Wednesday, December 16, 2009


--Doing the advent calendar every morning with Emerson. She gets so excited to open up the little tin!
--Listening to Emerson attempt to sing Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, Jingle Bells, and assorted other holiday tunes.
--How excited Em is when she sees Christmas lights as we drive home at night.
--That my friend, Jen, sent me an awesome link to get a personalized video message from Santa emailed to Em...she flipped! (and it was!)
--That our babe is finally feeling better today after a week & a half of the yuckies (and Keith and I can finally resume normal work schedules!)
--How awesome the upstairs turned out after the remodeling project that would not die.
--That we get some time off work for the holidays...can't wait for a break!
--That I work with a truly great bunch of people, whom I really enjoy!
--That we scored a sitter and get to attend a party this weekend sans toddler!
--How sweetly Emerson told me today, "Mommy, I love you so much!". Made my heart sing.

--Ridiculous dumb-ass drivers who are maniacs in the parking lots this time of year. Seriously people!
--How we have no back up if Emmy gets sick, and how far away our families are!
--That I woke up with what looked like pink-eye this morning...oh, thank you, daycare germs!
--That my Mom isn't able to come down for a holiday visit...the cooking class together will have to wait. Boo!
--How totally addicted to the movie, "Annie", our child has become. Although it is adorable when she walks around singing, "You're never fully dressed, UGH, you're never fully dressed, UGH, you're never fully dressed without a smile!"
--How I walk around all day with Annie songs rattling around my brain.
--That we couldn't get a real Christmas tree this year...the little 3 foot fake one just isn't cutting it for me!
--That there are seriously not enough hours in the day to get things done around here. I am contemplating taking a week off in January just to paint, clean, sort, and shop for furniture.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Ho, Ho, Ho!

Santa: Have you been a good girl this year?
Em: Yes!
S: Do you know what you'd like for Christmas?
E: Presents.
S: What kind of presents?
E: Red presents.
S: Anything else?
E: Candy necklaces.
S: I'll do my best.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Holiday Time

We've been busy little beavers around here, and trying to squeeze in some holiday preparations in our "free time". Last weekend, Emmy and I did some cookie baking. We did M&M shortbread cookies, as well as Peanut Butter Blossoms...Em thought it was so cool to push the Hershey's Kiss in the middle! Keith hung the Christmas lights on the front porch, and Em was delighted to see the twinkling lights as we pulled into the driveway Monday evening. We've been doing an advent calendar to count down to Christmas. I made it last year, and it's got a bunch of little metal tins velcro-ed to a big board. Emmy either finds a candy treat inside, or a fun holiday activity. Saturday's activity was attending the Hillsborough Christmas Parade. It was a rainy morning, but it tapered to a light mist by parade time. It was still bitter cold (a brisk 35 degrees, with blowing winds!). Em insisted on taking a backpack to stash all the candy she was planning to scoop up. She was successful in her candy-finding endeavors, and was totally thrilled to see Santa & Mrs. Claus in a horse-drawn carriage at the end of the parade. She kept saying, "I LOVE SANTA!" all the way back to the car. Little does she know we've made reservations for this Sunday morning at the Carolina Inn for a breakfast with Santa. They also have a gingerbread decorating contest going on (super fancy houses, I'm sure!!), so we'll be walking around the Inn checking out the entries. We're planning to put up a simple tree this weekend, and the interior decorations will be going up as well. Keith and Em made paper snowflakes and cottonball adorned snowmen tonight as I was making dinner. They hung their creations on the windows to winterize the joint.

I'm in the midst of reorganizing all of the framed photos in our home...we've repainted the hallway upstairs, as well as the stairway. I've purchased a bunch of matching black frames, and think they'll look great over the stairs!

I'm organizing a Call Back Day at work for Friday, and need to cook a large crockpot of meatballs on Thursday evening for our holiday party...this week is flying by quickly!

Hope your holiday prep is going well, and you're able to enjoy some of the festivities, rather than sprinting through them!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Things to Do This Week

We all get a 4-day weekend around here, and I've been thinking of what I'd like to accomplish during that time...

