Monday, December 31, 2012

My Year in Review

It's that time again, a time of reflection on what's come to pass this year. Unfortunately, I don't remember much good that has transpired. Here are the events of 2012 that made an impression on me:
  • The school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut
  • Superstorm Sandy
  • The death of Whitney Houston
  • The re-election of President Obama
  • The movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado
  • The pregnancy (and morning sickness) of Princess Kate Middleton
  • The attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya
  • The extramarital affair and resignation of General Petraeus
  • The summer Olympics in London
  • Fifty Shades of Grey
I've said it before and I suppose I'll say it every year, here's to a better and brighter new year. May 2013 bring us all peace and happiness!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Act of Kindness #5

After the horrific tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, a great initiative began to give something wonderful to the students who survived and a little something for the rest of us to contribute. Snowflakes for Sandy Hook is a simple project that you can do with your kids.
The idea is to create a winter wonderland out of snowflakes at the new school the students will be attending. The link above provides an address where to ship them. You can be as creative or as simple as you like. Having a 6 year old help in the process, I went the simple route. I couldn't remember how to make paper snowflakes, so I found this great YouTube instructional video. Here is a sampling of our snowflakes so far:
If you're at all crafty, you can totally go to town and make amazing snowflakes. I'm actually pretty addicted to this way of making them. It's really wonderful how no two snowflakes ever come out alike. I'm happy to help in any small way I can.


Call Me Cate at Show My Face hosts Six Word Saturday. Want to play along? All that's necessary to participate is to describe your life (or something) in a phrase using just six words.

Woke up feeling not so great.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Act of Kindness #4

This past weekend, I watched the CBS Sunday Morning Show and one of the featured segments was the Jack and Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation. This wonderful organization provides families facing the loss of a parent a simple and much-needed prescription - a vacation. Children facing the imminent loss of a parent are given a time out from cancer. The family gets to spend cherished time together on a vacation creating memories that the children can carry with them after their parent is gone.
The foundation is blind to socio-economic status, color, race, religion. The only requirements are that the candidate have late stage limited life expectancy cancer, have at least one child between the ages of 3 and 18, have a life expectancy of more than two months, and be referred by a treating oncologist.
I love this organization. I think it is a positive, uplifting take on a bleak future. I made a personal donation to this foundation today. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Act of Kindness #3

I belong to an online book swap, PaperBackSwap, which is where I get and give most of my books. Each time you ship a book to someone who wants one of yours, you get a credit to "buy" a book from someone else on the site. It's a great way to recycle books.
This year they are running a donation drive, Books for Schools 2012, wherein you can donate money or unused book credits to the site. For each credit donated, a brand new book is purchased for a school in need. This year's schools include those affected by Hurricane Sandy as well as Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. Living in New Jersey, these are two causes near and dear to my heart.
I donated my book credits this morning to Sandy Hook Elementary. I'm glad to help in any small way I can.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

I Did It

I'm really proud of myself. I set a goal at the beginning of the year to read 24 books, and I just accomplished that goal - with a few days to spare!
For those of you who read much more than I do, I applaud you. It's hard to carve out time for yourself to sit down with a book, even if it is for just 10 minutes a day. I used to get all of my reading done at night while in bed. Reading in bed was a great sleeping aid, but it did nothing for getting all those books off of my shelf.
I figured two books per month was doable for someone like me. I just needed to commit to it. I brought books with me to pick up the kids and to doctor's appointments. If the kids were busy playing a game or outside in the yard, I picked up a book.
Meeting small goals are great boosts for the self-esteem. I just set a new goal for next year - 28 books. I don't want to get too far ahead of myself, so I'm taking baby steps. Right now, I'm happy. Yay me!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

Monday, December 24, 2012

Opening Night Jitters - Sort Of

Happy Christmas Eve. It's a few hours before the Christmas pageant at our church. My 6 year old scored the role of The Little Drummer Boy, and I'm beyond nervous.
I've been privy to the church Christmas pageant for years, and it's truly adorable. I've secretly been hoping my kids would some day want to take part in it. I'm so happy the 6 year old agreed to participate. The pageant occurs at the 4pm mass on Christmas Eve. The Church is packed - I mean the biggest crowd of the year. Of course, he has no idea this is the case. If he did, he probably wouldn't have agreed to be in it in the first place.
He doesn't have to speak, so that's good. But he does have to walk slowly up the aisle, with his drum, alone, while all eyes are on him. Oh, there's that knot in my stomach.
You'd think it was his opening night on Broadway. Well this is, after all, his first role in anything. I hope this gives him the confidence he needs to put himself out there and take on bigger roles in the future. He is only 6 - we have a many more productions to go.
Break a leg, buddy! 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Act of Kindness #2

