Saturday, December 31, 2011

It's New Years Eve!

What's your resolution? Do you make them? Do you keep them?

I don't know if I have ever really made any ... and I am sure I simply can't THINK of any because I never really actually KEPT any. But I have a few "thoughts" for the upcoming year ;) And they go something like this:

* Like nearly every other American, I would like to make a commitment to weight loss and healthier living in the new year ... especially since the Mayans believed that this will be the last year for humans on earth. Or maybe because it could be my last year ... I should just eat tons of chocolate and worry not about my heart or health? Hmmmm ... I signed Isaac and I up for karate anyway. At least if the Zombie Apocalypse occurs, (as also popularly believed), I will be prepared for executing awesome karate chops to brainless heads. And I will be healthier ... just in case we all make it to 2013.

* I would like to make a commitment to play more. Yes, PLAY. I want to play board games, team sports, practical jokes (only the nice, really fun kind), play with Isaac and Halis more ... creating epic star wars battles on the living room floor ... etc. PLAY, PLAY, PLAY. One of my favorite Calvin and Hobbes quotes comes to mind: "There is never enough time to do all the nothing you want." I wish to MAKE that time ... to do the silly things that society tends to tell us do not matter ... like chasing each other around with squirt guns, playing endless games of Monopoly, faux tag team wrestling on the bed, searching for worms in the spring mud, etc. etc. etc. Are you feeling me?

* I also wish to make a commitment to create fun play dates with my friends. And if they want, we can run around and chase each other with squirt guns (as stated above) OR we can go out for martinis ... whichever is preferred at the moment. I have amazing friends, and I think 2012 will rock if I make the commitment to spend more time with them.

* But perhaps most important, my sweet little family of 3 has made the commitment to add another child to our family in 2012! Not a resolution really ... but we have announced to friends and family that we have begun the process to domestically adopt a newborn into our family. We are all very excited about this. Isaac is certainly the MOST excited :) Details will follow ...

2012 will undoubtedly be awesome. Many changes have taken place in our lives over 2011 ... and though some were difficult to be sure ... they have led us to this new place of hope, renewed faith & love, and a commitment to cherish and grow our family and our circle of friends.

At this time of reflection on the past and hope for the future ... I wonder what you are all thinking about committing to for the new year ... for your life ... for your family ... for you. Please share.

And thank you all for reading and sharing with me over the past year. Love to you and yours. Happy New Year.


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Came!

OK, so I failed miserably at maintaining a proper countdown to Christmas via this blog. BUT we did have a freaking awesome Christmas! I hope you did too :)

So, want to see our tree??? (which was supposed to be blogged about over a week ago - as part of the countdown) ...

Well, it was going to be a glorious looking tree from Halis's land in Lagrange ... picked out by Halis and Isaac ... a father/son day of searching out the perfect tree ... then cutting it down together ... while searching out some moose and deer ... then enjoying some hot cocoa later by a campfire ... etc...

Instead, Halis told me --- at the final hour I might add --- that the search for the glorious tree never happened. So, Mommy found a tree in our backyard. The only tree that would fit into our house ... which also happened to be the saddest looking tree we have ever put up. I could have cut it down with a kitchen knife.

See how the lovely star --- which is virtually weightless --- hangs from the tree like the infamous Charlie Brown evergreen? Yes. Hmmmm....

But we did our best to make it look pretty. And ... I actually love it. :)

And it was free. Not even the cost of gas. How is that for part of our frugal Christmas ;)

How was your tree? Show me a picture.

And Merry Christmas ... a bit belated ... but just as heartfelt.


Jodi & family

Monday, December 12, 2011

Countdown to Christmas: Day 11: Sew Some Goodies!

Nothing says Christmas like handmade goodies. (Ok, a few other things do too ... but handmade treats are in the top 5). And every year, I try my hardest to make at least one handmade gift for everyone on my list. It isn't easy ... and sometimes I fall short ... but I try. This book has helped for several years now ... and though it is out of print ... I highly recommend you get a used copy via Amazon asap ...
The projects are so simple yet so beautiful ... and you don't need any major sewing skills. If you are skilled, then you can just amp up the projects in your own special way. I made the following goodies so far for this year's gift giving ...
Mom asked for a handmade tablecloth ... and she is all about the plaid lately. The squares were from my Mother-in-Laws collection of fabric that I inherited 5+ years ago ... and I backed it with some jean material leftover from another project. Cost = $0.00! So, I made a matching chair pillow for her as well ... again with leftover materials and I pillow form I found new at Goodwill for $.99. So, both projects cost me less than $1. And they are so beautiful :)

By the way ... the tree on the pillow is not in the aforementioned book, but was an applique from another project book ... but so long as you have fusible webbing ... you can put anything you want on any pillow/project you want :) Easy peasy.

