Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

This Halloween morning, Annelise had a big Fall Festival at Montessori. It's one of the school's most beloved events of the year, with tons of carnival games followed by a big potluck lunch. We signed up to bring a dessert: the easy healthy chocolate chip pumpkin muffins were a MAJOR HIT!




Tonight's trick-or-treating was a bit unique - our new neighborhood is tiny: just 10 homes, and we're only one of two houses with kids; so we trick-or-treated a few streets over in a neighborhood where a bunch of Will's bus buddies live. We were so happy to run into quite a number of them while we walked, and we joined up with the Neville family for most of our trek. Trick-or-treating is MUCH MORE fun when it's with friends! (& for the record, everyone loved the M&M! ;-))




Sunday, October 30, 2011

Toothless Wonder

Guess who lost her very 1st tooth tonight while brushing her teeth before bed?!?!
She came downstairs dancing around, bursting with joy! She said, "The tooth fairy is really going to come tonight! Maybe she'll bring me candy, since it's Halloween!" :-D Our family's tooth fairy is old school cheap: 50¢ [no $20 bills or DSi's here!] ...but tonight she may stick a piece of candy in there, too. ;-)

How can our baby be old enough for this?

Pre-Halloween Festivities!

Our Halloween celebration has already been going on for DAYS! I got my first taste as Cinderella at Hollywood Affair Thursday night. [Side bar: my spiritual thoughts on Halloween: I love Jesus, and I love celebrating Halloween!!! I don't like it when people try to make Halloween all about evil. It's about having fun, dressing up, & getting candy. Period. If you need to make it spiritual, it's about celebrating God's triumph & authority over evil through mockery. Here are two articles on that subject I like: a Southern Baptist Halloween Rant and a historical perspective on Halloween's Christian custom roots. Not saying that either of these is the Gospel, but I like their perspectives. In our house, evil doesn't even come up. I relish the innocent joy of harmless costumes & CANDY! :-D]

So speaking of costumes, I made my very first homemade Halloween costume for Will! (I came up with many of my own when I was younger, but this is the first I've made for one of our kids.) Will *LOVES* NASCAR driver Kyle Busch. "Love" may not be a strong enough word; and Will really wanted to be Kyle for Halloween. Well, Kyle Busch firesuits (uniforms) are sold-out everywhere online...but I actually didn't think that was so bad: NASCAR fans are crazy vocal, and I wouldn't put it past some rude redneck fan of a rival driver to say, "Hey kid, your costume sucks! Kyle is a loser!" :'( That would break.my.heart. Sooo, since M&M's is Kyle's big sponsor, I suggested why not go as an M&M! He was THRILLED at this option...and I thought I could actually no-sew this costume...right?

I bought a yard of red felt 40% off at Hobby Lobby, doubled it over, cut the biggest circle possible, put the two sides up to Will & pinned it together, slipped him out, and hot glued the seams shut where needed. I then found an M&M's "M" picture online; I had my Silhouette SD automatically trace the image & cut it out of white vinyl; and I stuck it in the middle of the red felt circle. Ta da! [I found it oddly divine that I did all this while watching Project Runway & Mad Fashion. Chris March, I tried to make you proud! :-D]

Friday night, the kids & I went over to Thronateeska & the Flint RiverQuarium for their annual "Tricks & Treats" Halloween Event. It was a great, family-friendly time, (and I was extra excited to support the event, b/c I helped to decorate for it Friday morning though Junior League volunteering. :-)) The RiverQuarium had a costume contest (Will got a little prize!), games & candy stations throughout, animal presentations (the snakes from Will's bday were out!), a jumpy house, a scary [to Annelise :-P] “professor’s laboratory” haunted room, and a spooky dive show! That was so cool - we've been to dive shows there before where we watch them feed the fish, but this time, the divers were in amazing flowy costumes! (Pardon the awful phone pic quality...)
At Thronateeska, they had face painting (Will got a train, of course), candy stations, dinosaur bone puzzles, and a weather center with [green-screened] floating heads. :-P A trick-or-treating candy path along Riverfront Trail connected Thronateeska & the RiverQuarium. The best part? It was totally free, b/c we're members!

The kids scored loads more candy on Saturday & Sunday with Sissy's festival parade and then a carnival at church.