--bake Thanksgiving ham (no turkey this year!) and all the trimmings
--make annual chocolate chip holiday good, it doesn't last long!
--make a batch of Gram's Christmas cookies, and decorate with Emerson (okay, so we did chocolate chip instead!)
--convince Emerson that sleeping in is what you're supposed to do when no one has to go to school/work!
--if weather cooperates, play at the park with Em
--paint trim upstairs, and decorate the upstairs bathroom
--work on Christmas lists
--organize craft room/Em's play room
--take a bubble bath
--do some Black Friday shopping!
--figure out which photos to print for new frames on the stairway
--watch a movie with Keith (Thank you, Red Box!)

What do you think? Can I squeeze it all in???
Happy Thanksgiving to all of our friends & family, near or far. Love to all!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009



--The way Emerson say "I need some buzz-ert" instead of dessert. So very cute.
--My short, no fuss, done in less than 5 minutes, cutie-pie haircut.
--The new shoes I bought in Portland...LaNaturalistas. The most I've ever spent on shoes in my life, but so, so worth every penny.
--The new Kathy Reichs book I'm reading (206 Bones). Really enjoy her books!
--That Keith brought me home Stam's chocolate truffles the other night, for no apparent reason. Yum!
--That Keith had the (?) foresight to change our auto insurance deductible to $100 about a year or so ago. That's paid off in spades this month!
--Listening to Em recite the Pledge of Allegiance at the dinner table.
--Enjoying music by a (new to me) group, the Avett Brothers...very nice.
--That instead of a turkey this year, we all voted for ham at Thanksgiving. So much easier for me!
--That next week is a 3 day week!
--That Emmy and I finally tracked down an H1N1 vaccine for the both of us. Too bad she has to get a 2nd dose in 3 more weeks.
--That Em is moving to a classroom in December with older kids, and hopefully some of the regression we've seen will improve.
--That Em took a 3 hr nap on Saturday, and I got some major power-cleaning done (visualize bleach water and toothbrush on shower grout!).


--That Keith's car won't be ready for yet another week, and I won't be able to take mine to the body shop until after Thanksgiving!
--That the contractor is STILL at our house...even though he's doing a lovely job, I'm ready to have my house back in order.
--That Em appears perfectly content to hide in the corner & poop in her pants....grrrr!
--That poor Amos is going bald again...not sure what's up, as I don't see any fleas on him. He's looking a little mangey these days.
--That my skin is reverting to adolescent behavior. Pimples in your 30's suck!
--That the weather is supposed to be rainy for the rest of the week & weekend.
--That our child is spending so much time in daycare.
--That we're probably going to have to do IVF to have another child. Luckily my insurance offers a very low cost option for this because I am a Duke employee. But still...

Monday, November 16, 2009

Portland & Stuff

The first week of November was spent in Portland, OR at a PA Educators conference. The conference was literally one of the best educational sessions I've ever attended. I went a few days early to attend a Basic Skills Workshop for new faculty members, which focused on teaching skills like developing a syllabus, writing learning objectives, crafting test questions, and the in's & out's of academic life. There really is a science behind this stuff, and they are skills to be practiced and honed! Writing test questions isn't easy! Once the actual conference started, there were many sessions focusing on Clinical Coordinators, and I came home invigorated and filled with new ideas!

I took the computer video camera, and was able to Skype with Keith & Emerson while I was away. Emerson took a look at me on the computer monitor, and promptly asked me "Mommy...where's your feet?". She was very concerned, and insisted I show her they were still attached to me. She and Keith did great the week I was gone! They were definitely ready to have Mommy home by Saturday though, and I was surely ready to be home!

Some of the faculty members went out for dinner each night while in Portland...I had the pleasure of sushi, Greek, Moraccan, Chinese, Indian, and delish regional food! I'd never had Moraccan, and it was quite an experience. There was even a belly dancer! She was actually really great, and our waitress told us she won all the regional dancing contests. She gave me a dancing tutorial while my dinner buddies shot video and snapped pics. Oh lord...that's gonna come back to haunt me at some point!

