Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Such a sweet little witch and such a crazy cowboy.

The kids are out as we speak with Will and the other neighborhood kids getting as much sugar as they can cary and Marshall and I are holding down the fort passing out chocolate to the cutest costumed kids you've ever seen.  If I haven't said it before, our neighborhood is the greatest.

Earlier this evening we went to the neighborhood pre-trick-or-treating cookout for hotdogs, mac n' cheese, and other Frances and George approved food.

Amazing.  The host family decorates more for Halloween than we do for Christmas.

Scooby Doo - isn't that the greatest idea?!  They promised to lend us these costumes for next year.  I'm sure Marshall would like being Scooby Doo better than his current costume of "lamp."

Have a great and safe halloween, everyone!  

Monday, October 28, 2013

Happy Birthday, Mother!

Today my beautiful mother turns 70 years old.

She will hate me for pointing out her exact age, but I can't help it.  I am so proud of her health, vitality and youthful glow at what used to be thought of as an advanced age.  But I think she proves that 70 is the new 50!  I can only hope I have inherited those incredible genes.

My mother came over last weekend and I feel so lucky to have seen her so close to her special day.  I take for granted sometimes how easy it is for us to see each other - we just hop in the car and 2 1/2 hours later we're pulling into the other's driveway.  We've both been busier than normal recently, so those easy trips are becoming less frequent.  But they are still always a possibility and I love that.

And I'm not the only one who loves it when she visits.

Happy, happy birthday to my greatest role model!

And I can't end this post without wishing one of my best friends, Brooke, a happy birthday, too!

Brooke, me and Julie.  This picture was taken five (!!) years ago, but I'd like to think we haven't changed a bit.

How can we not be soul sisters when you share a birthday with my mother.  I wish I could give you a big hug today, my friend.

Happy Monday, everyone!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Back to the ordinary

Not a lot has been going on since my trip to Las Vegas and I loooooove it!  Catching up on laundry, sleep (sort of), and eating a bit healthier.  Oh, and then there's these little munchkins that I am in charge of:

Notice the chokehold.  A little sugar, a little spice--just like her mother.


Sunday was a perfect fall day, so we headed on to Point of Rocks Park in southern Chesterfield County.

Blue heron spotting.

If Will and I suddenly run away, the best place to look for us is somewhere in the out-of-doors (I know, I really narrowed down that search, didn't I?).  We both come alive in the fresh air and sunshine and we both want nothing more than to share this beauty with the kids.  For now, they are kindly letting us drag them to our favorite spots.


I found this in my brush drawer this morning:

"Mommy make sure that you don't hurt me when you brush my hair please."  Every morning I brush Frances's hair and every morning she silently (or sometimes not-so-silently) grimaces as I work through her tangles.  I love everything about this sticky note--that she feels I need a written reminder not to hurt her, her atrocious spelling (that she inherited from me I'm afraid), and most of all the 'please' at the end.  I am never throwing this away.


George and I played nap time hooky yesterday and went to the botanical gardens instead.

There won't be many more days like this until spring--how could I be expected to enforce a nap when there is a drum set made entirely from wood waiting to be played?


Marshall looking even more pitiful that usual in his lampshade collar:

He's been chewing on a few bumps around his paws and back.  The vet removes them this week, but until then he'll be looking a little more Elizabethan than usual.  Forsooth.


Happy Tuesday from these crazy pumpkin heads!  

Friday, October 18, 2013

Las Vegas

That's right, friends.  This frumpy, LL Bean-wearing, mother of two actually visited Las Vegas last weekend to help celebrate this lovely lady:

Eileen, one of my best friends from college, is getting married in December in Barcelona and I can't go (still in mourning over that!).  But her work colleagues threw her a spectacular bachelorette party in Las Vegas and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to help her celebrate.

It was my first time in Sin City and although it's not my cup of tea it has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember.  The hotels are spectacular:

The view of the Paris hotel (where we stayed) from the Bellagio during one of its famous fountain shows.
Inside the Bellagio's garden room that they change seasonally.  The autumn fairyland was amazing - Frances and George would have loved it.  

The Venetian's famous gondolas.

Saturday night, the girls went on a pub crawl to various hot spots (I bowed out after the first spot so I could catch up on some sleep).  Sunday, Eileen and I walked up and down the strip, ducking into those famous landmarks to catch a glimpse of what everyone talks about.

Sunday evening, we went to the "Jubilee" show and to an incredible Thai restaurant for dinner (no one can deny Vegas has some of the best food out there).

Jubilee - headdresses and 1950s-era songs.  Classic Las Vegas.

And Monday was spent on the very long journey home.

A four-hour layover in Atlanta meant I walked the underground tunnel.  Twice.