Tomorrow (Halloween) morning, Annelise has a HUGE Fall Festival at Montessori. It's one of the school's biggest events of the year. At least one parent of every student attends and helps run the carnival part. I signed up to help run the photo booth. :-) Then we all get to share a big potluck lunch. We signed up to bring a dessert: the easy healthy chocolate chip pumpkin muffins, of course!

Tonight on the phone, my mom said to Annelise, "You know Halloween has always been your Mommy's favorite holiday?" She replied, "Yep! Because she gets to eat our candy!" Smart girl... ;-)

Peach's 1st Parade

Now that our Princess Pumpkin Peach is more than just *our* royalty, she greeted her people as Tiny Miss Smithville in their festival parade yesterday morning. :-D It was COOOLD! (50's & windy - I know that's not the snow the north endured, but anything less than 65° is colder than we are comfortable. Unfortunately with her cold urticaria, she did start to break out a tiny bit on her cheeks, but it wasn't bad, and I kept her bundled tightly in our big blanket. She still had a blast, & it warmed up by lunch!) I was excited to get to ride along as her Mommy-in-Waiting, ;-) and the best part was that we were right behind our local high school marching band! Annelise & I rocked out the entire length of the parade route. :-D




"Education Rocks" & Silhouette Spirit Decals

On Thursday, Will's 2nd grade class put on a program with another class called "Education Rocks".

This was the first of their four songs; Will's rocking out in the front row to the left of the mic stand. He said the girl beside him's hair kept tickling his nose! :-P (I'll spare you from the robotic "Information Age" song that is still stuck in my head! :-D It does get a lot better than the short clip I took. ;-))

He was *SO PROUD* to have not one, but TWO speaking parts. He got a regular line:

("Everything we learn and everything we know gives us power to think as we grow." Pardon the tinny audio - YouTube said it had an audio transfer error?) Then he also got to say at the very end, "Dr. Johnson, do you have any announcements?" Now that, THAT was the pinnacle of awesomeness to him. :-P (Hey, I get it. ;-))

Also, his school PTO is having an auction next month, and each class is putting together a basket to be included in the bidding. Since his teacher is a hard core UGA fan, she asked for items for a Dawgs Basket. Instead of spending money on fan gear, I used my Silhouette SD to craft a fabulous contribution!

An advantage of the Silhouette over the Cricut is that it will cut out *any* shape - you don't have to buy it on a cartridge. I simply googled & saved a random UGA logo,
opened & had it automatically traced in my Silhouette program,
and cut out 3 red vinyl logo decals & "Go Dawgs" for use on a car windshield, favorite cup or water bottle, clipboard, cooler, etc. My contribution is versatile, it took me five minutes from start to finish, & since I already even had that vinyl, it was FREE! *Supermom!* ;-)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Hollywood Affair

Last night was my first big benefit here with this Junior League. It was a red carpet costume party called "Hollywood Affair"

And I went as Cinderella, complete with glass slippers:

It was a fabulous fundraiser, benefiting Albany Autism Center and The Lily Pad (which provides comprehensive care to sexual assault and child abuse victims & their families.) The silent auction items were all fantastic - everything from complete kid's bday party packages to a $2000 quail hunt! :-D (You wouldn't have believed the bidding war on that quail hunt by a group of husbands who kept out-bidding each other! Yay, south Georgia! ;-))

I was super impressed with the desserts and the band, (who played Southern beach music for the first hour before standard party stuff!!! I almost called my mom all choked up when they played "Be Young Be Foolish Be Happy" by The Tams!) I was so very impressed with how many people went all-out with their costumes. (A sample from the first 30 minutes...) There were quite a number of Holly Golightlys (a la Breakfast at Tiffany's) and Sandy & Danny couples from Grease, but I was shocked that I was literally the ONLY princess! (I was worried that was too obvious! :-P)

My favorite couple was this girl on the left (the golden leg lamp from my most beloved A Christmas Story!) and her husband, who wore Ralphie's bunny suit!!! Here also is my friend Staci as Charlie from Top Gun (her man was Maverick) and Stephanie as the Lost Shaker of Salt (accompanying her husband, Jimmy Buffett.) :-D

Yet again, I love this League and am so thankful to be back to life Southern-style!

