Friday, January 31, 2014

It's Officially Looking Love-ly Around Here

We are still snowed in. Issa technically had a three hour delay today, but I'm keeping her home because she had some tummy trouble yesterday. I will spare you all the gross details, but thanks to Nana the super-sleuth we think it's from a water glass she had squirreled up in  her room. I just don't want to send her to school and find out it is actually a virus we just shared.

Yesterday, we decided to spend the day making Valentine's Day decorations. The best part of this set is we made them all with things we already had around the house.

We started with a new wreath on the door:
 Issa made this Valentine's mistletoe:
 And then we decided it was time to take the snow down from Daddy's window and replace it with hearts:
 Here is one up close:
These were a little tricky for the kids, but I love them in the window!

Today, we have declared it a movie day! We are also planning a Chinese feast to celebrate the new year. Here's to hoping we're all well enough by dinner to enjoy it!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Work Would be a Break

We are still "snowed in." I am quite confident I could get any where I needed to, but anywhere I would go is closed. we are.

Yesterday was very, very busy. So busy that I think work would be a break. I barely got breakfast in the kids before they were headed out to play in the snow:
Horrible lighting, but they were not too interested in moving away from the door they were trying to burst through.

The first stop was Evan's new rain gauge. The news was correct; we got three inches.
The saucer was a huge hit:
Evan needed a little push to get going:
The hill is really not that big, but it's enough to slide down and then crash into the other side, which is apparently hysterical.

After about thirty minutes, they were freezing. So, they pulled off all the snow gear, took off wet clothes, and I made hot cocoa--at nine in the morning. Why not?

Then Issa decided it was the perfect day for a science experiment. She found one about using ice and salt to make a slushy. Look at that concentration:
Once the salt was stirred into the ice and the cup settled in the center, we poured in our juice:
You can see how helpful Evan is:
He had a snack while Issa worked. We then stirred every ten minutes for two hours. If anyone knows the name for when you stir and whoosh you have crystals that would be awesome. It was so cool to watch, but the Google has failed me and Issa's book was more focused on the salt ice combo.

We also dug out some craft kits:

Issa made a beautiful butterfly magnet:
Evan made a wooden truck:
Do you think he was excited?

He loved pounding the wheels in with his little hammer.

After all that fun, the neighbor came over to make sugar cookies:
Why not add frosting and sprinkles to the mix:
They went back out in the snow while I reclaimed the kitchen, and then they finally decided maybe some quiet time wasn't a terrible idea:
You have to love a boy and his dog.

The kids made spaghetti sauce, and we put another fire in the fireplace. In short, it was a perfect snow day. And now...we have another one.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Snow Days

We are "snowed in." For my northern friends, I know you are laughing. We have about three inches on the ground of soft fluffy snow and you would think it's a blizzard. Even my college is closed. 

Yesterday, school dismissed at 11 because of the impending snow (which actually started at 5), and a fort was soon erected in my the living room:
That's what I love about snow days. The kids just love the extra time to play together. We put a fire in the fireplace, made shrimp scampi, and watched it snow. This morning, we woke up without alarms and the kiddos jumped up and down about the amount of snow. As soon as they finish eating, they plan to go outside and try out their new saucer. It's really more than they can handle. I see hot cocoa and lots of snuggles in our future, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Meet Stella

In the midst of getting ready for Issa's first competition, we had to say goodbye to a part of the family:
 Our van finally gave up the ghost. It had seen us through nearly eight years and had 200,558 miles on it. The gas gauge didn't work, and lately most of the gauges had been wonky. Brad took it in Tuesday, and we discovered it had a hole in the radiator and a failing alternator. It was time.

I crumbled. We drove to every baby shower in that van. It moved me out of my first classroom and into numerous offices. It brought both babies home, and it took us on more trips than I can name. First Christmases, beach trips, Great Wolf. It held so many memories, but it was time to say goodbye.

Thankfully, Brad was a rock star and did some fast research. Meet Stella:
She joined our family Thursday--just in time for our Atlanta trip. I am convinced the salesman thinks I am a nut job; I actually cried when I passed him the keys to old van. But, I do love Stella. She is also a Town and Country--just ten years newer. She also has fold and go seats and drives like a dream. All the gauges work, and life is good. I'm sure she will carry us to many more memories, but I'm still missing my old van just a little bit--goldfish crumbs and all.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Our NUVO Nubie

Here is what I have come to accept about myself: I rock at capturing the mundane on film and completely miss the photos of life's major events. It used to bother me, but now I recognize that I am just too busy living the events--and that's not a bad thing. That being said, I have exactly two pictures from this weekend.

We headed south to Atlanta this weekend of Issa could dance in her first competition and convention. The best part about it being in Atlanta was Uncle Nick and Aunt Beth. We were able to stay at their house, and they drove us around and were there to cheer on our girl and her mama. It was a nice gentle entrance into this whole new world.

Friday was the competition, and I couldn't be more proud of these Tinys:
They earned a high silver in each of their three dances. Their tap and hip-hop was the best I've ever seen it, and they made it through jazz. Jazz is usually solid, but I think nerves got the better of them. It was a learning experience, though, and Issa was proud of what they did. She was also very realistic about what they need to fix before the next competition.

