Friday, December 18, 2009

Vegas baby!

Las Vegas. Tacky, noisy, crowded with people bent on losing all their money in casinos. Those are the first things that spring to mind - and guess what? it's all true. But there's a lot more to it than what we were expecting.

We stayed at the newer end of the strip, at the Luxor, the pyramid shaped, Egyptian themed hotel. Since we arrived mid-week it was very quiet, not crowded at all. The casino at that hotel is very small which helped cut down on the crowds. There were a few exhibits going on and they had a deal where you could visit 3 of them for $54 which was very good value when you consider that they're usually $30+ each.

We chose to visit the Bodies exhibit since it was at the Luxor. It was extaordinary. They have developed a method of inejcting specific organs, veins, arteries, tendons, muscles etc with a preserving chemical and then they dissolve the other tissues thus isolating what they want to keep. The result is a little erie at first, realising that the statue in front of you used to be a living breathing human being. Once you get over that, it is an amazing thing to look at. It left us with a profound appreciation for how amazing our bodies are and all the wisdom our creator demonstrated when he made us (Psalm 139:14) I think anyone with any sort of medical background should take the chance to visit one of these exhibits (there is currently one in Atlanta).



We also chose to do an interactive CSI exhibit. They basically show you a "crime scene" and you have to do different forensic tests to solve the crime. It was a great idea and the labs were very interesting but it wasn't that well executed. Oh well!

The third thing we chose to do was ride the rollercoaster at New York New York. I wasn't feeling very well and was a little dizzy to start with so I can't tell you if it was a good rollercoaster or if I was just especially whimpy that day! It was fun though.



The weather took a dive towards freezing while we were there and Tim and I had a funny day walking the strip into gale-force winds that made our eyes water and forced me to buy a hat and gloves. But it is well worth doing, our favorite hotels were of course the Venetian, as well as the Bellagio. Beautiful.








By far the highlights of our trip though, were eating at Shibuya restaurant at the MGM Grand, THE best Japanese food I've ever eaten, and then going to see the Cirque du Soleil show Ka. It was breathtakingly good. I can't begin to describe it so let me just leave a link!

http://www.cirquedusoleil.com/en/shows/ka/default.aspx



So there is so much more to Vegas than casinos and gambling! I'm not sure I would ever take children there (too many scantily clad waitresses and nasty flyers on the streets) but I would go back if there were good shows to watch.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

MIA

So, things are a tad hectic in our house at the moment! Last weekend Tim and I went on our annual Jacksonville trip to watch an NFL game (Jags won this year - woohoo!). This week Max is off school, we've got our special assembly day in Conyers on Saturday and next week we're off on the company trip to Las Vegas. I'm a bit nervous about burdening a dear friend with not one, but two children and the school run on top of that but hopefully we'll all survive.

Normal operations should be back up and running by the middle of December. Then my parents arrive! Being busy is good, right?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cumberland Island (pic heavy!)

It's been raining here for the last two days and it reminded me that I still haven't put up photos of our rainy trip to Cumberland Island!

We took a trip there after first visiting Okefenokee swamp again.



We had a great time and saw plenty of alligators - Donal had a hard time believing they were real at first as they stay so still and are right there in front of you on the foot paths! Some of us (read: everyone but Nik) went to the reptile show and got to touch snakes and baby alligators. We spent the night in St. Mary's and then headed off bright and early on our camping adventure.

Cumberland Island is an island off the coast of Georgia. It's a protected national park and you can only get there by your own boat or by the daily ferry service. They only allow 300 people on the island at one time and it's about the size of Manhattan, so you can have all the privacy you want. The beaches are long, wide and extremely beautiful.


We decided to initiate my sister in the ways of camping. You can only bring what you can carry onto the island so I was a little worried about supplies, tent, sleeping things and food for 6 people for 3 days but it turns out that we managed just fine, we even had some food left over!


Ramen noodles in the rain anyone?


We arrived on the ferry, checked in and were assigned our camp site. After a short hike through a canopy of the most beautiful gnarled oak trees and groundcover of spiky saw palmetto, we got to our camp site. Despite the rain we managed to get our tent up, a fire going and extra wood chopped. Unfortunately it continued to rain all day and all night! We didn't mind too much and figured if we were already wet, we might as well just go to the beach and get even wetter in the ocean.


