10/31/2011

Weekend of Festivities

What a weekend!  My Friday School always has a costume parade before Halloween, but only for the Kindergarten children.  All of the other grades line the halls and clap as they come by.  Here are a few pictures:



Friday was cold and rainy, so I opted out of the football game.  I spent the evening baking for the band competition we hosted on Saturday.  (More on that tomorrow.)  This was the first time that the school we played has ever beat the Small Town.  After winning the state championship for 7 years in a row, it looks like the reign is over.  This is a different team:  I don't know if they've just become complacent, don't care, or don't have the talent as in the past.  I guess all good things must come to an end!  It would be nice to not have to make decisions about Thanksgiving based on a high school football game.
Saturday was our band competition.  We had 20 bands compete, and things went pretty smoothly.  We had planned on setting up tables on Friday night, but since it was raining had to wait until Saturday morning to do that.  Things were pretty hairy Saturday morning, but somehow everything came together.  We stayed pretty busy once things got rolling.
Sunday we were invited to a Halloween Party.  YS is friends with their oldest.  They have a party every year for the kids, and the kids usually go trick or treating, but since today is Halloween and it's a school night, they thought it would be more enjoyable to have it on Sunday evening instead.  The kids had a lot of fun:
(That's YS on the ground)
They played a game where everyone tied a balloon around their ankle, then they would try to pop each other's balloons.    This was my favorite costume of the night:
My contribution to the treat table:
I saw them at the band competition last weekend, and thought they were really cute.  They are just Nutter Butter Cookies dipped in white chocolate with mini chocolate chips for the eyes.  Really easy!
Tonight will be just another night.  We don't get trick or treaters because we live on a busy road, so it should be a relatively quiet night.  Tomorrow will be interesting though; hopefully the kids will be off of their sugar high!
Hope everyone has a Happy Halloween!

10/28/2011

Friday Fragments

Mommy's Idea

~  This week was Red Ribbon Week.  I read several posts yesterday from "Proud Mommy Moments" that mentioned what their kids' schools did this past week.  One of my schools didn't do a whole lot; I think they opted more for a couple of breast cancer awareness things, but the other school really got into it.  We have a great SRO (School Resource Officer) who fits right in with the staff.  He organized all of the events.  Tuesday was "Character Day".  One of the 3rd Grade Teachers dressed up as "The Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly".  This teacher is AWESOME.  This is her first year at our school, and she not only fits right in, but makes things more fun.
~  Have I mentioned how glad I'll be when October is over?  Having jury duty the week after fall break really made me put a crunch on my IEP meetings, since I couldn't schedule anything that week.  I was suppose to have 10 meetings last week...that would be one at 7:15 a.m. and another at 3:00 p.m. every day.  A couple of parents requested changes, so that spared me a little bit.

~  If I can just get through this weekend, things will calm down.  Small Town High's band has our band competition on Saturday.  This, along with the home game concessions, is our big fundraiser.  Luckily the game tonight is away, so we'll be able to get some things set up this afternoon; we won't have to be at the school quite so early tomorrow.   20 bands have signed up; the competition starts at 1:00, and awards are given at 7:30.  

~  When does the time change?  Surely it must be soon.  I don't like driving to work when it's pitch dark.

~  Anybody else watching "Revenge"?  I almost made it through the whole episode last night, but I'm pretty sure I dozed off during part of it.  I'm going to have to see what I missed on the internet.

~  Check out my new slippers:
Not only are they cute, but very comfy!  

Hope everybody had a wonderful week!

10/26/2011

Proud Mommy Moments

I noticed 'Proud Mommy Moments" through a FB feed.  I'd seen it before, but thought, "What in the world would I have to write about?  My boys are all older."  I decided to see what it was all about, and I think I can do this!  Kmama & Emmy Mom have set this up for us.  You can write about something you're proud of, or something you could die of embarrassment of...all because of your little (or big) darlings!  And, you don't have to be a mom to participate!




