Saturday, May 30, 2009

Tea in the Garden

This morning, I attended a Spring Tea put on by the Women's Ministry of my parents' church. It was held in the yard of a couple who attends the church. I would say I am speechless as to the beauty of the morning, but obviously I'm not speechless cause I'm writing a post about it. But you get the picture as to how impressive and breathtaking the morning was.

First, you pulled into the horseshoe driveway whereas you were greeted by men of the church dressed in black dress pants and white shirts. They opened your door for you, took your keys, gave you a claim ticket and then valet parked your car in the neighboring orange groves. Yeah, I'm not kidding.From there you walked on a pebble stone pathway through the side garden into the backyard. The yard was absolutely breathtaking. Rose bushes in every color imaginable were in full bloom. Flowers adorning the trellis that we entered the yard through. Amazing. Simply amazing. Sidestepping our tour for just a moment...The house had a wrap around porch that added such character and beautiful sitting areas with newly painted wicker furniture. The home owners have done a phenomenal job in creating such a beautiful yard and haven to relax in. It was hard to stand in the midst of all the beauty and not covet. :)Back to our tour through the garden...As we continued on the pebble pathway through the garden, we entered through a gate into the backyard, where the the tea was to be held. The tables were gorgeous. There were round tables, adorned with pale yellow table clothes and accented with black, white, and more yellow. Those colors together are simply beautiful. Fresh yellow roses and white petite daisies were the center pieces. Once the event started, we were welcomed and given encouragement to simply enjoy the surroundings. We then had scones, tea, and fellow shipped with the ladies at our table. It was hard to concentrate on any of the conversations going about as the yard was amazing, so beautifully manicured, so well kept. Taking in the beauty of all the details that had been so carefully thought out and color coordinated. I sat taking it all in and was very appreciative for all the hard work that went into making it such a lovely place to be. Following the time of fellowship and delicious scones, we had worship, followed by a message. The guest speaker for this event was none other than my Mama!! And she did a phenomenal job at delivering the message the Lord had given her. The details and awsomeness of her message will be saved for another post altogether as it deserves a post all of its own. But she did an amazing job and I'm so very proud of her. Following the message, the men, who had been serving us water, iced tea, and hot water throughout the morning, now cleared the tables of our scone plates and served us lunch. The lunch was chicken salad on croissants, a crisp green salad with a vinaigrette drizzled about, and a small bundle of red seedless grapes. All very delicious. Dessert was chocolate dipped strawberries and a petite lemon cake. It was absolutely lovely. The tea came to an end and the photographer and creative person in me wanted to capture the beautiful programs that were printed with some of the beauty of the table. It was such a lovely morning. Even at this late hour of the evening, I am still in marvel of the beauty of the house, the gardens, the message, and just the morning overall. It's probably the most beautiful event I've ever been to, and I can't wait until next year!!!

Possible Closing of State Parks

On Friday, California Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, proposed closing many parks statewide, in attempts to save $143 million dollars a year and help California's failing budget. A list of the possible closures can be found here at the end of the news article.

We've been to a few of the parks on the list, and if indeed they do close, I'm glad we got the chance to explore the state park before they close.

It's sad that these beautiful parks and beaches would close. What's even sadder is that in this failing economy where families are having to cut back financially on family adventures and entertainment, I bet more and more people are turning to the State Parks for something to do. And soon, that option might be lost.

Closing state parks, making cuts to our education, all in attempt to help our States failing budget. Why is there never any mention of paycuts to the governor or all the other elected officials?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Penne Pasta

I tried a new recipe last night for dinner and it was YUMMY! The entire family gave it a thumbs up, so it's officially a keeper and will be put on the menu rotation for another night down the road!

Penne Pasta with Sausage and Roasted Peppers

5 Red bell peppers
2 onions, cut into 1-inch dice
3 TBSP minced garlic
8 Sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 14oz can of diced tomatoes, with the juice
Salt and Pepper
1 box Penne Pasta cooked, and drained
Grated Parmesan cheese
4 TBSP Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 425.

Wash the peppers and roast until skin blackens and blisters. I simply laid them on a cookie sheet. Transfer to a bowl and over with plastic wrap. Let cool for 30 minutes. Remove skin, stem, and seeds. Cut into 1-inch squares and set aside.

Heat 2 TBSP (I used a little more) in a large heavy bottomed saucepan. Add onions and saute over medium heat until tender. Add peppers and cook until soft. Add garlic and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add remaining Olive Oil (I needed a little more) to the pan and brown sausage meat, breaking up with a spoon for 10 minutes or until cooked. Add the pepper mixture. Stir in the tomatoes and bring to a simmer and cook for 7-8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Combine cooked pasta with the sausage mixture and heat through.

Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.

Land of The Lost

I LOVED this show as a kid. Absolutely LOVED it! And it's been years since I've seen any episodes.

I had been looking forward to the release of the upcoming movie at the theaters next month until I saw a trailer and realized that Will Ferrill is in the movie and it pretty much looks stupid.