The kids are real water babies and love, love, LOVE the beach. They complain at home if they get water in their faces in the bath tub but somehow they don't mind getting hit square in the face by a big wave! Lily had fun chasing the sea birds and trying to stick her little fingers into every sand flea hole she could find. She's also an avid beach comber and we managed to find some beautiful shells.




After the weather eased up the next day, we went on a LONG hike (especially for little feet) to the Dungeness ruins and to see the wild horses.





We saw several armadillos, live ones - up until that point I'd only ever seen squished ones by the side of the road. A real highlight, oddly enough, was watching the amazingly colorful dung beetles busily clearing the hiking trails after the horses had been through. It was a very entertaining sight!



I don't quite think we converted our guests to camping - rain + sand + cold showers don't really add up to a spa vacation but it was a once in a lifetime trip. And boy did our warm showers feel good once we got home!


Our brave photographer.

This photo pretty much sums up our first 24 hrs....... wet!

Friday, October 23, 2009

More photos...

Max woke up at 4 am screaming in pain. He said he had a stomach ache. He threw up at 5,6 and 7am and is now home from school and typically - feeling perfectly fine. Ahh, this parent thing is fun sometimes!

Anyway, I know I promised lots of photos so I thought the best way to get them up here whilst sleep deprived would be a slide show. So, here you are. A slide show of photos from the fair. Again, photos by the talented Nicola

Saturday, October 17, 2009

My beloved sister!

She and my BIL have been visiting for the past two weeks as you know. They left on Thursday evening and I miss them already! We had a lot of fun, we took them to the fair and thank goodness we went when we did - it's rained every day since.

We also took them camping to Cumberland Island. That's another post all by itself, but let me just say that I don't think we converted them to camping...... despite the scenery LOL. We did, however, convert them to So You Think You Can Dance - who doesn't love that show?!

The biggest highlights though were just hanging out with them and playing together as a family.

Nik is a fantastic photographer and she managed to get some brilliant shots while she was here. I'll be sharing them over the next couple of days. So here are some of the kids playing with their Uncle Donal:








"How does this thing work??"

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Father and Daughter Jam Session

Lily really has a gift for singing. She sings about everything. She truly loves music and can often be seen with her eyes closed giving a heartfelt rendition of "Battlefield" to an invisible audience.

The kids both love it when Tim plays guitar for them too and Lily likes to sing along. Unfortunately I wasn't able to capture Lily's caterpillar and roly-poly song on video and she'd had enough of making up lyrics by the time I'd found the camera, but the little father/daughter jam session that followed is just too cute for words.

Tim was just making up melody and lyrics on the fly and our little song bird chimed in there with him ♥ Enjoy!

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Whoops! Time flies when you're having fun

My sister and brother-in-law have been here for two weeks now and the time has just FLOWN by. I apologize for not putting up any blog posts between then and now. There will be plenty over the coming days!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Busy busy busy

We've got the Circuit Overseer and his wife visiting this week, as well as a couple in training to be their backups. Combine all the extra activities with a PTA meeting, volunteering at Max's school, service and running a house, I haven't had a lot of time to blog - sorry!

It's an exciting week next week too, but one that should be filled with news - my sister and brother in law are arriving on Tuesday!!!! :D We're all very very excited and I'm sure I'll have tons of photos and stories to share during their stay.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Funny conversations in the car...... Part 1

So I pick Max up from Kindergarten and we're driving to the shops discussing what to have for dinner. The kids both say anything but tomatoes.

It breaks out into a discussion of whether it's pronounced TO-MAY-TO (said in their cute little American accents) or TO-MAH-TO (my accent). It goes on and on for ages..... so I decide to settle it and get someone else on my side by asking what Lola from Charlie and Lola says.

They look at each other and both say.........




"moonsquirters!!!" You can't win an argument with kids.

If you are not a parent of small children or just have no idea what I'm talking about - then watch this video clip. Plus, I put it here because it's Dad's favourite show ever!'


Watch I Will Not Ever Never Eat A Tomato in Animation  |  View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Just a clip

of the very talented Mr. Jason Mraz. Opera - who knew?! This clip gives me goosebumps every time.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Lily gets Wii fit!

