Every day life and occasional adventures of Emily Snow and Family

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I Stumbled Upon an Old Picture...

Three days before Christmas. Oh boy. So much to do. A little more wrapping. A big grocery shopping trip. Cooking, baking, cleaning. Finishing up the Christmas cards. If only I didn't have to sleep over the next three days I think I would be all right. This morning, I have been going through old, saved emails and Facebook messages trying to dig up "new addresses" that I never managed to copy into my address book. What a tedious process!I came across this old picture of Toby that was taken by a friend when he was about 10 months old.

Also related to Toby, we are here in my bedroom as I am posting this. He just said to me, "Mom, I am scared of that sound!" "What sound?" I asked (not noticing any sound). "That sound!" I listened carefully, Tailer, our cat, is sleeping at the foot of the bed and she is snoring. I assured Toby he had nothing to be afraid of and pointed out that it was merely Tailer. And all is well again!

Until later,


Monday, December 13, 2010

It's Beginning to Look Like Christmas!

This December has been a busy one, it seems like they always are. This year, because we aren't going to Utah, I decided NOT to put my Christmas tree up before Thanksgiving. I have to say that was a mistake for me. Thanksgiving came and went, then a week went by and it was the weekend again, and I was sick & down in bed the next weekend. Finally, James got the Christmas decorations out of our storage unit and they basically sat in our living room for another week, the kids & I got the tree out and half-decorated it Tuesday night and then that was about all. So another weekend rolled around, and it was already the 11th of December. At this point, I was very tempted to finish the tree and call it good for the year. But, I couldn't. I start hauling the stuff out of the boxes. Saturday night, I stayed up until the wee hours and our house was transformed! Sad to say, moving was not easy on my Christmas decorations. Let's just say that next year I am going to be on the lookout for quite a few new Christmas decorations to replace the ones that were demolished while traveling on a big ship!

I still haven't made it outside to put up the Christmas lights, it has turned bitter cold, and I can't bring myself to go out in it. I tried to get James to do it yesterday, but it was raining all day long, so he couldn't be talked into it.

This week, I am taking the kids to visit Santa at the mall. They are so excited. This is a fun year at our house for Christmas. It might be the last magical year for Thomas. But, I hope he has at least one more year as a "believer".

James & I have been busy planning our Ward Christmas party (church Christmas party) this year. We are planning on at least 300 people on Saturday. We have planned to have a full Cajun Christmas dinner and a nice Christ-centered program. It has been a little ironic to be asked to do something like this, since neither of us particularly enjoys parties nor crowds...but we are getting the job done. But we won't be saddened in the least if someone else "gets the opportunity" next year, either. It is satisfying, at this point, to see all the planning and hard work start to come together...but I am excited for it to be over and to not have to worry about it any longer!

Until later,


Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Movie Break

It seems that this December is the same as most all Decembers...way too busy. Despite our never-ending lists of things-to-do, we decided we were going to hit the brakes for a couple of hours today and take our kids to see a movie. We took them to see Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Was it the best movie of all time? No. But it was a warm, touching movie with a good message.

Until later,


Monday, November 29, 2010

Dear Santa

My friend, Michelle W, emailed this to me recently. So in honor of kicking off the Christmas season (I can't believe I don't have my tree up yet--but that's what happens when you rent a storage unit and it's no longer convenient to start hauling out the Christmas decorations whenever you feel like it!) here it is:

Dear Santa,

I've been a good mom all year. I've fed, cleaned and cuddled my children on demand, visited their doctor's office more than my own doctor's, and sold sixty-two cases of candy bars to raise money to plant a shade tree on the school playground.

I was hoping you could spread my list out over several Christmas', since had to write this letter with my son's red crayon, on the back of a receipt, in the laundry room between cycles, and who knows when I'll find anymore free time in the next 18 years.

Here are my Christmas wishes:

I'd like a pair of legs that don't ache (in any color, except purple, which I already have) and arms that don't hurt or flap in the breeze; but are strong enough to pull my screaming child out of the candy aisle in the grocery store.

I'd also like a waist, since I lost mine somewhere in the seventh month of my last pregnancy.

If you're hauling big ticket items this year, I'd like fingerprint resistant windows and a radio that only plays adult music; a television that doesn't broadcast any programs containing talking animals; and a refrigerator with a secret compartment behind the crisper where I can hide to talk on the phone.

On the practical side, I could use a talking doll that says, "Yes, Mommy" to boost my parental confidence, along with two kids who don't fight and three pairs of jeans that will zip all the way up without the use of power tools.

I could also use a recording of Tibetan monks chanting "Don't eat in the living room" and "Take your hands off your brother", because my voice seems to be just out of my children's hearing range and can only be heard by the dog.

If it's too late to find any of these products, I'd settle for enough time to brush my teeth and comb my hair in the same morning, or the luxury of eating food warmer than room temperature without it being served in a Styrofoam container.

If you don't mind, I could also use a few Christmas miracles to brighten the holiday season. Would it be too much trouble to declare ketchup a vegetable? It will clear my conscience immensely.

It would be helpful if you could coerce my children to help around the house without demanding payment as if they were the bosses of an organized crime family.

Well, Santa, the buzzer on the dryer is ringing and my son saw my feet under the laundry room door. I think he wants his crayon back.

Have a safe trip and remember to leave your wet boots by the door and come in to dry off so you don't catch cold.

Help yourself to cookies on the table but don't eat too many or leave crumbs on the carpet.

Yours Always,


P.S. One more thing ...you can cancel all my requests if you can keep my children young enough to believe in Santa.

Until later,


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Crazy Hair Day (at school)

October 27, 2010

Until later,


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tantrum at Target

Well, I just got home from a thoroughly humiliating experience at Target...

Let me begin by saying...I knew better, I had a long list (i.e. a FULL cart) to knock out and I went AFTER I picked Toby up from preschool today. He no longer takes regular naps, but he still gets very cranky at this time of day.

First we stopped to get the "Popcorn Combo", unfortunately, they were out of BOTH Diet Coke and popcorn (what the heck?!), looking back, we should have just left and got the necessities at the grocery store, but, alas, we did not. Toby still got some Hawaiin Punch and a pretzel...but still...within the first two minutes our Target trip was already going downhill.

I knocked out most of the list and then added some because so many of the canned goods were on sale. Despite one small meltdown over which type of fruit snacks we were going to take home, all was still going well. I only had three items that I needed to look for over in the toddler department. Which, unfortunately, I went by the toys to get there (foolish, foolish!). That's where it all fell apart quickly.

