Oh yes, it is that time of year again...the time of year when I actually don't mind checking my mailbox. Why? Well, because instead of having a mailbox filled with only bills (or junk!) it is usually filled with holiday cards from family and friends.

I love Christmas cards! And don't tell my husband, but I have been keeping our Christmas cards for a few years now. Well, at least all the ones with photos on them! I can't help it- I just love seeing how kids and families grow and change from year to year.

This week I am working on our family's Christmas cards. That is always a challenge with two boys who DO NOT like to sit still for the camera. Or if I get them both sitting then one isn't looking at the camera, or one isn't smiling, or there is SOMETHING going on! I usually take around 100 pictures and then just try to pick the one that isn't TOO terrible! However, once I have that perfect picture I can then find the perfect card.

Where to find that perfect card? Well, that part is easy- Shutterfly, of course! If you have not checked out Shutterfly before then GO NOW! Run, don't walk! Shutterfly not only has some fantastic holiday card designs, but they have other products that make great gifts- not just for the holidays, but for birthdays, Mothers & Fathers Day, or you can even use Shutterfly to make birth announcements or party invitations! Shutterfly has SO many great designs for holiday cards that you will definitely find one that is perfect for you! I love to be able to put a great picture (or two or three) on my cards- and Shutterfly has the most options out there!

I've been using Shutterfly for several years now. I like that I can upload my pictures to one location and then share with my family and friends AND I can make fun products. Calendars are a great gift, especially this time of year! Who wouldn't love a personalized calendar with new pictures to view every month!

Are you planning a holiday party or cookie swap this year? If so, definitely check out the invitations that Shutterfly has to offer- what a way to make a great first impression for your guests!

Now I need to work on getting that great picture so I can upload and use one of Shutterfly's awesome designs for this year's Christmas card. And while I'm at it I think I'm going to order up some holiday gifts. The grandparents never complain that they have too many pictures of their grandkids!

Wow! I guess I disappeared off the face of the earth! That is what happens when life gets in the way, I suppose!

So, summer was wonderful. We spent a lot of time at Sesame Place, various playgrounds, the shore, and just having fun! September came, and Nicholas started his last year of preschool. He loves it, and I'm sure he'd be there every day if he could! We're fortunate to have a great program through the Rec Department and it makes it quite affordable as well. The kids learn a lot, have lots of fun field trips, and have a ton of in class activities.

In October Mr. Erik turned two! He had a Thomas the Tank celebration and we now own about a bazillion trains and tracks. Hey- it keeps two little boys happy and busy! Erik at his 2 year WCV was about 29 pounds and 36 a little above average, but a lot smaller than Nicholas was. Erik is now wearing clothes that Nicholas wore around 18 months of age.

November...well, we're still in November! Thanksgiving was wonderful. I love me some turkey! We put up our Christmas tree this past weekend as well and decorated outside. I should probably work on buying the kids some presents to put under that tree. Normally I've started at this point, but I think I only have 2 things so far! I'm slacking!

Well, hopefully I can keep up a little better. No promises, but I will try!



Our start on Wednesday was an early one- we had an 8:00am reservation at Tusker House for the Donald Safari Breakfast. Out of all of our character meals, I think this one was my favorite! I really enjoyed the atmosphere, the food was better than most of the other buffets (especially for breakfast), and they had the kids get up for a parade around the restaurant, which Nicholas had a blast doing! I definitely plan on eating here again!


The first stop after breakfast was It's Tough to Be a Bug. Erik really didn't care for the show (or the 3D glasses) but of course Nicholas got a big kick out of it! Our group then split up and the little kids (with their parents) all headed over to DinoLand USA where we rode Triceratop Spin (a hit for all the kids) and then let the boys run out some energy in the Boneyard.

I then checked the map and saw that Nicholas was tall enough for the ride Dinosaur. So, while Ken hung out with Erik, I took Nicholas over. We immediately were approached by a Cast Member who asked if we had a Fast Pass. I let her know we didn't, and she then said we were being picked as a "Magical Family" and we got instant access to the ride- even bypassed the Fast Pass line! Unfortunately, the ride really scared Nicholas! It was completely in the dark and he clung to me for dear life! I have to admit, it was a bumpy ride and had I been on it before I would not have taken him!

