Monday, December 17, 2007

The stockings were hung...

I hope Santa has a Garmin or a Tom Tom to find the Muir family this Christmas. I've finally gotten the house decorated, 95% of the presents purchased, cards bought (but not sent) and I'm generally happy with the status of my Christmas preparations. This year we will be traveling "home" to my brother and sister-in-law on Long Island. My MIL stays here and we end up having Christmas twice, once in each location. I can't wait!

The stockings you see here were each handmade. My mom was insistent that she keep our childhood stockings so when I moved out I needed to make a stocking for myself. (Not shown is my DH's stocking. It's made from one of the felt kits for stockings and has Santa coming across the tree and house tops with his sled and reindeers.) The stocking on the right I made for myself. It has the Twelve Days of Christmas in counted cross stitch. The stocking on the left was made for Alexa by the mother of my oldest friend, Jan Moran. Her mom was one of my mother's best friends for over 50 years. Mrs. E is a wonderful sewer, handcrafter, cook - you name it! Mrs. E was kind enough to make this stocking for Alexa's first Christmas. It has her name and her birth year on it.

Here is our mantle in the family room. I've had the wreath for about 15 years. We got it shortly after we moved to the Finger Lakes at a craft show held every year in the village of Hammondsport. It has wooden apples, cinnamon sticks and little santa on it. You can also see most of my Santa collection. I love collecting the large Santas but I'm very, very picky. Alexa's advent calendar this year is compliments of Starbucks. Very cute!

I have a small collection of nutcrakers and my mother's nativity that sit in the living room. I've got a lot more but I thought this would be a nice glimpse into what we do for the holidays.

We had a nice snow storm yesterday. It dumped about 10 inches on the Buffalo area making it a perfect day to stay inside and do 'whatever'. So I think I'll do just that. Hope 'whatever' your plans are you have a great week before Christmas.

P.S. - Yes, we put up a tree. I'll try and get a picture of it up before weeks end.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered...

Samantha Stevens had it all wrong. She wanted to be a 'normal' American housewife. She never wanted to use her powers to do all those 'housewifey' things the typical sixties wife was responsible for. Boy, could I use her powers now!

My house is a mess. I'd love to tweak my nose and have it all clean so I could put up my Christmas decorations. Wait, why stop with the cleaning? I could tweak again and all my decoration would be brought up from the basement, put up and containers put back!

I was wondering if I could get away with putting the decorations up and not cleaning. Maybe they would hide all the dust and no one would know!

I bought Christmas cards last night. Norman won't do them (he did help pick them out though). I could tweak again and they'd be done! I'm really on to something now!

Cookie baking! I'll just whip out my mom's recipes and do a little nose twitching and ta-da, I'm done. I can even use it for the dog biscuits I want to make!

Gosh, don't you love 60's television!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Tis the Season...

I thought that when I had a child I'd really look forward to Christmas. Things aren't exactly like I thought they would be. Alexa has a very, very, small sense of whimsy (if any). She has a really hard time abandoning logical thought and just giving into the premise of a story, or a TV show or a book if it isn't totally realistic.

Santa falls into the category of things she has a hard time believing in. This was even before she tricked us into admitting that there wasn't a REAL Santa Claus. On the subject of Santa, her first visit to Santa was an absolute NO WAY! She wouldn't go near him. She luke-warmed up over the subsequent couple of years (and that's being generous), but she was never into the Santa mystique. I think we gave up trying to take her to see Santa around her 6th or 7th birthday. Practical and self-centered to the end, Christmas is all about Alexa and more importantly, gifts FOR Alexa. Thus, I give you Exhibit A, Alexa's Christmas list.

State of the Art - done in Photoshop, complete with clip art and red font lettering, non-sentimental, but stylish. No mention of how good she's been this year, but complete with stores or catalogs where items may be procured. No confusion over exactly what she wants...comes complete with pictures! No "Dear Santa" to start - or "Love, Alexa to finish. The bonus, we've been told, is that it's a pretty short list this year - she doesn't really want much!

Living with such an 'old' child is not exactly what I had in mind for Christmas!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Scrapbooking - It's not just a hobbie, it's an adventure!

This past weekend was one of my two most favorite weekends each year, The Sweatshoppe Retreat! I can hear the huhs? already.

Backstory: When I first started scrapbooking I met Laurie one Superbowl Sunday at the old Scrapbook Creations location. That friendship morphed into and extended friendship with Lynn, Jessica, Colleen, Tracy, Marion, Marilyn, Amy, Penny, Suzanne and more! We'd meet at Laurie's house or at a local firehouse or church or at SC's bi-annual retreat down in the Corning area at a conference/retreat center that will remain nameless for now.

Eventually, we secured a room by ourselves at the SC retreats because, to be honest, we could get a bit rowdy and loud and we apparently upset some of the other ladies of the extended group. This past spring we hit upon the idea to split away from the SC group and use a smaller venue for our core group of 12 to 14 scrappers. Someone, I think Tracy came up with the name The Sweatshoppe and we were off and scrapping!

Fast Forward to this weekend: We met this past weekend for an extended weekend, Thursday through Monday and had quite a time! We had our own house/lodge that slept all of us and where we could put our tables and all be in the same room. We had great light from windows on all three sides and our own kitchen to make meals when we wanted. We were off to a great start!

It lasted until Friday afternoon when one of the bathrooms backed up. Help came slowly and a snake even slower. By Saturday morning we were down to one bathroom, by Saturday evening we were down to none! 13 women and NO BATHROOM! NO SHOWER AND NO WATER! Not good I tell you, not good...

