Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ice Princess

I just thought that I would share the above video.  To think that a couple weeks ago, Madeline had never been on a pair of ice skates.  Now, only a handful of lessons later, Madeline has done away with the ice skating "walker" and is leaving the ice skating hockey-boy wanna-bes (you can see them at the far left when the video first begins) in the dust.  You go, girl!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Marysia's - Part II

Hot Tub Time With Lauren
Yesterday, Margaret had to fly home in order to be to work on Monday.  We had a lazy morning and it was nice to squeeze in one last bit of sister time.  Madeline also tried to squeeze out some extra quality time with her cousins. Madeline was in her glory to hang in the hot tub for awhile with Lauren in the early afternoon.  After taking Margaret to the airport, Marysia, Mike, Madeline and I watched my niece, Julie, play a Futsal (indoor soccer) game.  Julie did great!  Her team won and Julie scored 3 goals!

Slushies And Popcorn With Julie
After the game, we headed over to Target and a stop at Barnes & Noble for a little more Christmas shopping. Marysia and I were pleased that Julie was willing to keep Madeline occupied so we could do a little bit of undisturbed shopping.  Madeline was thrilled because I let her go with Julie to get slurpies and popcorn with Julie.  Madeline doesn't get this stuff at home so that in itself was a treat but going with her cousin made it that much more special.  Come to find out *after the fact*, the two of them were getting refills.  Oh well, that just meant wearing off a sugar high before bedtime.

Dinner was barely over and Marysia and I changed into our matching PJ's again.  We joked that they were both pretty ripe by now since we have been wearing them the entire sisters visit.  Certainly, when I get home tonight, my PJ's will whimper and slither their way over to the hamper on their own.  I did, however, try to talk Marysia into ringing neighbors' doorbells and Christmas caroling IN OUR PJ's.  Although I still think that would have been a lot of fun, the idea didn't fly.  Instead, we laughed hysterically trying to pose for a picture where we were smelling our arm pits (in order to accentuate how yucky our PJ's probably were by then).

Playing My Little Pony With Tommy & Julie
Manicure From Lauren
Madeline further enjoyed cousin time.  She soooo looks up to her older cousins. Marysia's four children are so good with Madeline.  Where many teens might not want to be bothered with a 5-yr old, Tommy, Lauren, Andy and Julie take time to play with their younger cousin.  Yes, this is a picture of Tommy, a freshman in college, and Julie, a freshman in high school. taking a moment to play My Little Pony with Madeline.  Lauren even painted Madeline's nails.  But the funniest story (I took a video but it didn't turn out) is when Tommy was running around and hiding on Madeline.  Tommy ended up hiding behind the Christmas tree.  Any time Madeline touched the tree Tommy would say something in a deep voice, as though it were the tree itself talking.  This went on for quite a while and Madeline got quite a kick out of the "talking tree".  Madeline certainly knew it was Tommy making the tree "talk" but she played right along and had a lot of fun with Tommy's silliness.  Marysia, the rest of the cousins and I were also quite entertained by both Tommy and Madeline.  Finally, when it was time to put Madeline in bed for the night....that is, when the sugar high wore off, Madeline gave us all hugs and kisses.  She even hugged the talking tree.

Hugging The "Talking" Tree Good Night
Tonight we are flying home to Buffalo.  I am all packed up and just hanging out here the rest of this afternoon.  Although I love sister time and had (as always) a great time, I am looking forward to seeing David.  Certainly, the fact that David was in France right before I left for Baltimore and we were pretty much just two ships passing in the night before I took off to visit my sisters has accentuated how much I miss him.  So, although I will miss my sisters once I am home, I am looking forward to snuggle time with David this evening!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sister Weekend At Marysia's

Enjoying gum for the 1st time on the plane
Currently, I am sitting in my sister, Marysia's family room in the Baltimore area.  I am hanging out here with Marysia, my other sister Margaret, my nephew Andy, Madeline and Marysia's dog Jesse.  We are just chillin' and watching Alice In Wonderland before Madeline heads to bed.  A very low key evening is much welcomed after a busy start to our time together.  I am pretty sure, too, that I'll be changing into some lounge wear soon in order to make the evening even more low key!

Eiffel Tower
Notre Dame de Paris
Arc de Triomphe
David lit a candle at St. Joan of Arc
Margaret (from Dayton, Ohio area), Madeline and I flew in to Baltimore on Wednesday night.  Hmmmmm....before I talk about my trip here, I should mention that David was recently in France!  David left Buffalo on Saturday (12/4) and returned home right after my book club gals left our house on Tuesday (12/7).  Most guys would comment that David was brilliant in that timing but (A) my book club/MOMS Club friends are a joy and (B) David purchased freshly baked bread that morning in France and some wine and he was hoping to get home in time to contribute these French treats with my friends.  Unfortunately, David's flight out of Paris was delayed.  Luckily, however, David did get out of France that evening because the following day France's airport, and all of Paris for that matter, was shut down due to snow.  With trips to numerous countries, I could safely say that David is a "world traveler".  David's impression of France????  He very much disliked it.  Humph, I guess I'll never get to see the Eiffel Tower.  David certainly tries to visit any new locale with an open mind, yet the French, he said, have a reputation of being rude for a reason.  David, did surprise me with a call to tell me that he was standing "smack dab under the Eiffel Tower" and he just called to tell me that he loved me.  Awwwwww! 