However, his fear did not stop Nicholas from riding Expedition Everest! I was SHOCKED, especially because Nicholas does not like riding Vapor Trail at Sesame Place, which is a tame roller coaster in comparison! And after Expedition Everest he went on Kali River Rapids. We then had a quick break for lunch before going to see Festival of the Lion King. Both of my boys LOVED the show! (On a side note- our last trip we took Nicholas, then age 2, to see Finding Nemo- The Musical, and he loved it! So I recommend both shows!)

To finish up our trip to Animal Kingdom we went on the Kilimanjaro Safari. Erik was SUPER excited about this, and everyone enjoyed spotting the various animals. It was a great way to end our day before heading back to the pool for some relaxation.




On Tuesday we headed to Magic Kingdom in the early afternoon after relaxing at the pool in the morning. When we arrived it was shortly before the afternoon parade, so we quickly grabbed a good seat to watch. The boys sat in the shade of the stroller, but were right at the curb, so several of the characters came right up to them!
After the parade we headed to Tomorrowland where we got in line for Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor- we needed the air conditioning! Nicholas enjoyed the show and Erik was all smilesas well. Next up was Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, which I would say became Nicholas' favorite ride. I think he rode this 3 or 4 times while we were there! Upon exiting the ride I spied Buzz Lightyear himself. I got in line with the boys and both of them were VERY excited! Erik doesn't know many Disney characters, but he knows "Buzz Buzz!" And I had just taken Nicholas to see Toy Story 3 the day before our trip, so he was pumped!


We then spent a few more hours riding a few more rides before our dinner at Cinderella's Royal Table. Yes, all the young children in our party are boys, but my sister-in-law Megan and I decided we wanted the princess dinner! And in my opinion- TOTALLY worth it! Upon entering the castle we were greeted by Cinderella and our entire group had our picture taken with her. Then throughout our meal we had visits to our table from Belle (Beauty & the Beast), Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), Ariel (Little Mermaid), and Snow White.



And the meal itself- absolutely delicious! I had a BLT salad followed by prime rib (which was cooked perfectly), grilled asparagus, and roasted potatoes. Despite this being one of the more expensive meals, I do feel that the quality and quantity of food was worth it. I would dine there again, and hopefully one day I will have a little girl to enjoy the princesses with!
Unfortunately, after dinner and a few more rides the boys were too exhausted to stay for the fireworks. So we headed back to the condo and called it a night!

Monday morning was our first day in the park and we headed to EPCOT! Of course Nicholas immediately wanted to ride Spaceship Earth. We also rode The Seas with Nemo and Friends and then checked out the aqarium. It was VERY hot out, so the boys decided to relax in the stroller while we took a leisurely walk to lunch. We walked through the 'countries' and took some pictures, met Marie from the Aristocats along with Jasmine and Aladdin.


Lunch was at Biergarten in Germany. We had eaten there on our trip in 2008 and Ken requested we go there again. Poor Nicholas was super tired and ended up falling asleep on Ken's lap. Erik was enjoying the German cuisine- often with a sausage in each hand!

Here is a picture of me and my boys in front of the Biergarten. Their German Mickey shirts were made by my friend Faith of Sassy Kat Creations. In fact, she made several shirts for the boys for our trip!


After lunch we decided to head back to the condo so the kids could nap. However, Nicholas' nap after lunch and Erik's nap as we walked to the car were apparantly enough for them, so we just played in the pool and had dinner before heading back to EPCOT for the Illuminations fireworks show.
As we pulled into our parking space it decided to start raining. Nothing heavy, but a bit more than a drizzle. Once back inside the park we rode Spaceship Earth again (Nicholas really like that ride!) and then found spots to watch the fireworks. Erik was a bit freaked out by the noise, but still enjoyed the show. We decided to walk around before heading out so we could avoid traffic. Our first day at Disney was a bit laid back, but we still had a TON of fun!
We waited so long for our family trip to Walt Disney World and now it is all over! We had a GREAT trip and Nicholas is already asking when we are going back!

