Thursday, December 27, 2012

Santa Gets Snubbed!

Some kids like Santa, and some kids don't.  In our family we have a little bit of both.  Our youngest monkey girl loves Santa and spent quite awhile telling him what she wanted for Christmas.  And just in case Santa didn't remember everything that she wanted for Christmas, she made sure to give him a list complete with pictures. The list was only three pages long this year.

Some kids like Santa...

"Hi Santa!" "Okay, let's talk..."

"My Little Pony, My Little Pony..."

"Oh, yes and My Little Pony."
And some kids don't...

Santa:  "What's your name?
Monkey: "No comment." 
Santa:  "Hey, where ya going kid?"
Monkey: "I don't need no stinkin Santa Claus!"

Sorry Santa.  We tried, but you know not everyone appreciates you for who you are.  We will try again next year.  Hey, look on the bright side, Santa.  At least he didn't scream at you this year or try to fling poo at you as monkeys are known to do.



Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Surprise on the High Seas!!!

Last week, was my sweet mom's birthday.  I can't tell you how young she is because she will ground me for the rest of my life if I do.  Let's just say that you would never guess her age if you tried.  She is one young, beautiful, smart, hot momma!

My sisters, aunts and I wanted to do something really special for Mom, so we decided to take her on a little surprise trip.  We went on a cruise and had an amazing time!

We had so much fun celebrating Mom.  In fact, we were able to surprise her a few times.  Here is how it all went down:

Our Aunt Debbie flew in from North Carolina the day before we set sail.  Aunt Debbie and I arrived at the ship early and decorated Mom's room.  In the meantime, my Aunt Gail and my sister Wendy took my mom for a birthday pedicure.  Mom had already packed her bag for a "mystery trip", but she had no idea what the plan was.  My sister Jessica and her friend Kenya joined up with the rest of the crew post pedicure.

When my mom and the girls arrived at the ship, my aunt and I were waiting in the room.  By now, she knew that she was going on a cruise, but she had no idea that we were going too.  The look on her face when she saw us was priceless.

The fun had only just begun.  As we set sail, we were in awe of the sunset over the Atlantic. 

The next 72 hours was full of laughter, eating, laughter, dancing, eating, playing, shopping, eating and laughter.  My sides still hurt from laughing so much. 

We made some very special memories on that ship.  I can't wait to get together again.  How about next week :-) ?



Saturday, December 15, 2012

On Monday

Elementary school memories are infused with pure kid joy at trying something new. For me, elementary school memories are all about the newness of learning and of life.

Like listening to books on tape in the reading tee-pee that my kindergarten teacher had. Or the day that my mom came into my first grade class and helped us make homemade peach ice cream in an old-fashioned ice cream maker. Playing with my friends on the playground on Field Day. Listening to our school librarian read The Velveteen Rabbit to our class. Learning how to write in cursive and being envious of Jeanie Enfante because her cursive had the perfect slant. Painting a mural on the cafeteria wall. Drinking chocolate milk out of tiny milk cartons and eating rectangle pizza. Being a patrol and helping to open doors for fellow students at the car line.

Then after the school day was over, walking home with my friends. My mom would always be there waiting for me. I would tell her about my day, have a snack, do homework, and play.

That is what a child should remember about elementary school. Not the nightmarish memories that come with cruel, senseless acts of Friday. No child should ever have to endure the horror of what happened on Friday. Years of innocence have been ripped away. Lost.

On Monday, 20 mothers (and fathers, brothers, sisters) will wait for their precious little ones to come home from school, but they won't. On Monday, students will sit in their classrooms waiting for beloved teachers who will never return. On Monday, a school staff will look for the leadership of a principal who is gone. On Monday, all those broken hearts who will be searching for guidance from their trusted school psychologist will not find her.

My prayer is that today, tomorrow, on Monday and always those who have lost so much will feel God's loving arms around them.



Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Fa, La, La, La, Blah, Blah, Blah...

Me and the Scary, Convict Santa years ago
I feel extra crunchy this afternoon.  Maybe it's sugary highs and lows from all the Christmas "goodies" speaking, but I feel like I am one candy cane short of a meltdown, seriously.  So thank you for reading, and now I am going to vent about what makes this beautiful season of the year not so "wintery and wonderlandish".

First, it is hard to be in the Christmas spirit when you loose at least a pound of water weight just getting in and out of your car to go anywhere here in Central Florida.  I am sweating bullets people, and it's December! Someone please let Santa know that he needs to dress in layers this year as he delivers toys. When he gets to Florida, he should just wear his bathing suit.  I hope it's not a Speedo though, because, well, that would be very frightening. 

Second, driving anywhere around here these days is enough to make you want to...I am not going to say what it makes me want to do because it's not very nice.  Although, I am probably already on the "Naughty List" because of my Santa Speedo remark. But really, are you in such a hurry to spread Christmas cheer that you have to drive like a maniac? 