The maintenance staff and executive director told us the septic system was filled to the max and needed to be pumped out but they couldn't get a 'honey' truck to us until sometime on Sunday. First it was 7:30 a.m. then it was 11:00 a.m. and finally the danged thing showed up sometime around 1:30 p.m.!

So, what's a girl, or more correctly, 13 girls to do? The solution we were given was a key to room 47 in the main lodge. To go to the bathroom, or to shower, or to brush our teeth, we had to leave the house walk down the gravel drive hill, along the West Wing of the main lodge to the closest door to use the bathroom in room 47 or the common bathroom along the main lodge's south wing. We'd go in packs, or in pairs, or in my case, at 3:30 a.m. alone - and let me tell you, it's cold in those hills at 3:30 in the morning! Brrr!!!

As I figured, if I trekked to the West Wing to take a shower -- the truck would come, and it did. I finally walked over with my shampoo bottle, soap and a few extra towels and took a shower (we were all feeling a bit gamey by Sunday morning ;-) and while the truck hadn't arrived while I was showering, it showed up while I was drying my hair.

But lest you think our weekend was all drama and no fun - au contrar! The cocktail hour started at 11:00 one morning because one of us hadn't set her watch back the week before for daylight savings time so it was at least noon by her watch! And as Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett like to remind us - "It's 5 o'clock somewhere!" We also made our bi-annual pilgrimage to the Country Pub II for Friday Fish Fry (and some went Saturday night for the band). We even found one of our favorite waitress was expecting a baby so we whipped up a little album for her.

We also DID get some actual scrapbooking done! One of us got 29 pages done, another 39 or 40. I finished two mini albums and did 9 8x8 pages for our Disney album and three for the baby album. We had our Chinese gift exchange and a lot of inspiration was shared by all. The best part was the laughs. Here are a few high points for those who were there.

* Miss Sha-Nay-Nay!!!

* The true meaning of peaches and nectarines

*The Mudslide Queen - Miss Lynnie

*The true use for a freezer - wish I took a picture!"

* Fitted sheets will be coming next time!

* and the "tons" as in "Miss Crabby Crabberton"

To all my scrapping buds in the Sweatshoppe - thank you for the 2nd best weekend of the year! You ladies truly ROCK!!!!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid!!

Halloween went of very well at the Muir household tonight, despite the message above. We had some of the cutest little kids come to the door. It was such fun getting down on their level to talk to them about their costumes and stuff while I handed out candy.

Miss Alexa went as her alter ego - Miss Little Devil!

This is Alexa and her friend, Samah. They went to Alexa's gymnastic center for a Halloween sleepover last Saturday night. Samah went as a 60's Hippie Chick! She is so cute and the sweetest child you'd ever want to meet. We keep offering to trade her for Alexa but so far no takers!

This is Alexa and her friend, Melissa. Originally the girls wanted to go as "Hawaiian Punch" Alexa as a Hawaiian hula girl and Melissa as a boxer. That idea didn't fly, but Melissa decided to go as a boxer anyway. Again, we offer to keep Melissa and send Alexa home to the Kelly household but no takers!

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Change...

I know, most of you are tired of hearing me drone on and on about this. Believe me, I am so grateful for your patience because I'm tired to hearing me drone on and on... So I thought I'd try and purge myself for good and get it all out!

I'm going through "The Change" or as it's more commonly known, menopause. I call it the ordeal. It's not even menopause yet - I'm pre-menopausal! You thought PMS was bad - wait til you get a load of this!
The older I got and the farther away from childbearing age I got (not that that was any great success either) the more I looked forward to the freedom of "the change". What a great deal I thought! No worrying about getting pregnant, no more "monthly friend" (who's idea was that euphemism anyway!) Liberation! Freedom! Everything wonderful Oprah kept telling me turning 50 meant! WRONG! THEY LIED!!
Welcome to 24/7 hot flashes, insomnia, weight gain, lack of focus, memory loss, fatigue, hormonal imbalances that bring on mood changes, crankiness and the ultimate desire to join Thelma and Louise and drive right off that cliff!
Not only do the hot flashes drive me crazy, they drive everyone around me crazy. AC ON! that's me! Turn the heat OFF! Screw the 75 degree weather we're having here in Buffalo, I want COLD! Weight gain - that's a whole 'nother entry and I'm NOT going there. Lack of focus - I've got lists to remember my lists. Insomnia and fatigue - I'm up at 3:00 a.m. writing this, I'll go to bed shortly, get up at 8:00 to get Alexa on the bus and if I didn't have a dentist appt. I'd go back to bed and maybe, maybe get up around noon or 1:00 p.m.
Mood changes and crankiness - "If Momma ain't happy, nobody is happy", takes on new meaning in my house and driving off that cliff - if I wasn't such a gutless wonder at least one person in my household would be dead by now and I'd be on beach in Tahiti, or at least in a rental car heading for Canada or Nevada or Maine or Wisconsin or, can you drive to Hawaii? I can't remember...
Anyway, I saw the stamps above at the store and I thought, "that's me, that's my life..." Oprah LIES!!!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Yes, I still REALLY do scrapbook, but...

It's been a long time since I have given ocular proof that I really still do scrapbook. These days many of my projects are directly related to my work at Buffalo Stamps and Stuff. I like to do altered items the most. Sharon, my boss, is very generous in letting me take on some of these projects. I like to bring ideas to her and sometimes she shows up with a bag with some little treasure inside and gives it to me to see what I can do.

