Sunday, November 30, 2008

Four Days of Reporting in one FAST post!

You may have heard or maybe not - my parents came in on Wednesday for the holiday. Can we say hyper, loved up children? Spoiled? Absolutely not! My mom was better at disciplining Captain Attitude (aka Rhino) this weekend than I was! My folks are good that way!
But on with the tales! Thursday was MY holiday. I was up at 7 and leisurely cooked all day. My turkey came out perfectly; my mom made the pies for me and they were fabulous; the stuffing didn't survive the meal; I got my fair share of the potatoes and here on Sunday almost ALL of the leftovers are gone. An ideal Thanksgiving!
As we all know I skipped out on the shopping on Friday - well, except for that trip to Home Depot for the supplies for the BIG Christmas surprise for the kids (which Poppie got fully assembled this weekend!). We took the kids to the park and just pretty much lounged all day.
Saturday was a quick trip out to WalMart, JoAnn's and Target for some sewing supplies and new sneaks for Rhino and Marmoset (Thank you Grammy!). And then.....Cookie Bake 08! I don't think you guys really understand the level of my passion for baking. I look forward to this day all year. I plan, strategize, and maneuver like the rest of you manage your shopping.

Wanna see what I did? Ok! Since you asked so nicely!

Yes! That IS four trays of sugary homemade goodness. I think (and this is just an estimate) there are about 12-15 dozen cookies there. And guess what? They are all gone! I gave every last one of them away! Yay me! (And yay for my butt!)

There's a more detailed version for you. Clockwise from 1 o'clock: Snickerdoodles, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Lemon Cookies, Peanut Butter Cookies, Peanut Butter Blossoms, and Mantecaditos. (Thank you Erin for the Mantecaditos! Wow! Yummy!) There in the center is a nice little mound of Chocolate Covered Pretzels.

And I'll probably do that again somethime before Christmas - parties and all you know. And of course I'll have to make the cherries for the Christmas Eve party (I've already been told). Let's hope my behind can make it through the holidays.
I hope all of you had a wonderful weekend! Make sure you check back later for the first installment of Christmas Around the World! Want to visit any country in particular? Drop me a line at ineedthezoo(at)yahoo(dot)com!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Count your Blessings; Name Them One by One!

Sniff. Sniff, sniff. ::wiping tears:: HOOOOOOONNNNNNKKKK! Sniff. Today is the last day of the Blog Party. Sniff. Ok. I'm over it. Know why? 'Cause that means Trisha starts to pull prizes soon! Woo Hoo!! Even if I don't win something, I already found a bunch of new stalkers - I mean blogs to stalk - I mean! Jeepers! Did I say that? I must be tired! But as great as you guys are, I better stinkin' win something!!

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Well, anyway. The final question? Considering today is Thanksgiving, I think you probably already know.

I’m Thankful this Year because….___________

Oh where to start? I know in today’s financial climate and with the news that pounds at our brains everyday it is incredibly easy to get washed away in the hopelessness and despair. But I AM thankful.

My husband still has an income.
My children are incredibly healthy, funny, smart and fun.
I have developed a new hobby this year that has brought me some really great people to interact with even if it is on the other side of a computer monitor.
I have friends who are faithful and who take me as I am and where I am no matter what.
I have a warm home.

But the thing I am most grateful for is that I have The Present. If you haven’t read it yet you need to find Dr. Spencer Johnson’s The Precious Present and read it. It will take all of twenty minutes but if you really absorb it, it will change life for you. Especially right now.

I have learned from my past. I trust my Father with my future. I have The Present.

And for that I am Thankful!

Thanks for playing along in the blog party with me. Some of you have become regular rock stars on my reader. Some of you have made me laugh until I pee. But all of you have impacted me in one way or another. Thank you! And thank you to Trisha, Alicia and Bridgette and all the ladies at MomDot for all you did to make this happen! You guys Rock! Even from the other side of a computer monitor!

Grab some more warm fuzzies but checking in with the rest of the gang over at MomDot!

Oh! And Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Praise the Lord and Pass the Mashed Potatoes!

