First and foremost, I'm a mom to the Queen Bee, Rachel. I'm also a full-time freelance court reporter working in Philadelphia. I've been married more than 20 years to Fred. Besides work, I keep busy running Rachel to cheerleading/tumbling, taking care of the dog and cats, taking loads of pictures and keeping up with my wonderful friends and family.
Rachel was born in China, and in the summer of '09 we took her back to China for a Heritage Trip.
After waking us up around 7:30, Rachel waited patiently at the top of the steps for us to tell her she can come downstairs. We like to videotape her coming down the steps. This is the first year we didn't use "caution" tape to block off the top of the steps. As far as we know, she didn't peak before we got up.
First she went through her stocking. Usually she does that last, but this year she wanted to e different. Then she really got into the unwrapping. Look! She got a doorknob!!! She had seen this at Antropologiea couple months ago and thought it would look cool when we redo her room this summer.
Of course, Ferris had to be in the middle of everything all morning!
This is a "Harrods 2009" Christmas bauble.
Yay! Another bag! Because a 10-year old girl can never have enough bags!
The aftermath. Both cats and the dog love all the wrapping paper and Violet especially loves the boxes.
This was around 10:30 a.m. She was a wee bit tired of having her picture taken. That's a new DSi she's playing with. When we went to China in July, we left Rachel's Nintendo DS and her Gameboy on the plane, along with ALL her games. I blame myself...I neglected to put her name and address on it, and I didn't look under the seats very god when we arrived in Beijing. Fred was playing with the DS (AHA! It's his fault!!! I kid, I kid.) and I distinctly remember him handing it back up to Rachel and I watched her put it in its case and put the case in her carry-on. And she didn't get it back out to play with. I think it must have slid out of her carry-on under the seat and got mixed up with all the blankets and pillows under there. As soon as we got to the hotel I called United, both in Beijing and in Washington, where we departed from, and they took a report, but of course we never heard anything. It was pink and totally blinged out. So maybe there's some boy out there somewhere enjoying a blinged out pink DS! So now Rachel is starting from scratch with a DSi. She got one game for it on Christmas Day, Style Savvy, and played it ALL day. A couple days later she got another game from her friend Emily.
We actually had a white Christmas! It wasn't fresh snow, but we'll take it! Fred took this picture (with my new camera) in the afternoon. Yes, Fred got me a new camera, a Nikon. What did I get him? A frying pan! I really wanted to get him a good cast iron one by Le Creuset, but I couldn't find one anywhere. I kept finding the big casserole pots that cost about $250 and I thought, he'll kill me if I spend $250 on him for Christmas. Oops! So I get a nice camera and he got a $15 cast iron frying pan! Oh, and I also got him a nice knife. But he uses his frying pan every day, and I'll get him the Le Creuset one as soon as I find one. I stopped buying Fred tools for Christmas a couple years ago. It seemed whatever tools I'd get him were never quite what he wanted. Plus, he has just about every tool known to man. He likes cooking almost as much as he likes working on cars and repairing stuff, so Rachel and I usually get him cooking gadgets now. Last year we got him a chef's coat, which he wears quite often when cooking.
The rest of our Christmas Day was quiet. Fred made baked ziti, per Rachel's request. (Last year's request was lasagna) I baked cookies. And we watched TV and just chilled out. It was perfect. Hope yours was too!
Surprisingly, school was not cancelled today, and Rachel's class had a Christmas party scheduled, and I was invited in for it. It was a lot of fun. They played games, did karaoke, and were treated to chicken fingers and fries. I did take pictures, but I don't have permission to put all the kids' pictures on the blog.
After school (it was a half day), we went into Center City to see the light show at the Wanamaker building, which is now a Macy's. This year we watched it from the third floor, instead of sitting on the first floor and having to look up.
This is what my van looked like when we woke up today. We had to shovel out the driveway for the third and final time for this storm. We decided to shovel the entire driveway this time, not just half, since I had a job scheduled Monday morning.
Almost there. What I didn't take a picture of was the horrible job the snow plows did. They didn't plow very close to the curb, so we had about 10 extra feet out into the street we had to shovel. Plus we had to shovel out our mailbox so the mail lady could get to it.
