November 30, 2012

how to make the most awesome holiday sweater ever.

I put a great deal of thought into the title for this post.  To be honest, I almost view this particular post as a public service, and I really want to help as many people as possible. I want to be able to reach the masses.  I asked myself, if someone out there needs help this holiday season, what phrase will they Google?  "How to make the most awesome holiday sweater ever" - that's what!   And BAM, they will find me.  You can all thank me later.

So here's what you need to make all this awesomeness happen:

Some lovely (or not so lovely) sweaters of your chosing:

 Green felt for a Christmas tree design:

Tacky Glue.  Obviously.  Because it's TACKY!  Duh:

Puffy paint of various colors and degrees of luminescence and sparkle:
Embellishments, decorations, chotchkies, pieces of flair.  I found these at Michaels and The Dollar Tree.
Step one.  Cut a tree design out of felt.  Glue it on the sweater.  Use puffy paint to make little lines to give it a stitched look.  Then start embellishing!
The sweater will be complete when you start to see that it's not making any sense anymore and is just purely the most amazing thing you've ever seen.  For example, felt tree, strategically placed bells, some added flair, and wait, what?  What is that?  3 empty mini liquor bottles?  Glued to a sweater?  Bam.Finished.Done.It's perfect.
The best part of a holiday sweater?  You never again have to worry about what you're going to wear to a holiday party for the rest of your life.  Because you're awesome.

November 29, 2012

jolly old saint nick.

Mommy says not to touch but it's just too hard to resist.

November 27, 2012


Heath, Elayna and poor Claira shoved into the corner
Thanksgiving was so much fun this year.  Elayna, Heath, Will and Claira made the drive from Iowa and stayed with us, and Al did all the shopping and cooking for our dinner feast.  I couldn't ask for anything more.
Everyone looks like they're eating, so why is it always so loud when we're together?
Oh, the kiddie table.  This is where all the noise was made. 
These boys always have something to say.  Of course, Kaeleigh, Claira and Caroline were all eating like little ladies with napkins in their laps.  George doesn't even have both feet on the floor.  Oh, and that is not wine in George and William's glasses.  That is sparkling pomegranate juice.  Just so we're clear on that.  You are wise to question my judgement considering my shameful experience at the pediatrician's office when I was stripped of my Mother of the Year status.
Speaking of kiddie table, didn't Elayna do a fine job with decorating it?  She covered it with paper, and set out some crayons and stickers.  She even drew on personalized placemats for each kid.  That Elayna.  She's a clever one.
Here is a photo of Elayna and I wearing . . . . no, this deserves a post all its own.
To be continued . . .

annual tree trip.

This is my absolute favorite family tradition - the day we pick out our Christmas tree.  We have been going to Flemings Tree Farm in Indiana County, Pennsylvania since before the kids were born.  We get up early, make the 45 minute drive, eat breakfast at the same place (Tina's Log Cabin Diner), cut down the tree (well, we pick out the tree, and watch them cut it down!), take some pictures, then head back home to decorate.  Simple, fun, family memories that I love so very much.  And it's always fun to compare how much the kids have grown.  This year Caroline graduated from car seat to daddy's arms!
5 years at Flemings!
Making deals with Santa
And last but not least, later that day Caroline ate helped to untangle all the Christmas lights.

all I want for christmas.

Santa:  Son, what would you like for Christmas this year?
George:  I want an iPad Mini.
Santa:  An iPad Mini? 
George:  Yes, please.
Santa:  Ok, then.  Here's a candy cane.
Santa:  How about you, young man?  What would you like for Christmas?
Teddy:  I want a tank.
Santa:  Oh, a tank?
Teddy:  Yes, a soldier tank.  A real one.
Santa:  A real tank?
Teddy:  Yes.
Santa:  How am I going to fit that in my sleigh?
Teddy:  I don't know.
Santa: (looks to me, I shrug shoulders) Well, son, I'm going to have to think about that one.  Here, take a candy cane.

November 25, 2012

tis the season.

The tree has been purchased and the ornaments have been hung. Let the holiday fun begin!

November 23, 2012

missing my sissy already.

... and my brother-in-law (the amazing story teller), and my niece (who says "mean mommy" like nobody's business) and my sweet-as-pie nephew (who runs circles around me in his understanding of technology).  I miss them!  Come back!

It was the best Thanksgiving ever.  I felt so blessed.

Here are a few pictures of our holiday from my phone.  More pictures to come!

Elayna and Claira
Mt. Washington overlooking downtown.

Claira and Caroline
Carnegie Science Center

William and George
Cousins unwinding after a busy Thanksgiving Day.

Claira and George
Carnegie Science Center

William, George, Claira and Elayna
Riding up Mt. Washington on the Duquesne Incline

November 19, 2012

staying in touch.

This is how long distance cousins stay in touch these days.

November 18, 2012

mother of the year.

