Thursday, November 25, 2010


Thanksgiving sets the tone for the holidays for our family. This year Sasha marched with her Daisy troop in the Thanksgiving parade and her troop won second place! Sasha smiled and waved to the crowd like a real parade pro!
It was fun watching the bands, clowns, and floats parade by. Even McDonald's had a float! Although it can't compare to the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, there is something about small town parades that warm the heart.Emme was all bundled up and had a curb row seat. She loved every minute!
On Thanksgiving Eve, Aidan and Ryan created the pumpkin place cards for our Thanksgiving table. Making place cards has become a tradition in our family for all major holidays.This is an example of the final product! Cute, huh!
My beautiful Mom was one of the first to arrive for lunch! We are so thankful that she is healthy and active and so much fun to be with.
When the cousins get together it is chaos central! They have so much fun together. The kiddos took a few minutes for some photos. Annisa got a new camera and took some great shots of these beautiful (if I do say so myself!) kids.
Ryan is such a freckle-faced cutie!
This blue-eyed little boy is a fireball! Dixon has changed so much since last Thanksgiving.
Sasha is always smiling! Such a girlie-girl, she loves to "mother" her little brother.
Little Emme spent Thanksgiving with her dad's side of the family. So I shot this picture of her wearing the hat that I won from a blog, "Laura's Daily Madness." Isn't the hat adorable - just like little Emme!
Okay - look at this handsome dude! What sultry eyes! He's only eight ( nine in February) - look out girls - he is going to break some hearts!
Check out Clara's baby blues! She looks so much like her mother! Love the smile, which lights up her whole face!
Now, for our birthday girl! Our little Diva, Kari, will be celebrating her 4th birthday on Saturday! She rules the roost in her house - who could resist this little brown-eyed girl!
These seven grandchildren are what make each and every holiday extra special. Although it is chaos central when we are all together, it is a time filled with joy, love, and so much fun. We have so much to be thankful for and these seven beautiful children make me thankful 365 days a year!

Saturday, November 13, 2010


The past two weeks have been quite hectic, but in a good way. In addition to taking 73 of my students to the Holocaust Museum, which I blogged about earlier, I made a one day trip to New York City. A month ago I won tickets to see the new show, Lombardi, on Broadway! I asked my friend and colleague, Jennie, to go with me because she is a drama afficianado. We took Amtrak and were so excited when we arrived at Penn Station!
Our first stop was the Sketchers Store in Times Square. As many of you know, I LOVE Sketchers! I never go to New York without shopping at Sketchers. Jennie LOVES Sketchers too. Which one to choose? Black or white?!? She decided on the white.I decided on a pair of black, silver, and gold. I am a sucker for Sketchers!
I couldn't resist this pair for Emme. The girl has gotta have her first pair of Sketchers!
We worked up quite an appetite, so off to one of my favorite little Italian restaurants, Daniella's Trattatoria. See that smile! Now that's a great spaghetti!
I had my favorite, Vodka Penne Pasta. OMG! It was so good! Believe it or not, both dishes were just $10.00 each. That doesn't include the pitcher of Sangria we had with our lunch!
Then we were off to see Lombardi. Dan Lauria, who was the father on "The Wonder Years," starred as Vince Lombardi. Judith Light, from "Who's The Boss," played his wife, Marie. Both were absolutely amazing. The entire cast was great!
The show was an hour and a half without intermission in a small, intimate theater in the round. The show revealed the story behind the man and his ability to take a losing team, the Green Bay Packers, to success.
The Vince Lombardi trophy was on display and heavily guarded!
We did a little more shopping including a stop at Sephora. Couldn't leave the city without a stop a Crumbs Bake Shop. We visited the one at Bryant Park. These cupcakes are so delicious!
Just look at these beauties! I brought some back for the family. It's a good thing we don't have a Crumbs nearby. I would weigh a ton! It was a glorious day in the Big Apple!This month's book club choice was The Help by Kathryn Stockett. This book is definitely one of my top twenty books. Six of us got together to talk about the book and eat food inspired by the book.
One of the yummy dishes was oven fried pork chops, a Paula Dean recipe, It was so o o o . . good! Highly recommend it! We also had fried chicken, red beans, and rice.
Desserts included homemade Southern Caramel Cake made by yours truly, apple crisp, Southern chocolate pie, and a chocolate brownie pie. Sugar Shock!
Can't wait to read our next selection, The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, which is our January selection and then in February it's Chris Bojahlian's The Double Bind. Now I am off to get ready for my open house Tuesday, November 16th, to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. We will be sampling Tastefully Simple's new fall products - lots of yummy food! and seeing the new line of Usborne Books. All proceeds benefit JDRF! Books and food - what could be better!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Autumn Highlights

