Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I didn't want the day to end

I had a GREAT day yesterday. Mark made the entire day so special. I laughed, I cried, I relaxed, I had fun, I ate good food, I couldn't stop smiling.

To celebrate our 15th anniversary, he set up FIFTEEN surprises for me - I received surprises and instructions throughout the day.

It started when I woke up and found #1
(a love letter letting me know about surprises to come)
on my nightstand.

Numbers 2 and 3 were waiting for me on the kitchen table
when I went downstairs after getting ready.

#2 - He had baked me blueberry bread (one of my favorites) for breakfast.

#3 - He found an old mix tape I made him back in college when we started dating and tracked down EVERY song on it and made me a playlist of all of them! I LOVE THESE SONGS!! They are so nostalgic for me - such strong emotions are tied to them. This is the one that made me cry, right in the middle of the kitchen. Scout was concerned and the kids weren't sure what to make of me. I looked at them, hardly composed at all, and said, "The best advice I could ever give you is to marry someone who's good to you."

#4 is the post he put up yesterday with that BEAUTIFUL video montage. Also very moving for me. If you missed it, click on the "#4" under the picture to see it.

I got a text from Mark a bit later telling me to check a file drawer
we have, and inside I found this beautiful Shakespearean sonnet. #5.

sushi lunch
(See "#6" on the bag?)

Mark worked that morning at the hospital. He showed up with sushi lunch for #6. He also kept his clinic schedule totally free to spend the whole rest of the day with me (he made up for that by working lots on Monday and today). Yesterday totally spoiled me.

#7 and #8 came together in a pretty wrapping:

I opened it and found 2 seasons of a new (to us) show to watch!

Mark has seen a handful of episodes and has suspected for a long time that we'd like it.
Plus, good friends that know us well have given it high praise.
And we're nerdy and it's a nerdy show.
And he got an amazing deal on them.
So, we're excited!

#9 was something just for me --
Mark scheduled a hot stone massage for me!
It was my first time trying that out. It was VERY relaxing.
While I was there, he took the kids to Chocolate World.

#10 was a really cute ecard that he sent to me

Apparently, I didn't upload the picture for #11 and #12
(which also came wrapped together in pretty packaging).
It's probably for the best.
Those were rather, um, personal. :)
We'll leave it at that.

We found the instructions for #13 in our advent calendar drawer.
It said, "Let's go eat! Happy Hour. Houlihan's."
We love that place!

The happy couple

We enjoyed delicious food and shared this dessert -- a S'mores fondue.

I wanted to document that the kids were there with us, too, so as we left Thing 1 suggested we take these pictures and say, "Oh yeah, the kids were there, too.":

Oh yeah, the kids were there, too. :)

#14 - we got the kids to bed and watched "The Help" together.
Great book. Great movie. Loved it!

#15 was this sweet note to wrap us the day.
It was close to midnight when I got it.
I looked at Mark and teared up and said, "I don't want this day to end."
It was wonderful! He made it so special.
I am SO grateful for him
and don't one bit take for granted how lucky I am.
Happy Anniversary to us!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Fifteen Years

Ever since the Scrubs series finale I've wanted to use that song for something like this. I've loved our first 15 years of marriage; I look forward to many, many more together.
I love you!

(Stacy--#4, by the way)

Our 15th Anniversary in Numbers

I love writing prompts. So I'm giving myself one for this post. Today is my and Mark's 15th wedding anniversary (and next year is TWENTY years we've been together!!).

So in honor of our anniversary, I'm doing a post-by-the-numbers. I'm numbering 0-15 and coming up with something for each number related to our marriage:

The number of times we've ever been apart. True story.
Since being married, and by choice (and good fortune, too), we have not ever been apart, meaning in different states/countries from each other. We see each other every day. When we dated during our freshman year of college, people nicknamed us "24/7" for a reason. After our freshman year, we spent 3 1/2 years apart and we were often across the world from each other. Honestly, that was really, REALLY hard. So, given all that, we really value being together. And since all that, we haven't desired to be apart.

I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who are ready to judge and call us crazy and unhealthy and I've seen the articles that talk about distance being good for relationships. That's all fine, but the fact is we're happy and I can't think of anyone else I'd rather be with. Even with all this, I feel like I can't get enough of this guy. So if we have no complaints, I'm not sure why anyone else should.

The number of heart-breaking miscarriages we've suffered
(my first pregnancy)

The number of children we have together

Also, the number of crappy bosses we've had between the two of us
(hence, owning our own business)

The number of states we've lived in
(UT, AZ, and PA)

Also, the number of cars we've owned together

The number of degrees we've earned since getting married
(a bachelor's degree for each of us, a master's degree for me, a doctorate for Mark)

The number of addresses we've had
(Our first apartment in UT, our trailer in AZ, our townhouse in PA, and our farmhouse in PA, which has two addresses -- one for us and one for our business)

The number of concerts we've been to together
(4 of those just in the past year)

(7 1/2)

The number of years we've spent in school between the two of us since getting married
(8 1/2 when you count the year of post-doctorate training)

The age of our youngest child.

The number of years we've lived in PA so far
(well, 8.5, so I rounded up)

The number of bookshelves we own
(and they are all filled to overflowing)

The age of our oldest child.

The number of years ago we left UT and our first apartment

Number of miles until our van hits 100,000 miles
Also, the number of years we've had our Saturn.

Number of years since we graduated college

Years of wedded bliss

There are other numbers that come to mind, too. Like 26 - the number of plumbing leaks under our trailer in Arizona. And 39, 36, 32, 31 - the number of states we've all respectively visited (Mark, me, Thing 1, Thing 2). How about over 150K words written in 3 years of novel writing? And 169 - the number of Google Answers Questions we've answered (yes, we'd work together on many of them. Big shocker). And over 2700 - the number of miles in our longest move. 2.2 - the number of miles in our shortest move. 5407 - the number of days we've been married longer than Kim Kardashian. 27 - the number of years left to pay Sallie Mae. 86 - the number of library articles currently checked out to us. And 22 - probably the number of boxes still not unpacked. :P 19- the number of years we've been together . . . so many numbers, milestones, and meanings, but today the number 15 is at the forefront.

For 15 years, I have been married to my best friend. I know that he has only had eyes for me, and I for him. He tirelessly shows me that he loves me and that we are his top priority. I am so grateful and so happy. Nothing means more to me in the world than my marriage and family, so I really feel like I hit the SUPER jackpot. 15 and counting means more to me than millions of dollars in lotto wins ever could. So. Much. More.

Happy Anniversary, Sweetie.
I love you.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Random Ramblings (The Addendum - Fa La La La La)

Stacy wrote a really nice post with some great Christmas ramblings. She wanted to include this picture so I'm posting it here. Also, she added a video of Scout and the kids so enjoy the post below.

