Saturday, October 30, 2010

Reading...Still Life

Still Life by Louise Penny.

A dear friend of mine asked "have you read Louise Penny?  She is a new mystery writer and is making quite a stir."

I wrote down the authors name and put it on my library list. I am so grateful for the recommendation because I love the book!

The main character is Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and the books take place in Montreal and the Quebec area.  Immediately, I was drawn to Gamache. He has some of the charisma of Richard Jury in the Martha Grimes books but doesn't seem to have as many demons and consequently leads a more stable life.

I absolutely loved the book and can't wait to get the next one from the library!

'til next time...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Daughter's 1st birthday...

Ainsley got the total second child lame birthday...her 1st birthday party was a side event at a bigger party. No invitations sent, no theme to the party, no party favors given, no intricate cake made. But like someone told me, "you can always photoshop later to make her birthday look spectacular. Pick out a cake online and photoshop it into her pictures."  That might work.

So my sweet baby girl had her first birthday party at our Oktoberfest party. I made her a cake from a cake mix, not even from scratch, as of the start of the party I had not even decorated it. Thanks to a dear friend the cake did get iced and decorated with "Happy Birthday Ainsley".  My friend did a lovely job and this is no slight to her but I just want to show how much of a slacker mom I was for her birthday. This is a picture of my firstborns first birthday cake.

and this is the second child's birthday cake.

it appears that I didn't even take a picture of just the cake!

Fortunately for my children there are no plans to have a 3rd or 4th. The poor 4th child would probably only get a cracker for their 1st birthday.

But since my daughter is just one year old she doesn't know the difference and will probably never know until she is old enough to read this blog.  Ainsley's personality has been so different from Wythe's that I thought she would be the child to dive into her cake, that is not exactly what happened.

cake/present table (in theme with the blue & white for Oktoberfest) 

at first things are ok...

                                                        ...still kind of enjoying the attention...

a little bit embarrassed as we sing "happy birthday" to her...

blowing out the candles...

managed to kick the cake with her foot but doesn't want to touch it

Wythe is wondering "what we are waiting for?? just serve the cake already!"

Ainsley has decided she doesn't like any of this, not the cake, not the people standing around looking at her, not the flash from the camera....she is having none of it.  Wythe is edging closer and closer to the cake.

One last attempt to she if she wants to touch the cake...she doesn't.   By this time Wythe is starting to cry because he wants to touch the cake and no one will let him.

"this is not fun mommy!"

Wythe - finally happy, eating a piece of cake

"hmmm...I would like some more, surely no one will notice if I just help myself..."

"couldn't really cut a piece for myself but this will work..."

'til next time...


This year we had our 1st Annual Rightmyer Oktoberfest, it was a lot of fun and went really well. We had 74 adults and 17 children attend for a total of 91 people! A big thank you to all the neighbors, family, and friends that came out to party!

Of course anytime you have a party that size it takes a lot of planning and work but we are really happy with the way it turned out. Also, I learned a lot of things to do/not do/do differently next time. Some of the food could have been prepared sooner and taken a little of the rush off of us. Some of the decorating that I had planned to do didn't get done because I ran out of time. I had intended to decorate the food tables but in the panic of getting ready I ran out of time and forgot some stuff. We also had Ainsley's birthday party too but I will post about that separately - it's the least I can do seeing as how her birthday party was kind of a side note!

I have never been to a real (real being in Germany) Oktoberfest. I wasn't really sure what all they had there, beer, bratwurst, beer, sauerkraut, beer, I wanted to have more than brats and sauerkraut so I decided to include some other German food even if it wasn't traditional Oktoberfest food. I finally decided on German meatballs, sauerkraut with caraway, sauerkraut with apples, red cabbage, applesauce with sour cherries, brats with buns and several types of mustard, potato soup, brown bread, soft pretzels, beer, German wine, apple cider & Black Forest cake.  A friend brought some warm potato salad, delicious!  And everyone brought drinks, beer, cider, wine, etc. We had a lot of food but almost all of it was eaten!

this is the Black Forest Cake that my mom made

We set up a tent along the side of the addition, under that was the "Beer Tent" and "Pretzel Stand". All of the drinks were set up in the Beer Tent. We had pretzels and warm soft pretzels at the pretzel stand. The rest of the food was set up on the patio along the back of the house. We had asked people to bring lawn chairs so everyone just set up their chairs in the back yard.