As many of you know I'm a slow, slow, slow, s...l...o...w...scrapbooker. I usually cringe when Sharon askes me to do a layout in the store, that day, without any preparation. I like to ponder, look at the picture, study what paper I want to use, get an idea for a layout, look at my paper options again, sleep on it, study it again, move the paper around, dig out some embellishments, sketch an idea, sleep on it, think about it over the weekend -- well, you get the idea, nothing comes quickly or easily. I'm also way more comfortable working at home until I get the project really rolling. However, I like to finish the project at work if I'm stuck on the final right "it" that it takes to make it complete.

I thought I'd post a couple of photos of two projects I've worked on for the store lately. Let me know what you think. I've got a few more in mind and hope to get them done soon.

Both of these are Making Memories Halloween chipboard ghosts. They are covered in paper and embellished.

It may be hard to see, but at the top of the pumpkin is small, black crow, sitting in the mums!

This altered pumpkin was inspired by an altered project Judi VanValkinburg did. In Judi's project she took a child's globe of the world and covered it in paper. It's one of the most original ideas I've ever seen. I look to Judi for much of my inspiration. She does fabulous work!

Coming up I've got a full day crop next Sunday for Hillside Children's Services in Rochester, NY. In early November I'll be joining my pals from the 'Sweatshoppe' (don't ask, I'm still not sure how we came up with that name!) for our semi-annual weekend retreat to crop til we drop! This year we have the option to go from Thursday through the following Monday! For these two crops I'm hoping to finish - my 'Love' mini album, the NYC paperbag album, and more pages for my Disney album. I'm also hoping to do two mini albums for Alexa - one about her friends and another from her birthday last year.

I've also got a Christmas album in mind for the newest member of the Kenzie family, and at least three projects for the store, two for Thanksgiving and one for Christmas. I think I've got enough to keep me busy for a long, long, time!

Friday, September 28, 2007

William Tell Overture for Moms

I found it again!

Again, my blog mentor Tracy comes through! I found this on her blog and it's too, too true so I had to 'borrow' for my blog. How many of you out there live to this anthem?? Let's see a show of hands!

Welcome to my world!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Monday, September 24, 2007

What would you say?...

I was checking my e-mail this evening looking for results from my NASCAR pool when I stumbled on this link. It made me think about the title of my blog, my life and what I would say...

I know nothing about Dr. Pausch's field but I'd have loved to have taken one of his classes. May God bless him in his journey to come.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Historic Places of me!

Back to telling how I spent my summer vacation and historic places of interest to me. Let me tell you about the Peter Pan Diner.

Way back in the late 50's Long Island's south shore area wasn't much more than sand, farms and the beginning of reasonable housing for the other three counties of Long Island, Nassau, Queens and Brooklyn. The south shore is FLAT, and SANDY and generally, pretty dull (or at least it was back then).

We lived in Massapequa Park, also on the south shore, just shy of the Nassau Suffolk border. Our neighborhood was beginning to develop also but there was more of a sense of town involvement in that we had well paved streets, sidewalks, and curbs. My grandparents lived in a small town called Bayshore and my aunt and uncle lived one town over in Deer Park. I remember referring to my mother's parents and my 'country' grandparents and my dad's mother as my 'city' grandmother (she did live in the Bronx until she retired and moved to Freeport, another more developed town in Nassau Cty.).

ANYWAY, there weren't many restaurants out by my grandparents and we didn't eat out a lot anyway but right along Sunrise Highway in Bayshore was the Peter Pan Diner. My first experience with diner food. Now, if you're not from Long Island you may not know that diner's rule! almost every town has one, they serve everything under the sun, most have a pretty savy and fast wait staff and they are open from 5:00 or 6:00 a.m. to 1:00 or 2:00 a.m. the following morning - a very long day. Many of my first memories are of driving past the Peter Pan and eating there on a few occasions. I didn't appreciate diners then, but boy, do I now! Nothing beats walking into one of these eateries and being seated almost immediately, being surrounded by mirrors, granite and tile, and lots, and lots, of chrome! The dessert cases are legendary! Huge cakes, pies, cannolis, pastries, and tons of other desserts can be seen spinning around to be seen from all directions to temp your sweet tooth. Sandwiches, burgers, blue pate specials, full turkey dinners, Greek food, hearty breakfasts, you name it, they make it -- all day long!

On our trip to Long Island in July we took Brion, Maggie and the 'kids' (Mehgan, Alexa and Joe in the photo) to the Peter Pan for brunch. It turns out they were celebrating their 50th anniversary! How cool! Here is my breakfast, fresh fruit and blueberry blintzes, along with my obligatory bagel - It doesn't get any better than this!

Oh, do I miss the food on Long Island! May the Peter Pan be around for another 50 years!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

It's the most wonderful time of the year!...

School bus came at 8:35 a.m. and she was off! I'm doing the happy dance, I'm doing the happy dance! I was given express orders not to call out to her for pictures, not to wave - and did I have to stand outside with her --- MOM!!

Peace and tranquility until 4:00 p.m. - YIPPEEE!!!

Friday, August 31, 2007

My Bad, My Bad...

I was wondering why I had no comments! My blogging mentor, Tracy was kind enough to e-mail me to let me know something was screwy with my settings and she couldn't comment. So I checked a few things and I think I've got it right now.

Comment away!!!!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Staples has it right...

After our July travels things have been kinda busy. Preparing for the "most wonderful time of the year" has me in a tizzy. Alexa's supply list is pages long, one piece swimsuits are in short supply and it appears private violin lessons will be added to the after school activities.

