Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Christmas Shopping - Did you remember cards?

Christmas Cards are one of my most favorite Christmas Traditions.  I know people who feel that they are a burden but I love that so many people take the time to send them out, and more and more often they come with pictures and a family letter.  YAY!  Maybe it comes from growing up military - each Christmas we'd receive letters from people my parents hadn't seen in year but you always knew the highlights.  We'd get pictures from cousins, or friends from the school we'd been at the year before and mom had a pile that would just keep growing.  She'd go through the address book to see who needed updating.  It was a ritual in its own right.

I started to keep a Christmas Scrapbook - all those Christmas Photo Cards my friends send me of their kids - I love them! In the past they went into my yearly album but I decided to keep a separate one just for Christmas so I can pull it out every year with the Christmas decorations.

I was visiting my friend Kathy at a Delightsome Life and she was featuring some cards from Shutterfly.  They have been offering bloggers the opportunity to try their product * 50 free cards!*  How exciting!  I have not used Shutterfly but since I just took all my photos last weekend, I am excited to give them a try.

To begin with they offer several options for photo collages, you know how hard it is to find one picture with every one looking their best!  This way I can do one of each kid:

The Many Memories Tree Christmas Card allows for 6 photos!  And I can order a matching return label

Pictures in Cocoa Christmas Card is similar in that it allows for 6 photos but has a different feel to it.

But if you ARE lucky enough to get one good shot - look at how simple and elegant this card is:

Two of my friends have another wonderful tradition.  As they are professionals with kids it is just too much to get cards out before Christmas.  They wait until the holidays and get a good picture while they are relaxing with their kids and send out New Year cards.  I think for busy families that is a great idea!

In addition to Christmas cards Shutterfly offers additional personalized photo items including wall calendars and party invitations.  

Even personalized gift tags.  Personalized gift tags are another thing I think are just brilliant.  How often are you at a Christmas Party, office event, open house and you've brought a bottle of wine or a plate of cookies and the busy hostess greats you and quickly places your offering on a table with just a glance.  Or sometimes, she isn't able to even take your offering from you and you find yourself putting it on a table.  It has happened to me, both as the hostess and as the guest.  When I am hostess I can truly say I love it when the bottle of wine or the plate of cookies has a tag attached so I know who it was that brought this thoughtful gift to me.  My kids have friends whose mother's go so far as to have gift tags for their kids - this is also helpful at a party when sometimes a larger card gets separated from a gift.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Blue, Blue Skies this fall

Blue Monday in the Colonial Capitol.

On Saturday I subjected my kids to several hours of walking about Colonial Williamsburg.  I haven't sent out Christmas photos in two years and decided that this year I was going to.  We've lived near Colonial Williamsburg for 11 years and I have never incorporated the area into a family photo so I thought we'd give it a try.  I had the kids all dressed up in ski sweaters and off we went.

I am not sharing photos of the kids today - but the sky was bright and I caught some wonderful shots of Williamsburg.

 the top of the Governor's Palace

I was visiting a blog last week and the writer was talking about 'zenfolio' so I am giving it a try.  Let's see if it will embed the slide show:

I mentioned, all the kids were dressed in ski sweaters, which are red.  So as we were walking down Duke of Gloucester Street we passed two boys.  These boys looked to be about junior high school age or so, maybe older, one with a fife and one with a drum, dressed in period dress and simply providing music while people walked past.  They were definitely amused by our matching Christmas attire and were grinning and nodding and speaking quietly to each other as we walked in their direction.  As we finally came up to them, they hadn't been playing their music, they suddenly began "God rest you Merry Gentleman."  Bean and I looked at each other.  "You know they are making fun of us mom."  I nodded.  It occurred to me that my 7th grade daughter has gamely spent the day dressed up in matching clothes with her siblings walking around an area where she is highly likely to see someone she knows.  "Do you go to school with them?" I ask, and I am dreading the answer.  "I don't think so ." she answered.  Thank goodness.  I apologize to my daughter and she just smiled.  "Its just funny is all.  Here I am dressed up like a Christmas Elf and they are playing a Christmas song and it's like 'go ahead and rub it in!' " she says with a grin.

Gosh, Middle School.  I'm going to have to pay more attention!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Pink is easy with little girls

I am posting ahead for Pink Saturday!  YAY for me!

