Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Running 2014

I haven't blogged about running much this year, but that certainly isn't for lack of running.  Granted, I didn't do any races.  But I ran significantly more miles this year than I have ever run before.  1434 miles!

It hasn't always been easy to fit in runs.  Sometimes a little like trying to run on a floating log on water, trying to fit in a run.  But somehow I managed to make it work.

Picture taken at the Roanoke GoFest last October.
I didn't run super fast.  Sometimes I missed runs, usually due to sick kids or conflict with work.  But in the end, I'm excited to have beat my previous yearly running total by well over 100 miles.
For 2015, I don't have any particular running goals.  It seems I'm at a point, where my running goal is simply this:  RUN. 
What about you, readers?  Any goals for 2015? 
Happy New Year!  

Monday, December 29, 2014

Hanging Out

We have the whole week off!  No school, and no work for me aside from Friday afternoon.  It's glorious!

I have long been waiting for this week.  The down time is MUCH needed for me.  This fall has been stressful. 

So I'm spending this week enjoying some smiling faces.  What are you up to, readers?  Do you have any extra time off?

Friday, December 26, 2014

Fun Time

I have been waiting and waiting for the holiday break, so the boys and I could have some fun, and some relaxation.  We've faced a lot of change this year with them in school, and me working.

So this week and next we have some fun activities planned.  The boys don't return to school until the 6th.  A trip to the science museum downtown is imminent (Santa brought a year membership - he seems to believe in educational gifts).
This is a picture I took from the observation deck on the top of the science museum in downtown Roanoke when we were there in October.

Readers, do you have anything fun planned for the next week or so?

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Happy Holidays

Wishing everyone a very happy holiday!
Picture taken last Sunday, when the boys participated in the church play.
Picture taken on the deck attached to the main library in downtown Roanoke.
Merry Christmas, readers!

Monday, December 22, 2014


Our boys love to ride bikes.  Constantly someone is asking to go out and ride bikes.  Often, bike helmets are strewn around the house.
Recently we got a nice, mild day, and we took the boys to Waid Park.  Reid decided he wanted to spend his time on the playground.  Pierce and Cort decided to bike ride.

Aren't they cute?  I love seeing them active and outside - regardless of the season.  That's one of the nice things about living in Virginia.  It isn't usually so bitter in the winter that we have to stay indoors for long periods of time.  We have a lot of ups and downs in the weather. 

Readers, have you been able to get any fresh air lately?

Friday, December 19, 2014

Girls are Trouble

When I went in for the twins' kindergarten conference some weeks ago, I was surprised to learn that Reid's best friend was a little girl named Laila.  He had never mentioned her.  He had mentioned plenty of other friends, but never her.  Apparently the times Reid had gotten in to trouble at school, it involved this little girl.  The behavior cards are a complicated system of colors and numbers that would need a whole separate blog post to explain, but just know that the few times Reid was on yellow were Laila-related.  Somehow, when he was around her, he forgot to listen and follow directions.

I wasn't able to go on the twins' field trip this fall due to work, but I sent Paul with instructions to scope out Laila and tell me all about her.  He failed in his mission, and came back with no gossip for me. 

So we are still mystified about Laila.  All I know about her from Reid is that she has hair.  And eyes.  But we don't know what color.  Oh, and she likes Hello Kitty.  Now he hasn't told me - but I'm betting she likes Frozen too.

And every time Reid comes home with yellow on his behavior sheet and I ask him what happened?  Well, somehow, Laila is always involved too.

Girls.  They sure are trouble. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Christmas Carol

One of the special memories I have from childhood Christmases is that one year we went to see A Christmas Carol at Ford Theatre in Washington D.C.  This is the theatre where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.  At the time I didn't have a lot of appreciation for history, but even I was impressed to walk inside and look around.  They show A Christmas Carol there every year, and while we aren't in a position to go see it at Ford Theatre this year, I was able to take the boys to a mini spin off of the play that was done by Mill Mountain Children's Theatre at the downtown Roanoke library.

