Been Sick

I’m so sorry I’ve been mostly absent but I’ve been SO sick with a head cold that turned into major sinus infection. This is the sickest I’ve been in a long time and I feel rotten. I’m behind on everything and that feels rotten too. I’m hoping that antibiotics clears things up, and I hope to be back in action very soon!

Leo + Legos + Kindergarten Readiness

Four year old G is suddenly really enjoying playing with Legos. Her fine motor skills are still pretty babyish, so I’m thinking she’s working on some new developmental growth with this newfound Lego love.

As you can see, Leo is an excellent Lego-building helper.

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Just in the last week or two I think Jon and I have decided that G won’t start kindergarten next fall (2015), but will instead start in fall of 2016 right after she turns 6.

She would barely make the age cutoff for 2015 – her birthday is June 27 – so she’d be one of the youngest if not the youngest child in her kindergarten class. And as my sister Betsy – a former preschool and kindergarten teacher herself – wisely points out, what’s the hurry? G is enjoying her two days a week of preschool, and since she didn’t start preschool until age 4, she’s still got lots of pre-k skills to master before she’s ready for kindergarten. We also think she’ll have a better chance of testing into the excellent magnet elementary program that C has been in since kindergarten if we wait a year for her to be tested.

How old were your kids when they started kindergarten? Are you happy with the choice you made for when to start them or do you wish you’d waited?

Buddy the Elf

Smiling Is My Favorite (AKA: WHHHHEEEE! Christmas Is Coming!)

Usually, I am a veritable Christmas ninja, carefully planning, shopping, wrapping and hiding months in advance of the big day. I am this organized for two reasons; first, I absolutely LOVE Christmas. It’s my favorite time of year and the amount of Christmas cheer that I radiate from Thanksgiving Day forward would put Buddy the Elf to shame. Secondly, I have A WHOLE LOT of people for whom I have to shop/wrap/tag for Christmas. I have my own four children, plus Jon. And we have 11 nieces and nephews, plus I have three other young cousins I consider nephews for whom I shop. Then there is my mother, Jon’s parents, and….I’m sure I’m forgetting somebody.

I also have several family traditions I’m in charge of, like ordering custom ornaments each year for each of the kids, planning our annual family gingerbread house bake-off competition, plus buying new Christmas-themed jammies each season. Needless to say, I have to be really, really organized in order to get all this Christmas stuff done.

Last year I was really off my game though. I was still shopping on December 24th. This is UNHEARD OF for me, and it seriously stressed me out. So this year I have gotten back on track and I’ve already been shopping, wrapping and list-making like crazy. I enjoy every second of it. “Doing” Christmas is one of the great joys of my life as a mother.

My office is my Christmas workshop, and it makes me very happy to look at how it’s already filling up with wrapped gifts

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WHHEEEE! Christmas is coming! Christmas is coming!!

Madison Reed Hair

STUFF I LIKE: Madison Reed Hair Color

Two weeks ago, my teenage daughter J reminded me it was time to color my hair again. The dreaded gray was showing up at the roots and around my temples. I know many women with gorgeous gray hair but here’s the deal; I’m just nowhere near ready to be one of them. Just about nothing makes me feel less like showing myself in public than when my eyebrows need a good waxing or gray hair is showing up on my head.

The thing is, though that I really do have to color my hair every four to six weeks now in order to make sure no gray peeks through, and frankly sometimes I just forget to pick up hair color at the pharmacy for a few weeks, or they’ll be out of the color I like so I decide to try another color and I hate it because it fries my hair, or some other something interferes with me keeping my hair color in the condition in which I like it, so then I get those not-so-subtle reminders from people like my eldest daughter or my sister that I’ve once again let my hair go for too long.

Sigh.

Fortuitously, however, I was recently asked to check out a new service that I believe is going to solve my gray peek-thru issue once and for all while also giving me what I’ve discovered to be the best hair color experience outside of a salon that I’ve ever had. The service is called Madison Reed, and much like Birch Box and other popular once a month concierge-by mail services for women, Madison Reed delivers to your door everything you need to color your hair at home every month like clockwork, making getting to the salon or the pharmacy one more thing you can cross off your to-do list.

