Wednesday, 30 December 2009

The best of 2009

As the year draws to a close, I thought I would re-visit some of my favourite posts from this year.  The following are my top ten, in no particular order.

Well, there you have it, folks.  The good, the bad and the downright silly.  Hope everyone had a wonderful year, and I look forward to seeing what 2010 will bring!

Monday, 28 December 2009

Christmas festivities!

Despite concerns over a smaller budget for Christmas this year, we still managed a nice one!  From MP3 players for the girls to bass guitar gear for Jonathan and way too much for Mommy, it was a fun day!

The doggies got matching bowls with iron stands, and they're no longer able to push them all over the kitchen.  :)

Celestia is happy to have her Nintendo DS back.  It was broken earlier this year, and we got it fixed for Christmas.

Tatiana is loving the new stuffed Planet Earth Panda she got, and doesn't want to put it down.

Christmas would be complete without all of us getting new books, and Jonathan got an almost complete set (missing volume VI) of Edgar Allan Poe books published in 1904!

We will be adding a new addition to our household soon, in the form of ... a turtle!  I had pet box turtles when I was a kid, and something about them just makes me smile.  Jonathan bought me all the gear, with the promise of a turtle as soon as everything is assembled, and I choose a breed.  You may also notice a difference in my pictures very soon, because my seven-year-old digital camera has been replaced with a shiny new one!  Once I figure out how to use it, I'm sure the pictures will be a much better quality!  ;)

The Dallas area had our first white Christmas in eighty-three years!  Our girls (and especially Tatiana) were SOOOO excited to have snow on Christmas morning that they could hardly contain themselves!  Despite the frosty morning, it all melted from the roads by lunch time, so we were able to go over to Nana and Papa's house for our traditional Christmas dinner.

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season, and I'm looking forward to 2010!

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Christmas dresses!

After three grueling weeks of battling with my sewing machine, I finally finished the girls' Christmas dresses the day before Christmas Eve!  YIPEE!!!  My plan was to take pictures of the girls at our church before the Christmas Eve service and post them on Chrisrmas morning.  A white Christmas nixed those plans, however, so I had to wait until this morning to get pictures in a pretty setting.  I think the three weeks was worth it, don't you?  I apologise for the poor quality of some of these pics, I'm still learning how to use my new camera!  :)

Friday, 25 December 2009

December fun!

What a December it's been!  Jonathan had two weeks off of work at the beginning of the month, and it was the BEST Christmas present just to have him home for that time.  We took the girls to Caroling at the Adolphus, and the aquarium during the week when it wouldn't be too crowded.  We always enjoy the animals at the aquarium, but it's even more enjoyable when there's not a thousand people there and you can take your time.  We also went to the Trail of Lights at the Heard Museum.  Cool idea, poorly executed.  On the other hand, we basically saw the entire museum (minus the nature trails) at a reduced admission.

Celestia and Tatiana were a huge help in preparing for Christmas this year.  They decorated our tree completely without Jonathan's or my help, and wrapped all of Jonathan's presents , in addition to the dog's presents!

Later today, I'll post some pictures of Christmas day taken with my NEW CAMERA!  Oh yeah, we had a big Christmas again this year, reminding me that we are so abundently blessed here in the Martin household.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Confessions of an overly ambitious mom