It was an unusual production.  They made it into an old school radio rendition of the play, complete with audience interaction.  The boys got to sing/read along at times.  This kept their interest. 
 And while they didn't get to see Scrooge or the ghosts, they got to see how the sounds of radio shows were made - the clanking of chains and the thunder of a storm.  I think they really enjoyed the performance.
Here are the boys against a mural of downtown Roanoke that is on the upper level of the library.  Smiles all around!

Readers, do you have any special Christmas memories of something fun you did with your family one year?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Beam Me Up

The sunrise recently was rather unusual.  Paul noticed it first, and directed my attention out towards our pasture.

It seemed, for that day at least, that there must have been something mighty special just over the ridge.
Readers, have you noticed the sunrise lately?

Friday, December 12, 2014

Five Years

Do you know what yesterday was?  It was my five year blogiversary!  Unbelievable.  I love that I have so many memories and photos from the past five years preserved here.  One day perhaps the boys will read it and laugh over their antics.  And I've enjoyed so much the friendship of other bloggers.  Those two things are what keep me posting day after day. 

I'm going to celebrate with a giveaway of one of my homemade soaps.  It's a santa soap, scented lightly with peppermint.  To enter, you must be a follower by GFC, and you must leave a comment.  That's it!  I will ship anywhere.  Drawing to be done on 12/15/14.  Winner must respond in 48 hours to be eligible.

Readers, why do you like blogging?  What keeps you going over time? 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Elf on the Shelf Holiday Decorating Craft with #Idelight #Holidaydelight

Our Elf on the Shelf is named Tulley, and he has been with us for five years now. He isn't sneaky and naughty like some of the elves. He comes around Thanksgiving and most nights moves from place to place, but he doesn't tend to play any pranks. One year he did give our beta fish a Christmas statue.
This year the boys and I decided to create a home for Tulley to come to. My husband has been drinking tons of the International Delight creamer, especially with all the fun new seasonal creamer flavors, so I thought I would try to repurpose one of their coffee creamer containers.

First I washed it out and let it dry. Once it was clean, I peeled off the label and then cut an opening just the right size for an elf. I used a knife to make the initial cut in the bottle, and then switched to scissors so that I would have more control on the curves. I used a spray paint white primer to prime the bottle. Priming is an important step, because otherwise when you add color it would run or be uneven.

I allowed the primer to dry, and then used a brick red craft paint to coat the whole bottle. It took two coats to get a nice even effect. Then I used an off-white and a small brush to paint the bricks by hand.
Once this is done, you can personalize your bottle. You could make a sign with your elf's name on it, or paint a little Christmas tree. We decided to put a wreath about the opening on ours.
We set out our new home and it only took a few days for it to bring Tulley back to our house. We were thrilled to see him again! And he seems to be happy to have his own place.

For more fun holiday crafts and recipes, check out the International Delight community. If you join, you will also have access to awesome giveaways and coupons.

Readers, have you done any crafts for the holidays yet?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of International Delight. The opinions and text are all mine.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Turkeys and Indians

For Thanksgiving, the twins had a special performance at school.  I got to go eat lunch with them and watch them sing.
 The pictures aren't the greatest, because I was in the far back and had to zoom a lot, plus the room was a bit dark.  But you can see they were both really into it.

They were both so excited to have me there.  And we snuck Pierce out of his class so he could watch too.  Pierce was delighted to play hookey.  And to snag a treat off the dessert table.
Look at those happy faces! 
Somehow, I had thought I'd get to eat lunch with my boys more often this year, but with working two jobs it hasn't worked out that way.
So this day was extra special to me.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Norman Rockwell Gone Wrong

The other day I was at the library, and they had a bunch of old magazines for sell for 10 cents each.  I got a nice stack going for myself and a couple of other family members.  I found a kid's magazine I'd never heard of before called Jack and Jill.  I added that to the pile for Pierce, after flipping through quickly and seeing some fun mazes and puzzles.