PS - I wore eyeshadow for the first time since...last Nov(?) and LOOOVED it! I might get on a little makeup kick, again... Maybe...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

[Faux?] iPhone Upgrade

I finally upgraded my iPhone two weekends ago! Welcome me to 2010: after over 2.5 years with my 3G (not even a 3GS :-P), I upgraded to the iPhone 4 when the 4S came out. [Why didn't you get the 4S?!?!?! Because I didn't want to pay for what I don't need. :-P The only thing my old 3G lacked for me was video, so why pay $100 more for a "voice-activated personal assistant" I really don't need? It was a great lesson for the kids re: waiting - "Mommy wanted this new phone last year, but I waited and got $100 off!" and just think! In a couple more years, I can faux-upgrade to whatever comes out next year! ;-) Seriously, I know the 4S truly is amazing (I know I'll battle Siri-envy :-P) ...but so is the 4, when I've only had the 3G for so long! :-D I'm really happy with it!]

In honor of my new BFF, I made a new - monogrammed, of course!!! - wallpaper for it:

And the best part came in the mail today:
Y'all know I have been dreaming of a Lilly iPhone case for ages; but when the 4 was finally in my hands, I didn't know if it would be protected enough in a fashion case, or if it needed something like my old 3G case, (a bulky, thick beast that did the job brilliantly with two sets of grubby kid-hands occasionally playing on it in restaurants.) They won't be touching this one, now that my old one will become their domain, but I had still almost been swayed...until one of my friends (she's my mom's friend, but I certainly consider her mine, too!) said she actually had THIS EXTRA LILLY case for a 4!!! Don't you just love how God can even use FB to bless us across the miles?!?! Thank you, Miss Anne!!!

(Omigosh - I clicked on the Lilly iPhone case links that I had wanted just now, b/c I had thought the case was hard plastic, and I was ECSTATIC to see it's more siliconesque. I wanted to see if the online description explained more what it's made of...and two of my three choices are gone forever, and my third is out-of-stock & on back order! As if I didn't already feel super lucky!!!)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Tiny Miss Pageant

Guess who was crowned Tiny Miss Smithville in their all-natural (no glitz) blue jean pageant?!?!
She's finally got a real crown of her own and can now retire undefeated! :-D

Annelise had been BEGGING to do a pageant for AGES, so when I found out about this local, no make-up or hairspray allowed, just denim & white top, natural pageant, I figured it was our best shot to get her in one w/o having to spend $$$! :-D We made sure she understood it didn't matter if she didn't win, that *we* already know she is the best girl ever, and "you never know if a judge is having a crazy day or not." :-P But she DID win, and now she gets to ride a float in their parade next Saturday, too! Yay!!! (And seriously - she is now retired. :-))

It was so much fun for us! But I honestly can't imagine the pressure of being a full-time "pageant mom". Two of the girls in Annelise's age division were "seasoned pageant vets"...and they were awful: negative personality, irritated attitudes, sour faces, very robotic. Their moms were so angry, b/c this wasn't "set up like a normal pageant stage, so how are their girls supposed to know where to go?!?" Really? How hard could it be? I tried to be deferential and smiled, "Oh, we've never even done a pageant before." (Then Annelise won, so now it sounds a little pretentious :-P, but not at the time. :-))

One of the "pageant vets" had *the* most gorgeous white obviously-custom-made layered knot top, (I'm seriously still in love with it :-P) and the other "vet's" mom actually whined about how hard it was to find an all-white top. [???] Annelise wore an old jean skirt & plain school-uniform-esque white polo from Costco. More proof we picked the right competition for us, when the best outfit on a highlighted robot didn't beat out the most enthusiastic, happiest-to-be-there smile wearing the most basic outfit. :-D The whole point was truly just to smile and show your sparkly personality as a young girl. Annelise beamed! I was perfectly pleased to have her be in a pageant that was clearly focused on natural beauty and age-appropriate charm - the anti-Toddlers & Tiaras (which I still admit is one of my fave guilty train-wreck TV pleasures! :-P)

Annelise has walked on air ever since her crowning...and so has her proud family! :-D

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Keen KidVantage

How many of you moms have ever used - or even KNOW about - the free KidVantage program at Sears? I've known about it for a year or two, but I hadn't ever utilized it until today. I officially regret any pair of pants or shoes I have bought Will that did NOT come from Sears! Will especially is terribly rough on the toes of his shoes and the knees of his pants. With KidVantage, "if the kids' clothes or shoes you buy at Sears wear out before they're outgrown, we'll replace them for free. You'll get an identical item, whenever possible, or a similar item of equal value in the same size."

Sounds too good to be true, right? Especially when it's free to sign up for this?