Toby saw a Buzz Light Year. Toby declared that he wanted Buzz Light Year. I told him no and suggested that he put it on his Christmas list. That did not go over well at all. Unfortunately, Toby has picked up this screaming habit (high-pitched shrill is more like it) when he isn't getting his way which is awful and I hope he grows out of it soon.

So it was going something like this:


Me: "No, Toby, not today, please stop screaming."

Toby: "But I want a TOY!"

Me: "Toby, I am not buying you a toy when you act like this, now please stop, you are being too loud."


Me: "Toby, you are not getting anything today."

At this point, I knew it was time to leave and as luck would have it, I had everything on my list now in the cart. We were on our way out. That's when this older lady (I would guess around 75-80 years old, who was not more than six feet away from me says:


Well, I don't know if she thought that I wouldn't know where that comment came from or if I would take her cue and just slap him across the face.. or if I would lower my head and submissively walk away...but that's not what happened next.

I looked right at her, right in her eyes, and raised my voice just a bit, and I said,

"No, maam, I will NOT slap my child!

Old hag: "Well!" (you can imagine that look of shock and disbelief that a "younger generation" is not respecting her elders).

Me: Well, and you have a nice day, maam." And she went running to her husband where they started mumbling, I don't know what, and it's probably for the best.

(Now let me explain, I am not actually against spanking. I do spank, maybe not daily but at least weekly. But I don't think this was the answer here. The facts were that he was tired, he saw something that he wanted, he wasn't getting it, so he acted out. And it was time to leave the store. It was embarrassing as it was. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, I just think it's rude to be a complete stranger in a store and think that you have the right to say it, or think that you can say it without any ramifications)

So for the next 60 seconds Toby was quiet. I think he knew something out-of-the-ordinary had just happened. But then his reality set in that we were headed to the check out stand and he wasn't getting Buzz, a toy, a candy...nothing...so he started screaming again. I started looking for a Target associate that I can tell I am leaving my full cart here but please don't put it all away and that I will come back in when he is settled down. Only then I realized that my purse and my keys are in the bottom of the cart which consists of 50% canned goods. I am stuck in Target, at 1:30 PM, with a screaming child and I just want to die! Not only that, I am afraid Old Hag and her husband are going to come around the corner and yell at me again! I see a checkout aisle that has no line. I check to see if it is the Express line, it is not. I figure I'll just get in line with him screaming. I've done this 100 times, this is not new, you know, it happens in parenthood.

He is screaming. I start unloading my cart. I realize just how full the cart is. He is still screaming. I have adrenaline still pumping from my little scene with the Old Hag, and I still want to die because he is SCREAMING. And he's not two anymore, he's almost four, I know how bad this looks and sounds! Believe me, I wanted out of Target! I can't hold it together any longer, a tear trickles down my face and another and another.... Awesome. Just awesome. He has broke me and now I am going to embarass myself. I have two moms come up to me and briefly tell me that this store if full of moms and that they've all been there. I know, I know, so have I. But it all hit me the wrong way and all I can do now is cry and continue to unload the bloody never-ending cart! Toby and I we were quite the scene today. The early-twenties cashier was in shock, I think.

We are home now. Home and what about Toby? Well he's sound asleep of course!

Until later,


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Thomas Turns Eight!


Happy Birthday to our guy, Thomas! Eight years old, already?

This year, Thomas' birthday fell on a Sunday. Sunday is our "day of rest", we don't do much on Sundays. But, we he opened presents in the morning where he got "lots of clothes" and "only some toys". We went to church where we had our annual Primary (children's) program. Thomas nailed his part. We came home and had Thomas' dinner of choice which was dinosaur chicken nuggets and tater tots. Later on that evening, we had the Lund family over for cake and ice cream. We like to keep things very simple. Thomas also received many thoughtful phone calls and cards in the mail.

But, actually, Thomas' birthday was kind of a four-day celebration:

◆ Friday, I took in donuts for his class. They don't allow for "parties" but they will serve a special treat during lunch time. The kids must have made Thomas feel special all day long, with birthday wishes and birthday privileges, he was beaming when he came home.

◆ Saturday, we took him to Toys R Us to pick out a set of Legos of his choice and also a new bike.

◆ And, finally, on Monday, we went out to dinner, as a family, for one last celebration. We went to Cracker Barrel, where Thomas selected pancakes.

Until later,


Friday, November 12, 2010

We Have Been Busy...

Over the past few weeks, we have had two birthdays, Halloween, a visit from my parents, and a baptism. Plus all the normal stuff that I can never seem to get on top of...check back after the weekend, hopefully I can get some new posts up.

Until later,


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Flying Potatoes

This week, we were under a tornado watch one night. Toby must have overheard us talking about it/but heard it wrong, because we noticed he was slightly concerned about the "Flying Potato" watch. Too funny!

Until later,


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Promotions are a Good Thing...

Long overdue (in our opinion anyhow) and much deserved. James received word Friday afternoon that he has finally been promoted. It feels a little weird posting about it, but I posted about his promotion frustration a couple of years ago and so my followers know how disgruntled James (and myself) were over about not being able to get promoted overseas because his "work overseas was not traditional work for the next increase".

Of course, the extra money will be nice, but it is the acknowledgment and recognition that come along with this promotion that I think are just as important/if not more important than the increase in the pay check.

Good job James!

Until later,


Friday, October 22, 2010

According to Toby

While out-n-about with Toby this morning, I asked him, "What will I do when you grow up, Toby?" his reply was, "Maybe you'll crawl in the covers and take a nice, long nap." Hmm, sounds good to me...

Later on today, he saw something on television that made him turn to me and point to himself and say, "I am a boy." I agreed and then asked him what I was. He thought about it and said, "You are a girl-mommy."

Until later,


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Toby's First Day of Preschool

Toby started preschool today. He was supposed to start yesterday, but our plans were squashed when we pulled up to the high school (his preschool is inside the high school as part of the child development lab) and all the students were evacuated to the football field and there were policemen and police dogs all over! Turns out there was a bomb threat. It was a little crushing since he had been pretty excited. We went to breakfast at the Cracker Barrel instead. James had the day off of work since it was Columbus Day.

Today, Toby got his second chance to start preschool. He wasn't as excited to go this morning, I think mainly because he was fearful that "the bomb might still be in the school!". Like most things with Toby, preschool will take a little getting used to. The drop off was a little hard. But, he was all smiles when I picked him up. He goes four mornings a week, for just a little over two hours each morning.