So you know how the Acklin Army has been battling lung infections and general yuckiness for what's been close to a month, right?  So you'd think I'd be all over this issue, right?  Pampering and comforting and watching every minute of the clock until the next dose of medication is to be dispensed, or breathing treatment to begin?  Uh, well, if I was Mother of the Year maybe.
George had a follow up appointment this morning to check on his breathing.  A week ago we were at the pediatrician's office for wheezing and coughing and vomiting and the whole bit.  They sent us home with a nebulizer and albuterol, with clear instructions for George to have a breathing treatment about every 6 hours, give or a take an hour or so depending on his need.  And we could taper off the treatments more and more as his need for it lessened.  We did well with this for a few days, the coughing didn't change much (at least it wasn't obvious to me) and life happens and we were going to this and going to that and George was feeling back to normal despite the cough, and well, eventually the treatments weren't happening at all. 
So this morning at the pediatrician's office, what does my first born child who talks too much say to the doctor?  I'll quote him for you.  "My mom doesn't want to give me the medicine so she tells me I can't have it."  Uhhhhh, em, what the, wait, what?  There was an awkward silence and I said, "No, George I never said I didn't want you to take the medication.  We've just been lazy about it and just haven't been doing it."  (Yes, you read that right.  I said WE.  If he's going to throw me under the bus, he's coming with me.) 
Then George chimed in and said, "No, mom, remember yesterday I asked you if I could have a breathing treatment and you said, 'no.'"  Oh, wait, I vaguely remember that.  I can't remember why I said that, but I do remember saying it.  Embarrassed, I started to mumble a little and the doctor (finally) jumped in and said that she'd take a listen to his lungs and that maybe he wouldn't even need the breathing treatments anymore anyway (which he didn't).
At one point the doctor left the room and I quickly whispered to George, "Buddy, just let me do the talking because you're making me look like a crazy person."  Soon the doctor came back into the room and took a quick look at his throat before we left.  She said, "Oh, it looks like you ate something green this morning!"  I wanted to quickly jump in and clarify.  The scenario was this: I woke the boys up early that morning, put them in the shower, then had them brush their teeth, got the baby ready, sat her in her highchair and fed her breakfast, and asked the boys if they wouldn't mind having a quick bowl of cereal before we left for the appointment.  We had two individual packages of cereal that their grandmother gave them recently as a treat.  I told them that I would let them eat it since I didn't have time to do the usual eggs and toast.  They agreed, ate it and drank a glass of milk.  So with all this going through my mind, and after the fallout of being the mother that "don't give her baby no medicine" what did I let slip out of my mouth without thinking?

I'll quote myself for you:
"Oh, yeah, that must be the Lucky Charms."
Mother of the Year, people.  Mother. Of. The. Year.

November 17, 2012

one more from beibamboo.

Photo by Kathy Wolfe Photography

November 15, 2012

halloween, veterans day and a medical update.

The Acklin Army has been under an attack of sorts - the kind that includes fevers, body aches, and the coughing up of lungs.  First it was Teddy, then it was me, and now it's George.  So we're going on week 3 and at this point I'm starting to forget what it's like in the outside world.  Is it nice?  Please tell me.  My world is full of medication, breathing treatments and vomit.  Not much different than the outside world you say?  Well, maybe I haven't missed out on too much.

 Just yesterday it was Halloween and I never managed to post a picture.  Halloween was tough for poor T-Bear.  He wanted to go trick-or-treating so badly but his little body would not cooperate.  We took him up and down a couple of blocks and then called it a wrap.  He had been so excited to wear his costume and his fake tattoo sleeve for days, so to see him sleeping on the couch with his little bag of candy broke my heart.  Next year we'll walk for miles and we'll have more candy than the Willy Wonka factory!
Speaking of Halloween, this is my favorite picture of the holiday.  Just look at Caroline's expression.  I had just told George to move out of the way for the 100th time, and the bugger got in the picture again.  I would have deleted this snapshot if not for the fact that it's freakin' hilarious.  That night I looked at the picture on my camera and literally cried tears.  This is so classic George.  Always invading on everyone's personal space and always being a, well, CLOWN!

That mask was almost the death of me a couple weeks before Halloween.  I was peacefully sleeping one night when I woke up with the weird sensation that something was hovering over me, and not just a 6 or 7 year old wanting to snuggle in the middle of the night.  I'm talking about something way more annoying.  I opened my eyes, gasped, threw my arms into the air and screamed.  Kevin was an inch from my face wearing that damn mask.  All I could think of was that I was a goner.  Life was good, and it was over.  Then he threw his arms around me and laughed so hard I wanted to strangle him!  "Oh, Erica," he said, "I think that was the funniest thing I've ever seen in my life!"  I'm glad I amuse him.  But I almost had a heart attack!

Next up was Veterans Day.  The boys had a very special program at school.  It seems like most schools in the area had Monday off, but our principal wants our kids to grow up remembering that in school they always paid tribute to the men and women who serve our Nation.  I love that.  During the program the children were asked to stand up and hold pictures of veterans and currently serving men and women for a special prayer of gratitude.  Teddy and George brought in pictures of their Uncle Matt and they held them up proudly.  I wish I had better pictures!  Caroline wasn't interested in sitting still in my lap so it was hard to take any, but I was able to take one of Teddy on his way back to class.

Maybe one day Teddy will have a little nephew who thinks he's the coolest thing ever!

So wish us luck with this nasty little bug waging war on the Acklin Army.  Our pediatrician said that as long as none of us breaths on or touches Caroline she should be fine.  Gotta love a doctor with a sense of humor.  Kinda sounds like Matt actually!

November 14, 2012

the "life sized" list.

I asked Teddy to make a list for Santa. How am I going to pull this one off?

November 5, 2012