Random Ramblings - 5 Days Until Christmas

Well, for us anyway. We open everything on Christmas Eve so we have 5 days to be ready. For some reason, this year has been nerve wracking! It's always a busy time of year, but this year has felt especially NUTS.

As of yesterday, though, we finished just about ALL shopping (except one or two little things we haven't been able to find). Isn't it always the stuff you're sure won't be that difficult??

Every year, I dream of being done in October with shopping, wrapping, etc. As you can tell by the date, we didn't even come close.

Sleep is taking a place lower on the priority list as Mark and I stay up late working on projects, wrapping gifts, and racing to get packages in the mail so that they're there in time for Christmas.

Everything that has to go to CA, AZ, UT, MA, etc. went out today and all of it should arrive by Christmas (PHEW!). We figure we better take advantage of the post office while they still exist. We helped them out by giving them a hefty sum to mail everything.

Seriously. Our total shipping costs are about what Mark and I budget to spend on each other! Crazy. We're starting to think that buying everything online and paying to have them wrap it might actually be more economical. Or at least the same.

The thing is, for a girl who doesn't like shopping, I really LIKE thinking about what someone might like and going out and getting it and wrapping it and making it special.

We have done much of our shopping online, so between that and the presents that have been coming to us from other states, I am LOVING the sound of the doorbell and knocks on the door to let us know that we have packages.

Packages are FUN. I just love them! When we hear the mailman clink our mailbox shut, we all race for the window/door to see what has arrived. Scout FREAKS out every time (she does NOT like the mailman). That part I don't love, as I'm always nervous she's going to be too loud for the patients in the clinic. But we do know when the mail arrives. :P

And then we have the fun job of trying to figure out if I can look at the box (or in the box) and/or if Mark can look at the box (or in the box) since we've both bought for each other and the kids online -- most of it has to be wrapped, but some is arriving wrapped. Plus there have been lots of Foley packages arriving from California. Mark's parents have given us the heads up about how the boxes should be arriving and my brother has as well. So far, no ruined surprises, so we're doing pretty well!!

The Elf on the Shelf has been a fun tradition to start this year. Every morning, the kids race to find Percy to see where he's hiding (and we do, too!). Also, every so often, we hear them whispering things to Percy, too. It's awesome (and remember, those of you commenting, they read this blog!). Ahem.

The other day, while out running errands and shopping, we ran into friends and all decided to go out for ice cream together. We went to Friendly's and Mark and I split a Gingerbread Ice Cream Sundae with sweet cream and caramel and whipped cream. SO YUMMY.

There are only a couple of presents under the tree so far, but as soon as the packages get here, we'll have more to wrap and put under there. I love the excitement of guessing what's inside!

A friend of mine and I went out to lunch this weekend. She is super sweet and very grandmotherly. She had 2 gift bags for our kids as a little Christmas surprise. We don't usually open Christmas gifts early, but what the heck! When I got home, we told the kids to go ahead and they were THRILLED to find cute, soft, Christmas-themed stuffed animals inside. They have been carrying them everywhere with big smiles on their faces. It's the thoughtful, little things. They mean a lot.

We've been making cookies, too. Oh, and all kinds of new cocoa recipes! The melted ice cream cocoa? SO GOOD. I love this time of year!

Every day, we open a drawer of our advent calendar. The kids love it, but I think the dog loves it even more. She gets a treat every time. When we pulled it out this year, she got excited and it was clear she remembered, from this past Christmas, how this works. When we say, "Let's open a drawer," she hops excitedly, awaiting her treat. It's so cute.

The kids are SO pumped. The energy level in our house is always super high for the whole month of December. Every night, they say that they hope Christmas gets here soon (as I smile and try not to think of how much more there is to do).

But I don't mind it. It is totally worth it. I'm looking forward to our big Christmas meal (our wheels are already turning about what we'll make this year), Santa's arrival (he fills our stockings -- can hardly wait to see what he brings!), and opening presents.

And I love the week between Christmas and New Year's -- it tends to be one of the most relaxing weeks of the year (on par with going to the beach!). We get to sleep in (mostly -- there's still work, etc.) and hang out in our jammies and play with our new things. I'm not quite as relaxed as usual this year, since my mom is having surgery 2 days after Christmas, but it should be fine. In fact, she'll feel so much better afterward, so that's good.

We went to visit Santa. He asked Thing 2 if he's been a good boy this year. Thing 2 responded, "Yes!" And then, "Well, I think so." Convincing. Santa busted up laughing (which is why I heard the story -- I asked the kids why Santa was laughing). Thing 2 says his laugh was regular and not a "Ho Ho Ho!" How strange.

As I sit here and type this, UPS just showed up with 5 more packages (lots of stuff is coming in separate packages for some reason). Scout's going nuts. This is a fun part of having so many family members in other states. Oh, the excitement!

One of my favorite parts of this season is getting plates of homemade cookies. I *love* that. Cookies and donuts are two of my favorite desserts.

Some years, I feel like I'm grasping for ideas, but this year, I'm really excited about my gift for Mark and he says he feels the same about his for me. I have no idea what it is. Again, I'm so excited!

We also, as we do all this, have Thing 2's birthday on our radar, since it's so soon after Christmas. We start thinking about theme ideas and parties and celebrating, etc. We can't wait until after Christmas to pull all that off. We celebrate Christmas and New Year's and then we take down ALL decorations so that his birthday is totally separate from the holidays. We love birthdays around here, so it's more celebrating! :) But yeah, we start doing stuff for it now, along with all the holiday stuff. Busy, busy time of year.

I LOVE how excited the kids are. I love making Christmas special for them and for Mark and I love all that they do to make it special for all of us. I love cutting snowflakes with them, watching Christmas specials together, listening to music, baking, having cocoa, visiting Santa, wrapping presents, attending holiday parties, etc. It's a busy, busy time, but it's a happy time, too.

This week, besides the finishing touching, wrapping, etc. we have to do, we're also squeezing in making and packaging homemade toffee and delivering it to friends and teachers. I love doing that, too!

So, yes, for some reason, this year has been especially busy and we feel like we're squeezing this all in in between a lot of work and home stuff and health stuff and family stuff and vet appointments and our anniversary and flat tires and school and music lessons and multiple car repairs and errands and so so much to do.

But I also recognize how lucky we are -- we have jobs, we have a beautiful home, and we have a happy family. Those things count the most and we are grateful. Presents are just a really, really special bonus. Merry Christmas, everyone! :)

P.S. It's now night time and SEVERAL fire engines just came blaring down our street. It took us a few minutes before we realized what it was. SANTA!! He comes on a Monday night before Christmas every year with lots of lights and loud, Christmas music playing. We ran outside and they threw candy (big deal around here).

