I just wanted to wish everyone a Happy New Year!  2011 was a fun-filled busy year for us.  Here’s a memory from each month.

In January, I started my blog.  I also started taking a fly-tying class.  Here’s a photo of one of my flies.


In February, Nick turned 3.  We celebrated with a bowling party.


In March, Nick tried out his new bike for the first time.  We were glad to see some nice weather.


In April, I turned 40.  We celebrated with a trip to the Akron Art museum and dinner.


In May, all of my siblings were in town since a few were running in the Cleveland 10K, 1/2 or Marathon.  I also had the privilege of going to Baltimore for the Fit Bloggin’ conference.


In June, our Wednesday Wade Oval summer of museum visits began.  Here’s Sally playing at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens.


Stay tuned tomorrow for Part 2!


For Christmas my in-laws bought me a set of umbrella lights for use in my blog photography.  I haven’t been happy with many of my photos lately, especially with the CSA photos.  The time change has a lot to do with that.  You really want nice natural light for photos.  The problem is that natural light isn’t always available, especially in Cleveland.  When I couldn’t take photos until later in the evening, the pictures were terrible.  It was still nice to document what we got in the CSAs, regardless of the photo quality.

A photo with the old set up would look something like this:


With the light stands, a photo looks like these.  The difference between these is the setting on the cameras.  I’m no expert, but I like the second one better since the table looks more natural.  I’m pretty brain dead this late in the day, so Stephen was helping me.  One afternoon this weekend when I am more alert, we can review the camera settings.  Either way, it’s so much better than the above photo.


I just use a Canon point and shoot camera and this option for improving the photos in much less expensive than a digital SLR camera would be.  As long as I figure out how to take manual photos with my point and shoot camera, I think I’ll be very happy with the photos this winter.

I’m not sure how easy the stands will be to take up and down, but I’m sure they will be used for every CSA pickup beginning this Thursday.


It’s such a fun Christmas gift.  I’m sure we will get a lot of use out of them.  Since Stephen has been taking photos of circuits for his blog, he’ll be using them too.

Now, I am even more excited for Thursday’s CSA pick up!


Thursday is our double J day.  We go in the morning so I can workout and shower.  Today, I had planned the water aerobics class.  We go back after nap time so Nick can take his weekly swim lesson.

We were leaving this morning and we were barely on time.  Sometimes I do too many dishes before I start coats, boots, mittens, socks, etc.  I got everyone in the car and Nick wanted me to go in for his bird.  Since I was not in the car yet and had to make another trip anyway, I picked up his stuffed yellow bird and brought it out to him.  After I got in the car and buckled my seat belt, Nick decided that he wanted me to go in and get his car.  I told him no.  Sally was playing with her boat that she had left in the car yesterday.  Nick didn’t even think of his car until he saw her playing with the boat.

He started to cry and scream.  He wanted me to go in.  I just started to drive.  I told him that he needed to be more responsible for what he wanted to bring and that he already had his bird.  He screamed that he wanted me to turn around and go back for his car.  His screaming and crying continued during the entire 12 minute trip to the JCC.

I got Sally out of the car and then went to get Nick out of the car.  He got out and then opened the door to get back in three times before walking toward the lobby.  I told him that if I had to miss my swim class that he was going to miss his swim class.  I’m not sure if he is old enough to understand that, but I need to try to teach him.

Finally, we made it to the doors and he was still crying and screaming.  One of the workers walked in and said he was glad that it wasn’t just his kid.  I know that everyone has tantrums, but it does get old.

Finally, Nick’s playroom friend came in with her mom and Nick wanted to walk with her.  That ended up working in my favor.  I may have also bribed him a little by letting him open his snack.  He was still upset a little when he got to the playroom, but it worked out ok.  I was just on time for class.

After a rather noisy quiet time, Nick made it to his swim lesson.  He remembered to take his car into the car and all was well with the world.

I’m hoping for a smoother workout tomorrow!

