Friday, February 26, 2010

Random Foto Friday

Ellie's Heart
ellie made me a heart with her m&ms~ sigh...

french toast for breakfast

charlotte's cute feet

Kanye and Charlotte
kanye and charlotte loving the sun spot

my brand new super duper printer that i looooove! (it's the big one on the left)

my morning love...i aint a coffee kind of girl

fun new family board game with the coolest illustrations

still loving my lady gaga

Headed to Hollywood
they are so headed to my girls

Monday, February 22, 2010

Spring is in the air

Yesterday I headed to the Dutch Gap conservation area which runs along the James River for a nature walk. It was a gorgeous early spring (yeah I know it is still technically winter) day. 60 warm degrees with the sun shining. I have been coming to the Dutch Gap for years and usually I only see a handful of people when I am there but because this was one of the first nice days we have had in weeks, there were lots of people out and about. It was great to see walkers, joggers, bike riders and nature enthusiasts enjoying the fresh air and beautiful scenery. I do prefer it to be a little less crowded so I can feel like it is just me out there but it's really wonderful to see this beautiful place get the attention it deserves. Attention means funding and that means more nature trails, bird blinds, boxes and education so I guess I can share one of my favorite spots every now and again.

I enjoyed hearing the calls of a Belted Kingfisher and I did get to watch him fish a bit as well. He was clear on the other side of the tributary but the binoculars brought me right in. The Great Blue Herons were flitting from fishing spot to fishing spot and of course the ever present Canada Geese were honking away as they too enjoyed the warm sun on their feathers. The best sight of the day were the turtles. They had hauled themselves out of the muck and up onto logs and rocks to soak up the sun. A true sign that Spring is within reach.

I spent a good deal of time just sitting and taking it in. Giving thanks for all the good in our life and being grateful that I can come to a place like this and recharge and refuel. Nature has that affect. Brings you closer to God so you can feel the peace and escape from constant state of go - go - go that we all live in. If you haven't done this lately, you should give it a try.

Here are some photos from my walk.

Loved these three geese catching some Zzzzs. The turtles are lounging away at the base of the log. You can click to see a larger more detailed version

Mockingbird and berries
This handsome Mockingbird was my muse for about 10 minutes. He was so enjoying having his photo taken.

Winter Scene
Soon the drab winter landscape will come alive with newness

Carolina Wren
Carolina Wren foraging through the leaves.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The not so Home and Garden Show

Yesterday, Steve and I headed downtown to the Maymont home and garden show. I was so looking forward to being inspired and seeing some fabulous displays that would get the creative garden juices flowing for this spring. I wanted to see water ponds, decorative stone art, plants for sale - all of that wonderful stuff... unfortunately....that wasn't the case. I was disappointed to see only a handful of walk through displays by local nurseries and landscapers. There were hardly any flower displays and only one guy selling over priced garden sculptures. There were however, many demonstration type booths for cleaning your hardwood floors, juicing up vitamins and the power of oxyclean. Not exactly what we were looking for. We did buy some soup and took a few ideas away from some landscaping booths but I wasn't feeling too inspired.

We did get to see a built in fire pit that we liked. We would love to do this on our patio.


There were a few spring bulb plantings around... it was good to see some color after our long winter.

After 45 minutes at the show and seeing everything we wanted, we decided to walk a few blocks to have lunch at Penny Lane Pub. It was the highlight of our day. It's a wonderful true English pub with great personality and flair. Great food and drink by a roaring fire. We absolutely loved it.

The lunch specials are available for viewing inside the phone booth

Some yummy Irish beer. I had the lighter one that was really good and now I cannot recall the name of it...

My lunch - authentic Shepherds Pie. Yum!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

What's On?


I don't consider myself much of a TV or movie watcher. Having younger kids (well really only Ellie now - Emma can see PG-13) makes it harder to get out and see movies that I am actually interested in. Sure, I get my fair share of Disney and Pixar and you can't really go wrong with any of those (I so loved Bolt last year - I just wanted to eat that little hamster up) but after awhile they get a little boring and I long to hear a cuss word or watch a steamy romance unfold.

As far as renting goes, we had a NetFlix account years ago and that was easy to do - order online then pop it in the mail when you're done and repeat- but while we were in Memphis, we cancelled our subscription and haven't started it back up since we have been home. We have a Blockbuster just about 10 minutes away from our house and that usually is the easiest source for rentals nowadays. We also have the premium channels on our FIOS TV. They were free for a certain time frame and we still haven't gotten rid of them although I find them to be pretty useless and now we are paying for them. I am thinking that is going to end soon. So even with the access to TVs, rentals and movies- I find that I don't really watch all that much. The last few weeks; however, have been an exception.

Perhaps it's all the snow we have had that makes wanting to pop popcorn and settle in for a movie more appealing or maybe it is because January/February is slower for me work wise and I have more leisure time or it just may be that I am enjoying being home more and going out less - whatever it is, I have watched a lot more television and movies over the last several weeks. I thought I would share all of this multimedia knowledge and give you my best Ebert/Roeper/Gene Shalit reviews without any of the normal thought provoking depth, insight or detail. That's just how I roll.