Mill Middle School

Today is the 5th grade picnic and parents aren't invited, works for me! I do have to pick up her "supply pack" that I ordered to help take the pressure off and prevent a potential meltdown over buying school supplies. This huge package with over 45 items comes in at $74, not including the additional $6 for her Mill Agendamate - a requirement for every Mill student. This is just the tip of the iceberg! Each subject area ALSO has a list - thankfully much smaller, but still more supplies to get!

Remember when we just used to worry about spiral vs. three ring binders? Our school supply shopping happened AFTER the first day when our teachers told us which type of binder was acceptable and whether we were allowed to use pen in their class vs. kiddie school pencils? Gym, now called PE - required uniforms. Those lovely, one piece, slightly bloomish in the leg fashion no-no's that our mom's had to embroider our names on the pockets. My mom embroidered my name in script! I was mortified. What happened to simple block printing like everyone else!

Middle school at McKenna Jr. High School in Massapequa was pure hell! I hated and dreaded almost every minute of it. Mind you, our jr. high was 7th and 8th grade. I was about as dorky as you could get. My hair was always limp because I walked about 10-15 blocks to get there or I rode my bike (couldn't get much dorkier than that!) My stylish bookbag was one like lawyers carry - easier to fit into my bike's twin baskets (over the back tire). For the first year, I could walk with Dolores Devine to school. Dolores was a year ahead of me, but after that first year she went on to Berner Sr. High School and I was on my own.

McKenna Jr. High School, now McKenna Elementary School!

The only thing that made coping with my geek existence bearable was the black and red checked lumber jacket (as we called them) that my parents gave me for my birthday. I can't begin to tell you how important that jacket/wool shirt was to me. It made me a little less geeky, a little more able to blend in with crowd. It was the one piece of "cool" trendy clothing I had. I had that shirt for over 15 years. It was my secuity blanket and my favorite piece of comfort clothes for many, many years. I think it finally when to teen fashion heaven when I wore the elbows out beyond reason or repair and my husband finally put his foot down and said it had to go!

Don't let me mislead you that nothing redeeming happened in jr. high. One very, very, good thing happened during my 2nd year. I met Barbara, Sandy, Sandy, Janet and the gang that would become my best friends and anchors in high school. Oh, and I think I may have learned a thing or two, maybe...

Addendum: After spending the last two days getting the other thousand or so things that are required and not in the supply box, and dealing with my know-it-all diva, I'm ready to buy Alexa one more thing...a one way ticket back to China! ARRGGGHH!!!!!

Saturday, August 11, 2007


Norman and I have been very lucky to be a part of a wonderful organization, Families with Children from China, or FCC. Before we even traveled to China nine years ago, we met a group of couples who were all in various stages of adopting a child from China. We met Sharon and George Abbott who ended up traveling to China with us in the same travel group. Their daughter, Anna Jen, comes from the same orphanage Alexa does. We met many more wonderful couples who we have become friends with over the years and we have all watched our children grow together.

I feel very comfortable with these people. While we come from all different backgrounds, many of us made the decision to adopt from China for very similar reasons. We started together as a support group for couples going through the rigorous process of adopting a child from China and we eventually developed a Chinese Culture Class that our little ones attended on Saturday mornings. Our kids would do activities every week. Learning language, coloring, doing crafts, singing in Chinese, dancing and sharing all the fun things kids do together. We feel it helped our kids to know other children and families just like their own. The parents would sit in another classroom, drink coffee and compare notes. From these casual meetings Chinese Culture Camp was born and Norm and I were happy to have given them the idea of looking at Keuka College as a location for our yearly gathering.

This year's camp was last weekend. To be honest, Norman and I enjoy these weekends more than we think Alexa does sometimes. It gives us a chance to connect with people our age who have elementary aged kids and now middle school kids. Most of our old friends have kids in college and a few are grandparents!

Usually when we walk into Harrington we are met by Judy and Warren Robertson and Jim Hendrikson. All are on the organizing committee for the event. This year Judy was at the desk, Jim was standing nearby and we figured Warren was somewhere else on campus running the million and one errands that need to be done. Judy mentioned how she was a little frazzled as their family had just come back from China a week or so earlier - a visit to show their daughter Ciana where she came from.

During the course of the weekend it never occurred to me that I didn't see Warren. Our organizing committee does such a great job and they are all over the place pulling the event together. I estimated we had close to 50 families and maybe 75 children attend this year. At the end of the weekend we left and the last person I waved goodbye to was Judy as she stood outside of Harrington.

Late Sunday, early Monday morning all our families received the e-mail you never want to get. Warren had passed away sometime during the weekend. Last night Norm and I drove over to Rochester to see Judy and Ciana at the calling hours. The line at the funeral home was out the door and remained that way for the entire two hours. Warren was a health care professional. He had a degree in Nursing and he and Judy were members of the Pennfield Emergency Ambulance Corp.

Many of our FCC families were there. Members of the local and several state representatives of the EMT first responder community were there, neighbors, friends, family, colleagues - all there to support Judy and Ciana.

Warren was just 48 years old. Some of our daughters realized that their parents were the same age or even a little older. It was a very sobering event for all of us. Warren was a wonderful man, he had a quick smile, a gentle and patient manner and was a wonderful husband, father and friend. He will be greatly missed by us all and he will be remembered for many, many years.

God Bless you Warren. May you and God look over Judy, Ciana and the rest of your FCC family from above.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Dr. and Mrs. Christopher Parmeter

Meet the happy couple! Sandy and Christopher got married on July 20, at the Sayville Country Club. We were thrilled to be invited and included in the festivities.

