Friday, January 29, 2010



the color purple,

punk/rock/pop/country music,

liquid eyeliner,

talking and texting on her phone,


and her collection of the vintage pearl custom necklaces.

But she also loves doing her little sisters' hair...


goofin' around with them...

and walking them to the bus stop...


and, as you can see,

she also loves taking pictures of every day moments
and creating something special with them.

Like the work of art above
that she surprised me with via text.

gianna marie.


and a half.


I love you.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

VIP invites

So, when I asked you all to visit Shaye's blog and leave a comment, a lot of you did and she was thrilled - so thanks!  Gina left a comment on her 8th birthday post suggesting VIP lanyards for the  rock star theme that Shaye was contemplating.   I read the comment and a light bulb went off!  I rushed out to WalMart and though I couldn't find lanyards, I did find ID badge holders and badge holder clips.  (less than $5 for both!)  A pack of neon card stock and a few minutes on the computer and the invites were done...

{photo edited to hide TMI}

I bought some bubble wrap mailers and we are mailing them out next week.   We liked how they came out so much that we are now planning to make a SECURITY badge for Brielle, who is going to "work" the door, a STAFF one for Gianna, and a PRESS one for me- the MAMArazzi.  Fun! 

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

did you ever get the urge to do this...

saturday  night

sunday  night

monday morning

Saturday, January 23, 2010

true unschooling doesn't end

when you stop "home"schooling.

I woke up Thursday morning to this...

Seems Gianna left her (10th grade) History book in the guest room the night before

and the littles were reading it and making "fact sheets":

Mackenna copied a caption that talked of Amherst College freshmen from Massachusetts hoeing a field somewhere...  and look at her detailed illustration! 

Giving merit to both the unschooling theory

Mornings like this make me really miss homeschooling.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Magic Tree House : Afternoon on the Amazon

activities and scenery for dramatic play

The littles and I spent Wednesday night filling a box with large leaves, vines, and flowers, that we made from materials we had around the house, to send in to Mackenna's class for their next round of dramatic play- centered around the book Afternoon on the Amazon.

I had also found numerous related activities,  for the kids to do at center time, in the book Crafts for Kids Who Are WILD About Rainforests - all using supplies you have lying around your house. Unless, unlike like us, you don't have empty toilet paper tubes, construction paper, tissue paper, yarn, glue and scissors lying around your house- then you'll have to buy a few things.

You may also want to pick up a pink sock (Peanut is found sleeping in one in this story) and if you are REAL ambitious- figure out a way to make a canoe for two.  I'd probably use just an empty box at home, but I didn't have 5 to send in to school. 

Thursday, January 21, 2010

step one to becoming a gift wrapping guru...

realize that clothespins aren't just for laundry anymore,

and order some custom clippies of your own...

I got mine from...

                                  vintage + handmade

for just $2.50!

And she included a happy surprise...

how cool are those?!!


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

wordless wednesday: breakfast

Monday, January 18, 2010

eight. or less. because I'm a simple gal.

I was tagged last week by VodkaLogic to answer the following questions.  And though sometimes I fear that this blog becomes too much about me and less about our family life, I'm throwing caution to the wind and doing it...

8  6 TV shows I watch

The Good Wife
The Big Bang Theory
Big Love
Nurse Jackie
Project Runway

oh wait,

I watch Man V Food with John and the kids!

8  6 favorite places to eat and drink

Home!  Seriously, my husband's cooking ROCKS!!  I've mentioned it before.

Papa Gino's
Ciao Bella
Regatta Deli
99 Restaurant and Pub {pub 99 to us locals}

Are you laughing?  My husband groans in frustration.  I have extremely simple taste when it comes to food- give me a tasty pasta dish or a really good grinder any day. Or in the case of pub 99- some of the most addicting buffalo wings ever made!  Three months ago we started going out to dinner with our neighbors once a month and they(the other couple and my hubs) all love "good" food.  And I go, because I like wearing something besides sweats and I like everyone's company, but I also finding myself scouring the menus at these nice restaurants- looking just a simple pasta or chicken dish.

8  5 things I am looking forward to

In chronological order:

Valentine's Day


Finding a job with "mother's hours". 

Now I know you are laughing. Because that's what even the local grocery market did when I applied last summer.  I understand that it will take a miraculous jump in our economy for those to even exist any more, and I'm just thankful we don't need me to work.

Our "girls only" trip to NYC.  My sister has signed on to accompany me and the girls on this adventure.

Summer vacation.   I love having the girls all home.

8 things that happened yesterday*

*Remember, I typed this last week.

Oh boy, here's where it's all about the family.

