Thursday, December 30, 2010

counting down....

I can't believe 2010 will be over soon!    Just one more day left in this year.  Wow.

So how will I be spending New Year's Eve?  Well, tomorrow night I will be in the comforts of my own home, surrounded by seven of my nine children (Afton and Anthony have plans, and Rich will be on duty at the fire station)

I know what I will be doing tomorrow night.  The same thing I do every New Year's Eve:  I'll be writing down all my "New Year's Resolutions" which will include all the things I have planned and/or want to get accomplished in the new year.

At the TOP of my list ever single year is always the same:

1) lose weight; exercise more
2) spend more one-on-one time with each child

Now, why are these two things always at the top of my list?

I suppose it's because I never am fully satisfied in these two areas.  I "always" feel I need to lose 5 or 10 more pounds (okay, in all honesty it's more like 20-25 pounds now!  Yikes!  Being in your 40's has it's drawbacks!)  and well, I have all my "skinny" clothes from the 90's still hanging in my closet and calling out to me.

**My new year's resolution really should be just to clean out my closet and donate all those jeans that I'll never fit into again!  Why do I keep them, anyway?

But it's always important to exercise, so I really should get more committed to that.

And as the mother to nine children,  I "always" feel that I am lacking in the one-on-one attention department.  I know they all need and want this from me, and I do try....but I never feel I do this enough.

**Although yesterday I had errands to run and I took Aislynn with me!  She had a lot of fun just sitting in the car with me, chatting away, and was thrilled when I took her to the Arbonne warehouse to pick up my order.  She said, "Wow...this is ARBONNE?"   LOL.  It was so cute.  She went inside with me and saw all the new make-up on display, and when we left she got to pick out a "weight loss chew" of her choice (chocolate)  and she thought that was just the greatest thing the the whole world.  Six year olds...so easy to please :-)

So there was some one-on-one time with Aislynn.  Check!

But seriously, that is always at the top of my list because I've got the mommy-guilt all the time over that.

**If I could wish for one thing...it would be for more hours in my day.

Another thing that's always at the top of my list each year is...

3) to read more to the kids.

I will say that last year 2010 I rocked at reading to the kids!  Seriously, my BEST YEAR yet.  We read  so many books together.  I sat down in the middle of the living room at random times whenever someone held up a book and said, "Will you read this to me?"  and I just STOPPED whatever I was doing, SAT down, and READ.  I'm proud of myself for accomplishing one of my goals.  And now it's become a habit.  I always stop to read to them, no matter what.  Reading is a major around here.  There are books in every corner of our house, in every room.

And another is...

4) get organized

and I usually fail at this because it's not specific enough.  I need to write WHAT exactly I want to get organized.  That's my problem right there.  I have so many things that I want to get organized that I usually just start spinning in place and I do nothing.  Hmmm.  I need to think more about this one and get it more exact.

5) get photos organized and put into scrapbooks

Okay, because of the wonderful digital age...I am WAY behind on doing my scrapbooks.  I simply never, ever, ever, ever print out my photos anymore!  They stay on my computer and no one ever sees them.  What good is that? I was once an avid scrapbooker...but now?  Nothing.  And I miss it so much!  I know that now I can do digital scrapbooks...and I will make that jump one day, but for now I have so many scrapbooking supplies and paper and all that -- way too much to let go to waste -- so for a few more years now I'll be doing it the old fashioned way.  (plus, to be honest, I really like the process of it all.  So I'm not all that eager to do digital scrapbooking just yet!)

6) more dates with my hubby!

again, something that always seems to stay in the top ten of my list.  Although I think that as the years go on, this area of my life seems to improve, even as we have added more children.  And I have to think it's because we now have children that are of the age to babysit!  A big SHOUT OUT to teenagers!  Woot! Woot!   Seriously, we have the BEST "big kids" ever!  They are awesome, responsible, and love us enough to help out every now and again to give their mom & dad some much needed couple time.

**Anthony, Audriana and Afton...you three are the best and I love you so much.

So those things seem to always be at the top of my "New Year's Resolution" list each year.  My list usually has around 20-25 "resolutions" listed on it.   I wonder what I'll think to add to it this year?