I am not sure how well they show up in the above pic, but I also made a few wallets for the kiddos, and some pot holders for the grown-ups . Not exactly sure who they are going to as I am making more and will decide who gets what when I have a whole bunch to choose from. That's how I roll ;)

I LOVE these potholders as I don't put the traditional "hanging loops" on them ... so they can second as mats for placing under potted plants ... and/or for placing under hot food at the dinner table.

Want some inspiration for your own handmade gifts??? Of course you do! Here is where I go when I get a bit stuck ... the Sew Mama Sew Blog. It is chock full of goodness if you are willing to hunt a bit. And right now they are hosting loads of giveaways ... so check it out.

If you are crafting too PLEASE share in the comment section.

Enjoy your countdown to Christmas!!!


Monday, December 5, 2011

Countdown to Christmas: Day 5: Enjoy Your Friends!

Isaac and I were invited to our friend Victoria's house the other day ... for tea time. Yes, tea time. A British tradition that we sorely lack here in the the "new world". Sure, we have coffee breaks ... but they don't come with piping hot popovers, various fruits, sharp cheese and wafer cookies dipped in flavored cream cheese. Sounds like an odd group of yummies, but I can assure you that they were perfect. (However, coffee breaks do come with donut holes, which we also enjoyed).

Having never been invited to an afternoon tea, I had no idea what to bring. But a craft of some kind - for all to enjoy - always seems appropriate. I brought some blank cards, colored ink pads, and an Ed Emberley book --- for some thumbprint art. After seeing this article in Family Fun magazine for creating these sweet cards ...

... I thought it would be a great group activity. Little did I know that Victoria's daughter, Meg, would take it to a whole new level ...

Awesome! She gave Isaac much inspiration ...

So, it was a lovely, lovely tea time. Such gracious hosts. Wonderful conversation. Playful cats. Yummy food. And crafty goodness.

Enjoying my friends has become a high priority lately. And I am blessed with some wonderful friends to enjoy. (Thank you!) How about you? Are you enjoying your friends lately? How? What are your plans with friends for the holiday season?

And ... who wants to start a tea time hosting rotation in our community? ;)


P.S. And if you are interested in making some of your own Ed Emberley art ... or gifting a wonderful book to someone young at heart ... check them out here.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Countdown to Christmas: Day 3: Love Your Community!

Today was pure Christmas awesomeness in Downtown Bangor. Our city celebrated Downtown Holiday Festival Day in a big way! So very much celebrating/crafting/socializing to participate in. Isaac and I parked our car around noon ... hiked all around downtown ... from one great event to another ... and didn't make it home till 7:50! A day very well spent ... and it went something like this ...

... Isaac told Mr. and Mrs. Claus what he wants for Christmas ... a blue lightsaber, a red lightsaber, and a microwave. Yes, a microwave oven. He wants to be able to cook microwavable macaroni and cheese ... just like Grandma makes. True story ...

(He also asked Santa for a new baby brother ... but Santa didn't seem to hear him ... and so Isaac later put this request into a letter)
... And no one is ever too big to sit on Santa's lap. Mrs. Claus was generous enough to offer the idea for this photo ... the three of them together. Wonderful! Thank you to the Downtown Bangor Partnership and Bagel Central for bringing Mr. & Mrs. Claus to Bangor --- for free photos ... AND for homemade cookies ...
... You should have seen the spread at Bagel Central ... Icings, sprinkles, frostings, nonpareils galore! What a great idea!

... Proud of his creation ...

... And so yummy ...

... Then to our friend Tree Heckler's studio for some Zombie Elf Ornament making! Another true story. ZOMBIE elves. Now that is Christmas :)

... Wish you could see one? I will post a pic of Isaac's creation after he gifts it to his Daddy. And also, Tree will be selling these soon ... so will post a pic when she has some ready. They are creepy and awesome. Of course ...

... After Zombie Elf making, we made our way to the UMaine Museum of Art for lots more gift making and artistic pursuits. Again, I can't show pics of some of Isaac's creations till after he gifts them to his Daddy :) ... But I can show you one of my fave pics of the day ...

... YES ... this pic made my day! Priceless ...

