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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

We are enjoying our family time.
See you all when we return home.
xoxo
LBC and Family

Monday, December 22, 2008

Zeb's Vacation

Zebbie is getting ready to leave for his Christmas vacation destination - West Virginia. He will spend his time in the lap of luxury at my friend B's house. She is an animal lover to the extreme. He will spend his days running on the farm chasing Arabian horses or lounging by the fire surrounded by a myriad of cats and 2 senior dogs. Who could ask for more?

I chatted with her yesterday about Zebbie's likes and dislikes, his feeding and pooping schedule, his vet (which he will not need), and his bed/crate situation. She has a crate for him to use, but wanted to be sure that it was the right size. LOL! She's hysterical! He can sleep anywhere!

Needless to say, Zeb will be picked up this evening and chauffeured to his temporary digs. I will pack his bag today - his stocking - which I have filled, his food, his bowls, his bed, his stuffed animals, and his bones. Yes, the dog is spoiled... rotten.

But, I have a dilemma.
This friend, who is taking my dog for a week, will not allow me to pay her. She needs the money. She told me that if I paid her, she would never talk to me or take Zeb again. I can't have that!! So - any ideas?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Wow...

That was one terrific party!
Our house was wall to wall people - all laughing and chatting.

The band played - and we were pretty darned good!
The crowd sang - they were pretty good, too.

The food was delicious.

A good time was had by all.

So, mark it on your calendar -- same time next year.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

It's time to Pahtay!

Tonight is our Christmas Party.

I've picked up most of the clutter.
I've put stuff in the attic.
I've even dusted... although, I probably need to do it again.
I need to make the meatballs and the corn dip this afternoon.
I've cleaned my kitchen from top to bottom and I'll have to do it again before the party starts - it's just the way it is...
My laundry is almost done - The children will be busy putting all their clothes away in a little while - child labor is wonderful!
The vacuuming is going to happen as soon as the kids are up and moving. I'll do that while they put their things away and pick up their rooms.
The presents and gifts for the party guests are wrapped and ready to go.
The wine and beer are chilling in the garage.
The music stands are put together and ready to go.
The instruments are out.
The plates and cups are ready to be put on the tables...

Come this evening, what is done is done and what is not doesn't matter. It's time to relax and have some serious fun!

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Light

At the end of the tunnel... I can see it. And I sure hope it isn't a train.

Today is Friday.

I'm learning how to make toffee this morning. I'll arrive at Laura's with my pound of butter, 3 bars of chocolate, 2 cups of sugar, and a small token of my appreciation. Hopefully, I will be a good student and this stuff will be edible... If not, my sister will just have to smile sweetly and thank me profusely for my efforts while she quietly drops it into the trash can or re-gifts it to her in-laws. (just kidding)

This afternoon, I have a house to clean, laundry to do, a band concert to attend, and a dance to chaperone. Oh and a trumpet lesson to drive to as well as a swim meet to watch.

Tomorrow evening we are having our annual Pot Luck Open House. If you didn't get an invitation, just show up. If you did get an invitation, and you didn't RSVP, just show up. If you play an instrument, bring it - we're playing and singing Christmas carols. Have a house guest or two - bring them, too! But, do me a favor... I've been kinda busy lately... if you arrive and the lights are low and the candles are lit, you'll remember not to look to closely as you might see a few cobwebs or some dust. Just focus on the beauty that is my Christmas tree. Besides, after one glass of wine, you won't care about my dust and after two, you won't be able to see it anyway.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Happy Birthday!

My sister, Nicole, is having a birthday today.
Please go wish her a happy birthday!

Nicole was born in Spain. I was 8 and an only child.
My only worries about having a new baby in the family were:
1. it might be a boy - eeww.
2. if it was a girl, she was going to come out with earrings like all the other Spanish baby girls. I didn't have my ears pierced - and if she came out with them already, that would be really unfair.

Nicole was perfect. She was a girl - what I wished for my whole life - and she didn't come out with earrings. I loved her from the moment I saw her - even if she did have poopy diaper. (just kidding) Heck, I still do.

Nicole is funny, talented, smart - as in genius smart, generous, honest, wonderful person. I'm the lucky one - she's MY sister.

Happy Birthday, Nicole!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Time Flies

I can't believe that today is the 17th of December!
The school week is almost over and vacation starts Friday afternoon. Yippee! I just sent one last package off to Nicole - it's our snow pants so we can ski and not get wet. In less than a week, I'll be in CO with my sister and I can't wait!

But first, I need to finish up a few things around here.

