Category Archives: Home & Family

If We Were Having Coffee….5/20/17

If we were having coffee…I would ask you to come in, sit down, relax, move those empty grocery bags out of you way. I had to run to the supermarket this morning, not my favorite thing on a Saturday but my family was bellyaching about the lack of food around here. Yeash! So demanding!!😊

Anyway, shopping done, bathroom clean, laundry later. Time to chat. What’s up with you? How is the weather in your area?  It’s been mighty hot here. I thought I was melting at school yesterday. Not good for student (or teacher) concentration. The classroom I work in is air conditioned but the halls and the lunchroom are not so all day long it was like… cool-hot-cool-hot! My menopausal system can’t take temperature changes like that!

If we were having coffee… I might tell you that hubby and I are heading out to dinner tonight to celebrate our anniversary (23 years!) and that he also has another stop in mind for us afterward but he won’t tell me what. Hmm?  That man likes his surprises. I will let you know next week, unless, of course, it’s not a “G” rated trip then I will keep it to myself. 😉It’s hard to believe we’ve been married that long but then it’s also hard to remember a time before he was about.  Since we still seem to like each other quite a bit, I guess I’ll keep him around a while longer.

Tomorrow, we will have a BBQ with the kids and hang out around here. This will be our first BBQ of the season so I’m looking forward to it.

Also, tomorrow, my brother-in-law is dropping off  this lovely secretary desk that originally belonged to my husband’s grandmother.

He and his wife are moving to a smaller home in June so this family heirloom is coming to live with us now. I’m very excited to have it.  I think it’s pieces like this with so much sentiment value that help a house feel more like a home. We already have a lovely old hutch in our kitchen that my in-laws bought over 50 years ago when they were first married. It feels important to keep these item in the family and I think my mother-in-law appreciates it too.

Well, it’s time to go do some “stuff!” Hope your weekend is great and thanks for stopping by. Hop on over to visit Emily at Nerd in the Brain too so you can check out the rest of the Weekend Coffee Share.

If We Were Having Coffee…5/6/17

If we were having coffee this morning… I would probably start off with, “Remember me?” It’s been a while since I’ve been inspired to sit and create a post of any kind or visit those of my blog friends. I’ve no excuse. My mind and life were just heading in a different direction for a bit, but now as I sit here lingering over my French Roast, breathing in the cool spring air blowing through the screen door I feel the need for a bit of a chat so….

First, as an update, in my last Coffee Share I was pretty excited that our family was awaiting the arrival of two new baby boys. Both have arrived healthy and strong- Chase, my niece’s son, we were able to meet on Easter (I was quite annoyed that I had to put him down in order to actually serve dinner!), and Asher, my husband’s step-sisters baby, only three weeks old now and who we hope to meet very soon.

If we were having coffee…I would fill your cup, offer a chair and ask, “How ya been?” Stuff has been hopping here in Southern New Jersey. Aside from babies being born, both of my own kids (is it ok to still refer to my college age children as ‘kids?’) have been cramming for finals. Mr D’s text responses have been tense one word answers so I know he is feeling overwhelmed and Miss Dee has spread her laptop and books from one end of the kitchen to the other, taking only short breaks to sleep and eat! Wednesday  is the magic day when they can both breath again. She will head to the movies with friends to celebrate and maybe my son will stop by to visit (although first he will probably spend an evening celebrating at the pub near campus).

The D-man and I, both working for the public school system, have been navigating the PARCC test. For those unfamiliar, this is  the standardized assessment test that  students are required to take, here in NJ and several other states. My personal assessment is that it is a colossal waste of time and a real pain in the A#%, but no one has asked me. 😊

My poor hubby has it much worse than me though because at his school, he is the guy running the test so he has to do all the preparation and pray that the logistic and technology all cooperate. Of course it didn’t. The computers had a major glitch on day one, putting them a day behind to start then the fire alarm was accidentally triggered on day two requiring the whole school to evacuate till the source was discovered, then on the final day all the programs were moving so slow that it took some students 20 minutes just to sign in to the site! He still has make ups next week but he treated himself to a day off on Friday, spending it down the shore with a friend. I think I would have needed more than one day!!