Imagine my excitement on Monday afternoon while I was surfing about the internet on Steven's iPhone on the way home from camping and discovered that the Sci Fi channel was doing a Land of the Lost Memorial Day Marathon! Praise the Lord for technology because I was able to set our TiVo to record enough episodes until I got home to set up a season pass to tape every single one that would be airing. Our TiVo taped over 20 episodes on Monday and there's still more to record in the coming days.

The funny thing is, is now that I am an adult, that show is the cheesiest show! The graphics and stage sets are all very, primitive. Of course they were taped over 30 years ago and technology and film has come A LONG way over the years, but it's funny to watch it now and see just how bad it was when as a kid it was the absolute coolest!

Hannah and Rachel have enjoyed watching them and really like the show. And I have to admit, it's a nice break from the usual afternoon TV shows they watch, every single day of the week. LOL.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

California Still Has Morals

This morning, the California Supreme Court voted 6-1 to uphold a certain Proposition that we Californians voted on last November.

This is a HUGE answer to prayers on behalf of married couples everywhere that still value the traditional marriage between a man and a woman.

It's nice to know that 1) our State still has some morals and 2) our votes last November didn't return void.

Home. But Ready to Go Back.

So we're home. We arrived home mid afternoon yesterday and within half an hour of being home, the car was unloaded, camping gear was completely put away, the laundry was started, and baths for the girls were in the works. I love the fact that our camping stuff is so organized that we literally just throw it all back onto the shelves into the garage when our trip is over.

As always, we had a great time. Anytime that we can get away from our normal day to day tasks it always great, but it's even better when you're able to spend a few days away with family, and in this weekend's case, we were with church family.

There were five families camped on two spots right next to each other. They are the 'regular' spots that reservations are typically sought after for. The sites are huge and kinda secluded a bit with the shrubs and brush along the sides. The sites are also right across from the restrooms and showers which is really nice, especially for those middle of the night trips to the restroom. :)

The weather was great. The mornings started out overcast, much like today in the Inland Empire. But by 9:00, the sun was brightly shinning and stayed that way for the remainder of the day.

Our days were spent relaxing, midday trips down to the beach, lots of game playing, and lots of just sitting and fellow shipping with friends, oh and lots of great food! There is never a lack for good food or good snacks when you're camping with the church friends!

So this morning, the last of the laundry in the form of beach towels and blankets are being done. And clean clothes are being put away. And wishing we were going back again soon!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Taking A Few Days Off...

Ahhh....see this. This is the view I'll be enjoying this weekend. And tomorrow afternoon cannot get here soon enough. We'll be camping this fine Memorial Day Weekend with friends from church. But between right now, and the time we'll leave tomorrow afternoon, I have a ton to do. Lots of food preparation to get done, some laundry, oh and packing of clothes, stuff like that. So I'm taking the next few days off and will be back next week...refreshed, relaxed, and ready to face the busyness that faces me with the last couple weeks of school.

Have a great Memorial weekend!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sad News for Mickey Mouse Fans

I read an article this morning of the sad news that Wayne Allwine, the voice of Mickey Mouse, died on Monday as a result of complications of his Diabetes and his need for a kidney transplant. He's been the voice of Mickey Mouse for over 30 years and to say he'll be missed amongst the Disney community is an understatement.

Here, in this video, he talks about the voice of Mickey. With him is wife wife, Russi Taylor, who is the voice of Minnie Mouse.

Update on the Lack of Instructional Time

Yesterday afternoon was our monthly PTA meeting. I was especially looking forward to what our principal had to say about the recent news of our school not meeting the specified amount of instructional time deemed by the State.

And what he had to say was interesting.

Just as I had thought, our bell schedule has been the exact same for the last ten years (it has the last four that Hannah has gone there). However, given the current status of our State budget, the State officials are auditing every nook and cranny looking for money.

When they audited our school, it was determined that the minimum days we had in November, for parent teacher conferences, caused our instructional time to be short. Never before had we had minimum days like this for parent conferences, and unfortunately it has cost us dearly. Our instructional time is lacking by 15 minutes. FIFTEEN MINUTES! And as a penalty for lacking those 15 minutes, our children, our teachers, and the staff at our elementary school must go an extra seven days!

Our principal also explained to those of us at the meeting that in years past, this might have only been a 'slap on the hand' offense, but because the State of California is in a state of budget crisis, they are looking for money. And if we don't comply with extending our school year until Monday, June 29th, then the school must pay the State of California 2.1 million dollars.

Dr Adeyemo was very apologetic for the inconvenience this has caused for the families of our school. He informed us that all the teachers at our school have agreed to stay on through the end of our newly appointed last day of school. He invited the Assistant Supervisor of Curriculum to attend our meeting and she spoke in regards to the problem as well. She too, was very apologetic. She also said that while it could not be said in the letter that was sent home on Monday, that attendance past the 18th is voluntary. Any absences will not affect your student, including those at the school on district transfers and part of the magnet program, such as us. The 6th grade promotion had to be moved to the 29th in fear that if they didn't, the State would look upon us as not taking the penalty seriously.