Back Story: When Norman and I moved to Keuka Park from Kentucky about 14 years ago, my second job at Keuka College was in the Office of Experiental Education. One of my bosses was a single, hard working mom named Sally Berch. Sally was a Keuka alum, having gotten her degree while working full time for the college. Sally had a son, Christopher. Christoher was a tall gangly boy just finishing middle school and starting high school. Chris's father was not a factor in his life and Sally was raising her son essentially by herself. She has a great mom and dad and two brothers, but the day to day, 24/7 responsibility for Chris was her's alone.

I had met Christopher briefly, a few times when he came into the office to visit his mom. Usually he had a basketball in one hand and something to eat in the other. Rarely did he say more than "Is my mom here?"One day, Sally had a meeting that was going to go late into the day, early evening and was having difficulty arranging transportation home from basketball practice for Chris. I volunteered to go pick him up. Chris and I had said maybe two words to each other before this. I drove downtown at the appointed hour, Chris came out of the gym, got into the car and we headed home. Now, I'm not known for my sterling conversational skills to begin with but I thought I'd give it a shot. I asked Chris how practiced went and he said, "OK". I think that was the extent of our entire conversation!

Over the years we went to Chris's basketball games, helped with transportation, Norm gave him advice about colleges, I helped when he got his ear pierced (another story, another time). We helped when he moved to college at Nazareth and again provided transportation back and forth from Rochester to Keuka and generally provided what support we could to Chris and Sally as Chris grew more independent and started on his academic career.

Sally became my best friend at Keuka. She supported us in more ways than I can count when we adopted Alexa. She house sat for us and Kasey when we went to China, babysat Alexa for several days when we had business that took us out of town and I tried to the same for her where I could. We became partners at work when it was just the two of us in the office running the entire show. We traveled together for employment conferences, collegiate meetings and whatever else needed to be done. We basically had each other's back. To this day I think of her like a sister. Several years ago Sally married a wonderful man, Jeff Daggett who is her complement in every way. Seeing her happy with Jeff after all the years she was alone is wonderful. They are a wonderful couple and good, good friends.

Chris continued his education at Binghamton University and got a TA-ship in the Economics department. While teaching one of his first courses he spied a lovely young woman and began to plot ways to meet her outside of the classroom. Now, you know, it would be a major no-no for Chris to date one of his students, so for the record, they didn't REALLY begin to see each other until after exams were over. That's mine and their story and since I don't really know any better, I'm sticking to it! To top it all off, Sandy is from Long Island! Karma if you ask me!

Chris plotted and planned and after over three years together, Chris getting his doctorate and a job at Virginia Tech, and Sandy graduating with her degree; Chris asked Sandy to marry him, in Paris, not Texas, FRANCE! as the Eiffel Tower lit up in the backround - true story!

So nothing could make Norman and I prouder and happier to see how both Chris with Sandy and Sally with Jeff have found their mates for life. We were honored to be able to share in their combined happiness.

Here are some more photos from the wedding

Sandy with her dad, Bob Ahearn and below, Sally and Chris

At the end of their first dance togther. I love this one!

Congratulations, have a long and happy life together - Chris and Sandy Parmeter!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

First things first...

I looked at the list I posted yesterday and realized there were a lot of missing items. Like, Harry Potter! I couldn't stand not knowing what happened in the last book. Sunday morning, right after breakfast I went out and bought the 'Deathly Hallows'. I had just finished the 'Half Blood Prince' about a week before and was so surprised by the events at the end of the book and so afraid someone would spoil the ending of 'Deathly Hallows' before I got to read it.

The series ended along the lines I thought it would and I'm looking forward to J.K. Rowling writing an encyclopedia of Harry Potter. She said in some of her interviews that she was seriously considering a reference work for the series and it would be great to go back and read all the books with a reference book.

I still haven't seen 'The Order of the Phoenix' but I'm hoping to this week. Getting Alexa and her lists of supplies for school will be the order of the week for the next two weeks or so.

Sandy and Chris' wedding tomorrow!

Monday, August 6, 2007

I'm Baccckkkk!!

I know it's been awhile since I blogged but it's been a busy few weeks. I'm still trying to get my pictures in order and everything else done. Here's a short preview of post or posts to come...

1. Wedding Bells!
2. On the High Seas!
3. Visits with Family!
4. Chinese Culture Camp!
5. Historic Points of Interest (to me at least)
6. Menopause the Musical - Who are they kidding?!

In no particular order, I will get to them all!

P.S. - Hi! Tracy ;-)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Random Notes and Down Time

It's going to be a busy week or so and I may not have a chance to blog until next week so here's what's going on...

1. Happy Doings....we're going to Long Island for Christopher and Sandys' wedding on Friday. We have to leave on Thursday, early, because Norman and I are going to the rehearsal dinner. Big problem is that neither Alexa nor I have a dress to wear! What will we do!

2. The first weekend in August is Chinese Culture Camp. I finally got to speak with Sharon and she wants me to make 40+ scrapbook kits! Yikes!! I know the paper I want to use but I've got to get Chinese Paper Cuts and I have to learn and make my own run-ons for each kit, more fun!
3. We're stopping 'on the way home' from the wedding to see Norman's dad and stepmom. Cramming in the wedding, visiting my brother and his family and the in-laws - two states, five days. We're going to take the Port Jefferson/Bridgeport Ferry to CT. Looking forward to a relaxing hour's ride vs. the bone jarring, downright scary Cross Bronx Expressway.

4. We had a barbecue yesterday - in the house - it poured outside. I'm so lousy throwing parties, couldn't wait for it to be over!