... Then ... off to the PARADE! We met our friends Melodi, Daiken, and Peter in front of the Children's Museum ... to enjoy some hot cocoa, cider and pastries ... compliments of the Museum (thank you all!) ... and to catch a great view of the parade ...

... These goofy guys had such a great time together! ... The parade was the best one yet. The floats were so great ... the bands were awesome ... and the dancers/gymnasts were a pleasure to watch ...

... And THIS float was my absolute favorite!!! I mean, could it be any cooler??? When Isaac spotted it, he turned to me and shouted, "Mom! It's like they knew you were coming!". Indeed. I was beaming. And I loved sharing this moment with sweet Daiken, who loves sharks as much as I do ...

So, that was our day ... with lots of other fun stuff in between ... Smiles and Hugs shared with our fellow community members ... A surprise visit with my Dad on Main Street ... the tree lighting ceremony ... And so much more. I ***LOVE*** my community ... and now I wonder ... HOW DO YOU LOVE YOUR COMMUNITY? What sorts of things do you cherish about your community at this time of year? How do you all get together to celebrate? PLEASE SHARE in the comment section below (on blog if you are reading this on Facebook) ...

Thank you for reading. And thanks to the Bangor Area Childrens' Choir ... who put on a lovely holiday concert last night! Another wonderful celebration in our community. Will post those pics tomorrow.

 Love, Jodi

Friday, December 2, 2011

Countdown to Christmas: Epic Gift Idea ...

Ok, this gift idea is not necessarily "EPIC" for every person on your list ... but I must say, I am pretty darn impressed with it myself. Some good friends of ours thought it was near sacrilege that Isaac had no knowledge of who Marty McFly was or that a DeLorean equipped with a flux capacitor could propel a person into the future and/or the past ... so they let us borrow their 25th Anniversary blu-ray/dvd/digital trilogy package of the Back to the Future movies in order to school our kiddo on the subject ...

So, we took a day and watched all three films, back-to-back. This was not something we scheduled ... but after Isaac watched the first one, he was blown away and HAD TO watch the rest immediately. And let me tell you, it felt pretty freakin awesome to share the memories of the late 80's with my boy. I had to explain a few things ... like how skateboarding was pretty much how us teens got around back then (just as Marty does in the films) ... and that contrary to what we may have thought in the year 1985, we are all not driving space cars in the year 2011. I had to explain some of the clothing/ hair choices too ... and how Mom once dressed exactly the same as Marty's girlfriend Jennifer ...

... big hair and all. I even wore some of those same skin tight floral jeans ... and would totally show you a pic here but can't seem to find one of either Jennifer or myself ... so you will just have to watch the movie again.

But now ... so many of the snarky little sayings I say around the house ... that Isaac once never understood ... NOW, post watching Back to the Future, they all make sense to him (and raise my cool level). Like, "Hello!? McFly??" ... and "Why don't you make like a tree and get out of here!" and "What are you, CHICKEN?" ... oh, oh ... and this little chestnut ... "GREAT SCOTT!"

I am so very grateful to my friends for sharing this with us ... and am sure to buy a copy now. The updated version is absolutely pristine in color ... so vivid ... and contains so much more detail than I ever knew existed when I watched it on VHS.

I promise you (and no one is paying me or offering me anything to say this) ... you will enjoy these films so much more today than you even did back then. And your kids will thank you. The themes of these movies hold up to today ... and Isaac was as taken with these movies as he was when I first introduced him to Star Wars. Truly.

Still not sure if this is a great gift idea for someone on your list ... well, here are a couple videos to help you change your mind ;)

So, what are you waiting for? Rent, buy or gift this trilogy ... and you will never look at Calvin Klein underwear the same way again ;)


PS. If you are reading this on Facebook, you will need to go to the blog to see the videos. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Frugal & Green Holiday Idea #1 ...

On a recent trip to our local Lowe's Hardware store ... bored out of my mind ... waiting for Halis to find whatever he was looking for ... I found a clearance section in the plant department. Yes, a clearance section. Now, usually clearance sections of any particular department contain items that I would not want to pay a penny for ... as they are horrible failed products (like singing fish to mount on your wall) ... but plants? How can potted plants go wrong? Well, they can go unloved by staff whose primary responsibilites do not include playing nurse maid to sickly greenery. So, they mark these little guys on sale for $.25 - $3.00 each ... and hope that they will get their money back ... and that you have a green thumb.