I have my school's music program today. My handbell kids have to play a couple of tunes. Today is also the teacher appreciation luncheon at the middle school.
Can I cram more into one day?
Well, I could, but fortunately, I don't have to.

I finished my Christmas cards - the ones I wasn't going to do this year - last night. I didn't get the kids' pictures in them, but whatever... I put a note in most of them. You can't have it all! Just know, that if I see you on a regular basis, you won't be getting a card. If I never see you - you'll find a card in your mailbox within the next week or so. And a note to my friend C, who moved from CA to the Carolinas... I can't find your new address - I'm sure it's on this desk somewhere. I need you to email it to me so I can get this card out of here before it, too, is hopelessly lost.

I'm still in the process of uploading ballet pix. I only have 500 to load... It conked out after 134 yesterday. I wonder how many will go today. Unfortunately, they don't load in any order... it's sorta random. Beggars can't be choosers, I guess.

Friday is the school's winter fling. We have plenty of parental help signed up- which is nice. Oh, yeah... I have to sell tix to that tomorrow... See, it's all fun and games around here.

I best get my rear in gear - I have to be at school early to help set up for the luncheon.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Clearly, I was NOT Thinking Clearly

There are days that I worry about myself.

I take pictures for the high school band - we do a formal photo fundraiser. I take pix of the kids, have them processed, pass them out, and give the proceeds to the band. It's simple. It's easy.

I thought that since the ballet lady is having such a tough time of it, that I would do the same thing for her. This past weekend was Nutcracker and the costumes are wonderful.

Some of the parents thought it was a great idea to do the photos. They also didn't tell me who their kids are - like I know these 5 year olds?? Some of the parents didn't want to purchase a package - they wanted a few 4x6s and nothing else... umm, I don't have time for this! And... umm... it's $20 with shipping directly to your house... You get 1 8x10, 2 5x7, 4 4x6 and 8 wallets. Hello?? It's Christmas! It's a FUNDRAISER!!!

So... I took the photos. I think I got all the kids whose parents wanted pictures, but I'm really not sure.

Currently, I'm in the process of attempting to upload the photos. They have failed twice now. Why? I DON'T have ANY idea... grrr. Some of the parents want these pix for Christmas. I'm trying but I'm at the mercy of the internet gods...

Why DO I DO this to myself?
Don't answer that.

Just wish me luck and if you have a T-1 and you live close, can I borrow some band width?

The Ultimate Party Meatball

I don't know about you, but I love to throw a party... I just don't like to cook for said party. The the good people over at Mom Central sent me the ingredients to make the Ultimate Party Meatball.

I'm into simple. This recipe - oh, it's simple!!!

1 can of jellied cranberry sauce
1 jar of chili sauce
1 bag of precooked meatballs

Even I can do this!

How to cook: Dump the meatballs in the crockpot. Combine the cranberry and the chili sauce. Pour over meatballs. Cover and cook - I think 4 hours on high should do it. Oh so yummy!

These things are delicious!
I'm making them for our Christmas party this weekend.
If you are coming to the party, you'll have to be early if you want to try them. These meatballs are the kind of munchie that people huddle around and swill down. They are going to go really fast!

Need more quick and easy recipes? Try the Ultimate Party Meatball web site. They have many yummy recipes to choose from...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

I got this in an email and I couldn't help but share. Don't forget to read the fine print.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Happy Anniversary

19 years ago today, I said, "I do."

I'd do it all over again.

Here's to 19 more years of love and laughter.

Happy Anniversary, Mr.!

Need a Gift?

If you need a great gift for someone, I have the perfect place for you to find it:

The Mom Central Gift Guide.

This is awesome! You click on the box that corresponds to the person who needs a gift under the tree. There are gift ideas for everyone on your list - from toddlers to tweens, for him and her and even the family pet - in every price range.

If you want to win cool stuff - and there are winners every day - you might want to look into the Mom Central Gift Giveaway. To be eligible to win the daily prizes, you need to register on Mom Central, log-in, and leave a comment on the post. In addition, if you tweet or email friends about the giveaway, you can earn another entry! In order to earn the entry, you simply go back to the Mom Central Review blog and leave a second comment letting them know what you did to earn the entry. How cool is that?

Check it out!!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Gingerbread Houses

We did gingerbread houses yesterday with HP and his sister, The Dancing Princess.
The girls decided that they wanted to do one together - so that left the boys on their own.

WAY too much candy was consumed in the making of these confectionery delights, but that's part of the fun.

Both houses are beautiful and we had to pick from a hat to decide which one went home with DP and HP.

The Boys' Gingerbread House


The Girls' Gingerbread House

Sunday, December 07, 2008

It's Cooooold...