Can we say blurry eyes? Holy cow! Let's just see. I comment on an average of 15-20 blogs a day; we've been at this for 11 days now? So I'm up to about 165-220 comments? No wonder my contacts took themselves out last night! But you know what? I'm going to miss it. This has been a real treat! And of course I have added so many blogs to my blogroll! Yay! So here we go!

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This was by far one of the hardest questions of the whole party! I hope the rest of the participants did better than I did.

If you could only eat ONE food on Thanksgiving Day, what would it be? Do you have a homecooked meal for Thanksgiving or do you go out to eat? Does your family dress up?

Yay! It’s almost here! I L-O-V-E Thanksgiving! I should have been a cook. Cooking and baking are my therapy when nothing else will soothe my savage breast (which I baste every 90 minutes BTW!) The warmth. The smells. The challenge. The suspense that it all came out right! I’m getting the giddy shakes already!

Oh yes. It is definitely home cooked here. We start with the stuffing which is packed with sausage, onions, celery, garlic, and mushrooms. We fill the turkey and we peel the REAL potatoes. We stew and relish cranberries. The pies, apple, cherry and pumpkin, are baked first thing in the morning to tempt all day. There is a green bean casserole, baked butternut squash or sweet potatoes, and gravy. The table ends up so full that we pass the plates instead.

In regards to dressing? Promise you can keep a secret? I dress from the waist up – pictures and all you know. But you can bet that my legs are tucked inside some nice, stretchy, comfy-under-any-pressure yoga pants! Oh yeah! It’s not about the waist band for me. It’s about the easy transition from Cooking Nazi to Tryptophan Coma Girl. If you are going to get a really good nap in after your meal you HAVE to be comfy!

And now the moment you have been pining for. If I could only eat one food on Thanksgiving what would it be? I like turkey. I love green bean casserole. Stuffing is killer. But if you are going to give me a plate of anything and tell me that that is the only thing I get all day? Bring on Mount Mashed Potatoes! Dump a tub of butter in the bowl and pass them over with a great BIG spoon! Remember the scene from A Christmas Story? "Show mommy how the piggy eats!" Gimmee those taters and I’ll re-enact it for you!

You may have noticed that there aren’t many full body shots of me around. Mashed potatoes will do that to a girl’s butt!

But I'm curious as to what my readers will pick as their one and only. Hmmm? But I'll warn ya, come after my taters and you may draw back a nub! Don't forget to check out the rest of the bleary eyed party animals over at MomDot and see what leftovers are out there for you!


Another Word from the Livestock Trailer

Once again I hear the best stuff when I'm away from the computer and have to try to remember it until I can get home. This is almost all Rhino. He's a piece of work!

R: That's not Mo. She doesn't have a little head. Maxy has a little head. Meghan has a little head. Bentley has a big head. Mo has a big head.
ZK: What are you talking about?!?!
R: Heads! (duh Mom!) You have a big head.
ZK: What about you? Do you have a big head?
R: Well, yeah! (another duh!) And so does Mo and Meghan and...
ZK: Wait a minute. Didn't you just say Meghan has a little head?
R: You're not listening Mom! Meghan has a little head and Mo has a big head.
ZK: What about Daddy?
R: Daddy has a big head and I'm done.

Well, that settles that! I didn't figure out until about five minutes later that he was watching the other kids coming out of the school for the carpool line. It's a wonder all those "big heads" fit in the livestock trailer!

What is a Tannenbaum anyway?

So I think with this post I am back up to date with posting. The Comp Crash of 08 as we are referring to it (more child friendly than the blue streak I was emitting yesterday) put me behind the ball. So now to just catch up with all of the other participants and let you know what I think and it's party BACK ON!! Woo Hoo!