Saturday, Issa had convention:
She was so anxious to take classes from master choreographers, and I was thrilled to be able to sit in and watch. It was so fun to watch these amazing choreographers work with these little ones, and it was even more amazing to watch Issa participate. She actually demonstrated a coffee grinder in hip hop, and she never gave up--even when the tap teacher "was trying to kill me." I truly couldn't be more proud of this girl.

Sunday, Issa had the day off and we were able to get together with the whole Atlanta clan. It was so fun to watch all the littles (some of which who are not so little) play, and it was awesome to watch Issa was Kaitlin sing. It was the perfect end to the weekend.

The next competition will be in Greenville next month, and we're making it a girls' weekend. I can't wait!

Thursday, January 23, 2014


Last night, Brad and I had the opportunity to go see Once. All I can say is that if you ever get the chance to see it, go!

Since the cast is also the musicians, we arrived twenty minutes for the show only to see them warming up on stage--in character--with Irish drinking songs. It only got cooler from there. It is a perfect blend of funny and heart-warming and heart-breaking. The music is incredible--all the more so because you see them playing the instruments. Magic. Pure magic. I was in tears multiple times, often just out of sheer awe.

And...we had a two hour delay this morning, so life is even better.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The House Where Love Abides

Last night, the kids and I decided to decorate the Valentine's house. Look who I caught:
Little Monster is a fan of icing.

Issa was very meticulous last night:
Evan wanted some extra help, which was fun. We created this side of the house:
And y'all, I'm a little worried about Issa not coming out of her shell:

Good grief. I love this girl.

Today, we have a snow day and Daddy and I have a date tonight. I'd call that a perfect combination.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Magic of Just Being

This weekend, two of Brad's college roommate came for a visit. Even though we have collectively experienced marriage, divorce, career changes, advanced degrees, and babies, when we get together it feels just the way it did when we were in undergrad.

Many of the same jokes resurface. I had to make monkey bread, and we stayed up way too late. Of course, some things change. A new girlfriend (who is lovely) was brought into the circle. Our conversations are more nuanced and certainly wiser, and our kiddos were brought into the mix. I love that they are growing up knowing Uncle Tim, and I love that there was time made for building train tracks and a marathon Monopoly game.

I struggled with what to write today because there was no fabulous moment--no big event. Maybe that's the magic. We don't need one. It's enough to just be.

Friday, January 17, 2014

We Might Have a Problem...

We have a new happy thing at our house:
 I made that. At my house. And I can make another one anytime I want. We received a Keurig cappuccino/latte maker for Christmas, and we are in love. It's amazing how good it is.

However, we may have a coffee problem:
That whole section is dedicated to coffee: the cappuccino machine, a regular Keurig for when we only need one cup, a regular pot for most mornings, a grinder, and a vacuum sealing coffee bean storage container. It is happiness...and a little disturbing.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Happy Surprise

We got a happy surprise in the mail yesterday:
Evan's basketball pictures finally arrived! He just cracks me up with that cheesy little smile.

He registered for baseball this week, and he can hardly wait! He had to choose between baseball and soccer, and baseball won out. We'll see what the next season brings...

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Great News Abounds!

Yesterday was full of big news.

First, Erin is a winner! The kids loved their evening with her, and I loved coming home to a tidy house and very happy children. As an added bonus, she took the kids to the park and one of my friends happened to be there. She was happy to report that all seemed wonderful, which was a huge relief. You can interview and watch and pray, but it's nice to have some independent confirmation.

And the even bigger news...Issa will be doing a solo in the recital and the building upon it to compete next year! And, in the biggest news that made her over the moon thrilled, she gets to use "Do You Want to Build a Snowman" from Frozen. And...she gets to work with Mrs. Lauren. Life just doesn't get any better for our sweet dancing girl.

I am one happy mama.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Not One But Two

So...the babysitter saga concludes...

I believe I mentioned I had a phone interview with a fabulous candidate and we were planning to interview her and hopefully hire her. Well...she cancelled the second interview and we threw in the towel with her.

Meanwhile, I continued to receive great applicants from I really can't say enough how wonderful that site is! One applicant was a freshman at UNC, and I really liked her when we spoke on the phone. She was a little younger than our first applicant, but she has experience as a camp counselor and graduated from NC Science and Math--both very promising signs. We set up an interview for Friday, and I crossed my fingers.

Friday morning, I received an email from her stating she would completely understand if the answer was no, but since we were meeting in our home instead of a public place could she please bring her roommate. Why, yes. That actually shows impeccable judgement, and I liked her even more.

Erin, the applicant, and Serina arrived at our house five minutes early dressed for an interview--hose, heels and pearls. We chatted, and then the kids asked them to come see the playroom and their rooms, and it was a done deal. Erin jumped right in, playing and oohing and aahing appropriately. As a bonus, the kids fell in love with Serina, too. Although we primarily need help on Thursdays, there are random other days, and between the two of them, they can cover every day of the week.

