Wednesday, October 31, 2012

losing power

Dear Em,
Well, we're safe. Our family is safe & our home is intact.

Before the storm, we got water & we got ice. You know, the things you do before a storm. A state of emergency was called for Rhode Island on Sunday night, & we watched the wind pick up.

On Monday we all hunkered down in the house. Daddy was lucky to work from home & I was lucky to have been told to stay off the roads in the unsafe weather. We stayed inside & waited for the worst of hurricane Sandy.

Mostly, you & I just watched TV. In the off chance we lost power, I figured we may as well stock up on as much useless TV watching before then. We watched a lot of the weather channel. There was so much water. Water where there shouldn't be New Jersey where I graduated from high NYC...on our favorite coastline spots in Connecticut & Rhode Island.

I couldn't keep from staring out the windows. Trees were blown around so hard, they were practically bent over. I couldn't help but think of everyone who didn't have a warm house to hunker down in. What happened to those people? We're did they go?

We woke up Tuesday morning still with power intact. Daddy walked around the house & except for some fallen branches, our home had stood well in the storm. I couldn't help but feel a smiley feeling in my heart, & think about how lucky we were.

And then at around 7:40 the power went out & it hasn't come back.

Don't get me wrong, I'm still so thankful that we were safe and there was no damage to our home. But I miss things. Things like taking showers & turning lights on. You cried for 5 minutes. "Please fix my TV?" You spent pretty much the whole day turning the light switches up & being surprised when no light turned on.

To remove you from the sadness of no power, I decided to take you to the park. Guess what? Daddy's car didn't have power either. So, we played outside and had a lunch picnic. I read a book while you napped, & encouraged you to read books so I could continue reading once you woke such luck.

I was mostly saving our electronics. I checked Facebook & national grid here & there, but mostly remained unplugged. And then this morning I checked the news stories on the IPad.

I couldn't help but gasp.

The devastation to our beloved coastline brought tears to my eyes. There is sand where grass and r streets once were. There are bricks from the wall strewn everywhere. Houses were taken into the ocean (I find myself wondering if you pink house even exists). My heart aches for Rhode Island & Rhode Islanders & some of our favorite spots in the whole world.

My prayers go out to so many who have lost so much in this storm.

This Halloween just doesn't seem like Halloween.

I love you so,

Happy Halloween 2012

Dear Em,
Happy Halloween! I can't wait to take you trick or treating tonight. You are going to be so adorable in your little lamb costume.

I feel like it was forever ago that we picked out your costume...well, it kind of was. In August, a costume catalogue was mailed to our house. We looked through the pages filled with costumes a few times, & I asked you what you wanted to be for Halloween. You pointed to a lamb costume. I was a little surprised. You love lambs, but you're such a girly girl. I really thought you would want to be something covered in pink.

"Are you sure you don't want to be a flower?" "Nope." "Are you sure you don't want to be a princess?" "No, I want to be a sheepy." So, I continued to ask you each day for the next week what you wanted to be for Halloween. Every time you gave me the same response, "a sheepy." So, I ordered your costume.

Your lamb costume came in a month later. We tried it on you & you ooooohed & awed & squealed with happiness. You cried when I told you you had to take it off.

The next day we were on our way to school. "Hey, Mom, I think I want to be a flower for Halloween."


Luckily, your mind was easily swayed back to wanting to be a little lamb. A few weeks ago, we took our annual Halloween photo shoot (2010 photo shoot & 2011 photo shoot).

I might be biased, but I think you're the most adorable little lamb in the whole, wide world.

I love you so,

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Dear Em,
My family is so fun! Instead of carving real pumpkins each year, they also purchase & carve foam pumpkins from the craft store. We recently got a wicked fun care package from Nonnie & Papi with our own carved pumpkins.

They carved a pumpkin face for you, a scary shark for Daddy, & a Happy Halloween scene for me. We're all pretty impressed with their carving abilities.

Don't they look so fun next to our Spookley pumpkins? Of course, they look best when they're lit up at night.

I'm wicked excited that we can use them year after year. Maybe next year we can add some of our own creations too.

I love you so,

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Owl Cupcakes & Pumpkin Pie Milkshakes

Dear Em,
I do love fall & all the yummy food that comes with this season of crisp air & amazing smells. Remember our owl cupcakes last year? I was excited to make hootiful halloween treats again this year. Just like last year, baking with you was super fun & super messy.