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

a bug in our house

stuffy nose:  Andrew, Aria, Afton
cough:  Andrew, Aria, A.J., Aislynn, Avery, Afton
fever: Avery, A.J., Afton
crabbiness:  all of the above, plus Mom

Not meaning to be crabby, of course...but it's no fun when the house has a bug going around and one after the other seems to be catching it. So far six of the nine are sick. Just waiting for my turn.  I hate being sick, so I hope it passes right by me. It usually does.  But  I did wake up extremely dizzy this morning.  I hope that's not a precursor!

Anyway, although it's not fun, having sick kids is really no big deal for us.  Any illness is usually pretty short lived around here.  And for the amount of children we have, we are fortunate in that they rarely get sick.  I'd say maybe two illnesses per year is our average.  The only thing that drives me a bit crazy is that there are no "playdates" or socializing with friends when they are sick, which means they get bored and cranky with each other.   So it's up to me to keep them all entertained and keep the peace around here while we are all cooped up in the house.  That's not always easy.

But here's what's really bothering me this time around:   Everyone except Aria can take medication to help with the cold symptoms.  On all the medication's for "cough and runny nose"  it says in bold letters:  age 4 and under -- DO NOT TAKE.   Hmmmm.  These are children medications and no one under 4 can take them?  What is up with that?  This is new to me.   I'm no expert on over-the-counter medicines, but I do remember giving many a two-and-three-year-old cough medicines and/or decongestants in our fairly recent past, and the proper dosage for their ages being right there on the bottle.

So I went to talk with  a pharmacist today, and apparently about a year ago they changed the dosage requirements on all cough/cold medications so that you need to get a get a doctor's prescription for a child under the age of four.    This is is a royal pain for me because I do not like taking my children to the doctor for the fever/common cold symptoms.  It's just a waste of time and money, in my opinion.  A day or two in bed, give them extra vitamin C, some medicine to ease the symptoms... and they are usually good to go within a day or two.  No doctor needed. Simple.

But now?  In order for Aria to be comfortable I'm supposed to drag her off to the doctor, sit in a waiting room full of other sick little ones, and have her get "looked over" so that the doctor can write us a prescription for the same medication that we already have at home.  

Am I the only one who does not take a healthy 2 or 3 year old into the doctor for the common cold?  Am I the only one bothered by this new requirement?  Because this seems silly to me.  Now if we want relieve their common cold symptoms, we "have" to take them in to see a doctor.  Have to? I don't like that.   I naturally rebel against being told that I "have to" do something regarding my children.  I like options.  I like having a choice.   Education, vaccinations, circumcision, religion, doctor visits -- all my choice, as their parent.  

What happened to the 1/2 teaspoon dosage for children ages 2-3?  It used to say that on the bottle.  I guess too many parents messed up and gave their little ones too much?  Or did too many little ones have adverse reactions with that dosage?  I suppose there's a good reason for this new limitation, but it sure is a pain for those of us who have never had any problems with the dosages in the past.   Rich says I should just go ahead and give her the old dosage, but I don't want to do that.  Suppose they have changed the formulation, and the old 1/2 teaspoon would be too much?  or suppose there's something else to the story that I'm not aware of?  If the bottle reads "under age 4 - DO NOT USE"  then I won't.

Right now Aria is doing well with this cold and isn't too congested.  I'll keep the humidifier in the room while she sleeps, and if she gets a fever to go with her cold then I can always give her Children's Tylenol.  She seems happy and content right now, so hopefully this passes soon.  


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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas trees and Choo-Choo's

Whenever I wash our kitchen floor, I have to put all the dining room chairs out on the carpet.  They then magically become a choo-choo train for whoever happens to come along.    Funny, I remember doing this myself when I was little.

**~**


Every year when we are finished trimming the Christmas tree, I make ask the kids to pose in front of it.


**~**

Christmas trees are pretty to look at and all that, but did you  know they also make great hiding places?  When you want to sneak food and eat it without anyone else in the house finding out, just cop a squat behind your Christmas tree...and you'll practically be invisible!

