Saturday, December 20, 2008


Okay, so I know, I STILL haven't finished blogging about my Mom's Panel training experience (I will) and, mom, I haven't posted pics of the children (I know), but I have to share. Yesterday, on our Mom's Panel Facebook thread a couple of moms started talking about the great "surprise" they received via UPS. I LOVE surprises!!! --- unless I know that I'm getting one and it hasn't come yet, ughhh! All afternoon I looked for the UPS truck. Snow was falling at quite a clip, and there were many plows that drove down our street, but that brown truck never came, or so I thought.

Before I went to bed, I remembered that I left the garage door open. As I went to close it, I saw the BOX sitting in the middle of my garage. HE DOES EXIST!!! was my immediate thought, and a sudden burst of energy helped me lift the package (yes, it was heavy & large) into my home, pry it open like a five year old ripping through packages on Christmas morning, and set it up for a photo shoot so I could share with everyone.

And this is what was inside the package. A complete party for all of my entertaining needs a la Martha Stewart. Or maybe my family will just think I'm really cool as we munch on all of these goodies watching It's a Wonderful Life (I wish) or college football (most likely scenario).

And my FAVORITE thing that was in the sleigh? The contents of that little box on the right...cute notecards for celebrating everything!

The best part about these cute cards is that we got two of each, so I can HOARD and SHARE. How great is that? I have to say that being a member of the Disney Mom's Panel has far surpassed my expectations. Laura, Leanne and the rest of the Disney elves behind this and all of the other surprises are amazing -- Thanks!!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Highs & Lows

Yesterday was kind of a weird day of ups and downs. I like to start out with the bad news, because it only gets better from there:

1. I didn't mention this before, but on Friday night, one of the panel members got chosen, at random, to sleep in Cinderella's Castle on Sunday night -- It wasn't me.

2. The mom who did get chosen could have 5 guests. We chose names out of a hat. -- I still didn't get picked. (Let me say, that I couldn't be more excited for the 6 moms who are staying in the castle!)

3. The entire group was supposed to get our picture taken in front of The Osborne Lights -- BUT can you say CROWDED. There were soooooo many people there that picture taking was IMPOSSIBLE.

4. We had a couple of moments of free time, and we tried to ride Rockin' Roller Coaster (this was our second attempt in 2 days), but the Fast Passes were all gone, single rider lines were closed, and the wait was 60 minutes -- yesterday, we had gotten up to the loading area when the ride shut down -- we were given FP to come back, but we thought we would be generous and give them away (where's the good karma when you need it?).

Alright, in retrospect I sound whiney -- the good FAR exceeded the bad.

1. We went on a resort tour and saw the Suites at All-Star Music, the newly themed pirate rooms at Carribean Beach, the DVC suites for Animal Kingdom Lodge (my favorite) and Contemporary Resort.

2. We saw the Osborne Lights (amazing) several times because of the enormous crowds. It took us a looooong time to walk down that street.

3. We rode Toy Story Mania!

4. We had an excellant meal at the Brown Derby, and our special guest was Gary, a cast member in charge of media publicity (I think I got that right.) Anyway, he's the one who works with all of the celebrities who come into the park. He was hysterically funny and had a lot of interesting information to share.

5. After dinner, Gary showed us the soon-to-be-open American Idol experience. We were not allowed to take pictures, but let me just say, it's going to be AMAZING!!!!

6. I came back to my room to find Mickey had decorated it and left not one, but several presents for me and my family! I took pictures, and I promise I'll post them all when I return. It was seriously like Christmas!!!

Overall, it was another INCREDIBLE day at Disney!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Pinch me please

Seriously, I can't believe that I was selected for the 2009 WDW Mom's Panel, and I'm in Disney World for training. From the moment I stepped off the plane, I have been given the royal treatment.

There were not one, but two Disney representatives waiting to greet me at the airport. Irvine, my VIP Tour Guide, drove me to my resort. Where I was greeted by the manager of Coronado Springs, given my packet of information and escorted to my room. All I can say is, "Wow!!!!"