5. Alexa and her friend Sammah have been having a major sleepover blitz. Sammah came to the faux barbecue and stayed overnight. There were manicures and pedicures last night, dance routines at midnight, Tim Horton's doughnuts this morning, facials in their jammies at lunch and they are still squealing with joy in the Florida room this afternoon!

6. Forgotten in the mix are Alexa's latest passion, Webkinz. We hit the jackpot yesterday and found one of her top two's - the Panda. Here is the far...

In parting I couldn't resist this. I found it on Kim Musgrove's blog...

Now, based on this picture I'm married to my very own PYrn Star!
Have a great week everyone!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Veggie Art

Doing my morning blog check I found these on Stacy Julian's blog. Way too cute to eat and where Stacy thought it might encourage vegetable eating, it just makes me want to play with my food!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Sometimes, don't you just wish Oprah would mind her own business? Don't get me wrong, I basically like Oprah, but the pressure to be as 'good' as she is is just crazy! Case in point -- yesterday's repeat of the organization show. Admittedly, I am not the best housekeeper, clutter is a problem I have, as does my DH and DD ('D'ear 'H'usband and 'D'ear 'D'aughter for those of you who are not up on my e-mail shortcuts) . On the show Oprah had on a family that lived in such clutter you cannot believe! Every available flat space was covered in junk.

Our house isn't like that, but my computer/scrap/guest room is coming close. I am forever trying to rearrange stuff, find places to store stuff and once in awhile it just gets out of hand, like now!

My latest attempt to help my storage problems are two white cubes that I put together last night. I'm going to put them in the closet and set a paper rack I bought from the store on top of it. Then I'm going to purge my little drawers, get all my embellishments in place, go through all my paperwork, books, and other items and get this room back in shape!

The big family problem in our house is the basement. We have the accumulated stuff' from our 31 yr. marriage, my mother-in-law's stuff when she moved in AND my parent's stuff when we cleaned out their house after their passing. In all fairness to my parents, we wouldn't have a furnished living and dining room if it wasn't for their furniture. But basically, in the space of five years we have gone from a tiny house with one couch to a substantially bigger house with FOUR couches. Our basement is an amalgam of boxes, bins, and everything else. My husband is trying to buy out every book on renaissance art and Italy he can get his hands on. Pretty soon Barnes and Noble will be asking for his collection back so that other people can have a chance.

Alexa, I don't even want to go there. Her room is a disaster. My room as a kid wasn't much better but I didn't have the stuff she has but I also didn't have the room to store it that she has, yet the emptiest places in her room are her closets! I'm going to put in a closet system to help store her clothes and tackle her 'stage closet' as we call it for all her toys, games, beads, crafts, animals, dolls, etc.

But this all brings me back to what people were discussing on Oprah, how do you wrap your brain around it all and start! We've been saying we are going to have a garage sale to sell all our's, Alexa's, my mother-in-law's and my parent's extra stuff, but I'm just staggered by how to begin. I'm also overwhelmed by making the decisions of what to go and what not to and the emotional memories that come with my parent's things. It almost seems like an act of betrayal to sell things you know your parent's valued and clearly did not intend to get rid of. My parent's had a big garage/moving sale when they moved to North Carolina and then I couldn't believe what they were selling! So many memories! So much stuff I had grown up with! I remember my mother with some of the neighbors, up in Brion's old bedroom looking at cookie tins. I looked at this wonderful old tin that was big, and had what looked like a cross stitch pattern all over it with the ABC's on it. She was going to sell it! I grabbed it so quick! No way was anyone else getting that tin! I'm happy I wasn't able to be at the house the days they had that sale until late the last day, I'd have even more stuff than I do now!

So, what do I do now, what do I do first? Frankly, I don't want to do this on my own. I wish my DH would take more of any active part, but that's not going to happen unless I tell him exactly what to do and frankly he needs to be a partner in this.

Well, for now, I have control over my scrap room so that is where I'll begin. I'll post when I get it done. I need to be accountable to someone - guess it's going to be you!

P.S.- Oprah has at least three houses/apartments. What do you want to bet she doesn't clean, organize or put away all her stuff?!

Sunday, July 1, 2007

It's going to be a long, long, long...summer

Remember the Staples commercial with the father gleefully going up and down the aisles, kicking up his heels to tune of "It's the most wonderful time of the year"? Well, that's what I'm wishing for now. My husband has been away for almost a week at a conference in Washington state and I'm enjoying (and I use that term VERY loosely) the sounds of my daughter arguing with my mother-in-law over whatever nitpicky topic they have stumbled on today. Yesterday it was eating vegetables and fruit, the day before it was whether my husband would wear shorts and flip flops to church, today--I don't even want to know! A whole summer of this and I will surely go out of my mind.

Both of them can talk non-stop until the cows come home. Both think the other is dotty, or crazy, or just plain silly. I've got news for them - THEY BOTH ARE! They are so like each other they would recoil in horror if you even suggested it. Let me tell you, they don't make enough Calgon to take me away from these two when they get going -- HELP!!!!!

Friday, June 22, 2007

School's out for Summer!

Summer vacation has officially begun! The photos above are Alexa practicing her over the shoulder, backwards basketball shots, taken last night. Today was Alexa's last "day" of school. Her last day was a "half day" of school - all one and half hours worth. She was in at 9:00 and home at 10:30! Now the fun begins!

I thought I'd post the results of the challenge that Sharon gave me last week. It was a red, white and blue paper and embellishment challenge using Doddlebug papers. My biggest stumbling block was trying to create a layout without a photo. I managed to cajole, weedle, beg and finally insist Alexa stand next to our neighbor's flag banner with the only red shirt she owns so at least I'd have something to play off of. Here's the result:

The paper is cut on a curve on the left side and there is a generous use of seed beads to give it a little punch. This summer I'll tackle trying to scan 12x12" layouts, something I've yet to do. Well, it's off to get ready for work, have a great weekened everyone!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Oh, Brother!