I spoke with Hannah's teacher prior to the meeting, and she is planning on being at school most of the extra seven days. Her sister is getting married that week we're supposed to be off and she is having the rehearsal dinner, etc, etc. So she may be gone one day or half a day. All the teachers are supposed to planning "enrichment activities". As for our class, she plans to do fun things, that incorporate some sort of learning with each activity.

As bad as we feel for having seven extra days, we are not bad off really. We were told in our meeting that there is a school in Chino that has 39 extra days of school added to their school year. Now that, really stinks!!!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Extremely Blessed.

This morning as I was dropping Rachel off at preschool, I was handed a card by Rachel's teacher. As she gave it to me, she hugged me and thanked me for all that I do for her and the other teachers.

I waited until I got to the car to open it, and inside was a gift card to El Torito thanking me for all I do for the teachers and how much they love me. The amount is enough for at least two meals out as a family, and maybe even a third if we take a date night!

Needless to say, I was blessed.

Dancing With The Stars

Wow. Wow. Wow. What an amazing time we had last night at the live taping of Dancing With the Stars. I still can't believe we were there.

My sister-in-law woke up yesterday morning to two sick girlies, so she wasn't able to go with us. I wasn't about to try to find someone to go on such notice, so it was me, my Mom, and my friend Cathleen that went and we had a blast! The dress code was to dress semi formal/dress to impress and in my opinion, all three of us looked great! We needed to be to the studios by 3:30, so we left here at 1:30, and arrived to the studios by 2:45. Thankfully, I'd gained some insider scoop from a friend who'd been to a taping two weeks ago and I was able to score a parking spot right in the studio lot due to having a handicapped placard. If it weren't for that, we'd have had to walk BLOCKS from The Grove Parking Structure. Not exactly something that was going to be enjoyable in the heat and in our dress shoes! LOL.

We lined up on the sidewalk along Beverly Blvd, and then in groups were taken the patio seating area where we waited until 4:40, just minutes away from the Live broadcast. Once we were taken inside the set, it was amazing. Amazing. A lot smaller than I envisioned. We were seated in the last row of the balcony above the judges and at times it was hard to see some of the dances, and it was very difficult hearing the judges, Tom, and Samantha talk, but that's why you watch it all again on Tivo! :)

Where we were seated, we could see right down a staircase into the backstage area. We saw all the dancers and celebrities walking about, hanging out, getting last minute primping and having the sweat wiped from their necks and brows after they'd danced. It was awesome to see that stuff, or at least I really enjoyed it! LOL. Before the show, those of us sitting right there were waving to Professional Dancer Tony Dovolani and before we knew it, he came running up the steps and greeted us and high-fived us. That was awesome! As handsome as he is on TV, he's much more handsome in person, and up close! LOL. And it is true what they say about the camera adding ten pounds. Those people were S-K-I-N-N=Y!!! A lot skinnier than they look on television!

Last night's show was only an hour. Which is good. The seats were folding chairs and extremely small in size. It was hot and there's no way I think I could have lasted through two hours, like tonight's finale. For anyone who's ever gone to television tapings of any kind, knows that there is a warm up person who keeps the audience entertained during the commercial breaks with annoying and repetitive stupid jokes, and gets you energized and clapping when coming back from a commercial. I don't think we could have stand to have listened to him for two hours either.

It was so much fun to see the stars who came out to support the remaining dancers. Stars who'd been on the show in previous seasons, a few who got eliminated earlier this season. We saw Jane Seymour and her husband Stacey Keach, Monique Coleman (Taylor McKessie from High School Musical), Vivica A. Fox, Emmitt Smith, Leeza Gibbons, Steve Wozinak aka The Dancing Ewok in my book. Along with Shawn Johnson's parents, Gilles Marini wife and little boy, who really aren't stars, but still you knew who they were and it was neat to see them in person supporting their loved one.

We were not allowed to bring any cameras into the studio, including cell phones. So I don't have any pictures to share of our evening except for this one of the building. Dancing With The Stars is an ABC show, but it tapes at the CBS studios. Weird. After the taping of the show and taking a little bit of a tour of Hollywood, we made our way back onto the freeway towards home, stopping off for a nice dinner at Applebees. I haven't watched the episode on Tivo yet, I'll do that this afternoon. But I had so much fun and would most definitely do it again if given the opportunity to do so!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Busy Week

As I've been adding stuff to the calendar over the weekend, once again the coming weeks are busy ones. This week is a busy one, but what awaits me at the end of this week will get me through this busy week with no problem. We will be camping at the beach for this Memorial Day weekend.

This week was busy enough, with today being my only down day, that is until I got the email on Friday afternoon to go to the Dancing with the Stars finale this evening in Hollywood!!! We're leaving by 1:30 as they start taping LIVE at 5:00. We have to really dress up. I'm super excited and I can't believe we're actually going! Steven is picking up Hannah, as well as Cathleen's kids from school, and dropping them off at home to their older sister. Our girls will be here at home while Steven finishes up his work day. I'm thankful that Steven encourages me to go to things that come up despite it being in the middle of his work day. I pray that the kids will cooperate and not bug him from 2:30 until 5:30, when he's normally done working. LOL.