That evening I was working with the twins on their dolch words for kindergarten, and I told Pierce he should read that magazine to keep him busy.  Pierce is the typical oldest child - very responsible and independent.  He did what I asked for a bit and all the sudden shut the magazine and announced, "Mom, I'm not reading that magazine anymore!  There's a boy showing his private parts!"

I felt alarm and guilt and shock.  How could I have brought home such a magazine?  What were they showing kids these days in magazines?  I asked Pierce to show me the picture.  And this advertisement is what he turned to:

I had to chuckle.  I could see why Pierce may have gotten that impression.  He has never received a vaccine in the bottom.  He has always gotten his shots in the fatty part of the thigh.  So I explained what the picture really was.  I don't think Pierce found it very amusing.  I guess I won't bring him anymore magazines for a while! 

Readers, do you have a favorite Norman Rockwell painting?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Baby Announcement (no, not mine)

I got a box of old cards from the 1950s from my grandmother's.  They had belonged to my great great aunt, May May.  I never met her.  But I have heard a lot of stories, and even read her journal.  There were many interesting correspondences in the box, but my favorite was this baby announcement.
 Wouldn't it be nice if stamps still only cost 2 cents?
Were these parents creative or what?
I particularly love the last line.
Wonder what Barbara Ann is up to these days?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Love Themes

In an effort to combat some of the inevitable oversurge of Christmas music, I downloaded some music and made some new playlists for my ipod this month.  I decided to make a mix for the boys as well, since we're in the car a lot, and they're at the age that they all have favorite songs.  We do a lot of driving.  And it's not that I won't let them listen to some Christmas music.  It's just that I don't think we need to listen to nothing but Christmas music for the next month.

Do you know what Pierce's favorite song is right now?  You'll never guess.  No really, never, ever guess.

It's the love theme from Flashdance.  Which is instrumental and just happens to be one of my favorites as well.  Which is how he knows about the song - of course he has not seen the movie (the movie is rated R and horrible - none of the characters have any depth and there's a whole lot of objectification going on). 

So, readers, how many 8 year olds do you know that say their favorite song is the Love Theme from Flashdance? 

If you've never heard it, it's definitely worth pulling up on iTunes for a listen.  To Pierce's credit, it is moving music.  Readers, what's on your favorite song list right now? 

Friday, November 28, 2014

One Year Later - Francie, Horse Rescue

Can you believe that today marks a year since I went and rescued Francie?  The scrawny horse that was so weak yet untamed and unhandled, infested with the worst case of strongyles my vet had ever seen, has come such a long way.

Here are a couple of pictures of her from the first week with us.  She was covered in muck, which I couldn't brush off because her skin was overly sensitive to touch and she wasn't used to being handled.  She had never had her feet trimmed.  She was underweight to the point that her spine protruded, and had three different types of parasites.

In this picture, you can see the muck that was on her legs, that I was unable to curry off being of her skin sensitivities.  She had been standing and sleeping in this muck. 

Note how skinny her neck is in this picture.  You can really see a difference in her neck in more recent photos.

Alright, now here are some pictures of Francie from this past week.  You can see the muck is gone and she has totally filled out.  Her coat is so much healthier, and she is parasite-free.

She has had regular trimmings by the farrier and even sometimes lifts her feet for him when he comes.  Today she loves to be brushed, especially around her neck area.  Look how much thicker her neck is now!

Look at the difference of the shot from behind taken now versus the first picture.  She looks full and healthy - no more angles and bones. 
I wasn't really sure what I was getting in to when I brought her home that day, but I'm happy we were able to offer her a safe home.  She has come a long way in a year!  She will always have stunted growth (she will not grow anymore at this point) but at least she is living a better life. 

Also, for those of you who offered support for the two horses left behind, you'll be happy to hear that they look much better too, since they were dewormed and vaccinated and the one was gelded, and the owners have done a much better job over the past year of keeping hay on the premises.  While they may not look 100%, they are in such better shape than a year ago!  Thank you. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Gray Thumb

You won't believe what I grew this year.  I wasn't sure, when I got the cat seeds, that they would take.  I have heard that they can be very tricky to grow.  Particular about the amount of sun and water.  Finicky with weeds, and not thriving when planted near onions or garlic.

