Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Zooming on the Polar Express!







Merry Christmas from the North Pole! The kids took Grandpa on the Polar Express to see Santa.



Saturday, December 21, 2013

Graham Cracker Village

 This year 11 children built graham cracker houses at our annual party. Recipe and directions below.







Everyone brings for each house being built:

  • Approx a 12” x 12” cardboard or baking pan covered tightly in tin foil. This will serve as the platform for the house. If you use a baking pan, make sure it is not one you will need soon.
  • A cardboard foundation for the house such as individual juice boxes (taped together), box from snacks, cut off the bottom of a ½ gallon OJ or milk carton. This will determine the size of your house. I recommend small.
  • One box (or more for larger house) of honey graham crackers – any brand.
  • Tape the foundation firmly to the cardboard.

Sample Supply List

  • Mini marshmallows
  • Tootsie Rolls
  • Green leaf candy
  • Gum drops, assorted color
  • Red & White Peppermint candies
  • Mini candy canes
  • M&M’s
  • Twizzlers
  • Skittles
  • Chewing gum – Big Red – several packs
  • Neccos 
  • Meringue Powder
  • Confectioners’ sugar
  • Rod pretzels – long and short
  • Ziplock bags
Royal Icing is the edible glue that holds the graham crackers and candy together.
3T            meringue powder
4 cups      confectioner’s sugar
6T            water

Mix together, put about a tablespoon of icing in snack size Ziplock bag and clip corner. Each child will need at least one bag of icing for their house.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Coffee Break





It has been a hectic couple of weeks with family visiting and strep throat invading our home (try switching that around - strep throat visiting and family invading), all the while enjoying our usual festivities and holiday traditions. Through all the chaos and craziness, the boys found time to relax. Ben treated his brothers to a milkshake at his favorite hangout, Smelly Cat.

Sending you good thoughts and wishing you all a wonderful holiday time with family and friends.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Flushed Down the Toilet, Temporarily

Last April, I wrote about the process we were going through to get an accessible bathroom for Ben. Since even before I wrote that post, I had been working earnestly on lining up bids from contractors, putting together a layout and design and meeting with people who could help in the process. I invested a lot of time and energy to this project, but even more than that was the emotional investment I put into having this bathroom for Ben.

Two contractors dropped out for various reasons, another was so over priced that we could not consider them, and one will not return my calls. Just last week, my one Hail Mary, the guy who showed up wearing a big cross around his neck, promising me the world; his bid was as high as the over-priced guy.

Deflated, depressed and dejected, I missed a night of sleep, moped around for at least a day and then read a book I purchased the week before called, "That Season of Hope." If you need perspective, a good cry and inspiration, it is a good read.

Our local radio talk show host, WBT's Keith Larson, wrote this book about how the Carolina Panther's 2003 football season and his own life collided with a 12 year old girl named Hope. Hope had an incurable bone cancer and when Make A Wish Foundation came to her house to ask about her wish, Hope asked how many children were on the list. 155 was the answer. Hope's wish was to get all 155 wishes met. This meant raising 1 million dollars, and Larson's story tells how the city jumped to the challenge and how lives were changed by a little girl's wish.

Remarkable reading at the right time for me. I ended my pity party, and I still do not have a Plan B yet - I promised Ryan to wait until after his exams to discuss strategy.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Real World of Tom & Jerry

A couple of weeks ago, I awoke at 6am. I heard a noise outside our bedroom window. A raccoon had been diving into our garbage on a regular basis and although I was not happy about it, I liked watching him crawl into a four foot tall can, eat and then crawl back out.

Half awake, I walked into our closet to get to a window that overlooks the driveway, garbage cans and back yard. Our minivan was parked under that window. As I looked down to watch the raccoon, I saw something in our car, but in my sleepy state, I chalked it up to my hair going in front of my eyes. Then, I turned on the closet light, looked out the window, and saw a cat staring directly at me from inside our car.

Ryan was sound asleep. Waking the husband up at early hours is reserved for other emergencies, and I did not want to cash in that card on this. It was up to me to get this stray cat out of the car. After muttering a few choice words under my breath, I put on shoes and headed outside.

I opened one door to the car, but the cat would not get out. It flung itself against the glass in the back of the car multiple times. This cat was freaking out and freaking me out. I opened more doors and finally it escaped.

The night before this fiasco, I came home with the boys from school and the car door was left open. When I realized it was open at about 7pm, I asked Sean to close it. He ran out and shut the door. Unbeknownst to any of us, the cat was in the car when the door closed.

A few hours later, Ryan assessed the damage and cleaned the car out. He mentioned that he had seen what he thought might have been mouse droppings, but he was not sure. I was relieved to have the cat out, and never gave it another thought.

On Thanksgiving Day, I cleaned out the car to make room for more passengers. I lifted the retractable seats and found mouse droppings all over the entire trunk area.

Our best guess is that when the cat jumped in our car he had dinner plans that included his freshly caught, but still alive mouse. And this mouse had other plans that did not include being eaten. The mouse got away from the cat and an old fashioned cat and mouse chase ensued inside our car. The mouse survived the chase and had been living in our car for a week.

As for the mouse, we may need to apologize to our relatives in Atlanta because we may have left an uninvited house guest behind. I don't want to think of the other option...it is still in the car.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

When Film Imitates Life


While in Atlanta over the Thanksgiving weekend, we visited with Santa. The elf who offered to take our photo with my camera, unknowingly took a video instead of a photo. After watching the video, it struck me as symbolic of our lives: we may start out on track, get off the beaten path and then eventually straighten back out, sometimes without even getting bitten.

Happy Holidays to All!