On the way home from church on Sunday I saw someone with a Christmas tree on top of their car. No kidding! Before December even gets here? I so don't want to vacuum that house on the 15th! I'll give you 3 guesses what we're talking about today!
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Drum roll please.....And the query of the day is....
Do you decorate for the Holidays? Do you have a themed Christmas tree? Share pics! Do you think there is such a thing as OVER decorating?
Do we decorate? Does the Zoo decorate? Really? We sure do! Are we over the top? Not by a long shot!
But we do have rules. No decorations before Thanksgiving. In my book Thanksgiving is very important and I would say that this year it is even more important than in years past. Soap box moment – make sure you take time to be thankful before you move on to Christmas.
We usually have some kind of theme to our tree – not really by choice. The Lion inherited all my decorations when we got married so he got a snowman, snowflake tree by default. Four years later we finally moved on. Poor guy. He sure is tolerant! Last year we did an old fashioned tree. The exhibits and I made homemade ornaments out of baking soda clay and cinnaclay and I painted them up. We dried oranges, grapefruits and apples and even went so far as to attempt stringing popcorn and cranberries. Not as easy and delightful an experience as one would have hoped. It was Lion’s favorite by far so there will be a repeat of it this year. The great thing is that it won’t be exactly the same because all the fruit starts new. And of course Auntie B added more to our Hallmark collection as well!

Is there such a thing as over decorating? Oh my YES!! I had the perfect picture for you to illustrate but since the Comp Crash of 08 I can't scan it in. Let's just say that mini Santas, mini snowflakes, candy canes (all by the dozens!), two Nativities, three sleighs with reindeer and about seven different versions of Santa grace the front of a singlewide trailer. And that happens every year and gets bigger every year. Did I mention that the folks across the street from this particular house used to try to compete? Yeah it was a landing strip heading into our little country town in PA!

We try to keep it simple. White lights in all decorations. Two simple wreaths over the garage and one above the fireplace. Daddy’s Japanese maple landing beacon (800+ lights on a 3 foot tree) in the front yard. Garland on the banister railings and mantle with stockings. And the tree. Not a lot of special candles or centerpieces. No huge yard art displays complete with inflatables. Just a simple decorating philosophy.
Need some more decorating ideas? Head over to MomDot and see what the rest of the crew is up to. Think you can top theirs?


Saturday, November 22, 2008

There's a Reason They Wrap Them!

Ok. So I tried to spend the weekend catching up but the cyber lords were against me and crashed my computer. Can I just say that there are some really funny people out there? The take on some of these themes has been just to much fun! Did I say thank you to everyone who is participating yet? You guys have made this so much fun! But now it's time for the final push!

And now a little about the stuff that causes all the issues this time of year - the Gifts!

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Most unusual gift you have received? Best gift? Do you re-gift?

I should be grateful that nothing is rocketing to the front of my mind right? Then why am I so troubled by this?

I must be the most predictable person on the planet. People don’t get me off the wall gifts and if they are getting me a present they know me well enough to get something that fits. So sorry. No unusual gifts to be found here at the Zoo.

Oh but my best gift! Thank you L.M. Lion! I got the burgundy box. You are familiar with the burgundy box right? Well, just in case it is a regional thing, there is a jewelry store that packages in burgundy jewelry boxes. Mine just happened to hold some gorgeous pearl earrings with diamond accents. Unfortunately my children love pretties and are just now getting to the point where they don’t feel the need to pull on all things pretty that mom wears. I have not been able to wear them a lot but you can bet your buttons that I will be soon!

Re-gifting? I can’t say that I have (yet). But I have the perfect gift for the white elephant this year! I would post it but about the time I do the neighbors will start reading the blog on a regular basis and they will forbid me to bring it. Let’s just say elephant isn’t too far off. Holy ugliness! And my dad won it in a white elephant himself and felt the need to "give it to Mo since she loves elephants." Yeah right. That’s why you gave it to us.

Oh wait! Maybe I do have a most unusual!

All this Holiday Partying Got my Wheels Turning!

The blog party wraps up on Wednesday with the big prize pulls for the daily prizes and the Christmas of Dreams on Thursday. So I was thinking about the Christmas of Dreams and how so many people have said in their entries that they would want to share the package with other people.