The rest of the week is busy with preschool, the final PTA meeting for this school year, a Praying Parents meeting on Wednesday night, a Bible Study on Thursday night, and all the while packing and getting stuff around for the weekend. I CANNOT wait to be at the ocean and just relax a bit.

And with that...it's time to get Hannah up for school. Have a great Monday! Look for me in the audience of Dancing With The Stars!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Teacher Appreciation - at The Elementary School

Monday kicks off Teacher Appreciation Week at Hannah's School. The coordinator for this event is amazing. She comes up with a theme and incorporates it throughout the week. This years them is "Teachers and Staff at :::insert school name::: ROCK!".

Everyday the teachers will get some sort of a treat associated with the theme. There will be a breakfast and a luncheon on different days next week. And the efforts will be great to let the teachers and staff know how much they are appreciated.

Then there is the classroom acknowledgment and celebration of letting our teacher know she's appreciated. The PTA gives the Room Mom a list of their teacher's favorite things and we can use that information as we want. For the last three years of being the Room Mom, I've done something different each day, this year is no different. The following is how I mapped out for our classroom to acknowledge Teacher Appreciation Week:

Monday: Flower Day
Roses are Mrs. Tatman’s favorite flower. Do you have any growing in your yard? Or how about a hand drawn one from your 3rd grader.

Tuesday: Sweets Day
Mrs. Tatman isn’t a big fan of coffee or hot tea, but she loves hot chocolate. And she loves chocolate candy. Let’s show our sweet teacher how much we appreciate her by bringing in her favorite sweets!

Wednesday: Homemade Cards and Pictures Day
Let’s tell Mrs. Tatman how much we think she ROCKS by showering her with homemade cards and pictures!

Thursday: Restock the Class Store Day
One of the things Mrs. Tatman expressed a need for on her list of favorites, are items for the classroom store. Fun and simple things can always be picked up at The Dollar Tree or the .99 Cent Store. Does your 3rd grader have an idea of what they’d like to see in the classroom store? If so, bring it in and lets stock the store!

Friday: Gift Card Day
Some of Mrs. Tatman’s favorite places to frequent are Target, Kohls, Miguel’s Jr, Claim Jumper, and Chile’s. How wonderful would it be if we could send her out on a nice meal or a little shopping spree compliments of her 3rd graders and their families. Even if everyone only gave $1, it’d still be a nice gift card. If you would like to contribute towards a gift card(s), please get me your donations ASAP. I’ve attached an envelope with my name on it, if you would like to put your donation in it and have your student place it into the plastic container in the classroom with my name on it, I will see about collecting from that every day. Please write your students name on the envelope.

Of course, participation in any of the activities is voluntary. I try to come up with very simple ways we can express our appreciation that hopefully makes it easy for everyone to participate one or two of the days. Years past, I've always been dealing with the same 18-20 families. But since being split up this school year, I'm not sure what to expect out of the families in our class. So far, I have only had one family send any thing my way towards that gift card on Friday. I'm hoping that the other days will have participation and that it'll be a great celebration for our teacher on the classroom level.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Not Enough Instructional Time

Last night, I received a call from a friend who heard it from our PTA president (who's husband is also on the school board), that our school apparently did not acquire enough instructional time this school year and therefore will have it's school year extended by one week. Having our last day of school be Friday, June 26th, instead of Thursday, June 18th. Official notices are supposed to go home on Monday.

If our school does not comply, the school district will have to pay the State of California over a million dollars.

I find it hard to believe our students have not had enough instructional time this last year. A couple of the times that Hannah was off track this year was one week less than than the times she was off track all the previous years. I'm not sure how much education will take place that extra week. Our kids are ready for the school year to be over, as are our teachers.

It's only a week, but I'm sure glad I didn't have reservations to fly out to Maui that original week we thought we'd be off. LOL.

**EDITED TO ADD ~ I heard this morning that our last day of school won't be until Monday, June the 29th, or possibly even Tuesday, June the 30th.

Friday, May 15, 2009

So Excited!!!

A few months ago, I put my name on the waiting list to be a member in the audience for Dancing with the Stars. This afternoon, I received an email offering me tickets for either Monday or Tuesday night's show...the FINALS! I chose tickets for Monday night. That way we get to see the celebrities dance their assigned dance for the week, as well as their freestyle dance. And I got to request up to four tickets, so I did and thought about who'd I'd ask once I secured my tickets! It looks like it'll be me, my Mom, my Sister-in-law Grace, and my girlfriend, Cathleen.

It looks like the Mommy van will turn into the Party Van come Monday afternoon about 1:30 when we hit the freeway and head into to HOLLYWOOD. I'm so excited!

It will be so much fun! I can't wait to see all the dancers dance in person. And see Shawn Johnson, and Cheryl Burke and Gilles, and Tony. It's going to be a blast!

My Kids are Growing Up

Last night, we attended our last Preschool Open House. It was a bittersweet. Our girls are growing up.We discovered this preschool in 2003 when our friends had a kid enrolled there. It is the last of the 'traditional preschools' in our area. There is no day care. There isn't extended care into the evening. No babies. It's exactly what the name says pre-school. They learn through play and hands on and developmentally appropriate activities.

