorations up. I don't like to think of it as a chore, it should be something to enjoy, but it is a lot of work isn't it?

Have elves been busy at your house? Is your tree real or artificial? Do you like white lights or multi-colored?


Oh Yes, I Did

My two tired tootsies documenting their achievement this morning.

I also enlisted Annelise's help.
Actually, my Garmin documented 18.96. To-MAY-to, To-MAH-to. No wonder my feet were complaining! See, I had only told them to gear up for 15, maybe 16 miles. They may never listen to me again.
We were given the option to run 15 or 18.6 miles today. Once I was going, and talked to several fellow Fitters who were shooting for the whole thing, I started to think...maybe I'll try it.
I was feeling great on the first loop, even up to mile 15. I decided to go for it. What's 3 more miles?(4 as it turned out)
Apparently a lot.
At like, 15.5 my body started to complain. My mental game was also being called into question.
I finished alternating between semi-run/walk intervals, a shuffle and a good old walk.
I probably should have stuck to my original plan, since I missed my long run last week and have been, shall I say hit or miss this week with my training runs. These last weeks of training are going to be challenging, as we continue to build up the mileage. I challenge myself to get back on track with my weekday runs, no more wimpin' out and finish these next 6 weeks of training strong.
January 13, 2008 --The Big Day


Birthday Reflections

Last week, since my actual birthday fell on Thanksgiving day, we celebrated Monday evening. After dinner with my dad (y'all know it was Tex-Mex), we came back to our house for cake and ice cream.

Lookie here!

Scott surprised me with this darling cake. There's a flamingo on it!!! If you look a little closer you will see that she(yes, it's a girl) is wearing running shoes! I loved it! It was delicious too. Seriously YUMMY.

A few family pics, of course, to document the evening. This is my dad, Annelise and me.

Same shot, except with Scott. (heehee I can rhyme)

Time for presents! My dad gave me Season 1 of Friday Night Lights on DVD. I missed watching last year and am so glad I can catch up with this. If you've never watched FNL, check it out. Seriously good viewing. I never knew football could make me cry.

My sweet friend Kim gave me a notepad, some tasty treats and a special handmade booklet to write favorite scriptures in. I love it and was so excited. Thank you Kim!

I was delighted to get a good mail package from Jill. Inside was a set of monogrammed note cards, which I LOVE. Thank you Jill, you are so kind and thoughtful.

My birthday this year also introduced a new friend to the family. His name is Canon, and he's a bit of a Rebel (except he has a cause). That's right folks, Scott gave me a new camera!! I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing, but it takes amazing pictures. Almost by itself, which at this point is a good thing. I can't wait to play with it and pretend to be a photographer. HeeHee.

See what I mean? Clueless, but no less excited.

So. I've been 39 for a week now. I have decided to embrace the number and not cringe every time I say it. My thirties have been great! I taught little people for a part of them, built a house, traveled a bit, became a mother, nurtured relationships with friends, tried to grow spiritually, and became a runner. I have also discovered the delightful world of blogging, and don't get me started on the benefits of that. Pretty good stuff all around. I've said before that I still feel like a teenager inside, and it's true. Even if gravity tells another story.


Look, Here's 50 More!

Just when you thought it was safe to venture back in to the Bloggy waters...I have 50 more tidbits. What's that sound you hear? Oh, it's my marching band.

101. Never underestimate the value and importance of well made foundation garments.
102. This wisdom might just come from my dear grandmother, otherwise know as the Girdle Queen.
103. She also believed good underwear was white, and anything else...well, let's just say ladies of questionable character wore the other.
104. My mom didn't want her to know she bought me a beige bra-zeer. Ahem.
105. Other than my Valentine box winning our classroom contest in 6th grade, I don't usually win contests.
106. I never give up hope though.
107. I am not afraid to change my hairstyle.
108. In fact, I enjoy it.
109. After all, it's just hair, and thankfully, it grows back.
110. However, I have made some errors in judgment along the way.
111. Two words: spiral perm.
112. I resembled a shrub.
113. I have a problematic left foot.
114. This stems from an episode in college, when I broke my foot.

115. Um, yeah, when I jumped out a window with my roommate because of some pledging silliness. Long story. You had to be there. It seemed necessary at the time.
116. Thankfully, I can run...although it may need work in the future.
117. I wear glasses and contacts, well, not at the same time of course.
118. If I wasn't such a chicken, I'd have Lasik.
119. Something about being awake and seeing the surgery puts me over the edge.
120. I dream of someday tooling around on one of these...

121. Of course looking fabulous in a skirt and ballet flats, a la Audrey.
122. I can dream, right?
123. In case you haven't guessed it already, Roman Holiday is one of my favorite movies.
124. I love old movies, especially black and white.
125. Back when stars were really stars, you know?
126. My Fiesta dishes make me happy.
127. I am just OCD enough to try to balance the colors when I stack them in the cabinet.
128. I also love kitchen towels. Fun.
130. I don't consider myself a complete neat freak.
131. Although I do make my bed every morning. Just so.
132. I have also been known to twitch when Annelise tours the kitchen grabbing every edge of the counters and leaving her mark.
133. Don't get me started on the stainless steel.
134. It bothers me to leave dishes in the sink.
135. I like for my kitchen sink to be shiny and sparkly.
136. But, um...no, I'm not a neat freak.
137. Have I mentioned I love flamingos?

138. I think they are an under appreciated bird.
139. No, I don't have any in my yard.
140. Yet.
141. I was never really athletic or involved in team sports.
142. I've been through all the exercise crazes: aerobics a la Jane, step aerobics, Tae Bo, Kickboxing, Boot Camp.
143. Somewhere around my 36th year I became a runner.
144. It has been a lifestyle change.
145. It has changed me not only physically, but mentally too.
146. I'm not fast, but I'm steady.
147. Running challenges me in many, many ways.
148. But I absolutely love it.
149. I let my subscription to Creating Keepsakes expire, but I renewed Runner's World.
150. It's never too late to change your life.

Whew! You made it through another set of tidbits, can you believe it? The final 50 is on the horizon.

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