You'd think I would have learned from last year. I turned my head for a second to look for my camera. I turned back & there was chocolate everywhere. Chocolate all over you, chocolate all over the floor, chocolate all over the counter & down the cabinets. Sigh.

You're lucky that you're so stinkin' cute.

We used vanilla frosting instead of coconut pecan frosting, because we can't find coconut pecan in Rhode Island anymore. You liked them just as much...maybe more.

Just to fill you up with a little more sugar, we also made milkshakes. We're always looking for new milkshake ideas. I found a recipe for a pumpkin pie milkshake on Giver's Log, & thought it would be the perfect fall treat.

Pumpkin Pie Milkshake & Toasted Cinnamon Graham Crackers

Ingredients for Milk Shake
4 Cups Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
2 Cups Milk
1 1/3 Cups Pumpkin Puree (we used canned)
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar

Dump everything in & blend.

Ingredients for Graham Crackers
12 Full Graham Crackers
2 Tbsp Butter
2 Tbsp Sugar
1 tsp Cinnamon

Preheat oven broiler. Combine Cinnamon & suagr. Spread crackers lightly with butter & sprinkle on cinnamon sugar. Broil until toasted (this doesn't take long...take it from me, the person who burned two batches & had the smoke detectors wailing).

Daddy said he likes his shakes a little sweeter. I thought the shake was alright. As much as I try, I just don't really like pumpkin flavor. You loved it. You especially loved dunking your half burned graham crackers into your shake.

At the end of the night, you were covered in pumpkin & chocolate, but you were happy. Actually, I think I found some pumpkin on your face even the next day...signs of a great weekend.

I love you so,

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

the pink house on the beach

Dear Em,
We went for a walk on the beach the other day, & you were thrilled to find a pink house set right on the edge.

Em: "A pink house! That will be my pink house someday!"
Me: "Oh, that's where you are going to live? Right on the beach?"
Em: "Oh yes, and there is a yellow house right there, Mommy! You can live there. And we can find a blue house for Daddy to live in."
Me: "Hey, does Daddy have to live in a blue house? I think Daddy and I would like to live together."
Em: "Oh sure. You can both live in the yellow house, & I will live in the pink house."
Daddy: (Smiling at me.) "Mommy & I get to live in a house two just houses down from yours? I think we can handle that."
Daddy: "If Mommy & I live in the yellow house & you live in the pink house, we won't be able to make you breakfast. Can you make your own breakfast."
Em: "Well, no. Ok, you and Mommy can live in the pink house with me. I will let you live in my house forever."

Right now, it sounds kind of nice to live in a pink house on the beach with you & Daddy forever.

I love you so,

Monday, October 22, 2012

Our Family Tree

Dear Em,
As a homework project, your teachers asked your class to work with their families on a family tree. I kind of forgot about the "work together" part as I started it after your bedtime the night before it was due. Whoops. We had a lot going on. I talked to another parent who told me it's just the beginning of me working on one of your projects while you sleep. Gosh, I hope not.

While you teachers provided us with some paper, they instructed us to make anything we wanted.

Here is ours:

I love that although we have a little family of three, we have a great big family tree. I also love that even though much of our family lives far away, we've been able to get together with them & have pictures that captured those moments. It's so fun to think of how our family tree will continue to grow & change. 

Plus, I loved looking at the rest of your classmate's family trees. Everyone made such unique family trees, & it was fun to learn more about each child & their family.

I'm so thankful for family, especially my little family of three.

I love you so,

Friday, October 19, 2012

love letters

Dear Em,
"There were thousands of colors 
and hundreds of shapes.
Oh, what a garden variety makes...

and maybe one day we all will discover-
you can't judge a book,
or a pumpkin...
by it's cover."

Last year we bought you the book The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin. I had no idea that Spookley was a spokes-pumpkin for the national bullying campaign. I thought it was a nice Halloween book that celebrated all colors & shapes & sizes. We want you to know that it's not just OK to be different, it's special to be different. And frankly, your daddy & I wouldn't mind you celebrating colors other than the color pink.

I didn't realize how much you would take the book to heart when we went to the pumpkin patch this past weekend. "Mommy, I can't wait to find Spookley at the pumpkin patch," you exclaimed as we drove to Buttonwoods farm. You looked defeated when you realized there were no square pumpkins to be found. Even more crushing for you, there were no pink pumpkins.