He was a bit of a late bloomer.  I decided to go with container gardening.  I used the tabby variety seeds.  I didn't use any compost, but I did fertilize with tuna and Meow Mix.

Can you believe it?  He turned out gorgeous, don't you think?  Next summer I'm hoping to try some other varieties.  My porch will be quite the showcase! 

Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving with good food and loving family and friends. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

We Need More Thriller

On November 5th, I heard Christmas music for the first time.
It's not that I don't love Christmas. 
It's that it is too early.
In fact, it made me grumpy.
During the entire month of October, I only heard Thriller on the radio ONCE.
Thriller is excellent running music.  You cannot run to Christmas music.  You just can't.
In my opinion, we could use a little more Thriller, and a little less Christmas music.
If it were up to me, I wouldn't allow it until December 1st!
Behold - a nice mushroom picture, that has nothing at all to do with Christmas, because it isn't December yet!
Picture taken last month at the Butterfly Garden.
Alright, readers, am I a grumpy old scrooge, or do you agree?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Black Beauty

I took this picture at the Butterfly Garden last month when we were at the Science Festival.  I do not know what type of butterfly it is, but perhaps one of my readers knows?
I love the ragged iridescence of the wings.
I am teaching two classes on Fridays right now.
It's the same class (Normal Life Span), but twice, back to back.
One is from 8:00 - 2:30.
The other is from 5:30 - 10:30.
After the first class, I run paperwork to the office for my other job, run home and get the boys off the bus, and then run them downtown to drop them off with Paul as soon as he gets off work before heading back for more teaching.
It is a rather long day.
It's a good thing I love teaching so much.
Readers, what are you up to today?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Go Fest 2014

Every year we enjoy a huge outdoors festival in Roanoke called Go Fest.  It has certainly grown since we first started attending.  There were long lines for almost all the activities.  The boys braved the lines to do some rock climbing:

They have a rock wall at their school in the gym, so they jumped right on.

Course the rock wall at school isn't so tall.  And it has mats underneath.

Reid had a good run of it, until he looked down and had a wee panic. 
We had to get a little help in getting him down.

After that they all had a go at riding the bull.

I'm always a little tempted to ride the bull myself.

But like usual, I left it to the boys.

They had hammock rest areas everywhere. 
There must've been 100 hammocks scattered about for the resting.

Not everyone was lying around in hammocks, of course.
It was a fun day, which we ended with cupcakes.
We can't wait to see what next year brings!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Watch It

Last July when we went to see the fireworks in Lexington, I brought along a few magazines, because I knew it would be a long wait.  Pierce snagged an issue of Popular Mechanics and became obsessed with an article on smart watches.  We have heard so much about smart watches in the past months.  Pierce asked all of our family to give him money for his birthday, so that he would have enough for a smart watch.

Pierce has long had a watch obsession.  It isn't unusual for him to wear two or even three watches at once.  Indiglo watches, calculator watches, athletic watches, Lego watches.  They are all fascinating to him.  He strikes up conversations in public with strangers about their watches.  Recently he met someone in the library who had a solar watch that he found very intriguing.

Pierce was thrilled to finally get his smart watch the day after his birthday.  I put some game apps on it for him, and he especially likes the rubik cube and the drawing app. 

A week after The Amazing smart watch was purchased, Paul took Pierce on a bike ride.  I decided to take the twins to Toys R Us.  They still had their birthday gift cards (from last August!) that my aunt and uncle gave them.  Reid picked out a deep sea diver toy set.  Cort (who wants to be just like Pierce) picked out a VTech kid smart watch.  Who even knew they made them.

Cort got home and the drama began.  Cort's smart watch could take pictures and video.  It had a voice recorder which could distort your voice into robotic voice or chipmunk voice.  It had a little owl that would teach Cort the time.  In truth, it was a pretty neat watch for kids. 

