Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!!

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas....

From our house to yours.....

It's been very busy around here but we'll be back soon with lots of updates and stories to share.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

So where were we...

Oh right - Back at Cole Field House!

We were told this was States - but it seemed more like a regional competition run by a completely different group.

The competition was tougher.

The girls lost one of their flyers (her family had long standing vacation plans and they couldn't be there) so they had to rework their entire routine - in TWO practices.


There were tears on Saturday at practice.

But they rallied and we all told them that this was just a BONUS performance and they should just have fun.

And then one of the girls rolled her ankle while they were on deck - five minutes before they were to perform.

I mean seriously

Her ankle was wrapped, and everyone held their breath. 

They blew us away - I think this performance may have even been better than the week before!!

Maybe because they had nothing to lose?  Who knows.

But even with that performance, we thought they'd be lucky to get Honorable Mention.

They walked away with THIRD PLACE.

And then we all sighed with relief that Cheer Season was over.

Or maybe that was just me.


Right before Thanksgiving - these arrived....


I came home to excited shouts of "THE TREES ARE HERE!!!"


The girls have been getting these trees every year since they were babies from Gamma Judi & Mister.

We'll plant them in the yard in January.
(we have about a 60% success rate in the trees living when planted)

Olivia's is full of silver stars and Angels....

Sydney's has bronze Christmas ornaments and reindeer.

They're beautiful.

And always mark the official beginning of the holiday season here in our house.

(The 2008/2009, 2010, and 2011 trees)

And finally, I just had to post these pictures.  These were taken of  a fire in the wood stove last night with my little point and shoot camera.

The coals were so beautiful - red, almost vibrating - it looked like lava...

Imagine my surprise when the pictures showed PURPLE lava.

So freaking cool. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

We're off to STATES!!

My baby and her squad got second place this year in the annual Cheer Competition at University of Maryland - Woot Woot!!!

(see 2009, 2010,& 2011 competition round-ups here)

Getting ready to start!!
Once again, we traveled down to Cole Field House last Sunday for a looooong day of cheer.
Doing their thing!
This year, they added another cheer squad, making all the squads smaller than in years past - only 10 girls on Liv's squad this year!

These girls practiced for weeks (and almost 14 straight days right before competition), sometimes 3 hours a day  - all for their three minutes on this floor. 

The dance portion

We got there at noon and they performed at 3:45.

I don't know how they get out there with all that energy after sitting for three hours waiting.... 

Getting ready to tumble - LOOK AT THAT SMILE!!!

Since they had a small squad, they were limited in their stunting ability. 

They made up for it by having back to back to back stunts. 

STRETCH LIV!!!  DON'T DROP HER!!! (She's on the far left holding the flyer)

As usual - they didn't hit all of their stunts until they were on the floor competing.

A few minor baubles but we were SO PROUD!! 

The girls were not happy with their performance, but they are always harder on themselves than they need to be. 

Thank you picture I took and had framed for their coaches.  The coaches this year were so fabulous!
Finally - at about 6:30 the results were announced - SECOND PLACE!!  

As usual, everyone was cranky and tired and hungry so we went out to eat and went straight to bed when we got home. 

And, as usual, the girls got to sleep in Monday morning  and miss a bit of school.
(I know, I know, but they were tired and it's not like they don't get good grades and they rarely miss school)

This year, their organization is paying for any squad that got first, second or third place to go to the State Championships this Sunday back down at Cole Field House.

We have three teams going - and Liv's is one of them! 

It will be another long day but the girls are THRILLED!!!

I would be happier if  the Redskins didn't have a home game at the same time as  the competition.  



And anyone who has ever attended a Redskins game or been on the beltway while a game is occurring will know exactly what I mean. 

Wish my girl good luck!!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Oh Sandy.....

Well, we made it.   

Sandy stopped by, overstayed her welcome (I mean she JUST WOULDN'T LEAVE) and left quite a mess.

We came through OK and lost a shutter, a few tree limbs, and lots of sleep, but we - and our home - are OK.

I don't think I could ever live somewhere that storms such as this are a regular occurrence. 

