Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Memories 2009

There are so many wonderful memories from this holiday season!  Christmas Eve day, we baked "ginormous" cupcakes (gluten-free, of course) and the kids had a great time decorating their masterpieces. Their Mom thought it would be fun to decorate the kids' noses!
Any time we get together for family events, it has been a tradition that Aidan (with just a little help from Nana) makes place cards for the table.  He loves coming up with new ideas and it is fun for me to share this tradition with him.
The finishing touch was adding glitter and gluing peppermints on the cards.
On Christmas Eve we go to my Mom's house for dinner and gifts.  Kari loved getting all dressed up for the party!
The boys are just "too cool", aren't they?
Another tradition is everyone getting their picture taken in front of the tree.  We started with Barry and Becky.
We also had a little sing-along and piano playing featuring the dueling piano players, Annisa and Becky!
The kids loved opening their first gifts of the holidays! Clara is all smiles.
Dixon had a great time with all of the cousins, but finally fell asleep!
On Christmas Day, Santa sure was good to everyone at our house!  Sasha and Clara got Fancy Nancy dolls, clothes for the dolls and a cute suitcase for the doll clothes.
Ryan's eyes about popped out of his head when he opened this Bakugan seven-in-one Dragonoid. 
Jen and Adam take a few moments from unwrapping presents to smile for the camera!

Annisa and Becky wanted The Pioneer Woman Cookbook, so Santa made sure they each got that special book!  They just better invite us to taste test the recipes!

Sports Nut Barry is all smiles with his Syracuse sweatshirt.  It doesn't take much to make the guys happy when it comes to sports!
Jim was thrilled with a digital picture frame that the girls filled with family photos.  He couldn't wait to take it to the office today.
I couldn't believe it when I opened my present from the girls - a Kindle!  WOW!  I have great kids!
This is a picture of Ryan peeking in this HUGE gift bag.  He got a bag full of swords and Nerf guns, which he loved, although he did say he wanted a REAL sword.  We told him Santa would never give a six-year-old a real sword, but maybe when he was older he would get the real deal!Santa brought Dixon some cool little boy toys.  Surrounded by his sisters' dolls, this is a real treat for him and his dad!
Aidan, our LEGO fanatic, couldn't believe his eyes - he got so many LEGO kits!
Jim's parents joined us for lunch.  We got them a big box full of Tastefully Simple products and some wine from the Tuscarora Mountain Winery.
Our family was so blessed to be together this holiday season.  Although a few of us were fighting colds, we were together and that's all that mattered.  Wishing you and your family a wonderful New Year!

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Yesterday morning in the midst of beautiful swirling snow, I threw on a pair of sneakers (n0- I do not own snowboots and yes, I am going to get some!)  and went outside to take a picture or two of the "white stuff."  It was brilliantly white and sparkly. There wasn't a sound to be heard, so quiet, until Jim went out a few minutes later and started the snowblower.  

The trees always look glorious when they are snow covered.  This little guy  at the end of our walkway looks amazing!
Even the tree on our porch wore a coat of the white stuff.  The white lights just made the snow sparkle even more.
Throughout the day I just couldn't resist watching the snow fall.  It has been so long since we have had a white Christmas or any kind of significant snowfall in our area, so I just enjoyed it.  I spent the day doing laundry, cleaning,  wrapping presents, making a last minute gift for someone on my list who shall remain nameless, and making a big pot of soup.  I used Tastefully Simple's potato soup as a base and added vegies, diced chicken, Tastefully Simple Bacon-Bacon, and was it ever delicious!  Jim appreciated it after having been outside three times over the course of the day removing snow from our driveway and some of our neighbors' driveways.  There's nothing like some comfort food to ease an aching back! Today the sun is brightly shining and some of the snow is beginning to melt.  I hope that just enough remains for a White Christmas!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Each December the Lion's Club hosts a Christmas party and we get to take the grandkids! Unfortunately, because it is held during the week, the only two we can take are Sasha and Clara. Aidan, Ryan,  and Kari live too far away :(.  After school Tuesday, I picked up the girls and we went back to my house for "primping and glitzing!"  I curled their hair - used lots of product - and did their makeup - a little lip gloss, sparkly eye shadow, and a tiny bit of blush and overall "Radiance" from Bare Escentuals (love that stuff!).  They sure do love the "glam!"  Don't know where they get it!
Doesn't Clara look like a little angel and check out Sasha - ever the diva!
The girls are definitely not camera shy and struck a pose together -sisterly love!Sasha had the idea for this one!  How cute are they?
After a scrumptious dinner and dessert, we were treated to the songs of the season by the Chambersburg High School Choristers - so much talent.  They really put us in the holiday spirit.  Then it was time for a visit from Santa!  This is serious Sasha as she anxiously awaits his arrival.
Clara was not a bit shy at getting her present from Santa.  She was so surprised that he knew her name!  
Santa brought each of the girls a "Little Pet Shop" set and a sparkly purse filled with Princess chapsticks.  They were amazed that Santa knew that Sasha's favorite color was blue and she got the blue purse.  Clara got the pink one.  We had such a wonderful time and are ready for the holiday season!  It even snowed last night!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Meeting The Authors - Part 2