Afterward, our curmudgeon of a son said, "I was upstairs in my room working on a game when I heard "Jingle Bell Rock" and then Michael Bublé and then "Jingle Bell Rock" AND Michael Bublé at the same time. And I thought to myself, 'Ugh, people turn their radios up too high these days!'"

So, Merry Christmas and BAH HUMBUG to you!!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas.

So, during our Gilmore Girls Super Marathon 2011 Stacy hears this song playing in the background. It was an episode set during the holidays and Stacy tells me she remembers the song from when she was a kid. I didn't recognize it, and I certainly couldn't tell you what it was from the faint sounds coming from Lorelai's radio, but it took Stacy exactly 4.2 seconds to find it online. Here's what she found:

So this holiday season I hear the song everywhere. And I mean everywhere! I had never heard the song before and now I feel like I can't go a few minutes without hearing it. I think it's a great song, but it gets stuck in my head so quickly that I feel like I've been blindsided.

And then, we're watching "Glee," and they of course do one of their patented Christmas Cheesefests and what to my wondering eyes should appear but a whole bunch of Cheerios performing this same song. Unbelievable. So now I have the song perpetually stuck in my head along with a bunch of twenty-somethings dressed unconvincingly as high school cheerleaders, waving rhythmic gymnastics paraphenalia while singing "Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas."

I can't get over how quickly a 30-year-old song I'd never heard went from being background noise in a TV program to becoming a prominent part of my mental soundrack for Christmas 2012.

(Does anyone else find it odd that a band like The Waitresses could create a "best of" album, complete with 15 tracks, even though it only released 6 singles?)

Friday, December 16, 2011

9 Days Until Christmas??


Where has this month gone??

I don't think I've EVER felt so behind in preparations.
It's been a busy past couple of months!

Are you ready?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Laughing at Wall Street

I got THIS BOOK through BlogHer and while I've not yet read all of it, I have read some and I have also read about it through several really positive reviews on

The book description on Amazon reads:

$20,000 to $2 million in only three years— the greatest stock-picker you never heard of tells you how you can do it too

Chris Camillo is not a stockbroker, financial analyst, or hedge fund manager. He is an ordinary person with a knack for identifying trends and discovering great investments hidden in everyday life. In early 2007, he invested $20,000 in the stock market, and in three years it grew to just over $2 million.

With Laughing at Wall Street, you’ll see:
•How Facebook friends helped a young parent invest in the wildly successful children’s show, Chuggington—and saw her stock values climb 50%
•How an everyday trip to 7-Eleven alerted a teenager to short Snapple stock—and tripled his money in seven days
•How $1000 invested consecutively in Uggs, True Religion jeans, and Crocs over five years grew to $750,000
•How Michelle Obama caused J. Crew’s stock to soar 186%, and Wall Street only caught up four months later!

Engaging, narratively-driven, and without complicated financial analysis, Camillo’s stock picking methodology proves that you do not need large sums of money or fancy market data to become a successful investor.

Intrigued? Check it out. The concept of following trends on social media and turning those observations into investments has merit. Can you imagine? Yowza.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Joy of Randomness

Mark and I saw "Crazy, Stupid Love" this week.
Totally loved it.
Lots of fun twists and turns and a great cast with great acting.


I love that we can alter learning experiences to our kids' learning styles.
Wouldn't it be cool
if kids in school were "sorted" by learning styles
instead of birthday?


I love mistletoe.
It's one of my favorite Christmas decorations.


We make traditional Portuguese Christmas cookies every year.
They're very simple cookies -
more of a breakfast treat than a dessert.
Our dog loves them, too.


Michael Bublé has a new Christmas album out.
Get it. Seriously. Right now.
My favorite song on it is is original "Cold December Night."
Every year, as a tradition, we buy ourselves a new Christmas album.
This album is AWESOME.


I've been sick this week.
My husband made THE BEST chicken noodle soup.
Totally hit the spot.


And yesterday, a friend of mine
(who is also my friend's mom)
brought me a pot of homemade
meatball and noodle soup.
And so so sweet of her.


I totally had THIS idea years ago.
Don't you hate when you see someone else use your idea?
I actually have several awesome ideas (IMHO).
I just don't always know how to put them in action.
I'm definitely more big picture than nitty gritty.

I'm a news junkie.
But I hate video news online.
I would MUCH rather read/skim an article
than wait on a video.
Plus, Tivo has spoiled me, so I pretty much hate commercials.
(Though, now I hate product placement).
Speaking of, totally watch Morgan Spurlock's
(of "SuperSize Me" fame -- love that movie!)
"The Greatest Movie Ever Sold."
So, so funny (oh yeah, and informative).


One exception to that
is any video of a soldier returning home
and surprising his or her family.
They are great.
And make me cry every time.
I challenge you to watch THIS and not cry.


There is a new show on TV called
"I Hate My Teenage Daughter."
I think that is a sucky, sucky title
that perpetuates horrible stereotypes.
Teenagers are not inherently bad.
They can actually be DELIGHTFUL.
Stupid name.
Stupid stereotypes.
Plus, the idea of hating your kid?


A week ago today,
I was jolted by someone belligerently ringing our bell
("You come to my house,
you ring my bell many times!"/Gloria)
while I was in the shower.
It was the PA State Constable
leaving a business card that had my name on it
and the words
"A warrant has been issued for your arrest"
crossed out.
Scared the crap out of me.
(I knew I hadn't done anything wrong --
I'm not that kind of person,
but I was freaked out!
Images of being in prison for Christmas danced in my head).
Turns out?
Oops. Wrong address, so wrong person, too.
I was not amused.


I *love* Modern Family.
Gloria and Cam are my favorite two characters.


What the . . . ?
I recently found out, while Googling some Bobby Brown songs
that it's spelled "prerogative."
I did not know that.
This grammar and spelling nerd stands corrected.
PRErogative? Really? Really?

Monday, December 5, 2011

A few funny stories

On 12/1/2011:

Scout was barking at the window because someone dared to walk down the street near our house. Thing 2 went to the window to see what was up.

He tells me there was just some kid walking down the street with his "
pants on the ground" and we start talking about this "style."

Thing 2: I've noticed that people with backward baseball caps often have pants on the ground.
Me: Sideways baseball caps, right?

Thing 2 (who wears his backward): No, backward, too.
Me: Do you like
pants on the ground?
Thing 2: (eyes wide and shaking his head) No!! (and turning back to the window with a shrug) I break stereotypes.

On 12/3/2011:

Thing 1 played violin at the Christmas Spectacular with the Hershey Symphony. She looked BEAUTIFUL and sounded amazing. What a treat to be able to play with them! Mark, Thing 2, and I all attended to support her and enjoy the performances. Thing 2 looked SO handsome.