Until your mom comes along and snaps a photo!  Ah ha! I caught ya!  

The other day I found empty juice boxes, remnants of cookies, and a few candy wrappers behind our Christmas tree.  I had a sneaky suspicion that it might be Aria...but in this house, you never know.  Sometimes you do all you can to eat food without someone else wanting a bite of it.  I've been known to hide in the pantry myself from time to time.  But I was determined to find the person eating behind our Christmas tree...and today I caught her!  This time she took a string cheese from the fridge.  She is so good at stealing food from our kitchen!  I wonder if it has anything to do with being the 9th child in a busy, busy household?

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The Rain

It has been really raining and storming here these past few days!  We are not used to this kind of weather, so it was rather exciting and fun!

Time to put on rainboots!



Only in southern CA will you find a two-year old having fun in rainboots and a bathingsuit!



This morning, we woke up and it was still raining.  So Avery took Aria out to the backyard for a little umbrella fun....



Finally, at around 4:00pm the clouds began to clear a little bit.  And the rain just stopped.  And this is what we saw from our backyard....





Does this mean the fun is over?  Darn!  I want more storms! We were having fun with all the rain.  Of course, our sandbox didn't fair so well...

Yuck.  What a soggy mess!
Rain=FUN
Soggy mess=NOT FUN

((How many times am I going to say the word "fun" in this post?))

On to other things...
Tonight Rich is coming home from work and then will be on a "4-day" which is firemans' lingo for being off 4 days in a row.  It's always nice when that happens over a holiday, especially Christmas.  This means he will be home both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  How fun!  We are looking forward to that.  Normally, he is either off Christmas Eve OR Christmas Day. 

Now I'm off to take my 15 year old to meet friends at the bowling alley, and then on to pick up my 17 year old from her girl scout activity, and finally to take my 11 year old to his friend's house for a sleepover.  And then my night is done!  Yes!!  I will probably spend my time tonight cleaning up and organizing my office. This is where all the wrapping has been going on and it's quite a mess!  Boxes are everywhere.  Wrapped gifts are all over.  And the floor is very dirty!  Ugh.  I hate when it looks like it does right now.

Remember when it used to look like this?




Well, now it looks like this:




And all the empty boxes are seriously piling up!


I'm so not in the mood to clean this mess!  It's just not part of the Christmas spirit.  It actually puts a damper on the Christmas spirit.  I guess I shouldn't have let it get to this point in the first place.  ::::sigh::::


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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Just Call Us "Crafty" !!

I've mentioned before that one of my favorite things to do during the holiday season is  craft projects with my children.  I think I got my love for crafting from my grandmother, who was always doing some sort of craft project when I was growing up.  And my mom, too...always sewing or creating something.  Funny, they both cooked/cook great meals... but me? not too much of an iterest in cooking.  Ahh well, it can't all stick, right?

So here are some of the projects I've been doing with the kids these past few days.  We did everything on my "craft plan" list except the advent chains.  Oh well, there's always next year.

GINGERBREAD HOUSES!!!

 Christmas Trees!!
(Aria really got into the action this year -- two year olds are so much fun!)
 Snowflakes!!
And yes, that's my two year old cutting with sharp, adult-size scissors.  No need to call CPS on me.  She did a great job - no stitches needed.You'd think that in a house full of little ones I'd have at least one pair of child scissors lying around.  I think Santa will bring us some this Christmas!
 And here's Alex....
Alex made these "carolers" out of toilet paper rolls.  Aren't they cute? And if you are wondering what the things are on the tops of their heads....baby socks!  He tried making as many carolers as there are members of our family, but we could only get eight empty toilet paper rolls.  Ah well, close enough!

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SWAGGER WAGON -- This makes me laugh!



Just in case there are people out there who have NOT seen this yet, I'm posting it here.  I laugh everytime I watch it!  I would love to take my family and do some kind of music video like this, something funny.  Too bad I'm not that creative!