Yes, I know it is December.

On Friday, my car gave me a little grief when I started it in the garage. I took #1 to the bus stop and came home. I got in it to bring LLB to school and it moaned once before it turned over. I stopped to have coffee with R after dropping LLB. I parked it in the sun to keep it warm. After a lovely cup of cocoa, the car was dead. Not what I needed right then, but when I looked at the circumstances, it was the best place and time for it to die.

I called Grandpa for a jump. He brought his nifty charging thing. It didn't work. A nice guy in a big Toyota truck jumped me and sent me on my way. I went right to the dealer. It seems my battery was under warranty (since I had just replaced it in May of '07). Instead of $145, I paid $0. (It had a bad cell? whatever that means...) Yipppeeee!!! AND I still made it to my friend L's, for her brunch.

Friday night, LLB had a Casino Night birthday party at the Manassas Fairgrounds. Do you have any idea where that is? Nope... me neither. We found it and then Gram and I headed out for some shopping. We got some bargains, but the walk from the car to the stores was brutal. It was a bit frigid for my taste.

Parade day was COLD. As in really cold. As in the kids looked miserable in their many layers under their wool uniforms. It was that bitter cold that goes right through you.

I canceled my bells - I couldn't chance a crack. I'm sure the kids were disappointed, but I'm also sure that the parents were happy not to have to stand there waiting to see their kid walk by.

Gram and I braved the cold at 2 of the 3 parade venues. At the first venue, we left after the band went by on the premise that we had to get their lunch ready. Please note that we had their lunch ready in the fire house before we went to watch them. It was just too cold for us. At the last parade venue, we waited to see them go by and then we booked it back to the car. By then, it was beyond cold and into freezing.

On the way back to the car, Gram caught a root on her foot and fell down. I couldn't believe it!! Fortunately, she was bundled up like a kid in a snow suit with a bunch of layers and didn't get hurt - just a little muddy. As of 6pm last night - when we got home she was still fine.

Now, I'm sitting by my fire typing this. It is warm in here, but in a little while I'll have to go out in the cold to get to church. My church bells are playing this morning. I'd rather stay here curled up on my couch with my fire and a cup of tea -- and my TV.

This afternoon is gingerbread houses!! I'll post pictures, but it won't be today because this evening is the community band concert.

See - there is no rest for the wicked.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Excellent Advice

My friend, Chrissie, sent me this advice in an email. I thought it was too good not to share with all of you.

As the holidays begin, I wanted to pass these tips along to you.

1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rum balls.

2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. It's rare.. You cannot find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an eggnog-alcoholic or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It's later than you think. It's Christmas!

3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.

4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people's food for free. Lots of it. Hello?

6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies or pralines in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them again.

8. Same for pies. Apple, Pumpkin, Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?

9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards.

10. One final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention. Re-read tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner. Remember this motto to live by:


"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO what a ride!"

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Trumpets and Tunes

Well, the concert was last night.
LLB and S survived the Star Spangled Banner - although LLB dropped it an octave because playing in front of 250 people is a little daunting and down right scary!

Her Grinch solo was so cool!! She had a two or three measure solo in the middle of the piece. She did great!

Today LLB and HP are going to join the high school pep band after school. The eighth graders have been invited to play with the pep band at the basketball games. The one only rehearsal is this afternoon. The two of them are psyched about playing some wicked cool music. LLB got a preview of the music from the band director when we were at the high school to fetch #1 the other day. I can tell you - it's awesome!

It's too bad the eighth graders can't join the high schoolers for the parades on Saturday. #1 is playing in 3 parades - they are playing one song. By the time they get to the end of the 3rd parade, they will be really sick of Rudolph!! The color guard kids are dressing up like reindeer - complete with antlers. They are sooo cute! #1 and the rest of the instrumental kids are wearing Santa hats.

My school handbell ringers will be marching in one Christmas Parade on Saturday. I need it to warm up a little bit - if it is below 35, I don't want the bells out there. I have a couple that have been dropped (these are school kids and they are careful, but klutzy) and the cold can make them crack. (I know this from personal experience.) I can't afford to lose a bell right before our concert.

My church handbell group is ringing on Sunday for two services.
See, it's all music all of the time. But it IS the season.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Earning my 10%

Gram and I went shopping on Black Friday. It's one of our favorite - albeit crazy - traditions.

We were in Kohls. The line was incredibly long, but it was moving.
One of the store employee's job was to entertain those of us waiting oh so patiently. He had a stack of coupons in his hand and he basically dared us to do a certain thing to get the 10% coupon.