So, I bought them all. Yes, all. From African violets to Spider plants to Orchids. I spent about $11.00 and that included the Miracle-Gro bagged soil! Why did I buy them all? And why do I plan to go back tonight for more? Christmas presents!

All I need to do is re-pot these little lovelies into recycled pots (from home or from the local thrift stores) ... give them water, sun, new soil, attention and some plentiful carbon dioxide ... and these babies will be gorgeous! And just in time for holiday gift giving.

AND every year our family gives gifts to a local charity ... and what a wonderful way to say I am caring for you ... then by giving a lovely plant to someone in a veterans/nursing home. So, we will pretty these up in time for handing out to those who will appreciate them most.

Before putting most of them (not the shade loving variety) on a shelving unit in our living room ... I plucked their yucky leaves, watered them, added soil when needed, and looked up their light/water needs on Wiki. From here, I will search out pots at our local thrift stores and transplant them as soon as possible ... adding the nutrient rich bagged soil when I do. I will add ribbons that I have in my endless collection of notions ... and VOILA!

Just before I send these guys off to their new homes, I will be sure to show you some pics. Until then, go rescue some plants from your local hardware store ... or other place (do tell where you have found yours in the comment section please). ENJOY!

Any other frugal, green ideas to share? Post them in the comments :)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas is Coming. Countdown Starts Tomorrow!

My goofy little guy absolutely loves the snow. I think his body has completely forgotten that it once enjoyed a tropical climate.

I took him out in our first major snow storm ... in order to take pics for our Christmas cards ... and got a few to add to this blog as well (but won't share the chosen Christmas pic till after they are all sent!). It has been far too long since I have shared anything ... and thank you for not giving up on this blog.

Life is good. Very good. And we are all very excited for Christmas. Tomorrow, Dec 1st, starts our countdown to the big day :) I am hoping to countdown here - with crafts, videos, awesome links, etc. Let's see if I can keep this commitment. (Don't roll your eyes! I will try, I swear!).

For starters, I will share this video with you all ... it is Isaac's favorite Christmas song ever ... and I often wonder if it is because I sang it to him when I visited him in Haiti the Christmas before he came home. I know he doesn't consciously remember this ... but perhaps his heart remembers. Truth be told, I replaced some of the words to sing the song specifically to Isaac. Isaac was and always will be our miracle. His birth, his adoption, his life ... is wonderful and miraculous ... as is the birth and life of every child. And no matter whether you take the story surrounding Jesus's birth as fact, metaphor, mythology, or other ... the bottom line is that we celebrate the birth of a saviour child at Christmas ... and it is my belief that every child is a blessing, a miracle and a saviour. In that spirit, I share this song with you ... and hope you feel its power ...

(If you are reading this on Facebook, you will need to go to the blog to see the video).

Thank you for reading and sharing. I hope to write again tomorrow with some fun holiday ideas. I have a few that I am excited to show you.

Talk to you soon,


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

16 Years of Keeping Our Commitment ...

... to one another ... through good and bad ... sickness and health ... bad hair-dos and mustaches ... and everything in-between.

Halis and I celebrated our 16th Wedding Anniversary (October 8th) on October 10, 2011 with a day trip to Bar Harbor. We took Isaac with us ... of course ... because a wedding anniversary (in our minds) is the celebration of the beginning of a family ... and plus, Isaac is just super cool.

Before Isaac, we used to go to Bar Harbor every anniversary ... dropping by the spot where we got married, eating at the restaurant where we ate on our wedding weekend ... and visiting all the spots we visited back when we were newlyweds. But this time ... we changed it up (because I am all about change right now ;)

This time we decided to try out the famous Geddy's Restaurant. Such a fun place ...

Such a handsome man ...

So much love between us all ...

Enjoying the simple things ... like coloring ... and laughter ...

... it's all good :)

And although it was just a day trip ... I have LOADS of pics of the sites of Bar Harbor. I hope to share them tomorrow.

Spread the love my friends! Enjoy the day.

~ Jodi

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Daddy's Moose.

Halis found a HUGE moose at his camp ... and quickly raced to buy food for the big guy. He has placed the grain near the camp ... so we are hoping I can photograph him up close soon! Until then, here is a video ...

Anyone want to name him?


Friday, September 16, 2011

Harbor Seals at Boston Aquarium.

The Harbor Seal outdoor exhibit at the New England Aquarium is one of the classic Boston "freebies" ... and has been around since I was a toddler. It is a must for anyone visiting the area ... (well, the whole aquarium is really) ... and Halis and I were excited to be able to share it with Isaac ... just as our parents shared it with us so many years ago. And believe me, it hasn't changed at all ... (except maybe the seals). With all the wonderful changes and additions to the aquarium, we were happy to find that some exhibits there have proven timeless ...