Our trip started on Sunday, June 20. Twelve of us heading from Philadelphia to sunny Orlando. My in-laws generously took the whole family to Disney as part of our Christmas present. They left earlier in the day on a different airline, so that left the rest of us...7 adults and 3 kids. Surprisingly we all got through airport security smoothly and had an easy flight to Orlando. I sat with Erik (who slept for part of the flight) and Ken sat with Nicholas (who thinks sleep is for the weak!) Also part of our group were Ken's brother Mike, his wife Melissa, and their son Michael, Ken's sister Megan and her boyfriend James, and Ken's sister Joann. So, we arrived in Orlando and were greeted by rain. Go figure- Central Florida is notorious for the afternoon showers in the summer! My mother-in-law and father-in-law came to pick us up from the airport and headed to the condo. We stayed at the Sheraton Vistana Villages, and we quickly unpacked and headed to TGIFridays for dinner. It had been a LONG day, so after dinner we headed back and the guys stayed with the little boys, while the girls went to do some grocery shopping for the week. And then off to bed for us to start our busy, fun-filled week!

Check out my other posts to see how our week turned out!

Monday- EPCOT

Tuesday- Magic Kingdom

Wednesday- Animal Kingdom

Thursday- Disney Hollywood Studio

Friday- Lazy Day

Saturday- Magic Kingdom

Yes, I'm a bit behind on my book reviews! I'm going to try to catch up on a few this weekend!

Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane was an excellent read. It is a psychological thriller that tells the story of a mental institution on- you guessed it- Shutter Island. This book has great characters that pulled me in quickly. With these types of stories I often try to "figure it out" and was pleasantly surprised with the ending! I haven't seen the movie yet, but I'm curious to see how closely it follows the book.

Last year I posted this blog about discounted summer movies. Well, it is that time again! Last year I never made it to any of the movies- I had an infant and the movies showing weren't exactly up Nicholas' alley. THIS year is a different story. There are a LOT of movies that Nicholas enjoys already, so I am hoping to take advantage.

The first theater in my area is AMC and their Summer Movie Camp. On Tuesday mornings throughout the summer (starting June 15 through August 10) for $1 (which is donated to charity) you can take your kids to see some great movies. Check the link for the complete list, but I know I want to take Nicholas to see Shrek the 3rd, Madagascar, and Kung Fu Panda. And for $4 you can purchase a KidsPack concession combo. With or without the snacks this is still a bargain! If you have one child you could go to all 9 movies this summer for under $20.

The next theater in my area is the Regal Entertainment Group. Their summer movie program is the Free Family Film Fest. As you probably guessed by the title- it is FREE! Regal has theaters in 37 states, so I hope there is one near you! The movies for the Free Family Film Fest vary by theater, so check yours to see what is available. These movies show on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, and I know at the theaters near me they are showing some older, classic kids films- movies from MY childhood. Some of those are Muppets Take Manhattan and ET. The Free Family Film Fest starts this Tuesday, June 8!

Now, in my area there is not a participating Cinemark theater, but they offer the Summer Movie Clubhouse. Again, the movies vary by theater, but I saw titles such as Monsters Vs. Aliens, Surf's Up, and Madagascar 2. There are 10 weeks worth of movies and if you buy all ten shows in advance it is $5 (that's $0.50 a movie!) or they are $1 each at the door.

These movie options are a great way to spend a rainy day (or a SUPER HOT day) inside (with air-conditioning) on a budget! So, what movie do YOU want to see?

I've been slacking, I know! I can't believe it has been almost a month since I've blogged. SLACKER...I admit! We've been keeping busy, so I am going to try to get some posts together to update!

On a good note, last night I finished book number 20 for the year! My goal is 40 books this year, and I'm halfway through my books and not quite halfway through the year, so I am right on target!

The warm weather is upon us here in Philly, and the boys and I have been keeping busy. In the past month we've been to the zoo and countless trips to the playground and Sesame Place. And keep an eye out for a future blog about some more summer fun I have in store!
Ok, you need to ACT FAST! As in, you have a little over 4 hours from now to enter, BUT...if you go check out my friend Hope's blog- Treasures of Hope, she is giving away your choice of a Kitchen Aid Mixer OR an Amazon Kindle for Mother's Day. How awesome is that! So, quickly run over there and check her out!

I did not forget...I just needed a minute to post!

DRUMROLL PLEASE.................