On Sunday, MS brought 3 of his fraternity brothers to the house for dinner.  During dinner, the boys' conversation turned to talking about their brothers who have "hot" moms.  MS mentioned that one of the boys couldn't bring his mom to the house because she was just too hot, and all the boys would be hitting on her.  The conversation was just hilarious, listening to them talk about some of the moms.
On Tuesday, MS went out to dinner with us. I told him that I wanted to apologize to him.  He asked why, and I reminded him of the "hot mom" conversation that took place on Sunday.  I told him I was sorry nobody could talk about his mom that way.  He told me not to put myself down like that, and he said that I was the most beautiful mom in the world.
And that's why he has my heart...and was my favorite at that moment!

Link up with KMama to participate or just to see what everybody is bragging about/hanging their heads about!

Fab 50 Wednesday Hodgepodge


Wow.  Have we really been doing this for almost a year already?  Where does the time go?
Thanks, Joyce, for effortless coming up with questions for us every week!


1. What gives you goosebumps?
There are so many things that give me goosebumps:  Hearing a high school marching band playing a song, listening to a story that is just incredible, or relaying an incident that was just weird.
2. Halloween-are you a lover or a hater? Okay, that sounds harsh...Halloween-yay or nay?
Yay if it's like it was when we were growing up.  Nay now that it's different.  I think it's so sad that the kids today don't get to experience real trick-or-treating:  Going around to neighborhood houses and getting a stash of candy, whether you knew the person or not.
3. Can you respect someone you do not trust, and can you trust someone you do not respect?
I think it's possible to respect someone you don't trust, but I don't think you can trust someone you don't respect.  (Where the heck did this question come from???)  : =)

4. Apples or oranges? Yes, you have to choose.
Oranges. Especially in the winter.
5. What is something you wish was in your town? (shop, restaurant, attraction, etc)
Wild Wing Cafe.  (That's for you, Karen!)  I really love that restaurant.  It's not real far from my house, but we don't get out there very often.  It's hard to justify driving 20 minutes to eat wings when there are restaurants in the small town.
6. What non-food item is in your refrigerator or freezer?
I have a couple of those ice things you put in your lunch box to keep the food cold.
7. Are you at all superstitious?
Not really.  But, when the Braves were playing in the World Series in 1991, I think everybody was following the same ritual during every game.

8. Insert your own random thought here. 
Look what I saw as I came in the door the other day:
  I don't know if Pepper (my jack russell mix) was trying to hide the food from Ally , or what was going on!  Usually Ally will nudge the rug over the food (I guess to hide it from Pepper), so I'm not sure if it was maybe Ally hiding the food from Pepper.  I would've loved to have had a "nanny cam" that day!

Last week, I met one of my favorite blogging buddies in real life!  We've been trying to meet ever since I started blogging; she's one of the first blogs that I started reading, and she was one of my first followers.  It was great!  Nothing weird or awkward while we sat in Shoneys and ate dessert!  (Thanks for dessert, Karen!)  The picture is courtesy of Karen & her hubby:

10/24/2011

Great Weekend

I don't know about y'all, but October is a busy time in our house.  It seems like we have something every weekend.  We were gone the first 2 weekends to London, then the next weekend CH had a class, YS went to Oktoberfest, and I went to MS' fraternity family day.  This past weekend, YS had a band competition near the university where OS is at school.  I went up early (since it was OS' birthday) to spend some time with him.  Being on that campus with the leaves changing brought back some great memories.  I love that campus in the fall.  Really beautiful!
When I got there, we went by an intramural football game that OS' fraternity was playing.  No climbing on roofs for me this weekend!  After that, we went to get a phone for him, followed by lunch.  He took me into his dorm to see his room, and I was pleasantly surprised.  The dorm has been renovated, and it looks pretty good.  He and his roommate have loft beds (basically just a top bunk), so they have room under the bed for a desk.  OS has enough room to have a love seat.  It looked a lot better than when I was a student there, that's for sure!
After that, I drove to my sister's house, who lives nearby.  We chatted for a while, then we drove over the stadium where YS was participating in a marching band competition.  The venue was really neat:
The contest was called "Music in the Castle".  The stadium is on the National Register of Historic Places.  It opened in 1936 (doesn't sound so old after my London posts, does it?), and was built as part of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal.
One of the highlights of the day:  I met up with a friend of mine from college.  We lived across the hall from each other as freshmen (although I really didn't remember this...I thought we lived down the hall from each other).  We lost touch our sophomore year, but reconnected during our junior (or maybe senior) year.  She ended up being a little sister for the same fraternity that I was, AND, if it wasn't for her,  I wouldn't have met CH.  We kept up through the years, but hadn't seen each other since graduation.  (We're not going to talk about how long ago that was!)  Her daughter's high school band was playing as exhibition.  It was just like old times...those years just melted away and it was like we had seen each other often.  I got my sister to take a picture of us, and my friend made me promise not to put it on FB (I kept my promise), but my sister told her that I'd post it on my blog.  My friend didn't say not to, so here it is:
The Small Town's band came in 2nd out of 3 bands in their class.  I'm not sure how they divided up the classes, because I think we were the smallest or next to smallest band that was there.  The band that came in first did a "gimicky" show.  The band didn't play a whole lot; they had a fiddle, oboe, and guitar hooked up to speakers.  When the band did play, you could barely hear them because the speaker was up so loud.  Weird.
The band that my friend's daughter is in was HUGE.  They had almost as many guard members as we have in the whole band.  And the sound that came from them was amazing.  That was the best band I've seen in a LONG time; maybe even ever.  If you catch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade this year, you might catch a glimpse of them.
After the contest, my sister & I went back to her house to thaw out.  Sunday morning we went to IHOP, and then to Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  LOVE that store!  I could spend hours in that store.  I was going to go back by the university to pick up a bin from OS, but he said he decided to keep it.  So, I headed back down the road.
All in all, a great weekend!

10/20/2011

London: Half Day and Final Thoughts

Saturday morning we woke up and wanted to do some last minute things.  On our way to the bus stop, we went by a church that we had walked by just about every day.  As we walked by, I said something about wishing it was open so we could see inside.  Weeeeell, it was OPEN!  And, it did not disappoint:

We took the bus to the Marble Arch to see where  Tyburn Tree was:
I didn't know what Tyburn Tree was until the Big Bus Guide clued me in:  This is where the public hangings took place.  Before the person was hung, they would be taken down the street in a wagon, and were allowed to stop at a pub for one last pint.  This is where the saying "One for the Road" came from.
Then, we walked over to the Marble Arch to get a picture of the Jelly Family Sculpture.  Next to the sculpture is a fountain that gets cleaned every morning.
From there, we went by Speaker's  Corner in Hyde Park one last time.  I think CH really liked that area.  Unfortunately, it was Saturday and things don't get jumping there until Sunday.
We walked through part of Hyde Park, then took a bus up to the Italian Gardens in Kensington Gardens.  We didn't get to see much, because the gardens are undergoing some (what looked to be) major renovations.  We just sat on a bench and took London in.
We saw some unusual/cute water fountains that we hadn't seen before:
We saw a plaque to William Forsyth, who developed the Forsythia.  You learn something new every day!
As we walked back to the hotel one last time, I took some pictures of the sights in "our" neighborhood.
My last picture from England:

We had a newer plane going back to DC.  The seats seemed to be larger, so we were glad we didn't spend the extra money to upgrade to the "more legroom" section of the plane.  There was a very sweet older English lady sitting next to me; she was going to DC to visit one of her daughters.  One of the movies I watched was "Bridesmaids".  If you've seen that movie, you know how it starts:  there's a pretty risque scene at the very beginning.  I know my face was red, and I was hoping that the woman didn't look over at my screen until that section was over!
Going through security in DC was a breeze...almost.  I didn't realize what was going on:  they were scanning every other person, so stupid me just walked right on through the scanner.  The lady gave me directions, so I stood there with my arms above my head, and heard a beeping.  I walked on through, and she asked me if I had anything in my front pocket.  No, I knew that I didn't because I had taken out some change that I had.  Anything in my back pocket?  No, I answered, as I felt my back pocket and realized that I had forgotten to take my Oyster Card (magnetic tube/bus ticket) out.  So, that resulted in a little pat down of my right leg.  After that, everything was smooth sailing.  YS met us at the airport to take us home.

Final thoughts:
I felt very safe in all areas we went to, except King's Cross.  The tube was an easy way to get around; the buses were more difficult.  I definitely think being able to use the DC metro prepared us for the tube.   I think if we had a bus route, we would've done much better and would've saved some time.  I feel like we walked all over London!
Even though I had requested 2nd floor or higher, the basement room we had was great.  Everybody we met was so polite; I don't think we encountered one rude person the whole time we were there.  We had people on the bus asking us where we were trying to go (after hearing our "discussion" about which stop to get off) and offering advice.
There were several times we winced as we watched someone turning into traffic.  I could definitely live there, as long as I didn't have to drive in London.  I really hope that we can get back someday and see more of the UK.

Thank you for taking the time to read our London adventures.  It was an amazing trip; I still can't believe I actually saw so many things I had only read about or had seen on tv/in the movies. 
Thank you for bearing with me as I relive my vacation!

10/19/2011

London Day 6

This was our last full day in London.  :(  We started out at Harrods.  It was so big, I had no idea where to turn!  But it was so beautiful.  I don't know how many pictures I took of the area around the escalators!
I had read somewhere that Harrods is the place to get souvenirs.  That would be a big fat NO.  As we were looking for the gift shop, we had to cross the art gallery.  We stopped and talked to the lady that was working, to see if we could take a picture.  She said that if there was a piece that we found interesting, we could take one.  So, this is the piece I chose:

The artist is Lorenzo Quinn, son of actor Anthony Quinn.  We also saw one of his pieces in Mayfair  as we were looking for a bus.  All of the pieces were absolutely gorgeous.  And, if we had £87,000 to spare, we might have considered buying it!
We made our way to the Christmas Shop:
All I bought there was a Christmas Ornament.  Even the cash registers were beautiful:
As we were leaving that department, I stopped one of the workers and asked her what we needed to make sure we saw before we left the store.  She suggested the restaurant on the ground floor (which we had seen when we came in):
She also recommended the pet shop and the Georgian Restaurant.  We went by the Chocolate Bar, but it was CLOSED.  I couldn't believe it.  I really wanted to go in there.  We had to go through the "French Laundry" on the way to the Georgian.
The Georgian:  Oh my goodness was it beautiful!
We saw a show on the television that night that was kind of a nicer version of "Hell's Kitchen.  It looked like it had been filmed at that restaurant.
After we left  Harrods, we made our way to Lambeth to the Imperial War Museum.  We saw a place to eat that was actually in a church.  As in, we ate sandwiches where they have services.
The Imperial War Museum was a bit out of the way, but it was in a quieter part of London.  We saw a cool door in the sidewalk (I'm sure there was a story there), a good view of the London Eye, and a pub called "The Horse", which just happens to be the Small Town's Fight Song.