So, David got home late on Tuesday night (after being gone 3 nights) only to have Madeline and me turn around less than 24 hours later to depart for Baltimore.  We arrived Wednesday evening, had some dinner, relaxed a bit and also prepared for Marysia's Tastefully Simple party which was the following evening.

Christmas Shopping
On Thursday, Marysia had to work.  My nephew arranged to carpool to school so that Margaret and I could use his car during the day.  Margaret, Madeline and I headed to the mall (go figure) to do some Christmas shopping.  Shopping and food.....would you expect anything else from me??  No, of course not!  So, we also ventured to Panera's (Margaret's favorite) for breakfast to "fuel up"for our shopping and we tried out P.F. Chang's for lunch.  Thursday night Marysia hosted a Tastefully Simple party for me.  Marysia has such a nice group of friends.  It felt as though I have known them for a long time, although many of her friends I had met for the first time that evening.  Marysia's party was very nice and quite successful.....good news for Mushie because that means lots of FREE Tastefully Simple products for her!

Disney Store!!!!
Pocahontas souvenir
Friday, Marysia worked the morning and was home by noon.  That worked out perfectly because, Margaret, Madeline and I slept in, had a lazy morning and were barely out of our PJ's before Marysia came home.  What to do then???  Back to the mall, of course!  I have to say, Madeline was a trooper!  We were at the mall for 5 hours and Madeline hung tough!  Madeline did get bounced back and forth between me and my sisters, got to ride some of those coin operated rides, rode a train that zips around the mall, rode the merry-go-round and visited Santa.  In the meantime, we sisters made great progress in our Christmas shopping.  Friday was also my niece's (Lauren's) 17th birthday.  Where has the time gone?!?!  We all went out to dinner to celebrate.  Mmmmm....Maryland is noted for crab cakes for a reason!

Using chopsticks at P.F. Chang's
Another diner was also celebrating her birthday.  "Crazy Aunt" wanted them to get a picture together. I forgot the flash :-(
Action shot!
After :-)
A LEOPARD Santa ?????
UGLY feet posed with egg nog.  Notice our matching PJ's??
Today, more shopping.  Are you seeing a pattern?  Also, Lauren was allowed to get a second piercing in her ears for her birthday and so we were able to  witness the event.  This could've gone one of two ways.  Either Madeline would've wanted her ears pierced or not.  I want to hold off until Madeline is about 10 years old before she gets her ears pierced.  I explained to Madeline what was going on as we watched and made sure to mention the pain associated with the piercing.  Madeline made sure to let me know that she didn't want her ears pieced. I am sure that will change over time, yet I managed to successfully discourage that idea (at least for a little while).  Since I began this post, the evening progressed.  What did we end up doing?  We sisters hung around, sipped on egg nog, helped Marysia wrap her Christmas gifts, and watched "It's A Wonderful Life" - such a festive evening!  Certainly, a few egg nogs

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow.....somewhere else!

Melanie's front yard
Seeing that Buffalo, NY's weather has been making headline news, I figured I should make a blog post about it to let out-of-state friends and family know that we were not buried alive.  Yes, Buffalo is infamous for its snow and yes, Buffalo just got slammed with a ton of lake effect snow.  But, I am happy to report that although I have many, many friends that are digging out of snow situations like the one's here (These are actual photos of some of my friends' houses) and digging out from 3 feet of snow with 5 foot snow drifts, I am happy to report that we just had a dusting of snow by us.

A view from Diana's house
By growing up within the city of Buffalo, I have had my share of snow storms and blizzards.  But since David and I moved north of the city we don't typically get slammed with these kinds of snow falls.  What generally causes such large amounts of snow is "lake effect" (Click here to read about "lake effect").  We, for the most part, live too far north to receive lake effect storms off of Lake Erie and too far south-east to get the storms that come off of Lake Ontario (those usually go to Rochester or Syracuse).  Certainly, we have received snow but I don't recall anything like this since we moved to the Northtowns.  Even the time I got stranded overnight during the Storm of 2000, I had traveled by car that late afternoon (before the storm started) to attend a wake in the Southtowns and ended up not being able to get home.  Meanwhile, there was green grass at home then too!  Yes, I love the fact that we don't typically get buried in snow. Yet, as crazy as this sounds, when I was listening to all the weather talk and people calling into our local AM talk radio station, I sort of felt as though I was missing out on something.  After growing up and experiencing the Blizzard of '77 and the Blizzard of '85 how could one not? I felt that way, of course, only until I talked to my friends that are still digging themselves out.

Mary's yard
Honestly though, I would much rather deal with the big snow storms than some of the other nature strikes that other regions of our country get.  Unlike tornadoes or earthquakes, we generally know that a snow storm is on it's way about 2 days in advance. So one just stocks up on food, rents some movies and hunkers down inside, and enjoys a bonus day off of work with family.