"Why are all these pumpkins orange? I really want a pink Spookley pumpkin," you told me as you searched the pumpkins.

"Well, pumpkins are normally orange, Em." I informed you.

The little pout on your face broke my heart, & I had an idea. "You know what, Em, we can paint our own Spookley pumpkins. You can paint yours pink," I offered (of course I hoped the Spookley book would teach you to celebrate all colors, but pink is still the only color you care about). You were excited by the idea.

Early this week we picked up three small pumpkins & one "baby pumpkin" from a local farm. We sat down just the three of us & each painted our own pumpkins. I painted mine in rainbow colors to celebrate all colors. Daddy painted a pumpkin to look just like you- which thrilled you from head to toe.  You painted your pumpkin....wait for Actually, you started with pink, added some purple, & then mixed in a ton of other colors. Surprisingly, your pumpkin is still a pink-ish color, & we were proud of you for at least adding in colors other than just your favorite.

You & Daddy are very serious artists.
Our masterpieces.
It was a fun thing to do together as a family, & you were so excited that we made our own colorful pumpkins.

While you were sleeping, I painted eyes on yours & my pumpkins. You were thrilled when you woke up. "Ooooooh, our own Spookley pumpkins," you said with a smile on your face as you jumped up & down in happiness & excitement.

I just found out that there is also a Spookley movie, & I'm thinking we might need to invest in it this Halloween.

I don't know if you have really learned that being different is also about being special, but I think it's a start. Plus, your excitement about our Spookley pumpkins has sure put a smile in my heart.

I love you so,

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Thanks God!

Dear Em,
Last Friday was a big work day for me. I was a little stressed out about it, & the fact that it was also my day to bring you to school added to the stress. But then you reminded me to smile & what is important.

Emma Keane at 7:35am...
Em: Hey Mom, look at all the pretty colors of the leaves. Isn't it gorgeous?
Me: It sure is.
Em: Isn't it so nice that God made all the different colors?
Me: It is nice.
Em: Thanks God!
Me: (smiles)
Em: Hey Mom, want to say our prayers?
Me: (not quite sure which prayers, we had already prayed for our day earlier that morning) Um, sure, why don't you start.
Em: Now I lay me, down to sleep...
Me: (smiling as I look at the clock & see it is before 8am)
Em: I pray the Lord my soul to keep...
Me: (beaming with pride as my daughter reminds me what is really important)
Em: Watch me all through the night & wake me with the morning light. God bless...

We went through all of our family & friends, our school, our military, & our government. Then we thanked God for everything & asked him to help us with our day.

It was exactly what I needed at 7:35am that morning...exactly.

I love you so,

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

unplanned adventures

Dear Em,
This weekend was the first weekend in I don't even know how many months that we didn't have anything planned. No out of state travel (well, we did go to CT, but it was just over the state line & just 20 minutes away so it doesn't count), no all day events, no was an amazing treat & just what we needed. So, what did I try to do? Plan the weekend up.

Hi, my name is Julie, & I'm a compulsive planner. Hi Julie.

So, anyway, I decided it would be fun to go to a URI football game. Sure they're now 0-6 & have been outscored 210-45. But they're our almamater & they play only 15 minutes away from our house. Plus, you love marching bands.

I got you all psyched about going to the game while your daddy groaned & begged to do anything else. Not wanting to do something is exactly what inspires greatness & creativity from your daddy. "What if instead we fly kites?" he asked. He then pointed out that you have never flown a kite before, & it would be a fun family activity.

Except that we don't own a kite. "Are you sure they will have kites in stores," I asked. I had always thought that kite season occurred more in the springtime months. Daddy pointed out the gorgeous weather & nice breeze. I had to agree it was a perfect kite flying day. So, we got you excited about flying kites at the beach, bundled you up, & loaded into the car.

Daddy had gone to Ocean State Job lot looking for a kite. They had told him that they normally have them but were out. We headed down to Westerly with a plan to pick up a kite at Benny's & fly kites at Watch Hill.

Except that I was right about kite flying season. They man working at Benny's practically laughed at Daddy when he asked where the kites were. "Come back in June," he said. We had no Plan B. We had driven out to Westerly, & we had no Plan B.

Luckily, Benny's is kind of like a mini toy store, & they happen to carry My Little Ponies, your new favorite thing to play with at school. For less than $10 we were able to purchase you a pink pony, & you didn't seem all that bummed that we were kiteless. We decided to drive back home & let you take a nap.