Work is getting very busy. We've entered into the Admissions season, and had our first batch of interviews last week. It's quite a process, but really neat to see how this all transpires behind the scenes. I'm doing more teaching of small groups, and was asked to be a Physical Diagnosis instructor next year. That's the class where students learn how to do physical exams. They practice on each other during the first semester, and in the second semester go over to the hospital and see real patients.

Emmy and I did a free trial class at The Little Gym in Durham on Saturday. It was a tumbling class mixed with creative movement & music. The Saturday class is a little packed, but Em loved it! The class was 60 minutes in length, and she was so tired afterward that she could barely walk to the car. I thought she'd fall asleep right on the sidewalk! She took a 3+ hour nap that afternoon! I got so much housecleaning done while she was amazing!

Our home improvements are dragging on...hopefully this will be the final week. We had a 2-3 week delay due to waiting for stair parts to come in. Sigh. It will be worth it in the end, but this Fall has been a real mess.

This past Thursday, I walked outside to leave for work and found a tree on my car! Yep! Another tree! Couldn't believe our rotten luck. Much less damage than was done to Keith's car last month, but still...what are the odds?? We're hiring an arborist to come check out our trees, and will take down the ones that are dead or dying. We have such dense trees around our house, it's really hard to tell what's healthy or not. Ugh...this has turned into a really expensive Fall!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

October Fun

Em had a great October (well, minus the week or two of sickness, Amoxicillin and nebulizer machines)! We went on a family leaf hunt around the neighborhood to find the brightest colored leaves, and then ironed them between wax paper & hung on the window. She likes eating dinner and looking at the leaves. She had a class party on Friday, and decided to dress as a cheerleader. So very cute. We headed to DC this weekend so Em and her cousin could trick-or treat together. The girls stayed up until 11pm on Friday night, they were so excited to see each other! (This made for some crankiness about 10am on Saturday!) Emmy was a ballerina for Halloween, and Abby was a pink unicorn. They had a ball pushing doorbells between a few raindrops. The Fall color is at it's peak around here right now, but I think the rain is bringing down the leaves a bit early. Bummer...this is totally my favorite time of year!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

L & L

I'm stealing a great post idea from my friend, Jen's, blog. Loves and Loathes are a quick way to list what's tickling your fancy or getting under your skin at the's my list:

--That Emerson is doing a great job staying dry in her big girl undies!
--That the upstairs is turning out so well, and the construction is almost done!
--That my job is going well, and I absolutely LOVE what I'm doing now.
--That Keith is challenged in his work, and is taking on new initiatives which interest him.
--That Fall, my favorite season, is in full swing & the color is fantastic right now.
--That Amos responded so nicely to a course of prednisone...poor kitty had a nasty rash.
--That we made $330 at our yard sale last weekend, and donated what was left to the local PTA Trift clearing out stuff!
--That I finally found a decent pair of jeans (at Coldwater Creek...check out the city jeans, gals!).
--That Em is sleeping through the night again after being sick for 2 weeks.
-- That Em gets to go trick-or-treating with her cousin, Abby this year (dressed as a ballerina, so she says).
--That our little stray outside cat is warming up to us, and is friendly now.

--That the construction has taken so long, and the house has been a pit for over a month now.
--That the construction went seriously over budget.
--That Em hasn't yet mastered the fine art of pooping in the potty.
--That Emerson is now the oldest in her class, and seems to be regressing a bit in behavior & language (lots of baby-talk going on).
--That I've been coughing for two weeks.
--That I haven't run since August, and feel like a slug.
--That we haven't been able to sell the Saturn, and the Honda is in the shop due to a wayward tree.
--That I haven't scrapped the first page of Em's life! Am thinking of going digital, because Stampin' Up has a new digi package that looks usable!