Finally, after viewing the storm pictures above, I will leave you with the sad little snowman that Madeline and I built.  As you can probably see, there were still leaves stuck to the snow because we were gathering every last little bit of snow we could find.  We used up the snow on our front lawn and stole some from both of our neighbors too....only to end up with this "vertically challenged" snowman.  That's okay....once all my Southtown friends are DONE shoveling, I'll have to take Madeline out to play in some *real* snow.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Christmas "Family Tree"

Dining Room "Family Tree"
So much of what we enjoy about the Christmas season has to do with traditions.  There is a certain comfort in returning to the familiar, especially when that "familiar" has fond memories attached.  Fond memories of time spent with loved ones, of our childhood, or even mentally returning us to a place which we are no longer capable of returning.  And for these reasons, I love pulling out all of my Christmas decorations.

In general, I would say that I am a very nostalgic, sentimental person.  A good majority (not all, but many) of our ornaments and decorations are items that have a very specific memory attached to them.
Family Room Tree
Specifically, what prompted me to write this post, is a "family tree" of sorts.  I began to assemble the small tree in my dining room.  The tree itself, as well as all the ornaments, used to be my mom's.  Mom would assemble this 4ft trees in the later years of her life, when she no longer had the desire to tackle a fresh tree.  Since I now decorate the tree using my mom's decorations, the tree looks the same as it did when it was in her living room and thus, brings me right back to the warmth of my mom's home.  Included in this tree's decorations (which my mom also used) were two items made by my late Aunt Maryann (my mom's sister).  Aunt Maryann was very crafty.  With her talent, she made the angel tree topper and the quilted tree skirt which adorn this tree.  She made these as gifts for my mom and now I am happy to display them each year.  Under my dining room's tree is a ceramic manger.  Although the figurines inside this (dining room) manger were store bought, the manger itself was painted by my mother-in-law many, many years ago.

Notre Premiere Noel
Our family room's 9ft Christmas tree does have several generic bulb ornaments for some "sparkle" on the tree, yet the majority of ornaments are from places that we have traveled together (pre and post Madeline)  Our tree is adorned with ornaments from Russia, London, Germany, Canada, Virginia Beach, Outer Banks, Austin TX, Las Vegas, Washington DC, Disney...etc, etc, etc.  In fact, the FIRST ornament we hang on our tree *every year* was an ornament of "Notre Premiere Noel" (Our First Christmas) that we purchased on a leg of our honeymoon, in Montreal.  In addition to travel ornaments, we buy Madeline a special ornament every year that is representative of her year (in hopes of giving a small collection of sentimental ornaments when she gets married and has her own tree) .  We have "Parents To Be" ornaments (from when we were "paper pregnant").  I have a couple ornaments that were regulars on the Christmas trees of my childhood, a "Dorothy" (my mom's name) ornament and even an ornament that I received as a favor at a high school Christmas date dance.  Many people might wonder why I keep these old ornaments but me, I love to pull out these "time capsules" that remind me of a particular event of my/our life.

Childhood Manger & Nativity Set I Painted
The manger that is under our main tree was also under the Christmas trees of my childhood.  My mom continued to use this manger for the rest of her life.  The pieces of the Nativity set are not the original pieces.  After 6 kids, legs of sheep were missing and at some point in time, the kings and/or shepherd's heads were broken off and re-glued.  To say that the set was in rough shape is NOT an exaggeration at all!  In my early 20's I was taking ceramics and came across the greenware for the EXACT mold of figurines that was in the roughed-up nativity set of my childhood.  After an entire year of working on the set, I presented my mom with a new "refurbished" Nativity set painted by me.  It is this set that now resides in the manger of my childhood each Christmas season.

Refurbished Bell
Another piece from my childhood is a jingle bell.  If the "bell" is pulled, a musical box which is located inside of the bell plays "Jingle Bells".  Every year that bell would hang on the door in the foyer of my childhood home.  I specifically remember *repeatedly* pulling that string and dancing or pretend (in socks)  "ice skating" on the linoleum of that foyer.  Again, that piece was ridiculously old and looked as though it belonged in the trash.  However, a couple of years ago I decided to take the time to give this bell a new life.  And now, it once again hangs on a door in a foyer....but this time it is in my own house.

Also, every year as a child we would rush to pull out a small teddy bear out of a small shoebox filled with ornaments. (In fact, I also store our "special" ornaments in a shoe box within a Christmas tote) Each year, the teddy would be a "hide-n-seek" prop.  We siblings would take turns hiding the teddy bear in the tree while the rest of us would have to try to find it.  This teddy bear, although it has specific Christmas memories, is displayed year-round in my curio cabinet.  And will never be re-furbished.  I love it just the way it is.

Childhood Tree Topper - Maybe Next Year...
I do still have a few items tucked away in a bin that I cannot seem to part with.  I have the angel (rough shape) that graced my childhood trees. The "candle" lights that were placed in the windows.  Maybe one day I will fix up the old angel or light those candles.  But in the meantime, I take a peek at them once a year and feel a warmth in my heart.

May your Christmas season be filled with the warmth of happy memories and the making of new memories.