On Monday Bitsy and I took cupcakes to Tiger for his birthday.  And she brought her lunch in a lunch box just like the big kids and we ate at Tiger's table and then he passed out his treats.  Ummm, mmm, good!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

PBS discusses a budget plan for USA

I follow news on twitter, its 140 characters and I can skim headlines and find one or two things to pay attention to.  I came across this link on the morning of Nov 18th.

It gives me hope.  I honestly believe we are in trouble and I honestly believe people don't want to look it in the face.  I am concerned for my children and my grand children.

I believe him when he says that we get serious or the United States of America will become a second rate nation.

Budget Watchdogs, via PBSNewsHour

I am interested in your comments

Christmas Shopping

An online friend, Lib, once shared her Christmas gift giving philosophy within her family.  They use a little poem:

Something you want, something you need, something to wear and something to read.

For good years, they maybe expand on that a little, in leaner years they may find something small to fit those words, but in general the gifts fall around the poem.  I love it because I feel that in many households gift giving gets out of control.  I came from a modest background, Christmas was great fun but not over board.  My husband initially wanted to buy everything for everyone at Christmas.  Now that we have 5 kids... well he has calmed down his spending a little.

So, I have a few books to purchase, but I like to give out pajamas as either your something to wear or something you need- although there may be boots in something you need this year.  Everybody's feet keep growing.

My friend Amy was over and we were talking about presents and she said as a kid she remembers "making up" stuff she got for Christmas because her presents were more modest than her friends!  Lucky for me I never had that issue, we were always surrounded by people in the same bracket and I had grandparents who were doing well and who were very generous with us.  So I guess I always thought I was 'ahead!'  I think Amy's experience may have been echoed by my husband, he has a strong need to show the world what he is worth.

What is your Christmas gift giving philosphy?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

View from the Bridge

Yesterday I dropped Bitsy off at an 'at home' Montessori Class in Ford's Colony and stopped at the bridge by the West Gate for a little art time with my dog.

clouds were coming in and out and it was breezy but you get the idea- water with green growth and various stumps sticking out and trees behind.  The picture is a bit dark so you can't really see but the trees are in color peak- lots of oranges and reds and yellows:

my pastel piece.  A friend saw it later in the day and bought it to give to her husband for Christmas.

I am linking this post to A Southern Day Dreamer's Outdoor Wednesday

"adjusting aspirations to reality"

I was in a corporate meeting on Friday and I had to bite my tongue.  The company (a small company of 20 to 30 full time employees) has started working on building up the Marketing and Advertising department.  To my amazement, a student intern in the meeting spent her entire day on the internet talking to friends on facebook.  The company has wanted to hire this young lady upon her graduation and here she is, getting paid to sit in a meeting, and she is getting on the job training.  Senior partners are in this meeting and being entirely transparent about the company financials, about issues with professionalism, and so on.  Sure, she could argue it doesn't apply to her or she could listen and find out what matters to the people who want to hire her.

I see this a lot with the kids coming out of "good colleges" they pay a ton of money for school (or their parents did) and they have a slack work ethic and an attitude that they are "owed."  If someone were to look at the work force at this small company, people under 30 in particular, there are more employees without college degrees than with them.  Why?  The kids without the degree are more willing to work, to apply themselves, and they have less of an entitlement issue.

I cam across this interesting article:

Middle Class in Crisis: America Needs a Reality Check, Gary Shilling Says link here

"Whether I add any value or not" is an issue says Gary Shilling.  People feel entitled and need to realign their aspirations with reality and consider whether a college education is really for them.

From the article:
This dire situation is not likely to get better any time soon, says Gary Shilling, president of A. Gary Shilling & Co, who predicts a prolonged period of slow economic growth and high unemployment. Even when thing do start to look up, “people are going to have to be much more realistic about their income levels.”
Shilling believes there will be jobs, but says, “People are going to have to work very hard to get trained and educated for jobs that do exist.”
To that point, in his latest newsletter he makes the argument that a college degree is not for everyone, nor should you expect a degree to yield you a certain level of income.
“Wouldn’t many be better off learning a skilled trade rather than facing bleak job prospects and lifetime student loan repayments after graduating from lesser institutions?,” he writes.
Shilling, author of a new book "The Age of Deleveraging", is optimistic and believes that America is “still the land of opportunity” where the American dream can be achieved.  But first, he says, Americans need to “align themselves with reality” and become comfortable with the fact that things are not going to be the same as during the "salad days" of the 1980s and 1990s.

taken from: Yahoo, Posted Nov 15, 2010 12:59pm EST by Stacy Curtin in Recession

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Well, I missed Pink Saturday Yesterday - bummer!