**Be sure to scroll down and stop my playlist so that you can hear the video.


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These Faces and other Happy Things


I love these faces! These faces make me happy. It's a busy time right now, the holidays...and I can get caught up in it all -- all the wrapping, all the shopping. But a few times throughout the day I try to stop and chill and just be in the moment...to enjoy these sweet faces when they are eating a yogurt snack in the hours between breakfast and lunch. I keep my camera close. Because these faces are always ready for a quick pose!

Things that make me happy during this season:

  • the smell of our Christmas tree
  • wrapping presents
  • a fire in the fireplace on a rainy day
  • Christmas music playing 24/7
  • getting holiday cards in the mail
  • doing holiday crafts with the kids
  • decorating Christmas cookies
Our tree is up. The stockings are hung.


Andrew and Aria love playing with Play-Doh.  Is it just me...or does someone else out there also love the smell of Play-Doh?  That, and a new box of crayons.  Those are in the top ten of my most favorite smells.  I guess because they remind me of my childhood.  I had a pretty darn good childhood, so it's nice to be taken back to that time, if only during a moment's wiff of Play-Doh and/or Crayola Crayons.

Just 5 more days until Christmas!  We are about 98% ready for it.  How about you?  Are you getting the things checked off your list?  My advice:  try not to stress...and take time out of your day to PLAY with your little ones, taking random pictures of the ordinary things they do around the house.  Those ordinary things will be the memories you'll want to look back on one day :) 

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Last Minute Christmas Gift Idea

Just thought I'd mention this....

FREE SHIPPING and 10% off when you enter the consultant code: IBGIJI

www.createsticksandstones.com

"If you want a totally original keepsake, this is it!"  -- OPRAH






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Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Shopping with My Husband

Normally when December hits and it's time to do all of our Christmas shopping for the kids, Rich and I do our shopping separately.  He watches the kids while I run out.  Then I watch the kids while he runs out.  But this year is different.  This year, Aria is old enough where we can leave her with the older kids for a while, and she's happy and not too much trouble. And the older kids enjoy earning a little extra side cash for the holidays, so it's a win-win situation for all involved.

Although I did most of my shopping this year via the internet, there were still a few items that we needed to shop for.  So we ventured out together this past week, and here is what I discovered:  Christmas shopping with Rich really isn't all that I thought it would be.  Don't get me wrong - he's still my wonderful husband, no change in that.  But he's just not a good shopping partner.

For one thing, he gravitates to the sports section no matter where we are or who we are shopping for...

Rich:  Hey, what do you think about this?  We gotta get her this!
Me:  Rich, really? Aria needs a hot pink baseball mitt?  Honey, she's two years old.   I'm thinking more in terms of a new baby doll or a pink tutu.

And he has no sense of what the kids need or want.  It's like he relives his own childhood wish list over and over again...

Rich:  Hey, check this out!  We have to get this for one of the boys!
Me:   Another bike?!  Are you serious?  Honey, we practically have our own bike shop in the backyard, thanks to your obsession with bicycles.  Enough is enough, already.  No more bikes!
Rich:  Well, I never had a bike when I was a kid.  
(whenever Rich over-buys for something he always blames it on his childhood)

He spends hours in the sporting sections looking over fishing poles (none of our kids wants a fishing pole for Christmas)  and wastes too much time looking in the tennis shoe section  (he's a bit obsessed with tennis shoes-- again, he only had one pair as a kid)  and just how many soccer balls do we need, anyway?  And why does it take so long to pick one out?!!  Is it really necessary for him to pull each one off the shelf, squeeze it, then bounce it a few times,  then squeeze it again?

Rich:  What about this one?
Me:   Oh my gosh, you're killing me with the soccer balls. Yes! Yes! That one. Yes!  Just pick one!  They are all the same!
Rich:  No, they're not.  See?  They're priced differently.  Obviously, some are better than others.

I spent my time walking around after him, wanting so badly to say, "Are you done yet?  Let's get out of this section."  I didn't say it, but I'm sure my heavy sighs and my body language said it all.  He pretended not to notice.

But before I make myself sound too awful, let's get it clear that he is no better than me when it's his turn to show an interest in something that I'm interested in.  When we ended up in the little girls' section of an Old Navy store (gasp!)...do you think he patiently followed me around as I picked up each item of clothing and consider it for one of our daughters?  No way!  It was totally obvious that his main goal was to get OUT of there as soon as possible.

