Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Message from the Future

It is now just after 7:00pm on December 31, 2008 in Florida where our two lovely cats are now. It is just after 6:00pm on December 31, 2008 in Texas where my mom and brother are now. It is just after 5:00pm on December 31, 2008 in Montana where my dad and sister are now.

It is just after midnight on January 1, 2009 here in Ireland.

Most of the people who read this are on the other side of the pond from where I am now, so let me be the first to wish you a happy 2009....from 2009.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Public Service Announcement

I learned the importance today of having and using a fire extinguisher.

(I'll get to that in a minute though!) So much for a lazy day! We did get to sleep in a bit I suppose though. Morgan and I spent the day with his sister Rosemary and her family. She and her husband Don have two little girls. They have a very nice house outside of the city so we got to spend the day in the "country." It was quite nice to get to spend time with them all.

After dinner I met up with the Irishman's other two sister. We were invited to their friends' house for dinner. Morgan's sisters and their friends are wonderful at getting dressed up and throwing nice dinner parties. The plates were set beautifully and dinner was fantastic.

We'd gone back to the dining room for our tea when June noticed a funny smell. She walked into the front room to discover the table was on fire. There had been a beautiful candle arrangement lit on a table in front of the window. The flames at that point were about three feet high. The room was filling with smoke.

One of the hosts did not skip a beat though. She grabbed a fire extinguisher from the wall and started to spray the fire. By this point the smoke was quite thick. She was able to put out the fire with the small fire extinguisher.

We opened the all the windows and doors and stood on the front porch for a while. I have no doubt that they were about 20 seconds from loosing the house. There were heavy drapes behind the table that would have easily caught fire had it gotten any bigger. It was truly frightening to imagine what could have been.

I know that all 5 of us there are now believers in fire extinguishers. I have done the training at work, but I had not really given it much thought until tonight. They really would have lost the house had it not been for the fire extinguisher and some quick thinking.

Do you have a fire extinguisher? Would you know how to use it if your house was at risk?

Our "American" Christmas

I've mentioned before that the Irishman and I celebrate Christmas twice. Because we are in Ireland for the "real" Christmas, we pick a day to exchange gifts with each other before we leave. We usually pick a morning, but this year we were waiting on packages in the mail so we picked the Friday night before we left as "American" Christmas.

Now, if you know us well you know that we are always running late challenged by time limits. With as much traveling as we do, you would think we would have the whole packing thing down by now. Not quite.

The Irishman had a party after work on "American" Christmas. I'd stayed at school late to get things ready for January (knowing that I will be exhausted and playing catch up anyway when we get back). I then ran to the mall to re-buy a gift for one of the Irishman's sisters. He did SUCH a good job of throwing her off track about what we bought her that she went out and BOUGHT HERSELF the gift we'd picked out.

Anyway, my quick trip to the mall was anything but quick as I finally found an outfit to wear for Christmas night in Ireland. I'd been looking for weeks, but then the night before we leave with no time to spare I have luck in the sales. Sounds about right, huh?

We finally got home at about 8:00pm. We had a shuttle scheduled to take us to the airport at 4:30am. We still had to clean, pack, and celebrate "American" Christmas. Add to all that the fact that the Irishman used a Christmas bonus & his coaching paycheck to purchase an IPOD Touch for himself. (He had retained the option to purchase one during the previous cell phone negotiations.) So as I cleaned and packed, he downloaded songs and got his new toy ready to take with us.

It was a bit rough.

At about midnight we decided to take a break and exchange gifts. I did not have time to wrap his gifts...thank goodness for the Santa sacks!

We both went overboard again...but each managed to give a few surprises. Even though it was VERY late and we still had to finish packing, the Irishman decided to try out the Wii game I gave him. In the end we went to bed at 1:30...and got up at 3:30.

On the way to the airport, the Irishman surprised me with a box. It had a very pretty necklace it in. (I wore it on "Irish" to follow!) He is very good to me!

Next up...Irish Christmas!

Monday, December 29, 2008

I'm still here...

We are having a great time in Ireland! I have MANY posts and MANY more pictures to share, but the computer is not the swiftest...and well, we've been busy!

So, here is a quick preview of what is to come:

* Empire State Building
* Central Park in the snow
* "American" Christmas with pictures
* "Irish" Christmas with pictures
* A walk around the marina with a few nice views of Blackrock Castle
* A day trip to Dublin

We have a quiet day planned for tomorrow so I hope to get something up then. I have loved reading all the different Christmas posts. I have lost track of the day and the time...traveling across the pond does that to me. For now I think I am going to curl up in front of the fire with a good book!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Christmas!

One of our favorite stops in NYC is the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. I have more pictures to share, but I thought I would start with the ones with Santa and Christmas Trees!

It will be Christmas here in just about 5 hours. My husband is tearing apart our suitcases. We exchanged most of our gift last Friday on our 'American Christmas Day' but it seems he cannot find the gift he brought for me to open here. He is going crazy. He went so far as to accuse me of finding it and hiding it from him.

We will soon be getting ready for Mass tonight. We bought extra bottles of Tanora and are preparing the ham and spiced beef for sandwiches after 'midnight' Mass.

While we can get carried away with the Santas, and trees, and missing presents, the Irishman and I found a reminder of the meaning of Christmas while in New York. We went to Mass at St. Patrick's as we'd planned. For communion, we were led across the church and ended up here.

After Mass we both said we felt like we'd been led there by the Holy Spirit. We took some time to pray and reflect before moving on. It was quite special and something we will remember. The pictures do not do it justice.

So from chilly Ireland I send warm wishes to you and yours. Merry Happy Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Morgan on 34th Street

I guess I could also have called this " Morgan Meets Santa," but I guess he is a little old for that.

One of our first stops in NYC was Macy's. A few years ago we went with the Irishman's sister Christina to see Santa at Macy's. We were SO impressed. They have all sorts of decorations in line - it almost Disney like. When you finally get to Santa's Village, there are a number of little cottages and you get ushered into one where you meet the man in red himself. It is really well done! Best of all, they take an overpriced picture for you to buy, but the elves will also take one with your camera if you ask.

On the way up, the Irishman stopped to write his Santa letter. I offered to take a picture for a few ladies in front of the display. They asked if I needed my picture taken, but I had to say no because I was with the grown man in a fuzzy red hat writing a letter to Santa.

Now, there are not many sleeps left before Christmas so it was quite crowded. The struggling actors elves guided us through the line that snaked through the inner workings of the Macy's HR department. We waited for about an hour. In that time we learned that Santa sees about 1,000 people an hour at Macy's on 34th Street. He is there for 10-12 hours a day. That is a lot of people!

I asked Santa for a car that did not break down in front of Macy's when I drove it. The Irishman asked for Liverpool to win the league. He asks the same thing every year, but last time we went to see Santa at Macy's Liverpool DID win the league, so he is hopeful! He prefers the American Santa to the Irish Santa...the Irish ones are more likely to argue with Liverpool winning the league! The Irishman refuses to believe that Santa is a United fan.

On the way out, the Irishman threw a snowball for MN Mom. (In front of Macy's, not at Macy's!)

I hope you enjoy!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Greetings from Ireland

Good night...or afternoon...or whatever it is!

We had a WONDERFUL weekend in NYC. The Irishman could not find his way out of a paper bag has a rather poor sense of direction, but he knows New York like the back of his hand. We have lots of wonderful pictures, but I have to wait until June brings us her laptop to upload them.

I did have a couple of inquiries regarding the hats. It was SO bitterly cold that we wore double hats all around the city. We were stopped regularly by random strangers making comments or asking us where we bought them. As for Santa himself...we cheated and took two pictures. The first one was without hats and the second with the hats. We haven't seen the pictures on the big screen yet to decide which we like better. I'll keep you updated!

The Irishman DID get to see snow. I have a few posts planned about that part of our trip. Morgan's catch phrase for the week was, "You can put THAT in your blog." I think he is getting into this whole thing. The Irishman Rafa did add the link to our Christmas letter. If you are discovering this from there...welcome!