"Wait, where's the beach? Aren't we going to the beach," your little voice asked from the back seat. We explained that we had no kite. "But I want to go to the beach!" Your daddy & I smiled at eachother, shrugged, & headed toward Charlestown Beach.

"You forgot my toys! Where are my toys," you asked as we walked out onto the beach. At first I was perplexed. "Your pony is in the car so you don't lose it," I explained. "No, my toys!" Then I understood. You expected that this beach day would be like any other summer beach day. I had to explain that after the summer months, the beach was too cold for swimming & building sand castles. You pouted a little & didn't seem to understand.

"But we can still look for shells," said Daddy. And that's exactly what we did. We looked for shells, & you stored them in your little pockets. We watched the ocean & looked out at Block Island. You & Daddy chased each other up & down the beach.

It was the perfect unplanned adventure. I smiled at your daddy as we drove home. "That was a great idea! Today was perfect." He laughed, "Well, that wasn't really my plan, but I'm glad it worked out." I smiled. "Oh, that was exactly your plan. Your plan was to avoid going to the URI Football game." He knew it was true, & we both laughed.

Sometimes the unplanned adventures are where you're really supposed to be.

I love you so,

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tulips & Hyacinths

Dear Em,
I love love love tulips in the spring, & the smell of hyacinths is my favorite. Every spring I watch them bloom everywhere & wish we had some in our own yard. I tell myself I'm going to plant some in the fall so that we have some in the spring. Every year I forget about planting the bulbs...until the winter when the ground is hard & covered with snow. You know, when it's not optimal planting time.


In the middle of a busy week, we loaded up your wagon with planting soil, garden shovels, & bulbs. We weeded out the gardens & planted our bulbs. I was so proud of us!

You are seriously the cutest helper, hands down, ever.
Our gardens are already overgrown with weeds again. Is there something out there that kills weeds while fostering the growth & development of flowers...that requires little time & energy?

I have this weird feeling that Spring is going to come & we won't see one tulip or hyacinth grow in our yard. I feel like I'm not very good at growing flowers...but I seem to be really good at growing weeds. I guess we'll have to see in the Spring.

I love you so,

Monday, October 15, 2012


Dear Em,
I'm back. I wasn't planning a little hiatus from this blog. It just happened. Everything just got to the point where it was too much, & some things had to give. So, I haven't made time for house cleaning & exercising & reading for fun...& blog writing. Sigh, it's been busy.

I've missed anniversaries & birthdays. I was in another state for Daddy & my wedding anniversary...& also the one year anniversary of this blog. That's right. This blog is already full of a year of memories & precious moments. I'm hoping to have a blog giveaway to celebrate. More on that later.

You know how sometimes when life is swirling around you, you wish for a moment where time would just stop? I feel like you know exactly how I feel because every morning you've asked for a "lazy jammy day," but then every morning we've rushed to get you ready & out the door & off to school.

And then we got just what we needed, a weekend with almost no plans. We enjoyed time as a family. We enjoyed the peacefulness & beauty of New England autumn. We did a ton of cleaning & laundry & yardwork. And we relaxed. You cried last night at bedtime. I mean, you really cried. I knew exactly how you felt. This past weekend was the perfect weekend, & it's hard to say goodbye to a perfect weekend.

But now I feel like I can take time to put some thoughts down least for now.

I love you so,

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

It all started with a kiss...

Dear Em,
Eleven years ago your Daddy kissed me for the first time & my life was never the same again. Eleven years ago I had my last first kiss...well, until there was you.

I wish I could be with Daddy to celebrate, but since I'm not you promised to shower him with a million kisses today. 

I love you so,

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Living out of a suitcase...again...

Dear Em,
Yesterday we returned from our amazing mini vaca in New Hampshire & I left right away for a work meeting. This morning you emphatically told me that Daddy had put your hair clips in wrong. "Sometimes he doesn't do the right things," you said. I'm pretty sure doing your hair is a job Daddy would refer to NEVER have.

Here I am in a hotel for work for the week, & I decided...
I would be a really good consultant for hotels.

Let me share some of my secrets with you.

If you're building/renovating a new hotel:
1) There can never be too many electrical outlets
2) There should be mirrors outside of the bathroom.
3) Elctrical outlets should always be right next to every mirror.

That is all.

I love you (& miss you so),
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