We were a little worried where everyone would park, so we set up "General Parking" in the field and "VIP Parking" in the driveway. The VIP was designated for people with small children or the elderly, those that didn't want to walk through the field. Ironically, no one parked in the VIP parking, I guess no one wanted to assume that they were VIP! Since we knew it would be dark when people where leaving we set up a string of lights to help light the way down to the cars, the lights looked so pretty after dark. Also, when it was getting dark we lit a bonfire up behind the house, that helped keep us all warm after the sun went down! One of our neighbors brought some homemade apple pie moonshine...that kept us warm, it was delicious and lethal at the same time!

food table set up on the patio

Of course, I was so busy getting ready for the party that I forgot to take pictures before people got there and then once people were here I didn't get many. Maybe next year I can take more. I had straw bales with pumpkins and gourds set up at the entrance, next year I would like to have someone there to take pictures of people as they arrive. We also need a program or instructions letting people know what is going on. A lot of people did not see the pretzel tent until the night was over.

We had a great time and can't wait till next year!

'til next time...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

One year later...

My darling little girl,

Today you are one year old! This year has flown by so fast, it seems like we were just at the hospital and here you are trying to walk!

We were so excited when we found out that you were a girl, we felt like our little family was complete having a boy and a girl. I was so excited at the thought of buying little girl clothes but I didn't realize how much I would enjoy it. Before you were born I thought that you could use a lot of your brothers neutral clothes, and then you were born, and I dressed you in pink and you have worn pink almost every day since!

Before you were born I was so nervous about having two babies in the house. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to love you as much as I loved your brother. But the moment you were born my heart just doubled in size and I learned that there is no such thing as not having enough love for your children, your heart just grows so that you can love each with all your heart.

It has been fun watching you grow this first year, seeing your personality emerge, seeing the many differences between you and your brother. Although being bigger than your brother you were easier to bring into this world, and you slept more than your brother. I think maybe you tried to give mommy a break knowing that she had her hands full with the two of you!

I have worried at times that you aren't getting enough attention, felt bad that you haven't had much undivided attention from me. But you seem to be thriving just fine! I also worried that you wouldn't survive your brother, he was so rough on you at first! But you survived and seem to have no lasting effects! Now that you can get around you all have so much fun together, it is so cute to see you playing together!

You have brought so much joy to my life, you are my precious little daughter and you little grin just melts my heart. Every morning when I get you out of your crib and you greet me with "mama" and that big smile....priceless.

You are my adorable daughter, my sweet pea, my little munchkin. I cannot imagine life without you.

I will love you forever birthday girl!


two days old
One year old

'til next time...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Reading...Eliot Pattison

"The Skull Mantra"

I got this book out of the library because it had been recommended to me by a dear friend. I did not read the dust jacket because many times the cover gives away information that you don't want to know at the start of the book. When my friend told me about this book we had discussed several different books and authors, some how I got in my mind that in this book the main character was a robot with artificial intelligence. I read about the first 30 pages of the book trying to figure out how they were going to incorporate A.I. into a Tibetan prison camp, it finally dawned on me that I couldn't possibly be reading the book that I thought I was reading. So I started over and the book made a lot more sense without trying to add a robot to the mix!
I really enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more from  this author. The book is dealing with a prison camp that holds mainly Tibetan prisoners, but also a few Chinese. It discusses a lot of the practices of the monks, the rituals and beliefs, which I find very fascinating.
It actually took me longer than usual to read this book, in fact it is overdue at the library, but I didn't want to return it until I had finished it!

'til next time...

Friday, October 15, 2010

Reading...Mignon G. Eberhart

"Alpine Condo Crossfire", a murder mystery set in a condo community. The main reason the book interested me was because of the setting and because I was told that my grandmother liked this author.
It was actually a decent mystery, it is a very clean mystery, the language is clean, no gore, no explicit language or topics. So if you are tired of the garbage that you find in a lot of current books this may be a refreshing change. I believe the book was written in the 70's. The thing that was funny to me is that the book was talking about the benefits of living in a condo association. I guess in the 70's that was an exclusive community and probably pretty nice. Knowing what I know about condominiums though it stuck me as funny.

'til next time...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Addition update...