I am here to report, it works!!! We bought Will new school shoes at Sears for the first time (with KidVantage in mind) just two months ago. [Re: "you get what you pay for", Sears carries Skechers, New Balance, Adidas, Reebok, Converse, etc. It doesn't matter if Will has high-end or Walmart brand: he wears holes in all shoes at lightning speed.] Yes, it has only been two months, and Will had already worn a full-on hole in the toe of his right shoe. Here's what it looked like a week and a half ago, before he actually scraped open the hole:

I thought, "Well, here's the test!" We walked into Sears today, found the exact same pair - same size & design - took it to the checkout with the old pair...and the sales associate honestly *DID* exchange it 100% for free, no questions asked! I only had to give her my phone number (no KidVantage card) for her to verify our purchase. Will now has a brand new *FREE* pair of shoes...and he'll get another one and another one and another one as he wears out each new pair until I have to buy up a size. I am so pleased & impressed, and I cannot imagine how much money this can save, (especially if you have multiple boys or girls who will grow through the same sizes that you can get new versions of for each one, instead of the hand-me-downs having wear.)

Another thought, charity-wise: when your (youngest) child outgrows the size, you could still exchange the worn-outs for new versions to donate!

Gelish: 2 Week Old French & Little Girl Pedi

As promised, here's proof of how fresh my (first attempt ever at a) French manicure with my Gelish system looks after two full weeks:
They still have a fresh, high gloss shine and not a single chip, yet, anywhere. I can't tell you how awesome it is to have a French that is actually worth the effort!

I also Gelished Annelise's toes this past weekend with Bronzed:
I don't know how many of y'all have given little girls pedis before, but they last all of two seconds. (Especially in sandal weather - which can be possible year-round here! :-D) I don't know if it's because little girls are so active & fidgity, or if their toe nails are so small that the color swatches get scraped off easier; but it seemed 100% worthless to paint Annelise's nails...until Gelish. Doing her toes went SO FAAAAST! Because I wasn't doing my own hands at the time, I could polish one foot while her other foot was curing with the LED light, (which cut our total time in half!) Also, since they were her feet, we didn't have to do a seperate 3rd polish-&-cure round for the thumbs. Less than 30 minutes: gorgeous sparkly toes that were 100% dry and won't flake off! (Her pedi is already 4 days old in this pic from this evening. :-) Super score!)

As for me, my next mani will be red. Stand Out red. (I doubt I'll do enough layers to get it *that* dark, but we'll see; probably next week.)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Grades are Hot

I met with Will's 2nd grade teacher today for our parent/teacher conference. She started off saying, "I don't have anything but good things to say about sweet Will." [*insert bursting mommy heart*] This school has a very rigid rubric by which they judge progress, so there's not much wiggle room for interpretation - either the students can do x, y, & z by this point, or they can't. After the scare & shock we got when we arrived here in February that Will was so far behind in reading & writing (when he had been "great" by MI standards - we had no idea how far behind they were curriculum-wise! You can imagine how freaked out & upset JB & I were - we were both "gifted" nerds at the tops of our classes; bottom of the barrel = inconceivable), I'm always anxious to see where Will stands now. If he can't read a certain number of words per minute, it doesn't matter how sweet he is; he will not move to the next grade. But our school dork genes *are* in him. :-P He has rocketed ahead in his reading to get a grade 3. (1 = minimal progress toward the standard; 2 = progressing; 3 = consistently/independently meets the standard) 27 areas get graded each quarter using this scale; 14 other areas are assessed re: behavior & organizational skills. Being a total grade monger, I loooooove this in-depth analytical feedback! Will earned 3's in almost every single area, except for three 2's in: writing legibly, writing style appropriate for audience, and spelling. [Not the least bit shocked! :-P] Of course, his teacher also added that he is super sweet and highly motivated. He doesn't waste time in the morning, getting right to work, and is eager to please. Yay, for our school-dork family! :-D

Will's class was at art during our conference, so his teacher & I went to the art room to retrieve them afterwards. Will was so excited to show me his latest project:
He reported: "They are plain pieces of paper that we drew designs all over. Then you glue one edge of the paper and take a pencil and roll the paper around it to make the tubes. Then you take an old CD and glue the tubes together with hot glue to make a sculpture." [The art teacher at his school is FANTASTIC!]