We got to Shannon airport this morning while it was still dark. (Which is actually disappointing because I love looking at the fields as you fly looks like a green patchwork quilt!) After discovering that the bag the Irishman was trying to cram into the trunk of his parents' car was not actually ours but another green bag, we got things sorted and were on the road to Cork. I slept most of the 2 hour drive.

We have already seen all 5 siblings, 2 nieces, and his brother-in-law. The Irishman is in the front room watching a soccer game. He is happy as a clam.

I have already taken a 3 hour nap...and could sleep a lot more. Thankfully I accidentally left the pile of papers I was going to bring with me to work on over the holiday. I guess that means I have nothing to do but relax. Oh, darn!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Let it Snow...With or Without Santa Hats

This morning I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to finish gifts for my friends at school without being too late for work. I was at my temporary crafting table working away and did not even notice that Irishman sat down at the computer next to me.

That is until he shouted, "YES! Will you look at that?"

He was looking up the weather forecast for New York City. This morning was predicting 100% chance of snow showers on Friday. We get there Saturday. The Irishman decided it was close enough. With 100% chance and scattered snow showers on Saturday he's SURE he will see snow. There was also a slight chance of snow in Ireland for the 26th. It has since disappeared, but he has gotten his hopes up.

(I am not sure I want to be the one to tell him it is now "Snow to Wintry Mix" on Friday. That doesn't sound good for GETTING to the city! An even bigger concern would be the "70% chance of Wintry Mix" scheduled for when we are leaving for Ireland...)

Regardless, the Irishman is super excited. You should see the list of places we have to go have our pictures taken. We will be there for less than 48 hours, but you wouldn't think it listening to the Irishman. Going to New York City and Ireland in one week is almost too much for him to take.

This morning he decided that the weather will be cold enough to wear the Santa hats in NY. (I decided not to point out that we wore Santa hats to Disney and it was 80 degrees not that cold.) His concern is the picture with Santa at Macy's.

He said I could write about that on my blog.

I could even do one of those survey things.

So, please humor my husband. Take a second to tell us whether it is okay for us to wear Santa hats in our picture with Santa at Macy's.

The Irishman thanks you.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Meme

The Christmas Meme is every where. I've read it here and here and here and here and here. The Irishman was looking over my shoulder as I read this and he decided that he wanted to take part as well. I'd already filled in one and saved it to post later, so the Irishman decided we should do it independently and then compare answers. I was at Target finishing my Christmas shopping when I saw that he'd e-mailed me his answers. We're dorks high tech like that.

(Needless to say we actually filled out two different meme's. The Irishman's simple idea has taken me a lot longer to sort out than he anticipated. Thankfully I am waiting for a loaf of bread to finish in my new bread maker so I'm staying up late anyway!)

So, here is a joint Meme...or Meyou...or get the idea!

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?

Me: We wrap the presents and then stick them in a Santa sack. We each have a Santa sack that we stash each other's gifts into. There is usually one night designated for wrapping. The Irishman goes upstairs and I'll stay downstairs wrapping his presents and listen to him swear as he wraps mine some lovely Christmas music.

The Irishman: paper if I am receiving (more exciting to open) and bags if I am giving, easier to wrap!

2. Real tree or Artificial?

Me: I would love a real tree but it does not make sense in Florida when we travel for the holidays. Can you say fire hazard? Our current tree was purchased at Target's after Christmas sale. I took the Irishman with me when it was 75% off and by the time we got there they'd marked it 90% off. Morgan had pined after that tree all season.

The Irishman: Real all the way! I love the smell. BUT if I can pick up a bargain $300 for $30 I can be persuaded!

3. When do you put up the tree?

Me:We go to Houston for Thanksgiving, so the decorations go up some time during the week we get back. It just depends on how tired we are when we get back!

The Irishman: In America the week after Thanksgiving, but in Ireland around the 12th-15th

4. When do you take the tree down?

Me: The Irishman would wait until St. Patrick's Day to take down the decorations if I would let him. The goal is "Little Women's Christmas" (The Feast of the Epiphany) but it is usually the weekend after.

The Irishman: Never before the Feast of the Epiphany

5. Do you like eggnog?

Me: Not a fan. I much prefer hot apple cider!

The Irishman: horrible stuff

6. Favorite gift received as a child?

Me: A Fisher Price telescope and then a "real" sewing machine stand out.

The Irishman: Liverpool jersey, Luke Skywalker action figure, Roy of the Rovers Annual

7. Hardest person to buy for?

Me: My father and his wife

The Irishman: My brother Robert.

8. Easiest person to buy for?

Me: Usually the Irishman, but this year he already had everything he wanted!

The Irishman: My wife, she drops lots of little hints

9. Do you have a nativity scene?

Me: We have several. The Irishman bought a nativity scene for his "lad pad" when he first moved out here. It was like $2 from Walmart. I also have 2 that I picked up at craft shows.

We also have two nice ones. My parents had a craft business many years ago. I have a nativity scene that they made that is extremely special to me. My MIL gave us a beautiful Newbridge silver crib. (Side note: My Irish in-laws refer to it as the crib and not the nativity scene. Each church around town sets up a "crib.")

The Irishman: My favourite is the one in my home church in Blackrock

10. Mail or email Christmas cards?

Both: Mail

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?

Me: I have one family member who is notorious for giving bad gifts. I will not incriminate myself any further than that!

The Irishman: That would be unfair to answer

12. Favorite Christmas Movie?

Me: I love White Christmas and Love Actually. I like most Christmas movies. I cannot watch The Santa Clause though. It gave me bad dreams. I don't know what it is about it, but I dislike that movie greatly.

The Irishman: So many! National Lampoons Christmas Vacation, Home Alone 2, Santa Claus the movie, The Santa Clause, the new Miracle on 34th Street

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?

Me: The Irishman gets getting into the Christmas spirit in October. We start buying gifts by November. We really do a lot of our shopping on Black Friday.

The Irishman: Novemberish

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?

Me: Yes. When I know something will be better used by someone else I have no problem passing it on. My Grandma Jo thought this was the funniest thing ever. (She loved being on the receiving end. One man's junk is another man's recycled present!)

The Irishman: yes - from Jenny's wonderful collection

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?

Me: This is tough. I love my mom's sweet potato casserole, but it has been a few Christmases since I've gotten to enjoy that. In Ireland we have spiced beef which is quite nice.

The Irishman: Turkey and Ham and all the trimmings and of course Sherry Trifle

16. Lights on the tree?

Me: I'm not really bothered either way.

The Irishman: I like the plain white ones

17. Favorite Christmas Song?

Me: I love the entire Carpenter's Christmas Portrait. I can sing the entire CD from beginning to end. It is the best!

The Irishman: Fairytale of New York

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?

Me: We will be traveling across the pond again this year. The Irishman is the only one in his family that does not live in Cork, so it is important for us to get over to see everyone!

The Irishman: My wife and I always agreed that if we were living in America, we would travel to my family in Ireland for Christmas and if we were living in Ireland we would travel to her family in America for Christmas

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer?

Me: That would require thought. I am sure I could if I tried.

The Irishman: donner and blitzen and cupid and comet and dasher and... Rudolph came later!

20. Angel on the tree top or a star?

Me: I'd asked my mom for an angel for the top of our tree. She'd tried to find one like the one we had growing up but didn't have any luck. In the end she gave me the angel that she'd made when I was a kid for the top of our tree. Now we have the angel my mom made at the top of the tree and a tree skirt my grandmother made at the bottom of the tree. It makes me smile!

The Irishman: Of Course

21. Open presents on Christmas Eve or morning?

Me: The Irishman and I have an "American Christmas" and then an "Irish Christmas." We have been fortunate enough to travel to Ireland each year we've been married. We do not want to pay to lug out gifts to each other across the pond, so we have a special day that we designate "American Christmas" as a special day before we leave when we open the gifts to each other.