1)I was happily bloghopping and eating a light lunch of tomato soap and buttered Saltine crackers(because I'm sick) when 2)the phone rang.  It was Brielle calling from the nurse's office. She didn't feel good. I asked her if she could wait the 3 hours of school out. She said no.  I told her I would be there as soon as I was done with my soup. 3)Then I got a text from Gianna telling me she got an 80 on her Chemistry test. Um, great. But aren't you NOT supposed to use your phones in school? 4)I finish my lunch and run out the door.  all the way to the school my phone is beeping as it gets incoming texts. 5) I pull up to the school, where I can finally safely read my texts, and there are 6 from Brielle (it's a fifteen minute ride) asking where I was and letting me know she was in the nurse's office. Um, great. But aren't you NOT supposed to use your phones in school?! 6) So then I text Gianna, letting her know I am getting Brielle so she shouldn't worry when the bus pulls away without her, and she's writes "Mom, I'm in school, I can't get texts from you."  Although I think the truth is a little closer to: "Mom, I'm in school, I can't get texts from you." 7)  I then have to dismiss the littles for a previously scheduled GI doctor's appt. for Shaye. 8) Where I learn that I will have to collect stool samples from her this upcoming week and am given very graphic instructions on how to accomplish this.

Yup, those are the kinds of days you are missing when I post these random blog games instead.

8 things I love about winter

the snow

the quiet

DD Vanilla Chais

when my girls play outdoors for hours,

coming in with their cheeks all rosy

My husband's boiled dinners

and roasts

and crock pot meals!

8 things on my wish list

a pool for our backyard.  I'm not picky, I'll take an above ground one.

a bigger deck for off the back of our house. To fit more friends and family at once!

a firepit for our backyard.  A stone circular one with a built in patio and encircling stone wall seating.

a canopy for our backyard.  For shade and protection from the elements.

built in cube shelving for our living room

a new desk for our computer/guest room.

a crafty set up to add the: /craft/wrap to our current laundry/mud room.

a square tablecloth for our table. Those things are ridiculously hard to find for a reasonable price!

8 things I am passionate about

childhood education

reading to/with/in front of your kids


learning and talking and doing more about anxiety, depression, post partum and prenatal depression

raising strong, sassy, creative, and caring ladies


living the life I want and loving the life I have!

8 words I use often

brace yourselves...


I know, I can hardly believe I admitted it on here, but I am nothing if not honest about my life.  I blame it on my Massachussetts-Italian upbringing.  I think it was Matt Damon who tried to explain on a talk show how where we come from F*CK is the most versatile word in the English language.  It's a verb, noun, adjective, adverb, pronoun (that F*CKER), exclamation, and explanation.  Ever see Good Will Hunting?  Mystic River?  Gone, Baby, Gone?  Those are my peeps.  You can take the girl out of the city (I was born and raised
in Worcester, MA and lived there until I was 29), but you can't take the city out of the girl.  My husband hates it.


where are my keys?






*Much to my now 15 yo's dismay! ;)

8 things I have learned from the past

Aqua and pink eyeshow is not a good look for me.  No matter what I thought back then.

Bigger is not better... when it comes to hair, shoulders, and heels.

Hold on to sixteen as long as you can, changes come around real soon... make us women and men.

Education is essential.

Travel and experiencing new things is important.

Depression and anxiety is genetic- know your family's history. Especially if you are pregnant!

You have not experienced everything life has to offer when you are nineteen.  Keep your options open and yourself either celibate or protected!

Always, and I mean every. single. time. you. get. into. a. car, wear your seatbelt!

8 things I want/need

ALL I NEED necklace  $23 ...   the Rusted chain

But when it's time for a new vehicle, those new Chevy Traverses are sexy! I mean as sexy as a vehicle that seats as many as I need it to seat can be.  ;)

Are you still here ?!??

Gawd, I love ya!


Sunday, January 17, 2010

my favorite...


What's with my girls these days?

Shaye, my 7 yo,  asked for my help creating herself a new blog header and in the process changed the name of her blog. To...

She loves to blog and would be thrilled to bits if any of you stopped by and left her a comment :)

Friday, January 15, 2010

decluttering and destressing: what does that LOOK like exactly?

I have known for a long time that "clutter" bothers me.  Bother is an extreme understatement.  As long as I have lived "on my own" (not with my parents), I have been an avid whatever-the-opposite-of-hoarder is.  So it comes as no surprise to anyone that knows me that the rooms in our home still look like the "afters" in these posts -even though we have lived here for 7 months.  I long to decorate.  I have great ideas and an eye for finding gorgeous things.  But when it comes to making or buying "stuff" and bringing it into our home,  I. just. can't. do. it.  