Until later,


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Unpacking is a S-L-O-W Process

It's been two weeks since we received our stuff. We are certainly making progress but it is slow. It would be easier if we had moved into a bigger house. (Not complaining, James & I both agreed to move back into our old home, but we knew it would have it's challenges!) If we had moved into a bigger home, we could have designated a couple of rooms for boxes and then had the appearance of living in a neat and orderly home. Instead, we are living amongst boxes and it is chaotic. In our house in Germany, we had a whole unfinished basement that was eventually lined with shelves, in other words, over time we had a lot of storage set up in the basement. When we absolutely ran out of places in the main and upper floors in that home, we could take the pile of "whatever" and put it on an empty shelf! But even that, took time, I remember it took six months to unpack, so I shouldn't worry that we are two weeks into it and still in boxes, right?

The fact that we lived here before, isn't exactly helpful because I have this idea of using the existing storage space almost in an entirely different way. For example, we hope to, at least one day use our garage to park James' car in it. Well, we used to have Tailer's litter box in the garage. Well, if James is going to be pulling in and out of the garage I don't want her to happen to be in there and either get ran over or run away. I'm also not going to be "on call" to go get Tailer and James isn't going to want to deal with her either. After all, he tolerates her, and he certainly doesn't want to inflict pain to her, but she's definitely mine.So, we decided to move her litter box and cat bed into the space under the stairs. Which I might add that I think she loves having that space, she naps there voluntarily during the day even.

Anyhow, back to the space under the stairs, I have had shelves set up against one wall for years, and I used to have our food storage in there. Well, I'm not putting food storage in the same space as her litter box, even though it's covered and gets cleaned daily, that would still be GROSS! So then, I decided to move the food storage elsewhere but now the items that I stored in that room previously have to go somewhere else. So, I am constantly going to Target and Bed Bath & Beyond for storage solutions, or Freecycling or taking items to Goodwill. Items get put away, then a few more boxes opened and we do it all over again! A slow process, indeed! We'll get there someday.

Until later,


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fall is Here!

Fall is here! Can you believe it? I enjoy Fall. Sort of... I enjoy the cooler temperatures, but when I say "cooler" what I mean is that 70 degrees is a nice feeling. And I quite like seeing the leaves change colors. I like cozy sweaters and sweatshirts. Typically, I like decorating for Halloween, but I don't think I'll be doing much this year. We have yet to hang any of our regular decorations. But, I can't for the life of me shrug the feeling that "winter is coming". I despise winter. I find nothing redeeming about the season. I think one day I'd like to be one of those people that live in Arizona for the winter. Although, I've never been to Arizona except for that "four corners" spot, but that doesn't really count, does it?

Until later,


Monday, September 20, 2010

Re-doing the Nursery/Guest Room

While our house was empty, we took advantage of the opportunity and we (James) repainted a large portion of our home. He repainted the basement, living room, and all three bedrooms. It was also easy because we were replacing most of that carpet (with the exception of the living room carpet, which was still in good shape). To my surprise, (and to James' delight) I actually still liked all the colors, which meant everything just needed one coat to make it look fresh again. With the exception of our nursery. I had painted this when I was eight months pregnant with Thomas. It took many, many hours of me sitting on the floor being very uncomfortable doing this. When we found out we were having another boy (Toby), the walls still looked great, so I felt there was no need to change it.

But, eight years later, the light blue walls and bugs had to go. This required two coats of primer and two coats of paint. The walls are now a very light buttery cream color, although I know in one picture they look quite yellow. They are not, that picture was just taken in the evening light.

(in case you are wondering, that blue stripe is painter's tape)

Look at the detail in this border. I am NOT an artist, but I was pleased how this part, in particular, turned out. Obviously, it was done with a stencil, but what you may not recognize is that it was a stencil with three layers! That's right, I went around that room three times with stencil paint which is like dried out paint/pain in the neck paint. Now imagine doing that while eight months pregnant and having sciatic nerve problems...now that's love! Or it craziness? All the same, it was time, past time to get rid of the bugs.

Nasty, nasty carpet!

New and improved guest room!

Until later,


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tips on Tipping Your Movers

We found this article last week and found it to be very helpful as we had two crews of movers work for us this week!

Tips on Tipping Your Movers

Everyone likes a reward for a job well done
By Rick Hazeltine

Consumers put a lot of faith in professional movers, which is why good ones are as prized as a competent and fair mechanic. As a customer, you are entrusting all of your possessions, prized and otherwise, to people you may not even have been introduced to before they started taking your stuff and loading it into a truck.

Although movers are considered part of the service trade, there is usually a lot more riding on their job performance than, say, a waitress or someone who cuts your hair. If the waitress drops your rye toast, she can quickly get you a new order and, hey, your hair will grow out.

If a mover, however, does a poor job packing, drops your family heirloom or drags your furniture across the wood floor, there is a lot more at stake. Besides, there are few people in the service industry that work as hard as movers.

Perhaps because consumers rely so much on a mover doing a good job that they don't consider them as a service professional. But they are and proper etiquette requires that they be treated as such. This means it is proper to offer a tip, whether it is cash at the end of the day or you buying the crew lunch or even both.

As with any other service provider, you would base your "tip" on job performance – a bad attitude and indifferent work habits would hardly be considered tip worthy. If, however, you think your crew was attentive, helpful and professional, then give what you believe is fair.

Movers usually don't expect a tip but is appreciated when given. More than anything, it's a sign that you recognized their effort and thought it worthy. You may think you're paying a small fortune to the moving company, but what trickles down to the guys actually lugging your stuff won't have them driving home in a Beamer.

Moving is a stressful life event overloaded with thousands of small details that need attention. One of those is how to treat the crew moving your life's belongings, so here's a quick reference that should keep the guys happy and moving:

Moving is hard, back-breaking work so it would only be common decency to have cold bottled water, soda or sport drinks on hand.

Some people prefer to buy the crew lunch in lieu of a tip and this is perfectly fine. Some do both. It's whatever you are comfortable with. If you do offer to buy the crew lunch, make sure to ask if they have a preference as to food choice. Many people think, "Oh, we'll get some pizza," so you can imagine how much pizza these guys might have had that month.

You will hear varying advice on how much to tip. Percentages don't really work as they do in restaurant work. The difference between a $2,000 full-truck move and a $20,000 full-truck move is likely the distance the moving van travels, not how much time it took to load the vehicle. Basically, if it's a half-day (4 hours) move, $10 per person is considered appropriate. If it's a full-day move (8 hours), then $20 is the consensus. If you have a lot of heavy furniture, narrow or winding stairs, a steep lot, etc., you should consider adding to the amount. If the crew works 12 hours to get your belongings packed, figure $40 as fair.