 Posted by at 6:37 PM  Tagged with:

Now that Christmas is over, it’s time to get everyone back to normal.  The holidays aren’t quite over yet since New Year’s is this weekend, but it’s a much more low key time for our family.

Stephen went back to work today.  He was off for 4 days and it was fun to have him home.  The kids and I had a normal day that included the J, pasta lunch at home, and nice naps.  We made dinner and hung out at home the rest of the day.  I’m glad we didn’t try to venture out for errands or shopping.

Bed time for the kids tonight was a bit rough.  They are both so tired and off schedule.  I’m hoping a couple of more days like today and everyone will be caught up on sleep.  We also need to get everyone back to eating more normal food.  We’ve had so much pizza, cookies and other goodies around lately, that we’re all in need of some detox over the next few days as well.

I’m also looking forward to taking the tree down, storing the decorations and wrapping supplies, and organizing the new toys and gifts.

Usually, we go to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History Wednesday evenings.  We haven’t been there lately, and I hope that by next Wednesday, we’ll be back in the swing of things and can make a trip down to University Circle.

I’m off to clean and organize something!

 Posted by at 8:22 PM

Last Friday, we took the kids to Tower City and Public Square in downtown Cleveland to see the holiday lights.  I drove to the rapid station and took the train with Nick and Sally and Stephen met us there from work.  That was much simpler than driving and parking downtown and the kids LOVE the train.

Sally was enjoying a clementine while Nick studied the map.  Once downtown, we checked out some of the lights inside and out.




We also saw Bruce the Talking Spruce, let Sally visit the Twigbee Shop for gifts, let the kids ride the indoor train that goes around a small part of the mall for $3 each and enjoyed dinner.

We had a great time, but we were really missing something – SNOW.  I love looking at the lights in the snow.  I love how the lights twinkle when they are covered by snow and if it is actually snowing at the same time that’s even better.

Tonight, we have snow and it’s still close enough to Christmas that all of the lights are still on.  After dinner, we put boots on the kids and headed for a ride around the neighborhood to check out the lights.  We particularly enjoyed catching the show on West Minor Road.  It’s not too far for us and they “dance” to music.  You pull up to the house, wait for the show to start (on the hour and half hour) and tune your radio to 107.1.  It’s fun.

We’ve also enjoyed the dancing lights (without snow) in Macedonia and on 135th South of Granger.  I think the one on  135th is the best.

I feel like the holidays are complete now that we have snow and enjoyed a ride for lights.  Now, hopefully we’ll have enough snow for skiing soon.  I’m not sure if I will go this year, but Nick and Stephen are already talking about cross-country skiing.


Christmas Eve went really well for us.  Santa came around 10PM and I was ready for bed.  Unfortunately, Sally was not.  Even though she had been tucked in around 8PM, she was still awake.  Stephen and I took turns trying to calm her down.  It didn’t work.  Finally, I went to bed around 11:30PM.  Stephen’s Christmas morning started around midnight with an hour long car ride, hoping that would make Sally fall asleep.  They finally made it to bed around 1:30AM.  By 5:30AM, I was up with Sally.   By 6:30AM, Nick was up too.  I went ahead and starting baking the bread pudding that Nick had made the evening before.


We let Stephen sleep until 7AM and then Nick went up to wish him a “Good Christmas Morning”.  They came down and we opened some gifts.

The “biggest” gift was a kitchen and a tool bench that friends had given us.  Both Sally and Nick were impressed with the wrapping, which consisted of a blue sheet covering the goods.  Sally thought it was a card table since we usually make card table tents with a sheet in the living room.


We spent the next couple of hours enjoying present opening, bread pudding, enjoying new things and getting ready for a trip to Grandma and Grandpa’s house.

We arrived in time for Christmas dinner and then enjoyed opening gifts.  It was fun to have all of the family together.