Sounds clinical, I know and I am hoping that now, with five weeks of Celexa in my system, I can let go and work through this and make this house a  home.  A creatively decorated to reflect our personality home.  All without just adding clutter.  I think that's called decorating with purpose or authentic decorating/living... I'm sure there's a name for it. 

Which brings me to what I really need help with.  Destressing.

Before Celexa, I was of the  eat tons of chocolate daily to calm myself down  school of thinking.   Which, now that I am a bit more focused, I can clearly see that in the long term, this probably hurt more than it helped.  (Um, ya think?!?  There I said it, you don't have to.) 

No, I am trying to learn new "destressing techniques"*.  Please don't say meditate, because I'm not sure what that looks like.  And personally, I hate bathtubs and have an aversion to sitting in them( I know- lots of issues, lots of issues.) - so don't suggest a nice, hot bubble bath with surrounded by lit candles, even though in theory they sound lovely, even to me.  And I don't like wine at all, and barely drank anything else before being on meds- I'd rather not kick it up a notch now- so tying one one or even sipping a glass of wine is out. 

Here's what I've got so far...

Listen to my iPod.  Even if I'm not "going to the gym", which was the reason I asked for it in the first place, which is laughable because I don't even belong to a gym.  Which is a whole other story.  I like music. Lyrics. And singing out loud makes me happy.

Read.   Books, blog posts, the newspaper- whatever.  I had gotten too antsy and unfocused...  I had lost the ability to read.  I've read 3 books already in the last month. Reading, I missed you!

Write.   In case you haven't noticed, I'm back to posting more frequently on my blogs, I had lost the focus for even this.   Now, I can't stop the ideas- there are little scraps of paper all over the house with snippets of posts jotted down on them. 

Create.   While, I recognize I still can't really be crafty and make something for the house, yet, I am trying to find other outlets.  Being creative with projects for my daughters' classrooms has helped- along continuing to plan family gatherings and birthday parties  is something I can manage right now.  It's all about expectations, right?

Do you have any suggestions?

*I have explained, in the comments section,
how I see God's fingerprints on this healing time of my life. 
Visit Fingerprint Fridays to read others' stories. 

Thursday, January 14, 2010

thoughtful thursday

random thoughts that have crossed my mind in the last twenty four hours...

It really is a waste of time to shave your legs when you have the goose bumps. Later, when you warm up, you have hairy legs again.

How do you defrost a frozen turkey and how long does that take?!??  We need to cook it Saturday.  And by we, you all know that I mean John.  ;)

She likes it. She really likes it. (December's lucky follower's post about her Etsy goodness.)  :)

Heyyyy, my two blogs' post counts are at are 511 and 115.  That was neat while it lasted, which wasn't long-  thanks to the ability to schedule posts.

Lately there is a lot of blog talk about "destressing and decluttering", but what does that look like?  Hmm... maybe I'll write a post about that.   Done.  It publishes tomorrow.

WOW.  The top five google searches directed to one thing. {the blog of things you'll want.  i do.} yesterday were for designer cupcake toppers, designer cupcake liners, cupcake topper and cupcake liner resource, cupcake topper and cupcake liner wholesale, and how to update your front door.  Followed closely by custom family silhouettes and heartsAw, that's sweet. 

But what happened to all of the resolutions to eat healthy and get fit people?!??  Hey, I'm not judging- I loveeeee cupcakes!   I mean, did you not see what I wrote in the comment section of yesterday's post?

I don't think this type of post is what thoughtful thursday was created for.

Maybe I should ammend the post title to Thought full Thursday.  OR Full of thoughts Thursday.  Or just plain Full of It. 


What's on your mind today?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Not My Daughter

A few years back, my state was all abuzz with the news that there was a number of pregnant girls at ONE high school and rumors of a pact swirled.  As a mother of four girls, this was a horrifying thought, but one I quickly pushed from my mind with a quick- not my daughter(s).  You see, I miscarried my first pregnancy on my 20th birthday.  And delivered my oldest just 9 weeks before my 21st. And though I have always been quick to tell my girls I wouldn't change having them for anything in the world, that if I could grown up, been more educated, traveled more, got married, bought a house- been stable- before  having them, I would totally go back and do it all again... that way.  I emphasis that everything has it's time in life and my girls have been well educated about all of their options and my feelings about them being intimate.  That's why I had to buy this book...

The very day it came out.