Mark volunteered to help backstage and while he was getting Thing 1 where she needed to be, Thing 2 and I got seats in the balcony.
I noticed how handsome he looked and leaned over and said, "You are SO handsome. If I weren't your mom and I were your age, I would totally have a crush on you."

He responded by slapping himself in the forehead while rolling his eyes and shaking his head (it only made him that much cuter).

After the concert, we went out to get something to eat as a family and we were all laughing and sharing stories. I shared that one and described Thing 2's reaction (he shook his head again while I relayed this to Mark and Thing 1).

Mark explained that all I was saying was that he's cute. I nodded my agreement, "Yes, I'm simply saying you're cute, that's all."

So Thing 2 looked at me and said, "Then just say that!"

(I'm not the only one who thinks he's cute. A friend recently told me that her 9-year-old daughter has a crush on Thing 2. Apparently her cute daughter gushed to my friend, "Mom, he has the best eyelashes!" and even wore a touch of make-up when she knew she was going to see him.)

On 11/15/2011:

Thing 2 was philosophizing (as he is often prone to do) and this time we got an insight into the inner workings of his mind.

He explained, "There are two chambers in my mind. The 'saving data' chamber and the 'easily forget' chamber."

He went on to explain that thoughts enter his mind and some stuff stays in his head forever (like the Yo-Gabba-Gabba songs he heard repeatedly when the kids' cousin Ada visited earlier this year) and some stuff doesn't stay long at all (I think I have this chamber, too).

I asked, "Can you put the thoughts in either chamber?"

He said, "It does it for itself."

And then, very matter-of-factly, he explained that when a thought enters his mind for the first time, it goes to "the middle" and then it chooses where it goes.

My thought? That explains some things!!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thing 2 Has His Own Blog!

You're invited to check out Thing 2's Blog--enjoy reading I Don't Eat My Drumsticks! This is a great outlet for our little drummer boy (heheheh) and resident comedian! And I'm sure, he, like all bloggers, enjoys comments, so have at it! :)

Monday, November 28, 2011

We did it AGAIN!!

We started later than we wanted to,
didn't get to it every day,

didn't get it done before Thanksgiving like we'd hoped,

we did it
(and before the end of the month, too)!

We all won NaNoWriMo again!!

Mark and I wrote an over 50K-word book together
and we're both really pleased with it and our impressive teamwork on it.

Thing 1 wrote an over 35K-word book
and says it's a delightfully odd and strange book.

Things 2 wrote an over 4K-word book
and says it's his favorite NaNoWriMo book to date.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Random Thoughts

I just sat down to work on my novel,
so of course I'm writing a blog post first.
I am a HIGHLY distracted person.


Since writing that thought,
I have written 2 texts,
taken a picture of Scout,
and charged a battery.


Jerry Sandusky has an autobiography called "Touched."
How is that scumbag not in jail?
Did you know that he and his wife adopted 6 children
and took in several foster children?


Loving X-Factor.
Great, great show.
I feel like I'm at a great concert every week.
The Magic Violinist did a great review of it on her blog.


I am so excited for Modern Family
(simple pleasures).
I was so disappointed that the CMAs preempted it this past week,
so I am REALLY excited about this week.


NaNoWriMo is in full swing here.
Mark and I are hoping to break 30K words tonight.
The kids are both way more than half way to their goals.


I like boy jeans SO much better than girl jeans.


Overheard at a hair salon today:
"I don't like vampires either.
I only like Twilight vampires, because they're sparkly."
Just more reasons for me not to read it.


I'm writing a novel with Mark.
At it evolves, we're noticing that it is
basically asking the question:
Would you rather happily live a lie of which you are unaware,
or would you want to know the truth, even if it would hurt?


It's not all heavy, though.
We have some hilarious scenes.
One of our characters is patterned after Jennifer Coolidge
in this guest appearance on Friends.


Our dog has separation anxiety.
Oh, and she's also racist.
It makes me think of this song every time we talk about it.
(And then I get nostalgic for my teenage years).


Every November, we put up a big sheet of paper
and place a box of crayons nearby.
It's our "Gratitude" Door.
I love this tradition!


I think it TOTALLY sucks for workers
that Black Friday has bumped up even more
to the point that it starts on Thursday at 10pm.
Um, THURSDAY is Thanksgiving.
Oh yeah, and it's not a FRIDAY!!


I've sent more texts,
checked the clinic,
read stuff online,
and checked email
since writing that 2nd thought.
I think I'll write my story now . . .


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Double Dating in the 21st Century

It's not the same. But it will do for now.

(This is a picture of all 4 of us
trying to figure out how to take a screen shot
of our double date.
We figured it out and smiled and took the picture --
apparently a picture of the Johnsons
working on figuring it out themselves).

Note the time. We were just warming up.
3 hours later (that's 2AM for the math-challenged),
we got to bed.
But totally worth it.
(We were all doubled over and in tears
from laughing so hard -
it's a new form of Internet Therapy).

Our kids LOVE Skyping with the Johnson kids.
Our houses fill with belly laughs, giggles, and singing.

But, man, are we looking forward to hosting all those
sounds in person at our house
without Skype!

I'm also glad they got us into Skype,
because we've been able to meet our two newest nieces
via video chat!

I'm grateful for the Internet.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Halloween Costumes

Here are the kids' costumes from Halloween this year. I think you'll agree they are cute kids!

Harry Potter fans, name this Quibbler-reading character.

Complete with Spectrespecs and radish earrings 
(and yes, those are real radishes).

It's Luna Lovegood!

He collects Charmander and Piplup and Pikachu
(at least, I think he does).

He has the ball to prove it.

He's a Pokemon Trainer!

Don't they look great?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

November 1st

It's NaNoWriMo time!


This past September,
a random older man walked up to us one day and said,
"This is a tough economy.
I don't envy you and your generation at all.
You have it way tougher than we ever did."
I had mixed feelings about his statement:
a bit of stress at the truthfulness of it,
slightly odd that he just walked up to strangers and said it,
and gratitude that he recognized it.


Kim Kardashian spent 10 million dollars on a lavish wedding
and filed for divorce 72 days later.
We all knew it was coming,
but 72 days?!?!?
That's one hell of an expensive party for nothing.


My brother is going on a 15-night transatlantic cruise.
He's flying to London
(and even paid for a BED on the plane --
new feature with mattress, pillows, and special seat belts
so you can sleep on the plane),
visiting seven or eight European countries,
and then cruising to the Bahamas.


We went trick-or-treating yesterday.
Thing 2 dressed up as a Pokemon Trainer.
Thing 1 dressed up as Luna Lovegood.
They are both super cute.


We had dentist appointments on Halloween.
That's just wrong.
Plus it was a really rough appointment.
No cavities, thankfully, but, well,
let's just say
it was a long and expensive day.


I often turn my cell phone off when I'm hanging out with my kids,
which is pretty much every day,
so my cell phone is off a lot.
I suck at being reachable that way,
but I'm okay with it
(though I think it might frustrate some friends and extended family).