I spent Wednesday and Thursday prepping for a corporate weekend for my husband's business. Mostly that meant running around shopping. Several of the wives of the men (its pretty much all men who work remote) came into town with their guys and so I convinced my husband that they needed to be treated to gift bags and a nice weekend- so I had fun! I got to buy hand lotions from Arbonne and smelly sanitizers from Bath & Body, a little wristlets, and Starbucks gift cards, and lip gloss, and.... it was fun. And the girls were all very appreciative.

Friday we were in meetings pretty much all day and finished off with a get together at the Corner Pocket

- Saturday Tiger had his last soccer tournament of the season so it was up to Richmond for the day and then back out Saturday night to meet up with the corporate team for a dinner in Colonial Williamsburg at Shield's Tavern.   After dinner at the tavern we had a quick tour of Williamsburg one of my friends arranged for a very knowledgeable guide for us.  I hadn't realized that when Virginia was a colony it was so big, it stretched all the way out to Kentucky!

Wooo - BUSY. Got Tiger up this morning at 6 to send him back up to Richmond with his dad and I'm trying to pull my house together. Amazing just how much it falls apart when I neglect it for 4 days straight!

I'm going to leave you with this image that I'd meant to pull up for Pink Saturday fun.
Dragon loves the Percy Jackson books (I like them too) and in this project he was creating a Cyclops and then his teacher reminded him it was supposed to be three dimensional, so he added horns.  I think he did a great job!

(there is a pink horn in there) Beverly hosts Pink Saturday at How Sweet the Sound every week.  She'd love for you to stop by and join the fun!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Outdoor Wednesday a walk in Williamsburg

I love fall in Williamsburg.  There are colors everywhere.  Late blooming flowers, turning trees, it is just pretty.

There is a garden across from Bruton Parish.  There are all sorts of things growing there although it is November!  And this wonderful bunch of yellow flowers pushing up against the white fench and over my head with a blue, blue sky behind them.

Flowers for sale.

I should edit this photo.  If you look closely you can see our colonial gentleman on his way to someplace with is cape behind him.  And coming towards me in dark colors is one of the coach men.  That is the court house there behind the big red tree.

And here is a coach coming towards me.  It was a really beautiful fall day.  Look at that sky!

I am linking this post to A Southern Day Dreamer's Outdoor Wednesday Link up

Monday, November 8, 2010

4th Grade Science Project!

ah - it is time for the 4th grade science project.

So Tiger and the rest of the family sat around dinner discussing options.  We all kinda thought the famous Mentos and Diet Coke fountains would make a good experiment but we know the out come.  Mentos + Diet Coke = fountain.  So then we were trying to think up questions.  Tiger decided that he thought I meant Coca Cola not Diet Coke and we had a whole discussion because he was sure his dad had used regular Coca Cola and not Diet Coke when they'd all done the fountains in the street two years ago.  Out of this discussion came the question.  Does it matter what kind of cola you use?

So we bought 3, 2 liter bottles of the following: 3 of Diet Coke, 3 of Coca Cola, 3 of Coke Zero and a pack of Mentos.  It turns out, Diet Coke + Mentos does have the best reaction as measured by the amount of cola remaining in the bottle after the fountain subsided.

This leaves plenty of room for further investigation though when Dragon gets to 4th grade.  For example?  Does it matter, Diet Pepsi or Diet Coke?  Does 7-UP have the same reaction?  How about Sprite?

Dyslexia doens't go away

My brilliant, really brilliant 12 year old had a tough morning.
Her field hockey team ended the season with a get together and they tie-dyed team t shirts.  This morning she hurriedly wrote:
Berkley Feild Hockey #2 in permanent ink on the back of her shirt.

My husband and I exchanged a quick glance and agreed you don't let a 7th grader in advanced classes walk out of the house like that.