With the economy at the center of all the news, it has become clear that it's a global problem. Everyone is struggling to make a Christmas this year. I decided a while back that I was going to try to make a homemade Christmas again this year. But I wanted to try to do something other than the same things I did last year. I want to try to find a little international flair for it. So for the next few weeks (after the blog party) and leading up to Christmas I think I might make my own little party here at the Zoo.

I am going to try to do a little research and learn different traditions from different cultures. Maybe I'll find some really great little decoration or gift ideas for all of you. We'll see what we can come up with. Know someone who lives in a different culture? Think they might be able to "school" me? Invite them to pop by! I'd love to have a guest blogger share some real life experience! (I'm talking to you Roomie!!)

So let's see what we can learn together this holiday. Shall we make it a global celebration?


Friday, November 21, 2008

Cue Mission Impossible Music

Aaaauuuggghhh! I am so far behind on my commenting! Ok, so participants if you have e-mail notification for your comments this is your warning that I may get blocked as spam today. Between the grocery store, Mount Laundry and Blog Catch Up you will be seeing a lot of me today. Just a warning.

So you're wondering about my title are you? Well, read on curious ones - read on.

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::Dum. Dum. Dum dum. Dum. Dum. Dum Dum. Dum. Dum. Dum dum. Dum. Dum. Dum dum. (all together now) Doo Doo Doo. Doo Doo Doo. Dum. Dum. Daaaaaaaaaaaaah!::

Do you shop on Black Friday? What time do you start? Do you finish all your shopping on that day? What’s the best deal you have found? What’s your shopping strategy?

Hah! Sorry I just shot eggnog out my nose. Really? You want to know if I shop on Black Friday? Well, in case you missed my feelings on shopping in general you should probably pop back here.

Ok. So we have established that I do NOT shop on Black Friday. It goes beyond just my total lack of a shopping gene. The angst of crowds sends me scrambling for my oxygen tank. The snippy attitudes of clerks and shoppers make me question my stance on gun control. And the small children who beg for everything they lay eyes on (my own included) make me want to duct tape them to a wall until Valentine’s Day. Did I mention that I do not like shopping?

I DO complete my shopping all in one day – just not Black Friday. And I have managed to get some deals my way too. I have occasionally come across some managers of small stores who are fearful that they are going to miss my $20 so they start some sales a little earlier than their competitors. What were they? Maybe my brother in law’s pajamas last year? Listen! I try to forget the shopping experience almost before it is over ok! You can’t fault me for not remembering some super deal.

My strategy is simple. I almost feel like a member of an elite Black Ops shopping team. Get in. Get your stuff. Get out and don’t make eye contact. The less they see of you, the less they can guilt you into buying and the less you will go over budget.

Now if only I could get Lion to adopt my strategy. Every year he manages to go out for his night of shopping and in his aimless wanderings he gets “Sold” on something. Then he calls me and confesses that he just got sold and he frets for the entire Christmas season. Black Ops, Lion. Black Ops. Get in and get out.

Now if you are in the market for a shopping buddy you might want to head over to MomDot and check out the other bloggers take on this. I'm sure they could give you some much better tips than I. But remember if all else fails Black Ops!
This blog will self destruct in....Who am I kidding? It went down a long time ago!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

And Back to your regularly Scheduled Ridiculous!

Welcome back to the "real" Zoo. Oh yeah. Today we will be back to the normal nonsense that is my brain. No tissues necessary. So tell me - are you having fun looking into my holiday habits? I'm finding so many kindred sprirts out there. It's nice to know I'm not the only crazy one.

So here we go! Day 7!

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And the question today?

Who’s on your naughty list? Whose on your nice list? Why?

Well, in case you missed my dissertation on the Naughty and Nice List and its origins and standards you better pop over here. No really! Go! You really want to avoid my Naughty List. So you made it back? Good. Now that you understand my thoughts on the list, let me go ahead and give you my list and the why’s behind it.

Naughty but on probation list: The folks at the deli counter.
Why? Because you just handed me one sample slice of bologna when you can clearly see there are three children with me. Do you really dislike me that much? Do you really want to hear my children wailing about “his piece is bigger than mine” or “she got an extra bite” for the next hour while I wind my way through the store?

