Sunday, December 30, 2007

Bronson the wonder boy...

Bronson is my great nephew. His dad, Ben, is my nephew (he's great too)...we don't get to see him very often, so we were excited to see him (and his mom and dad) at Christmas. Here's a picture or two of the cutie face...

This year...

Jack liked his big gift from us more than those silly old gifts from's what he got...

Here's a couple more pictures from Christmas. Hope everyone's was merry!

(Avery was a little bit jealous of the guitar)

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

I was going to gripe about the fact that the powers that be have decided that we have to keep our office open until 5:00 today, despite the fact that the phone has only rung once since 1:00-its 2:41 right now...but I won't. I have lots of things to be thankful for. Here's a list:
  • My kids are healthy and hilarious, as is the rest of my family
  • I have a roof over my head
  • Maybe the traffic won't be so bad on the way home since I have to stay so late!
  • The "Santa is still watching" threat still works like a charm
  • My kids are currently with their Ami Jackie baking cookies like mad for the man in the big red suit
  • The second season of Big Love just came out on DVD
  • I am not cooking a thing for tomorrow's dinner with my family

From our house to yours, please have a safe and happy Christmas. I'll try to post pictures from the Hour of Greed tomorrow.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

First real snowstorm

Would have been a good holiday card picture. Oh well. May you all have a safe and happy holiday season.

Much peace and love.

Pen, Dan, Avery and Jack

Friday, December 7, 2007

Parent Teacher Conferences

Today we had our first real one for Avery. Most parents (at some point anyway) think their kids are brilliant and kind. Sometimes its really nice to hear it from someone else. Avery is testing in the 97% percentile with the standardized tests they take at her age and is reportedly always looking out for her fellow classmates. Rumor also has it that she speaks lovingly about Jack while at school, which is proof that she is on her best behavior there.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Assorted things my kids have said lately.

The other night I had gone out for a drink with one of my friends and when I got home Avery told me that I smelled like beer. I told her that I didn't like beer, so that wasn't what I had. Jack said "Oh did you have a latte"? Think they come to Starbucks with me too much?

Avery and I have been watching Dancing with the Stars again this season and once she told me that she thought I should go on the show. I explained to her that you had to be famous to be on the show. Anyway, the other day we drove by a nativity scene and I told Jack and Ave that churches put nativity scenes out around Christmas because it was supposed to represent the night that Jesus was born. After about a minute Avery said "Hey Mom. Jesus was famous-maybe he could have been on Dancing with the Stars"

Jack and Avery bring home ridiculous amounts of paper every day from school. Avery happened to make a cornucopia and brought it home. The 4 of us were sitting on the couch talking about something completely different and all of a sudden Jack saw it and said "Oh look at that lovely cornucopia!" Pronounced it perfectly.

Avery's 6th birthday

Ok, I am only a week behind on this one...well, 2 weeks from her friend are some photo highlights:
Take a look at the two cakes. See if you can guess which one I made and which one Mema bought.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Avery's birthday/Hanukkah/Christmas

I am stealing an idea from my brother's blog and writing some ideas for all of us...
Avery can always use art supplies, games for her Leapster system, hair ties, anything pink with sparkles on it (except shoes...she's way too picky), books, CDs (Hannah Montana, Jonas Brothers, anything Disney), and you would win points if you got her some sort of super frilly princess dress. I do not know where this kid came from. She's a size 6 or so.

Jack loves baseball. And baseball. And Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And pirates. He is being raised as a Red Sox and New York Giants fan. He loves "Cars" too. And he always needs socks.

Dan would love gift certificates to LLBean, ITunes, the Gap, oh and he is a shoe whore, so mall gift certificates work could also buy him Lens Crafters gift certificates because he continues to break glasses. Well in all fairness, Jack really breaks them. (PS, I am sort of kidding with this...I don't think he really WANTS this). Dan is also being raised as a Red Sox fan, so hats, shirts...

And last but not least, me. I too like gift certificates. JJill, Ann Taylor, Gap, Target, Ochoa Day Spa. Sephora too (I do like some sparkely things...just not always pink). There is a diamond star necklace on the Tiffany website too, but its $15K, and I think that's over the Secret Santa limit. :)

See you all soon for the holidays.