CH was in heaven.  He saw a tank that he had never seen before.  There was a wonderful Holocaust Exhibit, but I only made it around half-way through before I started tearing up.  The Museum was really awesome with the exhibits they had.  You could walk through a foxhole and sit through an air raid.  There were a few school groups visiting that day, so it was pretty noisy, but definitely a must-see.
After the museum we went to Twinings Tea Shop on the Strand.  If you don't know, the shop has been owned by the same family for 250 years.  Seriously, y'all...that's longer than the USA has been a country.  It smelled wonderful in that shop!  I bought a couple of boxes of tea for a couple of coworkers that I eat lunch with, and then I bought a big box and a smaller box for us.
 We hurried out of there so we could see the Horse Guard Inspection.  Queen Victoria came through the gate to find none of the guards at their post; they were all drunk on ale.  So, she ordered that for the next 100 years, there would be an inspection every day at 4:00.  The 100 years ended about 30 years ago, but the tradition continues.  It was a lot less crowded than seeing the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham (which we didn't go to), and probably a lot less stuffy.  Before the horses went in, they were standing at their place.  There's a sign that warned that the horses may bite, but there was a woman who had her picture taken right next to the horse.  He turned his head and almost got a chunk out of her.  After she moved, a young woman went up to have her picture taken, and almost had her foot stomped on.  Of course I had to go up there, but I didn't get too close.  CH got there just as the horse was going in for inspection:
 The horses were beautiful.  Check out one of the horse's tongue:
It stayed like that the whole time!  And, the one closest to us had just about had enough:
Here are a couple more pictures from the inspection:

We were on a quest to find a church that was very different looking from the other churches.  I could have sworn that the church was on the Strand, it sat back from the other buildings, and it was red brick with white "stripes" on it.  As it turns out, we were in the right area, but not the right street.  We never did find the church I was looking for (which is Westminster Cathedral), but we did happen upon St. James's Church.  It was a nice surprise.  There was a market going on outside of the church:
Inside, the church was gorgeous:
As you can see in the first picture, there was a pianist practicing when we walked in.  It was so nice to just sit and enjoy the music, and get away from the noise and the hustle and bustle from outside.  Several people (including a couple of homeless people) were taking advantage of the solitude.  While we were in there, I noticed that my bag from Twinings was torn.  I took a quick inventory, and didn't think anything was missing.  When we got home and I was unpacking, I realized that I had lost the small box of tea that I had bought for us.  At least it was the least expensive thing!  
From there, we headed to Chinatown.  I had only seen a Chinatown (in DC) from the car, so I wanted to walk through it and experience it.  We were going to meet our friends (the ones who took us around Surrey), but they weren't able to make it.  So, we wandered around for a bit.  I think I was expecting more; I was expecting it to be bigger. CH found a buffet for £4.90.  The buffet was small, definitely not what we're used to.  There was just a few things on a round table, but it was good.  The manager/owner/maitre d' (whatever this man was!) was exceptionally nice to us.
 From there, we headed to the tube to ride out to King's Cross.  On the way, we saw Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square, M&M's World London, and the theater where James Earl Jones & Vanessa Redgrave are acting in "Driving Miss Daisy".
 The reason for our quest to King's Cross was to see the Platform 9 3/4 from Harry Potter.  It took us a few minutes and a bit of wandering around to find it, since it's actually outside and not in the actual station.
 I also wanted to see St. Pancras Station.  I wish we had gone during the day, because the building just looked amazing.  We got there around 7:00 on Friday, so there were a lot of crowds and policemen.  This was the only place I didn't feel real safe.  We saw more policemen in that area than we had the rest of the week put together.  My pictures of St. Pancras didn't turn out because of the darkness.  :(
As we were leaving, CH saw this plaque in the tube station:
There were a couple of girls from the big city next to us who were on that train when the bomb went off.  CH just happened to see it as we were waiting for the train.
When we were checking the map to make sure we knew where we were going, a lady asked us if we were from London.  We said no, and the lady asked us how to get to a certain station.  CH explained how to read the map to her, and then a young man asked how to get to another station.  It just happened to be the same station we were going to, so he followed us to the train.   
We got back to the area of our hotel, got some souvenirs for the boys, and then called it a night.  Here are a few pictures from the day:






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