Monday, December 8, 2014

Weekend Wrap-Up: Remembering

This weekend we got a lot accomplished around the house. It was one of our few weekends that were not packed with activities and events, and we took full advantage of it to be domestically productive. We did get a babysitter for CB on Saturday morning and ventured out for one important, new tradition.  Volunteering at Wreaths of Remembrance.

Last year, we joined hundreds volunteers in the County's Veterans Cemetery to lay wreaths at the graves of the veterans. This event takes place the first Saturday of December each year, and we decided to make it a family tradition and part of our efforts to do charity work around the holidays.

This year, we had to forgo our school's Breakfast with Santa in favor of this event. But, the girls didn't complain. The weather was rainy and cold. But, the girls didn't complain. In fact, in spite of the weather, hundreds of volunteers turned out! Our boots were drenched, but the girls didn't complain. They get really "into" this! I'm grateful for their sweet hearts. 

After a brief ceremony honoring the soldiers, POWs and their families, volunteers set to work laying a wreath on every, single, solitary one of the nearly 1,200 graves. 

With each wreath laying, we read this card and took a moment to remember each and every veteran (or their spouse). It is an important lesson to teach the girls - that freedom is not really "free." That it is important to take moments to remember. That even in this time of excessive gifts and overstimulation and festivities, we can find small ways to give, step back, and be thankful. 

It's just a matter of taking that moment to remember. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

tHERsDay: O, Christmas Tree

CB spent the Thanksgiving weekend with her Dad and grandparents in Maryland. We waited until her return to trim the tree.

I haven't spent Thanksgiving with her since she was 8. It's ... I don't know. It's not ideal. It is what it is. It feels a bit more relaxed when she is in Maryland with the other side of her family. I'm not going to lie and say that her absence doesn't come with a little bit of a lightened load around here. But with the lightened load comes a bit of a heavier heart.

It is what it is. I'm glad she was here for the Christmas Tree Decorating.

Though she doesn't take part in hanging any ornaments, she seems to enjoy being in the room with us and soaking up the holiday energy.

The other girls take turns hanging CB's ornaments on the tree. They know she will attack the tree every day from here on out and there will probably be at least one broken ornament at her hands.  But for this one day, the tree is decorated and lit without incident.

All is good, merry and bright. I even got several shots with all four kids looking at the camera. Unprecedented.
A blessing, each and every time it happens.

 Oh yes. A blessing.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

So Fancy

We've been Oh, So Fancy around here lately.  This is of course "old news" for those who see me on a regular basis, but since I'm so behind in "bloggy world" I'm just throwin' it all out there.

I am delayed in posting about the adorable father-daughter dance held at our elementary school. Dr. Fabulous was lucky enough to have three dates.

He sent me little video clips all night and though I was supposed to be working on a writing assignment, I couldn't concentrate. I just kept enjoying these little videos of all the dancing and cuteness. Made me wish I was a fly on the wall. He was one of only a handful of dads with three "dates" for the evening. As such, he won a gift card from the D.J.

It was to a liquor store. Go figure.

Dr. Fab and I also had the chance to "Fancy up" for a gala. We don't typically dress like this, by the way. The event's theme was "American Bandstand." I channeled the disco era and he was bringing forth his inner Travolta, complete with accompanying dance moves. 

Super fun catching up with friends, old and new!

There was more fanciness when my two nieces attended their first high school homecoming dance. I'm not going to embarrass them by posting their photos on their old-hag aunt's goofy blog. The day of the dance, we did nails and drove around to find pantyhose and just spent time being about the evening. I feel like I'm 15 again just being with these little ladies, and it's cool. Because I'm a much better 15 year old at 46. They make me feel young. And old, at the same time.

Let us not forget about the fancy Thanksgivingness!!  It is my absolute favorite holiday because it involves eating yummy food I didn't prepare.  I absolutely LOVE traditional thanksgiving food and my mother-in-law can cook a mean Thanksgiving dinner! It's great because there are no gifts to buy and because I never have to host. There is nothing to clean, cook or do.  Gotta love that.

My in-laws started a family gingerbread house decorating tradition several years ago and it's still going strong. They added cookies to the mix too. The kids love it and we all get hopped up on the sugar as half the trimmings go in the belly, not the gingerbread house!

We ended our holiday weekend with our town's 'Lights On Main Street' and Tree Lighting. When we first moved here four years ago, the tree lighting was pretty small and quiet.  Maybe, like 20 people came. Now, it is an incredible event with carriage rides, trackless train, vendors up and down the street... 

Santa, the Grinch and this year - Elsa, Anna and Olaf. 
And guess who was first in line to meet them?  

The holiday season is officially upon us. Let the countdown begin! 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Chillin' In The Nation's Capitol

With the New Jersey schools off for a 5 day weekend, we planned to go to Washington DC. Then we canceled it. Then, at just about the last minute, the trip was on again. And we found ourselves somewhat spontaneously in the nation's capital.