My conference had ended ten minutes before regular school dismissal, so I checked Will out and took him with me. (Parent pick-up makes him feel so special. :-))

This afternoon at home, Annelise & I were dreaming about the gorgeous clothes in the CWDkids catalog. As we turned a page,
Will shouted, "SHE'S HOT!!!!!" Whaaaaaaat?!?! Oh, he SO has a type already. :-P (And it would be the icing on the cake if her name began with a K, like Kendall, Kaylin, or Kaylie - his other 3 slightly older, blonde, blue-eyed beloveds. ;-)) It just floored me, though. He talks to me a lot about the girls he likes & getting married one day (one of his fave topics! :-)) but he's NEVER burst out with the "hot" business before!!! :-D

PS - the pic that caught *my* eye? Doesn't the boy in front here look so much like Will when he was a little younger?!?!?!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Keep Calm and Eat On

This week I broke our final cereal bowl from our set of everyday dishes that we registered for for our wedding. [It has been almost 10 years! :-D ♥] We still have nine mugs, nine small plates, nine pasta bowls, (why nine? I'm sure we registered for twelve...) three dinner plates (oh, how they dwindle) ...but that was the last bowl. *sniff, sniff* Pier 1's Palermo pattern:

I've been looking for replacements that I *love* for two years. Eh. So I'm going to decorate my own to hold us over!

Enter my latest historical pop culture obsession - the 1939 British Keep Calm and Carry On poster:

I decided to use my Silhouette SD to make a template of this for me etch "Keep Calm and Eat On" ;-) onto a glass bowl!
Ta da! I am pretty pleased, although getting the template to work correctly with the rounded surface of the bowl was SO HARD! I have three more bowls...but this was so labor intensive that one was enough for today. :-P

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Healthy Light Pumpkin Pie Sherbet

So what kind of girl doesn't use her ice cream maker even once all 100°+ summer...but pulls it out for the first time in years in October?
This girl, who just modified a recipe for pumpkin sherbet! HAPPY FALL!!!

Oh, the pumpkin-o-rama has only just begun around here! I have found SO MANY *new* pumpkin recipes I want to try this fall, and this was one of the most intriguing.

I love sugar & desserts, but because of the volume with which I like to partake of said deliciousness, I am always trying to find the slimmest recipes that still taste amazing. I froze (ha :-P) when I clicked onto pumpkin sherbet @ Skinnytaste.

A slimmed down "ice cream" with all the flavorful goodness of pumpkin pie? Yes, please!

Ingredients:
•2 1/4 cups 1% milk
•1/2 cup + 2 tbsp sugar [I used honey]
•1 cup pumpkin purée (or canned pumpkin)
•2 tsp pure vanilla extract
•1/2 tsp cinnamon [mine was heaping]
•1/4 tsp nutmeg [I used 1/2 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice instead of ground nutmeg & the pinch of clove]
•pinch of clove
•pinch of salt

Directions:
•In a saucepan, combine milk, sugar, pumpkin, and heat over medium heat. Bring to a full boil while whisking, then reduce heat to low, and simmer for thirty seconds.
•Remove from the heat, and add the vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon and clove, and stir.
•Transfer the mixture to a bowl, and chill in the refrigerator until cold, about an hour. When chilled, freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
•Makes 2 3/4 cups


It's creamy, but not heavy - refreshing & well-spiced. I can't imagine anything better (light, but still autumnal) after a bowlful of chili...

[& after all this time, I'm glad to know my ice cream maker still works. ;-)]

BETTER *Spicier* Pumpkin Spice Syrup

Last January, I first tried my hand at making pumpkin spice syrup, a la Starbucks, at home. It was OK. My two issues were #1 - the spices were too gritty in my chai lattés, and #2 - it wasn't spicy enough, (lots of grit, but not enough *zing!*) I want the spicy tingle (not heat, per se, but...yeah, *zing*) to last on my palate for awhile after I've swallowed. It happens at Starbucks!!!

I broke down today and tried once more to make pumpkin spice syrup at home. So many online recipes are exactly the same...and don't measure up to what I want. How could I make a better one than the top 20 google search results?

I started here and modified...

Ingredients:
•3/4 cup honey [changed from granulated sugar]
•3/4 cup water
•3 whole cinnamon sticks
•1 teaspoon ground cinnamon [upped from 1/2 tsp]
•7 whole cloves
•7 whole allspice
•1/4 teaspoon [freshly] ground nutmeg
•8 slices of *fresh* ginger [changed from 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger]
•2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
•1 teaspoon vanilla [or 1 whole vanilla bean, split lengthwise]
•1 dash of cayenne [my own addition!]