We have emailed back and forth a few times, and Erin comes for the first time today. I sent her a two page outline of every possible thing she could need to know yesterday, and she didn't run for the hills, so that's a good sign. The kids are so excited to play with their new "friends," and I am so excited that we found two sitters that I feel so incredibly comfortable with and confident in when I can't be there. Here's hoping today is the start of something very wonderful...

Monday, January 13, 2014

I Might Have Cried...

Sunday night, we had Issa's first Company Showcase. Showcase is an opportunity for the dancers to perform in costume, on stage, in front of an audience before the first competition. It was also a great practice run for me for hair and make-up.Brad snapped a few pictures of the process:

Knox made sure that bun didn't move. This face: a mom of the year moment I got frustrated with one hair that was just refusing to cooperate and plucked it out. Thankfully, Issa was amused.

We also got to use Issa's Company make-up for the first time:
Full disclosure: I held my breath when I applied the foundation. I didn't completely conceal Issa's Angel Kiss, but it did lighten it significantly, and I wasn't sure what her reaction would be. She still loves her Angel Kiss, but I am always afraid the day will come when she won't. Thankfully, she was a little sad it wasn't as dark.

Our girl in her warm-ups ready to go:
The best little brother was anxious to support his sister:
And we girls were off! 
Yes...Issa's bag is nearly as big as she is. The boys joined us later, but we needed to get to the stage early for call time. Issa passed inspection with flying colors.

For the first time ever, I got to sit in the audience and watch Issa dance. Her first number was production, so my first time watching my baby girl from the audience she was on stage with the whole company. I cried. I'm not talking a tear or two, either. I just can't believe how big she has gotten and how far she has progressed from point, point, close in her first recital. Don't get me wrong, we still have some room to grow, but my heart was just so full. I spent most of the evening running back and forth helping her change and then watching her shine.

In a shocking turn of events, tap has become her favorite dance, by the way.

Hip hop:
The boys brought her flowers:
And the best little brother, who watched on the edge of his seat, was rewarded with a big lipstick kiss on the forehead:
Daddy brought me roses, which he gave me in the parking lot, and I proceeded to lose it all over again. I couldn't be more proud of our little dancer. It's a wild ride we're on, and I can't wait to see what's next.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Small Town Love

First and foremost: the babysitter interview moved to tomorrow.

So...I have mentioned I love living in a small town, and whenever possible we do business in our small town. When we moved to NC, we were looking for a small bank, and we found one that really worked with us and got us settled as real live grown-ups. They were eventually acquired by a slightly larger, regional bank, but they still have that small town feel. They are still costumer first, and they still work to make sure that we get the best service and services. This all became even more evident yesterday.

My debit card got hacked yesterday--oh, joy. It was a tiny charge, and I caught it while it was still pending. I called my bank, and they said they would totally take care of it but I needed to come in to sign some forms and prove I was me. No problem.

Yesterday afternoon, I walked into the bank, and I was told I would need to wait a few minutes. No problem. I settled in to check some email (thank goodness for smart phones), and in a few minutes an elderly lady walked out of the office I was about to walk into in tears. She sat next to me, and I asked if she was alright. In moments, the bank employee was at her side, also teary. Needless to say, I was so perplexed and by now the woman was holding my hand.

She started to tell me the whole story after saying, "You just have on of those faces that makes me want to tell you everything." (I get that a lot.)

As it turns out, she is a widow, and her pipes broke yesterday. Her son is snowed in where ever he lives, but he had talked her through all that she would need to do, including pulling money out of some accounts at the bank--even though that would cost her some penalties and such.

Not at our bank. They worked with her to get her the money. But that's not all. They helped her call a contractor they use to help with all of the repairs, and conference called her son to make sure he was on board. The relief on her face was so evident, and I was so grateful to get to witness a little more of the good in the world.

And...they already had my paperwork done and my card cancelled.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Little Chefs

Somehow, I committed to making homemade pasta last night. I'm really not even sure how it happened. In the morning, we were talking in vague generalities about how you make pasta and that somehow turned in to we'll do it tonight. The last time we did this, I just remember it being a horrible mess and wanting to curl up on the kitchen floor in the fetal position. As it turns out, the kids are big enough now that it was actually fun and only mildly destroyed my kitchen.

I did the initial combining of flour and eggs because it needs to be done by hand and both children declared there was no way they were doing it. But...they took over the kneading:
The many faces of Evan kneading:

Some pictures just don't need captions, and I think that series speaks for itself. The last one is a little Jack Nicholson in The Shining, but you'll have that.

After all of the kneading, the kids took turns cranking:
And Issa announced she was making the spaghetti sauce all on her own:
She browned the sausage and added everything but the garlic. I was too afraid to turn her loose with that one. It was very tasty!

Please notice the flour on Evan's forehead:
And the spaghetti sauce, well, everywhere:
But we ended up with some delicious pasta!
I dried half of it to boil tonight and have with the leftover sauce.Please say a little prayer for us. We are interviewing a potential new babysitter tonight over dinner. She sounds incredible on paper and over the phone; now we just have to pray she is a fit! As Nana said, "If Viv doesn't eat her, she's a keeper." It's not a bad thought. Those are Viv's kids, and she is a great judge of character.