A tip about tips from movers themselves: Don’t give the lump some to the foreman or driver. Give each worker their tip. First, it shows that you recognize and appreciate their individual efforts. Second, there are some unscrupulous foremen, who will keep the entire amount for themselves.

Avoid giving the guys beer at the end of the day. It's a bit stereotypical and most legitimate moving companies have rules against drinking on the job. It also opens liability issues. Make the tip cash and the movers can spend it how they wish.

Until later,


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Kitchen Countertops

Before we moved to Germany, I knew that if we moved back into our house one day that I would like to upgrade our kitchen countertops. They had had their better day already and were white Formica after all. When we got back, our countertops were disgusting! We knew right away that they were definitely going!

I spent a lot of time pricing countertops. And deciding on colors. And options. Even when I had made all my decisions, I had to make another when we found out that our cupboards were made by a Canadian company that is now out-of-business and they did this one unique thing with their style so when you go to put a new countertop you run into a problem. Luckily, we were working with an experienced professional who has an eye for details and he caught it and he had a solution, which unfortunately for us meant a little more $ but it was worth it.

I ended up going with Hi-Mac's which are like Corian. They are a synthetic solid surface countertop. I was really nervous about the color...whether I could tie the cupboard color, floor and the countertop color all together, well I think I did! I am so thrilled! You can't really tell from the pictures but they are a brown base with flecks of black and peach and darker brown. I also got a new sink out of the deal and we opted for a new faucet as well.

I think I'd like to paint the kitchen just a light cream color. It's always been white and my breakfast nook has two walls that are painted sunflower yellow, and I'm still happy with that, and I don't think the cream would clash.

Here are some before/during/after pics:

This stuff had become so warped.

Gross, tiny sink. James had been painting and using the sink to rinse items
off in, so it looked even worse.

Our renters apparently didn't like these two pieces...they were there when we left.

A whole lotta white going on in here!

I guess there's no turning back now...and just like that the
old countertops were destroyed!

And wait till you see the difference:

Approximately 4 hours later...

(And you better believe I hope to get a new stove in the next 6-12 months, I'm switching to black, I got a new dishwasher this week, so now I need the stove and fridge...eventually!)

Until later,


Sunday, August 29, 2010

"When my Dad finds a new job..."

After the third day of school, we were at the hotel and Thomas & I were talking about something, I don't recall what but it lead into,

"When my Dad finds a new job..."

It kind of stunned me. I told Thomas that his dad does have a job. And started laughing. I called James in and told him what Thomas had just said. And he further explained that he still has a job, he's just using special time off for taking the job in Germany and that he still gets a pay check so we can pay our bills.

It's pretty easy to see where he's coming from. After all, as Thomas also said, "Well, he doesn't go to work any more, he's here in the morning, he's here when I come home and all he does is work on our house." Looking back, I know he's also heard plenty of conversations about unemployment and foreclosures and hard times going on. And I don't think it would be far-fetched that maybe they talked about it in class. So, it all makes sense.

But, we had to reassure Thomas that James IS employed and that pretty soon he will get dressed up again and be gone to work for most of the day.

Until later,


Friday, August 27, 2010

Thomas Starts Second Grade

This week, Thomas started second grade. The school he is going to is much bigger than ISW. There are five second grade classes with roughly 23 children in each. Last year, there were two first grade classes with 14 children in each of them.

This year, he is also a bus rider. We decided to have him ride the bus even on the first day because we knew the kindness & patience of the bus driver would only last for so long. Good call on our part, because while she was really patient on Monday, by Tuesday (the second day) she was already yelling & taking charge of that bus. But, by Thursday, she was sending them all home with Tootsie Pops because they were all "good kids".

Thomas seems to be doing fine. I had imagined that he would make a best friend right away but he has not. I also imagined that there would be another sweet, second grader at the bus stop for him to play with after school and there is not. In fact, he said to me a couple of days ago, "Mom, I don't really see the big difference between Maryland and Germany except that I don't have any friends to play with that live next to me." And that is hard, because we had it so great with not one but two ISW friends for him to play with on our same street. It made play dates very easy and low-key. And I have to admit that I did feel a twinge of bitterness yesterday when I counted six fifth graders rallied together after school in the center of my neighborhood.

But, all in all, the first week has been a success. He seems to be taking it all in stride and I think he is enjoying life.

Until later,


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Life in a Hotel/Life Right Now

A week ago, we checked into a hotel that we plan on living in for three more weeks. Yes, you read that right, we are staying here for one whole month. We have received a lot of condolences over this, but let me assure you that we are quite OK. We are staying in a hotel with two bedrooms and two full bathrooms, we also have a little living room and a full kitchen. And THREE TV's (that's two more then we'll have once we unpack). A full breakfast is served daily. There is a pool and a small gym. Housekeeping can come daily, if I want them to. Free internet.

This hotel is only a three-minute drive from our house. So we kind of look at our house as "work", we go there during the day and work in the house, but in the evening, we come back to the hotel and unwind and sleep. We have been going through the boxes that we sent on our own (essentially, we mailed our own air freight), and assessing what needs to be done to the house.

We had "good" renters, but there is still quite a bit of work to do, after all, they did live in our home for three years! Most of it is cosmetic. I think I was naive to think we could finish it all in a month, but we'll get a good start on it.

Most rooms could use a fresh coat of paint, we'll start with the basement, master bedroom, and smallest bedroom (it pains me to paint over Thomas' baby room, I spent sooooo many hours painting it while 36 weeks pregnant), but the time has come!. I'd also like the living room to get a fresh coat, my thinking is the more paint that can be done without furniture and while we still have the old carpet, the better. New carpet is ordered. I ordered a new storm door on Saturday. This week, I will be ordering new kitchen countertops, once I get a second quote. They aren't the fanciest, but I think almost anything would be an improvement over white formica! Oh, and a new sink and faucet is kind of a must!

I'd like to replace a lot of my curtains, but haven't had any luck finding even one set that is "calling out to me" so I realize this may take a very long time. And we have time, we have blinds on all of our windows. We're going to switch out the white ceiling fan in our bedroom for a black one and also put one up in the basement. That will make five ceiling fans in our home, I guess we are "fans" of fans!

Until later,


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Still Blogging!

Please be patient. Don't give up on me, don't give up on my blog. Some are good about blogging while vacationing/in the middle of a major change...I don't fit in that category. I'll be back. Soon.