Nothing like running to the mall in the early afternoon 2 days before Christmas for some last minute shopping. Of course, the mall was packed and the parking lots were full. Lots of us were taking laps up and down the aisles just waiting for a space to open up. As one car was pulling out, I put on my blinker to pull in. Just at that moment, a women rounded the aisle from the other direction and threw her hands in the air in frustration. Maybe she was circling longer than I was or maybe she was just tired and hungry. It doesn't matter the reason. I waved her in the parking space ahead of me. She gave me the thank you wave as she pulled in.
That felt good. And as I turned the aisle to do another lap, a spot opened up for me as well.

Reindeer Treat Bags

Every year, my kids have holiday parties at school. Every year I look for something fun to bring to the party.
This year, Pinterest is taking the internet by storm with so many neat ideas to choose from. In a matter of seconds, I found what I wanted to bring.
I found a pin of reindeer water bottles and treat bags. Since I wasn't bringing water, treat bags fit the bill. They were simple to assemble, and I was done quicker than anticipated. All you need is brown paper bags, googly eyes, red pompoms, and clothes pins. Hubs actually thought about adding antlers with the pipe cleaners, but, in my opinion, the pipe cleaners aren't necessary.
You can add whatever you want inside the bags. I knew I was going to put popcorn inside, but didn't want the butter to stain them. A great way to prevent stains is to first put the treat in a small sandwich bag and then put that in the paper bag. The popcorn really puffed up the bags nicely.
Thank goodness for Pinterest. The reindeer bags were a hit at our 1st grade holiday brunch.

Saturday, December 22, 2012


Call Me Cate at Show My Face hosts Six Word Saturday. Want to play along? All that's necessary to participate is to describe your life (or something) in a phrase using just six words.
Getting ready for Santa's big arrival.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Friday Finds

MizB at Should Be Reading hosts Friday Finds. What great books did you find online, in the library or at the bookstore? What did you add to your TBR list? Share with us your FRIDAY FINDS!

"Dear Life: Stories" by Alice Munro
"The Uncommon Reader" by Alan Bennett
"The Underside of Joy" by Sere Prince Halverson 

Act of Kindness #1

Inspired by Ann Curry's 26 Acts of Kindness to honor the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, we performed our first act of kindness. We gave a Dunkin Donuts gift card to the crossing guard at the six year old's school. This older woman is out there every day, rain or shine, spring or winter, making sure our kids are safe and that the buses and cars come and go without incident. So often she is an afterthought, if even that. She was incredibly thankful and appreciative of our kindness. And that's what it's all about.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

26 Acts of Kindness

 I just heard about this today on Facebook. Ann Curry from NBC started 26 Acts of Kindness, doing random acts of kindness to honor the lives lost at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut.
"Rak" has been popular for quite some time. I've never really spontaneously performed a random act of kindness, or at least I don't think I did. That's all about to change.
Like so many of us, I can't seem to wrap my head around the insanity that occurred at Sandy Hook, so I'm going to try this to help me get through it.
I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to do, but I plan on doing it before year's end and I hope to get my kids involved. I'll be sure to keep track of it here. Feel free to share any acts of kindness you're doing.

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Hesitant Morning

As I prepared my son's lunch for school this morning, I suddenly started feeling trepidatious. I sort of want to keep him home, with me, where he's safe, or at least under my watch.
I'm sure I'm not the only parent feeling this way this morning. It's still hard for me to speak on the subject of the Newtown school shootings without tearing up. Add on top of that my high anxiety level to begin with, and I'm all sorts of beside myself.
But as I type this, I remember that I must be rational and maintain the routine. My children don't know about the shootings - not yet anyway. So this must be a normal Monday morning. A regular school day, even though for me it's not.
My little guy is in 1st grade - 6 years old. His teacher looks remarkably similar to Victoria Soto, the teacher who hid her 1st graders in closets and cabinets and sacrificed her own life to save theirs. But I can't dwell on the similarities, though they are apparent.
I will drive him to school this morning, as I always do, kiss him goodbye and tell him I love him. As I leave, I will pray for his safety and that I will see his smiling face at pick up this afternoon.
I will continue on with my daily routine, trying to keep my thoughts on the task at hand while pausing to pray for his well-being. I will be mentally drained by the time 3pm rolls around and he's here with me doing homework. But I will be relieved we both made it through the day.
God bless the families of Newtown.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


