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! = )