Wednesday, December 31, 2008

We Are Home

We are all sleepy heads today. We made it home in one piece last night around 11pm. We got a later start than we anticipated but that is usually the case when we are heading home from Indiana. The car ride home was not nearly as bad as the trip there but gone are the days where we can "one stop it". In the past, our record time to do the trip was 7 hours but that is packing a lunch, and allowing for only one stop to pee while the car is being pumped with gas. Our trip home took 8 1/2 hours. We packed a lunch but still had three stops. Regardless, we are just happy that it was a safe trip and that we beat most of the snow. (It didn't start snowing until we reached Hamilton, Ontario).

This morning we all caught up on some much needed rest. (We have been enjoying these lazy family days while David has been on vacation). Mama-Dirtyfoot made a big breakfast for all of us complete with eggs, sausage, toast, juice and coffee. (I was feeling guilty about feeding the family microwaved, insta-crap fixed out of a make-shift/non-existent kitchen in our hotel for the past four mornings). Then we ran out to run some errands.

Late this afternoon we stopped to see my sister and her family. Although Madeline and I just got back from a visit to see Marysia in Maryland, we were lucky enough to see them again while they were in town visiting Mike's parents. You must understand Mike's family (Marysia's in-laws). They are the most hospitable people I know. You can pretty much show up at their house any time night or day and they have the red carpet out for their guests, a full spread of food and are ready to mix you a beverage. It was a nice time visiting with not only my sister's family but Mike's family as well. Madeline also had a blast playing with her cousins too (although Tommy is temporarily out of commission because he broke his collar bone skiing last night - Get Well soon, Tommy!)

We had planed to have a nice meal as a family when we got home but Madeline zonked out in the car on the ride home. This is totally not like her but we have been running her ragged the past few days. Since Madeline was in much need of bed-time, we opted to feed her an early meal and put her to bed. This allowed David and me to enjoy a quiet meal together. We intended to grill out steaks but, just our luck, we ran out of propane for the grill so we had to broil them instead. It was nice to have uninterrupted quiet time with David but we both missed Maddie during diner.

It is time now time to settle in to watch the ball drop. Thank you, God for all our blessings during 2008. Please watch over us and keep us safe this upcoming year.

Happy New Year, All!!!!!!!! (And Happy Birthday Christina - my niece)

Monday, December 29, 2008

Indiana - Day Four

Here we go again. Gosh, I have nothing new to report in our morning ritual today. My regular blog readers are going to start dropping off because we are leading such a boring life here in Indiana. Same old, same old this morning. Sleep in late (Oh, funny story there - see below), eat breakfast on indoor patio, swim in pool, get showered (we ate another gross Chicago-dog today) and then go to Grandma and Grandpa's in the afternoon to hang out.

The funny story regarding sleep is that I *thought* we were sleeping in the past few days. The clock said 10am.....that's LATE. I couldn't understand why I wasn't feeling rested. I came to find out last night that the alarm clock in our hotel room was set two hours fast! We were actually getting up at 8am. This morning though we all *did* sleep in and it was marvelous!

This evening for dinner we met.....oh, let's just call her an "old friend" of David's for dinner. David, Madeline and I went out to eat with Susan and her boyfriend. It was a nice evening. The only thing that really stuck out in my mind is how two people who have a connected past can be so basically similar but at the same time be so very different. Tonight two very different worlds reunited, yet these two worlds were at one time one in the same. It really just boggles my mind.....regardless, it was a nice evening.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Indiana - Day Three

Again we had the luxury of sleeping in! Last night, Madeline was up as late as I think she ever has been before. And again, I think we are the only parents in the universe that are able to sleep-in with a 3 year-old. Our daytime was like a scene from the movie "Groundhog Day" as it was exactly as the day before (Well, minus the room switch.....which by the way, our new room is *much* better).

We ate oatmeal for breakfast, swam in the pool, showered up, fed my Starbucks "Wild Sweet Orange" Tea addiction and headed to David's parents for a visit. We pretty much had a lazy afternoon while visiting. Sat back, ate cookies, watched TV, ate cookies, watched Madeline play, and ate more cookies. We headed out to 5pm Mass (oh my gosh, you would think that we *never* take Madeline to church. She was quite the fuss budget) and then went out to dinner with David's parents, and Carolyn & "Gogo Dan" (David's sister & brother-in-law). We briefly thought about heading back to Grandma's & Grandpa's for a visit because we don't get to see them that often but Madeline was at the end of her rope. Despite the fact that she was quite exhausted Madeline did her best to fight bedtime. But all is quiet now and David and I are relaxing with tandem laptops on our indoor patio.

Indiana Christmas Photos

I thought that I took more photos than I actually did yesterday for our Indiana Christmas (I guess I was too busy devouring Christmas cookies). The photo on at top left is of Madeline's cousins (Brandon and Zachary) on David's side and their mom, Madeline's Aunt Lynn. Madeline loved seeing her Aunts, Uncles and cousins but she is quite fond of Zachary.
The photo at the top right is Madeline playing with some of her new dollhouse accessories. She got hooked up!

The picture at the bottom left is of Madeline modeling a hat/scarf set that Aunt Carolyn got her. Madeline loved it and wore it as she played with all her new toys.

Finally, the photo at the bottom right is of Madeline with her "Born to be Wild" singing Santa on a motorcycle that was paired every so nicely with a framed photo of her Uncle "GoGo" Dan on his motorcycle. You have to understand that "GoGo Dan" is like a rock star. Ever since seeing Dan ride his motorcycle last spring, Dan has become "Go Go Dan" and every motorcycle is now called a "GoGo Dan". Uh....Dan, when Maddie starts hanging out in biker bars and wants a tattoo, we'll have issues :-)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Indiana - Day Two

First off, I took pictures of the festivities today but I left my camera at David's parents' house. I will have to post them tomorrow.