Only one of Morgan's siblings has children, so the other 5 siblings get together on Christmas Eve. After Midnight Mass (which starts at like 9pm...try and figure that one out!) everyone gathers in front of the fire and munches on ham and spiced beef sandwiches. We all visit and talk until midnight when the gift giving begins.

The Irishman: It depends. We try to wait until after midnight before handing out, but all depends on the time that Santa arrives

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year?

Me: We travel for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. Decorating, shopping, and then traveling makes for a hectic time. It is nice to get to Ireland and just relax though!

The Irishman: It always goes by too quickly

23. Favorite Ornament theme or color?

Me: When the Irishman proposed at the top of the Empire State Building, the second thing we did (after we called half the world to share our news) was buy a Christmas ornament. It was the middle of March, but we wanted a Christmas ornament to remember the occasion. Each year that is the first ornament we put on the tree.

We collect ornaments when we travel. We also have a wonderful collection of Newbridge silver ornaments from Ireland.

The Irishman: the Newbridge ornaments my mother sends us every Christmas

24. Do you own a Santa hat?

Me: We not only own Santa hats, but often wear them in public. I have pictures taken at Disney and all over New York City of the two of us in Santa hats. Sad but true.

The Irishman: Of course!

25. What do you want for Christmas this year?

Me: I actually had a rather long list this year. It was quite out of character. I am sure Santa will treat me well. I am already using my early gift! I've made two loaves of bread since Sunday. (Thank you GB & GB!)

The Irishman: As every year, Liverpool to win the league. i will settle for second spot and the Champions League

Monday, December 15, 2008

Letting Go

I love the Irishman. He really is the best. (And I really mean that!) He actually has completely taken over Christmas cards this year. I was ready to send just a regular card this year. We have boxes of cards we bought at Target last year at 90% off. I'm talking half a dozen boxes of $0.79 beautiful cards!

The Irishman would have nothing of it.

He said his family expected the whole "American" experience. The photo card. The letter. I gave in.

The Irishman usually writes the letter himself. This year I was a bit of a Scrooge and vetoed the letter twice. He eventually decided he needed a new direction and he wrote the letter from Rafa. The man who swore we would never get a cat wrote the Christmas letter as if he was the cat.

Never thought THAT would happen!

Last night I had a migraine. I was not good for anything. I had SO much planned for last night. Instead I spent the evening on the couch with an ice pack.

After about an hour on the computer, the Irishman read me Rafa's letter the final draft. I felt like...well, you can fill that in...but I gave the okay.

I woke up with morning to see the letters printed and stuffed. I did the verbal okay, but I never proofread the letters.

I am letting go.


I love him and this was his project. There are just some run on sentences and some missing commas. The teacher in my wanted to get out the red pen and make some friendly suggestions before I realized the letter had already been printed x50. I know I am not perfect either. If you've read my blog you know that. I can't complain.

Letting go...

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Year Ago

Tonight was Christmas Party night. The Irishman's boss got the date on the calendar first, so we did that one. I will post pictures from that soon. (I have more ideas for posts right now than I do days before we leave for Ireland!)

I love all the build up to Christmas, but I was a bit upset driving home this evening though. Because the Irishman and I carpool, I do not usually have a lot of time in the car to myself. He road to the party with his radio show partner in crime a co-worker while I attempted to make sense of a research project I am taking part in worked.

I realized on the way to his Christmas party that I missed my school party last year as well. That was the day after Grandma Jo went into the hospital and we went to visit her instead of going to the party. That was the start of it all. She was in the hospital and then the awful nursing home for all but three days between then and the end of January when she passed away. Looking back it wasn't that long a time, but it felt like an eternity.

We all miss her so much. I catch it in the little things. I logged onto this week to order Christmas presents for the Irishman and had to change my shipping address. I'd always sent my gifts for him to her house so he wouldn't find out. Morgan and I both catch ourselves thinking of her or something that should would have liked.

My mom has asked for me to have this picture framed for her this year. It was from 2005. The Irishman and I had Grandma Shutterbug take some pictures of us at the beach. I am so grateful that we also took this shot.

I know my mom and my uncles miss Grandma Jo more than we could ever have imagined. I know we certainly didn't expect to celebrate Christmas this year without her.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Great Pepper Incident

I realized over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend that I had not yet shared the story of "The Great Pepper Incident of 2004." Although why would I think of such a thing? That was a while ago. The Irishman learned his lesson.

Or not.

The Great Pepper Incident of 2004
The year before we were engaged, the Irishman came to Houston for Thanksgiving. I was so excited to get to take him to see where I grew up. Of course, a trip to Houston is not complete without visiting Pappasitos.

Look at all that yummy goodness.

You see, Pappasitos always puts one whole jalapeno pepper on the top of the fajitas. As for me, I avoid the thing like the plague. I don't do hot peppers. I watch other people make that mistake eat fire. That is close enough for me.

The Irishman loves the wimpy banana peppers that come with Papa John's pizza. He saw the jalapeno pepper on the top of the fajitas and picked it up. Mom and I immediately suggested that this was not a good idea. He said he would just cut it and take a piece. Again, we suggested it was not a good idea.

The Irishman decided it could not be as bad as we suggested.

He took a stupid large bite of the pepper.

As with most hot peppers, the first couple of chews are fine. As he started to say, "It's not that ba-" it hit him. His eyes began to water. His face turned red. He had a mouth full of fire.

I almost fell out of my chair laughing.

When he retells the story, it seems that all he could think about was the fact that his future mother-in-law was at the table. He would not spit it out in front of her. His eyes were watering too much for him to see the bathroom. He was stuck.

Mom and I tried to steer him away from the water. We suggested tortillas instead. He went for the water.

He must have really stood out. The waiter could tell that he "wasn't from around here" and gave us free sopaillas. I am fairly certain that he thought the Irishman was visiting from Ireland and not via Florida, but after the events of that day, we decided that we would just go with it!

The "Some-People-Never-Learn Incident" of 2008
Now Thanksgiving of 2005, my mom knew that the Irishman was determined to have a rematch with the jalapeno. He was mortified when she asked the waiter to give us a mild pepper. Thanksgiving of 2007, the Irishman and Julie's boyfriend each munched on a pepper. (Men!) Last August, the peppers were recalled. Mom and I had forgotten about the Irishman's pepper problem. Thanksgiving 2008 we had a repeat of "The Great Pepper Incident of 2004." I've come up with many names for the event.

Those darn little peppers. (Sorry for the fuzzy picture. I used my phone.)

This picture was actually part of the problem.

The Irishman saw me take this picture and was not happy. You see, the picture was proof that he hadn't eaten the whole thing.

So he ate the rest. Only he didn't eat it quick. Mom and I were shouting at him trying to persuade him to spit out it. I promised not to blog about it if he spit out the pepper. We both promised to lie for him. It would be our really big little secret.

He didn't trust us. He ate the whole darn thing. Slowly. It sat on his tongue for long enough that you could visually see that it was red and swollen.

I think it is a man thing.

I did disclose that his eating the whole pepper meant that the whole ordeal was considered fair game for blogging.

That comment must have been after this picture was take. I believe he spit out his water when I said that.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

It's a Cookie Exchange!


I saw this yesterday and decided had to make some cookies today! And being as I was making cookies anyway, I thought I would take part!


We always made Christmas cookies growing up. There are three or four recipes that I love to pull out each year. These cookies are a bit like Gingersnaps.

Crackle-Top Molasses Cookies
Makes 45 cookies

2/3 cup veggie oil
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
2 to 2 1/4 cup flour

* Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
* In a large bowl, combine oil and 1 cup sugar. Add egg, beating well. Stir in molasses, 2 cups flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and ginger.
* Form dough into balls and roll in 1/3 cup sugar. Place three inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.
* Bake 12-14 minutes or until golden brown and tops crack. Remove cookies and cool on racks. (Note: I found 10 minutes was enough!)


This afternoon the Irishman and I went to a Christmas concert with Shannon and her mom. We both got to save on postage and hand over the goodies we would otherwise have had to mail. It was great to get to see each other in real life!