If we were having coffee…I might tell you how excited I am for this summer’s STEAM Camp (science, technology, engineering, art and math). It will be run, again, by my friend Jill who is a fifth grade teacher at the school where I work. She and, another friend, Karen, the third grade teacher, started the camp last summer and it was so successful that we will be doubling it and doing two weeks this time round. The themes are “World Travel” and “Sports Science.” In addition to working at the actual camp, they have commissioned me once again to make the props that enhance each week’s theme. This is the first one done:

The windows are cut out so the children can stand behind and get their photos taken as they enter camp the first day. Next I’m working on a “passport” that will act as their name tag throughout the week. I find it really fun and relaxing to have a creative project to work on during my free time.

Well, if we were having coffee…I would probably notice the time and realize that I need to get myself moving. I bought some herbs and would like to plant them in pots outside today. We also have some bushes in serious need of a trim then the D-man and I have tickets to the Philadelphia Phillies game tonight. Love me some springtime baseball!⚾️

Oh, One more thing…

If we were having coffee… I would remind you to visit Nerd in the Brain so that you can enjoy the rest of the Coffee Share Posts. May the rest of your weekend be super-fantastic! I hope you are able to surround yourself with the people and things you love the most.

If We Were Having Coffee…3/11/17

If we were having coffee…I would (quickly) welcome you in and slam the door right behind you. There is a fridge wind fighting to get in this morning and I am determined to keep him at bay. I feel as if the March Lion is doing battle with the March Lamb. We are expecting a snow storm on Tuesday here in southern New Jersey so I guess the Lion still has control at least till then. Personally, I’m more than ready for Spring!

Nevermind the weather. Come in. Sit down. I have coffee or tea or hot chocolate ready to warm your bones. You might notice that I am using my very cool  Friends “CENTRAL PERK” mug that Miss Dee gave me for my birthday this past December. As you can see, it’s very large so I only use it on the weekends when I have unlimited coffee time. There are lots of other cool mugs for you to choose from; two Marvel Avengers , a Hershey Park (the sweetest place on Earth), another from Disney World, or Miss Dee has a mug from her graduation that says “THE TASSEL WAS WORTH THE HASSEL.” I’m sure she wouldn’t mind sharing. Which ever you chose, I promise to fill it with something strong and hot!

If we were having coffee…I would start off by asking you how you’ve been. It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to join the Coffee Share (in fact, it’s been so long that I didn’t realize that it changed hosts!) so I’m afraid I’m a bit behind. Is everything well in your world? Everyone healthy? Have you seen any good movies or read any good books?

Things around here have been chugging along. Nothing too extraordinary is happening. We are a bit excited because my niece, Anna, and D-Man’s stepsister, Regan, are both about to have babies so of course we are awaiting news on that. This is the second baby for Anna. Anyone who has been following this blog for a while might remember the shower Miss Dee and I threw for her when her first (Squish) was born two years ago. She and her guy will be welcoming another little boy to their family. We can’t wait to meet him.

Hubby’s step sister, Regan, is also having a little boy. This is the first for her and her husband. They live a few hours away, up in Hoboken so we don’t get to see them too often. Miss Dee and I attended her baby shower just last week over at my in-laws house. Personally, I find showers, as a whole, a bit of a snooze to attend and, (speaking as an introvert), terrifying  to be the subject of, but it’s always nice to wish the soon-to-be parents well and see all the cute things they receive. We a gave a gift card and books, of course. I make it my mission to start every child’s library with a few good stories.😊

In other news, Mr D and three of his friends are driving to Florida for their spring break next week. It’s a thirteen hour drive to where they are going in Daytona Beach and as a mom, I’ll admit, I’m a bit freaked out but they are a pretty responsible group of young men and they’ve planned it out well. The other moms and I have put together a “survival kit” containing snacks and sunblock and of course we will be expecting regular texts and calls while they are gone. If I was 21 again, I would see this as a great adventure too so I can’t fault them for wanting to go. Doesn’t mean I won’t worry though.