Me:  Awww...wouldn't this shirt look so cute on Aislynn?!!!
Rich:  Yep, looks good.  Let's get it.  I'll meet you at the cash register.
Me:  But we just got here!

And he can spend hundreds of dollars on a new bike for one of the boys, but when I hold up a nice new winter coat for one of the girls....

Me:  This would be perfect for Avery.  Feel how warm the lining is.
Rich:   Mmmmm. Nice.  But does she really need it?  She can wear the one Afton wore last year.
Me:  Are you kidding me? Afton is six years older than Avery.  It will be way too big on her.
Rich:  Hey, better too big than too small.
Me:  Better yet to get her a coat of her own.
Rich:  Hmmmmm.


(a few moments of silence pass as we stare each other down.)

Me:  How about you take her new bike back and she can just ride Afton's old bike?
Rich:  No way, that's messed up.
Me:  Hmmmm.

I don't know how, but after a few nights of this we did manage to get our list finished up and everyone is now shopped for. Done! And yes, it was time spent together and so it's all good, I suppose.  But next year?  I'm shopping solo again.  I don't think his feelings will be too hurt over that decision.  I'm willing to bet he's thinking the exact same thing!


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Monday, December 13, 2010

Sweet Words

Last night at dinner some of the little kids were discussing Heaven.  I don't know if it was because we had just come home from 5:30 mass and they were commenting on something said during the sermon, or maybe something else brought up the subject, but I overheard the conversation as I was clearing the dinner dishes:

Alex:  It's not like that.  You don't need a house.
Aislynn:  Yes, you do.  Where are you going to sleep?
Alex:  I don't know, but I don't think there are houses in Heaven.
Aislynn:  There are.
A.J.:   How do you know -- have you been there, huh? (sarcastic child of mine!)
Avery:  Well, I'm looking forward to going to Heaven one day.
Alex:  What? Why? You know you have to die to get there, right?  (factual and practical boy of mine!)
Avery: I know. But I'm still looking forward to it.  Because then I'll get to see our baby.

Then it was quiet for a few seconds...  

Alex:  Well, that's one good thing.  But still.  I'm in no hurry.

How sweet of Avery to say that.  Although hearing her words sent a quick little stab through my heart,  it  felt good to hear that our baby - who would have been born this month - is still thought of and remembered :)

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Amazon.com, mi amigo

I'm going a bit Amazon.com crazy over here.  Someone stop me.  I just ordered on dvd seasons 1-4 of Happy Days as well as a season of Three's Company.  I couldn't help myself!

What makes me think that my kids will even be slightly entertained by the silly sitcoms that I loved in my youth?  Because you know they won't.  They will watch a few episodes to appease me, and then they'll say, "Mom...what IS this stuff?"    They might laugh at Jack Tripper's antics, but I doubt they will think the Fonz is cool.  

But aside from my taking an Amazon.com shopping trip down Memory Lane...I'm doing pretty good with my online Christmas shopping.  I'm loving the "super saver" shipping (or whatever it's called) that you get with Amazon, where you don't have a shipping charge.  Very cool.  And you know what else I love?  I love how you just type in what you want at the top, like "Happy Days" and then wala -- there you go!  It's at your fingertips and just one click away from being shipped to you.  How easy is that?!!

Of course many of you are thinking, yea...so? that's how Amazon works, what's the big whoop?  Well, believe it or not, I'm new at internet Christmas shopping.  I usually just hit all the stores, fighting the crowds, wasting gas driving around looking for parking spaces...usually with 5 or 6 kids in tow.  So to me, this internet Christmas shopping is NEW and EXCITING stuff!