Now I only put you on probation because if you change your ways you will definitely elevate yourself to the nice list. Not just for eliminating the fighting and arguing, but for putting something in their mouths so that I get to enjoy just a few moments of quiet.

Nice but up for review list: My children
I mean it! I will make the call to the Pole. You have been incredibly sweet and polite to strangers in recent months. If you would be so kind as to bring some of that home on a more frequent basis, you could really solidify your spot on the list. As is, you are clinging by your thin little fingernails and I am considering getting the clippers.

Marmoset, you are cute and all but if you are unable to find a way to control those flapping, running in place fits of yours I will be forced to put you on probation.

Rhino, you have done an incredible job of moving up recently with your newly developed bathroom habits. However if you do not stop aggravating Orangutan on a regular basis, you will find yourself in the PO’s office with Marmoset.

Orangutan, you had better get it together. I understand that you are getting in touch with your emotions but if you keep pushing the “panic,” “distress,” and “sensitivity” buttons I am going to push the button that demotes you to naughty.

Permanent nice list: My regular followers and commenters here at the Zoo.
Santa will be bringing you all higher page ranks and lots of “You won!” giveaway notices in the near future.

Permanent naughty list: Wall Street Fat Cats with Multi-million Dollar Bonuses
Ya’ll suck! Now wire America’s money back from the Caymans and Switzerland and anywhere else you tucked it away so that we can get ourselves back on our feet (or to the spa!) instead of having the government do it for us (or you in the case of the spa – business conference, my livestock trailer). Losers!

Wanna know if you made someone's naughty list? Pop over to Mom Dot and make sure you check all those other Naughty List posts. You can never be too careful this time of year!!


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tissues Optional for Today's Post.

Ok. So yesterday I got scolded for not issuing a tissue warning before putting up my post. Today should be in the clear but keep them close just in case. Don't worry. Tomorrow is completely irreverent and ridiculous as you have come to expect from me. And now on with our show!!

**There are some technical issues over at MomDot so I can't give you the VIP's yet but I'll grab those as soon as I can!**

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The question of the day:

Tell us about a favorite holiday memory from YOUR childhood.
There is a story that is told (entirely too often) in our house that stands out as a superstar memory from my childhood. My mother and father worked in a sewing factory when we were growing up - my mother as a seamstress and my father as the manager of the cutting room/master machine mechanic. I am sure that it goes without saying that the pay for those positions was not rock star pay. Did I know the difference? No. Did I care? No. I just knew that we had food to eat, a roof over our heads and a great community.

One Christmas in a budgeting strategy we can all take a lesson from nowadays, we had a full blown homemade Christmas. My father converted a refrigerator box into a puppet theater with some blue paint, a screen door spring and some cotton curtains. It was my sister’s present but I think it is safe to claim that we both played it to death. There were homemade Care Bears under the tree and there was a red and blue sleeping bag with a built in bear head pillow laid out on the couch.

I was just learning to read at the time. When we came down the stairs Christmas morning we sprinted to the puppet theater and I saw on the tag that there was a name that started with B. That was for my sister Beth. Then I saw the sleeping bag. That tag had a name that started with B too. Grudgingly I said, “Bethie this one is for you too! Wow! It’s really great!” And I was content to move to the rest of the presents under the tree to find a tag with an S name on it.

Then Mom said, “Sarah, look closer at that tag.” I was a huge fan of teddy bears at the time so I was known to family as Bear (something I have never confessed much less in such a public forum). Beth looked at the tag and said, “It doesn’t say Beth! It says Bear!” Before anyone could take it back I was in the sleeping bag and grinning like the Cheshire Cat.

We went home for my sister’s wedding in January 07. Beds were limited so my mom pulled out some tricks. There was an air mattress that Tuck slept on in Grammy and Poppie’s room. And Auntie B slept in Mommy’s old twin bed in her room. Daddy and I shared Auntie B’s full size bed in her room. Munch wasn’t here yet. And guess where Molly Magoo slept?

On the floor beside Auntie B in a very familiar old red and blue sleeping bag with a built in bear pillow.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Ahhh! The Gift of Giving Back!