If we were having coffee…I would tell you that my friend Urszula and I went  out last night to see the movie Lion and I must say, if you haven’t already seen it, I highly recommend a viewing. It was written by a man named Saroo Brierley and telle his life story. Brierley was born into a loving but poor family in India but was adopted by an Australian couple after he got lost as a child and ended up homeless on the streets of Calcutta. Twenty-five years later, he went back to India to try and find his family. Dev Patel plays the character, Saroo, as an adult and an amazing young man named Sunny plays the child Saroo. It was one of the best films I’ve seen in a while.

If we were having coffee…I would tell you that I certainly have enjoyed our drinks and conversation! I would also remind you to visit Nerd in the Brain so that you can enjoy the rest of the Coffee Share Posts. May the rest of your weekend be super-fantastic!  I hope you are able to surround yourself with the people and things you love the most.

If We Were Having Coffee…1/8/17

image

If we were having coffee…I would thank you for slogging through the snow in order to come visit me today! I’d usher you in and help you off with your boots and mittens and immediately thrust a mug of something hot into your fridgid paws. You would have noticed already that here in southern New Jersey we have collected three or four inches of snow and that the tempeture outside is hovering around freezing.  Brrrr! Let’s just stay indoors with our coffee (or tea or hot chocolate) and a selection of fresh baked cookies (courtesy of my hubby) and have a nice long chat.

If we were having coffee…I would ask you how your week has been? What is the weather like at your home. I have a retired colleague who is spending this week in Jamacia. She keeps posting photos of her and her husband on the beach or at the beachside bar. Meanwhile I’m looking out my window at squirrels digging through the snow for food! I may have to block her posts till spring. 😊

You would probably guess that I’m not much of a cold weather person. I tend to hibernate, curling up with a book or my iPad and ignoring the outside world (and anything productive I might be doing). Yesterday I did manage to take down all my Christmas decorations. I felt the pressure to get it done while Miss Dee was at work because she doesn’t take the whole “undecorating” thing very well. The idea of Christmas being over tends to make her wimper a bit and immediately go into denial, so my mother-in-law (who is now getting around quite well with her walker and expects the doctor to give her the all clear to move to a cane tomorrow) packed it all up and put it away while she was gone. Everything but the tree. I’m not ready to give that up quite yet. It is still looking pretty and fresh and losing hardly any needles so I’m keeping it till next weekend. Besides, look how pretty it looked next to the backdrop of snow yesterday…

image

If we were having coffee…I would tell you that we had a bit of a scare last night. Mr D called to tell us that on his way home, his car had been side swiped by a hit and run driver who had been swerving all over the road! Thank goodness he and his passengers were unhurt and that the car has only minor damage. He was able to pull in to a parking lot and call the police. A witness in a pick up truck was clever enough to follow the other car home and came back while Mr D was talking with the police to tell them right where they could find him. As it turned out, the other driver had been drinking! Could we BE anymore stupid?! “Hey, let’s have a few drinks then go drive on the snow covered roads!!!” That other young man better hope he and I never meet or he is going to get a very large and angry piece of my mind.  It is  certainly unnerving to be reminded how vulnerable our children are when they are out in the world.

If we were having coffee…we would probably notice the sound of the snowblower down the street and realize that other people (including my husband who ducked out a few minutes ago), have gotten on with their Sunday while we’ve been chatting. I suppose I should as well so, although I hate to hurry you out, I must wash the mugs and get myself moving. Thanks so much for coming by if you are still in the mood to chat there are lots of other wonderful folks sharing coffee and conversation. Stop by and visit.

The Weekend Coffee Share is hosted each week by the lovely Diana at Partime Monster.

If We Were Having Coffee….12/24/16

imageIf we were having coffee…I would welcome you to the “calm before the storm.” It is a rainy Christmas Eve morning here in southern New Jersey. The rest of the family is still asnooze, as I sit with my cup of piping hot French roast, contemplating today’s “to-do” list.