Here is the little ray of sunshine that is my daughter...... using my wii fit. (Yes, the same wii fit that two days ago sent me into a panic by telling me I'd gained 8lbs.... only to step on it today - when it said "congratulations, you've lost 9.7lbs" Diet avoided for another week!) I just adore all the effort she's putting into the rowing squats and the counting under her breath. Her hula-hooping has me in stitches every time. Bless her.


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There's another video of her doing step aerobics (complete with blowing me kisses in the middle of the routine ♥) but it's longer and I'll have to upload it tomorrow.

Friday, August 28, 2009

My favourite timewaster

I have to confess that there are some evenings where I don't feel like doing anything meaningful with my time. I just want to veg by the computer and let my brain be entertained for a while. YouTube is the perfect mindless entertainment vehicle. There is SO much you can learn if you look carefully.

YouTube videos taught me to crochet. You can just pause and rewind until you've got the hang of a stitch. It also taught me how to do various things with my sewing machine, like add an ivisible zipper without the special foot.

My latest favourite though is all the wonderful makeup artists and beauty enthusiasts that share their tips, reviews, tutorials on different looks and general musings. I've got a whole bunch on my subscriptions list but a few hightlights are:

Pixiwoo - a pair of makeup artist sisters. Seriously, they are geniuses when it comes to makeup. They can transform themselves into different celebrities a la Kevyn Aucoin.

http://www.youtube.com/user/pixiwoo
http://www.fashionface.tv/

MakeupGeekTV - a beautiful girl with great skills (a musician as well as a makeup artist!)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MakeupGeekTV
http://www.makeupgeek.com/

Pursebuzz - she's great at makeup but what keeps me watching her are her hair tutorials, she's great at updos! She also has a lovely website (and is currently running a competition!)

http://www.youtube.com/user/pursebuzz
http://www.pursebuzz.com/

Lollipop26 - she's just an ordinary working girl who has a passion for clothes, makeup and pretty things. And hey! she uses blogspot too :)

http://www.youtube.com/user/lollipop26
http://lollipop26writes.blogspot.com/

As long as you can filter out all the adoration of all things MAC (my budget as a stay at home mom doesn't quite stretch that far!), you can get some really useful tips. The reviews are really helpful if you can't afford to experiment your way forward with makeup and need someone else to test it out first.

Enjoy wasting hours of your life watching these girls!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Crafty post

A few months ago I got it into my head that I wanted to get some old tea cups from Goodwill and do something crafty with them. I am a frustrated crafter... I LOVE crafts and have a creative being lurking somewhere very very deep inside but I haven't really got one talent to give it it's outlet. So I dabble. In lots of little things. Rough translation = there are lots of mostly finished projects lurking around that I'm too embarassed to give away because they're not perfect!

Anyway, a candle came to mind. So I made these lovely little tea cup candles for my friends (some are colourful like this one and some are dainty white china)



Tim works close to Hobby Lobby and had picked up the wicks and tabs up for me ♥ along with some handy bags to melt the wax in so you don't have to dedicate a pan just to candle making. I added some essential oils for scent and a few of the kids' leftover crayons for colour (see, I might be losing the accent but I still can't bring myself to type in "American"). It's a really great, cheap and easy project for an afternoon and I think they turned out quite cute!

Unfortunately I've been feeling gross all week and haven't really been able to give them to anyone yet, something I hope to remedy this weekend, when hopefully the neck and sinus issues will be better.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

How decadent!

The children are spending the weekend with Tim's sister & brother-in-law. It was quite odd not to hear a little pitter patter down the hall this morning, it didn't climb in our bed and tell us that it was hungry and thirsty and that it's brother was still asleep. The house is eerily quiet and I keep forgetting they're gone and thinking that they're up to no good in their room.

On the other hand we have been able to hop in the car and go anywhere we want on a whim. We went to the book store without having to play with the train or remind anyone not to run or yell or pull random books off the shelf and put them back in the wrong place. We've had a nice margarita lunch and walked over to the movie theater to catch the matinee. Followed by a nice afternoon nap (I know, how decadent is that!) and cooking for two - we're feeling quite spoiled.

Isn't it funny thinking about what you placed values on before you had children? Now the most precious and lavish treats are being able to do what you want, when you want to and having an uninterrupted meal!