We all slept in a little bit today but because of the 1 hour time difference it seemed to others as though we got up at a "normal" time. We microwaved some oatmeal and ate on our patio (indoor) that is poolside. Sounds great, but the hotel (major national chain) is going through some renovations and the entire poolside area has a leaky roof. So, they have buckets to catch the dripping water everywhere. Our patio was even drippy so you had to watch where you sat. The remote control to the TV was broken. Also the room was stifling hot and the cooling unit does not work so I pretty much sweat my butt off (okay, maybe I need *that*) all night. We requested to move to a different poolside room that didn't have such a leaky patio area but this new room is also pretty darn hot with no way to cool it. I was pretty much ready to go postal on the front desk clerk when she called my "honey" too! That is an absolute pet peeve of mine - when someone other than my husband, or a little, sweet, senior citizen calls me "honey". To me, I feel it is so demeaning and disrespectful. I feel like saying, "No problem, "sugar cakes".....ugh! And then when we made a quick stop to dip our feet into the hot tub after pool time, we were getting rained on there too!.....Okay, I vented!

By the time we did the pool, showered up, and switched rooms it was time for lunch. We went out for Chicago dogs. Definitely an acquired taste! In Buffalo, you go for a hot dog and it tastes as though it was cooked on a grill. In Indiana (northwest, closer to Chicago) they taste as though they were boiled, a Cheez Whiz like substance is slathered on them and they are plopped on a soft poppy seed roll. I used to think that they were the most disgusting thing in the universe but, like I said, they are an acquired taste. David and I have been together long enough that I don't mind indulging in them on our visits to Indiana.

After feeding my Starbucks Wild Sweet Orange Tea addiction, we went to David's parents house for about an hour for Madeline to spend some afternoon time with Grandma and Grandpa. We returned to the room for an afternoon nap (Mama too!). In the evening we headed back to Grandma and Grandpa's for our Indiana Christmas. David's mom made a gut bustin' meal of ham, kielbasa, veggies, pierogi (cheese, potato, sauerkraut) and potatoes. There were also more cookies available than anyone could possibly indulge in. We also opened gifts. Madeline was truly showered with toys. Despite the small rest time in the afternoon, it has been a very busy last few days. This activity level coupled with the fact that we were at David's parents' house quite late for her pretty much exhausted Madeline out. That sounds good, yet when Madeline gets tired she becomes hyper (although when we were able to get back to our hotel and put her in for the night, she pretty much fell asleep when her head hit the pillow) Regardless, Mama and Papa are once again very sleepy this evening. I will post those pictures in the morning.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Looooonnnnnngggg Trip! - Indiana Day One

We arrived in one piece, thank God! First, we got a late start out of town this morning. WE were having such a lazy, relaxing Christmas Day that we didn't start packing until late on Christmas Day. It ended up getting very late and we decided to head to bed and finish packing in the morning. Well, I should know better than this now, that we can't move as quickly with a 3 year-old so we didn't end up getting on the road until 12:30pm (maybe next year we will travel two days after Christmas to avoid having to pack up on Christmas Day). Next, what should be only a 7-8 hour drive took us about 9 1/2 hours! With the exception of one additional, unplanned potty stop, none of the delays were due to our "special cargo". There was terrible traffic in Ingersoll, Ontario, Canada (yes, we cut through Canada to get to Indiana). Also, as we got further into Michigan we ran into some serious fog that made visibility quite difficult. We ended up pulling in at about 10pm(EST)....and this is without a nap from Madeline. (She next to never sleeps in the car). After making a quick stop at David's parents' to say hello and let them know we've arrived, we checked into our hotel. By the time we got settled, in PJ's etc it was quite late for Madeline. Regardless, she did her best to fight off the sleep. I just hope that she'll sleep in late tomorrow. Even by doing so, the hour time difference will help to keep us on a "normal" schedule. Yawn.....as I am sure you can imagine I am ready for bed!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Madeline definitely felt the excitement of Santa coming last night. Although she was put into bed at 9pm, she didn't fall asleep until after 11pm. The good news though is that she slept until 10am this morning! David and I joked that we are probably the only parents in the universe that were able to sleep in on Christmas morning.

Madeline was very pleased with all the goodies that Santa brought. She was very leisurely (as were we) with opening our gifts. Madeline would open a gift, play with and explore it a little bit and then open up another gift. It was nice that the moment wasn't lost in a 5 minute flurry of flying wrapping paper. As a family, we spent a very relaxing morning together. We were actually in our PJ's, playing with our Christmas goodies until well after 3pm! I was so glad that we decided to go to Mass last night so that we could be this leisurely today.

Madeline's big hits from Santa were the Fischer Price Lovin' Family doll house and the Polly Pocket "Race to the Mall" car track. (Note to Santa for next year: Please set up all the toys that need assembly for us before the morning!) Also, I wanted to get David a toy for Christmas so one of the gifts he got was a small remote control helicopter that can be used indoors. This idea backfired as he ended up stalking me with it while I was trying to make dinner. The stupid thing kept buzzing around my head. He was like a 10 year old boy with that silly thing!

We enjoyed a nice Christmas meal this evening too. I made a Rib Roast with a Cracked Pepper Blend and Mushrooms, Brussel Sprouts (the *only* edible way like my brother, Paul, taught me) and I fried up some left over parsley potatoes with fennel and crumbled blue cheese.

I am now only partially packed to leave tomorrow for Northwest Indiana to visit David's family. This will also be a nice family time for us. We now stay in a hotel on our visits and Madeline really enjoys pool time. But for now, I must continue packing in preparation for our departure.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

I did it! I prepared my first Wigilia. In addition to a few frantic phone calls to my sister, Marysia, I also know that without a doubt, my mom was with me today guiding me along. The strangest things would pop into my mind to remind me of another piece of the puzzle. Out of the blue, a little voice would remind me to include something or other that if I would've thought of after the fact I would've been disappointed. But, like I said, out of the blue these reminders would arise.

First, reminder came when I was bathing Madeline before church. I all of a sudden just *knew* what Madeline had to wear. My mom made green velvet dresses for both of my sisters and they eventually got hand-me-downed to me. All of us girls wore these dresses. When my mom passed away and we were cleaning out her house, I kept one of the dresses thinking that maybe one day Madeline would wear one. Who knew it would be so fast! I had the brainstorm to try the dress on Madeline and it actually fit! (Thanks for that whisper, Mom!)