I finished reading it two days ago and wow.   I don't know where to start.  It was horrifying and wonderful all in one. And the book contained more relationships than you could hope for... that of the mothers and teenage girls.  The teenage girls' friendship, the mothers' friendship, the mothers' and fathers' relationships- both generations, and the mothers' relationships with their parents.  And of course, everyone's place in the community and how the communities- school, business, town - react to and deal with the news.  This story was so well told, that I felt myself alternately wanting to shake and hug the teenage girls. And don't even get me started on the adults in the book.  As if all of that doesn't make the story rich enough, there is a whole other layer to the book- knitting.  I don't even knit and instead of finding myself aggravated by the knitting and hand dyed wool references and storyline, I was interested and found it added even more to an already awesome (alarming, astonishing, awe-inspiring, awful, beautiful, daunting, dreadful, frantic, frightening, horrible, horrifying, imposing, mind-blowing, moving, overwhelming, shocking, stunning, stupefying, terrible, terrifying, wonderful) human story. 

Have you read it?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

look who's NOT procrastinating today!


I know, shocking.

 I just ordered these cool cupcake toppers...

 (to be personalized with Shaye's name and age to be- 8!)

And her birthday isn't until March 1st.

Who's rockin' now?!


(see a theme here?)

Guess who was passed two blog awards yesterday?

Come on, aren't you paying attention?


One for being positive and creative and supportive with on my  blog.  And one that really is just a fun meme, and I'm all in for those,  so I am going to play along...

 10  6 things that are making me happy today

(because that's all I can think of, and it really is all about me today, isn't it?)

  1.  the Subway veggie delight grinder I had for lunch. Yum!

  2. that Mackenna's ear looks to be on the mend, and hopefully this will be the last course of antibiotics needed. Poor thing!

  3. today's purchase was the second Etsy purchase I made this month.  Yeah handmade!

  4. my sister's texts.  It's much easier to fit three texts into her lunch break(she works at a very busy medical practice) then a whole phone call, so we talk almost daily now!

  5. the fact that MoonNStarMommy became my 100th follower.  The mommy of four boys, three of whom have special needs, and a loving wife- her blogs are super inspirational (and informative) reads.

  6. that Tammy thought of me when passing her awards  on yesterday .  Thanks Tammy, whose blog motto is "When an honest opinion matters...", you're pretty fabulous yourself! In fact, let's all go give her some comment love...

Enough about me...

What's making you happy today?

Monday, January 11, 2010


I have great neighbors.  The kind of neighbors John and I dreamed about when house hunting.  Funny, smart, kind and  they have a child near ours in age.  They have done amazing things for us, like the Mrs. planting the flowers I had mentioned I wanted to get for our front yard, in our front yard while we were out one day!  Letting us borrow their space heaters when we had no heat.  And we've had good times too... many a summer BBQ, pool party, and holiday have  already been spent with this family.  So when the Mr. mentioned he had a friend who had wrote, and published,  not just one children's book, but a series of six, I had to have a look!  And since I'm all about supporting one another and I know you all are too, I had to share my thoughts about the first book here.

This book is written in rhyme, which is always fun, and has great illustrations.  As a side note, the illustrator - Lisa Adams -  is the same artist who created the Baby Gap teddy bear. Fun fact.  Anyways, the story has a great moral- nothing of value in life is free, you have to work hard.  But my favorite thing about the book is that it doesn't dumb the text down.   CJ Connolly uses words like ponder, humongous, perplexing and frazzled,  and phrases like  "bending your ear" instead of "talking to you".    I am a huge fan of books that introduce new words and phrases to my children.  And while my girls thought the two main characters were cute, I'm sure they would be even more relatable if you have boys- and there is a whole family of fleas that are introduced within the course of the series.  Anyone who can make fleas interesting, entertaining and educational characters has my support! 

You can read more about the series and purchase the book HERE.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

everyone that knows me knows that...

I love the smell of a new box of Crayola crayons.

This (as much as I might like it to be) is not my own private stash.

You might also know...

that I love to surprise and help out my daughters' teachers,

who spend so much much of their already way-to-small paychecks,

on things for the children in their classes.

The same children that they give their hearts and energy to on a daily basis.

So these crayons, along with 20 new expo white board markers,

are to replenish the project boxes that one teacher provided for her class at beginning of the year.  Because it breaks my Crayola loving heart to see children trying to be creative and "do their best" with a 1/2 inch nub of a crayon. 

And something you don't know, well, except for Beki, is that I like to play around on the computer, feeding my newly developed obsession of creating blog headers like mine and like this one.  For those of you who don't know Beki, she is the artist formerly known as PameringBeki, and as part of moving towards her 2010 goal of growing her business, changed the name of her Etsy shop to...

and wanted a new blog look, one that captured the essence of her, her life, and her business.  {I also created the rusted chain banner above} what d'ya think ?!!