These are the pathways we shoveled in the backyard last night for Ferris. They were covered up again by morning. We had to shovel pathways for him because the snow is taller than he is. And he likes to walk around and find the perfect spot to do his business. We waited until tonight to clear them out again.
After shoveling the driveway (and street) we drove to Harrisburg to have an early Christmas with Fred's family. These are all of Rachel's cousins on Fred's side. We made fleece blankets for all the kids and Fred's parents. Soccer blankets for Kati, Delaney and Haleigh, cheerleading for Jade, and Phillies for Zach and Meemaw and Pawpaw.
Rachel got a Rubiks cube 360 from Aunt Karri and Uncle Drew. Here she's explaining it to Uncle Jim and Jade.
After all the presents were open we had dessert. Pies, cakes and 17 different kinds of cookies. My mother-in-law always serves a great meal, and the desserts are to die for. What I didn't get a picture of was the earlier commotion in the kitchen. She had made seafood bisque, and it was in the crockpot. One of Fred's brothers was trying to heat up the bisque a little faster, so he took the pot out of the crockpot and put it on a burner. Needless to say, the ceramic pot broke and seafood bisque was everywhere. They got it cleaned up pretty quickly, but for the rest of the day the dogs kept going over to the stove and licking underneath it.
Half an hour later, another brother got a pan of rolls out of the oven, burned his hand and sent the rolls flying. The rest of the food was served with no problems! And it was all very good.
After dinner we headed home. We were worried, with good reason, about the roads in New Jersey getting icy. When we got home it was obvious they hadn't plowed our neighborhood since before we left for Harrisburg. It would actually be three days before they plowed again.
This is snow hanging off the roof right above my van, which has snow piled so high it almost reaches the gutters. Two seconds after I snapped this picture, SOMEONE threw a snowball and it knocked the snow off the roof. :)
Update #3: 5:00 p.m. Fred is back out shoveling again. There's probably a good 6 inches on the driveway since the last time he shoveled. I didn't help this time...I'm working on a job that has to go out Monday.
Driveway, right after we finished shoveling.
Update #2: 3:00 p.m. We shoveled the driveway, and by the time we finished, it was covered again. It's snowing heavier now than it has all day, and it was even thundering, which was kind of cool. It's supposed to continue snowing heavily until midnight....I'm sure we'll hit the two foot mark.
Update #1, 12:00. First plowing of the cul-de-sac. We're hoping he puts it all in one pile so we can make a good snow fort. And look! My neighbors are actually having furniture delivered, on a snowy Saturday!
If you squint your eyes and look closely, you'll see that this is Santa on top of a fire truck. He visited our neighborhood, courtesy of the local fire department. Sirens were blaring for a good half hour before he finally made it to the corner we were waiting on with neighbors. In prior years they handed out candy canes. No such luck this year. And I let Santa know he needs to bring me a better camera for Christmas so I can take a decent picture of him next year. :)
The cats, and sometimes the dog, love to sleep in this box that sits in front of my bedroom window. Today, Violet was in the box, and the only parts of her that were sticking out of the box were her feet and the tip of her tail.
Meet Jacques. Jacques is our Elf. Our Elf on the Shelf.
Jacques' current position is not a shelf. Today he is perched on a string of lights over our kitchen sink.
Yesterday, Jacques was here, on this reindeer's antlers. You see, Jacques is one of Santa's elves. Every night Jacques, and millions of elves like him, fly to the North Pole to report on the children they're staying with. They re-appear the next morning in a different spot in the house. Well, Jacques picked a bad spot when he landed on this reindeer. You see, it's a little too close to the floor....and a little too close to Ferris. Sadly, Ferris thought Jacques was a chew toy. Santa's elves are not allowed to speak when they're staying watching to see if children are naughty or nice, so Jacques was not able to holler for help. Rachel and I discovered Jacques lying on the floor in the kitchen last night after dinner. Minus his cute little white collar. And an arm. And his head appeared to have been bitten.
Ferris, what did you do?!?!!??!?