Within the first week of Hannah attending, we knew that at that time, homeschooling wasn't for us (I had planned on homeschooling up to that point). Hannah attended two years there. Rachel was born at the start of her second year and was placed on the waiting list for the 2007-2008 school year.

In the last two years, because I didn't have any other children at home, I've been really involved. I've subbed at the school. I've helped in the classroom, I go on the field trips. I've been there a lot, especially this year. I've gotten to know all the teachers really well, and I've even been offered a job for next year.

This preschool has been a great place for both of my girls. It's stretched them. They've learned social skills, fine motor skills, along with a lot of other things and still had tremendous amounts of fun. While it's exciting to be moving on to new things, let alone have both the girls at the same school and cut down on my driving from one town to the next, LOL, we'll most definitely miss F*MPS and the place it's served in our children's lives.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Children and Sleep

People often marvel at the fact that our girls go to bed between 7:30 and 8:00 every night. There are a few nights when it's a little bit later, such as Monday nights for Hannah because she has Karate. But other than that, we pretty much stick to the bed times.

Sticking to an evening routine and getting our kids into bed relatively early does two things 1) it gives me and Steven a few hours together without the kids and 2) the sole reason that kids need their sleep.

I came across this article online recently from the National Sleep Foundation (who knew there was such a foundation!) about children and sleep and how important evening routines are for children getting a good nights sleep. I was glad to read it and see that we pretty much implement the things they suggest.

How about any of you? Do you guys have bed times for your kids? Do you follow an evening routine and stick to it?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Free Chocolate!!!

In recent months, we've seen restaurant chains and fast food companies reaching out to cash-strapped consumers by charging a very popular price: FREE!

Chick-fil-A, El Pollo Loco, and KFC, all have had free food promotions in recent weeks and last Friday, the newest national handout began - FREE CHOCOLATE! Yes, you read that right, free chocolate!

On May 7th, MARS chocolate rolled out their newest campaign, "Real Chocolate Relief Act" and every Friday, now through September, American's can claim one of 250,000 full value coupons by visiting the website, RealChocolate.com.

The coupons are limited to one per person, per week. But are redeemable for any full size 'real chocolate' product!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Miss California Keeps Her Crown

I don't know how many people know about the recent happenings in the pageant world. But on April 19th, at the Miss USA pageant, when asked by one of the judges how she would define marriage, Miss California stood up for her beliefs and said that she believed marriage should be between a man and a woman.

That statement caused a huge uproar and her Miss California Crown was sought out to be taken away.

But today, in a press conference, pageant owner, Donald Trump, said Carrie Prejean can keep her crown.

Way to go Miss California for standing up for what you believe and for being the voice of many Californians. And way to go Mr. Trump for allowing her to keep her crown!

I HATE Cats

If you're a lover of cats, you might want to skip reading this post today. Come back later and see if there is a new post, or even tomorrow. Because I'm going to rant about the neighborhood cats and it's not going to be pretty.
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I hate cats. The word "hate" is a very strong word, but that's how I'm feeling these days.

For the last several nights, there has been a neighborhood cat, who's it is, I have no idea, it's not familiar to me, roaming about the backyard in the still of the night, when people are sound asleep. That is until the stupid cat starts whinning and whimpering and making all sorts of loud noises. She's apparently in heat, thus the wild and crazy sound effects.

Friday night was the absolute worst. It was off and on ALL NIGHT LONG. And it sounded as if our backyard was the only one being graced with the performance. The next few nights haven't been nearly as bad, but still enough to wake us up in the night.

I looked up online how long a cat can be in heat, and she can be in heat anywhere from 2 to 19 days! I'm hoping that for this cat, it's no where near the latter of those two numbers!

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Weekend in Review

It's Monday again.

Why is it the weekends seem to go by so quickly? This past weekend was a full one once again.

Friday afternoon, following school, me and the girls went to my friend Anna's house to help with food preparation for the tea on Saturday. We diced, chopped, and diced some more. We made chicken salad for sandwiches and made this really yummy cream cheese spread for tortilla spirals. It was a great time of fellowship and the kids all enjoyed playing together. This picture was taken of me and Anna at the tea, I love this picture. It's actually a good picture of the both of us. On Saturday, there was the Mother/Daughter Tea. Following the tea, Steven's mom spent the remainder of the afternoon and evening with us. Hannah got her birthday presents from Gramie and we went to dinner, followed by girls and Gramie watching a movie.

Sunday morning was church. The whole service was dedicated to mother's. Following the service, the men put on a nice brunch in honor of all the moms. They did a great job and everything tasted pretty good. The fellowship that follows brunch or lunch at the church is always good, sitting around, talking, enjoying one another's company.

Late Sunday afternoon, my entire family - parents, brother, sister-in-law, nieces, and us, all met at The Cheesecake Factory for dinner. My brother and Dad got there and got our name in around 3:00. We were seated just under two hours later. But the food and our time together was great. The cheesecake that Steven and I enjoyed later in the evening while watching the season finale of The Amazing Race was a great too!