Until later,


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Aah...Home Sweet Home

A week ago today, we landed in Utah. We will be here until mid-August. James gets almost eight weeks off of "home leave" for taking the Germany assignment. Some people choose to take a little right away and then spread it out over a year, but he's heard of too many people that once they started working again, they weren't able to take the time off and after a while you lose the days...so he decided to take it all in one lump.

So far, we have had a fantastic time, spending time with my family and running into a few friends. We have enjoyed the shopping and the restaurants and the customer service! This week, we have also been to the dermatologist, the dentist, I got my hair cut & colored and today I got my nails done. James & I also went on a little two-night getaway at a local bed & breakfast. I also got to finally see "Eclipse"!

The kids have been having a wonderful time at my mom & dad's place. They have a huge yard where they can play with water, or in the sand pile, or on the swing set, or Thomas can drive a 4-wheeler or Toby can drive his little motorized tractor. OR, they can go over to the farm and do things over there. Toby likes riding in the tractors with Grandpa Dan and Thomas likes feeding the baby calves. They are thoroughly entertained all day long!

On Sunday, my sister announced that she is pregnant! It was a shocker! They have been married for 10 years and I wasn't quite sure they wanted to have kids and had kind of quit asking her about it. She is at the beginning of the 2nd trimester already. How exciting that my mom & dad will finally have three grandchildren, and this one will live close by which will be nice for everyone!

Tomorrow, we are heading down to James' mom & dad's for about a week and a half. Thomas and Toby have 13 cousins that all live close by so it should be a incredibly fun time there as well!

Until later,


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

These Blue-Eyed Boys are Comin' to Town!

I am dreading the plane ride to Utah something fierce. I am preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. It's going to be a LONG day. From the time we get to the airport until the time we get to my mom's it will be approximately 19-20 hours of traveling. Thomas, on the other hand, cannot wait. He has been upset the last three mornings because he wants to go to the airport and "go to Grandma's".

We will be there soon...

Until later,


PS: Happy Birthday Mom!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Good Bye Germany!

In a few days, we will depart from Germany. The PCSing process (moving) has been time consuming and stressful. Somedays were absolutely nightmarish. If you've never done it, you will not understand, but you can take my word for it.

We are wrapping up the last of the loose ends (shipping our Mini Cooper tomorrow, shipping the last of our boxes, organizing our suitcases and packing our carry-ons), and James still has quite a bit to do in the office before we fly out at the end of the week. But the end is near. (And I can't say that without adding a little jingle to those five words!) I have a long list of things that I am looking forward to, after all, we have lived here for three years and it's been two years since we last visited. To say that we miss the United States of America would be an understatement.

But, I also have a list of things that I will miss here in Germany:

1) Above anything else I will miss all the special friends I have made here, I was lucky because I had A LOT of support; not to sound like I'm bragging, but I made friends everywhere, I had wonderful neighbors, church friends, work friends, DODDS preschool friends, ISW friends and gym friends...but good bye's are hard, and I actually didn't say too many...they were too painful.

2) I will miss my neighborhood. I loved living in Bremthal (I can now post it since I don't live there any longer). It felt safe. The streets were wider than many German neighborhoods. I loved having the park next to my house. Well, most of the time.

3) I will miss the autobahn. I loved driving on it. And I drove fast. I like driving fast. It was absolutely thrilling.

4) I will miss Thomas' school, the International School of Wiesbaden. It was a great experience for him. The class size was so small and he had great teachers. I feel that he was truly lucky to go to school there.

5) I will miss the traveling. The first year was frustrating because weren't able to get out and do a whole lot, but I think we made up for it during the second and third years. It was hard with the kids, because they were so little (especially Toby) but I'm glad we got out and saw things.

6) I will miss Pipistrello's (Italian) and Jade Drage (Asian), they were restaurants in my neighborhood and I will miss them because I thought they were both darn good and the fact that they were close by was secondary.

7) Schwepp's Bitter Lemon soda

8) Good chocolate

9) Fasching

10) Christmas season in Germany

11) New Year's fireworks

12) I will miss Charley's Steakery at the Mz. Kastel base. Sometimes it was the highlight of my week, especially at first. A regular veggie sandwich minus provolone with lettuce, tomato, mayo, jalapenos, banana peppers and a side of buffalo sauce. MMM, mmm good!

13) I will admit that while I won't miss "base shopping" I will miss the commissary baggers. I know a lot of people don't like that the baggers are not included in the price/they get paid in tips, but I didn't mind giving away a few dollars each trip to have help with putting my bags away in the car and taking my cart back. Most of the time, all I had to do was get my kids settled into their booster seats and the groceries were practically unloaded. It was kind of like having James with me shopping only once I got in the car, I had full control of the a/c and the stereo.

14) I will miss the girl that did my nails. She also gave me occasional pedicures and waxed my eyebrows. Maria @ The Arms Hotel. She is fantastic.

15) The beauty of Germany, especially in late Spring, all of Summer and early Fall. I have never seen more beautiful autumn leaves. I have decided I loathe Winter no matter where I live.

Until later,


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Busy Bees

Here are some pics from the last assembly at ISW.

The theme was on insects, but Thomas' class had a particular interest in bees, so his teacher, Mrs. Berton, kind deviated a bit from her original plan and she put more of her focus on teaching about bees & their part of the assembly was all about bees!

The kids did such a good job on this dance, that they were actually asked to perform it twice!
It was adorable. And they had a great time doing it!

Until later,


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Good Times!

Thomas, Toby & friend D at Playmobil Funpark, June 6, 2010. More to come...

Until later,


Monday, June 7, 2010

Spoiled Indeed!

This is Tailer really "roughing it" in Utah on the back of my mom's couch. She looks quite miserable, right?

Until later,


Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Simple Life!

Well, it took three whole days, but this week we finally packed out! It is strange to think that we will not see our "stuff" again until sometime in September, probably after Labor Day. Actually, it will arrive much sooner than that, but we are having it stored in VA for some time while we stay in a hotel and do some work in our home.

Now we are going to be able to go away on a few weekend trips and not be stressed out. The extremely hectic pace is over for a few weeks as long as something unexpected doesn't happen now. I am loving living in this house with only the necessities (OK, well, right now we have more than that, but week by week I will mail stuff out or get rid of things). I love the simplicity!

Until later,


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Shrek Forever After

This afternoon, James & I took the boys to see Shrek Forever After or as they like to refer to it, "Shrek 4". I really didn't know much about the movie or the story line for this Shrek installment. Basically, Shrek goes through a mid-life crisis. I thought it was entertaining. And it's only about an hour and a half long, I hate it when kids movies are much longer than that. Thomas sat through the entire movie and Toby drank two cups of Sprite on his own which resulted in three trips to the potty, but other than that he also sat through the movie.