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Quiet now -- shhhhhh....do you hear that?  that music playing in the background of my blog?  That's "Claire de Lune" and Alex is playing this piece on the piano lately.    I ordered him the sheet music a few days ago, and already he can play half of it quite well.   I never really took much notice of this piece until it was in the movie Twilight  (the scene where Bella goes to Edward's house for the first time and hits "play" on his CD player...and then they dance to it.  It's also in the third movie, Eclipse -- again,when she goes to his house.)    Okay, I know I'm a Twilight fanatic/groupie.  I admit that.   But I also like classical music.  So it's very cool that Alex can play this on the piano.  I love hearing piano music in my house!  Both he and Avery play.  They are also taking violin in school.  Music....is so wonderful!  And making music...well, that's simply a gift that you give to yourself and others.
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I'm doing something different this Christmas season:  wrapping as I shop.  Usually, I wrap all the kids' presents on December 24th very, very late...and going into Christmas Day until about 2am or 3am.  Why do I do this to myself?  No reason except that I'm a Last Minute Lucy (no offense to those out there named Lucy) But this year?  Well, I've changed my ways.  When something that I've ordered gets  delivered, I take it to my office and wrap it that very same day.  When I come back from Christmas shopping, I bring everything into my office and I wrap it that night.  I'm so proud of myself, because for the FIRST TIME in the history of me having my own family with children to shop for and play Santa to...I will not be up all night on Christmas Eve, stressing to get everything wrapped up!  Instead, Rich and I can put the kids to bed, place the wrapped gifts under the tree, quickly stuff the stockings...and for the rest of the evening we can relax by the fire sipping hot chocolate.  Or red wine.  Whichever we are in the mood for ;)


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Thursday, December 9, 2010

playing catch-up

Okay, so where have I been? I'm so behind on my blog!  I'm such a lame blogger lately.  Even now I don't have much time so I'll just do a short little post with photos.    



Aria was happy on this day because she had one of those necklaces made of candy, and she was mighty proud to show it off!


Avery has decided to take the violin at school, which makes me very happy!
Doesn't she look like a natural?

Aislynn turned 6 just a few days ago!  I can't believe it.

Quite often I catch Aria alone, reading one of her books.
I love that she enjoys her books!


And I just realized that I never downloaded the photos from our Tanaka Farms field trip with A.J.'s homeschool group.  This was way back in October.  So here's a few photos of that day.
Only A.J., Andrew, and Aria went on this field trip.  





With our paid admission, the kids got to take home any pumpkin from the pumpkin patch -- the only condition was that they had to carry it out themselves (from the fields all the way to the parking lot). This is Tanaka Farm's rule, not mine.  I suppose this ensures that we adults don't carry out the BIGGEST and most expensive pumpkins.  So the rule is: your child can take home any pumpkin that they can carry out themselves.   Anyway, A.J. was determined to get the biggest pumpkin, and I'd say he pretty much succeeded in that.  I didn't see any pumpkins in the fields that were bigger than the one he found.  Yep, he found the biggest.  And he carried it all the way.  By himself.  He stopped here and there to rest.  They never said there was a time limit on how long it took to get from the fields to the parking lot, so we just took our time.  I'm glad the kid didn't get a hernia.  But he had his mind sent on THAT pumpkin, you know.  There's no talking A.J. out of something once he's set his mind to it.  So he gladly carried it all the way to the car, without complaining.  Andrew, on the other hand, complained the entire walk back.  He picked a pretty big one for his size, but he kept saying (whining)  things like  "It's too heavy!!" and  "I'm tired of holding this!"  and so I would tell him to put it down and go select a smaller one.  And he'd get mad at that suggestion.  In the end, he carried his all the way, too, and so we took home some pretty good-sized pumpkins!


Our pumpkins at home! 
Nice looking pumpkins, huh?  They picked 'em good!

They also had a petting zoo there.

A.J. loved all the animals.

Aria, too.

Andrew?  Not so much.
I wish I had a photo of him at the petting zoo 
but he was pretty much clinging to my leg the entire time.

They also got to pick some vegetables to take home.



I know -- it's the Christmas season and here I am posting photos of Fall.  What can I say?  I'm behind here and trying to play catch-up.  I might be behind in blog-land,  but rest assured I'm actually living in real time ....and it's Christmas here!  Our house is decorated for Christmas, the Christmas music is playing, our tree is up, and I have a ton of photos of the tree trimming and our Thanksgiving trip to Austin....which I will share in my next post.  And that should bring me up to speed :)
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