Friday, December 2, 2011

Alaina's 3rd Birthday

Alaina turned 3 this past week and we celebrated her big day not once, not twice, but THREE times this year.  I suppose you can call it "Alaina's Birth Week."  :) 

On November 19th we had a little party for her a Chuck E Cheese's with 9 of her friends.  Alaina got to wear the Birthday Crown and got to take part in their Birthday Show.  She had a blast!

On November 26th we had a family party for her at our home with her grandparents, aunts, uncles & cousins.  She absolutely adored her special Disney Princess cake and had a good time playing with her Disney Princess balloon and table centerpiece.

We celebrated Alaina's 3rd Birthday for the third (and FINAL!) time on Monday, November 28th -- her actual birthday.  Rob & I both took the day off so we kept Alaina & Brady home from daycare and we spent the day as a family.  We had a quiet day together decorating the Christmas tree and then at 5pm, Alaina & I went to Paradise of Fun at FSK Mall and met our friend Allison and her 3-year-old Taylor so that the girls could play on the moonbounces.

I would say Alaina's birth week was quite the success.  She's such a big girl!

Gobble Gobble

Here it is December 2nd and we're in the throws of the 2011 Christmas Season.  Ho Ho Ho!  As an early Christmaser, I began listening to Christmas music on November 1st and am beyond thrilled that the holidays are officially upon us.

I don't want to be accused of glossing over my second favorite holiday, Thanksgiving.  Always a bridesmaid never a bride, right Thanksgiving?!  Thanksgiving always signifies organized chaos in our home since we began hosting our 2 families in 2008.  Last year we were joined by Rob's mother & stepfather and my parents.  This year Rob's parents weren't able to make the trip so we were joined by his brother & sister-in-law as well as my parents.  Rob's stepbrother and girlfriend came up on Black Friday and spent the weekend with us.  See, Alaina's birthday is always celebrated on Thanksgiving weekend since her birthday is November 28th. 

Our menu was pretty standard and consisted of roasted turkey with gravy, sage stuffing, cranberry-orange relish garlic mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, dinner rolls, pumpkin bread, and pumpkin pie, cherry pie, apple pie, and mince meat pie for dessert.  Totally low calorie, of course.

Since Rob and I do much prepwork ahead of time, by the time Thanksgiving Day rolls around there is actually very little cooking left to do.  We pretty much just need to cook the turkey (which was done an hour ahead of time this year. whoops!) and warm up the sides.  I love doing it this way because it allows me to spend the morning watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade with Alaina instead of slaving away in the kitchen.  I remember Thanksgivings when I was a child and my mother NEVER made any dishes ahead of time she and my grandma would spend the entire day in the kitchen.  No thank you! 

It helps to be organized too.  Every year I make a checklist of all the chores that need to be done before company arrives.  Everything from errands that need to be run, to chores around the house, to cooking that needs to be done, to Thanksgiving-related chores like getting out the serveware and setting the table.  Checking off each item day by day helps me to feel like I'm getting my list accomplished which eases my stress. 

Now that Thanksgiving is over and the company has gone home, we can turn our attention toward Christmas. Now if it would just SNOW! :)

Monday, October 31, 2011


For the first time since the 1970's, the DC area got snow in October -- October 29th to be exact.  Frederick, MD only got about 1" but Chambersburg got about 4-5" and New England got whalloped with as much as 24" of heavy, wet snow.  Since the trees haven't lost their leaves yet, the heavy snow toppled trees and brought down power lines resulting in millions of people on the East Coast being left in the dark. 

Alaina didn't miss a beat and wanted to go outside to play in the snow first thing on Saturday morning:

Happy Halloween!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!  Trick-or-Treat starts in 2 hours and 20 minutes and Rob & I are placing bets whether or not Alaina will actually get dressed in her costume tonight to go Trick-or-Treating.  She was all about her Sleeping Beauty costume last week but when my parents came over last night to see the kids in their costumes, Alaina refused to wear either her Sleeping Beauty or Rapunzel costume.

Brady is dressing as a peanut for his first Halloween and is going to stay home to help Rob hand out candy while big sister and I make the rounds around our neighborhood.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Reflections on 9/11... 10 years later

Anyone who was over age 5 or 6 can remember exactly where they were the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001.  Like millions of people I was at work that morning.  In fact, I was working at the same place I do now (at the Institute for Defense Analyses in Alexandria, VA).  IDA is located literally 5 minutes south of the Pentagon along I-395.

The Washington Post was set as my homepage and I remember seeing a picture of World Trade Center on fire with the breaking headline that a plane had flown into the North Tower.  I remember saying to my co-worker, "What kind of idiot would fly into the World Trade Center?"  We both thought it was a private plane, a learjet maybe, that had mechanical problems and crashed.  This was at 8:46 AM.  At 9:03 AM, the time that Flight 175 flew into the South Tower, our faces turned white because we realized that we were under attack.  I immediately tried calling my parents in PA but the land lines were down. I ran into my boss's office and said, "We're under attack!"  He was unaware of what was happening.  Everyone rushed to our company's lobby and gathered around the lone TV at the front desk.