I found this quote on the internet tonight, which basically sums up how I feel about the movie:

"Not as bad as number three but not as good as one and two."

Until later,


Monday, May 24, 2010

Tailer has gone to Grandma's!

(Tailer at Grandma's house)

Last week, we flew Tailer to Utah. We used PetAir and were very happy with their service. As we got into the moving process, we didn't want anything to happen to her as we had movers and workers coming in and out of the house (she is strictly a house cat) nor did we want to stay in "pet rooms" in hotels if we could avoid it.

It seems strange not having her here in the house with us. I have left her a lot for trips to Utah but she has never left me the entire nine years that I have had her (except for the two nights she had to stay at the vets when I had her declawed). She wears a collar with a bell and a name tag so she "jingles" everywhere she goes and she's also vocal.

So Tailer is having an Utah adventure and my mom is having an adventure with a house cat for the first time ever. I was worried about Tailer adjusting to living somewhere new but as the days go by I can tell the adjustment will be when we take Tailer back to MD with us at the end of the summer! Let's just say my mom, dad and brother are spoiling the already spoiled rotten girl!

Until later,


Friday, May 21, 2010

Passing the Agricultural Inspection

May 18-19: Time to scrub down everything that has been outside/that we intend to ship back with us. Our "Agricultural Inspection" is on Thursday morning. We have always planned on waiting until just before this inspection, since we don't have a garage to store everything...why scrub it all down two weeks before just to have everything get dirty again? We were also waiting for the weather to get nicer. It never did. So, on Tuesday, I took a look at the heap of items that we had organized into our back yard and started taking them upstairs to be scrubbed in the bathtub and shower. Eventually, our kids' floors of their rooms were covered in towels which were then covered with random items, toys, flower pots, garden tools, totes, bikes, more toys.

James went out later on that night and did scrub down our winter tires, our patio table and chairs, and the inside and outside of our outdoor storage box. But there were still quite a few items that needed to be cleaned. I was hoping and praying for better weather.

No such luck. The weather got worse and it rained pretty much all day. Five o'clock hit and I knew I just had to go out in it...the drizzling rain had now turned heavier and it didn't matter. The work had to be done. So I went out in the rain, with my bucket and my cleaner and brushes and hose and sprayed off everything else that needed to be cleaned. I am sure I was a sight to see!

May 20: "Inspection Day", James & I had taken everything from the boys' rooms and set it back outside in neat little, shiny piles. Our inspector arrived, took one look at our items and with a big smile on his face said, "It's OK, you have passed, I wish all my customers were like you!" Our appointment literally did not last for more than five minutes! For a passing moment, I have to admit, I was a little perturbed! I worked hard to get all those items nice and shiny. But then I thought about it, and the goal at the end of this was to pass the inspection the first time around and not have to schedule a second inspection. And that was exactly how it worked out.

Until later,


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Potty-training Progress

Yesterday, Toby, made big progress with potty-training. He has been doing great with #1 and even has woken up dry over half the nights over the past two weeks since he started this. But, #2, well, that has been a whole other story. Accident after accident and I had lost my cool more times than I'd like to admit. Finally, yesterday morning, after numerous trips to the toilet (this was about a 90-minute process), he made it in the potty! Then an hour later, he made it to the potty again! He was so proud of himself! And he had that look of relief that I believe means he discovered that it's not as scary as it seemed to him. And, that is a relief to me.

Until later,


Friday, May 14, 2010

RIP "Really, Really Old Guy"

For at least two and a half years of this crazy German adventure, day after day, I have watched a really old guy that resembled a gnome walk by my kitchen window. He had white hair that was sort of long and I don't really know how to explain it but he looked like a gnome! I would ALWAYS see him at around 9-9:30 AM every morning and then most days again at around 3:30-4:00 PM. He would walk circles around the park that is next to my house. He wasn't very fast, and he walked with a cane, but religiously he went on his daily walk (sometimes twice a day). But I admired him for going out and getting his exercise no matter what the weather was like. I often thought I should get a picture of him because he really did become part of my day. I couldn't figure out how to do it without seeming like a stalker though. And he may have been old but he was certainly aware of his surroundings. We never had a conversation, we barely said more then "Guten Morgen" to one another, but I could tell that he was a gentle old soul that made me smile whenever I saw him. I never knew his name.

It occurred to me a while back, that I haven't seen really, really old guy in quite a while. Sometimes in the afternoon, his daughter (or who I assume is his daughter) would walk with him. One day, I saw the daughter walking with a female friend and the dog that would accompany her with really, really old guy. That's when I realized that it has been a long time since I have seen really, really old guy around, I think he must have passed away over the winter. RIP, "Really, Really Old Guy".

Until later,


Thursday, May 6, 2010


I have been trying for months to get Toby interested in potty training. Not that I've been spending countless hours, but I spent 3 days in December, where all I managed to do was clean up pee on the floor and do a lot of laundry (he never once made it in the toilet).

Every night (for months, not just those 3 days in December), we invited Toby to pee in the toilet before he got in the bath tub. And every single night he would scream "NOOOOOO!" and run away. I put him in underwear for a couple of afternoons/evenings in March and NOTHING.

I had finally accepted that he was not ready and I was just going to stop worrying about it for a while. Thomas was 3 1/2 years old, almost to the day, so I accepted that Toby would probably be that old...or older (oh the shame of it!).

Then, on Monday, he decided to take all of his clothes off and streak around the house. I took one look at him and told him that if he was going to run around with no clothes on and only a diaper, he may as well wear some underwear. He stayed dry all evening and went pee in the toilet once. I thought surely, it must be a fluke.

Tuesday afternoon, after we were done with our errands, I put him in a Pull-up, I was curious as to what he would do. To my surprise, he stayed dry the rest of the day and peed 3 times.

Yesterday, was a rare day at home, except for driving Thomas to and from school. I threw underwear on him...and he stayed dry ALL DAY LONG! He even went to the school with underwear on....DRY...DRY...DRY!

This morning, he woke up with a dry diaper and AGAIN stayed dry the whole day! Not to say that he's not ever going to have an accident, of course he will, but it does appear that he's ready to do this. Like so many other things (like finally walking at 18 months, and RUNNING with coordination a week later!) it had to be when HE was ready not when anyone else was ready! By the way, he's 3 years, almost 4 months old.

Until later,


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Pretty & Shiny is NOT Always Better!