Tonight we will visit with my husband’s father’s family, catching up with cousins we see only once a year, and tomorrow our immediate families will gather here for Christmas dinner. We usually toggle between 14 and 25 guest. This year we are 22, missing a niece and her group who are promised to his family this year, and a nephew whose new job is keeping him on the west coast. No matter what the group, though, it is always noisey and chaotic and totally wonderful!

image

So, if we were having coffee today…I would wish you all your own special brand of holiday crazy wherever you are,  no matter what you celebrate this time of year. Please stop by for coffee next weekend when peace and quiet will once again be the norm around here. We can have a proper chat then. For now I need to run. so much to do! For now, I hope all is well with you and yours. Don’t forget to visit Diana at Part Time Monster for the rest of the Coffee Share Posts.

A Christmas Memory #3….The Tree

image

I’ve been told, by my older siblings that when they were little, they would head to bed on Christmas Eve with a bare tree standing on a bare platform in the living room awaiting Santa’s touch. As they slept, he not only delivered the presents but also put all the lights and ornaments on the tree and set up the houses and trains below so that when they emerged groggy eyed on Christmas morning they would get the full effect. I can see where this would be an exciting and magical for a child to start their Christmas Day, however…

I’ve (also) been told, by my mom and dad that when my sibling were little there were many Christmas Eve’s when they never actually made it bed! My dad usually tackled the platform and any gifts that needed to be assembled while mom did the tree. If they were lucky, neighbors or family would stop by to help but most times they were busy at home with the same task. From what I’ve heard, there was a fair amount of treats and “good cheer” flowing as well. I suppose they did need something to keep them motivated.

image

By the time I came along (12 years after my oldest sister) my parents had pretty much burned themselves out on that whole “putting the tree up on Christmas Eve” nonsense and, since my birthday was just a few days before Christmas, we began a new tradition of having the tree up in time for that. I always felt like the tree was part of my birthday celebration. It is still my favorite part of the holiday season.

When I was around 12 or 13, it became my job to go with my dad to pick out our tree. I think my mom had run out of patience years earlier and was eager to step aside. Usually we started at the closest lot, sized up a dozen or so newly cut trees, testing branch strength and freshness, making sure the trunk was straight and not too wide for the stand. Dad would haggle a bit with the tree guy and then decide none of the trees at that lot was good enough. We then performed the same routine at  a half a dozen other tree lots, testing and haggling. Inevitably, we’d end up back at the very first lot with the very first tree we had sized up back at the beginning!

This weekend, D-man and I ventured out to the tree farm where our son has been working for the last few holiday seasons, to pick out our tree. We don’t do artificial trees. Never. Nor do my sisters. That’s just the way it is. We have two small artificial trees elsewhere in the house but the main tree has to be real. To me, each Christmas tree is unique and has its own personality. I don’t want it to be perfect and I certainly don’t want it to be just the same as last year’s. Where’s the fun in that.

I know that artificial trees have all kinds of advantages. Believe me, I think about that when I’m still discovering pine needles in February. Certainly, they’re more convenient and the branches are all strong and even. The symmetry certainly appeals to my perfectionist tendency but the fact is that nothing brings back Christmas memories for me faster than the smell of a live tree. All I need to do is open my bedroom door each morning and let that scent wash over me. Suddenly I’m a kid again back at that Christmas tree lot, rating trees with my dad, strapping it to the roof of our Ford with much more rope than was probably necessary, and singing Christmas caroles all the way home at the top of my lungs. In short, Christmas is once again filled with magic.

 

A Christmas Memory #2….Church Bazaars

My mom's Bazaar bought snow couple

My mom’s Bazaar bought snow couple

 

Growing up we never belonged to any particular church or religion but most Easters and Christmas Eves we did attended services at the Baptist Church down the street. I suspect we went there just because it was the closest. I also attended Vacation Bible School there during the summer. However, there was one thing we couldn’t get from the Baptists. If we wanted nifty home made holiday items at dirt cheap prices, we had to walk a few more blocks to the Catholic Church.