This recipe makes more cookies than the Irishman and I could ever finish so I was happy to send some home with Shannon!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Spoiled Rotten!

I had to save this post until the weekend when I would have enough time to do it justice. I have been bursting at the seams ready to share!

Wednesday night the Irishman and I got home at almost 7:00pm. Now, we look for packages obsessively every time we drive past the mailbox. We look to see if the key is missing in the package compartment. We get a bit depressed bummed when it is not for us. Thankfully not many of our neighbors get packages. So on Wednesday as I unloaded the car, the Irishman went over to check the mail.

He was puzzled by a medium sized box addressed to me. As we walked into the house in the dark he tried to make out the postage. It was from Texas, but it was not from my mom.

It was from the Secret Ornament Exchange hosted by Julie at Abbilyeverafter!

I was spoiled rotten by Lisa AKA the Bombastic Bandicoot.

She sent a beautiful angel ornament with a couple of extra candy canes for the tree as well. I cannot wait to add them to our tree. I am also thrilled that all three of these seem to be cat-proof! Rafa has been known to take out more than his share of ornaments!
Now for the swap you were to send one ornament to your swap partner, but Lisa sent an amazing package of goodies! I love the holiday candy.

The "Finders Key Purse" is a little clip for your keys that hooks over the side of your purse...

...and just when I thought it couldn't get better, a Borders gift card and a Texas cookbook! I found a recipe in there for sopapillas that I cannot wait to try! Yum! I LOVE sopapillas!

Thank you Lisa! Your generosity is greatly appreciated! It made my week!

Be sure to visit Abbilyeverafter to everyone else's goodies!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Moses and the Christmas Tree

We put the tree up tonight. It is a little naked bare right now - ornaments will have to be tomorrow's project. Rafa is our wild child, but Moses loves plants. I guess he doesn't mind the fact that it is an artificial tree. Even Rafa looks horrified!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Not Me Monday

I saw this last week and decided today is the perfect day to try it out. Visit My Charming Kids for more details! So...without further ado..

We DID NOT get back to Florida at 12:30am this morning. The Irishman and I DID NOT swear off the midnight flight after last year. We DID NOT change our mind this year because it saved us $100. It was NOT US in line for the shared ride taxi that had to stop off at my place of employment before taking us home. I DID NOT get drenched by the automatic sprinklers as I tried to pry the mail from the over stuffed mailbox. (After all, I DID NOT forget to put a hold on the mail or have a neighbor collect the mail!)

I DID NOT insist on unpacking the suitcases when we finally got home at 2am. I DID NOT have to get up at 5:45 this morning. Of course it was NOT ME giving the Irishman dirty looks as he made international phone calls this morning as I was trying to get ready for school. It was NOT ME that chose an outfit this morning based on what would not require shaving of the legs or painting of the toenails.

I DID NOT forget my umbrella in school. It was NOT ME who ran to the car in the rain. It was definitely NOT ME who dumped her husband out in the middle of the street in the rain with just a lightweight jacket to protect him from the elements. I DID NOT apologize to him as I did so rambling about the fact that it was 7:26 and I had 7:30 morning duty.

I DID NOT walk into the building this morning to hear myself being paged for morning duty. I DID NOT have to stand in the rain with the school administrator who had me paged for 25 23 minutes this morning opening car doors for Kindergartners.

I DID NOT hold a class meeting this morning to inform my class that I had only 3 and a half hours of sleep and was feeling cranky. I MOST CERTAINLY DID NOTturn my lack of sleep into an impromptu lesson on elapsed time.

It was NOT ME who decided to put up Christmas decorations in my classroom after school instead of grading multiplication tests.

I WAS NOT secretly thrilled when my husband decided to cook dinner tonight.

It was NOT ME who packed a $28 vacuum covered in bubble wrap in her suitcase yesterday. I DID NOT decide to test the vacuum out tonight while the Irishman made Cyber Monday gift purchases instead of going to sleep early.

It is NOT ME who has decided to stay up WAY TOO late to finish this post...

You must have me mixed up with someone else!

The Pumpkin Prize

I should be in bed by now, but I wanted to announce the winner of the Thanksgiving Give Away. I'd planned to choose a name out of a hat. It isn't happening. I decided to take the easy way out. I am also not sure how to paste the Random Integer Generator image into my blog and am too sleep deprived to sort it out, so the cut and paste will have to do.

Enough rambling...

Random Integer Generator
Here are your random numbers:

Timestamp: 2008-12-02 03:06:41 UTC

Comment #3 was Shannon! Congratulations!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

How Do You Solve a Problem Like...

a Vacuum?

(I have been singing this to the tune of How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria from the Sound of Music. Silly, but I can't help it!)

We were really quite disciplined on Friday. We avoided picking up extra $3 DVDs. We didn't pick up the $7 CDs from groups I'd be embarrassed to admit here. The clothes we bought at Macy's were all sweaters the Irishman needs for our upcoming trip to Ireland or tops I need for school.

We started our shopping at Walmart. We did fairly well. We bought a $25 Christmas tree and a $4 crock pot for my mom. We picked up the assorted DVDs we were getting for my Irish in-laws. We found a birthday present for the Irishman's eldest niece. We had a cart of good buys.

Now we are usually good about splitting up and having one of us stand in line to avoid wasting time. By the time I got there, the line snaked all the way into the Garden Center. I stood there for about 30 minutes. I watched a lot of people come by.

I saw a lot people carrying vacuums.

Pink vacuums.

Blue vacuums.

Green vacuums.

They were only $28. Our vacuum is on the way out. When the Irishman came to relieve me from my line duty, I added a green vacuum to the cart.

(Side note: I then left him and went onto Target. We couldn't waste time in line! As soon as I left, someone told the Irishman we were in the wrong line. Oops! He flew through the next line and then got to wait for me to get back from Target!)


Our flight does not leave Houston until later tonight, but I am now trying to sort out how to get my $28 vacuum from Texas to Florida.

How do you solve a problem like a vacuum?

Saturday, November 29, 2008


Heard Friday morning in my mom's guest room:

Irishman: Psst! Jen, what time is it?
Me: It is 3:05. Now go back to sleep!
Irishman: It is almost time!
Me: The alarm is set. Go back to sleep.
Irishman: My body must just be ready from last year's 4am start. What TIME is the alarm set for?
Me: Go. To. Sleep.

He woke me up again at 4:17. The alarm was set for 4:30.

I'll have more tales from Friday to share, but for now we are off to a movie! The give away deadline has been extended. See the update below.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Thanksgiving Giveaway

I've won two bloggy giveaways in recent months and I have decided to try my hand at hosting a giveaway. Now today is Thanksgiving, and what says Thanksgiving more than pumpkin pie? I have had this Bath and Body Works pumpkin basket sitting around for a few months now. It is looking for a good home.

Now, I know that there are a number of you who read this but never comment. (Mostly because you've told me that you read this but never comment!) This is your chance!

Here's the plan:
* To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment here by Saturday at 8pm Central time. Anyone may leave a comment.
* Due to the cost of shipping, I am going to limit this to US mailing addresses. I love my in-laws in Ireland, but my cheap Irish husband bank account can't handle the shipping! = )
* I will figure out some random way to choose a winner.
*Look for a post by Monday (I have some traveling to do!) to announce the winner.

Happy Thanksgiving!

**Updated: Because my little sister works from 8am-midnight on Saturdays, I am going to extend the deadline to 1am eastern time Monday. I'll be traveling Sunday anyway, so I'll be able to pick a winner when I get back to the Sunshine State. (Which should be about 1am eastern time Monday!)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pass it Forward

Monday I mailed my "Pass it Forward" card to Laine.

(If you don't mind, take a minute to have a look at the CaringBridge site. You can get the whole story there. I'll be here when you come back. I promise!)

My friends Rachel, Laura, and Melissa have all blogged about Leighton.

