Thursday, January 26, 2012

Happy 16th

Today is Stan's birthday, but we aren't celebrating until the weekend, so I'll post more about him later, but in the meantime, Happy Birthday, Darling!

It has put me in a birthday mood, though, so I thought I'd finish this post that has been waiting as a draft for a couple of weeks.

Rachel is 16!

Happy Birthday Rachel!!!!

Rachel, Sara and Summer were getting home from San Francisco the night of Rachel's birthday, so we threw her a surprise party. It was a a little nerve wracking after I told a bunch of teenagers to come over at 7:30 to have my three travelers call and say they were running two hours late, but with some help from Rachel's darling friend Jillian (who helped a lot with the guest list) we got a hold of everyone and told them to come later.

For our Christmas letter Kelly asked everyone their favorite colors and, Rachel, being slightly pert, or maybe cheeky, answered gold and diamonds. So, I bought some stuff at the after Christmas clearances and we decorated for her party in bling!

Heather made her a sparkling banner.

Her chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.

I was a bit nervous about throwing my first party for teenagers, but got some good advice from my sister-in-law, Gina and from Anthony and made sure we had a LOT of food.

Besides cake and ice cream, we had chips and dips...

...a chocolate fountain with candy, cookies, pretzels and fruit to dip in it...
(which was a gift from Matt and Steph - thanks again!)

...and s'mores...

...which were roasted over a bonfire in the backyard.

I gave the kids waiting in the garage my camera to videotape Rachel when they surprised her.

Hee hee :)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Weekend in PA

Michael and I flew to Pennsylvania a few weeks ago to see my parents. I was talking to my mom about it and she said, "Why don't you come the weekend of the farm show"?

Wow, I'm glad we did!

First, I want to say, the whole weekend was wonderful. It is always great to spend time with my parents. I enjoy both of them so much. I wish I lived closer. It was also fun to see my sister, Sara, brothers Toby and Matt, sister-in-law Steph, Matt and Steph's three girls, Ruby, Coral and Opal, Sara's boyfriend Greg and my good friend Cathy, with her son Daniel. I was having so much fun eating good food (including Sara's chocolate birthday tower of delights that had a layer of brownie, layer of chocolate cheesecake, two layers of chocolate cake and chocolate frosting, all made by my dad), playing board games, touring the Herr's Potato chip factory, shopping and chatting that I didn't take any pictures, except at the farm show, so if it seems that is all I have to tell you about the weekend is farm stuff, it is because that is all the visuals I have to offer.

So, on to the 96th annual Pennsylvania Farm Show! Here's the blurb from their website - Pennsylvania is proud to host the largest indoor agricultural exposition in the country, with nearly 6,000 animals, 10,000 competitive exhibits and 300 commercial exhibits.

I got ready before we left home by painting my toes in John Deere colors :)

Coincidentally, here is the first exhibit we stopped at. Michael and my dad were both excited for the day.

Next we, went to the cow barn. The noise was deafening! There were some moos, lots of talking, footsteps, public announcement system fuzziness, but that didn't explain it.

I couldn't figure it out for a minute. There was along line for the cow showers (cow wash?), but that wasn't all of it.

Oh, that was it! Hundreds of cows getting BLOWN DRY all at once! They had to look pretty for the judging in a couple of hours :)

Or maybe they were looking pretty to attract potential customers...

I am always impressed with the longhorns.

Then, it was on to the pigs, sheep and goats. If I told you it was much quieter in this barn, you can get an idea of how noisy cow beauty parlors can be.

This pig was really enjoying the scratching.

Here is the grand prize winner.

My dad wanted to get there early so that we could park close and not have to take the shuttle from the far parking lot. We were there by about 7:30 and, even though we were inside, it was chilly when we got there. The goats and sheared sheep were all wearing jackets. I thought this one had a sweet face. He (she?) was probably thinking my camera strap looked liked breakfast.

