Sunday, December 28, 2014

Weekly Wrap-Up – December 14th-20th

Gearing up for the holidays has kept us so busy.  From a little gym fun to a beautiful holiday concert, we were on our toes this week.


On Monday, I took the kids to My Gym of Hilltop for the Homeschool Open House.  This was an introduction for folks new to the gym to try out the facility and activities to see if they might be interested in signing up for our upcoming string of 12 weekly classes that start after the first of the new year.

Above is a sampling of some of the fun, as the kids took turns enjoying the zipline!  Who doesn’t love ziplining?


On Monday afternoon when we picked Hayden up from school, he and his friend got in the van and told the tale of our Hayden got randomly punched in the eye in the hallway!  I was shocked that the school did not notify me that my son was assaulted in the middle of the school day.  If we hadn’t been on our way to gym class, I’d have marched right into the school office and demanded an explanation.  Look at how bloodshot his eye was that night!


After getting all the details, I calmed down and left a polite and professional message for the school’s guidance counselor.  Then that evening, I emailed the Head of School.  As it turns out, Hayden never notified his charter school office of the incident, but instead went to the main school’s office, so that’s why I wasn’t notified.  I knew the Head of School would see that it was investigated properly, and she assured me should would.  Hayden saw the school EMT the next morning, who checked him out and called to tell me his eye looked okay, but we should monitor the ongoing severe headache he was experiencing in case he suffered a mild concussion.  As it turned out, his headache lasted about 3 days before it dissipated.  I felt bad for him.  After the school reviewed the surveillance footage, they realized he was in a blind spot in the hallway when it occurred, so they were unable to see who did it, but they saw Hayden turning into another hallway holding his eye.  I guess we’ll never know what happened, but I feel confident that the staff will be looking out for him.


On Friday night, I took Haylee, my friend and neighbor Valentyna, and her daughter Ana, with me to see the Holiday POPS concert with the Virginia Symphony and Chorus.  We go together every year, and never fails to please!  Here is Haylee in her pretty dress.


On the way out to the parking garage, I had the girls stop in front of the giant Christmas tree at Town Center to get a quick photo on my phone.


We had such a lovely time and always look forward to the next year’s holiday concert.  They manage to change it up a bit every year so it’s always a little fresh and new.  They had ballet dancers, a chorus, and an amazing bell-ringing performance by the Raleigh Ringers.  Awesome!


We had a lovely week!  The month is flying by so quickly, and we’re ready to start out Christmas break!  On Saturday, Hayden started complaining of a sore throat, so I’m hoping he hasn’t brought something home from school, but that remains to be seen.  I hope you’re all busy with holiday celebrations, too!

It’s almost Christmas!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Weekly Wrap-Up – December 7th-13th

The holidays happenings have begun!  It seems like the season snuck up on me this year, and I’m having trouble getting into the mood for the festivities.  I thought I’d get things started with some baking!  What says holidays more than yummy treats?


On Friday, I hosted my very first Holiday Cookie Exchange!  That was a lot of fun.  We each brought 2 dozen cookies to share, and then we each took home 24 cookies to enjoy.  Some people brought 24 of one kind, and some people brought 12 each of 2 different kinds.  We ended up with 7 different kinds of cookies to try, and we exchanged copies of all the recipes, too.


Each of us got to take home a large platter full of a variety of cookies for our weekend enjoyment, and all the kids played together while the adults chatted and swapped recipes in the kitchen.  I had a limited amount of time to visit since I had to pick Hayden up from school, but we all had a great time and would love to do it again.  It was a neat experience!  Thank you Melissa & Kevin Levert, Gina Nall, Micka Carden, and Valentyna Wheeler for joining in on the fun!


Then on Saturday, I got up early and hosted a huge yard sale.  While I was busy raking in $183.50 throughout the course of the weekend, I got Steve to take Haylee and Holden over to the Green Run Clubhouse for the annual kids’ Christmas party.


Here are the kids sitting with Santa.  Steve hates crowded events, and he said this one was just too disorganized and loud, so he only stayed for a few minutes.  I figured that’s how it would go!  But at least the kids got to see Santa and enjoy a few treats.  Thank you, Steve, for doing something I know you hated so I could hold my yard sale and unload our clutter from the house!  I know we’re all happier to have less stuff sitting around.  Steve said his heart rate was elevated when he got back from the stress of being in the chaos.  Too funny.


I hope you’re all having a good time with your holiday celebrations!  I know it’s a busy time of year with lots of commitments and lots of fun.  Share what your family is doing for the holidays!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Weekly Wrap-Up – November 30th – December 6th

December has finally arrived!