Directions:
•Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and place over medium heat.
•Stirring occasionally, allow the mixture to come to a boil.
•Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
•Strain into a clean jar through a fine mesh sieve.
•Store in the fridge, where it will keep for up to 2 months.

[Pic from food + words - her recipes are divine!]

I am convinced the vanilla, my honey, fresh ginger, and dash of cayenne are what make this one-of-the-million-recipes come as close to Sbux as I've gotten. Using more whole spices also helped cut down on the grit. Yay for pairing it with my Café Escapes Chai Latté K-Cups!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Will's Turn & School Pic

Today was Will's turn for Fall Break! I gave him a major gift this morning by letting him play Wild Kratts online, (I don't usually let the kids touch the laptop. EVER!) and he was thrilled to win a bunch of creature power suits. ;-)
Then we drove up to Americus to meet Daddy for pizza lunch! There is nothing that makes the kids feel as special as eating lunch with Daddy. :-)

Will brought home his 2nd grade school pic last week:
[I hate to say we're not as crazy about it as his stunning 1st grade pic, but] it does show his happy/silly/excited/omigosh-lemme-tell-you-everything-I-know-about-x-y-&-z face. :-D I can't help but wonder, "What did the photog say to him?" :-P

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Crockpot Italian Beef

My blog-friend, Emily, shared this ridiculously easy Italian Beef recipe link last month, and I've been excited to try it ever since. When we lived outside of Chicago, we got an education in Italian beef. Italian beef : Chicago :: Barbeque : the South! And it is gooood! :-)

How easy is this?

Ingredients:
•rump roast, 3 pounds
•beef broth, 2 cans
•Italian dressing seasoning packet [you could also use a packet of Ranch seasoning]
•mild pepper rings, 1 jar *including the liquid*
•French bread [or hoagie rolls, for individual sandwiches]

Directions:
Place first four ingredients in crockpot. Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 5 hours.

That's it. I remembered I needed to get this going as I was actually walking out the door for church this morning. It literally took less than a minute to pull out the pot & dump everything in. By the time we were ready to settle in for football, our late lunch was perfect. Y'all know how much I hate peppers, but all the vinegar in these & cooking them down took away all the bitterness. We shredded the meat and piled it, along with the pickled peppers & spoonfuls of seasoned jus, onto hoagie rolls for the best Italian beef smammiches we've had since we left Chi-town a year and a half ago!
Easy. Delish. Touchdown!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Calhoun, Cotton, & Carp

JB indulged me today: we went out to Calhoun Produce for "fall activities" - wagon ride & farm animals:
playground, honey bee house, & [JB's ultimate in "I'd rather not"] this three-acre corn maze:
We had fun, though, and in the maze's defense, it was so easy walk - no rolling your ankles over random, rock-hard corn cobs. They plowed the path before it was full-grown, so the path was clear & easier to maintain. JB's goal was to get us out in record time...and he did...but then the kids & I had us all turn right back around to go back in & find all six hidden farm animals before we'd leave. :-P

We ate lunch there, and I had perhaps the BEST homemade vegetable soup of my LIFE! The tomatoes were the freshest I've ever tasted in a soup, awesome assortment of beans, peas, & corn, and no peppers or celery! :-) I bought two pints to freeze at home!

There was a professional photog offering quick mini sessions there today, and I *FINALLY* had my dream of THREE YEARS realized!!! We got - what should be - our Christmas card picture taken in the most dreamy harvest-ready cotton field I've ever seen in my life. I don't want to give all of my card details away, but trust me - you'll see around Thanksgiving, and I am SO EXCITED!!! We haven't had a pro family picture sitting since 2007 (?!?!?!?!?!) so we're hoping at least one comes out well enough for us to want a wall print. [I'm crazy cheap & critical, so we'll see. ;-)] She said she'd hopefully have the proofs on her website Wednesday-ish, so fingers crossed!

When we came home, the kids wanted to go fishing in our backyard with our neighbor's son who was out there. It's been ages since it's been cool enough to really fish, [I. Don't. Fish. I want no piscatorial part!!! I hang out, converse, & touch nothing. So the definition of "cool enough to fish" is actually "cool enough for JB to want to fish" - and that's been since April. First weekend afternoon since then under 80°!] so out we went...and Will reeled in his first big one! It was just a carp, but that was actually perfect, b/c it was big, it was a reel (ha! :-P) challenge, and then we didn't have to kill, clean, or eat it. [WHEW! ICK!]

