Saturday, December 15, 2007

super gabe

Me: Gabe, look at this picture
Gabe: that's me, mom
Me: yes, that's when you were superman for Halloween
Gabe: Remember that? That's when I saved the day

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

less than 2 weeks

Because my house is decorated for Christmas and because I just love sharing pictures of my dining room-here it is:

So, the photo is poorly lit, but you get the basic idea, right? I am loving having myveryownhouse at Christmas. It's so much fun decorating and making everything festive.

We are mid-hustle and bustle around here, with activities revving up and shopping coming to an end. I am trying to keep some peace and room for reflection in this season of advent, but am coming up a little short as usual. It's always so hard to make the space for quiet in a home with four other people! Wishing you all a wonderful, magical, memorable Christmas, full of joy and light.

I am holding in prayer this advent season all those whose Christmases will not be filled with joy, those who have lost loved ones or whose family is in turmoil, or who are caring for a sick relative or spouse. The events of this year have taught me to be both thankful for the blessings I have and to be prayerful and mindful of those who are struggling. It could easily have been a sad Christmas for us, but for God's healing and mercy for my mom.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

It's the most wonderful time...

Okay, so it is nearly Christmas, but here it is just getting to my big charity crop planning time. The crop is January 12th, so I am in full swing planning mode and I really do enjoy it. This is what it looked like last year:

this year, I am hoping that we will have to beg, borrow and nearly steal to have enough seats for everyone that wants to come. So, if you are a scrapper and you are close to me-just email me for more information! There was a lot of creative energy in that room and such a sweet spirit. I am hoping to have another presentation this year of what our work-crew did last year in Mississppi.

So, as I continue to give thanks for all my many blessings, I am also grateful for the opportunity to host this crop! Hope to see you there!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

every good and perfect gift..

This year has changed the life of my whole family. 6 months ago today, we bought our first house, this house that now feels like home. Before we bought the house, I was so weary from living at our old, rented place. Couldn't wait to get out after living there for 6 long years. I was so glad when we finally closed the door on that house and that part of our lives; that was certainly a literal ending to what was figuratively a long and exhausting wait and struggle to get to this point.
Now that we are here, in this home that I love, I can hardly remember living anywhere else. I was so unhappy being there and am now completely content and often, still, thrilled with our house. Sometimes, especially when I am walking in the upstairs hallway, I remember when I first came to look at this house and I could immediately picture us living here. I feel so blessed to have this home, so grateful for this amazing gift. There are so many beautiful moments in this home, I am constantly reminded to be humble and grateful for being here.
So, my concrete things in this home that I am grateful for:
a really big sink with the cool faucet
the front porch
high ceilings
the pretty walk along the side of the house
21 windows and 3 skylights
wood floors
the dining room I worked so hard on and now is so cozy
a finished basement for all the kids' stuff
the kids having their own rooms
being close enough for the girls to walk to school
the bay window in the living room
the woodwork, especially the staircase
the feeling of coming home to ourveryownhome every single day
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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

it's november

So, I am celebrating this November, apparently, by scrapping photos from last November. This is one of the layouts I made on Saturday when I spent the day with some great friends, just talking, laughing, snacking, and scrapbooking. It had been so long since I had even pulled out my supplies, but it was such a fun day and it felt so good to create a little. Being in the company of that group of women is always rejuvenating for me.
I just realized this morning that next week is Thanksgiving and I haven't even begun my Thanksgiving list. We hold this tradition near and dear in our home. Our pastor started it, handing the kids a cute piece of paper a few years ago, simply title "Thanksgiving List" and instructing them to complete that list before they even beging their Christmas list. My kids are always amazed when they hear about other kids making their wish lists well before Thanksgiving!
In the spirit of gratitude, I will begin my list here.
I am thankful for:
my home
my mother's improving health
my family, big and small
answered prayer
my husband who drags me out of bed much too early to have coffee with him before he goes to work
Gabe having such cute manners, like holding doors for me
Julianna being able to read chapter books and feeling so good about it
Cecilia's talent with clarinet and the joy she finds in playing it
the love my parents have for each other
my new slipper socks
learning to knit
heat on a cold morning
our wood floors

There's a start, I will keep adding.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

some golden grahams goodness

Do you remember these? These were an absolute favorite of mine as a kid and I had to BEG my mother to make them. She was never a big fan of melting anything-we actually talked about that at last year's cookie day. My mom would make all sorts of intricate recipes, fancy cookies, tarts, whatever-but you would never find a rice krispies treat or an indoor smore in her house.