Next dinner....Like I previously mentioned in a prior post, I wanted to try to meld some of the Polish and Russian customs together for the evening's dinner. But first, David occupied Madeline by watching "Santa Claus is Coming To Town" while I was finishing up dinner. For those of you familiar with the Polish customs, you will note how similar the two are. First, I was pleased to pull out the tablecloth that my mother used every year. Russians usually use a white table cloth to symbolize Christ's swaddling clothes. The Polish bake the plecionka (braided bread) to do this. As you can see, I placed the plecionka on top of a white cloth.

In Russia, a large round loaf of special Lenten bread is placed on the table to symbolize that Christ is the "Bread of Life". This bread is shared with family at the start of the meal. I did not make a special bread for this because I figured we already have the plecionka and the sharing of the bread idea is similar to the Polish wafer, opatek. In Russia, the mother will draw a cross with honey on each persons forehead and says a blessing asking for "sweetness and many good things in the new year". Well, we didn't do the forehead thing but we used the honey to dip the bread in. Also, the Russians include chopped garlic to symbolize life's bitterness. For that, I ended up making a garlic dipping oil with dill (for those of you familiar with the cuisine we ate while in Russia you'll remember they put dill on *everything*).

The table also included candlelight to represent Christ - "The Light of the World". While looking for a towel or potholder or something silly like that I came across a candle snuffer that my mom had. This was another "whisper" from my mom. The snuffer was in a totally oddball place that I can't imagine why I would have put it there in the first place. But the story of the candle snuffer is one that we would tease my mom about because she would tell us the story (every time she brought it out) of how she was determined to buy something inexpensive on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and she purchased it for under $10 (in 1984). This was a silly joke with my mom and she made a big production about the candle snuffer each year. The table also displayed a figurine of Mary and Baby Jesus that my mom would place on the table (my mom whispered in my ear to remind me about that). I went to look for candle holders (which were my grandmother's) and the figurine was in eye view when I opened the cabinet. The opatek (Christmas wafer) was on a plate with hay with the Jesus figure from our nativity set. The Russians display hay as a reminder of the poverty of the place that Jesus was born. Also, my mom always had a Polish doll, that came from my Maternal grandmother, on the Wigilia table. I included this Polish doll but also had a Russian doll that we purchased when we were in Russia. And of course an extra seat was set for an unexpected guest (Jesus?)

The remainder of the food was typical Polish Wigila food but was also typical for a Russian Christmas Eve. In both cultures, the Christmas Eve meal is traditionally a meatless meal. However, in Russia, they make sure to serve 12 different types of food to symbolize the 12 Apostles.

So for our dinner, I prepared:
Opatek
Herring with Rye bread
Mushroom soup (it turned out great!)
Plecionka
Dried Fruit
Honey
Garlic dipping oil
Breaded Fish "fry"
Cheese/Sauerkraut Pierogi
Parsley potatoes
Sauerkraut
Wine

The music I played was played each year at our house when I was a child, a record (now CD) of my great aunt and her 3 daughters (my cousins) singing traditional Polish Christmas carols.....very beautiful! The fact that they are related makes it so much more meaningful.

After dinner, we opened only a few presents. We will save the rest for tomorrow but it was sort of like an "appetizer" for Madeline. We next prepared for Santa by leaving out some milk and cookies (and carrots for the reindeer). Next it was off to bed for Madeline.....but not until Papa read her "'Twas the night before Christmas" And like the book says, "Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night!"







I

Christmas Lard

I am officially the heaviest I have ever been. I need to make that New Year's resolution to shed the pounds after the holidays. Anyone want to join online Weight Watchers with me?

Plecionka.....check

I really DIDN'T burn it! This picture makes it look like I burnt the bread but I really didn't. It came out perfectly (or maybe I should say that *after* I taste it tomorrow). The plecionka, for those of you who do not know, is a braided bread that represents the Baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes. Today was my first attempt at making it and I am pleased.....so far.

I also baked two more kinds of cookies tonight. I am bummed because I wanted to make another type of cookie but it just got too late and I just got too tired. I should have started this a week ago! Why is it that I have 4 types of cookies for a family of 3 but feel like I failed because I didn't make all that I had set out to make? My goal of 5 types of cookies was even light compared to what I have done (7) in years past. I kept trying to tell myself that if I would've made that 5th type of cookie I would've then been complaining about how I was EATING all those cookies....but no, at midnight I had a mini-meltdown. I think I am over tired. Time to get some sleep....

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Wigilia preparations

The mushrooms are soaking so that I can make the mushroom soup for tomorrow. I am about to put the plecionka (braided bread) into the oven. I am still working on Christmas cookies too. So obviously, I can't post too much because I am verrrrrryyyy busy preparing for the first Wigilia (traditional Polish Christmas Eve dinner) that I had to cook myself. I think I have things straight in my mind but there doesn't seem enough hours left before the holiday festivities. I am also trying to meld the Polish and Russian traditions to make our own unique family traditions. I better get back in the kitchen. I'll update you tomorrow on how things are progressing.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Enjoying the Season

We, as a family, are enjoying the holiday season. The first picture is of Madeline decked out in Christmas gear for a "date night" with Papa (David took her out to dinner the night that Tammy and I went out to celebrate our 20yrs as friends). The picture doesn't do justice but Madeline has red sparkly glitter shoes and a matching red purse.

Today, I attempted to accomplish my Christmas baking. Who was I kidding??? I only baked two types of cookies. But I had a very enthusiastic helper.









We also had some down time and opened up the Highlights Magazine for Preschool-aged children. Grandma G. sent Madeline a subscription. As a teacher, let me just say, this is awesome! I would recommend it to anyone. The pages in the magazine promote higher level thinking....and Madeline enjoyed it immensely. The magazine is something that I need to sit with her to enjoy now but it will eventually evolve to something that she will grow into and be able to enjoy herself too. Thanks Grandma G!