Thanks D&D

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Cooking up a storm

When Max is in school I find it makes my life a lot easier if I make a menu for the week and just do one big shopping trip. It saves money too, I don't think I've ever gone into the grocery store for one thing and come out with just that one thing - have you?!

When we have company coming I also like to spend a day or two making large batches of food and freezing it. So when you've had a long, fun day (shopping!) with your visitors you don't have to worry about cooking. My sister and brother-in-law are coming to visit at the end of September so today I spent the day filling up the freezer.

I made pot roast in the slow cooker and while that was cooking I got to work on turkey, corn and black bean chili and a double batch of marinara. One half of the marinara got mixed with spicy Italian sausage and penne pasta. Sprinkled lots of parmesan on top and put it in one of these - They go straight from the freezer to the oven to the dishwasher. Brilliant things. The other half of the marinara got frozen for later use in chicken parmesan. I tend to make recipes up but if you want the recipes I'd be more than happy to share them.

Of course I made extra large batches so that I could take out enough for us to eat this week too. Now, if only I could get someone to clear up the giant mess I've made in the kitchen......

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

BIG shoutout to Google

I know this is a Google based blog - the format is just SO easy to use for a non-programmer like myself, but it seems like every week I find something else I love about Google's different features!

Google has settled MANY a dispute in our household, whether it's what movie we've seen an actor in TV in before or a historical fact. It's also our dictionary, just type the word you're trying to spell in and it will come up with the correct spelling.

My Blackberry is always at my side and I can't count the times the Google Maps app. has saved me from getting lost. It's fantastic and means I don't have to pay for a GPS program. I even think it's more efficient than GPS.

I use Google's gmail as my main email account. It's free, I've never had issues with spam and it's a snap to organize emails into different categories, ones that make sense, like the receipts folder.

The Google reader feature means that I can keep up with all the blogs I follow (and there are quite a few!) all on one page as soon as they're updated.

Today I discovered the Google calendar. Brilliant stuff. It's a week at a glance that you can colour code and then print out! Genius. If you've ever tried to do this yourself you'll know how tricky it is to do or how much people charge for the seemingly simple programs that can do it for you.

So, even though this isn't a sponsored post, can I just say a quick "thank you" to Google for making this Mom's life a bit eaiser!!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Max's first day of school

He was SO excited!! Homework done, backpack packed, lunch ready in his Spiderman lunch box in the fridge... he had a hard time getting to sleep the night before. The next morning he practically hopped into his uniform and gobbled down his breakfast - we were ready well before we needed to leave.



We walked him into his classroom on the first morning and he just seemed so happy. His first day went well but he was very tired and quite overwhelmed so we didn't get too much information from him. Fortunately they bring home an agenda every night to tell the parents the important stuff. He did leave his lunch box at school so I had to put a note on his backpack for him to remember to bring it home today.

They have an interesting system at his school for kids who get dropped of by their parents. You put a decal on the window of your car with the child's last name on it. After they're let out of class, all the children get put in the auditorium. Then as you pull up to the school a teacher outside radios your child's name to the auditorium and they come outside and the teacher puts them in the car! The first day was a mess, of course, noone seemed to follow the directions we were given and lots of impatient parents clogged up traffic by going the wrong way. But I think once it calms down it is a very efficient way of doing things.

Anyway, enough babbling - here are some more photos of my handsome boy on his first day of school ♥








Monday, August 3, 2009

Ichetucknee springs

We decided to take one final little break before Max goes back to school. On Wednesday we packed up the van and took off for a few days to go camping! Years ago, B.C. (Before Children), Tim and I went with his parents to Ichetucknee springs in north Florida. It's a beautiful place - freshwater springs that all feed into a crystal clear river. Nice cold water is refreshing on a hot summer day.

You hire an inflatable tube and float down the gorgeous lazy river. It takes between 2-3 hours if you don't go all the way down and when you've got small children that's plenty! We got hold of tubes that held two people, one in front and one at the back so we could keep a good grip on the kids, despite life jackets. We saw LOTS of turtles, some of them swam right by us. We also saw a mother wood duck with her babies following her, some herons and big snails. The kids were fascinated, we got to sit back and relax.