With Thanksgiving and Black Friday behind us, we decided to start gearing up our holiday spirit with a trip to Busch Gardens’ Christmas Town! We headed out extra early, right from church, so that we could compensate for traffic troubles and delays on our trek out to Williamsburg.  Good thing, because traffic was terrible!  We got there at just the right time, though, to get in line for parking, close enough to see the ticket booth.  Yay!


This year, I took Hayden and Haylee with me.  Holden hates the cold, and Steve hates crowds, so it was a perfect outing for just the three of us.  Here are the kids awaiting the first show when we entered at opening time.  It was Scrooged in the Globe Theater.


Escape from Pompeii was transformed into a Coca-Cola winter wonderland!  The kids loved sitting on the signature polar bear benches.  That night, the falls were lit up with thousands of lights, and it was so beautiful!


Next up, we actually got to ride some rides in Festa Italia!  We did the Battering Ram a couple of times and then headed off for the next show at the stage in Italy.  Here’s Haylee with our front row seat waiting for the show to begin!  The park had a new Android app that sent us on a bit of a scavenger hunt.  So while we waited for the show to start, Hayden took my phone to find a bunch of the “checkpoints” and earn rewards.  Before the night was out, he completed the entire hunt, and we earned a free fountain soda!  We never got to redeem it, though, because by the time we reached the required location to redeem it, the restaurant was closed!  Oh, well. 


Then we were off to Octoberfest.  We managed to get into the Festhaus in time to get our dinner and see the show in there, too.  Hayden and I split this wonderful roast beef sandwich that was sooooo good, a salad, and a giant slice of Black Forest Cake!  Haylee had a turkey kids’ meal.  Everything was so delicious, and we were totally stuffed.  Here’s the carnage of our dinner, LOL.


Haylee and I hoped to see the live penguins in the Penguin Palace, but the line was just too long.  Nevertheless, we loved the beautiful “12 Days of Christmas” themed Christmas trees throughout that section, and they were all so beautiful!


Next, we went to Ireland and saw the Gloria show.  Hayden and I saw it last year, but it was so good that we couldn’t miss it!  Again, we got in line early and waited about an hour, but we were able to get a front row seat right in front of the orchestra to see the show.  It was amazing!  I loved sitting to so close to the musicians, and they were friendly and gracious.  Lovely!

We had a wonderful evening.  We ended it with a skyride and a ride around the park on the train.  So much fun, all the lights were just beautiful!


You may remember that Steve and I never got to have a real 20th anniversary dinner…it was a total disaster!  But we decided to go back and try again.  So I had Steve meet me at the same restaurant, The Highlander, again on his way home from work.  Wow!  We had the whole place to ourselves, and we had the most amazing meal!  So delicious!  I could totally see us turning this into our new hangout.  Even if we just stopped in for dessert and tea, I’d love it!  We started off the meal with an appetizer of Scottish Eggs.  I’d never had them before, but they sounded delicious! 


Wow, they were so good!  Steve didn’t know the dipping mustard was spicy hot English Coleman’s mustard, so he dunked his egg right in and just about burned off his taste buds!  They were really good, though, and we gobbled them up.  Next up, Steve got the large cod and chips, and I got the small haddock and chips.  It was so yummy, and here’s just what was left from Steve’s portion, which I saved for lunch the next day!


And finally, I ordered the bread pudding and more tea for dessert.  Absolutely fabulous!  I am quite picky about my bread pudding, but this was awesome!  It wasn’t soggy, but firm, yet it had a generous amount of custard sauce on top.  Delicious!


Steve and I both thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, and we’ll definitely be back.  What’s more, because of the fiasco with our anniversary visit, the owner informed us that our dinner was on them!  Wow.  That was certainly generous.  We’ll definitely be back, and we’re really looking forward to it!


Worth mentioning, I was shopping at Kroger one night and came across this amazing cake that was about to be reduced for quick sale.  It was a chocolate raspberry torte! 


Seriously, just look at that delectable creation!  Who could pass that up?  It was a chocolate cake with raspberries between the layers and covered with chocolate ganache and chocolate curls with chocolate whipped frosting and Hershey’s raspberry chocolates on top!


At the end of the week, I took Haylee and Holden to the Orb Family Fun Center for some bouncy fun!  They had a great time.