Now this coupon was for the entire purchase.

The first challenge was to sing "The National Anthem". Now, I will do almost anything for a discount, but mutilate our national anthem isn't one of them. I have scruples.

Then he was looking for a member of the armed forces. I didn't qualify for that one.

Finally he needed someone to sing "I'm a little teapot" with hand motions.
I'm so all over THAT!!!

Gram nudged me. "You can do THAT!"
I called out, "I'll do it!"

Gram started to chuckle. She knew this would be good.
That was one of the first songs I ever learned. Besides, I taught pre-school... AND I watched many many many episodes of Barney. If there's anything I know, it's this song.

I put on a performance worthy of an Oscar and a Tony.
I smiled. I emoted. I tipped over... I'm SOOO good!!

I earned that 10%.

When I got back in line, the guy behind me said, "What grade do you teach?"
I laughed, "I teach middle school."
Someone behind him said, "Ahhh... I KNEW it!"

Yup, those of us who teach middle school will do almost anything for a discount...

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Oh the Stress...

Last week we had drama because LLB and two friends tried out for a trio to be played at tomorrow evening's concert. LLB has always had some sort of a part in the concerts. Her friend, S, has not. S plays baritone - there isn't a whole lot that is usually done in the solo/duet world with a baritone - Not that it's not possible, it's just not a "hot" instrument. I'm just sayin'....

Anyway, LLB and and S and her friend B - who also plays baritone - were passed over for their trio. LLB was VERY upset because her friends don't normally get to play this sort of thing and she wanted them to have a shot.

When they were passed over, I told her, "Just do me a favor - Do NOT try out for the Star Spangled Banner. My system can't take it. It's too stressful for me."

She assured me that she would honor my request, be happy with her Grinch solo, and move on.

The phone rings. I can see from the caller ID it is the school.
"Hello?"
"Hi Mommy."
"Hi LLB. What's up?"
"Umm... well.. um... You know how you told me not to try out for the SSB solo?"
"Yes."
"Well, S REALLY wanted to play a duet and so we tried out."
"Yes."
"And.. umm... we got it. Are you mad?"
"No, LLB, I'm very proud of you."
"K, well, I gotta go."

And there it is... The stress in my life is back. I get to freak out until she and S are finished with that most difficult most recognizable song ever.

At least it's the first song of the evening.
And then I can sit back and relax and wait for my kid to play The Grinch.

Monday, December 01, 2008

'Tis The Season

The tree is up.
It is beautiful.

LLB and I spent a long time hanging ornaments yesterday. We got help from Mr. after dinner. LLB was humming along to the music while she was stretched out under the tree hanging ornaments on the back and lower branches. I had to pull her out by her feet... That, my friends, is the stuff of which memories are made. We had a lovely time remembering each and every ornament - especially the particularly elementary ones.

Our special silver tree is up and decorated. It has all of our favorite ornaments on it including the glass reindeer I've had since college, the Lladro balls from the children's birth years, and a giraffe ballerina complete with toe shoes and tutu.

The presents that were purchased on Friday and Saturday during my hunting session are wrapped and under the tree. Most of the rest of the presents have been ordered and are being sent somewhere. I sure hope I sent the heavy stuff here and the light stuff to Nicole's. At this point I have no idea what is going where.

The Advent calendars are ready to go. LLB helped me put our new Playmobil Advent calendar together yesterday. It's the forest friends one... the animals are sooo cute! Our other Advent calendar is wooden and was a gift from Gram and Grandpa.

Almost all of the candles are in the windows... I'm missing 2 and I need batteries for the 2 in the garage - Those would be c sized batteries for those of you who would like to take care of that for me.

The stockings have been hung. Zeb's is ready to go. (We are leaving Zeb with a dear friend while we are gone to Nicole's. He has to have his stocking to open on Christmas day!)

The house is still pretty upside down. The tree coffin is standing in the hallway. The ornament boxes are piled in the living room. There are a few tissue remnants on the living room floor from when Poppy decided it would be fun to leap into our pile of ornament wrapping and fling it everywhere.

Oh.. and the gutters are clean. You didn't know that gutter cleaning was part of Christmas decorating, did you? My butt and my legs are still screaming from all the up and down the ladder I did on Saturday afternoon.

So.. what's left? After a couple of ibuprofen and a cup of tea, I have one more order to place and then I'm done. I have some things to wrap when they arrive, a house to get together, a couple of gingerbread houses to build, and a party to plan. We have the typical running around to do: concerts to attend, district auditions to get to, and Nutcracker to get through.

That said, I think I can sit back and enjoy the season.