We've been the house of sickness for the past two weeks. I took Em to the pediatrician on Monday when I heard wheezing and she was running a fever of 102. Seems we have the reactive airway again, and our old friend, the nebulizer, has come out to play once more. She's on amoxicillin, and seems to be doing better, but the cough is lingering. I had the same cough, and then developed flu-like symptoms on Wednesday at work. By the time I got home, there wasn't a spot on my body that wasn't aching. I went to bed at 7pm and slept 12 hours...woke up to help Keith get Emmy ready for school, then slept another 5 hours. Between Emmy and I, I only made it to work one day this week! Good grief! Keith has mild cold symptoms, and so far, has managed to stay fairly healthy.

We headed out this morning to a local kid's store to do a Halloween craft project, and then visited the Durham police dept who were set up outside. Em got an ID card made, complete with vitals, photo and fingerprint. She's so proud of it, and gave the officer a high five when they were done.

Em got school pictures done last week, and the proofs are in. Let's just say that they aren't the most flattering shots of Em, and I doubt we'll be ordering any of these beauties! She seems to think if she sticks her little bucky teeth out onto her lip, that constitutes a smile. So attractive! The other poses included a mistrusting frown, and a hammy, head-tilt fake smile. Wow...that photographer really gets the kids to act/look natural!

We're still trying to finish up the remodeling...waiting for new stair parts to come in (new newels, balusters and railings). There are several minor things that need finished up, and I don't think the contractor plans to come over to do them until the stairs are here. Ugh. We are painting the bathroom, and it looks fabulous! We should be using it this week for the first time. The new wood floors look so nice!

I've signed Emerson up for a free tumbling/dance class at the Little Gym in early November. We'll see if she likes it enough to pursue signing up for more. I'm looking forward to seeing how she does!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Not a good way to start the day

Keith got a new car not too long ago. Unfortunately, a big, dead tree decided to come down for a closer look. Can't believe we didn't hear the commotion in the middle of the night. I found this scene when I went out to feed the cat in the morning. Ugh! Car is in the shop with around $9000 in repairs being done....not enough to total the car, since we'd only had it 7 weeks.

Just a Typical Day in the Neighborhood

Pumpkin Patch

We visited a local pumpkin patch recently, and were really impressed by the fun things to do at this family farm! Hill Ridge Farm was a great place to spend the afternoon. We took a train ride, fed the farm animals & fish, jumped on the inflatables, snacked on fresh kettle corn, played in a "silo" of dried corn, and took a hayride through the woods to find our perfect pumpkins. Emmy wore herself out, and is still talking about it 2 weeks later!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Happy Anniversary!

Six years ago today (okay,tomorrow...10/12), Keith and I got married in a cute little mansion in the woods, surrounded by October color. We've had lots of laughs, tears, joys & sorrows in that time. Life is definitely better with this guy by my side. Happy Anniversary, you!

Friday, September 18, 2009

What we're up to...

Been a busy week at our house. Last week, we went to Ohio & Indiana to visit family and friends. It's always good to go back home, see what's changed in our hometowns, visit with grandparents, parents, and other assorted family members. We spent some quality time with the Garretts in Cincinnati, and went on a totally fun Segway tour of Eden Park. Absolutely a hoot! Chad took some video on his iphone, if you'd like to see what we did.

Emerson had an itinerary for the trip...she wanted to go to the Nature Center with Sophie (check), bake cookies with Grammy (sorta check...she ate cookies baked by Grammy), go to the park & swing (check), and eat corn on the cob & tomatoes with Grandpa (check). She also got to try an elephant ear at the Tipton Pork Festival, have a taste of Sycamore ice cream, and got some handmade necklaces from Uncle Josh to add to her expanding stash of bling. In other words, Em had a blast.