In case you don't remember these-it's:

8 cups golden grahams cereal
6 cups of marshmallows
5 T butter
1 1/2 cups of chocolate chips (the original recipe says milk, but we use semi-sweet)
1 t vanilla
take out 1 cup of marshmallows, then melt the rest with the butter and chocolate. Stir in the vanilla and then add the cereal and the separated marshmallows.
On the green front, I got sandwich containers for my kiddos lunches so we can eliminate the baggies. They are going to try the water type bottles they already have for their lunch drinks and we will see how that goes. I also got new recycling containers from our borough so that we can really recycle and it's now on my oldest's chore list to handle the paper recycling. I am also trying to get more info on composting-everything I have found so far is a little pricey. I think that's the way with a lot of the "green" stuff-it's almost like a status thing. Anyway, not sure if I made my goal of 5, but we are all looking for ways to reduce how much trash we are making. Oh-and I am only allowing individual snacks to be eaten out of the house.

Friday, September 28, 2007

going green

so, this week as I was putting my groceries away and just generally cleaning up the kitchen, it struck me. We, as a family, generate a TON of trash. A ton. Maybe I have been watching too much "living with Ed" or maybe I am just starting to realize that so much waste just can't be good, but something needs to change.
I am going to spend some time this weekend (you know, my spare time) to come up with 5 concrete things for our family to "go green" and really reduce the amount of trash we make. I have a sneaky suspicion that part of that idea will involve more cooking for me so that we can eliminate some of the packaged foods (like snack foods for the kids' lunches). I think I will also go old school and get my kids some thermoses for their lunchboxes-thereby eliminating the dreaded juice box.
Anyway, that's my goal.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

one hat, two hat

One hat complete and one hat in progress. I actually knit the first hat in just one day-one day with a LOT of knitting!
So, now it's 1.25 down, 5.75 to go. This is my first time following a pattern and it is a simple one, but I am still pleased with how the whole project went along.

Friday, September 21, 2007

have you seen this???

As if I don't feel old enough with my ten year old daughter being only about 2 inches shorter than me. American Girl, a company I have supported financially for years now, comes out with their new HISTORICAL DOLL!!! So, this one is from the 70's and she is HISTORY!!!! Wow, nothing like that to make you feel old.
Basically, though, it got me thinking about how much things have changed since I was born in the seventies. I am going to work on a whole list of them and hopefully make it part of a scrapbook that will include pictures of me from when I was a kid.
So far, I have these: When I was a kid
Everyone smoked
My dad had big sideburns and wide leg pants
my mom set her hair in rollers every morning using a little tabletop mirror in the kitchen
Our house and our car were not air-conditioned
I had a record player that was a pink suitcase
we wore corsages to church for holidays
our family had only one car

I will keep adding to these-I would love to hear others!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The floors

Well, with another[emergency] home project looming on the horizon, I thought I would finally post about our floor refinishing. After considering our options, which were few given that we didn't have $2500 for professional floor refinishing, we boldly forged ahead with our decision to tackle the floors on our own. I spent most of the night prior to the project either awake, worrying about the floors or dreaming about landing with the sander in our basement. Neither scenario afforded me much sleep or peace.

So, first thing that morning, Sandro headed off to the rental place and I got the final pieces of furniture out of the way. We woke up the birthday boy, sang to him, gave him presents and cinnamon rolls and then banished the kids to the basement with a movie and the promise of endless tv and snacks if they would just stay down there.

The sanding actually went much smoother than either of us had anticipated (no pun intended). it was mainly time consuming and because this was July 30th-it was also sweaty work. Sweat mixed with floor dust-not a pretty sight. By lunchtime, we had completed the requisite 4 passes through the living room with ascending levels of sandpaper grit: you got your 20, your 36, your 60 and your 100. We skipped the 80 like we were professionals who knew exactly what we were doing.

I took the kids to McDonalds for lunch and then to a friend's house while Sandro started the dining room. I came home and handled clean up and did a little more sanding. As is our custom, we didn't speak of how the job was going-no need to get ahead of ourselves. By 5 pm the job was done and I was on my way to pick up the kiddos and get home to shower.

Finally, at dinner, we had a little celebratory patting each other on the back and marvelling at how well we had done. The next morning, came applying the wax-again time consuming and sweaty-this time with an overpowering smell instead of the dust from the day before. We headed out of town for the wax to dry and vacationed at my parents' house for the day.

With buffing the only task left, we were supposedly home-free. But, the industrial strength buffer we had planned to rent was not the right tool for the job. Honestly I was disappointed that we wouldn't have the chance to drive that big buffer and more than a little put out that we were running out of time and our victory seemed about to turn to defeat. After a little bickering, Sandro procured a hand buffer and the job was back on.