The winds whipping through those trees at 2:00 in the morning frankly scared the shit out of me. 

I hadn't left the house since Saturday and the kids and I have a major case of cabin fever and are totally on on each others nerves.  Tempers are running high and patience is running short.   Dad and I finally got out today and drove around to check out the damage.  

Here are a few pictures of some local flooding.  We live close to a river and although we are at a much higher elevation which means we are safe from the actual house being flooded, we pretty much have to cross the river and feeder streams (all of which are over their banks) to get anywhere.  

The bridge to my house. You can't see it but there are sport fields near the third concrete support...

The entrance to the sports fields is now a boat ramp. 

Same place.  The parking lot, running trails and soccer fields are under there ...somewhere...

You normally cant even see the river from this spot. The river banks are on the OPPOSITE side of that tree line.  Usually. 

These were taken at around noon today, and the river is supposed to crest tomorrow so I can't imagine what that will be like.

I hope all of you that were in the storm's path made it through OK!

I'm thinking about all my family and friends from New York and New Jersey up through New England.  They got hit so hard...


Friday, October 26, 2012


Guess where I live....

(Hint - apparently we're "totally screwed")

After last years Snow-tober, we learned our lesson....

We're bringing in plants and deck furniture and taking down the new gazebo.

I have my toilet paper.

Most importantly - Brian hit the liquor store on the way home. 

Wish us luck!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Catch up time

I had no idea it had been so long since I posted anything.  BAAAAAAD Blogger.

It would appear that I am extremely busy - too busy to post, yes?  Um, no.  Just lazy really.

Let's play catch up, shall we??

1.    Olivia just completed her 5th year of cheer and is gearing up for competition in mid-November.  Things are about to get REAL up in here.  We take our competition very seriously around here.  I love her coach this year, and while it's a very small squad this year, they're a great group of girls and I know a lot of them pretty well after five years.  Liv wants me to be "more involved" next year   This is huge because usually she doesn't even want me to acknowledge that I'm her mother most of the time.  But next year she wants me to assistant coach or be team mom.  We'll see how she feels in about 6 months when I have to actually make a commitment to the next season.  It will be her last season before high school (a WHOLE new ball game) so I'd like to spend it with her.

2.   Oh, the joys of raising an almost 13 year old.  We had a pretty rough summer this year and Olivia actually almost lost her cheer privileges   Luckily, she seems to have turned a corner somewhat and matured overnight almost.  She's pleasant to be around again and the level of snarkiness has died to down to once or twice a week rather than once or twice an hour.  I'm OK with that - she CAN'T be pleasant all the time - who is?  And she's absolutely allowed to have her own opinion and disagree with me and she absolutely can be in a bad mood.  She's an almost 13 year old girl (Hello Hormones!!).  What she CAN'T be is disrespectful or hurtful.  Not that she doesn't have her moments, but it's definitely been better these last few weeks.  And yes, I realize I just jinxed myself and the next time I see her she'll be spewing green goo everywhere while her head spins around and she levitates a la Linda Blair.  But for now, all is well.

3.  Sydney is loving gymnastics - and she REALLY has a talent for it.  She's already moved up a level and wants to take more classes.  So, it looks like we'll be selling our blood to pay for lessons (That shiz is expensive!!!).  But she is so enamored with it - and wants to spend all her free time at the gym - that I just can't deny her.  This is the first time she's really been this into a sport after trying many different things.  And given that she had a very bad experience the first time she took gymnastics two years ago and wouldn't set foot back in the old gym where she took lessons, this is a God send.  It took us two years to convince her she should give it another try, but once she did, that was it. I'm so excited to see where she goes with this.

4.  The dogs are both still plugging along.  Chauncey has slowed down significantly over the past few weeks and we are trying to prepare for the day when we have to say good bye.  He's been such a great dog and such a blessing to our family that to even think of it has me in tears.  Baxter is slowing as well, but not as quickly.  The mass on his leg hasn't grown or changes at all and it doesn't bother him at all so I think we made the right decision to do nothing for the time being.  At 11 and 12, they are nearing the twilight years of their sweet puppy lives and it's simply heart breaking.  They've been getting lots of love and attention and LOTS of treats so hopefully we can make them happy these next few years (hopefully).