I was a very happy child. It was me, my parents, my "city" grandmother and my "country" grandparents. Then the unthinkable happened. My brother was born. Why me? What did I do to deserve this, him?! I was a good child. I listened and obeyed my parents. What did I do wrong?

My brother had my number from day one. He was a happy little boy who could get under my skin and push my buttons with no apparent effort at all! Brion was born in early June. I have no recollection of my mom being pregnant. No recollection of Brion's birth and his coming home for the first time. What I remember the most about that summer is that Mrs. Engelmann from across the street would come over early in the morning, get me out of bed, dressed and take me over to her house. I could play in my backyard with Janet, Terry and Dolores, but I was forbidden from going into the house until after lunch time.

Lunch time was no fun either. I was a child of simple tastes. PB&J worked just fine for me add a glass of milk and I was good to go. Unfortunately, the Engelmann's didn't have any peanut butter, no one in their house ate peanut butter. I was offered (and turned my nose up at) cream cheese - blech! I was miserable! And you know whose fault it was -- that little baby intruder in MY house - Brion!
Fast forward a couple of years. As a pre-teen and teen I had to "watch" my brother after school while my mom worked. By then Brion had finely honed his button pushing skills and had a different button for any and all occasions. The good news is that I got to move upstairs and had the whole second floor to myself along with my own bathroom, very cool!

I went away to college and Brion got, well, tolerable. The saying is "absence makes the heart grow fonder" well, for me "absence makes the brother bearable". He started to become human and not such a bad kid after all.

Over the intervening years we've both gotten married, we live a good distance apart and are very, very different people. He's conservative, I'm liberal. He still lives on Long Island and is very acclimated to the fast pace, living close to the city, loves the water and can talk easily to anyone, anywhere, anytime and throws great parties. I've lived mostly out of the state or in upstate NY - country, cows and corn. I like the mountains, I'm not crazy about the heat, the sun or the ocean. Give me a nice clean, chlorinated pool and air conditioning. I'm a fumble mouth around strangers, talking to people doesn't come easily to me and I'm uncomfortable at parties.

So, you may think that with all that we don't have in common we have a so-so relationship. Well, I've got to tell you, next to my husband, my brother is the most important man in my life. He is a wonderful husband, married to an equally wonderful woman, he was a rock after our parent's car accident and took control and handled a thousand and one details including, but not limited to, the subsequent selling of my parent's house.

He is a fabulous father, he is adored by my daughter, his niece, and I can't begin to tell you how proud of him I am. He still can push my buttons, but I also know he will always have my back (and climb up on a ladder in January to fix my roof if I ask him to). I love him more than I can tell you (and him) and I wish him a very happy, belated birthday - because he still manages to forgive me when I send his card late, and don't talk about him in my blog.
Happy Birthday Obie!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to all those Dad's out there. When we were deciding whether to have children or not there was one thing I was sure about, my husband would make a great dad. I was right. That is one of the three things my dad and my husband had in common. First, they were and are great dads. Second, they both loved me unconditionally. Third, they loved their girls! Three pretty great qualifications if you ask me.

My dad was never a part-time dad or a dad that did things only a "man" would do. He shared diapering and bathing duty. He never "babysat" his kids, something I hear even young women today say, for example, "I can come if my husband will agree to babysit the kids, otherwise I have to see if my mom can do it." I'm always astounded when I read things like that. Since when did having children, caring for them, nurturing them, spending time with them be something a wife had to ask her husband, the FATHER of their kids to do.

After large family gatherings my dad would volunteer to take all the nieces and nephews to the local park to give the ladies time to clean up and relax. My dad would bandage and take care of some of my more serious "OOPS" moments when I would mangle my fingers or knees and my mom would be too upset or grossed out to do it! My dad took me to the hardware store, the paint store, the lumber yard and the gravel yard, places I still like to go today. He let me help him put furniture together when he went through his "Yield House" phase. My dad was devoted to his mother, who was widowed when my dad was 12 or 13. He took care of her throughout her entire life and visited her regularly even when she didn't know who he was anymore.

My husband is a hands-on, 24/7 parent. He loves to spend time with our daughter and has been a natural since day one. He makes time, invents time, and looks forward to time and activities he can do with Alexa. In many ways he is better with her than I am. I have never, never worried about leaving her with Norman and he has never questioned his abilities or responsibility toward his child.

That old adage that a woman looks to marry a man like her father isn't exactly true for me. Like I said, the only thing my dad and Norm had in common for years was me. Dad didn't understand for a long time what exactly Norman did for a living. He had a hard time understanding the academic life. He also didn't understand how Norm didn't know one end of a wrench from the other and why I did most of the house and home repairs. But I guess when you go deep down to the most important things a woman would want in husband and a father, my dad and Norman were very, very, much alike. In that way, I did marry a man just like my father.

Happy Father's Day - Dad and Norman, I'll love you both always and forever, Donna

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Quizzes and Challenges

I was "challenged" by Sharon, my store owner, to make a July 4th layout. She provided me with the paper and embellishments and now I have to come up with a layout - ACCCKKKK!!!! I do OK with a deadline, but not so OK with a blind challenge. That and I don't have a photo to work with. It's Flag Day today and I'm hoping I can get Alexa to pose in her white skirt and red top (that we HAD to get for school today) next to our neighbor's flag banner. I'd feel a bit better attempting a layout if I have a photo to work with.