Finally....Papa comes home from work and that is the true highlight of the day! Papa is so much fun. Here is a video. You can't quite hear the song in the background but it is a very fast tempo version of Jingle Bells. David is bouncing her on his knee wildly to the beat of the song. Madeline is a wild woman.....and you can see she is having a blast.

video

Snow Update

The snow in Buffalo closed a section of the NYS Thruway. Several schools, that were not already on Christmas break , cancelled for the day. Although there were driving advisories, no bans. I knew David was hoping beyond hope (don't get me wrong, he loves his job but who doesn't like a day off?) when he turned his radio on early this morning to listen to the weather status and lists of closings. Yet he had to bundle up and trudge off to work. David, thanks for doing that for us each day.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I Lied

Okay, so I lied. Not intentionally, but I lied. I previously stated that where we live, we are usually untouched by the major storms of Buffalo. Well, I jinxed myself! Friday night, our plow service guy was running late because of all the snow. He didn't get to our driveway before David got home. Normally, we'll just speed up and ram through the snow but there was no way that David was pulling in the driveway without getting stuck. Luckily our neighbors already cleared their driveway so we called over to see if David could park in their driveway for an hour or so while we waited for our plow service to catch up with the storm. For the very little snow we normally get, the contract with the plow guy is still worth it in our minds. Last thing David wants to do is get up at 6am to snow plow a driveway before getting to work. But this winter, the investment has already paid off.

Aside from the snow we got on Friday (enough to close all the WNY schools), our plow guy came out to clear our drive several times this weekend. As we were walking into/out of church today, I commented that *this* is the type of winter I remember from my childhood. Many area schools are already on break for Christmas but many more have already cancelled for Monday as a result of the weather. We are hoping that the weather is bad enough to call for a driving ban. This would ensure David a snow day from work. I guess we need to use the superstitious advise I received from my fifth graders that I used to teach. They knew all the "tricks" to ensuring a snow day.

Tricks for a snow day:
-Wear your pajamas inside out.
-Sleep with a spoon under your pillow.
-Wear pj's inside out *and* backwards.
-Place a white crayon in the freezer and then before you go to bed,throw it under your pillow.
-Sleep on the opposite end of your bed.

As you go to sleep tonight, cross your fingers for us.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

20 Year Friendship

20 years is a long time yet the time has seemed to fly by! Tammy and I just went out to celebrate our 20th anniversary of being friends (yes, that is a bathroom stall in the background....the restaurant was too dark for my cell phone to take a picture. I need a better cell phone!)

A few weeks ago I called up Tammy and told her in a husky voice, "I want to go on a romantic date night with you." Most people would have probably reacted by saying, "What?!?!" but Tammy just laughed. She knew exactly what I was talking about.

We ended up going to Toro Tapas. Yeah, I know, I just went there but Tammy wanted to try the restaurant and I was more than happy to head back. We shared the yummy cheese and fruit platter (We probably had a pound of cheese. Yep, we'll be 'clogged' but it'll have been worth it), the stuffed portobello, the chorizo stuffed bell peppers, and the cranberry nut tart for dessert.

As we sat there we reflected on how much we've been through over twenty years. Tammy pointed out that we have known each other more than half of our lives (depressing thought that we are that old!) We met our first year of college at Buffalo State. By coincidence we were in two classes together our first semester. We laughed that I taught Tammy how to skip class. We would skip our morning sociology class and go out to breakfast. Even better, we skipped an afternoon to go shopping when the Galleria Mall first opened.

Although Tammy began dating her husband only a few months before she and I became friends, she saw me through the boyfriends of my past. She tried to talk me out of dropping out of college and cheered me on when I returned years later. Tammy and I have been through engagements, weddings and ugly bridesmaid dresses. We both experienced new home builds. We have shared ceramics (ugh, remember that?!?) and scrapbooking. We have shared struggles with trying to get pregnant (yep, both of us), baby showers, Russian adoption/travel (yep, we both did that). We were able to commiserate about students as we eventually shared the same career of teaching. Now we share motherhood. We remarked how amazing it is that we met by chance yet our lives have shared so many unique similarities.

We don't get out without our kids much. It was fun to jibber-jabber and not have to guard our words. We finished dinner and were not ready to go home so we continued the evening at Starbucks and talked until they were closing up and kicked us out. As Tammy and I said our good-byes Tammy said that at our "next 20th" we'll have to have our kids drive us because we'll be so old.......thanks for *another* depressing thought, Tammy. But seriously, I am happy that we have seen each other though thick and thin (both figuratively and literally) and am looking forward to seeing the trouble we can get into over the next 20 years. And Tammy, if this schmaltzy post on my blog doesn't get you to comment, I don't know what will :-)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Santa Please Hook Me Up!

Not much new to report today. However, we did have a decent amount of snow here. Even our town, which typically doesn't receive much of the WNY snow, got blasted with at least a foot of the white stuff. (That's because this storm was *not* a lake effect storm). All the area schools were closed. Even the school districts that were not proactive (by closing in the AM before school started) ended up having an early dismissal. The list of closings being read on the radio and scrolling on our television mixed with a steady stream of white falling from the sky set the mood for a lazy day.

Madeline played the day away. She put on her "uniform", one of her dress-up outfits, first thing this morning. She danced to her music (I think I heard the Kidz Bop Christmas CD at least FIVE TIMES today!) And she played pretend with her princess figurines. All I can say is that I sure hope Santa hooks Madeline up with that doll house she requested. As you can see from the photo, the Winnie the Pooh treehouse is getting quite crowded with those diva Disney princesses moved in!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Adoptive Family Bonding - Sleeping Beauty

For those of you that are familiar with adoption, you will know that the adopted child often times does not (at least initially) like to snuggle. They are not used to that closeness and attachment to another person. The first signs of attachment that we looked for with Madeline were eye contact with us. But spontaneous affection was also very important to obtain. Those signs of attachment mentioned above came quickly but it probably took a year before Madeline allowed us to cradle her like a baby . And to fall asleep with us holding her??? Out of the question!

As you can see from the picture, the other day, Madeline fell asleep as I cradled her. And yesterday, we snuggled together on the couch and napped together. These might seem like everyday occurrences with birth mothers but for adoptive parents they are heart-warming, tear-jerking milestones of our family's journey. I feel blessed to not only have Madeline attached and bonded to us in this way but also to not take these "small acts" for granted.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Inconsistent Santa Quiz

Okay.....now that Santa visits Madeline I have come to realize that Santa is very inconsistent. What's up with that?!??!? I am curious about a couple things. Maybe you can comment to tell me what you experienced with Santa when you were a child and if you have a child,what types of things Santa does for you.