The itinerary for this trip's events was kept under lock and key, so as you can guess, my first order of business was finding out what we would be doing, but I also wanted to meet all of my new friends, and I wanted to catch some rides before the official activities were underway at 4:30. I was like a kid at Christmas! I ripped open the envelope to see where we were eating (Jiko, Brown Derby were on the list -- score!) and what activities were in store for us (Cinderella's Suite Tour - yes!!!). After quickly glancing at that, I ran down to the lobby to meet up with my new Disney friends. We split up -- some moms wanted to shop, while others wanted to ride Rockin' Roller Coaster.

At 4:30, we met at Rix for cocktails/appetizers and our official meeting. Then we rode our private bus to Magic Kingdom to tour Cinderella's Suite. One word - AMAZING!!! We all had a great meal with Winnie the Pooh at Crystal Palace and headed off to watch the parade and Wishes. We had the train depot all to ourselves, and let me tell you, I am spoiled. The train station on Main Street is the most spectacular spot in the entire park to view the parade!

Okay, this all sounds a little clinical, but I had to post quickly. I'm off for another full day of activities. I don't know how to upload pics to this post from my hotel, but I promise to post pictures once I get home. Another day filled with magic awaits!

Sunday, November 30, 2008


It's Thanksgiving weekend, my family is leaving to go to New Hampshire on Thursday, I'm going to Disney World on Friday, the PTA at my children's school (which I'm president of) has a million activities going on next week, and to top it off, Mia's birthday party is this weekend.

A normal person would have probably just called a bakery and ordered a cake -- a very wise choice! Or maybe they would have made a sheet cake, added a few sprinkles, and called it a day -- also a nice option.

I don't know what it is, but three times a year, I pull out my cake decorating supplies and go to work. I've never had any training, unless you call watching "Ace of Cakes" training. But for my children's birthdays I feel the need to become Chef Duff. There have been times (like last Dec.) when I've had complete disasters, stayed up all night, and vow that I will NEVER put myself through that torture again.

Then there are moments like these.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


Yesterday we were having our house appraised ... translation: everyone had to pitch in and get our house in shape to have someone walk through every room. This is no easy feat, especially since Mia loves taking things out of her room and placing them all over: lines up her shoes on the stairs, pulls out every blanket she owns to recarpet the living room, uses the kitchen as her own, personal playroom -- you get the idea.

Anyway, when I told the kids they had to clean on their "day off" they scoffed and complained. Alex was set to work cleaning their room and their office. Knowing that it is best to separate my children when you actually want something to get done, I called Domenic down for his assignments. His first question to me was, "can I clean the windows."

Now, obviously I had more pressing issues than shiny windows, but I told him that once he cleaned the cellar & straightened up the mud room that "yes, you can clean the windows."

The cellar and mudroom were cleaned in record time. Then he proceeded to clean EVERY window in the house! Who knew????

Thursday, November 27, 2008


I love Thanksgiving on so many levels: it's a day to sit around in pj's and watch parades; it marks the beginning of the holiday season; I can now play Christmas music round the clock with no complaints from anyone; we eat the absolute best comfort food ever; we get together as family and just enjoy spending time together; unlike Christmas, there is no pressure to purchase & wrap gifts.

Most importantly, I love this holiday because it gives me an entire day to contemplate the blessings in my life. So often I focus on what is lacking in my life, even in prayer. I ask for guidance in helping others, being a better person, feeling comfort, etc. But today, I choose to focus only on being grateful, because I have been blessed beyond measure.

I have an amazing family, a wonderful husband who works tirelessly so that I can stay home with our three incredible children.

We are fortunate to live near my husband's parents, brothers, and uncles. Although I miss being near my own mother, I couldn't ask for a better substitute. And family makes the best friends!

I am grateful for my friends; they laugh with me and lift my spirits when I am discouraged.