Camping was great! As long as you don't mind being a bit sweaty and dirty for a few days that is. We stayed at a nice camp site (a bit primitive but it had a faucet and some picnic tables and port-a-potties), it was quite private and quiet, being the middle of the week.

The children had lots of fun roasting marshmallows and strumming the guitar. We had fun too, cooking on a wok - it really is the perfect camping tool. It was a nice practice run for figuring out what we need when we go camping on Cumberland Island in October with Donal and Nicola.

Here's a video of Lily's camping song and a few photos too
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Lily's Camp fire song:
Every time I go camping..
There's no ghosts
Cause Max is just kidding.
About the real ghosts.
But there isn't a real one
but it's not.
It's pretend.
That's it!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Photos from the beach (July 4th weekend)

Tim pointed out to me last night that I forgot to upload the photos from the beach half of our long weekend. I only shared the alligators. So here are the rest of the pictures. We went to Jekyll island and rented a lovely little condo that backed right up onto the beach.

Max spent most of the morning sprinting up and down the beach and swimming and Lily spent most of her day beachcombing for shells. We found tons of sand dollars and shells. Lily loved finding the big conch shells that were still occupied. She'd tickle the foot until it went back inside the shell. We found a few teeny crabs and little hermit crabs too.

Here they are building a sand castle



Tim also set up a hammock outside the back door - it was VERY relaxing!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Kindergarten - here we come!

My son's teacher-to-be phoned this afternoon to introduce herself. How nice is that?! Apparently she's been wanting to teach Kindergarten for a long time and is excited to finally get the grade she wants. What a bonus to have a teacher that is thrilled to be getting your child's class.

School starts in less than TWO WEEKS! The summer has flown by so fast. Tomorrow we'll be getting the final pieces of Max's uniform. He's been asking every week how many days are left until he starts school. It's starting to get very real - my baby is going to school!! Combine that with turning 30 last week and I'm starting to feel just a little bit old.


My eyes! My eyes!

Yesterday I was looking after a friend's daughter (said friend is a diet saboteur - 2 lots of cake in 2 days! but that's a different blog post). Not wanting to be in the house with three children under 6 for a whole day I decided to take them to the library. Pretty harmless, right? Wrong.

It all started to go south when we arrived with several other flustered moms dragging children along, rushing into the building at 10:29 only to discover that the 10:30 story time we were all trying to get to has finished for the summer. Whoops! Not to worry, we all pretended we knew that and were simply there for the books, not the puppet show.

After the children had picked out enough books and were starting to get a little loud, we got in the elevator ready to go. Only it stopped at the "grown-up floor" as it's referred to in our house. Fine, I needed a good book to read anyway. I was just giving up hope looking at the biography isle while trying to stop three kids from running away or yelling, disturbing the eery quiet when S (friend's daughter) stops, points and starts giggling uncontrollably. I poke my head around the corner to see what was so funny and well, I snorted. Loudly. In a library. We ducked back into the biography isle and I ashamed to say that, egged on by three small giggling children, I snapped a picture on my trusty Blackberry - thank goodness for the zoom function!

Some things are still as amusing when you're 30 as they are when you're 3.5............
















*giggle* You'd have thought he'd have felt the breeze or something!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Oh the shame!

I love cooking, it's one of my favourite things to do. I'm not afraid of many recipes. Beef wellington? Bring it on! A roast dinner with all the fixings and gravy that will make you cry? In my sleep. The only recipe I just can't master is pancakes. I can make a decent crepe, but for some reason those big fluffy american style pancakes have just eluded me. Ask Tim and he'll tell you about all the times he's come home to find an irritated sweaty wife standing by the stove muttering angry words at a blob of mess in a pan with crusty pans and bowls all over the countertop, dried on batter on the stove and Hong Kong Express on speed dial. Trust me, it's not pretty. Even the powdered kind you allegedly just have to add wet ingredients to don't work.

So you can imagine my delight when a friend told me about a discovery her Dad had made. Her daughter likes to have pancakes or waffles for breakfast. But going through all that effort and mess every morning for one pancake for a finicky toddler that might decide they're not hungry after all is just too much work if it's not a special occasion! Her Dad came across this in the refridgerated section of Publix:



I'm not a fan of processed food. Why pay extra for something you can make cheaper from scratch, when you can pronounce all the ingredients in it and guarantee it's good for your kids to eat? But I was SO happy when I went and found it for myself next to the whipped cream in a can and coffee creamer - a part of the store I never would have gone to on my own. The ingredients were all recognizable and organic to boot.