I do too much.  Ask my husband.  A few weeks ago I saw the most fabulous Christmas dress fabric.  I wasn't even looking for it, but it called my name.  It said "You NEED to make Christmas dresses for your girls out of me!"  So I took it home.  And it sat.  It sat while I wrote lesson plans.  It sat while I taught.  It sat while I worked.  Jonathan has been home for almost two weeks now, and there's no reason in the world I should not have been able to finish these dresses in that time.  EXCEPT, everything has gone wrong.  When I say everything, I mean it, too.  I hadn't had a pattern when I bought said perfect-Christmas-dress-fabric, so I guestimated at how much I would need.  It wasn't enough.  No problem.  I just made the skirts a little shorter, and added an underskirt and tulle ruffle.  I like tulle ruffles, anyway, what the heck?  I found the most prefect trim, but needed thread for it.  You'd think I would have bought that when I bought the trim, but not so much.  It's OK, I had other parts of the dress I could work on in the meantime, namely the tulle ruffle...  and sewing the bodice together, and pressing the seams of the skirt, and hemming it...  Plenty to do.  Not hard work (so I thought) so it shouldn't really take that long.
First I planned on finishing the skirt.  I pinned it together, and had both of them sewn in under an hour.  See?  Easy.  Now to press the seams, and hem.  Have I mentioned that my perfect-Christmas-dress-fabric was beaded?  Have any of you pressed beaded fabric lately?  The glue melted and stuck to the iron.  Lovely.  It's nothing you can actually see, but it DID necessitate a towel between the skirt and the iron.
On to hemming my skirts!  I broke four needles before running out.  Four.  And I'm pretty sure I'm looking at about an eighth of one skirt being hemmed.  Why, oh why is this fabric just now giving me problems on the hem?!  I THINK it may have something to do with the beads coming off and falling down into the machine.  That didn't happen when I was sewing the seams, because all the beads were on the inside.  Think I'm going to try using tissue paper and see if that helps.
Next for the tulle ruffles.  How about gathering tulle?  Tried that lately?  Fun stuff!
Amidst all this drama, my thread broke at least a half a dozen times for no apparent reason, I knocked over the iron, and realised that I'm going to need to cut twice as much tulle as I originally estimated.  Good thing I bought plenty of that!
My greatest annoyance is that I had planned on having these fabulous dresses finished by tomorrow, so we could take the girls to the Gaylord and make pictures to put in Christmas cards (which the girls wrote in for me this morning).  Now, unless I hit up Starbucks on my way home from work tonight, that's not going to happen.
*sigh*  When will I learn?

Monday, 7 December 2009

Seven years!

Today, I am celebrating seven years of being married to my best friend!  Last year, I did then and now posts to commemorate this event.  Sadly, I haven't been nearly as organised this year!  Nevertheless, I am so blessed every day to be married to this wonderful man!  Thank you, Jonathan, for being an amazing husband and father!  Here's to the next seven(ty) years together!  I love you!

Friday, 4 December 2009

Birthday fun!

We had a great time celebrating Celestia's and my mother's birthdays at The Magic Time Machine last night!  Everyone had fun, and ate too much!  Lilo was our server for the evening, and the magician was good.  Enjoy a few pictures!

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Sweet Celestia

Twelve years ago today, after thirty-seven long hours of labour, I became a mom.  Never have I been so instantly in love as I was when I held that little six pound, eight ounce sweetheart for the first time.  She was beautiful.  She was perfect.  She was just the sweetest, happiest baby ever!  Really, she was.  I was determined to be the best little mother I could possibly be.  While I've certainly made my fair share of mistakes along the way, I'm proud of the lovely young lady Celestia is growing in to.  I'm so blessed to be able to homeschool her and spend hours a day trying to teach her not only educational fundamentals, but moral principles.  It is my dearest wish that she will grow up and not only be able to follow her dreams, but to learn how to make her sweet, helpful nature work for her.
So today, I just wanted to say thanks, sweetheart.  Thanks for making me a mom, and a better person.  I love you so, so much, and can't wait to see the wonderful things you're going to do with your sweet life!

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

It sings!

I have never been a big Black Friday shopper.  True, in years past, I have gone shopping on Black Friday, but I am not one of those people who sets my alarm, getting up at gosh-awful hours just to hit a sale.  I don't scour the ads, trying to find the best deal, and if I get somewhere and find it too crowded, I usually just walk out.  I enjoy shopping, but in a whirlwind kinda way.  Stores employ marketing folks for shoppers like me.  If it doesn't jump off the shelf, screaming my name, it's probably not going home with me.