And my most recent blessing is being chosen as a member of the 2009 Walt Disney World Mom's Panel. I am humbled and in shock that I was chosen as one of 16 panel members to help give advice to Disney vacation planners. The best part of being on the panel is that I have made 15 new friends that I can't wait to meet in person. This is an experience that I want to remember always, so I will be using my blog to report my adventures.

And lastly:
I'm grateful for the parade that turns my children into zombies for 3 hours so that I can write this blog.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Don'tcha Want One?

Meet Scampi (Awwwwww).

Scampi belongs to my brother in-law, James. He's a chef, hence the name. Isn't she so sweet? James just rescued Scampi from a shelter down south. She's part shepherd, part rottweiler, part ??? -- 100% adorable.

When he brought Scampi over to meet us, James asked, "are you going to get a dog now?" Funny!!!

I will honestly and freely admit that I should not own pets. Children, I can & will take care of...pets, not so much. But thank you, James, for making me an auntie. I can't wait to dogsit, play with, and adore your new addition...spoil her rotten...and then send her back home.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Happy Birthday

To me, that is. I know it's a little odd that I'm writing my own birthday post, but I have to share the fact that my children genuinely surprised me this morning. Sure, they said "Happy Birthday" when I woke them up at 6:30, and Fred had a card and gift sitting on the counter waiting for me. It was this that I didn't expect...

That's right! A birthday cake at 7:00 a.m. They had hidden it in their closet, and when I called them downstairs for breakfast - VOILA! I know my mother in-law helped them out last night, but it was pretty impressive that they were able to surprise me. I also, loved seeing the expression on their faces as they realized that they really did pull off their plan.

Hope the rest of the day is as great as it started out!

(And in case anyone is wondering - No, I didn't choose their perfectly coordinated clothing)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fall in New England

Sunday night Fred and I drove up to Lexington for the evening. Yes, without children -- thank you mom & dad! Anyway, the hotel we stayed at, had bikes to borrow. Sounded like a great plan.

I haven't been on a bike in at least 15 years, and let me tell you -- it was exhausting. I can't believe I used to bike everywhere as a child, and I don't really think I complained about it. Oh well, despite having to stop more than a few times and walk up hills (especially on the way back), we had so much fun, and the scenery along the Minute Man Trail in Lexington was breathtaking.

See what I mean, first my child cooks, then I get away for an evening without children, and in two days we're leaving for Disney World -- Feast or Famine.

Feast or Famine

The title refers to my blogging style, not necessarily to this post. It seems that either a ton of noteworthy stuff happens, or nothing -- seriously nothing -- happens for weeks.

Anyway, Saturday Alex became "chef Alessandro" for a day. As part of his scouting requirements, he had to help with a service project. Each week the members of our congregation provide lunch/dinner for the military men and women who would miss their mealtime by attending church. Alex made a pumpkin dessert that was super delicious -- we forgot to take a picture, so you'll just have to take my word for it.

Another requirement was to make a nutritious meal for your family. I figured since I was cooking with a child, I might as well go all out and help him fulfill both requirements on the same day. On the menu: Chicken Spaghetti, tossed salad, and french bread. He did a great job and even set the table by himself.

A few more training sessions, and maybe he'll be able to fly solo -- my retirement is just around the corner.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Miracle Product

Okay, I love Thursdays! The people we carpool with drive both ways on Thursdays. It's only the evenings that get a little tricky with soccer and boy scouts, but I have all day to prepare for that.

Well this Thursday was even better! Alex is away on an overnight field trip, and Domenic's soccer practice was canceled - SCORE! An evening with 2 children and no chauffeur duties -- it doesn't get much better than that. I could sit around doing nothing for the entire evening -- Mia might even get a much needed bath; she has a tendency to equate food with hair product.

Just as I was getting into my do nothing groove, my neighbor came to my door. Her babysitter was unavailable and she had a meeting -- her children are awesome, so of course I said I would babysit. I could still do nothing, right? Wrong -- or so I thought.

All of a sudden, 4 children who normally play well together were all staring at me and asking what they could do -- are you kidding? Mia and Sydney, the two little ones, were using me to hold every toy they didn't want the other one to play with. Pretty soon I had my arms full of Buzz, Woody, doggies, balls, etc. all making noise and giving me one colossal headache.