1. Julie and Julia - I watched this with Emma and Ellie as a rental. Ellie fell asleep halfway through. I am a huge Meryl Streep fan and think she is amazing at her craft. There isn't much that she does, that I don't like. The storyline was pretty smart switching back and forth between real time and Julia Childs time. The blog theme was also cool since I like blogs. We were both hungry at the end though...really hungry.

2. Coraline - Emma and I watched this on Starz. It was great. I love the Tim Burton-esque feel. Dark, witty and strangely endearing. Emma was scared in a few parts as we really got sucked into Coraline's world... the creepy aspects really came out in the end. The garden scenes with the giant bugs and beautiful flowers was my favorite part... really well done.

3. The Hangover - OMG... sooo funny. Steve and I watched this on New Years Day and we told Emma and Ellie they couldn't bother us. Dark and dirty and very funny. I love how we just kept getting glimpses of what happened and we had to piece them together and all along we wondered 'where is Doug?'... I haven't laughed at a movie like that since Wedding Crashers.

4. 9 - (not to be confused with Nine) Watched this On Demand with Emma... it was weird. We were cozied up in my bed watching it so perhaps that is why I feel asleep toward the end. It was a futuristic animation movie about the end of the world when all that remained were evil machines and these little hand-made dolls with different sewn on pieces and scraps that were highly intelligent. They were of course, fighting the evil machines... It was weird.

5. The Hurt Locker - I rented this for Steve during a recent snowstorm because it had such good reviews. I didn't like it. Steve didn't really care for it either. It's a movie set in current day Iraq about three soldiers that work on the bomb detonation squad. It's pressure packed and there are lots of explosives and some really sad images of war. It was not a feel good movie and really just a sad commentary on war. But hey, that's just what I got out of it.

6.The Blindside - Steve and I went while the girls were at school one day for an afternoon date. It was fabulous. Loved the film's message, loved the feel good - pay it forward positive emotion it invoked in me and I loved that it was about a family from Memphis. I had a personal reference point for some of the places they visited. Sandra Bullock was amazing and Tim McGraw was a nice surprise.

7. Tooth Fairy - The girls and I saw this at a recent birthday party for Ellie's friend Brennan. It was very cute and I loved the cat scene when he used his shrinking powers. It had family appeal and we all liked it regardless of our ages. The Rock wasn't too shabby to look at either even if he did wear tights and wings.

8. Weeds - this is a series on Showtime. It is a show about a middle aged mom that sells pot to make ends meet. It has been on for about 4 years now and has really evolved into a great drama. She isn't selling drugs anymore but oh so much more is happening... It has an adult edge with all sorts of inappropriate things going on. It is smart and well acted. This show is probably the only reason to keep the premium subscription channels.

9. For TV viewing I am currently watching American Idol with the girls. I can take it or leave it but it's something we can all do together and now that the contestants have been picked it will get more interesting. I am also going to admit my guilty pleasure. I watch the Housewives series on Bravo. New Jersey sucked me in and now I have watched Atlanta and Orange County. It's bad TV but I just cannot stop. Project Runway has returned as well and this show is good creative TV. I love to see how these designers tackle it! What else... Oh... Glee will be back on Fox in April and that is a show we all watch....Steve included. It can be a little mature for Emma at times but I look at it as an opportunity to talk about certain topics... so looking forward to this coming back.

So that's quite a list, no? It's more couch potato time than I am used to but it's been enjoyable, especially with the winter weather we have had. I have about 5 books that are just collecting dust waiting for me to turn my attentions to them. I promise, I will get to you soon. I am just having too much fun watching TV right now.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sooo Goood!

My favorite snack of the moment... vanilla yogurt with fresh strawberries and apple-blueberry granola. Heavenly...

Monday, February 15, 2010

Back from Memphis

It rained today! It was suppose to snow again but Mother Nature warmed us up just enough for the rain to fall instead. So glad because the girls have been out of school more than they have been in lately. I am hoping we have turned the corner and the wintry weather is behind us. March usually gets pretty warm in VA so I am excited Springtime is within view.

We've had a busy week last week. Ellie and I flew to Memphis for her quarterly check-up at St. Jude. The big news of the week... NO CANCER! So very relieved to hear that amazing announcement. Ellie loves going back to St. Jude and she was so very proud of herself this time because she didn't shed any tears while getting her vein accessed for an IV and blood work. It was the very first time this has happened. She had to get stuck two times since the first attempt failed when her vein decided to go MIA during the procedure. We both were very proud. I hate that she has to grow up getting needles and MRIs but I hate cancer even more so we will do what we have to do to keep on top of things.