Following dinner, we went and met the newest member of the family. Molly. She's 8 weeks old and is soft and just the cutest thing. It's my brother and sister-in-laws new chocolate lab puppy! We had warned our girls in the car about being jealous, not asking if we could get a puppy, etc, etc, etc. But once Steven and I saw Molly, we were in awe of cute that lil puppy was, and borderline thought perhaps we'd want one. She was springy. She was cute. She has the most lovable face. Almost had me wanting a dog... ...But then I remembered that Grace was up every three hours the night before with the crying puppy, and that upon coming home from dinner, Molly had gotten out of her kennel and managed to have some accidents around the house and got into the laundry. Yea, as cute as she is, I'm not ready for any of that. I think we'll just make more visits to my brother's house. LOL.

So it's Monday again, and there is laundry to be done. It's a good thing that Hannah got clothes from Gramie for her birthday on Saturday, and could wear a new outfit to school today, everything else she owns appears to be in the hamper! LOL. Have a great day!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Ten Things About My Momma

1. She's been a stay at home Mom just about all of my life. There was a short stent where she worked at the needlepoint store, but not for long. She's a stay at home mom to this day and I'm 35 years old. I love still having my Mom be at home for when I, or my own daughters, need her.

2. She's a good cook. Growing up, my Mom always made good meals, we're not talking Hamburger Helper, grilled cheese, or other simple meals, we're talking the kind of meals she put thought and effort into. Following the year that my Gramma died, she put together a spiral bound cookbook of all our families' favorite recipes. I know it's because of her example, that I am the kind of cook I am today for my own family.

3. She has a great fear of lizards. Runs in the family. About a year ago, there was a lizard in the house, and my Dad was at work, and she called me of all people to come and help her get the lizard out of the house. Steven so graciously rescued my Mom by going over in the middle of the work day to save her from the lizard. LOL.

4. She writes great devotions. The Lord has blessed her with a gift for writing devotions. Someday, she hopes to have them published, but for now, she keeps them on a blog, Beside Still Waters.

5. She and my Dad will be married for 40 years next January. They only knew each other 2 weeks before becoming engaged.

6. Was born in Holland, Michigan, and moved to Southern California when she was 13. It was a culture shock even back then.

7. My mom was involved in the Women's Ministry for many, many years in several different positions. She was one of the Bible Fellowship teachers for many years, and continues to do some 'speaking engagements' from time to time now. Her next one will be at her church tea at the end of the month.

8. My mom Has a strong place in her heart for teaching Titus 2, where the older women teach the young. She's a big time supporter of stay at home moms and taking care of ones family. She's always a huge encourager to me in this area.

9. All four of her granddaughters think she looks like the Fairy Godmother from Cinderella. Whenever any of them see the Fairy Godmother they shout "There's Gramma!".

10. She's the best Mom any kids could have and I'm so glad she's my Mom.

Happy Mother's Day Mom! I Love You!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mother/Daughter Tea

Today was a Mother/Daughter tea at the church and I took my own Mama, Hannah, and invited Steven's mom as well. We were placed at the table in which my friend was hosting and it was nice having the two families of mothers, grandmothers, grandchildren, and a sister sit together. The lunch was lovely and the devotional was nice too.

Mother's Day Thoughts

On Pastor Greg Laurie's blog on Friday, he had his wife, Cathe, share on Mother's Day. I loved her post and wanted to share it ~

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What Mothers Really Want

What I want for Mother’s Day this year really isn’t much. In my opinion, the flowers fade, the perfume evaporates into the air, that new dress eventually ends up on a rack at the Salvation Army store, and you may miss out on what moms actually want.

I don’t think I’m alone in thinking the day has been hijacked by card companies, florists, and restaurants. But don’t let them pressure you into spending more than you can afford on a superficial trinket.

Here are three gifts that I think will not be forgotten:

1. A card with a handwritten note.

Not a cheesy rhyme on a pre-written card. Rather, a card, (handmade ones are the best) that says something specific and personal about why you are thankful for your mom.

One of my favorite cards I ever received was from my youngest son Jonathan. Christopher, older by 11 years and very artistic, gave me some amazing cards over the years. His cards would feature clever images and designs that were uniquely his own, and I loved and treasure every one.

But one Mother’s Day, when Jonathan was just a little boy, I opened a card that melted my heart and it still does every time I look at it. In big wobbly block letters, he printed:

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY, MOM.

I KNOW MY CARD ISN’T AS GOOD AS TOPHER’S, BUT I TRIED JUST AS HARD.

I LOVE YOU, JONATHAN.

Priceless!

2. A long hug.

I mean it. A long hug. Let us be the one to let go first! I want to feel your heart on mine.

My mother is a great hugger and kisser. She never entered the room without greeting us with a big hug and kiss that felt as if she was trying to inhale part of us into her.

I love hugs like that. Both of our boys are great huggers and it is one of my greatest joys this side of heaven.

3. Verbalize your love.

Look her in the eyes, let them linger a moment, then smile and say, “I love you. Thank you for being my mom.”

These are some thoughts that I hope you will find helpful as you think about the perfect gift for your mothers.

And finally, some advice for moms on Mother’s Day.