The Irishman and I have been praying for the Harper family with our CCD class. We have been talking about doing more, but we were not sure what to do to help.

I read Beachy Mimi's Pay it Forward post and decided to enter her giveaway. The idea is that the very generous Beachy Mimi sends the winners two $50 Walmart gift cards. One is to give away to someone who you think could really use it and the other is to keep. (The Irishman has plans for Christmas gifts from that!)

Well my card from Beachy Mimi came and I have sent the gift on to Laine. (As you can tell from the picture, Rafa helped!) I was thrilled to find a homemade Thanksgiving card left over from when my then boyfriend lived across the pond and I had no life my creative days.

(I should probably leave out the part where are I was late to school yesterday morning trying to get this post ready. Even then I had to give up and move on. Oops!)

This was a really spectacular idea and I am so happy to get to take part in Beachy Mimi's Pass it Forward! Click here to read other stories from the Pass it Forward winners.

I will do my first ever giveaway later this week. Be sure to check back!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving with the Irishman

One of the biggest perks to having married someone from across the pond is Thanksgiving. Until he moved out here a few years ago, Morgan had never celebrated Thanksgiving. This means there is absolutely no question about whose family we celebrate with - Houston here we come!

Morgan's first Thanksgiving was quite memorable. We did all the typical things - slept in, watched the parade, visited with my family. Then there was the dinner. He was most impressed with my mom's cooking. Food and family - he was sold on the holiday.

Then came Friday. We'd scoured the ads looking for the best deals as we ate our kolaches on Thursday morning. So at 5:00am we were at Kohl's. Morgan was in shock that I'd dragged him along so early. I tried to convince him that it was 6:00 in Florida, but it didn't help....

...until we made it in the store. The lines were so long (estimated two hour wait) that by the time we found what we wanted we decided to come back. At Walmart we were blocked in by carts in the electronics department...but Morgan was impressed. He got out the phone card and called his brothers and sisters in Ireland to ask which CD's they might want. He could not believe the sales.

I always give Morgan a hard time about the exchange rate...he (and his father) tend to slightly greatly exaggerate the exchange rate to favor whichever way it sounds like a better deal. There were lots of "That would be ____ euro at home! That is the same as (insert slightly inflated $ amount here)!" to me and "How much is it in town? It is only ___ euro here!" to the crowd in Ireland.

We made it to Kohl's (twice), Walmart, Target, Baybrook Mall, Circuit City (twice), James Avery, Old Navy, and Best Buy. At 4:00pm I called Morgan on his 'mobile' while we were separated in Barnes and Noble. I was the one to fly the white flag...I'd had it.

My friends and family gave me a hard time that year for "dragging" Morgan out shopping...little did they know that the Irish cannot pass up a bargain! The next year we were much more efficient. We ran into Kohl's looking for a bag and we took turns standing in line. We cut out a lot of wait time from the year before. We were completely done shopping by 11:00am.

Morgan is a Christmas he is quite happy that Thanksgiving means the beginning of the Christmas season. In Ireland they tend to go with the more traditional Dec 8th Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Thanks to my husband, all the radios at our house are already tuned to the all Christmas music station. We have had early Thanksgiving with Grandma Betty and Grandpa Boo twice already.

We fly to Houston this afternoon. My brother is going to fry a turkey this year (another thing Morgan loves). I am making the green bean casserole and Morgan is making the mashed potatoes with his secret Papa John's ingredient.

Morgan has already been online to look at the early copies of the ads. He is rethinking our route this year now that we have a Kohls in Florida. There are still details to work out, but our game plan is almost set. We are going to try to get back early enough to take a nap before Arkansas and LSU play so you can bet we will be efficient!


Happy Thanksgiving to our friends and family!

Go Hogs!


Let the games begin!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Words to Live For

The Irishman and I have taught 8th/9th grade confirmation classes for the last three years. We find it challenging at times, but we feel like it is something we have been called to do. When we signed up, we were hoping for an elementary class. Teaching CCD for a sacramental class is a bit more pressure!

Every time we start to think that maybe we will take next year off, something happens to change our mind. Last week one of our kids insisted on staying after to help us clean up. It is the Holy Spirit acting through the little things that keeps us going.

Today after our confirmation class, I overheard one of our ninth grade students tell another that she is grateful to be in our class. We were mixed with the other class and things were a little hectic.

When she realized that I'd heard what she said, I told her that we were thankful for our class as well. (As the other half of the room was throwing things and hitting each other.)

The student went on to say that her mother said she could see God in me. Now, that was from a quick introduction at meet the teacher day, but I was really touched. I think that is just about the best compliment I could ever hope to get.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Positives (Part Two of Two)

Yesterday was the best of times and the worst of times all in one. I've told of what made Friday faulty, so here is what made my Friday fabulous.

* We met our goal for the Penny Harvest! My kids at school raised just over $1000 in pennies! We really did not think we would make it. I did the "happy penny dance" all morning. That takes some serious excitement!

* After work, the Irishman and I went to the mall. There was a parade in the mall. The marching band and nutcracker characters ushered in the big guy himself. (I'll confess. I did not see Santa myself. The Irishman and I had split up to do some shopping and he told me that Santa was there.) It was pretty cool.

* The Irishman left with a bag from a jewelry store. I'd say Santa was there. = )

* I was in a bit of a funk, so the Irishman also bought me a Fossil purse I've had my eye on for a while. It has been on clearance, but not low enough for me. I said we'd chance it and wait, but the Irishman insisted.

* Even better yet, he said I can use it right away, even though it is on my Christmas list. He is the best!

* I got home and found a card in the mail from Beachy Mimi. I was one of the winners in her Pay-it-Forward...again give away. This will get its own post once I pay-it-forward. After the car ride home getting a card from Beachy Mimi was the best!

* Waiting for me at the front door was the missing piece for my Cricut. My mom gave it to me for my birthday, but I hadn't been able to use it due to a missing part. I must say that the Cricut people are amazing. Once I finally got around to calling they sent a replacement part right away with no hoops to jump through minimal questions.

* I have a plan for homemade Christmas gifts. The best part of all - I already have all the supplies! (Actually, my mom has agreed to loan me the one thing that I needed.) It has been years since I made Christmas gifts. I was able to use my Cricut last night to make a sample. I am SUPER excited. With the guest room set up as a temporary craft room, I am feeling creative.

* HOUSTON! We are spending Thanksgiving in Houston with my mom. I am super excited. The Irishman and I are already making plans. = )

* Bring on the music. Today is the day I usually cave and let Morgan start with the Christmas music and movies. I think I may even put the Christmas table cloth on the dining room table.

So there you go! The Liverpool game is about to start and the Irishman is kicking me off the computer. Have a great Saturday!

The Negatives (Part One of Two)

So yesterday was a day of ups and downs. I had so many things to be happy about...and then several that left me feeling wiped out.

**Disclaimer: This is a negative post. If you do not wish to read my moaning, leave now!

SO, I am going to do this in two parts. That way my negatives will get buried by my positives. That probably only makes sense to me, but it is "Jenny's Journal," so I guess that is okay!

So here are the things that made Friday faulty:
(It was a bad day - alliteration helps. You should try it some time.)

* One of my co-workers and I are not on speaking terms. It is just awkward. There were e-mails sent to ask questions from down the hall instead of just popping in like we would usually do. The principals have been CC'd on almost every e-mail conversation between the two of us. It will blow over, but until stinks.

* Last weekend I turned the guest room into a temporary craft room. We'd really hoped it would be a nursery by now, but God does not have that planned for us. I am SO happy for all of our friends and family who have been blessed with little ones. For the past 18 months though their happiness is a reminder to us that it isn't our time yet. (Times two yesterday.)

* The car died yesterday. The engine cut out. At a light. On a busy street. Panic ensued. The Irishman called his father in Ireland. After a bit I realized that the car was still in drive so I could not take out the key to restart it. Thankfully it started up again and we took back roads home. I repeated the Hail Mary the whole way home. The WHOLE way home. Car problems REALLY stress me out. I can only thank God for getting us back safely.