We tried to explain that it was Berkeley and could she squeeze an 'e' in there?  I didn't bring up Field instead of Feild.  And then she squeezed the 'e' in the wrong place and ruined in the shirt entirely.
So she went off to school in tears.  I offered to help her turn the shirt into a cinch sac over the holiday break and she could use it to carry her gear next year on the field hockey team.  She thought that was cool.

But there is a side of me that wants to shake her too.  She knows she cannot spell to save her life.  Why didn't she get it double checked before she wrote on a shirt in permanent ink?

Dyslexia is such a challenge.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sniffles! Bah!

Am awake at nearly 2 AM with the sniffles this morning.  I was hoping for a hot cider with bourbon but we've finished the cider - so its hot chocolate and bourbon.  Tim has this lovely bottle he bought - has a horse on it and its pretty.  I am sure you are not supposed to choose your bourbon based on the bottle design but I hope he sticks with this one 'cause I could collect the bottles.  I do think it is amazing that on the label they hand write in: the date the bourbon was "dumped" and what barrel it was dumped from, which warehouse it was stored in and it says "on Rick No 47" What is a "Rick"?
Anyway - I can't drink bourbon straight - Tim does which amazes me cause he doesn't usually drink whiskey straight or scotch- but it tastes good in a hot drink over a sore throat!

So before bed we downloaded "The Gladiator" on itv.  Tim had it on DVD for years and watched it many times.  I thinks this is the first time I've made it all the way through.  I asked him why he liked it so much, "because {in this movie} the gladiator represents someone who understands loyalty, strength and truth" he answered.

We recently downloaded Robin Hood with Russell Crowe.  I'm a late Russell Crowe fan.  I wasn't before, I haven't even seen Cinderella Man, but I love Robin Hood.  I've watched it 3 times!  I find his ability to portray "reluctant heroes" interesting and I love watching him ride.  I'm no horse woman {I took lessons for a brief time in Germany} but there is something about his seat that just looks like he has spent a good part of his life on the back of a horse.  It makes me want to find a stable -

Friday, November 5, 2010

Pink Saturday!

Last week M-Lyons took FOREVER getting dressed for school.  What is going on I wondered?  She'd gone to her dad and asked for the camera because the sky was pink out her window.
She was having a hard time getting dad's big camera to work.  So he, stopped getting ready for work, and took his 5 year old outside with him and took pictures of the sky.

"Mom" M-Lyons proudly announced as she strolled into the kitchen with not nearly enought time left to get dressed, brush her hair and eat her breakfast, "I have pictures for you for Pink Friday."
My oldest grinned at her.  "Nice job!  But it is Pink Saturday you know."

And then she gobbled down her breakfast and ran about the house and managed to make it to the bus on time.

This Pink Saturday post is brought to you from M-Lyons and her sweet daddy.

During last week's Pink Blog hop I stopped by Moda Manana - a bit of a change from many of the Pink Saturday ladies this blog is offered to us by a young college student with an eye for modern design.
For more Pink Saturday fun, stop by Beverly at "How Sweet the Sound" and check us out.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thursday - Cleaning and the Girls are coming over!

Well.  I've put the older 4 on the bus to school and now it si time to turn off my computer and clean up my house.  In the fall I like to have the girls over for a glass of wine before we move into Holiday Madness- it gets so busy!!
This year two of my friends are bringing along their business items.
Sabrina is a rep with Thirty One Gifts.  A fairly new group I think.  They specialize in handbags and then they have accessories.  I think I might like to do a bit of gift shopping...

Karen's Thirty One Gifts Pictures, Images and Photos

And Caitlin is bringing Stella and Dot.  I think that must also be a new group.  We've only heard about it in this area or a year or so.  Costume jewelry and very cute.  Lots of enamel- I love enamel- and reasonable prices. Things I'd buy my girls as presents....
So... off to do a bit (okay a LOT) of tidy-ing up and then to the grocery for some wine, cheese and chocolates!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