So we lost the battery charger to our camera so we bought some disposable cameras to take pictures on Halloween. Needless to say, the resulting pictures sucked, so I have no pictures of Wonder Woman and Leonardo the Ninja Turtle to post. Don't dispair, however. I will be putting the kids back in their costumes and taking the pictures over. Once we buy the new battery charger. :)

I can't believe I didn't post anything about this

For those of you who have been living under a rock, the Boston Red Sox won the World Series for the 2nd time in 4 years a week ago. Yes, I was one of those crazy fans that stayed up way past my bedtime to watch the final out and have tears come to my eyes when Mike Lowell was named MVP of the Series. I know its just a sport. But its really good to have something to believe in, isn't it?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

It is 4:53 pm

And I have picked up both kids from school, and they are currently eating dinner. Granted, I picked up a pizza, but still. This being on vacation thing is awesome.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Jack calls him Coo-coolis

Kevin Youkilis is Jack's favorite Red Sox player and he's got a great kids charity that he has established...Hits for Kids is raising money and working with children's charities in New England and in Kevin's hometown of Cincinnati.

Nice job, Youk.

A VERY easy way to make a difference...

Here's an email from my sister...

October 10th is "In the Pink Day" in every Coldwater Creek across the country. Each and every CWC employee will be wearing a special pink shirt that day in support of the Komen Foundation and the research they do to find a cure for breast cancer.

October 10th is a day YOU can help as well - and you don't have to spend a dime. Just go into your nearest Coldwater Creek store and try on a pair of pants. That's it. For every customer that comes in on October 10th that tries on a pair of our pants, a donation will be made by CWC to Komen. How easy is that?

As you all know, helping to raise money to help find a cure for breast cancer is something I personally am very involved in and working for a company that is a National Sponsor for Komen gives me even more pride in what I do to try to make a difference.

So, here's a simple way YOU and your friends can help too! So mark it on your calendar! October 10th - nearest Coldwater Creek (don't know where one is? Let me know I'll find one for you!) - try on a pair of pants - know you've done good!!!!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Pumpkintown, USA

Bet you didn't know this existed, did you? East Hampton, CT.

I am guessing its A LOT cooler on the weekend...but here is proof that Jack and I went.

Looking for a deal?

I love Parents magazine. Loads of great are some websites you might like...

oh, and at, you can design really cool online cards...they will even mail them for you!!! I sent one today.

Team WhyMommy

I read about this blog in Parents magazine and once I started reading, I knew I had to join the team. Please see the link to go to the all know how dedicated I am to the fight against breast cancer and this is just one more way for me to help.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Elm Street cage match

Avery and Jack have taken to wrestling with each other. Which is fine, but the new rule in the house is if you are going to choose to wrestle with each other, there's no crying when someone gets kicked in the head....anyway, the other night, they got out of the bath and were wrestling and Avery wasn't playing fair (hey, THAT'S weird) so Jack yelled "FINE", and then sat on her head (with his naked behind) and yelled "EAT MY BUTT". I can't even type it without laughing.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Take a minute and say thanks....

I got this email from my brother this morning...and I feel pretty strongly about participating...

US Marine Colonel Simcock, the commander of USMC Regimental Combat Team (RCT) 6 in Iraq, is asking for 6,000 positive emails to his Marines. That's one email for each Marine in his RCT command. COL Simcock is concerned about the effect of the negative barrage that those Marines are getting through the electronic media. So far, they've only mustered 2,000 emails.That's a crying shame compared to the amount of crap I get daily in email. This is a legitimate request. It's not one of the "little Johnny wants to break the world's record in Christmas cards" situations. It takes only 30 seconds of your time.

Here's the emailaddress:

If you're reading this email, then you can probably click on the address, type a few words, and then hit "send" to be all done. It doesn't have to be the Gettysburg Address. Something as simple as "Hello,Marine. We thank you for what you're doing. You are in a noble task. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Best wishes & get home soon" is more than sufficient.

An excerpt from an interview with the Colonel:GRIM: Is there anything that you and your Marines needthat we could send you? COL. SIMCOCK: (Chuckles.) I'll tell you what, the one thing that all Marines want to know about -- and that includes me and everyone within Regimental Combat Team 6 -- we want to know that the American public are behind us. We believe that the actions that we're taking over here are very, very important to America. We're fighting a group of people that, if they could, would take away the freedoms that America enjoys. If anyone -- you know, just sit down, jot us -- throw us an e- mail, write us a letter, let us know that the American public are behind us. Because we watch the news just like everyone else. It's broadcast over here in our chow halls and the weight rooms, and we watch that stuff, and we're a little bit concerned sometimes that America really doesn't know what's going on over here, and we get sometimes concerns that the American public isn't behind us and doesn't see the importance of what's going on. So that's something I think that all Marines, soldiers and sailors would like to hear from back home, that in fact, yes, they think what we're doing over here is important and they are in fact behind us.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Can you help me?

Next stop on my breast cancer walking schedule...