Call Me Cate at Show My Face hosts Six Word Saturday. Want to play along? All that's necessary to participate is to describe your life (or something) in a phrase using just six words.
My heart hurts from the senselessness.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Help! My Garland's Being Held Hostage

I do all of my Christmas shopping online. I am a HUGE Amazon shopper, especially at Christmas time. It's quick, simple and I don't have to leave the house to fight crowds.
My husband has a niece who lives in Oregon. Each year for Christmas and her birthday, we place a big order on Amazon and have it shipped to her. It's seamless and her mother is always thankful.
This year, I made the mistake of ordering some garland and lights for our house in the same order with gifts for hub's niece. Pretty garland too - prelit white garland for my mantle. I'm so excited! I separated the order by selecting different shipping addresses . . . or so I thought.
Either when going back in to select a different credit card or by some other circumstance unknown to me, the order was combined and everything went to Oregon. Not good! I live in New Jersey.
When the order arrived in Oregon, it was made known to me that the garland was mixed in with the order of gifts. Great. At least the offer was made to reship the items to me. This was over a week ago. Still no garland.
I've tried contacting the mother of hub's niece . . . several times . . . with no response. Why is my garland being held hostage? Why is she not responding? Did she change her mind and decide she doesn't want to ship the items to me? Is she using my garland in her house? Is she simply too busy to get to the post office?
I don't know what the answer is. All I know is she's on Facebook quite a bit and she's not responding to my messages. If I don't get an answer or that garland pretty soon, things are going to get ugly!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Polar Express - Lesson Learned

The family and I were watching The Polar Express in 3D last night, and it was truly beautiful. If you haven't seen it in 3D, it's definitely worth it. It was the best ride I've taken in years.
I love the beginning when the train first arrives at the boy's house and he's unsure whether to get on the train or not. I find myself yelling at the screen, "Get on! Get on the train!" It is a once in a lifetime opportunity, right? A trip to the North Pole? On a magic train? I'm onboard. At this stage of the game, I know better than to let golden opportunities pass you by.
My husband, on the other hand, yelled out something completely different. He said, "Don't get on. They're strangers. You don't know them." At first I was annoyed, and then I started thinking he was kind of right.
Don't we teach our kids to stay away from strangers. Never go anywhere with someone you don't know. In this day and age, you pretty much need to keep your kids locked up behind closed doors for fear of someone luring them to go somewhere with them. I realize, of course, The Polar Express is a movie and not reality, but there's a mixed message there somewhere. Right?
I suppose the lesson should be if a magic train pulls up in front of our house on Christmas Eve and an adorable animated Tom Hanks tells you to get on the Polar Express, it's okay to go. But if anyone else tells you to climb on board their magic train, run screaming in the other direction.

I hate that I've turned into this mom. I hate it more that society is making me turn into this mom. At any rate, watch the movie in 3D. You'll feel like the kid who actually gets to ride on the magic train, without worrying about creepy guys being naughty.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Feeling the Burn

Starting to feel burnt out . . . already. I have 3 Christmas trees decorated and I'm working on the Christmas village that goes under my large living room tree. Here's what the third and final tree looks like, pre-village.

Once the village is done underneath, the major decorating (for me) is complete. Hubs still needs to finish up the outside decorating. We're waiting to see if the tree service can get here next week to take down a few of our trees in the backyard that were damaged from superstorm Sandy. I don't want any decorations on the lawn if there is going to be any tree work going on near my house. Last thing I want is a broken Santa or snowman. Those blowmolds can get costly.
My Christmas cards are done, but I still need a decent picture of the boys to put inside. And I still need to buy stamps.
My mantle is not finished yet on account of my garland being delivered to the wrong destination. I thought I would've had that done a week ago. Grrrr . . .
Then the presents need to be wrapped and hidden (somewhere) from the boys. Snoops that they are will find them in a heartbeat. I need to come up with some secret location where their spidey-sense won't kick in. It's getting increasingly harder to pretend these gifts come from Santa.
Right now, I would love to snuggle up on the couch and watch some holiday movies and enjoy my surroundings. That's not gonna happen for another week or two. Guess I just need to stay strong and carry on - Christmas style.

