Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

The funniest part of this day to me was when Sam woke up around 7 and asked for a bath. I said, "Sam... i think Santa may have come to visit our house... i bet there are presents under the tree." To which he replied... "Nope... i want to take a baaaaaath." So a bath he got. With bubbles and toys. We weren't in any rush! (p.s. Thom is not present in the photos as he too didn't take much care into Santa coming... he chose to sleep in!)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Photo Du Jour

My dad amazes me. He'll read this and blush, i'm sure.

For as long as i can remember, my father has had an affinity for building snowmen. Remember the Blizzard of '78? Of course you do (that is, if you were ALIVE then!). Well, there was my dad, snow practically over HIS head (he's 6'4"), with a towering snowman. Along with, of course, a shoveled out 'maze' for our boxer dog Cindy. I remember making tunnels, the snow was so high.

But i digress.

So here's Dad, today, standing next to JUST THE BODY (head forthcoming) of his latest creation out of our recent snowfall. It looks like it's about 9 feet high so far. The mound of snow in front is going to be a head in a day or two.

I can't wait for the finale. I also can't wait to see Sam's reaction. I'll be sure to capture that too, if i can.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Bacon n Eggs

Have you ever seen anything AS CUTE AS THIS!? My friend Pam made these for our Christmas Cookie Swap this past Sunday. It's 2 pretzel stix ("bacon"), a glob of melted white chocolate topped with a yellow m&m ("the eggs").

Friday, December 05, 2008

Thanksgiving Day

What a great time had by all 15 of us! Since there were so many of us, we decided to have it in the basement of Shirley's church in Candor. It was open and available and all we had to do was leave it spic n span. We had a smorgasboard of food - so much so, that Ron accidentally left the potatoes and yams (which he had doctored, which were SO YUMMY! Darnit) in the oven! We had a Tom Turkey, a variety of gourmet cheeses courtesy of Hope and Sebastien. We had salads and breads and veggies and crackers and dips. Yum. Your standard "largess" fare. The company was really nice as well. It was cool that Hope and Sebastien were able to make it all the way from Vancouver, BC Canada. It was especially nice also that Ron's friend Dylan and Shirley's cousin Pat and her son Marty could come as well. Sam was able to run amok and that was kinda cool too. I hope everyone else's holiday was as happy as ours. We have much to be thankful for these days. Well - - everyday, really!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Like Taking Candy From a Baby

Many of you already know that Ron and I listen to NPR Radio quite often, at work and at home. I appreciate the news stories they deliver, as they are often unconventional and thoroughly captivating.

As a photography major, I was intrigued by a story about Jill Greenberg's exhibit entitled "End Times." She photographed babies and toddler's in the middle of a crying fit (as a result of quite literally giving them a lollipop, then taking it away), to illustrate her (and the world's, really) growing concern about our economy, social situation and environment.

Jill Greenberg explains, “The children I photographed were not harmed in any way. And, as a mother, I am quite aware of how easily toddlers can cry. Storms of grief sweep across their features without warning; a joyful smile can dissolve into a grimace of despair. The first little boy I shot, Liam, suddenly became hysterically upset. It reminded me of helplessness and anger I feel about our current political and social situation. The most dangerous fundamentalists aren’t just waging war in Iraq; they’re attacking evolution, blocking medical research and ignoring the environment. It’s as if they believe the apocalyptic End Time is near, therefore protecting the earth and future of our children is futile. As a parent I have to reckon with the knowledge that our children will suffer for the mistakes our government is making. Their pain is a precursor of what is to come.”

The boy in the middle of the grid reminds me of Sam. I have seen Sam crying like this over something incredibly trivial. Then, within seconds, he is laughing and showing me a toy, tears still wet on his face. Ms. Greenberg's images have stirred controversy over the CRUELTY she used to capture the children's expressions. I'm am wholly convinced that these distraught, "concerned" individuals do not have children nor have been exposed to the roller coaster of emotions a toddler experiences. I simply roll my eyes and soak in the beauty of these images; the color and lighting are extraordinary. I will be looking into Ms. Greenberg's work further.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Good God

Just when I'm sitting here, sipping my luke-warm hot chocolate, thinking of ways to create holiday traditions with my children that have the theme of love and caring, and NOT focusing on commercialism, i have to hear about an employee of Wal-Mart being trampled TO DEATH by Black Friday Shopping Freaks. Today. The day after giving thanks for what we do have and what we appreciate in our lives.

