Wednesday, January 21, 2015


It is the 1970s all over again in our house.  I recently rediscovered a birthday present from my friend Amanda.  It has to be over 20 years old but certainly doesn't look it.  It's a fondue pot.  Knowing how much the kids enjoyed The Melting Pot, we decided to have chocolate fondue for dessert this past Saturday.  However, due to a late lunch earlier in the day, no one was hungry for what I had planned to make a few hours later.  We decided to go straight for the chocolate fondue and call that dinner.  Yes, that's how we roll around here.

It was a huge hit and we quickly decided we will need to make this a monthly staple.  Next up is a cheese fondue.  Yum-O!

Strawberries, bananas, apples, marshmallows and pound cake...Yum!!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Cleaning Crew

Once Winter break ended, we've had multiple two hour delays and school closings because of the snow (or lack thereof depending on how you view it).  Too many in fact. The one day we should've had off, the county didn't close.  School started on time for those that could make it.  Since that Tuesday fiasco, Fairfax County has been overly cautious and is closing or delaying school at the drop of a hat ever since. 

The kids and I are making good use of all these bonus hours and being super productive.  While I would never turn down the opportunity to have a professional house cleaner, it just isn't in our budget to have one.  The house gets clean (however sporadically) by Jeff, the kids and me.  It really is a team effort. 

This past Wednesday, upon finding out that school was closed for the day, we took a few hours in the morning to get the house clean.  We divided and conquered.  Sam vacuumed!  I love that my kids jump in to help and are quick to lend a hand.  I especially love that I am raising kids who know how to do things.  Ian and Sam can appreciate that the house doesn't clean itself and knows what's involved in upkeep. 

Sure, having a cleaning service would be awesome.  But there comes some pride in knowing I am raising kids who can also take care of themselves.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Hanging with family

The kids and I ended 2014 spending the last 3 days of the year with my extended family.  We went to Cherry Hill, NJ and stayed at my Aunt & Uncle's house.  My cousin Leslie and her family came in from Connecticut and joined us. 

I am not exaggerating when I say Ian and Max (only 6 weeks apart in age) and Samantha and Ellie (only 6 months apart in age) are like two peas in a pod.  There are twins that have less in common than these 4 kids.  It is pretty spectacular how amazing it is when these kids get together.  Having 2 more kids is like having 4 less. 

From the moment we arrived Ian and Max instantly ran outside and started throwing a football around.  Sam and Ellie were like 2 sharks circling around each other in the water.  Leslie took one look at them and said, "You two just need to pick up where you left off."   We don't have enough time for you to warm up to each other again.  From that second, they were bonded to each other's side. 

We spent Monday afternoon at a roller skating rink/bounce house/climbing thingy combo place.  This was Ian and Sam's first time on roller skates.  Sam enjoyed roller skating very much, Ian not so much. 

Monday night at dinner, Sam and Ellie taking a selfie together.
On Tuesday we went to an indoor waterpark for over 5 hours.  Yowzer!  I never thought we'd last that long, but we did.  We had a delightful surprise when my friend Jen and her family decided at the last minute to join us. Yes! They drove from VA to NJ and back in the same day to go to the waterpark.  I love that my friends are crazy like that.  :)  We had a great day and the 3 older boys all did well together. 

On Wednesday, we had a few hours to spend together before hitting the road in the early afternoon and heading home.  We have annual New Year's Eve plans with close friends and needed to be back by 5:30pm.   The girls (my aunt, Leslie, her daughter Ellie, Samantha and me) headed to the Cherry Hill Mall for a little shopping and lunch.  The boys (my uncle, Matt, his son Max, and Ian) had a special treat.  My uncle was taking them to South Philly for Nick's Original Roast Beef for lunch.  Unbeknownst to my uncle, this restaurant had been featured on "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" back in 2011. Ian had seen a repeat of the episode and remembered it well.  It was one of Guy Fieri's top 10 all-time favorite stops.  In recent years, Ian has broadened his palette and appreciates good food.  Apparently, according to my uncle (and now Ian), this is THE BEST roast beef sandwich a person can ever eat.  It is a hot sandwich served in a dive bar.  Literally, a dive bar.  The only veggie available is fries.  That pretty much sums up their whole menu.  With all the hype my uncle gave it and of course, the tv show, it did not disappoint.  Ian said roast beef from anywhere else has now been ruined for him.  I believe we've finally crossed the threshold of an experience Ian has had that Jeff wishes he participated in too. 