I have been trying really hard to get my winter tires taken off. We wanted to keep them on until after our trip to Italy just in case we hit snow as we crossed through the Alps (we did). Since coming back, I have taken my car in twice to get the winter tires taken off, but, alas they are still on.

The first time I took it in, I was under the impression that if I left it the night before, they could fit me in for a simple tire change and oil change (because this is what I was told last Fall), only to find out that fast-forward six months later, I needed an appointment, which they couldn't give me until the next week.

Well, next week was this past Tuesday. I dropped it off the night before and got a call as I was on my way to the gym at the 9 AM hour that there was a big problem and those tires weren't coming off.

It turns out that my chrome valve stem caps have completely rusted onto my tires! With as much snow as we had here in Germany and the fact that road salt is used so much, it makes sense that corrosion occurred. It also turns out that my car has a Tire Pressure Monitory System (TPMS). In order to get those caps off, they are going to have to use a lot of force and will most likely break all four of the tire sensors...which they don't have in stock.

So, I found a new set of sensors at amazon.com ($139). Only they (the company) won't send it to my mailbox out here. So, I opted for overnight shipping to my mom, where she will then go to the post office and send it to my mailbox. And it will take at least 6 days to get here. Once they arrive, I will take my car for a third attempt at getting the tires switched. What a pain in the neck!

Therefore, a piece of advice, if you have chrome or metal valve stem caps, consider replacing them with the cheap, basic plastic ones. That's what we had to begin with and the only reason we replaced them with the shiny, pretty ones was because the plastic valve stems didn't get replaced during the last oil change so we bought what was available at the first store we went to.

Until later,


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Enjoy the Little Things

I have a plaque in my house that says:

"Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things."

I absolutely LOVE this saying. I think it is so true.

My kids like to pick flowers for me. They don't distinguish between a tulip, a clover blossom or dandelions. They bring them to me with excitement on their faces. They are trying to brighten my day, which they are.

Truth be told, I hate all this moving nonsense. If I could wiggle my nose and be done with it now...I would. I hate it. James is just as bad, actually worse, because not only is he worrying about moving from here and all that that involves, but he is also trying to tie up loose ends at work.

So when the boys brought these to me, I thought of my beloved saying. Trying to enjoy the little things. Accepting my boys' bright, cheerful bouquets and giving my little guys some big hugs!

Until later,


Monday, April 26, 2010

Camera Hater

You may have noticed that I have recently changed our header picture. This is our most current "family picture". This was taken in Venice, Italy earlier this month. Some people may think that Toby's grumpy expression ruins this otherwise decent picture, but I have to say, I actually LOVE it! This is truly him! He HATES the camera and he does things HIS way (he's our free-spirit). Smiling at the red light blinking on the camera set on our tripod was not on his agenda that day.

Until later,


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Bye-bye Naps!

Well, it has been eight days since Toby has taken a nap, so I think it is official. He has dropped the nap. No more quiet time for me in the afternoons. Kind of a shame, really. I liked that quiet time. Quite a bit.

Until later,


Monday, April 19, 2010

The Moving Process

Well we have started our moving process. We were able to secure our pack-out dates last week. We got the exact dates we hoped for and everything worked out as far as that. Which will be in just over one month from now (time to get serious)! We are packing out early and then bringing in loaner furniture and living another month in our home. We have our hotels booked while we are finishing up here. We will be staying in a hotel in our town for five days and then we will go stay in Frankfurt for the last week. We have our appointment to have my car agriculturally cleaned inside and out (not a grain of German sand can go home!) The next day we will drop off my car and have it shipped back to the U.S. They are expecting it to take about 45 days to get back to Baltimore.

James still has to look into shipping his car, it won't be going through the military channels, so we don't really know what to expect about that. Shipping it back to the US was built-in to the price when we ordered the Mini.

I have made some of the travel arrangements for Tailer, but most of her "out-processing" can't be done until 10 days before she leaves (she has to be checked out by a vet and get a "Health Certificate" not more than 10 days before our flight).

We have our flight reservations. Unfortunately, there are no direct flights from Frankfurt to Salt Lake but we're going to go all the way to Denver and then take a short flight into Salt Lake.

Oh, yes, in case anyone missed that...we're going to UT for a while before we settled back in Frederick, MD.

And speaking of Frederick, MD...

I have contacted the principal of the school that Thomas will be attending next year. I can't register him yet, but they can assign him a "student number" and know that and count on that he is coming. He also has to come with a current physical but I'm still waiting to hear if that can be from my German pediatrician, if I can get it done while we are in UT or if it needs to be done in MD. Thomas will be attending school in the school that is within the neighborhood that I would really like to live in one day. So I guess if you can't live in the neighborhood that you want, at least your kids can go to school there (I love that we're probably considered the "un-desirable" families!), at least that's the way it's working out for us!

I was also able to get Toby into preschool for next fall. Thanks to a friend and a friend-of-a-friend, funny how it's sometimes harder to get your kid into preschool rather than real school. It's the same preschool that Thomas went to his first year, so in the end, Toby was "grandfathered" in after said friend and friend-of-a-friend plead his case. He'll go four days a week, but it's only for 2 hours and 10 minutes each day. But the starting time is great. Plenty of time to get Thomas on the bus and then I'll drive Toby to school. I probably won't go home much but will run my errands or hit the gym while he's there. I'm hoping that there might be a class at the YMCA on the other day that I can enroll him in. I always enjoyed that day with Thomas. I took him to class and then we went out to lunch every single Monday.

Until later,


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Just One of Many Signs That We've Lived in Germany for Too Long!

We recently returned from a vacation to Italy. I will post more about that later. However, I wanted to share a cute little story that happened with Toby while we were on that vacation. More than likely, it's more of one of those stories where "you had to be there" to appreciate how funny it was...but here you go:

We were sitting in a restaurant and we ordered our drinks along with a carafe of water. All four of us associate restaurant dining with soda drinking but sodas are very expensive in Europe and they don't come with refills. So, what we do a lot of times is order the sodas and then drink water as our second drink. The water is also expensive, and we drink the non-carbonated water, so you know it most likely comes straight out of their tap, but we get charged nonetheless.

Anyhow, we ordered water, Toby had finished his soda, and I poured him a glass full of water. Toby took one look at that water and noticed ice! You see, in Germany it is not customary to drink your drinks with ice, but apparently in the Italian restaurant we were at that night, they serve ice.

Toby noticed the ice. And started laughing and pointing to his glass. He said, "Ice in the water?" Giggle, giggle, giggle. "Why did they put ice in the water?" Giggle, giggle, giggle.