Day 5! To those of you playing along, sorry I haven't been able to comment much this week. There's this whole thing about an Orangutan's birthday today? Yeah. It's kind of thrown me off a little! Happy Birthday Orangutan! Your Zookeeper loves you! I'll be back on track tomorrow after the chocolate cake wears off.

So now. On to Day 5!

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But that's not what you wanted to know is it? You want to know what the question is and how can this loony twist it up! Well, I'm not messing with it today (I don't think!).

Today, make a blog post about what you do to give back during the holidays. Do you volunteer your time? If so, please tell us where. What do you do to teach your children the true meaning of the holidays?

Our family does not formally donate our time to charities during the holidays. My children love to donate anything and anyway they can though. The magic sound of the Salvation Army bell brings little palms out of no where for any and all spare change we can find. The trip to the fire house is an annual highlight and every year before we leave, I choke up to hear them say Thank You. To their heroes.

I'm even more proud of them if we have a trip to the airport during the holiday seasons. They keep their eyes peeled for the ladies and gentlemen in the "polka dot" suits so that they can personally say Thank You. I can't even count the number of smiles that they have given out that way. And not just to the troops but to the people who see them doing so. Tucker makes it a point to find anyone in any kind of uniform - even the porters - and say thank you.

Molly goes through her toys every year looking for something to give to the “little boys and girls who don’t get Christmas.” This year she is already planning on weeding out her books. We also enjoy gathering gifts for Angel Tree families when we can and the Toys for Tots campaign is on our To Do list.

I am very proud of my children when it comes to the holiday spirit. They are always friendly and kind to people they meet but during the holiday season they seem to find extra smiles. And not because of the looming presence of Santa or the gifts. I seldom have to prompt them to use please’s and thank you’s. They just seem to pick up the spirit from people around them and bounce it back.

And now I have to go wipe my face and blow my nose. I never said I was above sentimentality!


Monday, November 17, 2008

Who's hungry?

Here it is! Day 4 of the MomDot Blog Party! I took the weekend off to rest my fingers and get my commenting thoughts straight so you guys better bring me some good ones today! I also got out my recipe box so I can rob pillage and plunder today as I run around Bloggy Land. But more about that later.

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Today's question was a tough one for me.

What is your favorite Holiday recipe? Describe your Holiday table and tell us about your biggest holiday cooking disaster.
This theme takes some real pondering for me. A favorite holiday recipe. Since I cook year round as a hobby I am struggling to find something that I cook only for the holidays.

Turkey? I do roasted chickens for dinners so that is a pretty standard. Cranberries? They are seasonal but there is really no recipe there. Mashed potatoes? Baked Sweet Potatoes? Pies? Green Bean Casserole? All of those are pretty traditional. I am a person who loads up the stuffing with a lot of extras (sausage, mushrooms, celery, onion) but there is no recipe for that either because it is one of my “smell it” recipes.

I would share my Chocolate Chip recipe but a cook with a trademark product never gives away the crown jewel. But on the dessert line there is one thing that I will share - mainly in the hope that someone else will claim it and make them so that I am never called on again. Chocolate Covered Cherries! You know those wonderful Queen Anne delights that you see in the red boxes? Oh yes! I love them! But last year I made them for the first time for a Christmas Eve party and have been saddled with them since. So here they are for anyone who would like to take them off of my To Do list.

Chocolate Covered Cherries
1/3 cup butter, softened

2 1/4 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons milk
2 teaspoons cherry liqueur
2 (10-ounce) jars maraschino cherries with stems, drained
1 (8-ounce) package semisweet chocolate squares
1 tablespoon shortening

Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add powdered sugar, beating well. Add milk and liqueur, beating until blended. Shape sugar mixture around cherries, coating completely, and place on wax paper.

Microwave chocolate squares and shortening in a 2-cup glass measuring cup at HIGH 1 1/2 minutes or until melted, stirring twice. Dip coated cherries by stems into chocolate mixture, allowing excess to drip; place on wax paper. Let stand until firm. Store loosely covered in a cool place 1 week or until centers soften.