There were fun chickens and...

...fat rabbits.

We watched chicks hatching...

...and ducklings being oppressed.

There was a high school and middle school rodeo. I couldn't believe the twelve year old 7th graders riding full sized bulls! I was too tense wondering if they would die a gory death to take pictures. All I got were the rodeo princesses at the start. I miss riding a horse that I know well and can appreciate. If I believed in reincarnation, I would want to come back as a rodeo princess.

It is a fuzzy picure, but look at all that glitter!

There were all kinds of competitions on display, including floral arrangements, mushroom dioramas...

...cookies, pies, cakes, honey...

...apples, vegetables, wine (we met the grape princess) maple syrup...

...and the famous butter sculpture!

Michael's favorite part of the whole shebang was the butterfly house. We each got a q tip dipped in gatorade to feed the butterflies.

There were lots of them, mostly monarchs, but also swallowtails, painted ladies and buckeyes.

Guess which chrysalis is about to hatch.

Sara, with some hitchhikers.

Michael went through the butterfly house with me, my dad and Sara and then again with his aunt, uncle and cousins. Matt and Steph and the girls came from the D.C. area and met us after we had been there a couple of hours. Michael was so happy to have cousins to hang out with. At one point, we were separated from them in the crowd and it was all I could do to keep him from running off helter skelter to find them. Maybe that is why I don't have any pictures of Michael with his cousins. I was too busy hanging on to his collar to hold my camera. So I stole some pictures from their blog...

Coral, Ruby and Michael



Michael and Ruby, who is being idolized.

Can you see how happy he was to be with his cousins?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

December Catchup

Here's a bunch of stuff that went on last month. Stan took most of the kids to a grand reopening of a park near his office. They had a free pancake breakfast, balloon animals, cookie decorating and standing in line waiting to ride the trains. This park has miniature (but still large enough to ride on) steam powered trains.

I didn't go because it was my first time teaching bookbinding at our local art museum. I stressed and worried and had so much fun when I finally got to teach :)

Heather and Gwen took part in their piano teacher's annual Christmas recital.

Here are snatches of each of the pieces they played.

I took Michael to the Kindergarten/First Grade Christmas Party at school. Each kid made about eight different projects. This is a wreath made out of smashed Shredded Wheat cereal, Elmer's glue, green food coloring and beads.

Later in the month, Michael, Naomi and I went on a field trip to the International Printing Museum. It was fascinating.

This is their replica of the press that printed the Gutenberg Bible.

The linotype was amazing. I loved the clacketty sound it made.

I got a kick out of the juxtaposition of technologies we saw in the break room on the way to the restroom.

One of the best parts of last month was getting to spend time with Summer (who, of course, I don't have pictures of). She caught a ride home from the Y with one of her roommates and her friends. They stayed a couple nights while they went to some tourist attractions. they were all so nice and a delight to have as guests. I thought this was a fun pictures of the three girls, Veronica, Christina and Maggie with their Macs.

Henry favors Apple products, too :) I probably got to spend the most time talking to Henry for two reasons. One, he slept in the living room on the couch and got woken up earlier than anyone else by kids running around and, two, he spent awhile each day waiting for three females to finish getting ready. He is a great guy.

I went to Stan's company Christmas party with him. His coworkers are all so nice. This picture was during the white elephant gift exchange which I counted as a rousing success because the gift we brought was taken from one person by someone else and because Stan got the books he wanted. Can you tell I am a dyed in the wool introvert? Even though I was having fun, enjoying conversations, relishing the food, my hands are still twisted in a knot trying to survive being around all those people :)

Last month, we made 50+ treat plates. It is a good thing I have so many capable people working in the kitchen. This is definitely a group effort each year.

Heather wrapped her Christmas gifts beautifully.

For New's Year Eve, we ate fun food and played board games. Here is Naomi poking some caviar to see what she thinks of it.

Happy 2012!