As promised, this is the second in the series of "Meeting the Authors."  I look longingly at the stack of books by my bed . . . sigh . . .  so many books - so little time!  Sarah  Ockler's latest book, Twenty Boy Summer,  is a story about love, loss, and letting go.
David Ward  is the author of  Behind the Mask, Beneath The Mask, and Escape the Mask, a wonderful young adult series that boys love, but I loved it too!  I was honored to introduce David at one of the author's sessions.
I also got the opportunity to introduce David's co-presenter, author Scott Westerfeld.  He is famous for his Pretties and Uglies series that teenage girls adore.  His latest book, Levithan, is amazing.  I highly recommend it for anyone of any age.  It includes over 50 illustrations!
For many years, I used the book Fallen Angels in my tenth grade English class.  It is a book about the Vietnam War by Walter Dean Myers.  My students loved this book and so do I.  It was such a privilege to meet him.
Another  renowned and popular author at the conference was Laurie Halse Anderson.  She is famous for her novel, Speak, which I also highly recommend.  The line to see Laurie looped around the exhibit hall.
Becca Fitzpatrick's novel Hush, Hush is being touted as the next Twilight and interestingly, she began this book long before Twilight, but it took several years for it to get to publication.  Can't wait to read this book!
The Fortune Cookie Chronicles by Jennifer 8. Lee, has been a New York Times Bestseller.  Her mission was to "solve the mystery of how dozens of people across America had won a lottery after receiving their lucky numbers in their fortune cookies!"  However, she learned much more as she interviewed owners of Chinese restaurants, learned the origin of  various Chinese foods, and uncovered other surprises.  Jennifer was so delightful and funny - this should be a really fun read!
I hope I can tackle some of these books over the holidays!  They are a diverse group of authors and genres and I am anxious to dive into them!

Thursday, November 26, 2009


I am interrupting my "Meet The Authors" posts to share some Thanksgiving moments.  My son-in-law, Adam, took over the kitchen, which is a good thing!  Yesterday he made a brine and soaked the turkey overnight with all kinds of seasoning.  This morning it went into the Nesco roaster.   His next treat was making a sausage stuffing that was so good!  Wonderful aromas wafted through the house!
The kids couldn't wait until Aunt Becky and Uncle Barry arrived
Becky made a family favorite and tradition - Butternut Cake.  This cake is made with a special vanilla and is to die for!  It is a rich, dense cake that needs no icing.  Man, is it good! Because the boys can't eat the cake, we made yummy gluten-free chocolate chip cookies yesterday.  They ate the cookies with an awesome ricotta cappucino mousse that Annisa made.  Wow!  That mousse is definitely a new family favorite!
After turkey and all the trimmings, it was time to play some games!  Jen led the kids in a rousing game of "You Gotta Be Kidding!"  I love hearing the kids laugh.  It is such a silly game and they had so much fun playing it!
Little Robert Dixon is such a pleasant little boy.  He is just fascinated by his great-grandmother!  I believe he stole her heart!
 Robert Dixon and his sister, Sasha, share a very special bond.  He's quite the snuggler!
We wish your family a blessed Thanksgiving!  We are so thankful for living in the United States of America, for our brave military men and women, our friends, and family.  

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Meeting the Authors - Part 1

This past Thursday, Becky, Barry, and I headed to Philadelphia for the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) annual convention, which was held in Philadelphia this year.  The only time we get to go to these events is when they are close by and this year was extra special because the two of us were the Co-Chairs of Food and Beverage.  This means that we got to put together a sub-committee of teachers from all over the state to plan seven luncheons ranging from 80 people to over 600 people in attendance.  We have been working almost a year in the planning process.  It was an honor to be involved with wonderful teachers who pulled together and made the convention a success.  Part of the fun of these conventions in addition to the incredible workshops is exploring the exhibit hall filled with vendors - publishing companies, educational companies, etc.  Many of the publishers bring their authors to the event and we got to meet them and get their  books autographed.  Over the course of the next few days, I will share photos of some of the authors we met.  The first is Donna Jo Napoli.  I recently read her book, Stones in Water, about a boy caught in a war he hates. She signed her new book The Smile  for me.
Kathryn Lasky is a prolific author who has written an amazing number of picturebooks, young adult fiction, adult fiction, and non-fiction.  She autographed Wolves and Beyond for Aidan.  He will love it!
This man is an illustrator and his artwork is gorgeous!  I can't remember his name and I already wrapped the book, God's Promise, for Clara for Christmas.Jennifer and Matthew Holm create BabyMouse graphic novels for young readers.  They are done in pink, black, and white, and are absolutely adorable!  Sasha and Clara are getting these books for Christmas!
Dave Levithan's latest book, Will Grayson, has not even been published yet!
Climbing the Stairs is Padma Venkatraman's first novel, although she has written poetry, picture books, and middle grade fiction.  I can't wait to read it!
The last novelist for Meet the Authors - Part 1 is Jane Yolen.  Probably her most famous novel is The Devil's Arithmetic.  Briar Rose is another popular novel that has received literary acclaim.  She autographed one of her latest, Dragon's Heart, for us. It was such an honor meeting her.
All of the authors we met were so approachable, warm, and gracious.  Meet more authors in a few days!  Man, do I have a lot of reading to do!