... and watching Isaac enjoy the seals ... in the same ways that we did at his age ... was priceless ...

Look at that laugh (can't you hear it?). Love it!

I hope you enjoy a wonderful belly laugh today too :)



Monday, September 12, 2011

SHARKS ... make me happy.

I cannot begin to tell you just how much I love sharks ... have ALWAYS loved sharks. My first visit to the Nashua Public Library was so memorable for me because it was the first time that I could look at loads and loads of shark books without anyone else looking on (my Mom was not so enthusiastic about my shark fixation). Though I was young enough that I couldn't read all the "big kid" words ... the pictures were enough to satisfy me ... and I can still see those very pictures in my mind's eye. Jacques Cousteau? Yes ... my hero! Shark Week? Yes please! It is nearly a religious experience for me to sit down to some new Discovery Channel shark specials. Jaws? Booooo (sharks are not nearly so villainous)!

I remember the delicious fear and respect I had when I saw my first shark at the New England Aquarium in Boston. I was about 5 or 6 ... visiting there with my parents, their friends, and my little brother. And in the enormous 200,000 gallon Giant Ocean Tank ... I watched from a thick, giant viewing window as a large shark swam by ... mouth agape ... razor sharp teeth ... and seemingly within inches of my face. I was scared and awe struck at the same time. And I get that same feeling today ... I love them ... but have this healthy fear of them that quickens my breath ... and raises the hair on the back of my neck. But it is a feeling I relish ... and have been lucky enough to experience at several aquariums along the East Coast ... Sea World, Mystic Aquarium, Saco Aquarium, ... and several returns to the New England Aquarium.

And now ... this past week ... I was able to take my own boy to that wonderful place ... to share my passion for all creatures of the ocean ... but most especially to share with him the opportunity to pat a shark in the new Shark & Ray Touch Tank at the New England Aquarium!

Let me first tell you that when I told my son of our upcoming visit to the aquarium ... he protested. He WAS NOT GOING. Period. See, if I LOVE something ... like Star Wars ... he will hate it just to oppose me (though he will secretly watch the entire Star Wars trilogy over and over again and can answer just about any question you may have on the subject). My love for the ocean, and especially for sharks, is well known around here and often the main subject at any dinner gathering ... so he would have none of it.

Even as we arrived at the aquarium ... he was still protesting. He was NOT going to touch a shark. And he was NOT going to enjoy the aquarium. He was just going to "get it over with".

Upon entering the aquarium, it is the first exhibit you walk into ... and though it is really so very simple ... a petting zoo for sharks and rays ... it was AWESOME. And as you will see by the following pictures, I was NOT the only one to think so ...

Seriously ... this kid could not break away from this exhibit. And I didn't want to either. Yes, the sharks are harmless and small ... but there is something so wonderful about being able to get so close to something so wild and so primitive ...

And then there was the thrill of being able to wait patiently for the shy and elusive Bonnethead (you can see it here) and Epaulette sharks to swim up to us. As seen from the first picture, Isaac (and I) was able to touch one. And after being told that it was a rare privilege in that touch tank for the Epaulette sharks to allow you to touch them ... we couldn't resist trying again and again.

Here is the Epaulette ... shown above ... and if you have a chance to learn about them ... do! They are amazing little creatures. They can even breathe air out of water for a short period of time ... and can use their dorsal fins to "walk" across wet sand to nearby tide pools. How many sharks can say that!?

So, after touring the entire aquarium (additional pictures to come in future posts) , Isaac and I went back for more of the sharks and rays ...

and it paid off ...

And though he will tell you that he does not like sharks, and that he did not love the aquarium ... the truth is, he absolutely loved it ... did not want to leave ... and asked if we could move there to work at it. Though again, he will deny all of this. But tell him you are about to leave to go to the New England Aquarium ... and he will beat you to the car to join you!

It was absolutely wonderful and I highly recommend it. I think it is perfect for showing kids and adults that sharks and rays are mostly harmless (100 shark attacks a year is chump change and a risk worth taking in my humble opinion). I think hearts and minds can be changed with exhibits like this ... and I am so thankful for them.

So, thanks NEAQ. You guys rock! And thank you for making sure that everyone handles the animals with care.



P.S. To see more pics from this part of our Boston Adventure, click here.