I do love texting as a way to communicate.


There are several downsides
to not living near grandparents,
including (but not limited to):
You can't show off your costume/trick-or-treat at their house.
You can't sell those obnoxious sports fund raisers to them
(We hate those, so we just buy them all ourselves).
Kids can't go on grandparent dates or simply go over to play.
They can't cook for you/have you to dinner (and vice-versa).
No nearby family for rides, BBQs, lessons, parties, recitals, etc.
We won't even mention going on dates/overnights
(Mark and I haven't been away on an overnight trip
in a dozen years).
BUT one of the upsides is:
Lots of excitement over long visits from faraway grandparents!
18 days until Grandma and Papa come for Thanksgiving!


Finished The Book Thief and ended up liking it!
I didn't enjoy the first part of the book,
but there was payoff in the story
and in its presentation and conclusion.


We got 6 inches of snow this past Saturday.


The weather this year has been generally wacky.
We've had tornadoes, drought, hurricanes,
earthquakes, serious floods, and a fall snowstorm.
We are all very weather weary here.


Funny Kid Story from breakfast this morning:

Thing 2: I don't get how someone pushes a baby
and it just pops out of their belly.
Me: Babies don't come out the belly.
Thing 2: Then where do they come out?
Me: A woman's vagina.
Thing 2 (looking shocked): But a baby is so big!?
Me: Yeah! It hurts!
Thing 2: (shaking head) I'm so glad I'm not a girl.
(And turning to his sister): Good luck with that.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Concert #2 -- (Do NOT laugh)

So, you've read my blog posts about the fun "Girls' Weekends" we have around here now and then -- two of my girlfriends with whom I grew up (Cathy and Kellie) come from MA/RI and NJ respectively and we get our party on. We've done it several times over the past few years and it's always a ton of fun.

I'm so grateful for them and love when we get together. It's special to have friends you've known for over 20 years (in fact, this year marks 25 years for me and Cathy -- I think that deserves some kind of present).


So, during one of our weekends together, we were all hanging out at our house and catching up. During this particular conversation, I learned (or possibly re-learned, since my memory stinks) that Kellie LOVES the New Kids on the Block (hereafter referred to as NKOTB) and is a total groupie (like, TOTAL groupie).

And when I say groupie, I'm talking attending SEVERAL concerts all over the country, often getting backstage passes, getting after-show party tickets, getting pictures with the boys, going on cruises with the boys . . . no, seriously, I KID YOU NOT.

See, I have enough hometown Boston pride to say, "Go New Kids!" But the truth is, Kellie is a couple of years younger than I am. And that means that as teens, that was just enough of an age difference for her to be the right age to LOVE the NKOTB and for Cathy and I to be the right age to like the NKOTB, but mostly mock those who loved them (not that we ever did that to Kellie -- remember, we love Kellie and she is our friend).

But now that we're all in our 30s (and pushing 40), we so totally did not in any way, shape, or form make fun of Kellie for following the NKOTB all over the world like a stalker we are all totally mature enough to respect Kellie's absolute adult decision to pursue a hobby that she enjoys and were all able to talk about it as adults. (Really, we were mostly mature about it, I promise).

So, during this conversation while I was picking my jaw up off the floor, I also learned that my PA friend Kristie (who I've known for a few years and who I did not know as a teen) also loved the NKOTB. She is about Kellie's age, so that would make sense. And, for the record, we were totally mature about that, too, and did not in any way, shape, or form, laugh at her description of the NKOTB poster-plastered walls of her teenage bedroom.

Well, so Kellie bought tickets to umpteen (it's a real number - look it up) concerts and each time, she'd buy 1 or 2 extra tickets because she knew she'd always find someone to go with her (and she did -- EVERY time). She, for the Hershey concert, had bought 3 tickets. I asked who was going and she said whoever wanted to. Kristie jumped at it. I couldn't even begin to imagine myself going to a NKOTB concert at all.

Turns out she had figured that she, Cathy, and I would go to the Hershey concert together, but since Cathy was already going to the Boston concert (at Fenway Park no less!) with Kellie, she opted out of the Hershey concert. That left 1 ticket and only 1 of us not going to any of the concerts.

Kristie wanted me to go and Kellie wanted me to go. They both love the NKOTB. I relented and went, less because of the NKOTB (other than the childhood nostalgia factor), and more because I wanted to see my two NKOTB-crazed friends in this setting. I could not believe I was going to do this. Until then, I could proudly say that I had only ever gone to concerts for singers I REALLY loved (Chicago, Harry Connick, Jr., and Michael Bublé), but New Kids?!?!?

Turns out? It was A BLAST. They were touring with the Back Street Boys (BSB), so it was the NKOTBSB tour. And the opening act? Matthew Morrison of Glee fame. I was actually more excited about the opening act than the show itself, but I was super excited to have fun with my two friends, seeing them happy and having fun at a concert they were so excited about.

What I didn't know is how much fun *I* would have. And I so did!

(Oh yeah, and we had WICKED close seats -- thank goodness Kellie brought ear plugs, because we were RIGHT under the speakers and totally needed them!)

Kel, me, Kristie

Me and Kellie --
look how close we were to the front!

Matthew Morrison was fun, but confused me
- he kept saying it was so hot (it was),
but he never once took off his shirt. :P

Me and Kristie


The cute lead singers of each boy band
(No offense to Kellie's heart throb, Mr. Donnie Wahlberg)

The girls went crazy for Nick Carter
(And holy moly did those boys work the stage).

NKOTB in their Celtics jerseys -
The Right Stuff!

Kristie totally channeled her 13-year-old self
with squeals and screams when one of the NKOTB
(and not even her favorite one)
came out near us in the audience.

One of the many things that amazed me
was how many young teens
still dig these boy bands!
I had no idea . . .

Hangin' Tough -
these boys still have all the old moves
as well as several new ones -
they made sure the audience knew
the New Kids were, ahem, all grown up.
(And don't even get me started on the BSB).

I had a GREAT time and I'm so glad I went. Thank you, Kellie, for still loving the NKOTB and sharing them with the rest of us!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Working Titles

It's that time of year again -- NaNoWriMo! There is great excitement at our house over this. I don't know what hypes the children more sometimes, this or the holidays. It's HUGE around here. Anyway, everyone is super excited. Mark and I are working on a book together this year and the kids are each working on a book themselves.

Here are the titles we have for our books (working titles anyway) -- let's play the game we played this past year with our first lines. Guess whose book title belongs to whom:

Mancer Answer Book 1: Time for School

The Secret Keeper

A Cherry Pie, an Iguana, a Silver Dollar, and a Spitball Fight

Monday, October 24, 2011

Recent Reads

Besides watching copious amounts of Gilmore Girls, I've also been doing a fair amount of reading.