Questions:
1) Did/does Santa give gifts in the stockings?
2) If so, are/were stocking items wrapped?
3) Does/did Santa wrap the presents that he leaves under the tree?
4) Did your parents buy for you or did they just let Santa take care of the gift giving?

Hmmmmm......I just wonder why Santa does more for some. Does he just run out of time before the reindeer depart on Christmas Eve? Or are some children just more deserving of the extra TLC.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Shopping is DONE!

I am DONE with my Christmas shopping! Ok.....I will probably think of something else between now and Christmas but as of right this second, I believe that I am done!

Madeline kept me on my toes today. She was very well behaved - especially considering that we were out of the house *all day*! I had so badly wanted Madeline to start talking but now she has the tendency to say the darndest things. She observes everything around her and comments on all of it.

She noticed the girl with the alternative hairstyle and loudly exclaimed, "Mama, pink hair!" while standing right next to the girl.

We noticed the reflective tiles in the ceiling tiles of the food court. We had a kick watching our reflections eat lunch. Madeline then noticed the fact that you could see my cleavage in the ceiling and she began singing, "Mama's boobies" in the food court.

In the bathroom at the craft store, for whatever reason, Madeline decided to name each of her poopies.. She made a Mama poopie, a Papa poopie and a 'Lynn' poopie. She wanted to work on a Packard, Elston and Zoe (our cats) poopie but Mama-Dirtyfoot hurried the process along before someone walked into the bathroom and overheard this conversation.

But the funniest of all was what happened when I took my eyes off of her while bra shopping. Madeline was in the stroller right in front of me. I am in need of new bras and I was browsing at a rack. Madeline was keeping herself busy. She was quiet so I looked down and what did I see? Madeline took a pair of lacy thong underwear off of a lower rack and put them on her head. I almost peed my pants from laughing. Below is what I was able to capture of the moment with my cell phone.

video

Monday, December 15, 2008

TOoooo busy......TOoooo stressed

First of all, with regard to this picture, whoever discovered the coincidence in the spelling of "stressed" and "desserts" had too much time on their hands!

Since Thanksgiving, I have been on the run. Travel for Thanksgiving, travel to Marysia's, Christmas shopping, Christmas parties, Play groups, dance lessons, swim lessons, music class, St. Gerard's reunion planning, etc, etc, etc. It's no wonder my house looks like it does! (That last sentence is code for, "If anyone comes over unannounced I might just die") What kills me is I gripe about how busy I am with something but then once one project raps up I take on another uber-load of work in another project......and then I once again gripe about how busy I am. What's wrong with me? Did you ever feel like you are so busy that, because you are limited on time, you do a little bit of everything......but it feels like everything you do is half-assed? Yep, that's where I am. (Although I do seem to be able to find time for those above mentioned desserts......and the scale goes up, up, up. Anyone want to do a Weight Watchers challenge after Christmas?)

I decided to write this entry early today, time it to post in the evening, and enjoy a nice relaxing evening catching up on miscellaneous stuff. I think I make some breaded pork chops (I know they can';t possible compete with yours Marysia), do some laundry, straighten the house, wrap some gifts, and maybe sit back by the Christmas tree with David and sip some egg nog......ahhhhh I feel more relaxed just thinking about it.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Holiday Family Fun

Today was such a nice family day together. The moms club that I belong to was able to snag tickets at a discounted group rate for the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra's holiday concert. The picture shown is of David and Madeline at Kleinhan's Music Hall before the concert began. As you can see, we had good seats.

Good News/Bad News......The good news is that I am thinking that Madeline is pretty much potty trained. The bad news is that Madeline announces *loudly* when she needs to use the potty. Luckily Madeline is developing her performing arts audience etiquette and waits to make her announcements in between songs so as not to disturb the musicians/audience. Of course, this time is also when all those around us hear Madeline exclaim, "POOPIE!" or "On the Potty!" Aside from the two trips to the bathroom, Madeline really enjoyed herself. She liked watching and listening to the Orchestra. Also, the performance included The Greater Buffalo Youth Ballet, a Bell Choir and a special sing-along led by Santa. Her favorite part of the performance was the dancers.

After the performance, we treated ourselves to a nice dinner out. We don't get a chance to dine in Buffalo that often. Usually when we go out now we are in the suburbs closer to our home. We ate at an old favorite of my mom's in the Elmwood district, Toro Tapas. This was a favorite of my mom's because tapas are small dishes that are meant to be shared. Being the "foodie" that she was she was able to sample various dishes. Mom also stayed on top of the dining scene by reading the restaurant reviews each week. I must say, mom was pretty hip on the trendy new restaurants and she actually introduced this place to me. Anyway, this is a nicer restaurant but since it was Sunday at their opening time the restaurant was quieter that usual. Regardless, Madeline was on her absolute best behavior which made the dining experience even more enjoyable for David and me. Yep, Madeline is a great eater. Tonight she brought tapas into the next generation. She learned the wonders of crunchy baguettes in Balsamic dipping oil, a diverse cheese platter that allowed her to graze on various cheeses and several different kinds of fruit, tangerine pulled pork with a corn scallion crepe and best of all (I'll have to send an e-mail to my sister-in-law, Jamie, to gloat)......calamari. That's my girl! Grandma M. would've been so proud of you, Madeline.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Arranged Marriage

Happy Birthday to my future son-in-law..... Today we went to my friend Kelly's son's (Owen) 1st birthday party (His birthday is actually tomorrow). When we vacationed together in June, Kelly and I decided that our kids will end up getting married. Kelly and I had many laughs over this idea. For example, I promised to teach Madeline how to cook if Kelly promised to send Owen to medical school. Also, Owen has slimmed down a lot, but before Owen started walking he used to be a big baby. Kelly would joke about promising that Owen would loose his "man boobs" before the wedding day. And Kelly and I both had some good chuckles about what would happen if our adult children, Madeline/Owen, would come to us griping about their mother-in-law?

