Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Brief Escape

Every January, Marc attends a conference in Puerto Rico. When the kids were younger, we would join him for part of the trip. Nick and Gaby used to have no trouble missing 2 or 3 days of school. That changed when Nick hit middle school. He found it more difficult to be absent from school and get back on track, having a different teacher for each subject. So, the last time we tagged along with Marc was 4 years ago.

This year, we decided to give it a go again. With a few years of changing classes/teachers and managing his school schedule under his belt, Nick was confident he'd have no trouble with a 2 day absence from school.

However, getting away wasn't easy. After a busy weekend of Nick's SOR shows and Gaby's birthday celebration, and of course, MLK Day of service, both kids were sick. Nick had a lingering headache that had started Friday, and Gaby appeared to be experiencing her second bout of strep throat in as many months.

Tuesday started with a late arrival due to freezing rain, and Gaby home with a sore throat and temperature of 102. Even the call to the pediatrician's office was futile. Routed to their answering service, I found that the weather had also delayed the opening of the pediatrician's office!

While things didn't look too promising Tuesday night, we got it all sorted out for our Wednesday evening departure. Antibiotics for Gaby's confirmed strep throat, Roxi to Petsmart, Jessie bird to Marc's co-worker Brigette, and best of all, when Nick came home on Wednesday, his headache was finally gone!!

Of course our departure out of Philly was delayed when a passenger became ill before take off and left the plane. It took them quite awhile to dig out their checked luggage, and by the time we got underway, the delay had stretched to over an hour.

But we made it, with the pictures to prove it!

Gaby had asked before we arrived if the two of us could get up early and go for a walk on the beach. I was only too happy to oblige!

Some beach time.

Early morning ferry to Isla de Culebra.

Flamenco Beach, apparently rated #2 on the top ten beach list. Beaches of the world.

It was breathtaking!

Heading for snorkeling waters.

It was a long and buggy walk to find the beach that was suitable for snorkeling.

Soooooo worth it!

We returned to Flamenco Beach after snorkeling, and lunch. We settled at a shady table since we all had a bit of sunburn. I was relaxing on the sand and Nick was on the bench above.

Our last day on the beach.

We didn't venture out much on Saturday cuz of our sunburns, so I was able to work on some art journaling. Gaby actually painted more of those little squares than I did.

Love this picture! We grabbed a late lunch on Sunday before heading for the airport. Nick ordered the whole fried fish. It was delicious!!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Martin Luther King Day of Service at CLC

Yesterday was either the 8th or 9th year that our church has participated in service projects for MLK Day.

We always start with lunch for everyone, a short presentation about the man and his mission and dreams, and then we do five or six service projects. This year, we made ugly blankets for homeless folks (called ugly cuz they're made ugly to reduce the possibility of theft), peppermint bark (can't remember who this was made for, but the kids loved taking a hammer to bags of candy canes), play doh for a group that supports single mothers, letters to those serving in the military, valentine cards for residents of a local nursing home, and hand painted tiles for Habitat homes.

We always wind up with a group shot of the volunteers in their shirts. This year, we ran a bit late and many people seemed to have left before we got the photo.

Can you spot Gaby in this shot?!

Celebrating 10 With Friends

This past Sunday was the day for partying. With Monday being the MLK holiday, Sunday night was perfect for a sleepover. Which is what Gaby wanted, among other things.

She invited 4 friends, 2 from soccer, 2 from school. Three of the four were able to make it.

First stop: our house, around 3 in the afternoon. The plan: swim, dine out, and sleepover.

The pool we chose is in a neighboring township. Same place the girls swam at for Gab's birthday last year, but with a difference. Last year, we were kicked out around 3:30 as there was a special swim party scheduled. The Neon Splash Party, which was open to anyone, but sold out by the time we found out about it. This year, with that experience under our belts, we were able to get tickets for the Neon Splash Party.  Low lighting, glow necklaces, a DJ and prizes. While the glow necklaces got in the way, they all loved the music (except for Justin Beiber!) and Gaby received a water bottle prize when her friends let the DJ know it was her birthday.

Rockin' out to the Village People. 

There was a cool BIG waterslide.

And a smaller kiddie slide that the girls would hop on now and then -- shorter line!

OOKA, for dinner and a show -- and what a show it was!

Nick and Jess didn't swim, but joined us for dinner.

Sharing those yummy bananas for dessert.

Apples to Apples and Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel rounded out the night. And chips and cheetos, of course!

Gaby's the chief pancake maker in our house, so she prepared breakfast for her girlfriends.

This time 'round, the birthday cake was a puffed wheat cake.

For the last couple of years, I had gently suggested to Gaby that she consider asking her guests to make a charitable donation in celebration of her birthday, rather than bringing a gift. This year, she decided it was a good idea, and chose the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House as her charity of choice.  We're going to package up those donations with a lovely letter and send it off to where it can do some good. Cheers to you Gaby girl!! XO

Thank You Julie!

Last Friday I had the honour and pleasure of guest posting on Julie Fei-Fan Balzer's blog, Balzer Designs . Shortly after signing on to participate in Julie's Art Journal Every Day I received an email from her, asking if I would be interested in a guest post on the subject of my 52 lists that I was finishing up last month. I was thrilled! Not sure what I was doing, but I was thrilled! I'd never done a guest post before -- this was my first.