So, we are still quite pleased with both the floors and ourselves.

Monday, July 02, 2007

This morning, my family will attend a funeral. Our "building superintendant" at church passed away last Wednesday after several complicating incidents finally culminated in pneumonia, which as for many elderly people, was the last straw. This man was a hard worker, with a servant's heart and a preacher's mind. He was such an example of the saying "preach the gospel at all times; when necessary, use words"(which I think is St. Francis of Assisi). His quiet demeanor and humility were a blessing to all who knew him.

He and my son shared a special little bond from the moment they met more than 2 years ago. Last summer, on Gabe's birthday, we brought cupcakes to church for the kids to have after the service since we don't have any snacks for coffee hour in the summer. Well, during the service, Wayne put out quite a spread for Gabe-a tablecloth, two pretty trays for the cupcakes and hand-written signs that said: Happy Birthday to the boy, Gabe is 2!!! And, this past year, when Gabe was in preschool, Wayne was known to check in on him through the window of his classroom, and for his part, Gabe never wants to leave church without saying goodbye to Wayne. When I tried to tell the kids about his passing, Gabe said "him at the other church." I said, "honey, Wayne's in heaven"-to which my son succintly replied "yeah, at the other church IN heaven." I guess I should know better by now not to correct my kids in matters of faith.

So, today, the five of us will go to the funeral and remember this man, this servant of God-today for an hour or so, but also forever.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

a little bit of accomplishment goes a long way

the hulk says "wallpaper is tough" Actually it was both more difficult and easier to wallpaper than I had expected. As expected, my scrapbooking skills came in handy when lining up the pattern and my general "eye" for things being straight made the job easier. What was hard, as always, was the math-the measuring the figuring out of the numbers. I am not so good at that fancy math stuff, you know?? I honestly hope my kids don't get my math sense, because I wish much better for them.

so, here is one of the back of my head as I am hanging wallpaper, proof, that I, and not the hulk did the work in the dining room.

and, here is one completed wall. The photo is crooked, not the wallpaper.

It's too hot for words today and I have to go up and find Gabe. The girls are watching wizard of oz in the relatively cool basement and we are headed out to the mall when Sandro gets home-too hot even for the pool. I am tired, sweaty, tired of being sweaty, kind of hungry, kind of crabby, ready to have furniture in my living room... you get the idea.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Okay, so maybe my mom is right and I sound like a new mother obsessing and adoring her new baby, but I can't get enough of this house. It is so exciting to be decorating and working on the house, I can hardly wait to get to each project. For the last week, we have been working on the dining room, which has gone from this:

to this:

to this:

I have spent my time alternately admiring and criticizing my work. It was very tedious to fill in each line of paneling with joint compound (twice for good measure). It was very messy to sand all that joint compound so there wouldn't be any lines. It was very boring to clean up all the dust from the joint compound (more than twice). Overall, the project was pretty cool-it feels good to be working on OUR house-not worrying if we will have to paint over it, or if we will get into "trouble" for doing it.

My wallpaper should arrive soon and we are painting color tonight!! Pretty soon, I will have a real dining room. Oh, and I took the kids to the hands on house yesterday in Lancaster-just my thinly veiled attempt to do some outlet shopping. I went to the pottery barn outlet and the PB kids outlet and found exactly nothing that I wanted!! I saw some gorgeous lamps, but since I don't have furniture yet, it seemed a little silly to be buying lamps!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

just one home now

Well, we did it. We moved. It doesn't seem real except for the fact that now life is settling in. We only have one place to live-no more "vacation home" as the kids called it for a while. School is wrapping up nicely and I am in full swing VBS mode as well as trying to get the house painted so that we can attempt to refinish our floors sometime in the near future. I miss having furniture in my living room a little more than I expected to.

the kids are settling in nicely-only Julianna still misses the old house, but that's just her nature. I found out from our old neighbor yesterday that my landlord ripped out the carpet (which, incidentally was like 100 years old) from the old place and my dreams of a returned security deposit have begun to wane.