In addition to our fabulous no cancer news, we were able to connect with all our favorite Memphis people. We stopped in on the transplant floor (the place where Ellie had all her chemo and stem cell transplant) and had a great visit with Wanda and Leigh. Wanda is an amazing nurse that was such a rock for me during Ellie's hospital stays. It somehow seemed OK knowing Wanda was the one giving Ellie this poison. She was extremely focused and detailed and I knew no mistakes would be made on her watch and above that, she treated Ellie like she would treat her own child. We shared a lot during our time up on floor 2 and she will always have a place in my heart.

Leigh is a nurse practitioner that would check in to make sure everything was going according to plan. We would see her in between rounds of chemotherapy too. She is so kind and loving and we made a definite connection. We also got to visit with our friend Steve who is a 25 year old medical student. We met him when he volunteered the summer that Ellie had radiation. He is a great kid and will be a great doctor in the near future. I was fortunate to spend about an hour with one of the St Jude chaplins. Mark sat with me for a bit while Ellie was having her MRI. When we were inpatient, he would always came up before Ellie's chemo rounds began to pray with us for healing, no side effects and for peace. We have kept in touch since we have been home and I love being able to share all of the 'divine' aspects of our journey with him. And of course, last but certainly not least, is Dr. Bikhazi. He is just the best and I love him more every time we see him. He certainly has a soft spot for Ellie and we feel the same way. So, great visit to St Jude but even better to be back home.

Today the girls had a half day of school and I had to take Emma out (in the rain...wah...) to exchange a pair of jeans. I didn't want to go but I 'pinky promised' her yesterday and she wasn't taking no for an answer. For dinner I had a bowl of French Onion soup that was so delicious and now all I want to do is take a hot bath and relax but Ellie has homework. The rain is beating down and the bath sounds so much more appealing then number facts and story elements but Steve made dinner and did the laundry so I guess I have to contribute in some way.

Here are some photos from our St Jude visit. Look how happy Ellie is... she just melts my heart.

Ellie, me and Paul McCartney
Ellie and I had a private tour of the Gibson Guitar tour bus on our visit. Ellie enjoyed strumming on Paul McCartney's guitar even though she had no clue who he was.

I loved these
Playing the big bongos

Yo-Yo Master
Working the Yo-Yo magic in the lobby before blood work

Yee Haw!
Yeehaw! Look at the rodeo form!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Winter Wonderland

It's another snowy day! It is really quite nice and I am enjoying working in my office and watching the big fat flakes glide on down. We have about 3 inches already. The kids had only one school day this week (a result of last Friday's snowstorm). I have a feeling next week may be a repeat of this week. Ellie and I will be at St. Jude (hopefully) on Monday so she would be missing school anyway. I say hopefully because one - I hope the roads are clear and the airport is open and two - Ellie went to her doctor this morning because she has had a cough the last few days. There's a little wheezing in her lungs so she is now on an antibiotic and some other medicine to help open up and dry up her lungs. If she isn't better by Wednesday, they will not sedate her for her MRI. This is a 5 day round of antibiotics so she should be all better by Tuesday. Her doctor and I were talking about how grateful we are that Ellie never got sick during chemo when she had zero immune system. That was such a blessing. So now, she is making up for it this winter. This is her third little cold.

Snow view

This is the view from my desk chair... you cannot see the snow too well but trust me there are hugely ginormous fat flakes falling from the sky. Ellie is playing on the PC on the other side of my office. Steve is upstairs working and Emma is hanging out in the family room on her PC. The fire is on and we are all safe and sound and enjoying the beauty of the day. Love days like today.♥

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Country Cares

Finally! School reopened today after our Saturday snowstorm. They certainly are lacking in snow removal techniques (ie- plows) in central Virginia. Ellie stayed home today though because she has a cold. Lots of coughing and a runny nose. Nothing major but we head to St. Jude for scans on Monday so I want to make sure this cold leaves her before then. If she is not feeling well or has a fever she will not be able to be sedated for her MRI. So she is resting today and watching Princess movies. We have another snowstorm headed here tomorrow but it's still kind of up in the air over how much snow/rain/sleet we will get. Our area seems to be on the line. As long as we can get out and to the airport on Monday, I don't care how much snow we have or don't have.

I have a brand new toy for my camera. I bought a speed light (big external flash) for indoor shots. I have wanted one for a while and saw one on Ebay that was brand new at a really good price. I haven't used it yet but I hope to have some good results. Woo Hoo!


This week we were guests at K95 Radio in Richmond (FM-95.5). This is our local country station and they are part of 'Country Cares' which is a radiothon for St. Jude. I phoned in last year and told our story but this year they wanted to pre-tape an interview that they can replay throughout the radiothon which runs all day on 2-11 & 2-12. Ellie is working the mic below in the main DJ booth. She didn't touch any buttons while she sat there. I would have been too tempted.

K95.5 Richmond

These radiothons are all over the country so stay tuned for when your local station has theirs. Please consider donating to St. Jude if you can. They need the funds to keep the doors open and to keep saving the lives of kids like Ellie.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Boobs out your blouse

I saw this on the Wanda Sykes show on Saturday and I am so glad someone posted it on Youtube. I laughed so hard... General Maama Gramm... Wanda Sykes is one funny lady.