Far fetched? Hmmmmm.......I don't know. Ever since our vacation, Madeline has been completely obsessed with Owen. She named her baby doll "Baby Owen" and every baby she sees is "Baby Owen". After the party, David, Madeline and I went back to Kelly's house for a little while. Madeline got a hoot out of playing with Owen, and gave him a big hug before we left.

But, Mr. Birthday boy.....here are the rules:
-Enjoy the hug she gave you this evening. Once you get a little older, physical contact will not be encouraged until the wedding night.
-Don't even think of bringing Madeline home late for curfew on future date nights.
-Do not break her heart.
-Be nice to your mother-in-law.

As long as that is clear......welcome to the family :-)
Happy 1st birthday Owen!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas Dreaming...

Holy Cow!!!! We just got back from David's work Christmas party. For the first time in the last six Christmases, the party was held at David's boss's house. Let me just say.......Oh My God. His boss's house is gorgeous! For those of you familiar with the Buffalo area, his boss's house is off of LeBrun - enough said! With two fire places burning in the living area of the 5000 square foot house, it was the perfect setting for a holiday party. The crazy thing is that David is technically one promotion away from his boss's job but I can't possibly imagine being able to afford his boss's house. It is crazy to think of where we came from, how far we've come (as a result of *a lot* of hard work together) and the potential of where we can be in the future. It is almost unfathomable........We've been immensely blessed!

Madeline's Souvenir

Don't have time for a long post. We are getting ready to go to a Christmas Party. Just thought I would share a picture of the souvenir that David brought back for Madeline. (He was in Chicago on business and attended the Bears game in a luxury suite.....nice!)
Anyway, it is hard to see in the picture but Madeline is holding a t-shirt that says "Obama (the "O" is a peace sign) Believe 1-20-09"

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sex Education

Madeline and I were very busy today. The morning was filled with shopping for an outfit for me for David's work Christmas party (which is tomorrow) as well as some Christmas shopping. We treated ourselves to lunch at McDonald's. Madeline had a great work out at her swim lessons and in the evening she had her Tots 'N Tunes Music group. I think Madeline will sleep soundly tonight......I know that I will!

The funniest thing happened at swim class. This isn't the first time this happened (I don't think I blogged about this yet) but it catches me off guard each time that it does. I was helping Madeline get changed out of her wet bathing suit after swim class in the woman's locker room. There are little boys (Madeline's age) that take swim class too. The mom's certainly aren't going to have their 3 year old kids fend for themselves in the men's locker room so of course the moms bring their boys into the woman's locker room to change. As I am getting Madeline changed she starts giggling and saying, "Poopie, Poopie! Mama, Poopie!" As Madeline is giggling and pointing and continuing to say "poopie" I take a look to see at what she is pointing. Yes, Madeline noticed a young boy getting changed and caught a glimpse of his private area. To her the little "dangly thing in front" looked like a poopie. Sigh.....I felt like I had to say something because Madeline was practically rolling on the floor laughing about the boy's "poopie". So, as much as I was dying, I chalk it up and try to put on my best mom voice. I calmly explained to her, "Madeline, honey, that's not poopie. That's a p-p-p-p-.....penis." (Yes, I think I stuttered when that word rolled off my tongue. I much prefer different words for that but I don't think those would be appropriate to teach my 3 year old) Then the kicker is that Madeline continues to start SINGING the word penis for all to hear. Yep, that pretty much did me in for the day!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Making Friends

Madeline is starting to make some of her own friends and Mama-Dirtyfoot is doing her best to help Madeline along this path. Currently, Madeline is in dance, swim and a Tots 'n Tunes music group. It seems like a lot but Madeline LOVES each of these activities and looks forward to them each week. Although these activities all have children Madeline's age, they are quite structured and don't help in the area of fostering friendship.

As an only child, Madeline needs the opportunity to play with children her own age. Most of the moms in my neighborhood work and their children are sent to day care. So even though there are plenty of children in my neighborhood, most of them aren't around during the day.

I mailed out my check yesterday for Madeline's preschool tuition. She will begin in January for half days two times a week. This will be good for Madeline in some many ways, one of them being socialization. I have also joined a local MOMS group which offers play dates for the children (I just became the groups treasurer today.....why do I do these things to myself????)

Anyway, this morning Madeline and I went to the "Business Meeting" for the MOMS club. As the women talk, the children play in a play area. The place is great. Big tubes to crawl through, ride on toys, etc. The play area is pretty much among the tables where the woman meet and the children can see you and you can see them at all times. Madeline didn't want to have anything to do with it! She pretty much sat on my lap and cried anytime I suggested joining the other children playing. Ohhhhh brother, I thought, how was I going to ease her into preschool??? And, how was she going to do at the play date I had set up for the evening?

In the evening, Madeline and I had plans to go over to the house of a neighbor down the street. My neighbor's daughter is about 6 months older that Madeline,. The mom and me ended up hooking up because her mom (Nancy -for those of you who know her) and my mom knew each other. Madeline and I went to our neighbor's house, had pizza for dinner and I brought dessert. The girls had a great time. They played with all the toys, ate dinner/dessert, painted and watched a little Dora on TV (a treat for Madeline). Meanwhile the mom and I chit chatted away. The neighbor girl told Madeline that she could come over again and they gave each other big hugs before we left. Madeline was in such a good mood when we got home. I could tell that she had a blast. It is so fun to watch this develop in Madeline but it is sad to see Madeline loose a bit more of babyhood.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Teacher Gift Ideas - Do's and Don'ts

As the countdown to Christmas ticks on, many of us are left to scramble for last minute gifts. Often times those last minute buys are Christmas gifts for a child's teacher. Please......coming from a teacher, step AWAY from the teacher gear (I will give you other ideas below)!!!!

I feel bad saying this because it was kind of the families to remember me yet, there are only so many apple figurines and pencil ornaments one can stomach. I was only a classroom teacher for three years before I began to stay at home to be with Madeline, but in those three years I received enough teacher stuff to last a lifetime. I kept a few special items for home, I am storing a boxful of items for when I return to teaching to use as classroom decorations but I also sold a bunch of stuff at a garage sale. As I write this, I am continuing to feel guilty about this but seriously, WHAT am I going to do with it all?