I am so anxious to get the dining room and living room livable! At the same time, I feel really nervous about making decisions-it's weird! I need to pick out wallpaper for the dining room and paint for the living room and upstairs hallway before I can really get started. more pictures soon, I have to remember to bring the digital camera down and upload the photos.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

a few thing i've learned

  1. I had 3 bottles of nail polish remover, all in the kitchen
  2. I also had no less than 200 cupcake papers, but every time I make cupcakes, I can't find them and buy more
  3. you can actually pack up six years of living in a little over a week
  4. i can live without tv, but not without internet
  5. a lot of things expired before i had a chance to use them
  6. the end of something-even something you wished would end-is always a little sad in its own way
  7. if you feed kids enough junk food, they will get really excited about grapes and apples
  8. it's possible to lose weight while eating crap if you don't sit down for 3 days straight
  9. I also had 3 stovetop espresso makers
  10. 5 people have a lot of stuff!!!

on moving

This is it. the big move. the one we've been waiting, wishing, hoping, praying for. I've stayed away from the new house the last couple of days, almost as if it's not real, but more so because doing anything there is preferable to doing what's left to do here. And, I have got to finish here. Tomorrow night, we will spend our first night at the house and monday morning we will wake up in our own home.

tonight, as I pulled the last few things out of the kitchen cabinets, I thought of all the moves I've made in my life. As a kid, I can only remember 2. Then, there was moving back and forth to college. Into my first place and relationship and shortly after, out of both of those. Into my first real independent place, with a friend. It was dumpy and old, but I loved it. Then Sandro moved back from Lewisburg and into that place, where we lived when we got married.

When I was almost 8 months pregnant with Cecilia (on another memorial day weekend) we moved to another apartment-it seemed so big, but with a tiny kitchen. It had its bright spots and we had so much joy there-bringing our first child home, welcoming Sandro's parents (meeting them for the first time), living close to family.

Our next home came only a year later, and bringing us a little independence-off to Delaware on a little adventure just the 3 of us. We grew so much that year, our young family, our young marriage. We dreamed and planned for the future there, in our "most luxurious apartment home in New Castle." Or so the sign said at the entrance. We made a decision there that put us on a course to this very move.

Our next home was less than luxurious, but it was affordable (barely) I went to work and Sandro went to school and work. We spent a year in color-coded scheduling, with me counting down the days till I could be home with cecilia. Sandro finished school and we went to Italy for an amazing month. Later that year, we grieved with Sandro's brother and wife as she lost her sister and we all felt the helplessness of life ending too soon. As is the way with life, sorrow was quickly followed by joy (and a little worry) as we discovered that we would soon be a family of 4.

that year dragged on in the tiny basement apartment. With the two giant rottweilers and the stripper/prostitute upstairs and the domestic violence couple across the hall, there was rarely a dull moment. But soon, Julianna was born and we squeezed her crib into a corner of our bedroom and started looking for a new place to live.

Six years ago today, we saw this place where I am sitting typing for the last time. We have had so much joy here. We've hosted friends and family for holidays, the annual cookie day, birthday parties, movie nights, even the home parties have been fun. We welcomed our son to this home, this boy who completes our family and brings so much light into our lives. Our girls have shared a room since he was born, and this last night neither of them can sleep-both have been down here twice. I wonder if they are uneasy with the idea of their separate spaces.

We've had sadness, too. I remember sitting on the steps and watching as Sandro took the call telling him his father had died. I remember sitting in the same spot, sobbing while talking to him long distance on the day of the funeral, feeling in every fiber of my existence that my husband should not have buried his father without me at his side.

As of tomorrow, I will live somewhere else. I think taking the last 2 weeks to move was good for me, allowing me to ease into the idea of our new home. I wrote our last rent check a month ago, but it didn't sink in; my belongings are slowly disappearing-arriving either at our new house, or finding new owners. Still, it's been slow sinking in. This morning we had coffee and bagels at the new house, but the coffee was in disposable cups and the table was a card table. still, not sinking in.

By Wednesday, I will not be back to this place, maybe then it will sink in...

Thursday, May 17, 2007

day 2

It was a surreal experience to say the least. Yesterday morning, I pulled my car into MY off street spot and walked through MY backyard. I said good morning to my neighbor's cute bulldogs and took my table and set it on MY patio. I then opened the door to MY home!! I barely held the tears back as I stepped into the kitchen.

It's so overhwhelming. I am trying so hard to just accept this blessing, and not worry and not fear. every good and perfect gift is from above

We spent the day scrubbing, wiping down cabinets, taking down curtains. Gabe and I scrubbed the front porch and it was heavenly. I got him his own bucket and we washed the porch. The old owner left a carpet sweeper in the basement so we used that to clean the green indoor-outdoor rug that provides the no-slip area on the porch. Surprisingly, it worked really well-it looks like it's about 30 years old. The kids were great, but getting a little bored just when it was time to go to a friend's house.

While the kids were away, Sandro and I decided to start pulling up the carpeting, which was so much fun I can't even explain it. We are going to pull the tack strips up a little at a time and then lay the carpet back down until we get the furniture dragged through there and the walls painted. So far the floor looks good.

It is truly amazing that this is our home-doesn't feel real just yet. Maybe when we make the first mortgage payment.