Thank you, Eileen, for including me!  And an even bigger thank you for letting me sleep a little more than the rest of you.

My last view of the strip - as the plane was taking off.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Friday, October 11, 2013

The State Fair

This past weekend, Virginia experienced a typical Indian Summer weather pattern--lows in the 70s, highs in the 90s (or higher), sunny and dry.  Honestly, once the cooler temperatures tease us in September, I'd prefer it to stay chilly for the remainder of fall (there's something odd about wearing sunscreen in October).  But the weather did time well with some outdoor activities that we had planned to do, including the Virginia State Fair:

This was our fourth annual trip to the fair and by far our best one yet.  The kids are the perfect ages right now to enjoy the kiddie rides, but independent enough not to need us beyond a meal ticket and transportation to and from the grounds.  Will and I even teased each other that going to the fair was like date night with the kids--we could hold hands, walk together, hold actual conversations about adult topics, and we ended up talking about Frances and George most of the night.  See, just like an actual date night!

Silly George.

(Almost) Disney World!

Frances only wears her fanciest dress to the State Fair.

My trophy husband.

George, be nice to your sister!

The kids and their father are somewhere up there.

If you can't tell from their expressions, this was their favorite ride.

The next day, we spent a hot but fun day at the Junior League's annual Touch-A-Truck:

Along with moon bounces, fun buses, and trucks galore, they had puzzles and other calmer activities which were a perfect way to cool down.

Tank tattoo!

We met up with some friends, which meant even more running around for the kids.

What you can't see in this picture is that George is covered head-to-toe in dirt.  And he loved every second of it.

Happy Friday, everyone!  I seemed to have gotten my wish and we are in for gray, chilly weather this weekend.  Here's to curling up with a blanket and hot chocolate and not going anywhere!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Apple Crumb Pie

Last night, the Braves lost their final game of the playoffs, meaning they are out of the running for the World Series.  Will's heart is broken and so is mine.  So today, I decided that if we can't celebrate baseball today, we need to celebrate the second-most American icon--apple pie.

I took this recipe directly from one of my favorite blogs, Clover Lane, so I can't take any credit for it.  But it was easy-peasy and used about 5 or so medium-large apples, which we happen to have a lot of these days.  Will hasn't tasted it yet, but I may have snuck a few out-of-the-oven bites and can say even with my burned tongue that it is delicious.


Apple Crumb Pie

1 9" pie shell (I used a Pillsbury roll out pie crust.)
6 cups thinly sliced apples
1 TBS lemon juice
2/3 cup white sugar
2 TBS all purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
2/3 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
4 TBS butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Place sliced apples in a large bowl.  
Sprinkle with lemon juice.
Add white sugar, 2 TBS flour, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Toss together until apples are well coated.

In a small bowl mix together 2/3 cup flour and brown sugar and cut in butter until mixture in crumbly.

Cover loosely with foil and bake for 25 minutes.  Take off foil and bake for another 25 minutes or until top in golden brown.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

This and that

On the last Wednesday of every month, the local public schools have a 3-hour early release day.  And since Wednesday is also a dance day for Frances, we decided to head downtown a little early to explore the riverfront (with the hopes of seeing Daddy, too, but sadly he was in a meeting).

It was perfect weather (even a little too warm), so we'll try it again at the end of this month.


A couple of weekends ago, we took the kids to Henricus Historical Park.  I had never been there and Will hadn't been since childhood.  We stumbled upon an historical reenactment, which the kids loved.

The muskets were a little loud for Frances.  George, predictably, loved them.

They also had brought in the Godspeed, one of the ships usually parked in Jamestown, for the occasion.  

It's not an historical reenactment without crafts.


Frances, warrior princess

Be afraid.


Frances and her first grade best friend, Madeline.

The greatest thing about Madeline is that she lives right in our neighborhood.  So once-a-week playdates are almost a given.


Someone missed Gram-E and Mr. Pyles while they were on their Florida vacation.

We spent many mornings ringing that doorbell in hopes they had returned early.


This is how I spent most of my days with George--chasing behind him on the scooter.

It's pretty much attached to his hip at this point.


A typical after-school shot.

With the weather at almost perfect temperatures, I force the kids outside after school nearly every afternoon.  They hem and haw at first, but I'm convinced it's good for them.  Plus, left to their own devices, they've come up with some pretty clever games and activities.  Including, the toy tree:

The tiniest tree in our yard holding every single play object.  I had to laugh.


I woke up this morning to find this:

Will remembers everything--even the anniversary of our engagement.  Even on those evenings when I was less than cheery when he finally made it home after a long day of work.  I have no idea what I did to deserve him, but there is no doubt I would have said "YES!" every day these last ten years.  Happy 10th Engagement Anniversary, Will!

And happy Thursday, everyone!