Rays of Hope Walk...October 28, 2007

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


How on earth has this happened? How has Avery become old enough to go to kindergarten? She and I went to orientation today. I am certain I was more nervous than she was. So far, I am very impressed with MeadowBrook. Here is a picture of Ave on her first day. So grown up.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Last day of vacation :(

Sunny again (of course), so we packed up the cars and went to the beach down the street to try something new for the last day. Many more people, much bigger waves and much stronger undertow. We only stayed a few hours because Jack kept asking if "we could go home to our country"...he (and the rest of us, really) were all done. Here are a couple last day pictures. Overall, we had a great time, but it was equally as great to be home. It is always awesome to sleep in your own bed.

Vacation Day Seven!

Holy cow! What is that bright yellow thing in the sky? Oh wait...I think it is called sunshine. We haven't really seen it all week, so it was foreign to us. Everyone went in to town for breakfast, so I took the kids over to the beach. I mean, this is where we would have spent our whole trip if the weather had cooperated. Everyone met us over there when they got back. Dan, Scott, Crystal and Mema went on a whale watch today as well. Rumor has it that Scottie got a little green, so I am GLAD that I didn't go. The kids and I got to watch their boat come back from the roof deck on our house. That was pretty cool. We are all a little sad that today is our last full day of vacation. If the weather is nice Saturday, we plan to go to the beach a bit before we head home.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Vacation Day Six!

We went into town for breakfast. Newburyport has a magazine stand/breakfast & lunch place-complete with counter and seats that spin. We had some pretty great breakfast (and this is coming from a girl who doesn't care for breakfast that much), but I was happier about the selection of magazines, really. We wandered around the town a bit more and then because it wasn't perfect beach weather everyone decided to go to Salem. I stayed behind to set up the class I am teaching in the fall (I really did, you can even go ask my sister who reviewed it for me). Here is what I heard about Salem. Jack got about 3 feet into the pirate museum before he freaked out and Avery made it awhile in one of the witch museums, but some of the music was too scary and loud. Here are a couple pictures, though.

Tomorrow is our last full day of vacation. I can't believe it. The weather is supposed to be great as well as on Saturday, so we will probably hang around Saturday as well to catch the last few beach minutes of the summer for us.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Vacation Day Five!

It was Crystal's birthday, so she chose for us to go in to Boston. After one fight with Mema's GPS, we arrived at the Boston Aquarium. Big penguin exhibit.

Places like this are always a little difficult for me to go to-loads of people in a not so giant place-but the penguins are very cute and the kids liked it up until a point. Then we had the following happen:

Then this is what happens at the end of the day. I call it "The Many Faces of Jack"

We got home and had very fancy cheesecake for Crystal's birthday (if you are in Newburyport ever, you should go to Praline's bakery-its across the street from Starbucks) Well worth the million or so calories. I can't believe we only have a couple days left of vacation. The weather is supposed to improve just as we are leaving. Perfect. :)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Vacation Day Four!

The weather has been very strange here in Newburyport this week. Sort of cloudy and chilly with bouts of super hot sunny weather. Talk about a packing nightmare. Anyway, up with the sun we were again, thanks to the youngest member of the family. So he and I were on the playground at about 7:45 this morning...its a good thing he's cute.

Dan and the kids and I went to a nature preserve down the street-a fair portion of Plum Island here is a nature conservatory...this was kind of the headquarters. Couple of nice shots...

Then the four of us went in to town for lunch and then Jack and Avery turned into pumpkins so we came home. My sister and I joke about having "a limit"-the amount of time we can spend with each other before we want to tear each other's faces off...I think the 4 of us might have hit it this morning. Nothing a little quiet time won't cure. Oh! One of the best things I have found on vacation are these t-shirts from a company called Emotional Armor. Here is their website The kids already have 4 of them that we found on sale. Great product, great company with a great message.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Vacation Day Three!

Holy cow. Day three already? This is going by too fast. Woke up to a bright sunshiny day today, so it was out on to the beach we went first thing for another walk. Honestly, I could walk for hours by the water...and I guess the past couple of days we have!

There just aren't that many people here this week-at least not out on the beach. Maybe everyone is school shopping. We did some shopping of our own today. Downtown Newburyport is a very quaint little place with lots of fancy schmancy shops as well as a lot of fun restaurants. Shirley and I got ice cream at 11:01 this morning when Gram's Ice Cream opened. And then we had it again after lunch. Whatever...we have walked for miles already this week. Plus, you just don't see peach ice cream all that often. Now I am sitting on the loveseat that is the kitchen nook, everyone else is upstairs being quiet (a freaking miracle, if you ask me), and I am writing this and having a drink that I think I will name the Newburyport Sunset (ginger ale, orange/pineapple/banana juice and pear Absolute). Life is good.