Pierce was a little green over Cort's new 'smart watch'.
Cort, being the bratty little brother he is, tormented Pierce by recording messages like "I love my new smart watch!  It is better than Pierce's smart watch" and then playing them back ad nauseum in the chipmunk voice.

Poor Pierce.  His watch is still pretty awesome.  But man, life as the oldest is sometimes so tough! 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Hitting the Bong

A few weeks ago Pierce and I went to test drive some used cars (for the second time), with the idea that I was ready to buy one.  My minivan, which had tormented me with breakdowns since I bought it used in 2009, was on the last leg.  It's a shame - I loved the way it drove and all the space but talk about a lemon! 

I hate car shopping.  Most people get excited about it.  I obsess about the financial aspects of such a big purchase, and hate the tediousness of it.  It seems like someone is always trying to make an extra dime and this leads to shady behavior and paperwork, and then I have to get mad and threaten to walk out so they will fix it.  A shame that companies do this to people.  I wish someone could just tell me the right vehicle for me to get, tell me it is a good deal, and hand me the line to sign on.

So anyhow, I found a car I liked, from a brand I'd owned before and loved.  The dealership was packed that Saturday, and people were everywhere.  We walked back inside, and Pierce loudly announced to the room full of strangers,

"Mom, now that you found a car, are you going to hit the bong?"

What he meant was the GONG.
I let Pierce hit the gong for me.

I really hope he didn't go to school that Monday and talk about hitting the bong with his mother over the weekend....

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Quick and Easy Orange Holiday Smoothies Recipe #Idelight #HolidayDelight

During the holidays there always seem to be so many wonderful, special drinks for adults. My family loves to celebrate with mimosas, and later wine. I started thinking that maybe the kids deserved a special celebratory drink too. So I came up with creamy, delicious Orange Holiday Smoothie - sure to please the kids at your house, and grown ups will love it too.

This is the easiest recipe. It only has 3 ingredients, aside from the ice, and it takes about 60 seconds to make.

Load your blender with:

2 cups ice
1 cup orange juice
6 ounces vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup International Delight Frosted Sugar Cookie Coffee Creamer

Blend until smooth.  If desired, top with whipped cream and sprinkles.

My boys adore these orange smoothies. My husband and I love them as well. I think they will make a fun and tasty new tradition for our holiday entertaining.

International Delight is going all out for the holidays.  They are a wonderful source for recipes, wrapping ideas, crafts, and all your other holiday entertaining needs.  You can join their community and find out more here.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of International Delight. The opinions and text are all mine.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Spy Cows

We're driving down the road and Reid says, "Those are Mom's cows," as he points to a herd of cows in a pasture.  We often play this game. 

Cort says, "No, those are my cows."

Me: "Cort, maybe we can share the cows."

Cort: "Okay, but mine are spy cows."

Me:  "Mine are spy cows too.  My cow wears special spy glasses that lets him see far through the woods."

Cort: "My cow wears spy glasses too.  He can swim and jump over this car."

Reid, "WHAT?!?"

Cort: "Yeah, my cow wears a spy vest full of spy equipment.  He can swim and do karate moves.  My cow can jump over skyscrapers."

Reid:  "WHAT?!?"

(Insert giggles from Cort).

Me: "Wow, Cort.  Your cows are way cooler than mine."

Readers, seen any cool cows lately?
Cort and Reid, doing the hay bike maze at GoFest.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Little Happies

Don't you love those little moments in life that bring you small happinesses?  I have long loved the photos that Gail takes on her blog Louisiana Belle.  Recently she mentioned turning some of them into notecards.  I wanted to buy some, but she insisted on sending me a sampling for free.  Aren't they gorgeous? 
Pierce and I will be putting these to good use in our letter writings. Louisiana Belle really captures some amazing shots.  Especially her birds!  Thanks, Gail!

While I cannot begin to touch Louisiana Belle's photographing talents, I did recently catch a shot downtown that I really like, looking out towards the farmer's market in Roanoke.  A picture that brought me a little happy.

What about you, readers?  What small thing has brought you happiness lately?