And the winner, decided by is #14- PAULETTE!

pblarr Says:
April 19, 2010 9:51 AM

LOVE the "wine o'clock" towel ~ it MUST be time for a glass somewhere, right? awesome!

Congrats, Paulette! I will get you in touch with Maureen so you can work out the details of your towel! I hope you enjoy yours as much as I LOVE mine! And thank you again, Maureen for making one of these GORGEOUS towels!

It has been brought to my attention (thanks, Mom) that I have no updated my most recent books I've read. I apologize!

Book number thirteen was Midwives by Chris Bohjalian. This story is about a midwife who is put on trial after a patient of hers dies during childbirth. The midwife, wanting to save the life of the baby, performs an emergency cesarean section on the mother. The question is raised- was the mother actually dead, or did she die as a result of the surgery.
While I enjoyed the book and thought it was interesting, I also felt it moved very slowly and dragged on a bit long. I did enjoy that the story was told through the point of view of the midwife's daughter, as well as having excepts from the midwife's journal.

Gisela was been a LONG week. Two sick children + an out-of-town husband= One tired and stressed out Mommy! We all survived though, and both of the boys are feeling MUCH better!

Now, as promised- the details on this AWESOME, personalized towel I first introduced to you on Wordless Wednesday. This ROCKIN' towel was a gift from my wonderfully talented friend, Maureen from
Maureen Makes It. She knows how much I LOVE coffee (I mean, who doesn't, really?) and surprised me with this towel for my kitchen. Little did she know I'm in the process of looking for new coffee decor for my kitchen...which means, I'll probably just pay her to make me some really cool stuff!

Anyway, Maureen is SUPER talented, as I've already mentioned. She not only sews, but she has gorgeous hand-painted glasses, personalized wristlets, nap mats for toddlers, toddler backpacks, aprons- seriously, she can create something personalized for anyone! In fact, she has agreed to make a towel for one of my readers, so I am hosting my first giveaway! The winner will get to choose their coffee cup color and thread color for their name. This giveaway will end on Sunday, April 25 @ 6:00p Eastern.

Here is how to win!

*Check out Maureen's Etsy shop (Maureen Makes It) and in a comment tell me what your favorite item is. This must be done first for any additional entries to count!

For additional entries (please add new comment for each entry)

*Follow my blog AND become a follower of Maureen's blog

*Follow me on Twitter

*Tweet about the giveaway (you can Tweet once per day)

*Blog about the giveaway- be sure to send me the link

Good luck! I know you will love Maureen's work as much as I do!

We had a busy, fun-filled Easter weekend here!

The fun started on Friday afternoon when we had a few friends over to help dye Easter eggs. It was a gorgeous day (highs close to 80!) and so we set up the egg dying station out in the backyard. We actually had bets as to how quickly it was going to turn disasterous and when the dye would start being spilled, knocked over, or drank. Much to our surprise all nine cups of dye remained upright and all five kids had a BLAST coloring eggs! They were upset that I hadn't hard boiled more! (Note to self: hard boil at least three dozen eggs next year, as this kept the children well occupied!)

And apparently after coloring eggs it makes five hungry children devour a five pound bowl of fruit in minutes!

Saturday morning Ken and I loaded the boys up in the car and headed to Ocean City for the day.

Sunday morning we woke up and the boys hunted for eggs around the house (no pictures...Mommy was still half asleep!) and checked out the loot in their baskets. Erik loved his Buzz Lightyear basket, while Nicholas was thrilled with his Star Wars basket. We quickly got ready and headed to church and then to Ken's parents for brunch and another egg hunt with their cousin. All the boys had fun and ended up with more loot! It was definitely a fun-filled weekend!
Oh, and the boys cute Peeps shirts are courtesy of my friend Faith of Sassy Kat Creations. You can find her on Facebook or Etsy!

More about this to come!

I chose my latest read because it was the sequel to my book #10- The Trophy Wives Club. I have to say, I did not enjoy this book as much as the first in the series. This book did not focus on the same main character as the original. Instead, Back to Life was told by two characters- Lindsey and Jane, both who had been married to the same man, Ron. Lindsey is Ron's widow, however, after his death his ex-wife Jane appears because she is in charge of his will. The story goes back and forth between Lindsey and Jane, their relationship with Ron, and the similaries and differences between the women.