Then, in a moment of desperation...brilliance!

A simple box of Play-Doh kept them occupied for an hour -- no kidding. In fact, when dad came to pick up his charges, I sent him home alone. Everyone was having a great time and I was free to cook dinner in peace. Now it's bedtime, and I can go on with my plans to do nothing!

Gotta love Play-Doh!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Back to School

I have to say, summer ended a little too soon for me. Call me crazy, but I would have loved another couple of weeks to just be lazy. Alex and Dom haven't even been in school for a whole week, and I'm already exhausted!

Nothing really blogworthy has happened lately, and I'm too tired to even think about a clever anectdote, but I did want to post the obligatory first day of school pic before graduation day in June.

And, as promised, here are some oompa loompa pictures from the summer.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Where Have I Been?

I know, I know. I was going to blog on a regular basis, and as an avid reader of many blogs, I hate when the sites I frequent aren't updated at least weekly. But I am in summer mode. We've been doing so many things the past couple of months. Here's a little taste:
Domenic's baseball season finally ended mid-July. We got some great pictures at his last game. Click on this one to see that toothless smile - Love it!

Went to Mayflower Beach with our neighbors and Vinny's family. Anyone who lives in New England should experience this beach at least once -- tons of sand, sandbars, shallow water -- such a great beach for the kids. Here are Domenic, Ben, Alex, & Vinny after we buried them alive -- I promise, it was their idea.

Domenic and Alex had their annual piano recital. Dom one the trophy for most improved -- you would have thought he won gold in Beijing. They both did a great job, and now we can finally move one to new pieces. If I never hear Fur Elise or the song from the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, I will be forever grateful.

We also went to Maine for a week -- well almost a week. We came home a little early to escape the rain. Despite the weather, the kids still had a great time.

They loved doing "back flips" off of the trampoline. I would call them back flops, and they probably would have been excruciatingly painful without the life vest padding.
Playing in the sandbox was fun for all. Alex dug a hole which later provided Mia and Rocco with several minutes of entertainment.
The whole crew stopping for a moment to take a picture with Uncle Mike.See what I mean? Rocco and Mia are having a blast in the hole built by Alex.

And to cap of our eventful summer--
No, we didn't make a trip to the turkey farm to pick out our Thanksgiving dinner early. That's our back yard.We don't call this site "Down on the Farm" for nothing! No siree!! You never know what kind of wildlife will show up in the back yard -- oh sure, lots of people have squirrels and bunnies, but not everyone gets a visit from a family of turkeys.

Well, that's our summer in a nutshell. The boys did just finish being in Willy Wonka, the Musical. They were fabulous Oompa Loompas, and I did take some pictures. I just haven't taken them off of my camera yet, so those pictures will have to wait for another post.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Fourth Fever!

I survived another Fourth of July in Bristol. Don't get me wrong -- I love it. The carnival, the parade, the nightly concerts, the cookouts, the fireworks, etc. It's just exhausting. For those of you who don't live in Bristol, the Fourth of July festivities begin on Flag Day. The season of celebrating this country's independence lasts almost as long as the Christmas Season -- think of how you feel on December 26, and you get an idea of how exhausting being Patriotic can be.

Although - truth be told, I had it pretty easy this year. Fred worked the night of the ball (yes, there is a 4th of July ball) so we weren't obligated to go. We only went to one concert. My in-laws took the boys to the carnival. I didn't even catch the fireworks this year. And, as Domenic pointed out, we didn't decorate. I think we may be the only house in town that isn't sporting patriotic bunting. Oh well, Mia had a different red/white/blue ensemble for every day of the week -- doesn't decorating your children count for something?
Here's Fred broadcasting the parade in HD!

And here's one of Mia, sparkler headband and all (so cute!). And Domenic watching with anticipation - little does he know he has to sit there for 3 more hours.