If you get a Mother’s Day card from your child, I encourage you to cherish it. Save it and keep it safe where you can find it later, years later, to read. They will especially come in handy during those teen years, when you may love them but frankly you find there is more friction than when they are younger.

In a lifetime of mothering, you may end up with a box full of cards, but nothing is a greater validation of what you have accomplished with your life.

If you get a hug, wrap your arms around them and don’t let go until they do, and then hold them a bit longer. And if you don’t get a hug from them, hug them anyway.

I remember hugging my teenage Topher and saying, “I know you may not like me very much right now, but I will never stop loving you!” Years later, he thanked me for those very words and hugs.

If you can hear their voice say, “I love you,” listen with your heart and let it sink in.

So can I, on behalf of all the mothers out there, tell all of you that it is the greatest privilege in the world to be a mom? We may sigh and groan and cry at times, but nothing—no high-paying job or celebrated career—can ever pay what we receive in the long run.

“Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” (Proverbs 31:30).

Happy Mother’s Day!

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As I was reading through this. something jumped out at me..."A long hug. Let us be the one to let go first! I want to feel your heart on mine."

Wow. Those are some strong, intense words and I loved them. Right now, at this stage of motherhood, my kids are still into giving Mommy hugs, but I do love hugs, especially ones from my husband, and close ones, which seem far and few in between because there's usually a kid trying to get in the middle of the hug. LOL. But I love the statement 'I want to feel your heart on mine."

All in all, some excellent thoughts shared!

Friday, May 8, 2009

My Blogiversary!

I just realized something....

Today is my 1 year Blogiversary of "A Place of My Own"!

Thank You to all the friends, strangers, and stalkers, who keep coming back to read!

The Week In Pictures

This morning marked the end of the Teacher Appreciation Week at the preschool.

Everyday the teachers were greeted with a breakfast buffet and a new table theme/setting. Once they got the hang of that there was a new theme every day, they would come in before it was all set up and ask "what's today's theme?" in excitement.

They all loved it and thanked me and the other mom many times over. Here are a few pictures from the week.
Unfortunately, I didn't snap any pictures of the table on the tea party theme. But every day the table looked great and the teachers complimented and many asked if I could come decorate their house. LOL.

I'm glad this week is over. I've gone to the preschool everyday this week to set up and make things nice. Makes for a little extra running, which was all worth it for making the teachers week. But I'm sure glad Rachel doesn't go to preschool five days a week. I wouldn't like all that running! LOL.

I have a week's break and then Teacher Appreciation Week begins at Hannah's school on the 18th...where our 'staff and teachers ROCK!" ...our Theme for Teacher Appreciation Week this year. :)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Thursday's Thoughts...

Today was day 4 of setting up and providing a nice breakfast buffet for our preschool teachers. The support and outpouring of home baked goodies, as well as store bought, from the preschool families has been overwhelming. The teachers have very much appreciated the spoiling they've gotten thus far and I think today was the best yet. Today's table theme was a Garden theme (I'll share pictures soon). I've been going straight to the preschool every morning after dropping Hannah off at school and setting up the tables. It'll be nice when we get back to our normal next week. Myself and the other Mom who's coordinated all this did get a nice basket of flowers today as thank you from the director, that was nice!

So yesterday afternoon held quite the event for us, Hannah had four teeth pulled. There are pictures and details on her blog. My hate for the going to the dentist is lessening in recent months, especially since my last visit was so 'memorable'. LOL. Both our girls have long roads ahead of them dental wise and I pray I can be a good example and a good support when we are at appointments.I will admit, I had to look away when Dr Hoffer pulled out her tooth extracting tool and started going to town on Hannah's mouth. No thanks. LOL.

The last few days have been HOT here in Southern California and it just confirms that summer is around the corner. It's been 95+ the last couple of days and it shows no cooling down for the Mother's Day weekend. I CAN'T wait to go camping at the beach over Memorial Day Weekend.

Oh yeah, did I mention that Licehead , the child in Rachel's preschool class was sent home with Lice on Tuesday...AGAIN! Hello! This is at least the 4th or 5th time she's been sent home in the last two months! Thankfully she wasn't in class today. But there's always Tuesday for trying to sneak her back in!

Tonight starts a new Bible Study at our church, The Truth Project, and Steven and I are going together. I'm looking forward to going. Although, I hope someone remembers to get there early and turn on the air conditioning, or it'll be be uncomfortable. LOL.

Well, it's that time again. To load up into the car and go wait for Hannah to get out of school. I haven't heard from the school today, so she must be doing well. Although, she's not going to be happy to hear that her dentist just called and her impression broke this morning and she'll need to re-do it!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Must Have Candle

I brought this candle out the other day and I think it's my most favorite Yankee candle in a very long time.

It's Juicy Peach. And it smells so good, it makes you crave a peach. It smells exactly like a real, in season peach.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Changing out the Decor

Every few months, depending on the season, holiday, or time of the year, I change out the decor atop my kitchen counter.

For the past month or so, I've had out my Spring flowers and my beautiful Winnie the Pooh Spring tea pot with its matching sugar and creamer. I've had my Spring table cloth on the dinning room table with my container of silk, but oh so real looking, tulips. Well Spring has Sprung and it's time to move on...