To be honest, I was really a bit bored with the story overall. The book did have a stronger ending than the first in the series, but Back to Life moved slowly and was just lacking in excitement for me.

So, as I mentioned in my previous post I have broken a bone. To be more accurate, I've broken several. Each arm twice and a stress fracture on my hip. The first three arm breaks were within a four month period. Yes, three breaks in four months- first was my left arm (I fell down roller skating), then my right arm (fell from a pile of logs), and then the week after I got that cast off I broke it again (fell off my bike). I was five years old and in kindergarten. I wondered if DYFS was ever called, but my mom says that school just asked me a bunch of questions. Apparently I was able to explain that I'm just klutzy!

The next break was a few years later when I was eight. Once again, I was roller skating. Same skating rink. Broke the same arm. I think my orthopedic doctor really liked me. I'm sure my parents wanted to put me in a bubble! The stress fracture on my hip was when I was in high school. NOT pleasant at all, and that hip still irritates me at times. I joke that I'll need a hip replacement by the time I'm forty.

I have had plenty of other klutzy moments. I tripped over a curb and busted my chin open...had to get a few stitches. I've slipped on a patch of black ice and sprained my arm- although had to get X-Rays for that, because it was swollen and hurt like heck. When I took gym in ninth grade I managed to get hurt playing every sport...hit in the face with a basketball (yes, I was a basketball player, too), had a lacrosse stick hit me across the nose (lovely black eye), and heck, I even managed to cut my thumb open on a badminton racquet. Seriously, WHO gets hurt playing badminton? Yours truly!

I do klutzy things on a fairly regular basis, and most don't involve serious physical injury. I walk into walls, fall down AND up stairs, trip over my own feet. I'm a mess sometimes! I sure do hope my kids do NOT inherit my klutziness. And I sure hope they don't have nearly as many broken bones as I have had! Personally, I could do without any!

I saw this posted on another blog, and I thought it might be interesting. In completing this I think I have gathered some ideas for some future posts. But feel free to ask questions about any of these. And when all is said and done, you may find some interesting things out about me.

Instructions: The post is a list of 99 random things. Bold the ones that you yourself have done (I highlighted mine in red). And for some I added my own little commentary.

1. Started your own blog (I suppose you already knew this if you're here though)
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band (I played the clarinet in middle school)
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disney World (going again in June, CAN'T WAIT!)
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise (ok...nowhere exotic, but I've been on the Spirit of Baltimore and Spirit of Philadelphia!)
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors (visited Germany in 1995 and I cannot wait until I have the opportunity to go back)
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Learned a new language (I learned Spanish and forgot most of it. When my 3 year old son asked me how to say 'goodbye' in Spanish I had to Google it. No lie.)
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling (Cozumel, Mexico- absolutely amazing!)
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class (I took Tae Kwon Do as a kid.)
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone (I've actually broken several bones. Including 3 broken arms in a period of 4 months. Yes, I am quite klutzy!)
78. Been a passenger on a motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car (And we still have that car! I no longer drive it on a regular basis, but I love it!)
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Kissed a stranger at midnight on New Year’s Eve
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (fishing counts, right?)
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Got a tattoo (when I was 19, about a month before I met my husband. He doesn't like tattoos though, so no more for me.)
94. Had a baby (Two of them actually!)
95. Seen the Alamo in person (I'd love to go back to San Antonio...I love Texas!)
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee (Yes, including in the corner of my eye and inside my mouth. Fortunately I am not allergic, and bees really don't bother me. Don't tell, but my husband is terrified of them!)

My little Irish boys (they get their Irish from their daddy...not me!) sporting their green!


My latest read was Lady Killer by Lisa Scottoline. This was a chick-lit, mystery/thriller type other words, right up my alley! In this story the main character, Mary, is trying to find her high school rival, Trish, who has gone missing after coming to Mary (a lawyer) for help because she fears her Mob boyfriend is going to kill her. The story takes place in Philly, and I later found out Scottoline is a Philadelphia native- WOOHOO! While the book wasn't super believable, it was still an enjoyable read. I look forward to checking out more of Scottoline's books.