Vacation Day Two!

Avery and I went for a long walk on the beach and were eventually joined by Dan, Jack and Mema. This is the beach...
Our beach goes for probably half a mile or so and it connects to another beach right at this rock line that Avery is standing on. Lots of people fishing (at least there were on Sunday). We were out for a couple of hours-I think Avery picked up every shell there was. For some reason Avery and Jack got it in their heads that if we went in the water we would sink. Hopefully we can break them of that notion before the end of the week. It was really too cool to go in the water this day, but it was a great first full day for walking around and decompressing. Dan taught Jack to say "I hate to see you go, but I love to watch you leave" whenever Mema walked away. Again, classy.

Scottie and Crystal showed up today, and John and Peg stopped by for a visit on their way home from Maine. We ate dinner on the top deck-here is a picture of the kids reaction to Dan eating lobster...

That is kind of my reaction too. Day two was fun and the day cleared up in the this is the sunset we got to see.
More tomorrow....

Vacation Day One!

First, these pictures represent our attempt to follow the Jack Griswold school of vacation travel rules...translated for those of you who didn't know him... means to get up really early, haul your kids out of bed, put them in their car seats and hopefully they stay asleep for most of the drive. The trick is to time it so you put them in their seats and go...not put them in their seats and then go back in the house to get some more stuff. They will wake up every time...still getting us out of the house at 6:00 am is a miracle, so I will take that small victory.

We got to the house in Newburyport about 9:30. This is the view from the 3rd floor deck. Not too shabby.

We had some time to kill before we could hang out (we got here so early, the house hadn't been cleaned yet), so we went to Gloucester to a summer festival. This is where the day got interesting. We were driving along and Dan was singing a song about how I was cranky because I was hungry and the song said something about me needing a hot dog, which eventually turned in to me needing a wiener (classy, I know) and out of Avery's mouth comes "I know what wiener is another word means penis" After the shock wore off, and we stopped laughing, we asked her where she learned it...she looked at me and very matter of factly said "camp" There is money well spent, folks.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

My nephew Matt is a genius

I mean I suspected it before, but its confirmed now. Check out these pictures...

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Another Jack Michael classic...

I dropped the kids off at camp on Tuesday and Avery threw a fit about something (yes, yes, I know my parents are laughing). Jack and I walked away and I said "Jack, sometimes your sister..." and he replied "Yeah Mom. She is freaking out my life" This kid kills me.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

LL Bean in CT

LL Bean is opening at Evergreen Walk in South Windsor, CT on Saturday. WOOHOO! Moose print rain boots here I come!

Out of the mouth of one of my babes

I picked the kids up from school the other day and Jack was being a bit mouthy (shocking) so I said to him "Jack Michael, you watch your mouth" and without missing a beat he replied "Penny Griswold you watch your mouth". How could I not laugh at that?

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Kidney stone out!

It was very anticlimactic. Which I know is kind of mean since I didn't have to pass it, but even Dan was a little disappointed. For the amount of pain he was in, we were expecting a boulder. Regardless, its over and other than feeling like someone beat the crap out of him, Dan is no worse for the wear.

Thanks for all the help we got...I know it was only a 48 hour period, but a lot of people lept in and helped.

Friday, July 20, 2007

To add insult to injury...

Dan was taken to the ER yesterday with kidney stones. The doctors say it is possible that the meds he is on for his lyme disease could have caused the kidney stones. Lovely. So they gave him enough morphine to choke a horse and sent us home to wait for it to pass. Which it hasn't yet. Dan doesn't remember that he agreed to getting a dog. :)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A sad sign of our times

But leave it to Sesame Street to come up with a way to deal with it. I just read in Parents Magazine that there is now a video that centers around Elmo having to deal with his dad being deployed (did anyone else know that Elmo had a dad?). Here is the link:

Here is the next website my kids will get something from...

and how cool is this?
(ok, potentially this is only cool to someone that lives with another person who shall remain nameless (avery) that is very particular about sandwiches and crust.)

Second tooth alert!

Avery let Dan pull the second loose tooth out of her mouth on Sunday. I believe the monetary benefit at the end justifies the means...

Sunday, July 15, 2007

This is the face Jack makes when the Red Sox lose

Seriously. He does.

Some pictures of my kids...

Went to see John Mayer again last night...