James and I turned to each other and reminded ourselves again that Toby was only a mere 7 months old when we moved here. Sure, we did spend two months in the summer of 2008 in the States, but Germany is really the "home" he knows. It's some of the little details that will be different for him. If I said the "grocery store" I know he wouldn't know what that is. It's "the commissary" or it's "Tengelmann's" which is the German grocery store as an example.

Until later,


Monday, March 29, 2010

Dying Easter Eggs

Whenever I think about "dying Easter eggs" I always think about "The Family Circus Easter" cartoon when the question is asked, "dying Easter eggs isn't like killing them, is it Daddy?" Well, this year was full of extra fun and at the end I was about ready to kill Toby. Toby...who would not keep his hands out of the Easter egg dye. In the end, he had it on his t-shirt, pants and spilled red dye onto the rug. I think next year, I'll give him a cup full of water and tell him he's in charge of dying the white eggs. I love this kid, on one hand his personality is really cute and he's easy-going and often goes with the flow and he has a way about him that is adorable but on the other hand, I hope to never have another child quite like him. I don't think I could survive two of him. He and trouble...they go hand and hand! Quite literally this time.

Thomas was so excited to get to do this. I boiled the eggs on Saturday morning, and we kept trying to find a time to do it...but didn't do it until Monday night.

Don't ever think he's sweet and innocent...it's all an act.

"Show me your hands!"

(check out his tongue)

All ten digits in all their glory.

OK. We did it. Thomas was happy. Toby was happy too. James and I were glad
to be done. Isn't that sad?

Until later,


All Good Things Come to an End

(This was a little flower arrangement/thank you gift I was given on Sunday)

Last week, on March 21, 2010 I was released as being the Relief Society president in our ward. I served as the RS president for 13 months. The last couple of weeks have been bittersweet. I knew almost a week before I was released that it was coming. What a week of highs and lows. One minute I would be relieved that this would "probably be the last time" this or that and the next minute I was in tears over it. I learned a lot serving in this capacity. Almost every opportunity was a growing experience for me. And I think I am a better person for it. I liken it to being a sort of a bootcamp for me. I changed a lot in a relatively short time and had to face a lot of fears that I probably never would have if I were not given this opportunity. And, of course, I got to know people in ways that I know I never would have.

So last Sunday, I was released and a new, wonderful sister was sustained. The next day, she and I called a meeting and I got her up-to-speed the best I could. That day, I received a few phone calls from sisters with problems, sisters that didn't know the change had happened. Over the next couple days, I received a few more emails. And then the word seemed to be out and that was that. How quickly life moves on.

We have three months left here in Germany. I am promised that I will be given another church job to serve in until we leave. Just not one that takes so much time and carries quite so much burden. The timing is good...actually the timing is great. Truth be told, I thought I would be serving for another month so it came as somewhat of a surprise to me. We are about to go on a long vacation and then once we get back we are going to jump into full "moving mode" and start going through all of our stuff. Just this afternoon, we received our moving orders so now we can start scheduling all the moving stuff, once we return home . But we are hoping to ship out our things before Memorial Day. That leaves just over a month to get our house in order once we come back from vacation. That's not a lot of time! Once our house is empty, we will bring in Army loaner furniture and live another month in our house. We'll check into a hotel a couple miles down the street from our home at the end of June and start working on returning our house to our landlady. It has to be in tip-top shape. Rental laws are quite different here. I'm sure I'll post more about this later on.

Until later,


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Our Last Trip to Paris!

We have managed to visit Paris three times over the past 12 months. As our time is running out, this was our last trip here. This was during Thomas' "Ski Week" break at his school, we were there February 23-28. We love France. It was pretty cold most of the days there except for the last day. The last day was probably 10 degrees warmer and with our coats and gloves on, quite comfortable. We shopped and ate and shopped and ate. We love the French pastries, they are actually sweet as opposed to the German pastries which I've just stopped buying because I figure if you're going to have dessert it should taste like a dessert and not a piece of bread! (However the cheese, the cheese in Germany and really everywhere in Europe--yum--who am I kidding, I LOVE cheese no matter where it's made for the most part, except if it's melted in large quantities and then I start gagging right then and there)...anyhow....Traveling is getting easier with Toby, go figure. We took the train all over. Toby thought he should be friends with all the other passengers on the train or ask to eat the apples that they were eating. He's at a funny yet oftentimes embarrassing stage right now. We stayed at our favorite Marriott resort again. I'm really going to miss our favorite little getaway location.

Fontainebleau, France

Nourishment before touring the palace--always a good idea!

Handsome Thomas. I love this hat.

I love this pic of them.

More nourishment. We are all in happier moods if we stop often and eat. Especially pastries.

More of the palace grounds. It was freezing cold and windy.

Me and a lemon tart with a Cola Light. If you consume them together they cancel each other out and you get zero calories and fat. Yeah, it didn't work in college and it didn't work in my mid-30's either. It's so much more enjoyable putting in on than taking it off,
which is where I'm at right now--taking it off, ever so slowly

Quite possibly the best lemon tart we ever ate in France. We've tried a lot.
This one was perfect.

Triumphant to have found the perfect lemon tart.
However, disappointed that we only ordered one each.

Outside Versaiiles in Paris.

Inside Versaiiles. There were signs everywhere that we weren't supposed to take pictures. But people were taking them left and right with guards right there doing nothing. I joined in just because. As a side note, strollers were not allowed inside. The day before when we were inside the palace at Fontainebleau and also didn't take in our stroller (our choice), both days Toby became too tired and wanted to be carried. Unfortunately, he only wanted "Mommy" to carry him. And both days he was almost asleep so he was dead weight. Bummer.

Outside the grounds. I imagine they will be just beautiful in a month or so.

You can't tell by the picture but his pants are wet past his knees.
He enjoyed jumping in every single water puddle at least twice.

Family pic outside of Notre Dame. The last time we were here, we didn't have our tripod.

There are these metallic street performers all over Europe. For some reason, I find them fascinating. I don't know why. No one else cares, but
I'm always excited when we see another one.

And let's here it for more french desserts!
A chocolate tart for me, a lemon tart for James.

A yummy, feta, cucumber and tomato sandwich on a crusty loaf.

A little park by the Eiffel Tower. We let the boys run around for a few minutes, Thomas thought it was a "baby" park. He's growing up.

At first you may think this is inside some fantastic palace...

but, it's not...

It's an amazing shopping center called, "The Lafayette Galleries". We weren't there for very long...about an hour but I thought it was a lot cooler than Harrod's in London!

Until later,