As I am Christmas shopping, I have overheard people oooohhhhing and aaaahhhhing over some trinket. These shoppers said that they could purchase it for their kid's teacher. I was so tempted to tell them, "Don't do it!" So, what should you get?

Rule of thumb DON'Ts
- back away from anything that has an apple, chalkboard, pencil or ruler on it or anything that says "World's Best Teacher".
-Don't gift homemade foods. Although I (over)indulged in the treats, I know that many teachers do not eat any homemade treats unless they know the family well.
-Don't buy candy. Unless you know the teacher is a chocoholic, there is soooooo much of that floating around this time of year. Last thing anyone needs is 20 boxes of chocolate. I will admit, I have re-gifted a box or two.
-Don't buy any Christmas decorations (even if they are not teacher themed). Don't *you* have your own sentimental ornaments at home that you pull out from year to year? Don't *you* have an overload of generic ornaments? I am sure your child's teacher does too.

Rule of thumb DOs
-I know people don't want to spend a lot of money on teacher gifts and you can actually get nice items for the same cost or less than what you might pay for the "teacher gear"....but, THINK PRACTICAL!
-If you absolutely *must* buy apple gear, get note cards or notepads. Teachers use tons of them for notes home, etc. And worst case scenario, the teacher can use them at home too.
-Think of items that people can use more than one of.....don't worry about it being impersonal. No matter how nice the teacher is, it is in fact still a professional relationship.
-Don't snub the dollar sections at Target. They have nice items that can be paired with something else to make a nice gift. For example, what about a pair of fuzzy, warm stay-at-home socks that can be paired with a lotion from the dollar section.
-Consumable items are always good because they are practical and don't need to be stored. Example - monogrammed or festive comical beverage napkins that can be bought in the party supply store paired with something else that could be used for entertaining during the holidays.
-Bath and Body Works often has sales 4 for $10 of the fancy pump hand soaps/lotions. You can't believe how dry your hands get from handling chalk all day and from washing your hands a billion times.
-Pair a chapstick, hand lotion,and magic gloves in a nice gift bag (all of which could probably be found in the Dollar Store).
-Another idea that some teachers benefited from is that sometimes room-mothers often organized to pool gift $ donations from parents. The room-mother would shop for one gift from the class (such as dinner/movie certificates that would be good for an evening out)
-Finally, don't for a second think that a gift certificate would go unappreciated. Even if you are only willing to spend $5, I would much rather receive a $5 gift certificate to Tim Horton's rather than a $15 personalized apple ornament. With my Horton's gift certificate I could treat myself to a coffee and donut on my way to work.

Also, I like to catch sales after Christmas. It's not only picked over crap that is left behind in January. If you are a shopper at heart, you can find great deals after the holiday. Pick up some pretty mittens, cozy socks, candles, etc and store them and tuck them in your "future gifts" corner in you closet. Certainly there will be someone that you can gift them to in the new year.

Happy Shopping!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Party Poopers

'Tis the season of secrets and surprises. Isn't the suspense and anticipation of receiving part of the fun? Are you one of those that peeks at presents or, even worse, tells others of their surprises? I am curious to the psychology behind a surprise buster. Why do they find this necessary, especially if they are not part of the giving/receiving? Do they like the control of the situation? My thought behind this is that I prefer to try to make others happy or witness another's happiness. Just curious, in this season of giving, which side of the fence do you stand?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Marysia's House - Day Four

I am writing my post a little earlier today so that Marysia and I can spend the evening wrapping (hopefully all) the gifts we purchased over the past few days. We've had a low key but productive day today. All of us slept in this morning and Marysia whipped up a yummy pancake and sausage breakfast. Madeline ate a sausage patty and THREE pancakes! My brother-in-law Mike was nice enough to offer to watch Madeline so that Marysia and I could do some more shopping child free. Marysia and I were very productive at Target. When we returned, Madeline was having fun with her cousins and watching Aladdin. Marysia's kids range in age from 16 to 12 and they are all wonderful sports when it comes to playing with and amusing their little cousin. Madeline is loving all the fun.

Marysia is cooking away (and won't let me help) some breaded pork chops for dinner. She was disappointed that I won't be able to rave about the scrumptious chops on my blog tonight because the post will already be done. Yet, I have faith that they will be just like moms!

Friday, December 5, 2008

My Mother's Daughter

Soooooo.....Marysia and I are sitting here, each on a laptop, Christmas shopping and I got the munchies. Marysia decided to pull out some leftover bean dip that Mike made and started heating it up. Jokingly, she also pulled a plate of left over kielbasa. I lifted the foil and got a whiff of the garlic wafting from the chilled sausages. "Yummmmmmm!" I said as I took a cold piece of Redlinski's fresh sausage right off the plate and chomped down on the cold pork. Good thing that I am not coming home until Sunday.....David hates the smell of garlic (especially on my breath!)

Marysia's House - Day Three

Shopping, shopping and more shopping.....what else to report????......Just kidding! Marysia and I did another blitz today. We were out shopping from about 10:30am until about 6:00pm. We made great progress. Not only did we accomplish Christmas shopping, we found an outfit for Marysia to wear to an upcoming holiday party. And, if you know Marysia, you know that she absolutely HATES clothes shopping for herself so this was a great accomplishment. And, I might add that she looks hott! Madeline was an absolute angel while shopping. For a three year old to last that long in a shopping mall while remaining extremely well-behaved is a godsend. At the end of our trip to the mall (but before we moved on to Target) we stopped at the Disney store. I bought Madeline this little Cinderella figurine because she was really *that* good. She spent the entire 15 minute drive from the Mall to Target singing her own made up Cinderella song. Madeline brought Cinderella into Target. Then when Cinderella's head fell off because Madeline pressed it a little too hard into the holes of the shopping cart, she simply said, "Uh-oh!" and continued to sing happily about Cinderella as she carried around Cinderella's torso and head in her fist. (Mama bought super glue while at Target.)