Madison Reed hair

Here’s how it works; first, you visit the Madison Reed site and work with a colorist either by phone or by online chat to select the color that’s both what you want and will also actually give you the color you are hoping for.

madison reed hair

I worked with the colorist online, and she was very honest with me that the color I selected, a flaming red called “Vesuvius” wasn’t going to give me the fire-engine shade it would give someone with much lighter hair than I have. But she did tell me that it would give me a nice red wash and sheen, while covering my grays beautifully. This sounded great to me, so I ordered the “Vesuvius Red” shade and waited for my first box to arrive.
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Fall’s Final Feast

It’s in the 40s outside, and I am trying to get a fire going in the fireplace this morning, but I also took some time to go out and collect a pretty nice haul of three kinds of ripe peppers from my garden.

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I suspect this will be the last food I bring in from the garden this year, but the fact that I am still harvesting anything on November 7th – much less peppers this tasty looking – after we’ve already had some extremely frosty weather makes me pretty nice.

Do you still have anything growing in your garden?

Zulily: In Case You’re Ready To Start Holiday Shopping

Sophie Catalou

A Sophie Catalou dress from Zulily

It’s a fact; I love dressing my two littlest in cute stuff. At some point they’ll start rebelling and insist on picking all their own clothes, but for now, at ages 7 and 4, they’re happy to wear what I lay out for them each morning.

And I buy most of their clothes from one place in particular: Zulily. The prices are great, and it’s the only place I can find some of my favorite kids’ brands, like Sophie Catalou and Jelly & Pug at prices I can afford.

So here’s my annual holiday season reminder that Zulily is an awesome flash sale site with THE cutest kids’ clothes, plus toys, home goods (I’ve gotten some awesome garden flair there) and more. If you’re a shoe addict, they sometimes have AHmazing sales on all kinds of women’s shoes, including some higher-end ones marked down as much as 80%.

Here’s a pair of velvet flats I bought from Zulily recently, and just love.

Zulily shoes

And here’s the deal with Zulily, if someone you refer actually buys something there, you get store credit. So since I suspect many of you are, as I am starting your holiday shopping, here’s my link to Zulily to check out the site. If you order something, I receive referral credit, and if someone you refer buys something, you get referral credit. Even if you don’t have a blog, you can share your referral code on Facebook or even by email. Easy peasy.

Exhibit Night For Second Grade

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Last night was Exhibit Night at C’s school, and here she is showing off some of her artwork. We also watched a little mini-play that the Drama Club put on and unfortunately, she miffed her lines a bit, which she’s still ruminating over this morning.

The Little Pepper Plant That Could

Apparently this little pepper plant out in my garden is The Little Pepper Plant That Could. I am pretty sure we hit the freezing mark last night. If not, we came pretty close to it. And we’ve had several nights like that this week. But this little guy seems to think that it’s still August. I’m going to pick these lovely peppers and we’ll have them for a snack with some sort of dip.

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Egg Drought: The Great Egg Strike of 2014 Continues

Splash Orpington

Frances, our Splash Orpington

It’s official; I’m getting no eggs from my six healthy, plump, well-fed hens.

At our house we currently have Rosie – A Black English Orpington, Essie – a Rhode Island Red, Birdie – an Easter Egger, Wendy – An Olive Egger, Gladys – a Wheaten Marans, and Frances – a Splash Orpington. After laying a few eggs for us earlier in the summer, Gladys, Rosie and Frances have now quit even the meager production they had been providing, and now we are 100% egg-less.

I’ve tried upping the protein in their feed, but that’s really the only thing I can think of to improve their living environment. They have two cozy coops with nest boxes for laying, plenty of room to forage and get out into the fresh air, clean living quarters and excellent feed and fresh water at all times. They’re also all of an age when they should be laying. But nary an egg is happening around these parts.

At this point, I have given up all hope of finding any eggs in the nestboxes until springtime when the weather warms and the days lengthen. I know that I could put artificial light in their coops at night to encourage them to lay, and I’m considering doing that (I”d love feedback from any of you who have used that method to encourage better wintertime laying), but I honestly think that at this point, I will just have to enjoy the girls for the funny, engaging creatures they are to have around, without any expectation of eggs until spring, when my hope is that they will start laying up a storm.

If you have chickens and have ever been through an egg drought like the one I’m having, I’d love to hear whether any measures you tried helped to get your hens laying again.