I have been very fortunate to have avoided disasters (unless you count the time Mom was cooking for me at my house and couldn’t figure out how to turn my oven on). On the other hand, if anyone has a good gravy system to share I could use it. The Lion is a little weary of asking for two lumps on his potatoes.

Good luck! And happy kitchen clean up!


Friday, November 14, 2008

As if You Didn't Think I was Strange Enough...

Let me just go ahead and show you just HOW off the beaten path I am! It's Day 3 of the Mom Dot Blog Party (just in case you missed that big #3 over there <) and I am still rockin! This has been a lot of fun! I have found some really great ladies out there who make me look a little more normal - until I get done posting today.
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And the Question of the day?
Have you started your Christmas shopping yet? Do you budget for the holidays? Do you always stick to your budget? Share with us any budgeting tips you may have!
Newsflash campers. There are probably very few things on the planet that I despise more than shopping. And not Christmas shopping – I mean shopping in general. I cringe as I go through the grocery store. I grind my teeth anytime Beloved even looks at my closet with the “you need some clothes” face. I become physically ill if I have no choice but to go to the mall. I. Hate. Shopping.

That being said. When I am approaching Christmas shopping I am methodical. I am precise and I am on a mission. I make a list of who I am buying for, what I am buying and where I have to go to get it. I plan out the order of the stores and I may even go so far as to go online and see if they have a store map so I know where in the store I have to go. Then I take one day and I go. I do it all at once (even trying to get the stocking stuffers in there too) and I come home.

Newsflash part two. I am cheap. I will do anything I can to stretch a dollar so if I can make a bathrobe at home for less than I could buy it I will invest the time before I will go buy it. Why? Because that’s how much I hate shopping. I would rather crouch over a sewing machine for three hours and tear out seams twice than go shopping. That being said, I can stay pretty close to our budget. We set a ball park and if I go over it is usually for Daddy before it is for the children. They get plenty from the extended family so we usually only do a few toys and some clothes from us.

As I write this I am wondering if Part Two could be a contributing factor to Part One. Or could it be that those five years of retail right out of college sapped me of all my retail strength?
(I know baby! I try to hide from it too!)
But that's just my take on it! I'm certainly not the expert so why don't you go see what the other Party Animals have to say about it. MomDot is your Party Headquarters!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Party Time! MomDot Day 2!

Can I just tell you how much fun I had yesterday? I added several people to my reader and I saw some really awesome pages! If you aren't popping around reading at least a few of the other participants in the MomDot Blog Party you are really missing out on meeting some wonderful and creative people!

Our question for Day 2 is brought to you by:

And the question is:

Traditions, what are some of your favorite family traditions? What are some traditions you want to begin?

I love traditions. We have a few here at the Zoo and I am certain we will add more as the years pass. Some of my favorite Zoo traditions center on Christmas.

Christmas pajamas – You all got to see these yesterday in our family picture. My mother always makes the kids pj’s to wear on Christmas Eve. Unfortunately for me this is the last year that the three may be able to have matching pj’s. Tuck and Mo are getting a little older and will probably start to move to more “grown up” jammies.

The Cookie Bake – The weekend after Thanksgiving all dieters move away from my house. I will spend all of November storing up baking supplies little by little. Then the Saturday after Thanksgiving I go nuts. I bake all day long. Chocolate Chips, Peanut Butter, Peanut Butter Blossoms, Oatmeal Raisin, Oatmeal Scotchies, Chocolate Covered Pretzels, homemade Chocolate Covered Cherries, Double Delicious Bars, Oreo Truffles, and more that I would list if I was less fearful of keyboards across the blogosphere shorting out.

Then on Sunday the plating begins. We make trays for the fire houses and Daddy’s office and smaller bags for our mail lady and any other public servants the kids choose. Then we go as a family and deliver them. I may be off a little but I almost think the kids look forward to this more than they do to the presents.