We went back to Marysia's house with enough time to quickly freshen up and re-group before we went out for dinner. We all went out to dinner at Sakura's Steak House. Marysia, Mike, Tommy, Lauren, Andy, Julie, Madeline and I all went out to celebrate Lauren's 15th birthday (on Dec. 10th). Sakura's is a Japanese restaurant that cooks your food table side. Madeline thought the experience was pretty neat (see video below-again, poor quality because I capture video/pictures with my cell phone). She ate a little bit of everything - soup, salad, fried rice,veggies, chicken livers, shrimp and steak and even topped it off with a few bites of cheesecake. That's my girl! On both the ride to the restaurant and the ride back, Madeline was having an absolute riot being silly with her cousins. This visit has been so enjoyable for both of us! We are looking forward to seeing David but it is sad that our time together in Maryland is going so quickly.

video

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Marysia's House - Day Two

First, let me back up to last evening and point out the perfect Maddie-sized princess backpack that Marysia gave Madeline. Madeline loved it! As you can see, she was wearing it with her pj's and wanted to wear it after she got dressed in the morning. It was perfect to take along on today's shopping excursion. I stocked it with snacks and some of her toys.

We got a good start to our shopping this afternoon and Madeline was a true trooper! To treat Madeline, I took her on a carousel that was in the mall. It was one of those carousels that not only had horses but also had those round seats with the spinning wheel in the center (like the tea cups in Disney). No big deal, I thought because I did well in Disney. I figured I would just spin slowly. However, another little girl at the mall decided to barge onto the carousel seat with us and this girl only had spinning on the mind. Madeline was having a ball.....Mama was not enjoying it too much. Luckily the ride stopped before I got sick, but I did have to step outside for some fresh air after that. *Sigh* I am getting old!

Marysia and I also came across the HUGEST pair of men's underwear while shopping at JCPenney's. They were on the clearance rack for 99 cents. We decided that it would be pretty funny to give to someone as a joke gift. Madeline saw them and said, "Undies! BIG undies! Mama undies!" and she proceeded to make up an undie song. Okay, I know I need to loose weight.....but come on! These undies were so big that Madeline was holding them across her lap like a blanket while in her stroller. We showed Marysia's kids the undies when we got home and had a good giggle. The girls decided to try them on (see below). Yes, all three of them are in the undies. Marysia's husband Mike had somewhere to go this evening. Marysia decided to wrap up the undies in a pretty gift bag and she'll present him with it when he gets home. It'll be funny to watch as Marysia says, "Here honey, I picked you up something while we were out shopping today"

The next stop for the underwear will go to one of Marysia's neighbor friends. Every year they go to this neighbor's with a bunch of other friends on Christmas Eve Evening. The plan is to wrap up the undies from "Santa" and, without anyone else seeing, simply place the "gift" under the tree. When the neighbor opens gifts the next morning, no one will know where they came from or who the generous Santa was.

Yeah, childish.....but it is known that each of the receivers will appreciate the humor in the fun.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Marysia's house - Day 1

Madeline and I were up bright and early this morning to catch a flight to Baltimore. The flight from Buffalo to Maryland is so easy because it is only a 45 minute flight. The road to the airport was a little hairy, however, because there was an accident on the Thruway during the morning commute time. David altered the route and got us there an hour before our flight.

Marysia picked us up at the airport. With all the grand shopping plans, we actually had a slow start to the week. But, this was good because it gave us time to veg out and spend time with each other, have Madeline enjoy visiting with her cousins and we had an opportunity to get organized. Checking lists, browsing store ads, and brainstorming shopping ideas were part of the afternoon accomplishments for us.

I do have to say, Madeline is definitely enjoying herself! Before 3pm, she had more sweets that she normally does in an entire week. Marysia even had gift bags for us on our pillows in the guest room. I got a box of chocolates and Madeline plowed through a row of Pez from her new Santa Pez dispenser.

And as far as royal treatment goes, Marysia even made a favorite "comfort food" meal from my childhood that I haven't made in YEARS because David doesn't like meatballs. Oooooohhhhh it was soooooo good!

In the evening we all hung out by the fireplace and watched the Rudolph Christmas special.......awwwwww.....can you say "Hallmark Christmas?" Now, Madeline is sleeping and we are back to the lists and ads.

Below is a small video (sorry the video quality is crappy because I took it with my cell phone) of Madeline "marching" with her cousins (Tommy, Lauren, Andy and Julie) around the coffee table in Marysia's family room. As you can see, we are all enjoying each other's company.


video

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Frazzled!!!!

Aaahhhhhhh! It is after 9pm and I am leaving this house at 7am for the airport. Have I even started packing for Madeline and me for five nights???? NO!!!!! Talk about stressed!!! And I wanted to finish my Christmas Cards too before I left. Why????....I mean, I am coming home on the 7th, in plenty of time before Christmas. I don't know.....I guess I am just a freak. Because I am sooooo behind, I really, really, REALLY don't have time for a long post. But, rest assured, I will post from Maryland to tell of our shopping excursions.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Corrective Shoes

Today as I was puttering around the house Madeline dug out a pair of shoes from under her bed and put them on. She ended up putting them on the wrong feet. This made me giggle to myself as her shoes triggered a funny memory.

A few weeks after we brought Madeline home from Russia we attended my friend, Tammy's, daughter's birthday party. Tammy's family was very anxious for us to arrive as they were excited about meeting Madeline. I don't remember the logistics of how this came to be (I think maybe my family was in town helping to empty out my mom's house) but for some reason David and I traveled separately to the party. I arrived first and new-dad David came later with Madeline. As a new dad, he was proud of his accomplishment of getting Madeline packed and ready for an afternoon excursion. Madeline arrived and everyone was happy to meet our new daughter. As Madeline ran around, I answered lots of questions about Madeline and our travel to Russia. Tammy's mother-in-law, a very sweet lady, asked in a concerned manner about Madeline's shoes and asked if they were "corrective shoes". Corrective shoes??? I knew she was wearing regular, run-of-the-mill sandals. Wondering what she was referring to, I looked down at Madeline's feet and I realized that David dressed her with the shoes on the wrong feet. Yep, the whole party got a good chuckle out of that.....poor David :-)