P.M.S. and Venting

I'm totally pms-ing
and I am an "anniversary person" I swear I have some sort of physical memory that when I get to a time of year, or a date, even when I am not consciously aware of it, I react to the anniversary.
And so today, as we get right up close to a fundraising event at school I am coming full into my attitude problem.  My attitude problem began in 2008 - my husband's company was effected early on.  In April we knew the economy was in trouble, banks were being "difficult" clients began paying later and later, and by June we were very concerned.  There was a little lift in the fall and we thought we were clear and by Christmas my husband was cutting his own pay check to pay his employees, staying up at night to run through the list of who to fire first, and then working and reworking his scenarios regarding how to bankcrupt the business and stay in our house for as long as possible (he gave us 3 to 5 months in the house but I am GRATEFUL to say, it never came to that) - I started asking around at the preschool the spring of 2009... what is the procedure to inquire about scholarships?

The school board president looked at me and said, "didn't you go on vacation in January?"

Yes.  I did.  For Christmas my husband used his travel points to send me to Hawaii for the cost of airport fees and a 1/4 of a time share.  I joined 3 other women and stayed for a week on Ocean front property for $200.00 plus food.  Really, I think that was a good decision.  I had never been to Hawaii.  If we were really headed into bankruptcy $200.00 was not going to stop us.

I was/ am very upset by this woman's reaction.  We've sent 5 kids to this school.  We have always been very supportive of the school and of its fundraising projects.  I have served on the fundraising committee for 5 years.  I have sewn, painted, begged and pleaded my way through my time on those committees.  I really think I deserved at the least the opportunity to explain my situation.

School year 2009-2010 they asked my good friend M to be the fundraising chair.  Despite having said the year before was my last year in fundraising I really care about M and I knew she'd tackle this is a very business like manner and get it going and in the meantime she'd run into difficulties with some of the people involved.  So- I said yes when I got called that January, I would be on her committee.

Personally it turned out to be a very difficult fall and a year later I still cannot talk about most of it.  And then my cousin died unexpectedly.  But we pulled it off and I got what I needed to get done for the committee done.  And frankly- the school board really took it all for granted.

This year there are people I care about on the committee.  I have had to distance myself from them knowing if I didn't I would end up too involved because I care for the individual people trying to take on this big job.  I don't want them to fail.

But I am having a very hard time wishing them well.  I worked last year simply to pay for preschool.  This year I am able not to be in that position but I find it difficult to be generous to a group that expects it from me but will not entertain the idea that I might need from them.

You know M., when you get around to reading this and you shake your head and say "THAT deserves a smacked bottom!"  if I could vent to you on the preschool playground I wouldn't have to write it all out you know.

At any rate - this is one of htose things that is festering and I've got to let it go...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Wow- the thing is. My 8 yr old would "DO" this.

4-year-old Sued in Training Wheels Accident
1 November 2010

Two 4-year-olds were racing bicycles on a NYC sidewalk when they crashed into an 87-year-old woman, who was severely injured in the accident. In the suit brought against them, a Manhattan State Supreme Court Justice has decided that the children CAN be sued for negligence!

According to the New York Times, Justice Paul Wooten did not find that 4-year old Juliet Breitman is liable, but permitted a lawsuit brought against the girl, her friend Jacob Kohn, and their parents to move forward.

The law suit claims that 4-year-olds Juliet and Jacob were racing their bikes (with training wheels!) on a sidewalk under their mothers' supervision. At some point, they struck 87-year-old Claire Menagh, who was "seriously and severly injured" and required surgery for a hip fracture, according to the complaint. She died three weeks later and now her estate is suing the children and their mothers, claiming they acted negligently in the situation."

I can only imagine what my 8 year old would do... or for that matter what my ex-sister would say about what my 8 year old would do and my attempts to restrain him...


I really meant to get back onto my "Monday Morning, Coffee and a Book" habit.  I loved it- but I have gone an entire week without picking up a book.  Hate being that "Busy" but it is good busy - two birthdays and Halloween and recovering from being away-
However.  My little brother mentioned to me that he wanted to read President George W Bush's book.
And I think I do too:

So I think i am buying it for my husband for Christmas.
My general view of President Bush is not very positive, however I do think it sounds interesting to read his take on being president. Particularly because I think when we look back from an historian's point of view, there will be much discussion about his term and the choices he made and the long term results.
There is also a collectors edition of the book: hard copy, limited edition, hand signed. Merely $300.00! But it does sound cool doesn't it?