Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Deep Clean on New Year's Eve

The tree is down and all of the holiday decorations are back in the attic. Old toys, shoes, clothes are stacked up in the back of the truck ready for a trip to the Thrift Shop for donating and Jason and I feel a new sense of freedom in our own house from the clutter within (and out). We just (I should say Jason just) got finished going through the pool toys and all the stuff on the porch. It is so nice (and cathardic) to purge the unnecessary crap from the house. It makes room for the other, newer, shinier unnecessary crap that we've got.

I am not a pack rat and I hope that I never will be. I don't have any difficultly giving stuff away and I don't like having a lot of stuff around me... I've never been a big fan of garage sales or junk stores and I do not like knicknacks (sp?) AT ALL... I got very turned off from all that crap at a young age when my Mom made me dust around all of her 70s-era "decor," which I am sure is all dying a slow death in a landfill somewhere nearby.

Anyway, enough rambling, have a Happy New Year tonight and best wishes to you for a safe, happy and prosperous New Year 2009!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Jake Rides in a Hot Rod

I almost forgot, while visiting "Grandpa Betty" in Inverness we saw long-time family friends Harold and Susan Craige. On the way to lunch (where soup is 99 cents if you order it off the menu, but free if you go up to the soup bar and help yourself) Jake got to ride in Harold's 1954 Ford, which was probably one of the highlights of his weekend. Photos above!

Weekend o' Fun

We were on the road this past weekend (literally)... Friday we went to Daytona so Jason could try his hand as a NASCAR driver... he did the "Richard Petty Driving Experience" -- 8 laps on the hallowed speedway... problem was, during his driving experience, ten other people were having their own "Richard Petty" Experience in a "ride-along" where the driver goes up to 160 around the track. I believe being passed by these other cars really was a bit daunting... I know he wasn't going very fast because I was able to photograph him going around the track and that is usually not easy to do when the cars are going very fast. Oh, well. For more of his experience see his blog at ( From there we went to Clermont on Saturday to spend the day with Kevin, Cindi and Summer Foshee. We had a nice time, grilling out ribs and chilling at their beautiful house. From there on Sunday we went to visit "Grandpa Betty" -- the kids' shortened name for Grandpa (my Dad) and Grandma Betty.

The Grand Mansion

So, here is the Grand Mansion, exactly the way I decorated it while the kids were napping. Jason accused me of playing with this on more than one occassion since it was assembled. (Notice the adult pointing and yelling at the kids in the playroom... that would be me! LOL!).

Thursday, December 25, 2008

351 Pieces in Under 3 hours... Phew!

So, today was the BIG DAY! Even after going to sleep after 11:30 p.m. Bryce and Jake managed to wake us up at 6 a.m. sharp. Jake apparently started opening gifts before they came in to our room to tell us that Santa had indeed come to our house, despite all of the hollow threats that Mommy had been yelling about for the past four weeks.

Cutest quote of the morning: "Mom, look! Santa has the same wrapping paper as us!" Thank God for innocent 5-year-olds.

Bryce and Jake are two lucky kids, but I have to say that one of the gifts I got for Bryce was just something that I could not personally live without. The 351 piece (I counted the pics on the instruction booklet to be certain) Grand Mansion Playmobil dollhouse. Now, if you know anything about Playmobil, the first thing that you know is that these are the coolest toys in the whole world. Secondly, you know that there are a million little pieces that fit ever so perfectly together, as German toy-builders (and Engineers) are so wont to do. The Grand Mansion is a beautiful Colonial three story with five rooms. You can even expand it to be four stories, but alas, that might just be a tad overkill for us; as the dollhouse makes our renovated 1950s ranch look like some kind of code-violating public housing project.

So after my first cup of coffee (I really needed that jolt) I began my career as a master builder. I have to say, that despite having trouble with the first floor door, everything else went together pretty smoothly. I had to call Jason in to help me with the roof (twice) and miraculously at the end, I only left out one piece that easily popped into place.

Anyways, the best part of today was setting up the Grand Mansion to my liking while the kids took a nap. I will up load the pics of the living room, dining room, bathroom, bedroom and playroom later. What a perfect little world it was, but it's all over now. Bryce just put a tiny jackhammer and construction worker in the kitchen. I guess it's time to renovate all ready. Oh, well.

A side note, I have noticed that the Playmobil people are predominantly white and male. They lack diversity in all sorts of ways. In our group of more than 50 men, women and kids there are no black or dark skinned people, only one older person (and she walks with a cane umbrella and wears a hat with a feather in it!) and probably 8 men for each woman. That could be because we have so many of the construction playsets, but I think the Germans are still in fact trying to force their "supremacy" issues on us though our kids' toys. (JUST KIDDING!!!, But it IS weird!)

Hope you all had a great day. I will post photos of today's melee soon!

A Chronicle of Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas! Last night we hosted the annual family Christmas gathering at our house and I have to say that it was quite possibly the best one that I remember in the 19 years of attending (and hosting except for once during the past six years) this family ritual. I'll just bullet point just some of my reasons... maybe you'lll get the feel for it. I'll post the photos in a few days when I get to download them all.