Saturday, December 1, 2012


Call Me Cate at Show My Face hosts Six Word Saturday. Want to play along? All that's necessary to participate is to describe your life (or something) in a phrase using just six words.
So much to do this weekend.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday Finds

MizB at Should Be Reading hosts Friday Finds. What great books did you find online, in the library or at the bookstore? What did you add to your TBR list? Share with us your FRIDAY FINDS!

"Prosperous Friends" by Christine Schutt
"Memoir of the Sunday Brunch" by Julia Pandl
"Elegies for the Brokenhearted" by Christie Hodgen
"If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This" by Robin Black
"My Ideal Bookshelf" by Thessaly La Force

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Then vs. Now

I'm not sure what's going on with me, but I've been in a bit of a funk all week.
I did a little Christmas decorating, wrote a few Christmas cards, even finished shopping for everyone but my 13 year old niece. Yet, I have the holiday blues - or I'm fighting off a cold and just feel blah.
I was feeling a bit sad on Thanksgiving. I didn't see my family at all that day. My mom was sick so she and my dad stayed home. I never see my brothers on Thanksgiving. I didn't host this year so there was no stressing and cooking. We went to my in-laws for a quiet afternoon. It made me a bit melancholy.
I think the holidays do that for a lot of us. We remember past Christmases, perhaps of our youth, where everything is seen through rose-colored glasses. This time of year was always exciting for me back then. Suddenly there were decorations and lights everywhere in the house. We made a list for Santa of the new toys we wanted. Right after Thanksgiving, my brothers would set up those great Lionel trains on a designated area on the floor, and we'd play with that for hours.
Ah, youth. I do miss those days.
My mother, however, remembers it differently. She was a working mom, so she was always rushed and stressed. How to get it all done? There just wasn't enough time in the day. I'm a stay at home mom. I have a bit more time. She had 3 kids whereas I have 2. She had a sick mother living downstairs that she tended to. I don't. I can see why she would have been stressed this time of year.
I'm not sure why I'm not enjoying it more. I try to see the excitement through my boys' eyes. And it is working . . . most of the time. I suppose the rest of the time I'll put on a happy face and think of the good old days.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Tree #2 - White Tree

I am on a roll. Hubs came home yesterday with a box full of white tree. Yay!!
The boys couldn't wait to put it up and start decorating. This one being my theme tree, I decided this year would be blue ornaments only (in honor of an all boy house, other than me of course). I purchased soooooo many ornaments on clearance last year, I don't have enough room on my 4 foot tree to put them all out. So I put on just enough, then added a few more, and this is the end result of Christmas Tree #2.

She's little, but she does the trick. I'll probably swap out the red tree skirt for a white one in keeping with the white holiday decor for my family room. I'll post pics of the room once it's complete, but I plan on a white wreath over the fireplace and white garland along the mantel. I just ordered the garland today. Hopefully it won't take too long to get here.
Two 4 foot trees are complete and it's not even December yet. Next up is the whopping 7 foot tree in the living room. That's definitely going to take some time. I just need to pace myself and make it as enjoyable as possible. Perhaps a little wine and some Christmas music will help me along!


Call Me Cate at Show My Face hosts Six Word Saturday. Want to play along? All that's necessary to participate is to describe your life (or something) in a phrase using just six words.
Sneezing, Sniffling and Coughing, Oh My!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Black Friday 2012

I love shopping as much as the next girl. I do not, however, love going out to shop on Black Friday. I have no interest in crowds, lines, and utter exhaustion, especially after a day of stuffing my face with turkey and pumpkin pie and chatting it up with family for hours on end.
I prefer online shopping, and I do it every opportunity I can. I recently came across a site that lists coupon codes and discounts to make my online shopping experience more savvy and cost effective. Now that Black Friday is fast approaching, this site is number one on my radar. Black Friday 2012 has a comprehensive listing of all the Black Friday online deals in one, easy-to-find location. And I don't even have to leave my house.
If you're interested in tons of online sales, discounts, coupon codes, and deals, this is the site for you. You can find online coupons and deals for retail stores, big warehouse stores and even small online only stores. If you're looking for household items, clothing, or toys for yourself or someone on your holiday list, check out these Target coupons. In the market for a new electronic gadget? Click on these deals from Best Buy Black Friday.
Even after Black Friday, this site will save you money at thousands of online stores. Updated daily with the newest discount keycodes, special offers, and promotions, you'll want to bookmark this site and use it for all your online shopping needs. Day or night, the newest and hottest coupons will be there for you to use. Give the Black Friday 2012 coupons a try and spend Black Friday like me - warm and cozy wearing my sweatpants in the comfort of my own home while shopping up a storm. Happy Black Friday, everyone.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tree #1 - Music Tree