Oh yeah - - and a pregnant woman miscarried, too. So TWO LIVES were taken.

Honestly, people. Is buying a big-screen television for a small fraction off the regular price worth the LIFE of a human being, whose death will no doubt create a domino effect of great loss this Christmas season??? I'm guessing he had kids...

What a way to go.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I Don't Wanna Jinx Stuff, But....

Sam is ROCKIN' OUT in the potty-training department. At least for the past 3-4 days, he's really been 'getting' it!!!! Yesterday was especially good. He kept his big boy undies (padded training pants) dry all day (barring one minor dribble) and did '#2' THREE TIMES, all three times independently, as in running over, droppin' his drawers, and doin' the deed. GOOD BOY!!!! I think we hit a milestone. I'm hoping it sticks.

Funny story: During all this, Sam's been coy with me a couple times. He'll be playing and running around, and then he'll lean over, teasingly, butt out and facing me, hip to one side, shirt lifted, head looking back at me over his shoulder (I do hope i've created a visual for you!) and say: "See my LIL BUTT?!" Then i usually say, "yes Sam... cute lil butt." But sometimes he goes on and on and i'll eventually say, "That's enough, Sam."

Yesterday i was putting dishes away, not facing him. He says, "Mom, come wipe my BUTT!" Me: "What did you say to me Sam?" Sam: "Come wipe my BUTT!" Me: "Sam, that's enough, please don't talk to me that way." Sam: "MOM - COME WIPE MY BUTT!" This time, he's yelling FROM the potty in the other room. His first "request" was a way of telling me he was on his way! OMG, i laughed so hard. And here i thought he was doing more of his teasing. He can bark THIS particular order at me ANY DAY if it means i don't have to change messy pants!!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

From the Eyebrows Up...

... My kids are nuts.Eraserhead, anyone?

Mr. and Mrs. Clause Come to Town!

Ron and I got to play Mr. and Mrs. Kris Kringle last Thursday night for a local Vets Lodge. They have a tree-lighting ceremony outside their place every year, and Natalie happens to know the woman organizing it. This year, the lady, Hilda, complained to Natalie: "I don't know WHERE I'm going to find a Santa!!" And Natalie said, "Don't worry - I've got the PERRFECT Santa for you!"

And PERFECT Ron was. Totally believable in every sense of the word. Ron acted the part wonderfully and genuinely and i thoroughly enjoyed watching the children's eye light up. I only got to play Mrs. Clause on a whim. When Hilda was calling to set up the details for Ron, i tossed out there: "Do you have a Mrs. Clause suit?" Turns out they did - AND IT FIT (whew!)!!

Ron and i met at the Corning Fire house to get dressed. We were being escorted to the Lodge on a firetruck with all the sirens and lights! Pulling up to the lodge, i could see a TON of people waiting for Santa. As soon as we stepped off, i could hear all these voices, young and old: "Look!... It's SANTA.... AND MRS. CLAUSE TOO!" It occurred to me very quickly that i was no longer Chris but MRS. CLAUSE. In that moment, i put on the sugar-sweet smile and Miss America wave. I leaned down and cuddled children. I told Mr. Clause when a child was tugging on HIM for a hug. WHATTA SHOW!!! WHATTA THRILL!!! I mean - wow. I loved it. And i know Ron did too.

So for about an hour and a half, Ron and i sat at the front of the room, handing out candy-canes and listening to Christmas wishes. Several children brought pictures to us that they had colored. Some parents leaned in close to hear what their children wanted, and i saw many eyebrows raise and nods of realizations. One child wanted a remote-controlled tarantula! One child wanted happiness. And a lot of the kids looked to the ceiling for assistance, many not finding their answer. To that, they got TWO candy-canes, to help along the thinking process. Haha.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Bit of a Podium for a Second, if you Please...

It's not often i toot my horn on a controversial matter, but i saw this picture of our President-Elect and was moved by the blurb i read with the picture. I then clicked a link and was led to 'Baby's' story. This is a topic I've been relatively silent about for years, but have had a very strong opinion about. Puppy mills are a total travesty and a disgusting testament to the treatment of innocent animals. I would never ever buy a dog from a pet store (on this, i CAN say "NEVER!"), and I would like for you to read Baby's story as well. Mr. Obama has publicly announced his desire to save a dog from a shelter and to make it the First Dog for his daughters. He is also the first president[-elect] to be supported by the Humane Society.