All New Jersey schools are off every year on my birthday weekend which is nice because we can plan a fun little weekend trip. This year, we piggybacked a few days in DC with one of Dr. Fabulous's conferences.

On Tuesday, we headed into DC, and on the way we stopped and visited a little place across the Potomac. About 4 years ago we took Pink and Tink here when we stayed at the Gaylord Resort on the Potomac. They still remember riding the glass elevators and walking through the indoor courtyards.

They remembered the waterfront and the statue of the sleeping man awakening in the sand.

Rella was too little to come with us the first time, so she was very excited to see where her sisters romped years ago. She had heard all about it!

They were especially excited to see that the Peeps store was still there. Some people love peeps, some people hate 'em. We are in the "love" camp. 

Peep heaven.

After settling in our hotel downtown, we ended up dining at the hotel since Tink wasn't feeling well. Unfortunately, she has had a low grade fever since Sunday. Though she wasn't getting worse, she wasn't getting better either. By the time her Advil wore off around dinner time, she was down for the count and we were in for the rest of the night. 

Rella was also starting to look a bit piqued as the day went on, though that kid REFUSES to ever admit she doesn't feel well. She can look like death warmed over with a raging fever and she's all like "I feel great!" with her glassy eyes and stuffy nose and hoarse voice. I don't know why she is such a liar about this stuff, but we know the drill.

 The next morning they both woke up with low grade fevers, but I pumped them full of Advil and we hit the Zoo, which was a short walk from the hotel. They really hung in there - they are such troopers! Not a single whine or complaint, even with 6 hours of walking!

We had never been to the DC Zoo and it was wonderful. It was gorgeous with the fall leaves turning and the weather was not too warm, not too cool. Just perfect.

The lion cubs were frisky and playing with each other - so cute! Just like kittens. Kittens who could shred you into pieces.

The DC Zoo has the only giant panda in the country. It was really cool to see her (though she was sleeping) and her baby (who was chilling up in a tree).

The ape house was another incredible attraction.

As were the Big Cats.

After six hours at the Zoo, we reunited with Dr. Fabulous after his full day at the conference. We went out for dinner, but Rella spiked a fever of 103 and Tink was still coughing up a lung with a low grade fever, so we turned in early and were up at frequent intervals with night wakings and coughing fits. The joys of five people in one tiny hotel room!

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Thursday morning was my birthday. I woke up to three sick kids and a husband who had to run off early for the last morning of his conference. Pink finally succumbed after 48 hours in close quarters with 2 sick sisters. She spiked a fever in the morning and spent the day in bed, in and out of a haze and feeling pretty terrible. With the rain and the ill children, we ended up spending my birthday morning sitting in a tiny hotel room watching a string of cartoons waiting for Dr. Fabulous to finish up.

It got so pathetic that I found myself waiting for birthday wishes just to pass the time. By 10:30, no one had called, texted or posted any happy birthday wishes on my Facebook Wall.  I mean, the Facebook wall? That should have been rockin'. This is how much of a loser I was...  I went into my profile to make sure my birthday was right and found I had my privacy settings too strict!  Once I unlocked my birthday for "friends" to see, I filled the long, boring hours with bad hotel coffee and smiling at the emails that started coming in wishing me the happiest of birthdays.

Oh, and yes... I am a total loser.

We spent the rest of the day driving home in the rain. Pink vomited all over the back seat an hour into the drive which meant a detour to a sketchy McDonalds where I cleaned up 5 quarts of vomit with 100 flimpsy paper napkins and a bottle of water for 30 minutes. We hit traffic from an accident and when we finally made it home, Dr. Fabulous was changed into a suit and out the door to attend 2 evening work events before I even got all the suitcases in the house.

I spent the rest of my birthday answering a few nice phone calls from family, nursing three sick kids, drinking a Sam Adams and eating some left over Recess peanut butter cups for dinner. Oh, and writing this enthralling blog.

Okay, maybe it wasn't the best birthday DAY of all time. In fact, it might fall into the mildly pathetic category: An unexciting morning, a long drive home, cleaning up puke, unpacking, three sick kids. I didn't even get the homemade kid card or a random cupcake with a candle stuck in it (or a good cup of coffee... it was a bad coffee weekend... long, tragic story).

BUT, the truth is - we were just in DC at a great hotel AND I'm getting a new fridge of my dreams delivered tomorrow morning (yes, I dream of stainless steel, counter depth double door refrigerators to replace the awkward fridge we've had in our kitchen for 3 years). Plus, I've had my birthday gift since August (a road bike). Most importantly? I have a great family who love me.

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And that makes my day. My year, actually.

But I could still go for that good cup of coffee and homemade card.  Maybe tomorrow!
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