1. PERFECT weather. All the doors and windows were open -- it was probably about 68 with a cool breeze. No bugs either!

2. Jason's jell-o shots. I thought these were a mistake when they made the fridge smell like a Willy Wonka factory on acid, but they were a hit; even Nonna (85-years-young) enjoyed one! Flavors were Santa's Strawberry Surprise (strawberry/Bacardi), Christmas Tree Tequila (lime/Patron) and I'm Off to See the Lights (lemon/Grey Goose Le Citron). Wow!

3. Follow the shots with the Wii Tourney -- Bowling and Guitar Hero! That was fun, but we definitely needed more time so that everyone can play.

4. Crazy Thriftmas gift exchange. Who can resist the TV Kitty Remote Control Holder? Or the Glitter Light Up Clock? Used men's silky shorts that were "supposedly" used in the movie Boogie Nights. (Creative, people, very creative.) How about an old wooden tennis racquet that can double as a snowshoe? We have it all... and still do, since no one took any of that crap home with them. By the way, to whomever hung the macrame plant hanger on my palm tree out back, many thanks.

5. The food. It's really the centerpiece for all of this mayhem. I made tiny (delicious) pigs in a blanket, Swedish meatballs and my olive crostini... we also had Aunt Cathy's wings, Cheryl's cheezy broccoli rice, Auntie Karen's pizelles, Buffalo Chicken dip (courtesy of our friends Angie and Brad who didn't go home for Christmas to Louisiana this year so we were their "adopted family") and about a hundred other items, the remants of which are crammed into the fridge.

6. Erica and Rachelle made it back from India and got to the party just after 8:30 p.m. We thought they might not make it, so this was an awesome surprise, as was their cool stories and pics from the wedding they attended. They were there just in time for Crazy Thriftmas and a major bonus for me, they brought me some organic cardamom straight from India for my Swedish coffee bread! Thanks, Ladies!!!!!

7. Michelle and family stopped by for a few minutes at the end of the party, but what makes the list (and what I missed) was Michelle's grand entrance... I guess she was attempting a ballet move for Bryce, tripped on the kids' train tracks and landed on her ass in the living room in front of everyone. At least she makes an entrance when she arrives!!!!

8. Seeing Tara with her new beau Chris. They make a great couple and she seems really happy. That was terrific!

All in all an absolutely great night.

Friday, December 19, 2008

M-I-S-S-I-N' Mississippi

I am delighted to have "found" some old friends from my college days at USM this past year... I got back in touch with my pal Jarrod Ravencraft about two years ago, found Michelle Howell on about 6 months ago and just recently Kristen Phillips (now Kern) (whom I totally idolized because she was such a fixture doing graphics and design "downstairs" with the production guys) and I got back together, keeping up with each other and reading each other's blogs.

Kristen e-mailed me this week and said that she had run into Melissa Medley, one of my very favorite people in the state of Mississippi! Melissa was nice enough to have me do an internship at her company, Success Marketing, during college and hands down, she was the very best boss I have ever had. Period. I think that now, as a boss, I do try to emulate those qualities that she possesses, but I'm not sure I hit it on the mark! Melissa is now the director of communications and marketing for the Mississippi Development Authority and does work with the Mississippi Governor's Office.

Kristen is the Director of Communications for the Mississippi Bankers Association and she and her husband have a beautiful little girl.

It's been a delight to reconnect with these amazing people. I'm going to curl up on the couch with my college yearbook and re-live some of those great memories!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas Cards & Tax Planning (???!!???)

Today I am proud to say that I put my very last Christmas card in the mail... hopefully, (unless some random person that wasn't already on my list of 58 people sends us a card... then I will have to reciprocate!) The big news of the day is that it was tax planning day for 2009 with the CPA. Fun, fun, fun... NOT exactly. We deferred income from 2007 to 2008 so we owe again in April. Yucky. For now I'm going to focus on the positive and get back to wrapping gifts and eating the big tin of gourmet cookies the CPA gave us along with the bad news. Just what I need, eh?
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Blessed Kwanzaa, Delightful Boxing Day and best wishes for safe and (let's cross our fingers, folks) prosperous New Year 2009. Just a shout out in case I get busy and don't get around to blogging in the next week or so. I hope that you and your family enjoy a wonderful holiday filled with memories and laughter to cherish!!!! Lots of love! ASB

Friday, December 12, 2008

Hectic Holidays Are Here

Haven't blogged in awhile... like everyone else I'm just trying to keep my head above water getting ready for the fast approaching holidays. We have had a few weeks of fun, though, Thanksgiving at Josh & Larissa's (followed by a bout of the flu for the entire family), a fun get together at the house last Sunday and numerous other gathering, dinners and parties. My head hurts just thinking about it all.

Our big family Christmas Eve shindig is near and I've got to get all ready for that, too. More meatballs forthcoming for that and the house will be destroyed, but it's all in the name of fun and family!