The process of creating the post was enjoyable, and what a thrill to see it Friday morning. And the comments. The comments were the frosting! So kind and sweet and supportive and from so many different places. Very cool, though I'm not sure why. I mean, I read blogs written by people in Australia, England, The Netherlands. So why is it so exciting to read comments and find out they're from people in places like Australia and Europe? I dunno, but is really is pretty cool!

I haven't taken as much time as I would like on all of the new blogs that I've discovered, both through guest posting and participating in AJED. I could learn from Julie, who wrote today that she had already visited 300 of the 400 or so blogs of the participants. Isn't that incredible?!

She's so involved and giving so much time to this. Those of us joining her on this journey are so fortunate to have her at the helm. We're not even a month into it and  we're already forging a cohesive and supportive group for our art journaling. It's so much more fun to have places like the flickr group to share and discuss and encourage and learn and be inspired.

So grateful. Thanks again Julie!!

(inside front cover of my art journal)

Oh yeah, my guest post !

Bit of Music in our Week

Good things, like the kids' concerts, are never nicely and evenly spaced and scheduled. Just doesn't happen that way.

We first had the pleasure of Gaby's  beginner band concert on Thursday. Or should I say I had the pleasure. Because Marc was out of town overnight and Nick had his own music rehearsal at the School of Rock. So I juggled Marc's video camera in my right hand, slung my camera around my neck and did the best I could using my left hand. This was the best I could do!

We did a bit better Friday night. Marc was back, so he handled video and I could concentrate on stills. Being back down to only one camera didn't improve the quality of the images I captured. The shows are set up more for the kids to enjoy, not for parents to get the pictures they'd like. But it doesn't stop them from trying. Unless you're sitting in the front row, it's pretty tough to get a shot that doesn't include the glowing screen of someone else's camera or phone, or the glare off of a bald head. Now, having been recently bald myself, I'm not singling out bald folks. OK, bald men. I just seem to have the misfortune of always having one in my line of fire when I'm trying to get a photo!

Nick's show this season was Black Sabbath. Never having been a big fan of theirs, I only recognized a handful of songs. But even if you don't know the music, you can't help but marvel at the way these teens come together onstage, so confidently and professionally. Uhmazing!

My son the rock star.

I so wish I could get better pictures, but I'm always concerned about drawing attention to myself, and consequently, Nick. 

Did I mention how much fun these shows are? For the kids too!

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Snow Day Birthday

Our first snow day of the school year couldn't have fallen on a more perfect day -- Gaby's 10th birthday!

The autodialled call from the school superintendent came in around 5:45 a.m. They weren't messing around! No late arrival for Gaby's special day. This was a full blown snow day.

I snuck into the kids' rooms to shut off their alarms. Nick, being the light sleeper that he is, heard me, but easily went back to sleep when he heard the news.

Of course I forgot to shut off our alarms, which are set for both kids' get up times! No biggie. It's always nice to shut off the alarm knowing you can go back to bed.

We all got up in time for Gaby to open her gifts before Marc had to leave for work.

It was nice to have the time for a leisurely pancake breakfast. Chocolate chip for Nick and half-baked for Gab. (don't ask!!)

A bit of indoor fun on the wii.

Check out this adorable cupcake floral arrangement that Gaby received from Pier, Nate, Hailey and Kai. Isn't it just the cutest?

But even those beautiful flowers and a family dinner at PF Chang the evening of Gab's birthday couldn't compete with spending the afternoon sledding and playing with her BFF Claire. Gaby thought that was the best part of her Snow Day birthday!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Happy Birthday Gaby Girl!!

Evidence that time flies. From this:

To this:

In ten short, fast, wonderful years. Happy 10th Birthday Gaby!! Double digits now.

Your presence continues to be life changing. I'm so lucky to be your Mom!! Looking forward to a wonderful celebration of you, today, and everyday. You rock Gaby Girl! Love you lots!

One more cuz I just love love love this face!

(sorry about the black and white -- I had scanned them this way a few years back, for a page, I believe)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Wrapping Up My 52 Lists!

Happy to say they are done, bound, and in their new home, a basket that holds a few mini albums and my 52Q from 2009.

Love this little glimpse of each list.

That's one fat stack of lists! I tried different ways of binding them together. While working on the lists last year, I used binder rings to keep them together, but didn't care for that as the pile of lists grew. I used rope through the two holes I had punched in each, first looping the rope in a fashion similar to the binder rings. Not crazy about that. Then I tried tying the ends together, top and bottom, on the front and back of the stack. Didn't like how it covered some of my art. So I finally just knotted the ends of both the top and bottom ropes, tight against the pages. I like that best for now.

With my 52 lists done, and the Christmas boxes packed up and waiting to be stowed in the crawl space for another year, I can work at wrapping up my December Daily, which I kept up with til December 19th.  And I'm really looking forward to putting more time into Julie's Art Journal Every Day  Julie came up with this great idea/challenge, and there are already over 300 people on board!  Of course there's a flickr group for this one too -- check it out. I also strongly recommend Julie's blog. She posts frequent inspiring posts filled with great photos, tutorials, ideas, everything. Love everything she does!!