Since we've been home, life's been a little chaotic, or so it's felt. We are in the midst of an upstairs bathroom overhaul, and will also be replacing all the old nasty carpet that upstairs with hardwoods. The hardwoods have been sitting in boxes in our living room for 2 months (all 30 of them!). We've ordered the new bathroom vanity, and I chose the countertop and tile this week. I've still got to pick up a new light fixture and shower faucets. I believe the contractor will start demo work next week. It's going to be very messy around here for a while. He assures us it won't take more than a week, and I suppose that means it will take two. It will sure be worth it when it's all finished, but the process will be a pain.

In preparation for all the work upstairs, we've been sorting through our junk, and are making a huge pile of stuff to sell at an upcoming yard sale. I am trying to organize a neighborhood-wide sale, in order to get lots of bargain shoppers. I'm tired of looking at this stuff!

Emerson has started doing some funny stuff....she sits in the backseat of the van with a little doodle pad and pretends to be a waitress, asking, "what do you want, Mommy?", and "what do you like Daddy?". She diligently writes our orders down, or tells us that she doesn't have "x", but instead we can have "y". We played this game for much of our ride home from Indiana. For some reason, she has decided to try out a new laughing's this deep, goofy laugh that just sort of cracks me up. No idea why she's doing that. She is starting to sing song tunes, but substitute different words. She made us both laugh this week when we heard her talking to her stuffed animals in bed one night. She was chatting, and suddenly said, "I don't think that's a very good idea". Not sure what her elephant was plotting, but obviously, Em was concerned.

It promises to be a rainy weekend here...perfect weather for a trip to the library, and maybe bake a batch of cookies or muffins. I've just signed up to be a library helper for Emerson's class, and will pick up books according to the topic they are covering that week. I'm excited to be able to participate in some way with her class!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tres Chic!

A while back, I purchased a cute little sewing kit off of Etsy. It included precut/measured fabrics, thread, elastic, and step-by-step instructions for creating a darling little dress. Well, time went by, and Emmy grew more...and by the time I finished it became a cute little shirt! (Okay, so I'm not skilled at hemming, and it probably took a couple inches off the length too!) Emmy loved it, and I think it turned out pretty adorable. What do you think?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

I did it!!!

After months of training, I competed in my first (and maybe last) sprint triathlon on Saturday morning. My sister-in-law, Stacy, came down to do it with me, and we were cheered on by most of the Stouder family. I probably swallowed a gallon of water (and snorted another half-gallon up my nose) during the swim due to all the people kicking, splashing, and otherwise getting in my way. I pedaled along on my bike, coming in at the tail end of the bikers because of my slow swim, and because I didn't have a speedy road bike (note to self: if I ever do this again, rent a road bike!!). After hopping off my bike, the legs were rather jello-like, but I ran all of my 5K except for one hill. I finished in 1:54, third from last of the women. But dammit...I finished, and I didn't finish last!!! Thanks to Stacy for sweating with me, and to the Stouders for cheering me on. Felt good to cross the finish line with family yelling for me.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Cool Pics

Our friend Fred let me borrow his Nikon D-60 for pretty much the month of July. I got some great pics, and just wanted to show how awesome this camera is! Totally all camera, not April skill here! Fred too the pick of Em in the's so good!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Baby Jaguar

We went to a Durham Bulls baseball game tonight, as part of an activity put on by the Triangle Association of PAs. We had a great picnic dinner, and had a good view of the field. The ballpark has a nice kids section, with a play area, games, and free face painting. Keith took Em to get her face done, and when they came back, she told me she was a baby jaguar. This may seem like an odd choice, but she's been a little obsessed with Diego lately, and one episode focuses on a baby jaguar. She looked totally cute!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Nashville Trip

We went to Nashville for a big family reunion (Keith's mother's family...the Smalls) over the Fourth of July. The Smalls have a reunion every 3 years, and it's in a different part of the country each time. Emerson was so excited to see her cousin Abby, her aunts/uncles, grandparents and greatgrandparents...not to mention all the family members who hadn't met her yet! She got to swim with Abby, ride a horse, go on a hayride, play with lots of cousins, dance, and had a ball. The main event of the reunion was a gathering at a "ranch", and everyone was to dress in western-wear. I'll post some of my favorite photos from the trip.