Click on Mr. Obama's picture please.

The below photo shows Obama with "Baby," a three-legged dog that lost its fourth limb following years of mistreatment at a California puppy mill. The toy poodle spent much of its life locked in a small wire cage. The breeders cut out Baby's vocal chords so that they would not have to hear her cries. In cages next to her, other dogs literally went insane, spinning repetitively with blank stares. Still others were gravely ill, maimed and had filthy, matted coats. A number was tattooed on the inside of Baby's ear, marking her as just one of many dogs at the mill.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Happy 3rd Birthday, Samson!

We celebrated Sam's birthday last night since Ron has to work today, Sunday, on Sam's actual birthday. Which worked out great for everyone, really. Attending were Sam's 'Nanny' (Shirley), 'Pop-Pop' (Andy) and Natalie. We started out with supper at Spencer's (yummy) and got home to eat cake and open presents.

Earlier in the day, I took on the task of making a Thomas the Tank Engine cake. I'll admit, on Friday, when i came up with this idea, i ALMOST caved on my way out of Wegmans and just ordered a cake with Thomas on it. But then I said, "no - - no - - *I* can do this. I'm a freakin ARTIST, afterall." So i surfed online and found an idea, and decided I could do the same.

So it's Saturday morning. There's me, and cake, and melted white chocolate that i'm going to dye into the colors of Thomas. While the cake is baking, i realize that i cannot make the color BLACK. There is a lot of black on Thomas. My friend Natalie attempted to help me in suggesting i mix all the colors i have to make black and I **SNAP** at her and say "I'm an ART MAJOR - - YOU CANNOT MIX ANY AMOUNT OF COLORS TO MAKE BLACK! You get sh*t brown." Let this be a public apology to Natalie for snapping. I was starting to literally sweat. The clock with ticking; Ron took Sam out gallavanting, giving me time to make the cake.

I gathered myself together and thought to call my buddy Linda who works in the Bakery at Wegmans. I said, "Linda - how do you make black for cake frosting?" She said, "we have it here. Come get some, hunny." So Natalie came to my rescue again and went and got it and brought it over.

To my surprise and slight disappointment, adding dye (the black i got from bakery, as well as food coloring - the kind you use to dye eggs at Easter) changes the composition of the melted white chocolate wafers. It immediately turns them into hard SPACKLE! Whatta bummer. So there i was, completely using my fingers to manipulate the colored chocolate into the shapes of Thomas. In case you are wondering how i did that: I laid a color photocopy of Thomas under a piece of parchment paper (that i snagged from the Sub Shop - s'good to work at a grocery store!). The IDEA was to make Thomas all out of chocolate, then slide it off the parchment paper right onto the top of the cake. I think it would have worked great had the chocolate not turned so hard SO QUICKLY.

Well, i eventually finished Thomas, cut the paper around him, and gently placed him on top of the chocolate cake covered with French vanilla frosting (yum!). He cracked a little because the top of the cake was a little rounded. But it looked good. I stored him in the basement under a big roasting pan cover until the Big Moment.

Sam's eyes LIT UP! It was all worth it! We all said, "Sam... who is that?" and he exclaimed "THOMAS!!!" Then he dug right into him. I knew that the black dye was pretty fierce; when i was making it, my fingers were black. So right away, Sam's whole mouth, inside and out, was BLACK. Scary! But he was really digging the dyed Thomas, so we let it fly. Soon we all had a slice of cake and then migrated to the living room to open presents.

Sam's latest thing is PUZZLES, so i suggested for everyone to give him one. He got "Grouchy Ladybug" and "The Very Hungry Catepillar" puzzles (by Eric Carle), a clown puzzle, and a Halloween puzzle. He also got a Magic Thomas Marker and Activity Book, as well as a couple other activity books (tracing and counting). Sam is big into LEARNING stuff. He's mastered his alphabet (and doesn't even know the Alphabet Song), and is really into shapes, colors and new words. I would love it if we could learn to read before kindergarten. No pressure of course - just the joy of learning, working its magic.

Happy Birthday Sam! You are our awesome little boy, and you make us smile every day!

Click on this pic if you dare to see the after-effects of eating black dye...