We surprised mom and dad by giving them a room at a beach house for a week this summer.  I think we have 5 families going in June.  My sister made the card which included a photo of the house and the dates.  It’s a joint gift from their kids and covers several holidays (birthday, Christmas, Mother’s Day, Earth Day, etc.).  Dad was happy too, but he doesn’t show excitement like mom.  I think this is my favorite photo of the day.


Sally really likes her aunts.  Here’s a photo of her with Aunt Holly.  Uncle Frank liked his shirt.  He’s studying to be an engineer.


Lily got a “big girl” bike.  She was quite happy.  Carol was perplexed with this gift.  She had no idea that Stephen had got her cheese (and a few other items)!  She loves cheese and was very happy with the gift.


After gifts, we tried to get the kids to nap, played some games and enjoyed our family time.

After enjoying some left overs for dinner, we headed home via some Christmas light displays.  Once home, we used Skype to open gifts with Stephen’s parents and brother in Delaware.  Technology is a wonderful thing.

We had a great day!

 Posted by at 8:55 PM

Santa came and we had a great day!  We listened to holiday music of all types today.


Here are my top 5 Christmas songs in no particular order:

1) Sleigh Ride

2) Carol of the Bells

3) Thistlehair the Christmas Bear

4) Feliz Navidad

5) Linus and Lucy

Of course there are many more fabulous Christmas songs, but these are the top ones that come to mind.  I’ll be back tomorrow with a full recap of our wonderful day.


We spent the day as a family of four.  We started out shopping at Heinen’s around 8AM.  By 9AM we were making cookies.


Stephen worked on Stollen all day.  It’s bread with cherries and raisins and usually is served with a glaze.  We haven’t tasted it yet.


Both kids napped today.  I did too!  Then, we all got ready for church.  Our service was at 5PM.


After church we enjoyed an appetizer type dinner with cheese, spread, crackers, shrimp, meatballs, hot dogs and more.

Nick helped me make the bread pudding for Christmas morning.  It’s all ready to go into the oven when we wake up.


We finished the day enjoying a cookie and now the kids are tucked in and we are finishing up a few things for the morning.  Good night!

 Posted by at 8:33 PM

Today, our local Michael’s store was having a craft from 11AM-1PM.  Some friends invited us to go with them.  We left the JCC just before 11AM and headed to the store.  We had plans to have lunch at Giant Eagle afterwards, so we parked by the grocery store.

Nick and Sally waited for our friends to park and then we headed down to the craft store.


My friend asked about the craft and at first, it didn’t seem like they were expecting anyone.  The lady was setting it up for us.  That involved her opening some modeling clay.  The kids waited patiently.


The “craft” turned out to be playing with the clay.  All of our kids love clay or playdough of any type, so it was ok with us.  The only issue was that there wasn’t really and “end”.  Usually when you have a craft, you make something and then you are finished.


The clay had some stamps on the lids so they could imprint faces, stars and other things.


They also made planets and snowmen.


Then, it was time for lunch.  We headed to Giant Eagle and had cheese, ham, bread and clementines for lunch.  It was a fun outing and all of the kids had a good time.


Yesterday, we went to the WinterShow for the 4th time.  It was probably our last visit.  We’ve really enjoyed seeing it with different groups of friends, but it was PACKED yesterday.  Apparently, everyone is out of school now.  There were too many people for it to be as fun as our other visits.  I’ll have to keep this in mind for next year.  Our first couple of visits earlier in December we had the place to ourselves.

I do think that the houses move due to different events that take place at the gardens.  I keep seeing new houses.


I really liked this “summer” themed house complete with a beach.  Sally still thought it was hilarious to sit until the table.


The train is always a hit!


The trees were particularly nice with the light yesterday.  I also think the poinsettias are getting prettier as time goes on.


Time in the Spice Shop was enjoyed, but it was too crowded for photos.  We also went through the glasshouse and saw the butterflies.

We were back to our car just before noon and then met up with Stephen for lunch.  We had the slowest service ever, but they restaurant (bar) had some arcade games, so the kids were happy (without quarters).

We made it home without any meltdowns and that made for a successful outing.