So, here is the update on the addition project.

Yep, that about sums it up.

Ok, moving on...

No, it is not that bad, we have made some progress just not a lot of visible progress. For the past few months I have theoretically been painting. I have gotten a first coat of paint on almost all the walls but am a long way from being finished. We wanted to finish the painting before installing the wood floors so I'm kind of holding up progress right now. Theoretically holding up progress as my husband doesn't have time to pick up the flooring, much less install it.
Mu husband has been working on insulating everything under the house, that has taken multiple days. He had to put the floor insulation under the addition, insulate all of the plumbing, and then replace all the insulation under the original house. We believe the insulation under the existing house may have been the original insulation, making it over 30 years old. It will be interesting to see the difference this winter in keeping the house warm.
He has also been working on figuring out the HVAC for the addition. There have been many opinions on what to do about that, using the existing unit, use two separate units, remove the existing and install a bigger unit, etc., etc. As of today the plan seems to be to use the existing unit and just add the additional duct work, but this could change at any moment.
Peter has also dug the ditches for the drainage system. We do not have gutters up yet but we need something for them to tie into anyway. The ditches run around the addition, along the side of the house toward the field where the ground starts sloping down. There are supposed to be delivering the gravel this week to go into the ditch, then he can lay the pipe and fill it back it. This is a must-do project. We have about 80 people coming to our house in about a week, can't have 3 foot trenches everywhere!

So, we are making progress, we are only a year behind schedule.

'til next time...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

reasons for not writing...

I sat down for a moment to write and all I could think about were the reasons that I don't write, the reasons why I "don't-get-around-to-it".
  1. too tired to think
  2. a two year old child
  3. should be painting the addition instead of writing about painting the addition
  4. have laundry to do
  5. a one year old child
  6. too tired to move fingers over keys
  7. should be cleaning house
  8. should be focusing on the 20 page things-to-do-before-big-party list
  9. too tired
I think there are more reasons but I'm too tired to think of them.

'til next time...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I have trained my son right...

Yesterday I received proof that I have done something right when training my son.

We were at Walmart, I was in the process of checking out, since my cart was full I was letting Wythe walk around. While I was unloading groceries and loading bags into the cart he was playing with the various items that they put in the checkout lanes. As he was happily occupied straightening the items on the shelf and playing with the gift cards I wasn't paying as much attention to him as I should have been.
Out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw him put something up on the counter, but when I glanced at the conveyor belt I didn't see anything. It also registered in my brain that he was saying "treat please! treat please! treat please!"  A few seconds later the cashier says "I'll give you your gift card so that you don't misplace it" and she hands me a $25 Starbucks gift card.
Apparently my son upon recognizing the familiar Starbucks logo, picked out the gift card and put it up on the counter with our groceries! As you may know, once the card is scanned it is activated so it requires an act of Congress to return one. Fortunately for me and for my son, I can use a Starbucks gift card, in fact I will greatly enjoy using a Starbucks gift card. I'm not sure my husband will believe me if this happens again but it definitely worked out for me this time! I just feel fortunate that he didn't select a $100 gift card to a restaurant we don't go to!  So, in the future I will have to keep an eagle eye on my son or avoid aisles with gift cards. Ironically, aisles with candy aren't a problem yet. My two year old doesn't know what candy is but does know that when you see the Starbucks logo you get a "treat".

'til next time...

Back to the land of internet...

We are finally back online. Turns out our modem was going bad, so they sent us a new one and that fixed the problem. For about 2 weeks prior to losing service completely the connection was horrible, sometimes it would take 20 minutes just to open my email.

It is amazing how dependant you get on the Internet. Even my husband who shuns all modern technology was inconvenienced by the outage. He needed me to process a payment online but we were unable to so we had to pull out the old checkbook and rely on the US Postal Service to make our payment.

But, now that we are back online I will try to post some of these updates that I have sitting here for my blog. Although, this really is not a good time for me to be "catching up" on blogs. Between the never ending addition project and preparing for an upcoming party I really shouldn't even be sitting down. However, I can justify it for now because I am currently sitting by the window on the look out for a dump truck that is supposed to be bringing gravel for our drainage ditch around the addition. I need to make sure the driver dumps the gravel in the right spot in order to minimize the amount of hauling we have to do!

'til next time...