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That looks like a great time, doesn’t it?  As cold as it was outside, they were burning up by the time we left!  They totally wore themselves out, bouncing for something like 3 hours straight!  LOL

Well, this was a great way to start off the month of December.  I’m ready for some holiday fun, aren’t you?  I sure hope this month has great things in store for us.

Until next week…

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Weekly Wrap-Up – November 23rd-29th

It’s Thanksgiving Week!  That means lots of holiday preparations, lots of food, lots of shopping, and lots of fun with family and friends!


The weather was so mild at the beginning of the week that I took the kids out for slushies when I picked Hayden up from school


They always love that!


Normally, my first order of business on Monday morning during the week of Thanksgiving is to put up my tree.  However, the boys in my house failed to bring the tree and decorations down from the attic over the weekend as promised, so that foiled my normal order of business.  Instead, I wrapped presents on Monday and stacked them up in the middle of the recreation room until such time as someone got my tree down!  That was apparently the incentive needed for them to get my tree stuff out, so bright and early on Tuesday morning, I got my tree all put up and decorated!


Isn’t it pretty?  It’s all Victorian with strands of baby pink pearls, dried off-white and burgundy German statice (yes, real dried flowers!), pink and burgundy velvet and lace-trimmed bows, white lights, and hand-painted Christmas balls with Raphael angels on them.  Then there’s a beautiful lighted angel on top with a burgundy dress and golden wings.  Gorgeous!  The first year that I had my own Christmas tree in my very own house (I bought my townhouse when I was 21), these were the decorations I bought.  I have used them ever since and have carefully packed them away each year.  How I love the simple elegance of this tree!


Wednesday brought lots of cleaning and decorating my Thanksgiving table, plus a last-minute trip to the grocery store for the fresh fruit that would go in my fruit salad.

Thursday was the big day!  I made 2 turkey breasts…one in the oven in a steam bag and one in the rotisserie…a half boneless sliced ham, homemade mashed potatoes, turkey stuffing, turkey gravy, green beans with bacon in my pressure cooker, homemade fruit salad, homemade dinner rolls, fresh whole cranberry sauce, and pumpkin trifle for dessert.  Yum!  I also made a Crockpot of mulled wassail cider and served a ton of sparkling cider, as well.  It was a feast for a king!  Our guests were Bob and Bunny Mallard and Margaret Stroud from church, plus Margaret’s adult son, Ken.  It was a lovely group of people with whom to share a meal!  And they each brought some dishes to share, as well.  There was definitely plenty of food this year!  We were very fortunate and thankful for that.

This was a bittersweet day for me, though.  I had myself some tears that morning, as I couldn’t help but remember that this was also my mom’s favorite holiday of the year.  She always loved how it brought the whole family together.  This is sadly the first Thanksgiving of my life that I wouldn’t get to call her and hear her cheery voice.  So I declared to my guests that I was dedicating my dinner to my mom this year in her honor.  I took our her beautiful 24-karat gold-trimmed china from England and set a beautiful table with it.  I’m always afraid of breaking something, but I just asked everyone to let me collect their dishes rather than have people traipsing through my porcelain-tiled kitchen with the plates and risk someone accidentally chipping or breaking something.  All went well!  I think my mom was watching us from Heaven, and I think she was pleased.  I love her so much!  It breaks my heart to not be able to share special things with her any more.  It has certainly been a sad and difficult year for me and my siblings.


Anyway, we had a beautiful day together with friends and family, and we started at noon so that we could wrap things up by about 4:30 and then start preparing for our early Black Friday shopping!  Once we said our goodbyes and put all the food away, Hayden and I scoured the ads quickly, made shopping lists for each store, and headed out at about 5:30!  Stores began to open at 6 PM this year, so we wanted to be ready and waiting at Wal-mart when they opened the doors.

He and I had a blast shopping this year.  I was shocked and pleased by how pleasant shoppers and employees were this year.  There were no shoving matches, no one stealing things from each other’s carts, and no one getting tasered or arrested.  Those are some of the things we’ve seen in years’ past, unfortunately!  But this year was a whole different scenario, and we were thankful for that.  We were able to get everything on our list at every store we visited, and we were home by about 10:30!   That was awesome!  And we really got some great deals.  I think I spent more than I’ve ever spent on Black Friday before.  Ugh!


Hayden and I even did a bit more shopping on Friday night, and we still got in on some of the good Black Friday deals!  We were amazed that so many good deals were still around.  There seemed to be plenty of people out, and everyone seemed to buying a lot, so I was rather surprised that the stores didn’t run out of any of the special deals. 

So what kinds of special activities did you do with your family this week?