I tried it out on the kids this afternoon and they were very very pleased. They wolfed down every last bite! The batter does float out quite a lot so it was easier to do a few large pancakes than lots of little ones. They were fluffy but not chewy. A little sweet but not too much, just enough salt and nice crispy edges. And the cleanup was only a pan and a spatula!

Sometimes you've just got to admit defeat!! I'll definately use this again. I even found a coupon

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Menacing mangos!

Max loves mangos. Adores them. He'll eat a whole one in one sitting. He's never had a reaction to eating one.

Last week he woke up with the most hideous rash on his face. It looked like both cheeks and his lips were covered in a poison ivy rash! It really looked horrendous. The only thing I could think of that could have caused it was his snack the day before. I'd cut off the two sides of the mango and cubed it for him. Obviously he wanted more because he went and got the seed and the skins and tried to eat the little scraps that were left. In the process he had smeared the mango and apparently the skin as well all over his face trying to get every last bit of fruit.

After some research we found out that the skin of a mango contains the same chemical that causes reactions to poison ivy! Who knew? Poor buddy, he looked pretty bad for a few days until it went away on it's own (the photo was taken about three days later). So be warned about the hazards of mangos!

http://www.allergy-details.com/111-poison-ivy-allergy

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Sundaes on Saturday

Is there anything more fun than watching a child enjoy an icecream sundae? Pure joy.


Saturday, July 4, 2009

Okefenokee swamp

Today we arrived at the Okefenokee swamp and it was a first to the kids and I, Tim had been there once before when he was about 10.

We had a guided boat tour of the swamp. Our host, TJ, has been giving the tour for 30 years and has made friends with two of the alligators, Erin and Sweetie. He brings them little treats like marshmallows and the occasional chicken leg. So now when they hear his voice, they come swimming to see him, fast!

Thanks to TJ we got a very up close and personal experience with these amazing and very powerful creatures. Definitely worth a visit if you've never been before!

Hopefully I can figure out how to upload photos from my phone so that you can see them for yourself.


Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

ETA: that is how close we got, those photos were taken on Tim's phone with NO zoom. You could literally reach out and touch them, if you were stupid enough to try!!

Swamp creatures!

Every weekend we just look at each other and say "lets go somewhere" and proceed to list a number of places we'd go if we had the time. Yesterday evening Tim looked at me and said "let's go." So off we're going. First to the swamp to see aligators and then we're headed East to the beach.

I love love love last minute surprise vacations, the kids were very excited when we told them where we were going today. Hopefully we'll have lots of fun photos to share when we get back on Monday.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Secret Agent Max

Max is obsessed with the Spy Kids movies. He loves them. He'd watch them all day every day if he could. I just love this shot that Tim snapped of him with his cool spy glasses on.

Friday, June 12, 2009

My poor head!

Every Thursday morning we go to story time at the local library. This week it was packed - as it usually is when the older children are out of school - and they had a visitor. A lady with a guitar and some boxes. Great, I thought, they will have a bit of a sing and we'll read some stories. Oh no. No stories. The boxes were filled with percussion instruments.

40 children (and some Moms too) were yelling, singing, banging cymbals, tambourines, shaking bells and maracas and using those hideously loud clappy wooden things. All at the same time. It's now a full day later and my head is still ringing and I can't seem to stop clenching my teeth. But they had FUN! lots of fun.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

For Denell

Thought this might put a smile on your face Denell! The kids found my wig from all those years ago in the drama and Lily put it on.... well, you can see the cuteness for yourself.
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Lily and Denell

Tim's new grill

Tim is over the moon with his present - the perfect charcoal grill that he's been eyeing for a while. It has baskets that raise and lower the coals so you can control they heat. After he put it together Sunday, I cut a chicken in half and he smoked it over green hickory and pecan logs. YUM! We also grilled some of his mutant zucchini (I've been trying to find the photos of the squash and zucchini but after installing Vista nothing is where it's supposed to be....)