Then at 9:37 AM, Flight 77 flew into the Pentagon.  That's when this tragedy hit home.  We could hear the fighter jets' loud BOOM overhead after they were scrambled from Andrews AFB.  I made my way back to my desk and at that point, my mother (who was still completely oblivious to what was unfolding), IMs me over AOL Instant Messenger.  I thnk her IM said, "Good Morning, Honey."  I replied, "We're under attack!  Turn on your TV!"

IDA was evacuated as soon as the Pentagon was hit.  I lived 5 minutes from work at that time and I remember walking in my door just in time to watch coverage of the South Tower collapse at 9:59 AM.  I walked into my apartment and collapsed on my knees and cried.

I will never forget the horror and tragedy of that horrific day nor the surging feel of patriotism that followed. God Bless the USA!

Reflections on my first 35 years

I turned 35 on August 24th.  I haven't made a big deal about my birthday for years, but I must say that turning 35 really struck me.  Not in a bad way, just made me reflect a bit about my time on earth thus far.  I'm not trying to brag but I am feeling quite accomplished my for 35 years:
  • I have a loving husband and a seemingly strong marriage
  • I've been blessed with two beautiful, healthy children
  • I have a close-knit group of friends
  • I have found a church that I love and enjoy being involved with the various activities
  • I have loving, supportive parents
  • I have an awesome sister, brother-in-law, and niece & nephew
  • I have a job that I love and get paid well for doing it
  • I am overall a healthy person
  • I am a home owner (though not our dream house we are making due until the market improves)
  • And to top off my list, I can now run for President of the United States. :)
What is my wish list for my next 35 years?
  • Continued good health not only for myself but for my family and friends. 
  • That someone finds a cure for cancer and soon
  • A strong and happy marriage with Rob
  • Watching Alaina & Brady grow into responsible, intelligent, productive members of society
  • Watching Alaina & Brady graduate from college
  • Watching Alaina & Brady hopefully get married one day (clarification: not to each other)
  • Becoming a grandparent!
  • Becoming a better Christian
  • Selling our townhouse and moving into a single family home
  • Retirement!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Keys Game with Calvary UMC

On June 25th, Calvary UMC had its annual outing to the Frederick Keys game at Harry Grove Stadium. The game was sold out because it was Church Night, Scouts Night, and Fireworks Night. Rob and I didn't realize this so we drove separately (just in case one of us had to leave early to take Brady home to bed) and had a difficult time finding a place to park. Once we finally made it to our seats, we had a wonderful time.

Alaina was well-behaved and had a good time sitting with her friends Riley and Taylor while the parents watched the game. By the 3rd or 4th inning, though, the girls were getting bored so a bunch of us headed over to the carnival rides located near right field. Alaina had a fabulous time on the carousel (ok, I did too).

Rob left with Brady shortly thereafter and Alaina & I made our way out to my car during the 8th inning. I wanted us to already be at the car to watch the fireworks because traffic was going to be terrible if we stayed to watch the fireworks from within the stadium. After an hour of waiting at the car (no joke!), the fireworks finally started at 10:15 PM. Side Note: have you ever tried entertaining a 2-year-old for an hour when they were up way past their bedtime? It wasn't easy; she resorted to using my car as a jungle-gym. I will admit, though, that the fireworks were spectacular and Alaina had a wonderful time watching them (ok, I did too).

I'm also happy to report that the Keys played the Winston-Salem Dash that night and they won 6-2!

Instead of posting a bunch of pictures from the game, I'll just post the link to my Picasa web album:

Lipstix ReMix

While I was home on maternity leave I became a big fan of daytime TV. One morning while watching Rachel Ray, I saw a segment on a lipstick making tool called Lipstix ReMix. I had used some of my favorite lipsticks to the point that they were below the tube and I could no longer get to the color. Well, Lipstix ReMix allows you to scoop out the leftover lipstick from the tube, melt it down, and remold it into a new tube. Brilliant! I bought mine for $19.95 on Amazon

Here are the 5 tubes of lipstick I could no longer use

The Lipstix ReMix kit came with everything pictured here

I scooped out the old lipstick from the 5 tubes and placed it in the microwave safe container

After I melted down the old lipstick, I poured it into the new mold and placed in the freezer

After the lipstick was frozen, I took the mold apart. 
Here is the picture of my newly-formed lipstick
Ready to use!

Close up:

Pool Days

It's safe to say that our favorite summertime activity is going to the pool. I was literally raised at Guilford Pool (now the Ragged Edge Swim Club) in Chambersburg, PA. I'm not kidding. My parents have pictures of me playing at the pool when I was an infant (see the picture of me below from August 1977 when I was 1 year old) and I still go there everytime I'm in PA during the summer months.

