Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me!

{I turned 35 a couple of weeks ago, and I'm behind on everything - including blogging.}

35. That's my new number. I had a hard time with 35 for some reason. Hopefully 40 won't be so bad. My birthday was a great day though.

It started with me answering the door to find this...



And then later, I opened the door to find this...



Pete came home to pick me up for us to have lunch with Sam and had a little surprise. When I opened the door, he had the cupcake in his hand with the candle in it. He sang "Happy Birthday" to me. And had this...



A dozen cupcakes from Gigi's...



Birthday Surpise, Cherry Cordial, German Chocolate, Red Velvet...and I don't remember the names of all of that chocolate goodness. If you aren't familiar with Gigi's Cupcakes, you should be. Gigi doesn't mess around. These are some SERIOUS cupcakes.

Later that afternoon, we took the kids to Mom's and celebrated with them. I got a basket with some goodies and a Cricut. And a date night with Pete.


We had dinner at Pauli's and then went to the movie...



Between movie options and just being busy, we don't go to the movie very often. The more I heard about The Blind Side, the more I knew we had to go & see it. And if you have been living under a rock and don't know about it, let me just say...grab someone, spend the 20ish bucks and go see it. It is worth it. We will own it when it comes out on dvd/blu-ray. The story is touching, and it stirred up memories and emotions from when we had our foster daughter 6 years ago {in fact, she was with us on my birthday 6 years ago}. It left me wondering if we might get back into fostering once the kids are a little bit older. Or do something to help in some way...

I enjoyed the day full of surprises - from the goodies to the night out with Pete and the tug at my heart with the reminder of that sweet foster baby.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

What I learned on my trip to Gulf Shores (& Birmingham)

Pete recently decided that it would be a good idea if I went down to the condo when our last renter left to check everything out and collect keys from our property management company. We drove down Monday afternoon. We spent Tuesday running around - getting keys, furniture shopping, eating, meeting with the cleaning company we planned to hire. And we did a few things around the condo too. We drove back to Birmingham Wednesday afternoon for Mom's doctor appointments Thursday morning. {She is good!} Here are some things I learned on the trip...

1. The property management company that you fire due to bad service will even screw up the termination. While the condo looked clean overall, the crew left some dirty linens behind. Which kind of makes you wonder. Not to mention the fact that they were suppose to take EVERYTHING out before you arrived. You fired them, remember?

2. Lambert's - home of Throwed Rolls - closes when people stop showing up. That means when you show up in December at 6:30, you might be one of the last tables they seat. And you might have to ask them to bring you passarounds.

3. The property management company that you fire due to bad service will screw up again. After I complained about the dirty linens, they sent someone out to clean the condo. Twice. In 2 days. After they were fired. I have never seen them so anxious to clean something.

4. Riding out a what would be a tropical storm in December makes it a winter storm. A 45 mph wind is still a 45 mph wind whether it is summer or winter. And when you are sitting safe in your condo it feels kind of like being on a cruise ship.

5. If you turn on the light in your van when it is dark, crazy windy and threatening rain to get your stuff together before you get out - and leave it on - it will kill your battery. DEAD.

6. When the AAA man comes to jump start your battery and he puts the cables on the battery, it will set off the alarm and cause your horn to blare. Repeatedly.

7. Taking a shower while your horn is blaring makes for a less than relaxing experience.

8. Resetting your alarm is hard to do when your battery is basically dead and you only have one key.

9. Any time you open the door with the car in this state, the horn will start blaring again.

10. And you can drive down the road with the horn blaring.

11. The locals will look at you like you are a crazy woman when you pull up to the Walmart service department & get out and your horn starts blaring. And being men, they will think they know how to fix it without knowing that your battery was as dead as a doornail just a few short minutes ago.

12. When you are driving down the interstate and wave your hand back & forth to demonstrate how the 18 wheeler you just passed was handling the wind - or not, the 18 wheeler you are approaching might take it as an invitation to pull out in front of you. And slow you down.

13. You never know what you'll see or hear on the road. Or when you stop for a bathroom/snack break. While I was in the restroom at Priester's Pecans, a lady was using the restroom and had her car keys hanging out of her pocket. They fell out into the toilet just as the auto flusher started, and they were flushed away. The kind people at Priester's helped her call & arrange to get a new key. Not sure what happened with their plumbing.

14. Grace likes dogs. Particularly stuffed ones or statues. From the one in Lambert's to the polka dotted dogs in the Victoria's Secret window at a mall in Birmingham. And she will ask you to take her picture with one every time she finds one.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me!