The leaves here actually *ARE* showing tiny hints of color, [even though it's still been 85° by afternoon until today, we've had most overnight lows at 50°, so the trees know it's fall :-)] and I just absolutely could not imagine a more gorgeous, comfortable autumn day for all of us!!!

Friday, October 7, 2011

"Courageous" Movie Hometown Expereince

Our church tonight had a babysitting fundraiser from 6-10 PM for a mission trip to Africa, so it was the perfect chance for us to leave the kids at Sherwood to go see Sherwood Picture's newest film, Courageous! :-D


Facing the Giants & Fireproof moved me...but this was something else. You'd almost think that living here now - where the film is based & was shot, using church members I see weekly as the actors - it would seem less...genuine? Totally the opposite for me! It made the entire thing feel SO REAL. To recognize where almost every scene was shot actually brought authenticity. All those gorgeous trees with the Spanish moss? That's what it really looks like here. That's what our yard looks like. They (the four cops when they discover the Javier mix-up) eat at Austin's barbeque - the first place we ate after we landed in Albany! :-P They drive past Locos - the restaurant I'm mad at b/c they wouldn't show the Redskins. ;-) Most moving: the bank that they stop at where Emily gets out of the car to dance is right across the street from Sissy's Montessori, and the whole time she is dancing, I saw her school (with the black shutters) behind her.
Talk about tying that character to my reality!!! [And you know I was shaking with sobs later...] It took no effort to become a part of the film, completely engaged.

[It was also fun to hear people throughout the sold-out theatre loudly whisper, "Look! There's _______!" ;-)]

Did theatres all over the country hand out a little discussion guide pamphlet as you left the theatre? We wondered if that was just by the local church people here or everywhere?

I am praying so sincerely that this movie encourages ALL families - mine included - to better prioritize our lives, and that we as parents will take the final speech seriously. We are each accountable to God for raising our children up with strong faith that they see lived out by OUR example. A major responsibility, but such a high honor...

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Princess Peach Tea

Annelise has Fall Break today and tomorrow...which is mildly irritating, b/c Will's Fall Break is on Monday = a total pain when we'd actually like to *go* somewhere for Break, but whatever. (They're in different school systems: Will in our county, Annelise in private Montessori just across the next county line.) It does give me precious one-on-one time, though, so I'll relish it. :-) What would be the most perfectly girly thing Princess Pumpkin Peach & I could do together today?

Why, go to tea, of course!

It was actually our very first mother/daughter tea, and she had an absolute ball! She was thrilled when they even brought her ice water out in a tea pot:

She loved the kid's plate, with small heart-shaped PB&J and grilled cheese sandwiches, tons of fresh fruit, and a few colorful marshmallows strewn about. She got the Bella Coola caffeine free herbal fruit tea and LOVED the bright pink hue! I enjoyed the Bourbon Street Vanilla Rooibos, my favorite tea there. (I looove rooibos!)

Thanks to the sweet ladies beside us who offered to take our picture:

U Glow Girl

The most fun 89¢ I've spent recently on my kids? Sally Girl "U Glow Girl" nail polish from Sally Beauty Supply! I had popped in to get the Gelish Sleek White for my French, and I saw their super cute China Glaze Halloween polish set. The Halloweenophile in me got all giddy!!! But #1 - the only polish in the set I was truly fascinated with was the glow-in-the-dark "Goulish Glow", and #2 - I don't use regular nail polish anymore!!! (Hence the whole reason I was in Sally in the first place. :-P) I was about to walk away with a small sigh...until I saw the tiny Sally Girl polish bottles - with a mini glow-in-the-dark for less than a dollar!

It REALLY DOES glow! Here's a pic of the bottle in the dark from The Daily Varnish:

The actual polish is so sheer, it's virtually clear, and it drys matte. Soooo, since it's "invisible" (except in the dark) I painted Will's toes with it, too, so he can have alien monster feet! :-D SOOO COOL!!! I was going to Gelish Annelise later this week, but this is fun for her, too! We charged their toes (& her hands) up with the brightest lights we have upstairs...and then ran into the bathroom, shut the door, & turned off the lights to see them glow before bed. :-P