I think I'm still in shock. The boys and I put up our little musical ornament Christmas tree in the basement last night. It's only a 4 foot tree, but it's still cute.
My husband plays guitar and has lots of equipment in the basement. I came up with the idea a few years ago to only put musical ornaments on this tree and keep it downstairs with all the music stuff. The boys love it, and I do too. I like a theme tree.
Tree #1 is complete. Only 2 more to go.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Christmas Tree . . . Times Three

I'm not usually one to rush the holidays. Actually, I'm one who dreads all that needs to be done for the holidays - shopping, cooking, cleaning, decorating. It can get overwhelming.
For some reason, this year, I am ready to start the next holiday much earlier than usual. I was shopping for Halloween in September. Now I'm ready to put up a Christmas tree before Thanksgiving. This is not like me.
I think it's because I'm a little excited about Christmas decorating this year. I want to get a white tree and only decorate it with one color each year. I already started purchasing different ornaments at the end of the season last year of varying color shades. I have them all organized in different storage containers in the attic. One container has blue ornaments. Another has purple ornaments. I get a rush just thinking about it. Now all I need is the tree.
I originally wanted a big 6 foot tree. But hubs is talking me into a smaller 4 foot tree to place on top of the end table in our family room. That might work just fine. Especially in light of the fact I have 2 other trees I need to decorate - the large living room tree and the small musical tree we keep in the basement.
No wonder I want to get an early start this year!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday Finds

MizB at Should Be Reading hosts Friday Finds. What great books did you find online, in the library or at the bookstore? What did you add to your TBR list? Share with us your FRIDAY FINDS!

"Jane Austen's Guide to Modern Life's Dilemmas" by Rebecca Smith
"A Wedding in Great Neck" by Yona Zeldis McDonough
"Friendkeeping" by Julie Klam

Monday, November 12, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

Living in New Jersey, I suppose you can say I was ground zero for Hurricane Sandy. Two weeks have gone by since she hit, and I am finally able to get back to some sense of normalcy.
The storm hit on Monday, October 29. She took out 3 trees surrounding my home and my heat and electricity. Fortunately, no tree hit the house.

The power was out for 6 days. It was cold in the house, but we toughed it out. Two days later, a NorĂ©aster hit New Jersey. It was more snow than wind and rain. This took our power out again. At this point, I couldn't take anymore and it was freezing. I fled, with my 2 boys and a lot of their toys, to the warmth of my parents' home about 10 minutes away. It was another 3 days before the power was restored.
I finally got back home to a heated house this past Saturday night. It felt good to be home. I realized several things. I don't do well in emergencies. I don't want to say I panic, but I do get uptight and stressed. I also am not cut out for life without heat and electricity. Maybe I can do without electricity, but I require heat.
I also realized how fortunate I am. The devastation at the Jersey Shore is heartbreaking. People's homes were washed away, some partially, some completely. Empty spaces left behind where houses used to sit.
I have my home, in tact. I have my family. I am blessed. But I am sad. The places of my youth are gone. I am no coaster officianado, but I loved the Jet Star roller coaster in Seaside Heights. I rode that coaster so many times when I was young, and loved it. It sat at the end of the pier and jutted out over the ocean. Such a thrill!
Now the Jet Star resides in the Atlantic Ocean where the pier collapsed during the storm. Something I wanted to share with my boys once they were old enough is now just a memory.
I wish all those who lost everything and so much more than I did some comfort and resolution to the life they must build ahead. I pray for those who lost loved ones in the storm. I pray for the Jersey Shore in the years ahead.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday Finds

MizB at Should Be Reading hosts Friday Finds. What great books did you find online, in the library or at the bookstore? What did you add to your TBR list? Share with us your FRIDAY FINDS!

"The Art Forger" by B. A. Shapiro
"Familiar" by J. Robert Lennon
"Left Neglected" by Lisa Genova
"Love Anthony" by Lisa Genova