* We are a one car family. The one car is 9 years old older than many of my third graders and has 140,000 miles on it. When something happens to the one car, it is the end of the world as we know it a disaster. We are freaking out distraught about this. We are considering buying something much nicer than what we have a used car. This is not the time of year (budget wise) that we would usually plan another big expense.

* We I have to drive us to the airport this week. We get back at about midnight on Sunday. Car trouble then would be bad. Very bad.

* We have learned from our poor planning past that getting back at midnight makes the next week a bear difficult. Our plans for this weekend are to get everything in order for when we get back. It is needed, but it lacks in the fun department.

* I have an appointment with the neurologist scheduled Monday. Wednesday at school my face went numb. Now my hands go numb when I rest on my elbows or carry heavy bags, but it has been 8 or so years a long time since my face went numb. It also only usually happens with a migraine. Thankfully I have been migraine-free this week. The Irishman is super freaked out. I am fine to just wait to see what the doctor has to say.

* Even before we had the car issue looming over us, Morgan and I agreed that we needed to sit down and make a holiday budget. Budgets are not fun. We started. We are really good about things like that, but they are still not fun. We have a lot of great plans for the next month or so, but we have to figure out how to make it all work.

* It is looking like our annual Christmas Disney trip is not going to happen this year. We have the tickets. We can get the time off work. We are not sure about the state of our ancient car transportation. It is still going to cost us for the hotel and food. We know we need to act like grown ups be responsible, but it still sucks is a disappointment.

So there you have it. I got it out of my system. If you actually made it to the end of this, I am sorry for leaving you with that. I guess that is just life though!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Just Call Him Fred...Grandpa Fred

After record high temperatures on Saturday, we woke up Sunday morning to find a refreshing cold front had come through. Rafa and Moses were in heaven as I opened the windows as we get ready for Church.

As I was putting on my makeup, the Irishman came in with a "How do I look?" I was giving him my utmost attention a bit distracted, so I supportingly said muttered something to the effect of, "You look great." As the words come out of my mouth I realized there was something a little off about his outfit.

Which I suppose would explain the shocked look on his face as I amended my original comment.

"The jacket looks a little grandpa-ish."

That one stopped him in in tracks.

I believe it was a look of shock.

Now, he was wearing a navy blue Adidas Munster jacket.He refers to it as the official jacket of Santa Claus. (The Munster logo has the deer)

The jacket itself does not say old man, but there was something about it that just wasn't right.

After CCD, one of our students stayed behind to clean the chalkboard. The Irishman took the opportunity to ask this poor kid about his jacket. It was a very polite but non-committal answer.

Morgan decided that my cousin Colleen would be the final judge. She is always dressed well and would be the perfect neutral party.

Right after Sunday brunch at GB & GB's, we asked Colleen for her thoughts on the jacket.

Her first response was that it looked a bit like something from the Sopranos.

Then after closer inspection she decided that there was something about it that reminded her of Mr. Roger's cardigans.

Now Mr. Rogers is an icon, but it apparently did not travel across the pond. The Irishman pulled his phone out of his pocket and did a google search for Mr. Rogers. Thanks to YouTube he could see for himself within minutes.

He was not impressed.

For the record, I did ask if i could post a picture of him in the aforementioned jacket. I tried bribery, but even that failed.

You will just have to use your imagination...and YouTube.

Won't you be my neighbor?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Date Night

Saturday night Morgan decided was "date night." Now we are fairly thrifty most the time not extravagant people, but after buying our holiday flights we have really been pinching pennies. Actually, I will amend that. I donated all of our pennies to the Penny Harvest, so we do not even have pennies to pinch!

We had a cheap great night though. We had movie passes, so we went to see the new James Bond movie. It was the Irishman's choice. I have never really been into James Bond, but I do not have anything against the man, so I didn't mind too much. It was a bit complicated, but it was a fun popcorn movie.

We continued onto PF Chang's for dinner. (Thank you to June & Chris for the gift card! We've been saving it.) After about a 30 minute wait we were seated in a booth towards the back of the restaurant.

Now, the last time we went to PF Changs was with the Irishman's (Irish) friend Noel. He is one of Morg's college friends mates from uni. Noel is currently working in Norway and was doing consulting before that. He is well traveled and always fun to have visit.

The Irishman and I will always think of Noel when we go to PF Changs. You see, when we took Noel to PF Changs a few months ago we had a great waitress. She was very attentive and even folded the Mu Shu Pork Pancakes like a pro. I was impressed and felt that her excellent service should be rewarded. We asked for the manager and praised our waitress.

At about this time, Morgan lost the battle to pay the bill. Noel handed over the check to the waitress and we waited for the change.

And we waited for the change.

And we waited for the change.

The Irish are not big on making a scene. Good or bad, they will just go with it. At this point the Irish contingency was giving me a hard time. You see we'd already praised the waitress. She'd then disappeared.

With all the money.

We sat there looking at each other and each suggesting that the other was the best person to speak up and resolve the situation. At last our waitress appeared and (embarrassed that we were still sitting there) said, "Oh! Did you need change?"

And Noel, not wanting to make a scene, said no.

The tip was almost as much as the bill.

Morgan still gives him a hard time about it.

So imagine our her shock when we get the same waitress on our cheap date night Saturday. We left a nice enough tip, but we're no Noel!

Let's just say we didn't linger after paying the bill this time!

Saturday, November 15, 2008


If you've been following me here for a while, you will know how I feel about NASA. With that being said, the Irishman and I went out in our yard and saw the space shuttle launch light up the night sky last night.

I have to admit, it was pretty cool that it is so far away from us but we could still see it going up. This is the second launch I've caught. We were at Disney once for a night launch - on the bus from MGM to the Magic Kingdom.

So there, I admit it. I may not care for Nasa, but the launches are pretty cool.

(Let's not share that with the Irishman. He hasn't yet started suggesting we visit Space Center Houston during our Thanksgiving trip and I don't want to give him any ideas!)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Free Photobook

I just saw that Kim had posted on Facebook about getting a free Snapfish photobook if you go to I just tried, and it worked! I've ordered the photobooks before and have been very happy with them.

From the website:
* This offer is only good for one standard 20-page 8" x 11" custom-cover photo book per household. Coupon dispersal ends at 11:59 p.m. PST Friday, November 14, 2008. Free photo book must be redeemed by 11:59 p.m. PST Sunday, November 16, 2008. Offer does not include customary shipping and handling changes or additional pages. Offer applies only to mail-order delivery to U.S. customers. Offer cannot be combined with other coupon codes. Coupon cannot be resold or otherwise transferred and is void on the earlier of redemption or the offer end date.

Due to heavy demand, you may experience some slowness navigating to the website. Please be patient and try again later.

So if you read this in time, go check it out!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

He's Back!

When Morgan and I first started dating he lived across the pond. On my first visit to see him in Ireland, I brought with me 6 VHS tapes full of his favorite shows. We were often at least half a season ahead of Irish TV, so they loved a sneak peak.

(That may be one way I won over my in-laws. Even better than that, there was only one TV in the house that had been programed to show American tapes, so they all crammed into bunk beds for West Wing and ER marathons.)

As I'd posted before, ER is special to us. We celebrate "ER Day" as our first date. We watched the episode where Dr. Greene died the night we decided to "give things a go."

So it seems a little odd so many years later to watch Dr. Greene return to ER. I know it is a flashback episode, but it is still not something I saw coming!

We usually record ER and watch it the next day, but this is too good to pass up.

At least tomorrow is Friday!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Dinner Soundtrack

I have been fighting a migraine all day, so instead of the eggplant rollatini I'd planned to make to using our CSA veggies, we picked up a rotisserie chicken on the way home from work. The Irishman offered to make a veggie side dish to complete the meal.

As we walked in the house he came up with a new rule...

"If I make the dinner, I get to choose the soundtrack."

I know him enough to guess exactly where he is going with this. My head hurts enough not to care.