35. That's my new number. I had a hard time with 35 for some reason. Hopefully 40 won't be so bad. My birthday was a great day though.

It started with me answering the door to find this...



And then later, I opened the door to find this...



Pete came home to pick me up for us to have lunch with Sam and had a little surprise. When I opened the door, he had the cupcake in his hand with the candle in it. He sang "Happy Birthday" to me. And had this...



A dozen cupcakes from Gigi's...



Birthday Surpise, Cherry Cordial, German Chocolate, Red Velvet...and I don't remember the names of all of that chocolate goodness. If you aren't familiar with Gigi's Cupcakes, you should be. Gigi doesn't mess around. These are some SERIOUS cupcakes.

Later that afternoon, we took the kids to Mom's and celebrated with them. I got a basket with some goodies and a Cricut. And a date night with Pete.


We had dinner at Pauli's and then went to the movie...



Between movie options and just being busy, we don't go to the movie very often. The more I heard about The Blind Side, the more I knew we had to go & see it. And if you have been living under a rock and don't know about it, let me just say...grab someone, spend the 20ish bucks and go see it. It is worth it. We will own it when it comes out on dvd/blu-ray. The story is touching, and it stirred up memories and emotions from when we had our foster daughter 6 years ago {in fact, she was with us on my birthday 6 years ago}. It left me wondering if we might get back into fostering once the kids are a little bit older. Or do something to help in some way...

I enjoyed the day full of surprises - from the goodies to the night out with Pete and the tug at my heart with the reminder of that sweet foster baby.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Trouble

Have you ever played Trouble? My brother, Matt, and I played plenty of games growing up. My grandparents had it at their house. And we played a lot. When we spent the night. When we camped in their camper.

It seems that the tradition has carried on. Sam {& Grace to some extent} play Trouble with Grandma.


Sam's turn...




Grace was pleading her case with Grandma...


...and putting on the pout...




Sam was contemplating his move...



...and he eventually beat Grandma who proceeded to "get him" by tickling him for beating her.




Good times!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pete - 39

Today is Pete's 39th {I really can't believe that!} birthday. We celebrated with a sans-kids lunch at Ruth's Chris, dinner with the kids & my parents at Cracker Barrel, gifts and cupcakes. We will celebrate with the rest of the family soon.


I don't know exactly why - maybe they are easy - but i have been on a cupcake kick lately. Maybe it is my inability to make 2 or 3 perfect cakes for a round layered cake {or unwillingness to "fix" them if they're not}. Or the fact that I can't seem to ice cakes like I want them to be. Anyway...I decided to make german chocolate cupcakes for Pete. For his birthday.


A little sidetrack...

As you can see in the picture above and more closely in the one below, my cupcakes aren't all iced with coconut pecan icing. I cheated and bought a tub of icing - which is actually pretty good. I'm not sure what the Betty Crocker & Duncan Hines people are thinking, but their tubs WILL NOT ice 36 cupcakes. Unless they are mini cupcakes. Maybe. Or you get icing on a knife or spreader of choice and run it across the top of the cupcake once. I have made cupcakes 3 times recently and have had to have extra icing. It actually works out okay because Sam & Grace generally won't touch anything that doesn't have white icing on it. I picked up some Pillsbury Easy Frost {I think} to use for the occasional cookie icing for the kids. It tastes pretty good, but the presentation isn't always so pretty. Not to worry though. Grace just licks it off anyway.




Back to partying to celebrate 39...

We gave Pete his present when he got home from work. The kids were excited and couldn't stand to let him check out his stuff on his own.


Happy Birthday Pete! I enjoyed our lunch today and our time together as a family this evening. Hope you had a great day! And have many more to come!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The decorating has started...

I broke down and bought a lighted palm tree that I planned to put in our foyer. {And now I'm prepared for when I retire and move to the beach. LOL! Or want to celebrate Christmas at the beach - a more likely situation. We DID ring in the New Year on Maui one year, you know?} There is room in there for something small - skinny - and I thought it would be good since our regular tree won't be seen from the front of the house. It was a little big so it is living in our dining room instead. The view from the street won't be as good as it would be in the foyer, but it does fill the corner nicely {and I'm working on fixing the ugly cord mess}.



So the decorating has started. I hope to have our non-tree decorating done by Thanksgiving. Wish me luck!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween

Saturday was a super busy day at our house. We started the day with Sam's last soccer game. Since it has been raining for 2 months and it rained most of the night Friday, it was cool and wet. Really wet. Water standing on the field wet. By the time the game was over, Sam looked like a pig in a pig sty. He had fallen in one of the puddles on the field and had mud from head to toe.