Here is my review of the show. First guy up...Brett Dineen. Ok, I guess. Not my gig. Second guy up...Ben Folds. He has a huge fan base, of which I am officially not a member. Had I not known that John Mayer would soon follow Ben Folds, I would have considered rupturing my own ear drums. And last but by no means least, John Mayer. He made reference to the fact that last summer he cancelled his portion of the show (I ended up just seeing Sheryl Crow) due to sickness and told last night's audience that since he needed to make it up to us, he was going to "play his ass off for us". And that he did. I will readily admit that I find him dreamy, but holy crap can he play the guitar. I counted no fewer than 7 different guitars that he played. And I have also come to the realization that I am old and that perhaps lawn seats at the Meadows aren't for me anymore. If I could have figured out a way to do it without getting hurt, I might have tried to figure out a way to punch the 25ish "kids" in front of me that were drunk and high. I actually saw a boy and a girl get into a physical fight. Not exactly what I was looking for in the way of entertainment....

Anyway, BlackBerry is the sponsor of the summer tour and I geekily sent messages from mine to a few folks...can't help myself sometimes. Here is a link to John Mayer's BlackBerry page...

This is on my friend Brandee's blog...

so I went to check it out and promptly dropped 30 bucks on funny things....check it out...its possible only women will find it amusing...

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Jen and I went to Dancing with the Stars and all we got was....

To paw at Joey McIntyre! See? We also saw Joey Fatone walking through the shops at the casino with his wife, and I was going to try to convince you that we talked to him, but I have no proof (and truthfully we were so starstruck that we couldn't move).
Oh yeah, and the show was fantastic. I would go back tonight if I could. And I am desperate to take a ballroom class, but only if I can be promised that I will turn out as good as Cheryl Burke. In like a minute.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

More big news for Avery!

Today we went to Shriners Hospital for a 2 year follow up appointment...and great news! Avery's hip is 100% healed and she doesn't have to return for checkups any longer. I cannot stress enough about what a fantastic organization Shriners is...I wish we had extra money lying around, because I would give them all I had. We were lucky-just a "little" hip problem...there are kids there with much bigger issues and families with much more to worry about than we had...

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Spoiler alert...sort of

To tell you this story, I first have to admit something I am not proud of. I am sitting here watching the 4th of July Nathan's of Coney Island hot dog eating contest. There. I said it. Now I can tell you the story.

ESPN was showing the contestants walking in and this one guy was carrying a sign that said "On the 7th day God created Hartford" Those of you who have been to Hartford know how funny this is. But here is the thing that made me he was walking, he flipped his sign over and gave a possible Harry Potter spoiler. He indicated which character dies in the new book. Now, I am not going to tell you (unless you ask me, I guess), and of course I can't know if its true until I read the book in a couple weeks..but WHAT A JERK. I hope he chokes on a hot dog. Ok, I don't really, but that was a loser move.

Avery has big news!

Her first baby tooth lost! It has been loose for awhile now, and you can see that the big tooth grew in behind it...she must have felt empowered by the 4th of July parade...she came home and told Dan to pull it. She was shockingly brave-maybe it was because it was on her own terms...
She is eating a freeze pop and recovering nicely.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Happy Fourth of July (one day early)

For the patriotic fool like me, its a great day. And where we live right now, we can walk to the East Longmeadow Fourth of July parade. As small town parades go, its a pretty good one.

Just got back from the is a cool picture of the kids....

So I am on vacation right now...

And I have gotten sucked up into the HBO series Big Love. We don't have HBO but I have been wanting to rent it...just finished the first 5 episodes. It is about a Mormon family practicing polygamy...sort of a normal family, you know, except for the 3 wives and all....but then they also talk about the fundamentalist sect of the church. IT IS RIVETING. I am on my way out to rent the next few episodes.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

My friends Amy and Mike

Have started a business with one of their friends and this is the website. Don't really know how many of you will be in Minnesota and shopping for a boat, but just in case. The website is brand new, so they are still working out the kinks...

I am so stalling right now

I don't want to grade papers. I want to decorate cakes. These are star and swirl flowers. I had to practice for my final level 1 cake class on Tuesday. Impressive, huh?

This is a little late but

On June 10th we went to Dodd Stadium in Mystic, CT for Jack's small family birthday party. For those of you in the area, they do a GREAT job and it isn't any more expensive than any other place to have a party and the best part is that a baseball game is included! Here is what the pictures are...the birthday kids got to go out on the field and their names were announced over the speaker-I took Jack out so you can see one big kid and one little kid. Jack and Avery also got to run the bases after the game-all the kids did-gotta love minor league ball and then just a couple cute pictures of them. We had a great time and the Defenders won!