So as I type this I am listening to "All I Want for Christmas is You." We've already been through "Jingle Bells" and "The First Noel."

The things I will do to avoid cooking...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


When I was in Houston earlier this year I mentioned to my mom that I was looking for a way to recycle used CDs. I had lots of them at home but could not find a use for them.

My mom, being my mom, did not skip a beat. She went digging through her bookcases and showed me multiple examples of CD projects. She's good like that.

I LOVED the look of the CD scrapbooks. They used an old CD as the pages of the book. You can cover the disc with paper and then add your photos and embellishments. You make a small hole in each disc and then attach a ring or ribbon to connect the pages.

At a planning meeting a few months ago I suggested we use the CD idea to make books with our third graders. My team loved the idea and we started collecting old CDs.

Now we are making planet books. That means each book needs one disc for each planet plus a cover. We also need one book for each of 60 students. Thank goodness Pluto was demoted!

We have collected over 600 discs. Today was the day I decided to figure out how exactly to make a small hole in each of the 600 old cds. The book my mom had recommended using an awl. I would gladly make one book using and awl, but 600 discs with an awl is more than I could handle. So, I did what any gal in my position would have done.

I went to Grandpa.

We played with power tools this morning only to discover that the drill melts the disc. You can do a couple that way, but not 600. Grandpa made a few more suggestions of things I could try, and then I did the second thing any gal would do in this situation.

I called my mommy.

She suggested the Crop-A-Dile. I headed out to Michael's and when I got there I found an ad left behind in the parking lot with a 50% off coupon. I saved $20. That's the Holy Spirit in action, y'all!

I just tried it out and yes, the Crop-A-Dile did what the power tools failed to do. I have a sample book ready to go.

The university students assigned to my classroom are about to meet 600 of my closest roundest friends and my new pal the Crop-A-Dile.

P.S. How cute are these? I think I just found a new use for my Crop-A-Dile!

Brow Blues

My eyebrows in their natural state are enough for three people. If I was not so cheap thrifty I could easily go every week or two to get them waxed. Instead I pluck daily when I remember to and get my eyebrows waxed when they get so bad that I can't take it anymore.

In the last 10 years or so I have had a few good women work on my eyebrows. The ones I could trust. The ones who made sure all was okay.

Lately, not so much.

I twice went to the nail salon next to the grocery store. The second time I went I recognized too late the, "Gee you have a lot of eyebrows" and suddenly went pale. This was the woman who made my eyebrows so uneven I swore I would not go back...but it had been a stressful week and I'd forgotten. I was stuck!

I thought I'd found a keeper this summer. Morgan bought be a gift card to a local day spa. I loved the lady who gave me a facial and made an appointment to go back...only to find her replacement was not nearly as talented.

They all start out confident. They tell me I have very thick brows. Often they scold me because they are not well kept or they are uneven.

Then come the excuses.
"Your hair is so thick that one hair makes the whole thing uneven."
"The person you went to before made a mistake."
"These little hairs are too small, I can't get them."
"Wow! Your face gets REALLY red."

I could go on...the last three times they have given up. They bring out the mirror to show me. You can almost see the "please don't look too close" look on their faces. I have had to ask them to make them even. More than once. To several different people. At several different salons.

So I had today off because of Veteran's Day. I was across town and decided to try a repeat eyebrow wax at a salon I've had luck with in the past. I do not look like I've been beaten. They are a little thin, but at least they seem to be even.

I think I may have lowered my standards.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

My Hero

It took me a week to edit the pictures, but here is the result of the 2008 Halloween Costume Vote:

Thank you to all who voted!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Signs (and Songs) of the Times

Today was the day my class has been waiting for...

Today was the day we began...


I love the first few days of multiplication. They love it. They adore it. They think I am great for teaching it to them.

This fades of course as soon as my darlings realize that now they have to MEMORIZE all those pesky facts, but it is fun for a while!

Today was also the first day of Tunes That Teach Multiplication Facts. The Irishman can always tell when I start multiplication at school. The songs give me away!

It's a hard one.
It's a doozy.
Just remembering this fact can make you woozy...

I love my job!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

What are the odds?

Last night was a nice night - quiet, but nice. We have a multitude of baby gifts to buy so we have been picking up one or two each weekend. We also managed to find a Christmas present or two. (Slow and steady stays under budget wins the race!)

The Irishman and I started watching 30 Rock last night from Netflix. I think we may have to watch a few more before we decide what we think of it. We went to bed at about between 10:00 and 11:00 last night. We got a lot done around the house yesterday and were worn out.

I slept well but woke up at 2:59 this morning. I was with it enough to keep my eyes on the clock. We have one of those clocks in our bedroom that sets itself. Which means...I saw the time change. The clock went from 2:59 to 2:00. I was completely asleep and woke up for about 3 minutes...enough to see the time change.

I know this is probably completely boring for everyone else, but the Irishman and I were impressed. I guess that's why we are so good together! = )

Friday, October 31, 2008

Pumpkins, Part 2

You might think I have a thing with pumpkins. This might have given it away. Or my love for this. And I am SUPER excited about BYOP.

In 2005 Morgan's friend Lee came to visit from London. On his previous trip to Florida, Morgan was hit by a car and broke his shoulder. (You can just imagine the fun he had on that trip!) We were looking for "American" things to do and decided to get a pumpkin. We were most impressed - and we cornered Lee into taking a few pictures of us.

(And to wrap up the Lee story, Hurricane Wilma hit the day after these pictures were taken. Poor Lee flew in from London only to experience a hurricane and a sold week afterwards without power. Needless to say he has not been back to visit!)

So each year Morgan and I have gone back for our "pumpkin picture." This year we got Catholic pumpkins from the church where we used to teach Confirmation classes. The pumpkins are under a big tent...good for the pumpkins, but bad for my pictures. The photos are a bit too orange for my liking, but I guess it is a pumpkin picture!

So I present to you our pumpkin history. (I took out the pre-marital pumpkin. Those are scary pictures. Take my word for it!)

So enjoy! The Irishman Indiana Jones has made me dinner. I'm thinking pumpkin for desert...

Monday, October 27, 2008

My Irishman

I was invited to steal this from another Jenny who teaches in Florida.

So here is a meme about my Irishman...

1. He's sitting in front of the TV. What's he watching? When I'm not around he will put on CNN, Star Wars (Has anyone else noticed that it is ALWAYS on some cable network), or DVDs of old Liverpool victories. He owns every episode ever made of West Wing, Only Fools and Horses, and Father Ted.

2. You are out to eat, what kind of dressing does he get on his salad? Oil and vinegar

3. What's one food he doesn't like? Our house is a mayonnaise free zone. He is also not a fan of ketchup. Or mustard.

4. You go out to a bar, what does he order? Coca-Cola

5. Where did he go to High School? Ashton School in Cork, Ireland

6. What size shoe does he wear? 10 1/2

7. If he were to collect anything, what would it be? The spare room is currently a shrine to Morgan's favorite things. We've graduated from posters to framed pictures of his favorite sporting moments. There are also a number of Star Wars "things" around the room.

8. What is his favorite sandwich? Meatloaf sandwiches. They usually come about because I am SO sick of the leftover meatloaf that he has to finish it for both of us!

9. What would he eat every day if he could? An Irish fry up.

His mother sent him some Irish breakfast meats for his birthday last year. Rashers, sausage (not the same as the American stuff), black pudding, and white pudding were waiting in a freezer box outside the door when we got home from work. Morg was in heaven.

10. What is his favorite cereal? Due to high cholesterol and blood pressure (see above!) he has switched from the "fun" cereals to the healthy stuff. He is pretty easy going about it though as long as the milk is heated first.

11. What would he never wear? A Manchester United jersey.

12. What is his favorite sports team? LIVERPOOL! He is a fanatic. He loves sport though and loves his teams...Blackrock, Cork, Ireland. Thank goodness for the Internet!

(an artistic shot of the Liverpool crest on his shorts...)