Time to move on to my "May/June decor". LOL. Brightly flowered place mats on the end of the counter bar, one having a vase of fake brightly colored gerber daisies, the other end a white plate with a coordination ribbon that sometimes has a written message on it. I also brought out a new Yankee jar candle I'd gotten on clearance. It's peach and to have it burning makes me long for a good, juicy peach. The smell is amazing and yet again Yankee has conquered a scent right on! That's sitting atop the counter as well.

I love changing out the decorations in our immediate living area, i.e. the kitchen and the family room. It changes things up every few months and you don't get tired of the same ole' things sitting out all year long. Anyone else do the same?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Summer Nights Are Gonna be AWESOME!

Disney announced their new summer promotion this past week and it's focusing on nighttime! The promotion is called "Summer Nightastic!" and from the looks of the videos I've seen, summer nights are going to be AWESOME!!

Disney is known for it's outstanding firework displays and this summer is predicted to be the best yet. "Magical" the new fireworks will debut Friday, June 12th and run through August. This will be the first new fireworks show since the 50th Anniversary fireworks debuted four years ago.

Broadway star, and former Disneyland Cast Member, Eden Espinoza, will sing featured songs from Mary Poppins, Dumbo, and Pinocchio. We saw Eden Espinoza play the part of Elphedra in WICKED last November and it will be a real treat to hear her sing the Disney songs. For the first time ever - Dumbo is going to fly, high above Sleeping Beauty's castle! Imagineers are working hard behind the scenes to put the finishing touches on the flying elephant and they promise it'll be a sight to see!

The other nighttime spectacular not to miss this summer will be the revamp of Fantasmic! It's been 18 years since Fantasmic first debuted and the time has come to upgrade it to the times! The images of Fantasmic will now be projected in HD, high definition, which is really going to make the experience all the better. There's a new 40 foot dragon, a new crocodile that follows Captain Hook, and a couple new cast members to join the Fantasmic cast, Flotsam and Jetsam from The Little Mermaid. Some great improvements are being made to an already favorite attraction and it's for sure on our list of things to see at least a few times this summer!

When the Electrical Parade returned to California Adventure in 2001, it returned without a couple of floats familiar to the fans. The coal mine float from Snow White and the two floats from Pinoochios' Pleasure Island. Those floats are :::finally!::: making a comeback to the Electrical Parade this summer! There will be a new addition as well. With the outstanding success of Tinkerbell, she'll now have her own float that leads the parade! This parade is a favorite of Rachel's and we'll for sure make an effort to see this nighttime parade a time or two this summer!

All these new things are going to be awesome! And we can't wait to see the new things and the improvements made to some already pretty amazing attractions. We can't wait for Summer Nightastic!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Teacher Appreciation Week - at the Preschool

Next week is Teacher Appreciation Week at the preschool. Years past, it's been pretty simple, kept at the classroom level, as far as I know. But this year, another Mom had the great idea to put on a breakfast brunch every morning in honor of the teachers, assistants, and other important staff at the preschool.

Having been a part and seen the effort and creativeness at our elementary school for Teacher Appreciation Week, I joined in on the efforts to make each morning special and memorable. And it's shaping out to be a great week for the teachers!

Every morning, we are having parent volunteers bring in breakfast-like things - muffins, bagels, donuts, fruit, etc, etc, etc. We're setting up a buffet table pretty and doing it up different everyday. I've come up with these clever little sayings that I've printed out and will put into an 8x10 frame, along with creative 'party' favor treats for everyday. These are what I've come up with for the week:

Day 1:
"Just as a cup of tea is soothing and realaxing,
so is the environment our ::insert school name:: teachers create".

The table will have tea cup napkins and I plan on bringing one of my pretty tea pots in and decorating the table pretty, as if for a tea party. The favor for that day is a tea bag taped on a pretty piece of paper.

Day 2:
"::Insert name of school:: teachers have an endless supply
of Hugs and Kisses.'

Table will have pink plates and leftover cups from Valentines Day. The favor for that day is little treat bags with Hershey's Kisses and Hershey's Hugs.

Day 3:
"There are NO tarts at our school, all our ::insert school name:: teachers are sweet!"

Turquiose table cloth, polka dot napkins, Bright fun colors. The party favor, little packages of Sweet Tarts tied together with curling ribbon.

Day 4:
"::Insert School Name:: teachers help our little seedlings blossom..."

The table will be all in green...green table cloth, napkins, cups, plates. I hope to have potted flowers. The party favor will be a garden tool with a packet of seeds attached.

Day 5:
"Just as a bookmark marks a place in a book,
so do the teachers at ::insert school name::...
They mark a special place in our little ones' lives."

The table will be decorated in pastel colors. Party favor for the day are bookmarks made from craft foam with the above saying typed and printed on the back.

I think the teachers will be blessed, surprised, and made to feel special. I can't wait for the week to come and see how it all goes. Meanwhile, I'm also starting to work on things for Teacher Appreciation Week at Hannah's school the week of May 18th!