This week I took seventy-three students to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. We were inspired and moved by eighty-eight year old David Bayer, a Polish Jew who lost his entire family in the Treblinka death camp. He survived beatings, a shooting, internment at Auschwitz, and a death march in addition to other abuses. You could hear a pin drop as he told story after story of how he survived. My students were so touched by his willingness to share deeply personal memories.
Some of our students also met Regina Spiegel, a survivor of Auschwitz. Regina was selected for slave labor in an underground munitions factory where she met Sam Spiegel. They were both deported to Auschwitz and agreed to meet after the war if they survived. Regina was deported to Bergen-Belsen where she went without food and water for days. In the spring of 1945 she was put on a train to Dachau and during a stop she escaped into the woods and was liberated by the Soviets. She and Sam were reunited and married in a displaced person's camp in 1946.

I was fortunate to meet Nessie Godin. In an interview for the museum she said, "On June 26, 1941, the Germans occupied our city, just four days after the invasion of the USSR. In the weeks that followed, SS killing units and Lithuanian collaborators shot about 1,000 Jews in the nearby Kuziai forest. In August, we were forced to move into a ghetto, where we lived in constant hunger and fear. There I witnessed many “selections,” during which men, women, and children were taken to their deaths. My father was among them. In 1944 as the Soviet army approached, the remaining Jews were deported to the Stutthof concentration camp. There I was given the number 54015."
Thank you to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum for another amazing and enriching visit. On a very different note . . .
I love this season of the year! The beautiful mountains rich in color, the cool air, the crunch of leaves underfoot, and the smell of apple pie baking in the oven! The sad part is that autumn leads into winter, my least favorite season of the year. I thought I would share some recent autumn events. Halloween is so much fun. I love seeing kids in their costumes. Our youngest grand-kidlet was a kitty cat for Halloween. What can I say? Is she too cute, or what?
In late October, we celebrated two significant birthdays: my mom's 81st, and Becky's 29th. Dixon arrived, ready for cake! His looks have changed dramatically in the last few months. He no longer had that "baby" look.
It is hard to believe that my mom is in her eighties - sure doesn't look it, and that my "baby" is no longer a baby! Sigh! I made this amazing cake from the Eat What You Love cookbook. It is actually low in calories and fat, but tastes rich!Couldn't resist adding this picture. Loving cousins!
Now, how cute are these cupcakes! Jennifer made over fifty of these delicious gluten-free cupcakes for Aidan's and Ryan's Halloween parties at school. One of the moms in her neighborhood, that I will refer to as "Snarky Mom," had the audacity to ask if the cupcakes tasted good because her daughter (oh's the pity) was a "picky eater." Never mind that Aidan and Ryan have to sit and watch kids eat treats all the time that are not gluten free. "Snarky Mom" doesn't care that some of the kids in the class have food allergies. No she's concerned about her picky eater! The nerve of some people!
Does this look like the face of someone who is eating something that doesn't taste good?!?! The kids devoured these delicious cupcakes!
Aidan's class got to make these pipe cleaner spiders. They were fun to make! I had a good time helping!
Last weekend I went to my first ever Monster Rockfish Festival in southern Maryland. It was a beautiful autumn day, perfect for safe trick or treating at the festival. All the vendors gave out treats to the kids.
I couldn't resist taking some pictures of "pretty" things like these pumpkin cake pops! I did resist buying and eating them!I also resisted these gorgeous handcrafted necklaces, even though they were very reasonably priced.
There were several vendors who made gorgeous hand knit items, some out of alpaca wool. Resisted those, too!
The colors were so vivid! More willpower . . .These scarves were unusual in their texture, but vibrant in their colors. And I also resisted these beauties, too!
I loved this lighthouse made out of a gourd. The hand painted details were beautiful. Doesn't fit my decor, so it was easy to pass on this one!
Looking forward to more fun fall days before winter sets in!