These bazaars (defined in the Free Online Dictionary as:  A fair or sale at which miscellaneous articles are sold, often for charitable purposes.) would happen in early December and I looked forward to them every year, celebrating it as the official start of the holiday season. The bazaar was held in the gymnasium of the Catholic school attached to the church. There were rows and rows of long wooden tables piled high with bright colored items for sale. Mom would give me some cash and I would roam around, Christmas music playing overhead, and pick out small items to give her, my dad and my grandparents. She also gave me enough to purchase something for myself as well.

Pretty knit pot holders never meant to actually use!

Pretty knit pot holders never meant to actually use!

My grandmother received several knitted pot holders courtesy of the Church bazaar. Dad might get a wallet stitched together with leather strings and grandpa, a handmade pouch for his pipe tobacco. For my mom, I would buy decorative Christmas items or maybe an apron.

A Christmas trinket box purchased for my mother

For myself, I poured through the many hand sewed Barbie Doll clothes. The attention to detail always amazed me. How could someone make such perfect little coats and skirts in so many different patterns and styles!? They were the best made Barbie clothes I had, some handed down from my older sisters who had attended the Church Bazaar long before I was old enough to walk.

A few of the surviving doll clothes.

A few of the surviving doll clothes.

As you can see, several of these memory filled items still celebrate Christmas with us. Most started out as gifts to my mother then handed down to me. Even a few of the Barbie clothes have survived. I can’t help but wonder what those nice Catholic women who spent so many hours creating these item would think about that?

Okay, your turn. Have you ever been to or made items for a bazaar (church, school, or otherwise)? If you have, what kind of treasures did you bring home?

If We Were Having Coffee…11/26/16

image

If we were having coffee…I would start off by saying how much I have missed our chats! It has been a crazy couple of weeks around here and my posting and reading times have been limited. I hope that all is well in your part of the world and that my fellow Americans enjoyed their Thanksgiving celebrations on Thursday. We had a wonderful dinner with family and all ate way too much turkey and pie! There is much to be thankful for around here. This morning,  I am thankful that I can finally sit for a few minutes and enjoy a warm beverage and a friendly visit.

If we were having coffee…I would start off by introducing you to my mother-in-law, the amazing MJ. She’s bunking with us temporarily after a losing battle with a boxed Christmas tree in her basement resulted in a broken hip. Long story. As a result,  our list of “things to be thankful for” now includes the doctors who skillfully added three screws to her bone to help it heal, the talented therapist who aided her at rehab, helping her regain her strength, and the fact that we have an extra room where she can continue to heal, exercise and get back to her former energetic self. Mostly, though we are thankful that the injury wasn’t much, much worse and that her overall good health has enabled her to bounce back quicker than the doctors anticipated.

Miss Dee and MJ enjoying Thanksgiving.

Miss Dee and MJ enjoying Thanksgiving.

If we were having coffee…I would share that our sweet Jack has recently developed feline diabetes. He had been sleeping a lot and drinking a lot of water over the past few weeks. It turns out he’d been losing a bit of weight as well. He is a big cat (17lbs) so at first the weight loss wasn’t noticeable, but I was sure there something was up so off to the vet we went. Now the D-man and I are learning all about giving minuscule insulin shots with a teeny-tiny little syringe. Jack has been very cooperative and since we started the shots a few days ago he has been more active and vocal so we’re feeling quite optimistic. We also discovered that an added bonus to having MJ here is that, because she is an insulin dependent diabetic herself, she has been able togive us lots of helpful tips.

Our handsome Jack.

Our handsome Jack.

If we were having coffee…I might remind you that this was the final work week for the fourth grade teacher that I’ve been helping this year. She is anxious to welcome her new baby hopefully in the next week or so.  Her replacement, a nice young woman transferred over from the middle school, came in all last week to get acquainted with the students and familiarize herself with the classroom.  It will be an adjustment for all of us and I’m hoping that certain students don’t try to take advantage of the new teacher. Wish us luck.😊

If we were having coffee… I would share that a few Thursday’s ago we had the 100 year old oak tree removed from our back yard. It was an all day project involving a truck with a cherry picker parked on our lawn, a noisy wood chipper parked in our drive, branches swinging from roaps and a group of hardworking guys wielding chainsaws. Needless to say, it was a very crazy day. Personally, I think the guy in the cherry picker, swinging  the chainsaw around was a little nuts but maybe that’s what it takes to do that job!