Last Wednesday, the latch mechanism on my washer broke for the second time in a year.  It's a simple little mechanism that consists of a peg and a button, and tells the washer when the lid is shut, but without it, the washer won't spin out.  Not good.  The last time we had it fixed, it cost us $200.  For a part that was probably all of $15.00.  Now, my washer has done its job faithfully for seven years, but it was a standard, no frills Kenmore model that (according to Sears website) costs around $400 new, NOW.  Not seven years ago.  I'm thankful for the good job it's done, but I wasn't about to pay another $200 to have it fixed again.  If you have been keeping up with us for a while, you may remember that we also had problems with the dryer over the summer.  It was simply time for a new set.  How convenient that it should finally give up the ghost just before Black Friday?

The first place I checked for Black Friday deals was Best Buy.  Though I prefer Frys any day of the week, (Talk about a geek's paradise!) their website is rubbish, and didn't actually have any spoilers.  I have had my eye on the beautiful red Samsung washer and dryer for a year now, alas, the price on those wasn't great.  What they DID have was a Samsung steam washer and the dryer to go with it for HALF OFF!  Normally, these would be $1200 each, but they were selling them for $599 each on Black Friday.  They also offered 18 months no interest financing, if you put in on the Best Buy credit card.  While I don't have a Best Buy card (and there's no way I would be accepted for one!), my mother does, and she agreed to put it on her card so we could afford the washer and dryer of my dreams.  I must be an adult now, if I'm excited about a new washer and dryer!  Woohoo!

Driving to my parents' house for Thanksgiving lunch, we saw the tents already set up outside two out of three Best Buys that we had to pass.  The one closest to my parents house was the ONLY ONE that didn't already have a pretty good group of people waiting.  At 1:00 in the afternoon.  Jonathan decided then, that we had better go ahead and stake our place in line as soon as possible, so once we were through eating, I drove him up to the store and dropped him off.  The time was 2:30 or so.  That's right, 2:30.  On Thanksgiving afternoon.  And we were a good fifteen people back in line.  I NEVER thought I would want something so badly that I would be willing to spend the night on a sidewalk outside a store to get it.  The need for new appliances, however, apparently trumps common sense!  ;)  The night was not actually so bad.  I brought a big comforter, pillows and coats.  We had books, video games, and Jonathan's laptop.  Another couple in line with us had board games, and they looked out for our spot in line, so we were actually even able to take a break together and go over to the Wal-Mart across the street for snacks and the restroom.  At around 2:00 AM, lying on Jonathan's chest resting, and listening to the buzz around me, I actually felt quite peaceful.  Jonathan has that affect on me.  :)

Once they opened, we were in and out of Best Buy in under twenty minutes, with directions to their warehouse so I could get my new washer and dryer that day instead of having to wait until Monday for it to be delivered.  Good thing, too because although I did manage a load or two of laundry in the bathtub, stomping around in it like Lucy, we were running short on clothes!  When we got to the warehouse, they brought out the washer and dryer in no time flat, and we were just ready to load it in the truck when they discovered that there was a problem: The sales person at the store (who was the only one in appliances, by the way.  Poor guy.) had set us up to pick up the washer, but not the dryer at the warehouse.  The dryer was, apparently, still at the store.  We couldn't have the one that was sitting right in front of us, because it had been sold to someone else!  Well that's frustrating.  The store manager was very gracious, admitting that it was their fault, and said he would try to find us an upgrade.  AN UPGRADE!  :)  Half an hour later, they loaded a washer that was .3 cubic feet larger than the one we paid for and the dryer to go with it!

Darling Jonathan installed my sparkling new washer and dryer while I was at work on Saturday, and left me a voicemail saying that it "sings and dances".  He wasn't kidding.  It playes a song when you turn it on, when you turn it off, and when the cycle is finished.  hehe!  I LOVE my new washer and dryer!  While I certainly never expected to spend the night at a Best Buy (or any store for that matter) the outcome was MORE than worth it!  We got something that we needed, and I'm certain that it will save us money in the long-run, as it is a newer, energy star model.  We'll be able to pay it off in manageable payments, with no interest (Thanks again, Mom!) and paid HALF what it's worth and then some because of the upgrade.

Has anyone else out there spent ridiculous amounts of time in line for something you really wanted or needed?  If so, what was it?