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Boston here we come...(day one)

My husband and I recently got away for a long weekend....without the children!  This was a weekend I was very apprehensive about, I knew the kiddos would be fine, I wasn't sure if I would survive!

My parents came up to our house Thursday evening as our flight was leaving at 6AM Friday morning. Of course, I was busy getting the last minute packing done and probably worrying about out trip so I really didn't get any sleep before we got up at 3am to head to the airport.

We got up, dressed, kissed the kiddos goodbye and made it to the airport with time to spare, we got checked in and made it through security in a reasonable amount of time. Although I did set the metal detectors off and had to go into the glass cubical for a friendly pat down. Peter just stood outside and laughed at me! We were flying Jet Blue, we left on time, had a smooth flight and got into Boston about 7:30am.

We took the subway into the city and then tried to figure out where we were and where we were headed. We knew it was too early to check into the hotel so we decided to get some breakfast first. We stopped at Bruegger's Bagel Bakery to get a bagel and coffee, the bagels were wonderful!

After fortifying ourselves with a bagel we decided to walk around a little before heading towards the hotel. Since neither of us had really slept we were hopeful that the carbs would keep us going for a while.

Here is Peter checking out info about the graves in Kings Chapel Burying Ground. This picture is proof that Peter was in Boston. We tend to come home with pictures of "stuff" and no pictures showing that we were actually there! This time we tried to get more pictures of "us" and less of "stuff", we did better than we usually do!

I liked the steaming kettle at the Starbucks.  I also liked the fact that there is a Starbucks every 20 feet or need to miss your latte.

I liked the building on the right hand side, it is apartments or condos. I love the curve of the building but I would love to see what actually fits under that window. It was hard to tell from the street what the size is, do you put a chair in the nook or is the area bigger?

There are window washers on this building, it is hard to see because they look so tiny. I'm not sure I would want that job.

Quincy Market, like a huge food court! There was a great pastry shop in there too! But as we learned later not near as good as Mike's Pastry in the Italian area. We ended up coming by here a lot, apparently it was "on the way" to everything we were going to!

The place on the corner was called "The Littlest Bar". It ended up being close to our hotel but we never made it there for a drink. When we were planning this trip we were excited about all the pubs and bars, we were looking forward to spending some evenings out with no curfew. I wanted to go to an Irish bar and sing along with the music. It turns out that we realized that
      1. we are getting old
      2. once we had the chance to sleep we seized it
      3. since we no longer stay up late we seem to have lost the talent for staying awake till midnight
      4. I repeat, we are getting old.

After walking around for a couple hours we made our way down to the waterside near our hotel. We were staying at the InterContinental Boston which is located on the waterfront in the financial district. When we got there we asked if we could leave our luggage there while we continued to walk around, we were getting very tired of lugging the luggage! They told us that our room was ready and we could go ahead and check in.

Out hotel room. The window above the bed opened up into the bathroom, you could watch TV while fixing your hair. Or if you sat up straight you could watch while taking a bath!

Hotel room, view from hallway.

The soaking tub...heavenly!  It made me really look forward to when/if we ever finish our addition on our house and I get my big tub!

After settling into our room, relaxing for a bit, checking out the TV (another novelty for us) we were hungry again and decided to head back out to get something to eat and sight see more. We walked through the financial district and up to the Boston Common to the start of the Freedom Trail. There we started following the trail.

The first stop in the State House, we walked up to the door of the State House but decided we really didn't want to tour it so we continued on the trail.

Next stop was Park Street Church, didn't go into the church, just read the info on the outside.

Then onto Granary Burying Ground. There are several famous people buried here including John Hancock, Paul Revere, Samuel Adams. Additionally the Boston Massacre victims were interred in the family tomb of Sam Adams.
Samuel Adams grave

There were a number of guided tours being held, we had rejected the idea of the guided tour but after overhearing some of the tales the guides were telling we decided it might have been very interesting. We got to eavesdrop on a few interesting facts at each stop to supplement what we knew about the area.

The next stop is Kings Chapel and Kings Chapel Burying Ground. One interesting fact, the columns that appear to be stone are actually just painted wood columns. Since we had already stopped and looked around earlier that day when we first got into town so we just breezed on through.

Kings Chapel

Benjamin Franklin Statue and the Boston Latin School...we paused to look and then continued on.