Jen at Guilford Pool (August 1977):

Jen at Guilford Pool (Early 1980's): Alaina loves to jump off the side of the pool and even puts her whole head under water without holding her nose. The swimming lessons she took at the YMCA last Fall have really paid off. She's very comfortable in the water and likes to swim all by herself. In fact, if Rob or I go to hold her in the pool or help her to the side, she swats our hand away and sternly tells us, "By myself!" Now that she has a lifejacket she can go down the slide at Guilford Pool and also jumps off the side of the pool without any help. She's so independent!

Here are some of my favorite pictures from our pool days this summer:

The Fourth of July

Typically we spend the Fourth of July either in Maine or South Carolina with Rob's family, but since we didn't make the trip this year, we ended up spending the holiday in Chambersburg. We enjoyed an afternoon of swimming at Guilford Pool where Alaina discovered her new favorite thing -- going down the slide! She probably went down the slide about 50 times.

Later that evening, Cindy and her family came over to Mom & Dad's and we had a family picnic. My parents set up the same Wet Banana my sister and I played with back in the 1980's. Lauren, Andrew, and Alaina had a blast running and sliding down the wet mat. Good times!

I baked a sugar-free vanilla cake for dessert which I decorated to look like the American flag. It was decorated with sugar-free Cool Whip instead of icing but I have to say that it was quite tasty. It reminded me strawberry shortcake. After dinner all of us went into Gary & Jan Aughinbaugh's house on Prairie Drive to watch the fireworks at Memorial Park. It was a very fun day and I think everyone had a good time.

Litte Miss Independence:
My US flag cake:
Wet Banana!
Andrew & Alaina at the fireworks:

Mother's Day & Father's Day

Time keeps getting away from me (story of my life) so here it is mid-July and I'm just now blogging about events that occurred in May and June. Rob and I had a wonderful Mother's Day and Father's Day (respectively) this year. We spent both Mother's Day and Father's Day mornings at church and then drove up to Chambersburg following Sunday School to see my folks.

On Mother's Day, Rob gave me a delicious Edible Arrangment and then he and the children gave me a beautiful Mother's pendant and marigold. The sterling silver pendant contains Alaina's & Brady's birthstones and I absolutely adore it:

On Father's Day, the children gave Rob a complete set of Washington Nationals baseball cards to start his Nats collection. His plan is to buy the team set each year hereafter and store them in a protective binder for posterity. I chose to give Rob a more practical gift for Father's Day -- a bed fan from Sharper Image. Rob was always getting hot during the night and would either sleep with his legs sticking out of the covers or he would sleep completely on top of the covers. This bed fan blows a continues a flow of cool air between the sheets and has absolutely worked wonders with Rob. He has now been enjoying a comfortable night's sleep and would probably be sleeping through the night if Brady would let him. Here is Rob with the kiddos on Father's Day:

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Happy Anniversary to my parents

Today marks my parents' 43rd Wedding Anniversary. They were married on Saturday, June 16, 1968 at 2:00 PM in Chambersburg, PA. Father's Day Weekend. They were married following a 4-year engagement so technically they've been together 47 years.

I have a hard time imaging what it must be like being married to the same person for 43 years. I'm in awe of their commitment to each other and to their family. Times haven't always been easy for them but they've persevered ad never walked away from each other. I pray that Rob & I will be celebrating our 43rd Anniversary in 2048. I should be 72 by then. No problem! :)

Today I've bee wondering about the keys to a happy marriage. Several years ago when I was a newlywed, I remember asking my father what the secret was to a long and happy marriage. He said knowing when to walk away. What great advice!

Here's to continuing your long and happy life together. We love you

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Pee Pee in the Potty

Alaina has been doing VERY well at using the potty like a big girl. Although she had been using her princess potty off and on for the past several months, we began potty training her in earnest in April. I'm proud to say she's doing very well at pee peeing in the potty at least 3 times a day. Still no poo poo yet but we're holding out hope that she'll achieve that milestone very soon.

When she's 13 I'm sure she'll be so mad at me for posting this picture but for now, I just think it's darn cute:

Easter 2011

Here it is June 8th and I'm just now blogging about Easter. Better late than never!

We had a very busy Easter this year. Since Easter Sunday was April 24th, our church held its annual Easter Egg Hunt on April 23rd. The children got to make Easter-themed crafts, they were ready a story by Miss Bunny, and then they got to participate in the Easter Egg Hunt. Due to inclement weather, the hunt was held indoors at the church instead of outside at Monocacy Park but it was still lots of fun. Alaina had a ball and really got into looking for the Easter Eggs:

Following the church's Easter Egg Hunt, we drove up to Chambersburg to attend our family's Easter dinner. We then spent the night so that we could attend church with my family on Sunday morning. The Easter Bunny brought Alaina LOTS of candy and even a Scooby Doo DVD and an Easter Singa-ma-Jig.

Brady's 1st Easter:

After church, everyone came over to Mom & Dad's for another Easter Egg Hunt: