Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

Once the kids are in bed, and a little laundry gets moved around, my plans for the evening involve lots of knitting and hopefully no time on the computer. I hope to make it to midnight, give R a kiss and then settle down to sleep. We have brunch plans tomorrow that I don't want to be too exhausted to enjoy.

I'm not making any resolutions this year. They aren't a big thing for me anyway. But this year seems even less useful than usual. The things I want to "fix" are mostly out of my control. I can do things to try to find a job and I can do things to try to help Todd sleep better...but ultimately I can't *make* either thing happen. So I already have plenty of motivation to "fix" the things I actually *can* control, and I don't need resolutions to motivate me.

I will say that I am a little happy to see the end of 2010. Whether it is true or not, starting a new year feels like a bit of a fresh slate and renewed possibilities. And without the extra holiday tasks on my plate, I'm looking forward to continue my organizational tasks in the house and pursue other ideas bouncing around in my head.

I wish you all the very best in 2011!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Preparations (and Reminiscing)

Last weekend the kids got to see Santa for the second time. Their first visit was in Johnstown the previous weekend while I stayed home. In both cases, Heather was accepting and enthusiastic about sitting and talking with Santa. Todd was not a fan. We were nice enough not to force Todd on his lap, so we don't have a duplicate of Heather's mad/sad photo. Aaaah memories.

We went to Phipps Conservatory as usual, and both kids liked the trains, the flowers and the activities. Always a great destination. When our finances ease up a membership needs to be added to our plans. Especially since Todd will no longer be free as of his birthday. :-)

Tree and decorations - check
Photos taken - check
Cards designed and ordered - check
Wrapping paper - check
Visited Santa - check, check
Make cookies - check

Check address list and print labels
Send cards
Print photos for family gifts
Wrap (I've started...)
Decorate cookies

Trains at Phipps

Chatting with the man in red.

This is as close as Todd would get.

Looking at flowers with Daddy. (Daddy will be annoyed that I didn't rotate this one to make it straight. I'm just happy to be putting up a post...)

Attempting to get a photo of 2 kids together. Always a challenge.

And now for a little trip down memory lane. (AKA, Oh my goodness the kids have gotten big!)

Santa at Phipps, 2009. Todd didn't think it was a big deal. Heather wouldn't leave my arms.

Phipps Winter Flowers, 2009.

Santa at Phipps, 2008. She was fine while waiting in line, but was not okay in his lap!

Santa at my family reunion, 2007. Just staring...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Hershey Vacation - Day 1 and 2

I wrote previously about Day 3 of our Hershey trip. Due to a dog-related delay our friends joined us a day later than originally planned, but that enabled us to go to bed early the first night and to check out a more kid-focused activity. We also didn't have to worry about arriving later than planned.

Once we arrived and checked into our room, the kids checked out the bouncy-ness of the bed while I tried to locate a convenient dinner location. I found a nearby pizza place with an iPhone app. It was so close I think getting the kids buckled into car seats took longer than the ride. And being a Tuesday night, it wasn't busy.

The next morning after trying out the hotel buffet, we went to Cherry Creek Adventure Farm in Strasburg. We fed goats and sheep, held baby chicks, looked at pigs and geese, and learned about farm animals. On the 'adventure' side of the farm, the kids tried out a variety of play areas - climbers, jumpers, slingshot games, giant lincoln logs, hay tunnels and wooden horses. We chose to skip the corn maze, given our limited time and our lack of confidence that the kids would enjoy it.

About the time that the kids needed lunch, we got the call to meet our friends over at the Strasburg Railroad. The limited hours that the attractions were open meant hoping that Todd would nap in the sling (he didn't) and powering through the day. After eating, we bought our train ride tickets and then explored the rest of the station until it was time for our ride. At the shops, Todd chose a Thomas ball, Heather chose a nice metal train and I found a train ornament for the tree.

We all enjoyed he train ride and Todd did well despite the lack of a nap.

In the evening, our friends picked out a nice, local restaurant to try. And when we returned to the hotel, daddy took Heather swimming while I put Todd down for bed.

Friday, December 10, 2010

First Baseball Game

Here is an effort to document one of the fun activities from this summer. Before my layoff I was thinking about taking Heather to a Sunday afternoon Pirates game while Todd was home napping. After the layoff, I was looking at a Thursday afternoon game in September...and then once the mother of one of Heather's friends mentioned the same game it became a done deal.

Despite having worn several Reds outfits as an infant, the influence of her daycare teachers has caused Heather to think that she wants to be a Pirates fan. Luckily, for her baseball spirit, she has no idea how lousy the team has been for the past 17 years or even the fact that they lost the day we went to a game. I hope that next year I can pick a game that they win, just so she can experience the excitement of the home crowd cheering for the home team. But she still seemed to have a very good time and seemed to listen as I yammered on about the rules of the game. I will be interested to see if she retains any of it for the beginning of the baseball season in 2011.

We had a nice day and I look forward to taking both kids to a game next year!

The view from our seats. (Someone gave us a buy one, get one free coupon so we sat closer than we had planned to.)

Practicing her pirate face...

Enjoying the game with her new parrot.

What do you mean the other team scored?
Checking out the view from home plate.

Seeing more of the stadium with Sebastian.

Enjoying the food at the game.

Looking at the river before we leave.

Did I say I was ready to leave yet?

Wednesday, December 08, 2010


Despite how quiet it has been here, I have been thinking about this writing space a lot. Thinking about what I'd like to be writing here and when to make dedicated blog time in my life. In some ways, posting quick thoughts to facebook has taken the place of some of my blog fodder *and* I just signed up for I am trying to sort out what belongs where in my tiny, itty bitty corner of the social media 'verse.

My mind keeps coming back to a post that starting forming the week of Thanksgiving. Not wanting to be cliche (ha!), I have procrastinated to the point that it is more of a holiday season post than a Thanksgiving one.

I am incredibly lucky and incredibly thankful.

It feels a bit odd to say that while I am unemployed with few job prospects, but in some ways my situation is making it more obvious.

I'm thankful that I have choices. That I can choose to work and send my kids to an amazing daycare center/preschool.

I'm thankful that we're doing okay despite my unemployed status. Sure, we have to have much more frequent chats to review the finances and reign in our spending as much as possible. But we are lucky not to be in any immediate financial danger or living from paycheck to paycheck.

I'm thankful for our house and our stuff. Other than some new clothes, I don't find myself wanting a whole lot for Christmas. I'm excited for the things that the kids are going to get and spending the time with family, but I'm not feeling strongly about things that I want. I suppose our situation is making me happy with what we have, and if anything I am using some of my "free time" to pure some things. It isn't that I need our house to be perfectly clean and organized all of the time, but I would like to feel like everything has a place so that cleaning up doesn't involve moving piles from one room to another. :-)

I'm thankful for our health. Even with the string of illnesses that Todd has processed over the past few months, he has never been severely ill and mostly not much more than cranky and restless. And each of these periods has made me thankful for my ability to nurse him. Especially during his tummy bug when the nurse told me that my milk was the best possible thing for him. Proud mommy moment.

I'm thankful for my friends. It is hard to put into words how lucky I have been in the friend department. There are times that it feels hard to live up to how lucky I am to have them, but I do my best.

I'm thankful for the summer we had. Looking back at our pictures makes it clear to me that we took full advantage of lots of outdoor activities and had a lot of fun.