A few books I've recently read:

Water for Elephants -- loved it, loved it, LOVED it!

The Help
-- Excellent! Great characters -- missed them when I was done.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog
-- reserving comments on this one
(it's one of the books in the SIL book club my MIL gave us all for Christmas, so I don't want to spoil it for those who haven't gotten it yet)

The Best Halloween Ever
-- fun read for this time of year; it's written by Barbara Robinson of "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" fame; her Christmas book is better, but this one is okay

Currently reading:

The Book Thief -- jury's still out; I'm intrigued -- I've heard good things and it's an interesting concept, but not loving the guy's writing style so far . . .

Have you read any good books lately?

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Rainbow of Random Musings


Love it! I love that Simon Cowell has the moxie to create a competing hit show and pit it against his previous hit show. Genius! This one is a keeper. They don't waste too much of our time with stupid, attention-seeking auditions. Instead, they show us real people with real stories who can actually sing. Novel concept. They have the VERY good sense to get the lovely Paula Abdul back on the panel (oh, how I love Paula Abdul!). And that L.A. Reid guy? And Nicole Scherzinger? Love them. L.A. is a class act. And Nicole is super nice. The acts are so good -- so varied and interesting. I already have favorites in all four categories.

That being said, what a petulant, spoiled BABY Simon Cowell is! He creates a show, makes the rules, and then blatantly ignores them so he can have his pet projects on his team.

He chooses whiny, obnoxious divas that he insists are good (they're not), puts them through (against the counsel of all the other judges), kicks ACTUAL talent out, then says, "Oops. I made a mistake," and invites an extra contestant back?!? No way! BABY. Such a petulant BABY.


I've been sick with a head/sinus thing AND allergies (yeah, double whammy). I hate being sick. I'm a pretty miserable sick person. I complain and whine and generally want to be babied. That's right. At least I own it.

Amazing Race

LOVE this show.
But man oh man, they have had REALLY boring teams the past couple of years.


Our school year is going SO well. We are busy and happy. I love that we can spend every day together, go on field trips as a family, do whatever we want whenever we want, get together with friends on nice days, take classes on whatever interests us, play games, cook food. I love our life! Our day-to-day studies at home are really fun -- the kids are learning all kinds of neat things and we're reading so many good books together.

Our homeschool group is awesome -- we have so many neat families in the group, so many good friends . . . we are doing a lot of fun things like field trips, cultural fairs, science fairs, service, roller skating/bowling/mini-golf/lazer tag outings, lectures/classes, parties, dances, fun projects, etc.

And the kids are involved in some REALLY neat groups:

Both are taking:
Art Classes
Tae Kwon Do
Book Clubs (they're each in their own book club)
Yoga Classes
"20 Things" Research Club
YMCA Swim/Gym Group
Dungeons & Dragons Group
Teen Night (we host it)
Glee Club

Thing 1 is taking:
Horsemanship Class
Violin (Individual, Group, and she's in a feeder group for the local symphony)

Thing 2 is taking:
Drums (he just started lessons and got his own drum set!)


We are completely taken with our dog. We absolutely LOVE her. She is so much fun, so feisty, so snuggly, so loving, SO FUN. We totally adore her. I'm so incredibly glad that we have her. I could've written a book about how I didn't want a dog. So glad we got one anyway.

A few days ago, Thing 1 came in from the backyard in tears and said, "I don't see Scout!" I said, "WHAT?!?!" and BOLTED to the backyard as all kinds of thoughts flashed before my eyes. I was literally shaking all over and running as fast as I could to jump into action. We have a fenced-in backyard and she has never gotten out. Well, apparently, one of the gates was opened a bit (seriously, never happens), and she had investigated. I was beside myself with worry and wanted to find her as soon as possible (sooner!). When I saw the open gate, I was about to totally freak out (we live on a busy street, I didn't want her getting lost, etc.), but I saw Mark saying, "It's okay. I've got her."

She had gone to the front yard and was standing by the mailbox near our car and looking at the house. Mark called her in and she came running (THANK GOODNESS!!). She wasn't fazed at all, but it scared the crud out of me. I slept horribly that night -- couldn't stop thinking about it. We were all shaken by it and are so glad she's okay. Have I mentioned we totally, totally love her?
Love. Her.

The Johnsons

We miss the Johnsons.
That is all.


My SIL Emily recently posted about an embarrassing moment (no, it's okay that I'm drawing attention to it --seriously, she's kind of excited about it, thinks it's funny . . . it's all good). So, I commented and it totally turned into me thinking out loud about it and wondering and philosophizing and I am still wondering,
"What is it (exactly) that causes embarrassment?"
I really want to know.
I've been thinking about it every since.
We get embarrassed by things we don't do on purpose (see my comment on her blog).
So, anyway, why is that?
I'd love to hear thoughts on this.

I'm done.

Gilmore Girls Tribute

So, we just finished the series yesterday. How had I missed this show?!?

We started season 1 this past summer and then watched all of seasons 2-6 in two months. I know!

I'm so glad that we didn't watch this show when it was on, because waiting a whole week between episodes? Torture! I absolutely love this show.

And though Lorelai and Rory should each weigh about 300 pounds the way they eat, there are so so so many thing to love!

I love . . .

Stars Hollow, CT.

that the dog's name is Paul Anka.

that Luke is a stand-up guy underneath all that grump.

Mrs. Kim!

to be annoyed by Taylor Doose.

the quick-witted references to everything from books to people to movies.

Luke's backward baseball cap.

Lorelai's mother-daughter-friend relationship with Rory.

town meetings.

how cute Dean is.

the road trips.

Paris's "Tie your tubes, idiot!" line.

Pretty much any of Paris's lines.

Emily's annoyance with everyone, especially her revolving-door collection of maids.

that Sebastian Bach was part of Lane's band.

the wrap-around porch on Lorelai's house.

all the Ivy-League School references.

Luke's love of his dad.

and that he keeps the "hardware" sign up even though it's a diner.

the town square.

all the family dynamics.

that I grew up near so many towns and places they mention.

that Paris and Emily Gilmore had some of the BEST lines.

being addicted to Michel Gerard.

how Lorelai calls Rory "kid."

Luke's "no cell phones" rule.

Rory's hair.

the constant coffee references.

how much everyone walks around the town.

Lorelai's (mostly) pretty dresses (except that ugly one that looked like Santa Claus).

the floorboards and closet in Lane's room.

Miss Patty hitting on every cute guy she saw.

Lorelai's love of snow and her ability to smell it.

how the characters lived in two worlds simultaneously -- rich-privileged and lowbrow-simple.

all the town festivals and traditions.

going from total annoyance at Jess to later wishing he'd return.

how Babbette yells everything she says.