5.  The house - Oh, the house.  I have about 5 projects in the works right now and ALL of them must be done by Christmas.  It's my year to host Christmas dinner, and of course we have the Hopkins Family get together at my house as well and then we are having our annual holiday party on December 29th (since we didn't do one last year we're going all out this year).  It's going to be a busy season with lots of people coming and going and I want everything done before December 15th so I can concentrate on cleaning and organizing before the parties begin.  I have scheduled for the carpets to be cleaned right before Thanksgiving (before I decorate for Christmas) and I'm thinking about hiring someone to clean my house those last two weeks of December.  It just seems like a waste of money to do that, but I'm not sure I'll be able to keep up at that point - ha!

So that's about it for now.  Everyone's healthy (for the most part) and happy (happy being a relative term) and I'll share what we've been working on soon.  Let's just say I've been getting my paint on, using the wallpaper steamer - A LOT, and trying my hand at upholstery.  Oh yeah - it's been interesting.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


14 years ago today.....

 We became 

It hasn't always been easy.
(in fact, it's often been very tough)

But we haven't given up.

And there's always been love.

Happy Anniversary baby.

Here's to 50 more....

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Front Yard - the Before and After

Since this has been "done" for the better part of a month now I thought I'd finally let you see the yard.  

Yes, that's right - in MAY.


All of these "after" pictures were taken at the end of July, and everything has grown so much! 

So, pretend it's the end of July and I'm giving you the after pictures, K?

Next week I'll show you how it looks now. 


The front bed where we tore out the ivy and vinca.....
Close up of the area under the window where the rhododendrons were.
These were dug up and transplanted to the back yard.


We planted grass where the vinca and ivy were before.  This was about 50% successful.
The bed where the rhododendrons were yanked out got new plants in the form of two red dogwood bushes and an arborvitae.

The red dogwood bushes drop their leaves and the branches are a bright red in the winter.  We thought it would be a nice pop of color when everything is brown and drab.

The Arborvitae will grow up between the two windows. 


The area in front of what is to be our bedroom and the bed in front of the porch got a little face lift.


I planted some very low maintenance knock out roses (which are nearly twice this size now).

Although my goal in this whole process is to have as many perennials as possible (I don't like playing in the dirt) I planted a few annuals here for some color and behind them, I transplanted a mum from elsewhere in the yard.

I love mums and they will be making a bigger appearance next year.

TOTALLY OFF TOPIC - Have I ever told you about the mums we had at our old house?  They were used a decorations at our wedding in 1998 and I made Brian plant all of them in our yard.  By the time we moved 9 years later they were big, bushy and beautiful.  I wanted to dig some up and bring them to this house because I loved them so much.

Brian though that  the new owners would appreciate them more.  And he was too lazy to dig them up.
Guess what the new owners did about a week after moving in?

Dug them all up and took them to the dump.

I was devastated. 

I'm still bitter, can you tell?

Moving on....


This is the walkway from the driveway up to the front door. 

The bed at the bottom of the walkway is a little bare, but even though this is the before picture - it doesn't get much better.  The bed is difficult to work with because it's shaded most of the day and the tree roots leave little room for planting.  And then the deer eat whatever actually roots and grows.

Looking back down the walkway toward the driveway.

Remember the giant bushes with the pink flowers that I pulled out All. By. Myself?

They looked like this when I was done tearing out a bunch and cutting down the rest.

They now look like this. 

They are coming back beautifully.

And actually need to be trimmed again because they are now about 3 times this size!


 Look ma!  No plants!! That green stuff is actually vinca that's slowly spreading.  I'm OK with it.

I can't believe how much everything has grown since these pictures!


Even the before is pretty.  Even though there was dead grass and out of control bushes and no flowers or mulch. 


So, there you have it.  Our summer project this year.  Hopefully we have created a good foundation for next year and will simply have to worry about maintenance. 

Because I don't like to garden, plant flowers or get dirty and I got my fill this summer.