{My camera was accidentally left on the desk at home. I have no pictures. And I'm not real happy about it. Although...one of the other kids' mom was suppose to send me a link to hers so maybe...}

We got Sam cleaned up, went to lunch, and then came back home for the kids to nap. While they napped, I baked cupcakes and and Pete got the pumpkins ready to carve after the kids woke up.


I also put some potato soup in the crock pot and roasted the pumpkin seeds.


Once the kids were up, Pete got busy carving the pumpkins...






It's never too early to teach Sam how to use power tools.

And the kids & I started decorating the cupcakes.






I made Mummy Dogs {thanks Laura!} to go with the soup. I think Pete enjoyed them more than the kids did...


It was finally time for Sam & Grace to get their costumes on for trick or treating. Meet Peter Pan and Tinkerbell...


They were super excited to go trick or treating, but they couldn't get excited about making pictures.

We went around to the 5 or 6 houses in our neighborhood that were participating. After that, we met up with Pete's sister & family to trick or treat in the neighborhood behind us. They came to our neighborhood when we lived in our old neighborhood. Pete's sister & I talked about getting together this year, but we never settled on a plan. After our short run in the neighborhood, Grace was SCREAMING that she wanted to go to Aunt Stacy's house. We later found out that Stacy's boys were upset about not trick or treating with their cousins. I guess we know for next year...

Batman & Dracula with Peter Pan & Tinkerbell

It is hard to tell in this picture, but this house was one of the more decorated houses. They had skeletons, lights and as Grace said, snoke. She was pretty scared by the snoke at this house. And asked several times later if the house we were going to next had any snoke.


Tinkerbell flew...on Daddy's shoulders...


Sam's jack o' lantern...


Grace's jack o' lantern...


We ended the evening with cupcakes and a viewing of the Monsters vs. Aliens Halloween special at Stacy's house. It was a good thing that daylight savings time ended that night...cause we needed that extra hour of sleep.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Hockey date

Pete got a pair of tickets to Friday night's Huntsville Havoc home opener from work. He said his first thought when he could only get 2 tickets was for Sam & I to go to the game. He said he knew how much I enjoy going to the games and thought it would be fun for us to go. I'm glad he thought of it. We had a great time!

We had our usual round of 20 - or 100 - questions, and this time the subject was hockey, of course. I really had to dig deep to retrieve my hockey knowledge. We have only been to a few games since Sam was born. Although he sure can dish it, Sam is not a big fan of a lot of noise. It took him a while to get use to all of the noise - air horns, people cheering, yelling, etc. He even asked me after they scored their 2nd goal if people would have be loud if they scored again. I told him that he would know that the Havoc had scored again - even if he didn't see it.

During the 2nd intermission while we were just hanging out waiting for the game to start back up, I snapped these pictures. He was getting tired {long day at school plus he was on meds for a sinus infection}, but he was not ready to go home yet. I offered several times.





And then I caught this clip when "YMCA" came on over the PA system. Delirium had set in.



I saw my cousin {who is 14 and helps out with the intermission games & entertainment} talking to a security person near us. I called him over to say hi & see how the family was doing. He offered to get Sam a hockey puck. I told him that Sam would love it so he went & got one for him. Sam was so proud of that puck. He insisted on holding it as we were walking out of the arena to the van. And he quickly fell asleep on our way home. With the puck glued in his hand. We tried to take it away from him as we were getting him into bed, but even in his sleepy state, he asked for it. So he slept with it all night.

I'm glad we got to have another date night. It has been a while. But Pete needs to take him {or we should all go soon} to make sure my fuzzy memory of hockey rules is correct.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

a GRAND escape

Pete & I had to make a road trip last weekend. We had condo business to take care of at the beach. With our busy weekend and limited timetable {5+ hour drive each way, meetings, a few condo to-do's}, I asked Mom to keep the kids for us. And since cleaning the condo after such a quick trip was right up there on my list with sticking needles in my eyeballs, we splurged. And stayed somewhere else. Someplace GRAND. And it was. The Grand Hotel in Point Clear.



To our surprise, our room was upgraded to a junior suite in the historic main building.

We got down there late Friday afternoon and then ran a few errands. Saturday, we had a couple of meetings to attend and a few more errands. We caught part of this beautiful sunset Saturday evening before we had dinner at the hotel.


The hotel was really nice. The history just oozed from the wood paneled walls in the halls and the giant fireplace in the main lobby.




This is what we looked at Saturday while in & out of the condo. It was absolutely beautiful...but a little crisp.

It was great to getaway - even if we had such a short amount of time to get everything done. Although...it was more of a tease than a fix - beach fix, that is.