Old Corner Bookstore - we had actually looked at the outside of this that morning. It is located right next to the place we got bagels. The building was closed that day so we didn't go in.

Old South Meeting House - this is where thousands of Bostonians took part in the debate of what to do with the tea shipment from England. The debate that led to what we now know as the Boston Tea Party.

Old South Meeting House

Old State House - The Boston Massacre happened outside of this building and the Declaration of Independence was read from the balcony to the people of Boston.

The Boston Massacre Site - I had been told that this could be difficult to spot since it is just a circle of stones the the median. However, it wasn't even visible when we were there. They were doing road work and had most of the median covered up and boarded walkways around it so you couldn't see anything.

Next stop Faneuil Hall, we went through the building and then into Quincy Market for lunch. Quincy Market has a large food court, you can find just about any type of food there. We got our lunch and then sat outside to eat. It was a sunny, warm day, so there were lots of people and street performers out and about. It was so warm that we got hot sitting outside eating our lunch. I thought that the weather would be cool so we had brought cool weather clothes but it had warmed up unexpectedly and we were wishing we had brought short sleeves and shorts instead of long sleeves and jeans.

After lunch we continued on the trail. We walked by some really cool old restaurants and pubs. We passed We walked past Union Oyster House, the oldest restaurant in Boston, open since 1826. We also walked through an incredible Farmer's Market. They had tons of produce and insanely cheap prices. I was salivating and wanting to buy lots of fresh fruit and veggies but restrained myself. I saw red peppers for $.50 each, pints of raspberries for $1.25, peaches 10 for $1.....ridiculous prices! I don't know if it is always that cheap or they were trying to get rid of stock. Anyway, we kept walking...

Paul Revere House - We had wanted to tour the house but for some reason decided not to. Probably because we were too cheap to pay the admittance fee. The location of the house is really neat too, it is located in a charming cobblestoned square.

Paul Revere house

Paul Revere house, view from across the street

looking up the street, Paul Revere house is to the left of where we are standing

one of the many neat buildings in the area, notice the detail on the windows

The Old North Church - The tallest steeple in Boston, 191 feet high. Lanterns were placed in the steeple to signal the movement of the British. "One if by land, two if by sea" in Longfellow’s Paul Revere’s Ride.

Old North Church

In the courtyard area there is a statue of Paul Revere, for some reason I only took a picture from the backside.

I would like to explain this picture...but I don't know what to say.

steeple of the Old North Church

Continuing on...Copp's Hill Burying Ground. Cotton and Increase Mather were both buried here. Some of the gravestones were actually damaged during the Revolutionary War.

Bunker Hill Monument - we didn't walk all the way to the monument, we thought we would come back to that later and decided to go on to the next stop.

USS Constitution - we didn't actually get to go onto Old Ironsides, we missed the last tour of the day. We thought maybe we would come back another day.

We did go into the museum and tour that, they also had an interesting movie about the history of the ship. After that we briefly discussed walking back to Bunker Hill but decided not to. We were getting really tired, we had been walking most of the day and hadn't really slept the night before. Besides, I had absolutely torn up my feet with the walking, apparently my walking shoes weren't really made for walking. I had so many raw spots I was doing a very undignified limp. We decided to take the ferry back to our hotel so that we could skip walking back. It was a wonderful choice! It was cheap, fun to ride, great view of the city and we got to sit down! 

The ferry dropped us off only a few blocks from our hotel, so cool! We stopped by a 7-11, bought some orange juice and cool is that to be able to buy vodka at 7-11. I also got some bandages and stuff to try and repair my feet. We got back to the hotel and chilled for about an hour before changing clothes and getting ready for dinner. We started walking around to find a place to eat, the hotel had recommended a few places. Some we didn't find interesting, some were too pricey, some too long a wait. We ended up eating at a little place kind of near our hotel. It was called Sel De La Terre, they served  Provencal French food. We sat out on the patio and enjoyed a lovely meal. Peter ate duck and I had gnocchi with lobster. We decided to walk over to Quincy's Market and get some pastries for dessert but by the time we got there the pastry shop had closed. However, the market place was really pretty at night, the trees are lit up with lights, it was really nice just to walk around.

After walking around a bit we headed back to the hotel and literally passed out. It had been a fun day but we were exhausted!

'til next time...