My sad, bare backyard. ☹️

My sad, bare backyard. ☹️

I guess that covers the highlights of my last few weeks, so if we were having coffee I would turn the floor over to you. What have you been up to?

The Weekend Coffee Share I’d brought to you each week courtesy of Diana at Part Time Monster. Be sure to stop by  and check out the rest of the posts.

 

The Weekly Smile…Perfect Day

So here is something I can totally relate to…

image

…or any other day.

imageThe Weekly Smile is brought to you by Trent’s World. Stop by and share a smile yourself.

If We Were Having Coffee…11/6/16

image

If we were having coffee…I would probably start off by apologizing to any visitors from outside the USA. Tuesday is Election Day and afterward the nonsense should stop (we hope). On behalf of all Americans, I am very sorry…

Moving on..

If we were having coffee…I would invite you in, offer you a seat, a cup of hot French roast (or tea or lemonade, what ever you prefer) and ask you how your week has been? Mine was better than expected considering that Monday was Halloween. Don’t get me wrong, I love Halloween. I enjoy seeing the children in their costumes, handing out the treats, carving the Jack-o-lanterns, all that stuff. My only objection, speaking as someone who struggles to keep young people focused on learning each day, is that it happened to fall on a Monday this year. This doesn’t bode well for productivity on Tuesday, Wednesday and possibly even Thursday, depending on the amount of candy consumed.

As it turned out, Monday was the only really challenging day. Thankfully our principle has this whole Halloween thing down to a science. We really only have to get through the morning and the lunch hour (wanna guess how loud it was in the cafeteria that day?) because after that the room moms and dads arrive with games and crafts and then the children put on their costumes and proceed outside to parade around the playground. Families are invited to come watch and by the time the parade is over, it is time for dismissal.

If we were having coffee…I would share that I noticed, both at the parade and with the trick-or-treaters later at my home, that the popular costume this year seemed to be the characters from the newest Star Wars movie, Rey especially. I would ask what popular or fun costumes you noticed? Do you celebrate Halloween? Do you have many trick-or-treaters? We went through about 10 bags of candy which is about normal around here. It’s quite a big event around here.

If we were having coffee…I would tell you that the rest of my week was pretty quiet. We are approaching the end of the first marking period so teachers are trying to finish up projects and gather grades. One of the fourth grade teachers I work with will be leaving on maternity leave at the end of this month and will not return till next year so she has been stressing a bit, feeling like she is not quite prepared to hand over her class to the substitute. I’ve been trying to help as much as I can and my knowing the children and the classroom routine will make things easier for the incoming teacher but there are still lesson plans to be made and schedules to be arranged. Fourth grade, in our school, team teaches, which means that one teacher does math and science and the other does  reading and language arts. The students switch classrooms through out the day. The teacher that is leaving, only teaches science and math so at least there is less subject matter to prepare and the other teacher will be on hand to help.

Our biggest classroom challenge this week came on Wednesday when we noticed that the thermostat was stuck on 88 degrees. Laura (the teacher) and I were red faced and sweating having already removed all articles of clothing that we could without raising eyebrows, when the maintiance man came to check on it. He told us that it was stuck and that he couldn’t get anyone to fix it till later in the week. Our school was built in the 1920s so you can imagine how well our heating system opperates anyway and even though the weather was quite cool and all the windows were open, we were still suffering. When you factor in that one woman in the class is eight months pregnant and the other in in the throes of menapause, it’s really lucky the the maintenance guy made it out of the room alive!

Anyway…if we were having coffee…I would probably  notice the time and even though we did gain an hour this weekend I find I have dawdled over my coffee far too long,  enjoying our visit and now am running behind as usual. I really should try to do something productive today. 😉 Thank you so much for stopping by. Don’t forget to visit the rest of the Coffee Share Posts brought to you each week by Diana at Part Time Monster. Have a great week!