The Magic Seed – This is by far my favorite!! Since we moved into our house three years ago, we have had a real tree. Daddy picks it out himself and brings it home from work the second week of December. Then we bring the tree stand up from the garage and let the kids “plant” the Magic Seed. It is actually a pistachio nut that one puts in the tree stand and the other waters. Then I put them in the tub.

While they are busy playing in the tub, Stephen and I set the tree up in the tree stand. Then while I do baths and jammies, Daddy puts on the lights. It is the highlight of the holiday season to watch their faces as they lay eyes on the tree for the first time.

That is just a few of the Christmas traditions here at Zoo Suburbia. I am tingly with anticipation that they are approaching quickly for this year again!
Want to pick up some more holiday traditions for your family? Pop over to MomDot and visit some of the other participants who will be sharing their traditions too! Make sure you share a little comment love - it's our version of chocolate (when we can't get our hands on the real stuff)!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Welcome to the MomDot Blog Party! (And my 100th Post!!)

I am so incredibly thrilled that this is Post 100! What a way to hit it!

So our Theme for Day 1: Intro to Blog Party, Introduce us to your family and share Holiday pics or videos of past years.

Sponsors: Day One Blog Party Question is Brought to you by La Belle Toile and This and That by Randi

VIP BLOGS to visit are Parent Reviewers , Mom Most Traveled, Mommy Zabs, MomStart, HipposToes, Run DMT

So you want to meet the Zoo? Brace yourself!

So first there’s me – I’m Sarah and I’m the Zookeeper (aka Mom!). When I’m not blogging (all 6 hours of the day that that happens!), I really enjoy cooking and baking; playing playdough; sewing and on the occasion that I can hide out on the deck with a book and a coffee – reading. I grew up in rural PA and now live in suburban Atlanta. I am not June Cleaver or Martha Stewart but I try really hard (or so I pretend).

Five minutes ago after children!>

Then you have Beloved, the Large Male Lion, my hubby Stephen. We met at the bank where I was working in 2002, and became pretty good friends. Our first official date was for New Year’s 2003 and in October of the same year we were married. I poke fun at him a lot but I love him with all I am and really don’t know where I would be without him – probably back in PA counting cows for a living.

Which brings us to Molly, Mo or as she is known here at the Zoo the Orangutan. Our firstborn is a bit of a wild thing. She has a very vivid imagination and loves to draw, sing, and make up stories. Mo is a HUGE Scooby Doo fan but has recently taken to singing the Smurfs theme song. What can I say? We like Boomerang!

Tucker. What in the world can I say? He comes by his Small Male Rhino alter ego naturally. Stephen and I can be stubborn but this boy makes us look like waffle makers. If he has made his mind up to do (or not do) something, you had better have large reserves of fruit on hand to make him change his mind. He is a very funny child and for those who can understand his small speech issues he can come out with some really great one liners. To which he would reply, “Aww shucks Ma! It’s nuffin!”

And now for the Pygmy Marmoset also known as Meghan, Munch or Mega Munch. If you took Mo and Tuck and mashed them together you would have Munch. She can throw a fit with the Rhino that makes dogs howl but she will dance and sing with Molly every chance she gets. I gave her the nickname Munch when she was very small because it was next to impossible to keep up with her appetite. Now that she is a full blown toddler I really don’t have to worry about it. If everyone else has left the table she just moves from seat to seat and finishes off the leftovers. Very entertaining to watch!

And finally you have the Security Guard, our Jack Russell, Max. I brought him into this family when he was just a couple of years old and Stephen was kind enough to adopt him. Now you would never know he was ever MY dog. Meghan wakes up in the morning looking for him. Tuck tries to get him to sleep in his bed every night and Daddy-O really doesn’t know how to nap without Max curled up with him. At eight years old he is incredibly tolerant of the ear pulling and belly hugging but every now and then I get that look that says, “Mom! Make them stop!”

And that my friends is The Zoo. It's a busy little place but we call it home. Feel free to stop by anytime! There may even be some cookies in it for you! Happiest of all theHoliday Seasons!

Want to Party like a rock star with the rest of the Mom Dotters? Head over to MomDot and meet the rest of the crew!