Unfortunately -- or fortunately, depending on how you look at it -- I have no pictures of the carnage. Please rest assured that Jacques is magical (how else could he fly to the North Pole and back in one night?) and therefore he feels no pain. However, Jacques really needs his arm to fly. So after a short surgical procedure last night, I'm happy to report that Jacques is nearly 100% healed. He had no head injury after all...just a small tear in his hat which was easily fixed. His arm is a little wonky, though. (I love that word, "wonky") But I think that just makes him more endearing. And now he has a "history," a story to hand down to the next generation. I think Jacques learned his lesson and will only land on higher locations in our house. As for Ferris:
"I'm sorry, Jacques!" It's okay, buddy. I'm sure Santa will still bring you some presents on Christmas, too.
I took picture after picture tonight of our Christmas trees and they were all blurry, so I gave up and decided to post one of my very favorite pictures of Rachel. This was taken 6/17/05. She had her kindergarten graduation and her ballet recital both on the same day. She just glows in this picture. She danced to one of the songs from The Nutcracker, and she had such poise on stage. I know I'm her mom and I'm expected to see everything she does through rose-colored glasses, but even one of my neighbors remarked that he had never seen her smile the way she did when she was on stage. And she was good, too; very graceful, and she knew all her steps. But that was the only year she took dance. After that, it was all about cheerleading. Which is fine, because she loves it and she's good at that, too.
We took Ferris to the vet today, but not for an appointment. They moved into a brand new building this month, and today they had an open house. Winslow Animal Hospital has a beautiful facility. They were giving tours of the whole building, and Ferris had a lot of fun sniffing some other dogs that were there. The new facility's is a therapy room that includes a small pool for aqua therapy, which Ferris wanted to try out. There were also free samples, free toys and photos with Santa. I'll post Ferris' picture when I get it back.
In one of the operating rooms, Rachel got to "help" with a simulated c-section. It was cute. They had a stuffed animal on the table, and they pulled baby stuffed animals out of the belly.
The best part of the day? Snow! We only got a dusting, though.
I am really slacking lately when it comes to taking pictures. I took this "before" picture, with four of our eight Christmas boxes, but I never took an after picture! Rachel alternated all day between helping me decorate, reading a book that she has to do a report on and playing outside with friends. We do two trees, one in the living room (pictured here) and one in the family room. The one in the living room has white lights and red and gold ornaments. The family room tree has multi-colored lights and has all the fun ornaments collected over the years and all of Rachel's hand-made ornaments.
Rachel was able to reach the top of the tree by herself (with the help of a step stool) this year to put the angel on top. I'll post after pictures soon....
The day after the wedding we went over to Dennis and Amanda's before we headed back to NJ. They were just getting ready to open their cards and gifts.
This is Abby, one of their cats. At first she wasn't too crazy about Ferris, but she never hid from him. Even when Amanda's sister came in with three big dogs, Abby stayed right there on the step. Ferris loved having the other dogs there. Playing with big dogs is one of his favorite things to do.
Today, Fred's brother Dennis married Amanda. His grandfather officiated the ceremony, just like he did for Fred and me, Fred's other siblings, Fred's parents and aunts, uncles and cousins. It was a beautiful ceremony, and the reception was a lot of fun.
This is an ice sculpture that was at the reception of the Penn State Nittany Lion. This picture does not do it justice.
Instead of a traditional wedding cake, they had cupcakes. Very cute, and very good!
Rachel loves her Uncle Den-Den and her new Aunt Amanda. And she was so honored that they asked her to help out at the wedding (she manned the guest book and handed out programs) and asked her to go to the reception.
For Thanksgiving weekend we went to Harrisburg. We drove up there on Wednesday afternoon. Dennis and Amanda were getting married on Friday, the 27th, and Wednesday night was the rehearsal dinner. For Thanksgiving dinner we were at Fred's parents' house. Fred's mom always makes everything herself, and she does a great job. It's always a wonderful meal.
She also makes all the desserts. Pumpkin pie, apple crumb pie, lemon sponge pie, banana cream pie, pecan pie, Montgomery pie, shoe fly pie, pineapple upside down cake, banana cake, fudge and......apple dumplings!