I found this quiz challenge on Marty's blog and I'm a bit dismayed to find out my color is yellow. I don't feel like a yellow and my favorite color is red, with blue running a close second. What color are you?


You are very perceptive and smart. You are clear and to the point and have a great sense of humor. You are always learning and searching for understanding.

Find out your color at!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Summer Vacation

Remember when summer vacation from school seemed forever to get here and you had all these cool plans for things to do that never quite worked out the way you thought? I know I'm dating myself, but when I was a kid you left the house after breakfast and didn't return until lunch and then you were out again all afternoon until you could hear your mom calling you for dinner. Then came the negotiations for how long you could stay out after dinner.

There were no gymnastic camps or bead camps or Michael's camp or cheer leading camp. We had three above ground pools on our block in three contiguous backyards and we'd take turns "sharing" with our little brothers. The only "camp" we had was during elementary school when there was still enough money in the school budget to go have summer school (that was fun, not because we failed) where we would have twirling lessons, make lanyards out of plastic string (boondoggle) and clay pots in art. When we were a little older we had a town pool but the fee was expensive and we had to cross the railroad tracks and Sunrise Hwy. to get there and there wasn't any shade and they had way too many rules of things you couldn't do.

Our summer would go like this...One week we were inspired to play "Bonanza" or "Spin and Marty" or "Swamp Fox". We'd fight over who got to be which character and we'd use fence posts for horses, turn over the picnic table to make a house or a boat and exhaust our imaginations until we found the next best thing.

The town would black top the street and we'd break out our roller skates! Who's got a key? That would keep us busy for another week. Then we'd not want to waste all that beautiful smooth black top and someone would produce a piece of chalk or we'd break off a piece of slate from the flower beds and hopscotch would take up another week. Double dutch, or just plain jump rope and Duncan tops would appear. But eventually, we'd drag into the house and whine to mom "There's nothing to do!" My mom's enlightened reply, "Go outside and play!" It never changed!

I'm planning my daughter's summer vacation, yes, planning...There will be a week of gymnastics camp, the one with the trip to Fantasy Island amusement park (a must!), I'm also going to sign her up for a week of "Passion for Fashion" at the school's summer program. I hesitate to sign her up for Michael's Art Camp because I haven't seen the projects and if they don't meet Miss Priss's high standards - I'll never hear the end of it. The rest of the summer it's just her, me and her grandmother, especially the two afternoons I work (what will she do!) I can't say I'm looking forward to summer the way I used to but it will be interesting, I've got to say that and nothing like when I was ten.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Back in the saddle again...

It's been a busy two weeks! In no particular order of importance...

My friend Tracy posted on her blog a week or so ago the challenge of "helping" your child do their school projects without actually doing the project yourself. We had the same dilemma in our house last week. Alexa, along with every other fourth grader at Maple West had to do a project with an oral report on something having to do with New York State. The parameters were pretty wide and the rubric was fairly easy to follow. Alexa chose the Empire State Building(ESB) as her subject. When asked what she wanted to do for the project part she chose to make a model of the ESB. Out of what? - Styrofoam. So off to JoAnne's, Michael's and ACMoore we went to find the one store with all the pieces that fit. As we started to build the model in the store aisles to see what pieces we would need, the ESB grew, not only in height but in $ spent!

We brought everything home and started "construction" with city approved, structurally compatible supplies - otherwise known as a glue gun, Styrofoam spray glue and toothpicks. We finally got the basic structure built - and the 'we' gets a little sketchy here because Alexa is afraid to use the glue gun, over sprayed the adhesive, and spilled the toothpicks. So, Mom (with no patience) built the ESB to Alexa's demanding specifications and vision!

Once totally built, we needed to add windows and spray paint the exterior. To make the windows we (again, Mom with an assist from Dad) used the wooden rectangle end of a small rubber stamp and forced it into the Styrofoam to the tune of over 1600 windows - if my math is right. To be honest, my hand was so sore and I had a HUGE blister on my right thumb that is now a huge callus - that I didn't count the windows at the time, I'm guesstimating. In Alexa's defense on this point, she did not have the strength to press in all those windows (Norman and I barely did!) Finally, we spray painted the entire building 'Silver Champagne' - with 7 cans of spray paint! Then the night before the project was due, I drilled holes in the wooden base (that Alexa painted) and glued dowels in the holes and Norman and I lifted the ESB and attached it to the base. I put on the sticker letters (because Alexa was afraid she wouldn't get them all on and even) and here is the result...

As a post script, Alexa gave her oral report on Tuesday (dressed to the nines) and it went very well. The ESB was a big hit - in more ways than one! It drew a lot of 'oohs' and 'aaahhs' and a few, "Wow, how did you make that!" from a number of students and teachers. We are very anxious to see how 'we' did come grade time!

Also happening last week was Creating Keepsakes Convention (which I did not attend for the 2nd year in a row). My store, Buffalo Stamps and Stuff had a booth and I spent some time doing demos for display.

Lastly, I didn't attend the show because the Sweatshoppe Girls - you know who you are ;-), had a summer weekend crop retreat at the Watson Homestead down toward Corning. We had a blast - as always, and are planning to do it again. Here's a photo of Suzanne, Amy, Lynn and Penny working away.

That's about it for last week. This week, we saw cousin Karen from California. We have the 'shed guy' coming tomorrow to layout where our new backyard shed will be going and the 'fence guy' should be calling any day now for when they are coming. Can someone tell me how I did all this stuff when I worked full time?