And finally -- Fred took the boys to tour the USS Widbey, a ship that is docked for the weekend in the bay. It's a pretty impressive ship, and all 3 boys thoroughly enjoyed the tour. Grandpa, you would have loved it.

I know I said the Fourth is over -- but as I'm writing this I can hear the "grand finale" of a fireworks display in the next town. Okay, maybe tomorrow the Fourth will be finished.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Beach Baby

We had our first official beach day of the season the other day. I think Mia went to the beach once last year, but that was in the evening, and she wasn't walking yet, so that doesn't count.

Talk about WAY too much excitement. She was everywhere! She couldn't decide whether she wanted to laugh, cry, play in the sand, throw rocks, smash sand castles, or splash in waves. Everyone else brought better toys -- even though they were the exact same ones we had.

The water was COLD, but I guess that's normal for the New England, so I won't complain. The boys happily built a tunnel in the sand and "tried" body surfing -- they still need some practice to perfect that skill.

Overall, it was a really fun way to spend the morning.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Want a Ride?

In case you're wondering why I would post a picture of the interior of my's because I can. That's right, after much toil, my car is finally presentable to the entire world.

I should have taken a BEFORE picture, but I just couldn't bear to look at it. Suffice it to say, if we were some of those unlucky people whose car crashes into a ravine and don't get found for weeks, we would have been able to survive on half eaten granola bars, half drunken bottles of water, ground in Cheerios, blankets to keep us warm, changes of clothes, and enough toys to keep us entertained until a rescue crew arrived a month after the accident. Of course, we probably would have been bludgeoned to death by all of the flying debris during the crash, so it wouldn't really matter.

Let it be noted that I am not solely responsible for the state of my car. My boys continuously leave church clothing, sports equipment, half-eaten snacks, school papers, etc. in the back seat. Mia is also to blame... she has a habit of throwing cups, hair accessories, shoes, and toys wherever she deems necessary and NEVER brings any of the said items inside with her.

Usually, I shy away from driving people places - not because I want to save a small fortune on gas - because I don't want everything to tumble out of the car as passengers try to get in the front seat.

Today I feel like going searching for people just to drive around simply to show off the interior of my van. Safety issues aside, the world should really get to enjoy this momentous occasion. Who knows how long it will last?

And finally, here's a picture of Alex & Dom taken after graduation last Thursday. Alex wouldn't keep his suit on, but he did humor us and pose for a couple of pictures.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

New Snack?

The picture has nothing to do with this post - other than Domenic is on the far right dressed as a "North Dakotan" in his school play - now on to the good stuff.
The other day I was driving around in the car with Domenic, and he was talking about anything and everything. I know he loves the sound of his own voice and very often asks me redundant questions or makes obvious comments just because to talk -- this day was no different. So I'm half paying attention when he asks me if Ritz crackers really taste good with pudding.

Me: "What are you talking about?"

Dom: "You know mom - Ritz crackers - are they really good with pudding."

Okay, I'm thinking he saw some weird, low-budget cooking show, and he's talking about some strange kind of banana pudding recipe, or something. I know you can make fake apple pie with Ritz, so anything's possible.

Me: "Who told you that Ritz crackers and pudding were good together?"

Dom: "I heard it in a song"

I had to bite my lip to stop laughing as I explained that "Puttin' on the Ritz" was not the same as eating pudding with Ritz crackers.

Sometimes that rambling of his really pays off!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Joining the bandwagon

After lurking around many different blog sites, I've finally decided to jump on the bandwagon and start blogging. Hopefully, this will help me keep up to date with my friends and family.

This weekend was the first truly nice weekend of the year. It's times like these when I realize how grateful I am to live in New England - I usually spend the better part of Jan/Feb/March wishing I were ANYWHERE but here - then overnight the trees start blossoming, the weather warms, and our little home turns into a paradise of sorts. I love Rhode Island - next week I might be singing a different tune, but this weekend was perfect.

I took Mia to a nearby farm to see the resident pig. The pig was no longer there, but we saw chickens and got some cute pictures.