Richard and Emily Gilmore and Friday Night Dinners.

Sookie and her infectious giggle.

going through a love-hate thing with Christopher.

Rory's friendship with Lane.

Paul Anka's quirkiness.

the huge mother-daughter issues between Emily and Lorelai.

all the fantastic and obscure music references!

the name "Pennilyn Lott."

the Dragonfly Inn!

having a love-hate thing for Logan.

Jackson's major ball drop story line.

that Lorelai's "cooking" is take-out.

Al's Pancake World.

Luke's relationship with April.

the series finale (I was getting worried, but I loved it!).

What do you love about Gilmore Girls?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Concert #1 - Michael Buble (yes, again)

Only this time, we took the kids! We're officially groupies. :P Granted, I haven't been as many times as the lady in the front row, who was wearing a "This is my 7th concert - can I have a hug?" t-shirt, but I'm so doing that when I am (and yes, she got a hug, as did the guy whose girlfriend made him a t-shirt to commemorate his 13th concert).

I can't think of many more famous people I'd like to see in concert multiple times. Michael Bublé is nothing short of INCREDIBLE. Seriously, look it up. The reviews he's getting of his "Crazy Love" tour are Phe-NOMENAL. I read a whole bunch of them and every word made me sooooooooooooo glad I saw him on tour. TWICE no less!

So, Mark and I enjoyed the concert so much when we went the first time, that when we were telling friends how amazing (seriously, AMAZING!) Michael Bublé is, and looked up YouTube videos of concert clips to show them, were reminded again how great he is in concert, and decided we just had to go again and that we had to take the kids (and I don't throw the words "have to" around lightly either). This concert tour was not to be missed!

So, we looked up his tour dates and locations and contemplated many options near us (pretty much anywhere in New England or the mid-Atlantic region). We decided to travel to Wilkes-Barre, PA on June 8th and make an overnight of it. It was our first time away from Scout (and man oh man, did we miss her like crazy!) -- our awesome friends checked in on her for us both days -- they gave her lots of tummy rubs and attention, which she loves!

So! We got ready . . .

made an awesome sign for the kids . . .

and drove a couple of hours to get to our destination with plenty of time to go out to dinner beforehand.

Here we are at where we thought we would eat


Okay, funny story time (everything between the dashes is the story. If you want to skip it, scroll down). So, we go to this restaurant that we had found online beforehand. It had good reviews of its food and it was close enough that we could see the concert arena from the window while seated at our table. It was packed but they seated us pretty quickly. They brought us drinks and chips and salsa and we ordered our food (oh, were we ever excited for some good Mexican food).

Our waitress was a dipstick. She was very nice, but the whole experience was a comedy of errors. For starters, she introduced herself while grunting. I couldn't figure out what was wrong and then I realized she was trying to pull her pen out of her apron (unsuccessfully). So, she grabbed another pen to write our order and it wouldn't write. I told her she needed new pens.

After over 20 minutes of waiting for our food, I began to get nervous about time. I did not want to be late for the concert, especially since the opening act was so good. I wanted us in our seats when it started. More time went by and I really started getting antsy. We nicely told our waitress that we didn't mean to be a bother, but we were kind of in a hurry because we were trying to get to a concert. She responded that everyone was trying to get to the concert. Not helpful.

Yet more time passed and we alternated between hoping every dish being carried out of the kitchen would be ours and looking for her so we could ask her how much longer it would be.

After more time, she walked by (huzzah!), so we asked how long our food would be and she said, "I don't know."

"Well, could you find out?"

"Oh, I don't know if I could."

I didn't want to tell her how to do her job or anything, nor did I want to state the obvious, but our conversation was rapidly going nowhere, so I suggested she ask in the kitchen.

"Oh, they won't tell me."

(What?? Was it top secret? Was it a surprise? Was it too freaking much to ask??)

I was so stunned, I didn't even know what to say next. So, after a while, I came up with the genius move to simply repeat what she had just said, but as a question.

"They won't tell you?"

"Nope." She had that spacey, far off, slightly frazzled, pained, dippy look again.

Desperate to get to the concert on time and to extract any useful information from this woman, I had to come up with something.

"Well, could you tell them that your table wants to know?"

"Well, I could. But they won't tell me."

"So if you go in there and ask them, they just won't tell you?"

"Yeah, they just pretend they don't see me and they don't answer."

"They don't answer you?"

"Yeah, they never do."

I just sat there, blinking stupidly. At this point, I was ready to go in the kitchen and ask them myself. I hated that I was even having this inane conversation. I'm not a belligerent person and I wasn't even sure how to have this conversation (how can you keep repeating the same thing over and over again without feeling like you're making the other person look stupid?). Plus, more time was passing and our food was still not coming out of that swinging kitchen door.

I should've clued in when I saw her take 15 minutes to split a check at the next table over. I witnessed that while we waited for our food. They seemed anxious to get on their way to the concert, too. But they were gone now and we still didn't even have our plates!

She was gone again. We had agreed on a time at which it would be too late to sit there and eat -- we figured we'd just box it and go and eat in the car while we parked. Well, that time had passed and still no food. Not even any to box!

Yet more time passed and she finally walked by again.

"Look, I don't mean to be a bother, but we really want to get to the concert and are just wondering how much longer it will be."

She shrugged with that doe-eyed look and said, "I don't know." Only, this time she added with a wave of her arm to a neighboring table, "They've been waiting an hour and a half and they still don't have their food!"

That was it. An hour and a half?!? We were so done. I just told her we were really sorry but we had to go. I felt badly. I mean, it wasn't her fault (and I told her that), but we had to go. We didn't pay good money for concert tickets to just sit there waiting for food and missing the show! We left her a tip and hoped she wouldn't get in trouble (though they'd have to talk to her to do that).

She asked if I could let them know up front. Uh, okay. We jumped up from the table and high tailed it out of there. It was a pretty full restaurant and right after we got up, I saw the kitchen door swing open and people came out carrying more food. I was following the waitress to the front of a very crowded and loud restaurant, my husband and kids right behind me. I sort of pointed to the food and wondered out loud if that was ours, but kept walking.

I told the host at the front of the restaurant, apologized, told them it wasn't our waitress's fault, explained that we have NEVER walked out of a restaurant before (never!), but we had waited for over 45 minutes for our food (they really should've told people there was that kind of delay) and we really needed to leave. They said okay, but didn't look happy. I felt justified, but also was embarrassed by the whole situation and just wanted OUT of there.

So, we stepped outside and walked quickly to our van. Well, I did. I turned, saying something to Mark, and noticed that he and the kids weren't outside with me. I was mortified. Had they stopped to use the bathroom? Had someone stopped them to talk to them? Didn't they know we were storming out and making a statement?

I texted Mark, "Where are you?!"