After lunch, we loaded up the car and headed home.  It was an easy drive back.  We simply had a wonderful visit.  My heart melts seeing the kids together.  They are growing up knowing their cousins.  To me there is nothing more important than family.  

With my cousin and her family living in Connecticut, it would be so easy to let the years fly by and life get in the way.  Our time together could easily be reduced to only major life events (bar/bat mitzvahs, weddings, funerals, etc).  I love that we both put in the effort to make time to see each other.  We are doing the beach again in August and will bring both families together.  We are all looking forward to returning to Ocean City, NJ and picking up where we left off. 


Friday, January 2, 2015

An Xbox for us all.

Ian may have gotten the Xbox One with Kinect for Hanukkah, but we've all been having fun with it.

Once I heard the movie "The Interview" was getting released, I knew I had to do my patriotic duty and stream it.  I really had no desire to see this movie, but it had to be done as a matter of principle.  I was taking a stand and letting North Korea know I couldn't be bullied.  They weren't going to tell me what I couldn't do or see.  There were a few ways the movie could be seen at home and via the Xbox was one of them.   Jeff and I made plans to watch it after the kids went to bed on Christmas day. 

As we were getting ready to watch the movie, Jeff and I came to the realization the Xbox only listens to Ian.  The gaming system is voice activated and to get to the different screens you need (xbox home, xbox store, what movie you are looking for, etc) it is done by your voice.  BUT it only knows Ian's voice.  The system doesn't do a thing when Jeff and I speak to it.  We had to get Ian to come downstairs and get us the movie.  We come to find out when putting the credit card info into the system that we've got parental controls loaded all over this thing and it won't play the movie for us.  Ha!  So yet again, we needed Ian to help us. 

Ian:  "Xbox go to settings"   hahahahaha. 

Ian had to turn off all the parental safeguards and remove the restrictions on purchasing a movie.  

It was pretty frustrating for Jeff and me to figure it out.  We did manage to access the movie and watch it.  We had no idea how to pause the movie, so as soon as it started playing, Ian had to leave the room quickly go back to bed.   I am pretty sure it could not have been done without Ian's help.

The next day Jeff says to me, "We have to remember to put the parental controls back on the Xbox."
Um, yeah.  I'll get Ian right on that.  :)


The day after Christmas, the kids and I are enjoying a lazy morning at home.  We end up skyping with my sister Lori, Ben (her husband) and Rachel (their daughter).  We hadn't tried skyping yet using the Xbox.  After I got Ian to install the app and launch Skype, we were golden.  It was great fun.  We got to see Rachel take a few steps walking. And we had a big dance party.  Rachel kept blowing kisses at us.  Ian and Sam only had one small fight during the call.  I'd say this was a success.

I noticed that you can now add another caller to the Skype call and conferenced in my dad.  I have to say it was pretty awesome getting us all in the same video chat.  When you add another person in, it splits the screen in half. 

While on the call, my dad's mailman comes to deliver the mail.  My dad had him come around to the computer and say hi to us.  It was pretty funny.  I took a picture.  See below.

Yes, that's the mailman.  :)

Before the mailman stopped by.  Having fun with Skype.

I need to figure out how to get the Xbox to recognize my voice.  Right now when Ian walks into the room, it will say "Hi Ian."  What are the rest of us, mashed potatoes?  Geez, I paid for the thing and it doesn't even know I exist.  Regardless, technology is sooo incredibly cool.