It was so fun
that I'm hoping some of you
might want me to create a new look for your blog. 

Saturday, January 9, 2010

i like...

the fact that $5 worth of modeling clay will keep the littles engaged and busy for hours today. 

And that my ex-husband decided to spend the day with the older girls, driving them all over the state to cool malls, even though it wasn't "his" weekend.

And that John is working an extra day today and then has plans to go get a  (much needed and well deserved!) massage.

Giving me plenty of time to clean  cook  blog hop!

What are your plans today?


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

wordless wednesday: presents! 2009

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Magic Tree House: Night of the Ninjas
props and scenery for dramatic play*

I've mentioned before that my youngest's Kindergarten class is doing unit studies based on the books in The Magic Treehouse series.  Being the first year they are trying this curriculum, the teachers have asked for help with ideas and supplies for projects, activities, and their dramatic play stations.  The class first spends a week learning facts about the area/time/events that will be featured in the upcoming book.  Then over the next two school weeks, they read one chapter aloud each day and then break in to five small groups to act out the chapter that was just read to them.  Then they are allowed free "play" time in which they are allowed to still use the themed props and scenery if they'd like.  Those of you familiar with the series can imagine how easy and fun it has been to come up with ideas for subjects like Knights, Egypt and Mummies, and Pirates.  Next week they will be starting Night of the Ninjas.  Myself, a few other parents, and one of the teachers all tried googling ninjas and came up with nothing.  Well, except for about a hundred links on how to make a ninja costume and a whole bunch of  links to TMNT related items and places.  Not helpful.  So, I read the book and this is what I've come up with so far...

First off, Jack and Annie find an unfinished note in the tree house... how mysterious!  So I photo copied the page, enlarged just the two lines of the "note" and printed it out five times.  First prop, done.

Next, Japan (where the treehouse brings them) is described as having mountains in view (easily drawn and cut out using posterboard)  and, everywhere they look,  trees with white flowers.   Enter a project the class can do themselves next week...

Simply take some white (hopefully recycled) tissue paper, add a dab of glue, and stick to some brown paper that has been cut out to look like branches.  Hang up.

In the story, Jack and Annie know the samurai warriors are nearby because they can see their torches in the night.  Empty wrapping paper tubes (these projects being needed  right after Christmas worked out well!), filled at one end with construction paper flames made great torches.

I haven't completed the rest of my ideas yet, but here's a sneak peek...

Five trash bags (filled with all of the discarded wrappings and boxes  from presents!) wait in my garage to be spray painted with "stone" spray paint, to make the boulder that Jack and Annie "become" (in the way of the ninjas)  when hiding from the Samurai.  One for each group.

I also need to pick up some fabric

Some I will cut into strips so the kids can weave five mats(again, one for each group) next week.  The ninja master sits on a mat in a cave during meetings.

Also, some larger strips of black material can be used to fashion ninja head wraps for the kids.

Lastly,  I would like to pick up five mice (I'm thinking maybe a pet store, the cat toy aisle.).  "Peanut" is almost a main character in this book.

Dollar Store reading glasses with the lenses popped out would make great glasses for "Jack".

And small notebooks and pencils for when "Jack" writes down his knowledge of all things ninja.

and moonstones Just one for each group...

The teacher already has swords on hand from earlier stories; The ninjas had one tied to their backs, and the samurai warriors carried two.

Still thinking on..

creative and inexpensive ways to:

create a river for each center.  I was thinking maybe just some water scrapbook paper-  cutting swervy edges into them and laminating them, then just taping them to the floor, end to end.

Also, the samurai warriors are described as wearing bamboo shields on their chests and backs.   I was thinking of two bamboo placemats tied to together with rope (to sling the piece over the kids shoulders), leaving one in front and the other in back.  However, that could get pricey.  I have to look around...

*You know, I was just thinking,
this would make a great idea for a themed birthday party too!

In a related note: 

How cute are these ninja peg dolls...

set of three... $25

get them here.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

This is so NOT like the blizzard of '78

Despite all of the media hype and attention given to this weekend's "storm" over the previous few days...

We are not exactly snowed in,

like we expected ourselves to be.

However, we have still bunkered down,

playing on the Wii for hours...

and yet,

 I still can't manage to finish higher than 12th in MarioKart,

but at least now I'm finishing.

John has a Kielbasa dinner cooking in the crockpot

and we are snacking on mini quiche.

I couldn't ask for a better Saturday.