13. Who will he vote for? We don't usually agree on politics. However I am okay with that because my vote counts more. As an Irish citizen he will not be voting in Novemeber.

14. Who is his best friend? His family. (I told him I said that and he was horrified that I did not say that I am. I consider myself to be part of his family!) In terms of the family across the pond though, we thank God that we found Vonage. We have unlimited calls to Ireland and England...and we use it!

15. What is something you do that he wishes you wouldn't do? Use ketchup. He really can't stand the stuff.

16. How many states has he lived in? Just Florida. Not quite a fair question for him though. He has also lived in Ireland and London. They also spent summers in Spain growing up. He's well traveled.

17. What is his heritage? Umm, Irish. He's the real deal...accent and all.

18. You bake him a cake for his birthday, what kind of cake is it? He likes cheesecake best, but not homemade. His birthday would require a trip to the Cheesecake Factory. I can't compete with that!

19. Did he play sports in High School? He played field hockey and coached soccer.

20. What could he spend hours doing? Talking to family and friends, video editing, sleeping, eating, or listening to Christmas music.

I love you babe!

So, there you have it! Feel free to steal this yourself!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Pie? I'll pass!

It went on for about 10 minutes. It turns out that I am worth $1.50 a go. Let's hope the National Junior Honor Society appreciates my contribution.

Sometimes pictures say it best...

The Irishman was impressed that the line extended into the hallway. We haven't decided if that is a good thing or not!

My favorite moment of the evening was as I was leaving. I was walking through the hall in my scrubs and with my face and hair covered in whipped cream when one of the younger kids stopped me. They looked me up and down and said, "WHAT are YOU supposed to be?"

Green Thumb

Earlier this week I had my yellow frilly gloves on and 19 little darlings sitting criss-cross-applesauce on the rug around me. I was digging through the Can-O-Worms looking for half decomposed fruit covered in worms. I found a nice bunch on what used to be a banana peel. The kids squealed in delight.

Then I came across something. It truly was a moment of panic. There were 19 pairs of eyes on me and something mysterious in the worm bin. I was trying to keep cool...

Then I realized that my Can-O-Worms was growing.

We fed the worms some of our pumpkin guts last week. I tried to avoid the seeds but I obviously didn't do a very good job of that. I thought I'd pulled up the sprouts, but this is what greeted me yesterday morning:

I may not have a green thumb, but my worms do!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Odds & Ends

First, I will confess to spending too much time online this weekend. Morgan is coaching a soccer team and was at training Saturday morning. I did some laundry, put the wet clothes out on the clothesline, made yogurt, and sat at the computer. Okay so a lot of sitting at the computer!

I am loving Google Reader. I don't think I will admit to how many blogs I have subscribed to. I'll give you a hint though. I taught rounding this let's just say the number would round up to 100. No, I won't make you sing the rounding song to figure that can take my word for it!

I did finally get up the nerve to change the background on my blog. I was blog-hopping and found a site that sounded okay. They have some cute Halloween designs. Head over to Simply Chic Blog Backgrounds and check it out!

I actually won a give away a few weeks ago. The Crunchy Domestic Goddess was giving away a pack of SKOY cloths. They are like sponges but not. We have one started in the kitchen and so far like it. It will eventually end up in my compost bin.

Speaking of which, I did start the compost bin. I think I am going to make it a big worm bin though. I am nervous about the bugs. (I already have flies!) And the smell. (It isn't quite roses!) The Can-O-Worms in my classroom is orderless and the flies stay away if I keep things buried. It is in the shade so I think a pound or two of worms should do the trick! (That is yet another thing I researched this morning on the computer...)

My tub of lettuce has done well this time. (Last time I lost in a battle against the bugs!) I picked some leaves to make a salad with dinner. I added some of the giant CSA cucumber, yum! It was a nice addition to the grilled chicken and corn. The Irishman did a nice job!

So now the rest of my to do list for the weekend looks something like this:

* Teach CCD
* Mass
* Grocery shopping
* Order worms
* Visit Pumpkin Patch
* Start Christmas shopping
* Beach
* Finish lesson plans
* Get mail ready for post office Monday

We'll see how it goes!

Friday, October 17, 2008

One Day to Give: Penny Harvest

I have been looking at this for a while now. I was really not sure how I wanted to take part. This is right up my alley, but what to do...

We recently bought our plane tickets for the holidays so money has been a little tight, but it is because we've put family first and we are okay with that. (And we just bought plane tickets to Houston and Ireland. One cannot cry poverty while in possession of plane tickets to Houston and Ireland!)

With that being said, I was not sure how to take part in this challenge. We volunteer a bit already. We make our usual donations. Nothing seemed special enough.

Then I realized that I have spent a fair bit of time this week working on the Penny Harvest.

Service Learning is something that is important to me. I have seen a multitude of school service projects that help the less fortunate, but they have no connection to the students taking part. Students often participate because they are bribed. (The class that raises the most will win a pizza party, etc.)

Service learning makes a difference. The service and the learning are equally valued. The projects are more meaningful.

I love the Penny Harvest concept. A friend and I went to a session about PH at the state service learning conference last year. After some research we convinced our principal to let us sign up.

We are recruiting student leaders who will help us with the "gather pennies" stage. I presented the idea at the faculty meeting today and it was well received.

So even though the economy may not be the best, I am working to make every penny count. One kid at a time!

Thursday, October 16, 2008


No, this is not the annual pumpkin picture we take at the sad excuse for a pumpkin patch that we have here in South Florida.

No, this is not where I rave about the splendid Pumpkin Butter I made after reading though my google reader blogs. (Although it was heavenly and I will be making more!)

Today was the pumpkin project.

The one where each of my 19 darling third graders brought a pumpkin to school.

We predicted, measured, and graphed the mass of each pumpkin with the guts. They performed surgery on the pumpkins and then predicted, measured, and graphed the mass of the pumpkin without the guts. Then we moved on to height and circumference.

Did I mention predicting if it sinks/floats and counting the number of vertical lines? Or classifying the pumpkins at your table 4 different ways? How about reading The Pumpkin Book and writing a paragraph about the life cycle of a pumpkin?

Do you have time for meeting with your fourth grade writing buddies to write a descriptive paragraph about the pumpkin you named and spent so much time with today? No problem, we'll squeeze it in AFTER we feed the pumpkin guts to the worms.

I do love this project! I did however have 19 children "gutting" pumpkins in my classroom today. (I am not completely crazy, I called in the cavalry...7 parent volunteers and 1 university student.)

..but I am exhausted. And now toasting the pumpkin seeds.

...and writing up a presentation for the faculty meeting tomorrow about the Penny Harvest I've signed up to lead at the school this year. Thank goodness it's (almost) Friday!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Yellow Watermelon

Today we got our first box from our local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). We get a box every two weeks that we are splitting with our friends Lyndsay and Dave. The season here runs from October to May, so we have been waiting a while to see what it is like!

Now I remember reading about Rachel's blue egg, but we were still a little surprised to get our yellow watermelon. When Lyndsay told us it was a yellow watermelon we assumed she meant the rind was yellow. In fact on the outside it was a perfect striped green. I would love to have seen her face when she cut it to find the yellow insides!

(I ate a few pieces when we got home tonight - it tastes great!) The Yellow Watermelon is wrapped in plastic in the picture, but you can see it along with the squash, pepper, cucumber, and lettuce.

Morgan and Lyndsay went nuts when they saw turnips on the list of possible veggies. Apparently turnips are a big thing in Ireland. We have discovered though that what they call turnips are what we call rutabaga.

Black Eyed Peas are on the list of items we'd prefer not to get in our box, so they gave us turnips this week instead. They are not quite what the local Irish expected though, so we are looking up recipes to find out how to use our turnips. (We have mostly greens, but Morg and Lyndsay wanted the bottoms!)

Here are the Not-so-Irish Turnips:

We are quite happy with our box this week and look forward to seeing what we get each week. For now I think this means we will have corn with dinner!

Now I just need to actually plant my Square Foot Garden...