I was standing outside our van (Mark had the keys) waiting for a bit. I looked up and saw them exiting the restaurant, shaking their heads.

"Where were you?"

"We were sitting at our table!"

"What?! Why?!?"

"You pointed at the table. I thought you wanted me to sit there."

"What? No, I didn't."

We both quickly figured out that when I pointed at the food coming out of the kitchen and wondered out loud if it was ours, he thought I was saying to sit and wait.

Mark went on to explain, "The waitress came back and said, 'You can go. Your wife went outside.'"

We busted up laughing at how ridiculous this whole situation was. We also noticed the backed-up traffic at the arena as everyone tried to get in and park. What a fiasco our "dinner" had been!

We knew we needed to eat something since we'd be at the concert until 11 or so. We drove around a little bit looking for anything quick but healthy (a Subway, for example). We even rolled down our windows to ask locals for suggestions. All they could suggest was McDonald's. Blech. We hadn't eaten fast food in almost a year, thanks to "Food, Inc." and "Supersize Me."

We were opposed to the idea, but with no options left (how has this country not yet demanded healthier food from a window?!?), we very reluctantly decided to just get something there at least to "take the edge off."

Here we are getting "dinner" (gag)

The kids and I all got a dollar burger and a value fry to share. Mark, wisely, passed on all of it. His plan to go without food rather than eat this crap was so much smarter than ours. I was trying to be positive about it, but this really did smell and look (and taste) gross. Our kids each took one bite and that was it. Thing 1 said, "The meat of a thousand cattle!" (a fact we learned in Food, Inc.). I said, "Oh man! Thanks a lot. I had forgotten that!" She thought she was so funny. Thing 2 looked sick and just shook his head and said, "I feel like I have a brick in my stomach." I had taken a bite and promptly wished I hadn't.

Anyone who knows us KNOWS that I am loathe to throw out food. I will go to great lengths to save leftovers and spruce them up, if needs be, to make another meal and not waste food. So you know it's bad when I say we threw all 3 burgers (and the fries) into the trash. And we all felt disgusting. We popped mints and figured we'd just get something after the concert. I was totally envying Mark at that point. By choice, he hadn't eaten any of it. I wished I hadn't.

One good thing to come of this was learning how truly done we are with fast food. Between watching those 2 movies (seriously, watch the movies -- you won't eat there either), followed by a year of not eating fast food, we were officially done with the golden arches. And it was totally our kids' choice! We've told them that if they want to eat it once in a while, they can. But they choose to opt out. Amazing!


Anyway, the food that night? Quite an adventure. But on to bigger and better things. Namely, MICHAEL BUBLÉ!!

First off, let me say we got tickets for some pretty great seats on the floor (Stubhub is awesome). While Thing 1 and I used the restroom before the show, a nice couple offered 2 front-row seats to Mark and Thing 2. (Well, they thought they were front row -- turns out it was a few rows back from that, but still! They had gotten comp tickets from their buddy who works security). We stayed in our regular seats for the opening act -- Naturally 7. GREAT a cappella group. Lots of fun. Thing 2 especially loves that kind of music, so he enjoyed them a lot.

Since it was their first big concert experience, I wanted to capture their reaction to the loud music and excitement of it all. Here's what I got:

LOL! They seemed a bit overwhelmed at first. But in no time, they totally got into it and were dancing and moving and having a great time.

I'm pretty opinionated about concert behavior. I don't understand the logic of going to a concert to just SIT THERE and not move! If that's all people want to do, why don't they just buy a DVD of the singer and watch it in their living room?!? It's a CONCERT. It's loud. It's live. You're there. The performer is there. It's an experience. Move. Stand up. Dance. Yell. Sing. Drives me crazy when people just sit there. Dull, dull, dull, boring people. GET UP! (And can you imagine how crappy it must be for the performer feeding off that "energy?" Yikes.).

I'm pleased to say that as the night wore on, the kids got into the spirit of things (which is more than I can say for most of the rest of the crowd--I had noticed this at the first MB concert and was starting to get perturbed by PA audiences). While I love to be in a place where the group energy matches my own excitement and enjoy being with people who get into things, when surrounded by dull and boring people, I don't let it get me down -- I just ignore them and have a good time (and quietly feel homesick for Boston folk).

And at one point in the concert, when Thing 1 and I were totally dancing and having a good time, Michael Bublé himself pointed at us from the stage and widened his eyes and opened his mouth with a happy, surprised look to see us having so much fun. Yeah, that's right. He loves us.

Anyway, after Naturally 7 (great opening act) . . .

. . . there was a short break.

So, we got a picture of our family
and then decided that two of us would go ahead
and grab those seats that we had been given
on the front row (well, closer anyway).

Some of our concert photos

In Michael Bublé's own words, his concert is "bombastic" and it's true! It's easily the most amazing show I've ever seen. Ever. (To read more about the concert itself, check my earlier post -- it was basically the same format with only a few minor differences: he was scruffier this time and he had switched out one of his set list songs to include his latest single "Hollywood."). LOVED it!

Here we are well into the concert. The crowd was also more into it. How could you not be? PHENOMENAL!

Thing 2 and Mark --
turns out there were empty seats right behind
where Thing 1 and I had moved up
to those seats we'd been given.

Me with Thing 1 -
having SO much fun!

Me, with the couple who had given us the tickets -
they were super nice and a lot of fun

Remember how I touched Michael Bublé at the first concert?
Well, Thing 1 got a turn this time!
We're so excited!
He held her hand while singing and totally smiled at her.
(In the picture, he's messing with one of the girls who gave us the tickets --
apparently, he loved her hat).

My and Mark's absolute favorite part of the concert -
at the end, while you're distracted by the trumpeter
in the back playing in the audience
(so your back is turned to the stage),
they draw the curtains to hide all the staging
and lights and set
and it is simply one light on one person --
and Michael Bublé stands there
and belts out a solo
with no amplification at all
It's incredible.
Plus, he's singing "Song for You"
so the lyrics are so so fitting.
Totally gives you chills.
You just stand there, awestruck.

I'll show you a video clip of it -- seriously, the guy is a consummate performer. He's easy on the eye, has a crazy, confident, sexy stage presence, and he interacts with HUGE audiences as if he mingling in a crowd of close friends. He finds a way to make it feel intimate. LOVE this guy. DO NOT MISS a chance to see him. I can't say that enough. He's just amazing. Love him!

(Sorry it's sideways, but you get the idea).

We had a fantastic time and it's the kind of concert you're always sad to see end. We reluctantly left and found our hotel. Everything was closed, but we found a pizza place that would deliver after midnight, so we got some pasta primavera bowls, cheesy breadsticks, and wings, and had our own after-party in our hotel. It was fun. We all went to sleep SUPER tired, but very happy.

All in all, a GREAT 1st concert experience for the kids . . . despite the lousy dinner. :P