Third, Christmas music...I really do not like it.  How many versions of, "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree" does this world need, really?!?

Fourth, Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree, how unlovely are your brown, crumbling branches, even though we just bought you two weeks ago and we are watering you everyday? 

Fifth, shopping carts really hurt when someone runs into the back of your heels with them.  Hey lady, you may want to be careful not to run over people in the store with your death cart in order to get to that last Deep Fried Twinkie Maker. Just saying.  Oh and Cart Lady, Twinkies are no longer on the market, so good luck with trying to find some to fry up.

Sixth, lawn ornaments are okay in moderation.  Does anyone else find it eerie to have your lights flicker every night around sundown as all the lawn ornaments turn on? Do you think it's okay that I haven't seen my neighbor's dog in several days, and the blow up Christmas alligator across the street has a slimy look on its face?

Seventh, I don't like tinsel.  Do they even make tinsel anymore?  If they do, I don't like it.

Eighth, Attention department stores: it might be a good idea to hire "Santas" that are actually old enough to grow facial hair.  Something about the cracking voice and acne of the teenage Santa just doesn't seem authentic.

Ninth, "Some Assembly Required" ?!?

Last, why are throw pillows so expensive?  $50 for a pillow?  Why, just why?

Wink, wink,


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

If Genes Could Arm Wrestle...

Scandinavian versus Mediterranean 

If genes could arm wrestle we would have a stale mate on our hands.  Pete's genetic material comes from his Scandinavian ancestors.  The blonde hair, blue-green eyes and oh-so-fair skin is the calling card of his family.  My family hails from the Mediterranean region.  We Italians are olive-toned, have an overabundance of brown hair, brown eyes, brown hair, and brown hair.

When Pete and I got married and our genetic pools mixed (slightly awkward wording). We were amazed at how some of our children were all the way Scandinavian and the others were completely Mediterranean.  We did not have any brown hairy babes with blue eyes or brown-eyed, blonde fuzz ball babies. It was as if the genes decided that they just could not compete. 

So we have our blondies...

And our brownies...


Oh, never mind. 

And it's all because, two people fell in love...and mixed genes.

Now, as far as personalities go, the "weirdo" gene was dominate and they all inherited it from their dad, not me.  No, really.  



Monday, December 3, 2012

Picture Perfect?

Most of the time, I love blogging.  I feel like it has many positive aspects.  Blogging is a great way to stay in touch with family and friends and to meet new friends :-).  It is a creative outlet for me; therefore, I find it relaxing. I love being able to document snippets of our life through words and photos.  I envision our grandkids looking at the blog and enjoying the stories of their moms and dads (sniff!)

In my opinion, there is also a downside to blogging.  I feel like it can give people a false sense of "reality".  Obviously, I can't blog about everything that happens in my life or the life of our family nor would I want to. Believe me, you would not want to read it if I did.  In fact, you might be scarred for life if you knew what really goes on here on a daily's scary at times :-). 

Anyway, my point is that life is not picture perfect, no matter how "put together" things may appear on a blog.  There are good days and bad days.  There are those messes in life that are too painful and private to share.  I never, ever want to be a discouragement to someone who reads this blog.  I never, ever want to give a false impression that the life that I live is somehow charmed or better than anyone else's life.  Believe me, what you see on this blog is just a teeny, tiny part of our life.  There is so much more.  We have our issues and they are many, my friends. 

To prove my point, let me leave you with an example in the form of a picture...

Real family life captured by Heather at Lisbet Photography

In hindsight, I could of just posted this picture and not even typed anything else.  

Keeping it real, 


Friday, November 30, 2012

You Win!!!

Aleah Harmsen, come on down! You're the next contestant on "This and That" or send me your email :-) ( You are the winner of the $50 Amazon Gift Card!!!

Aleah's favorite post was "The Three Hermanos - How My Brothers Changed My Life" about my adopted brothers!!!



Thursday, November 29, 2012

This and That GIveaway - It's Not the End Of The World!

Hey, hey, hey!!! This is the last day!!!

No, it's not the end of the world, but it is your last chance to enter to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card.

So, what in the world are you waiting for?  Follow this link to win!  11:59 PM EST is the moment of finality.



Sundeck 3

This is the big one Weezy!

Are you ready for a little auditory adventure?  I have just the ticket for you my friends.

Pete's musical buddy, Colin O'Malley, has written an epic song called Sundeck 3.  We are so excited for Colin!

Oh, and to make this news even more awesome, Pete produced / mixed the song and played guitars, bass, and drums on it.

So, stop everything that you are doing right now (except breathing, breathing is good) and go to iTunes and buy Sundeck 3.  You will love it!

Okay, why are you still reading this?  Go now!



Monday, November 26, 2012

Sassy Stairs

Boring, boring, snore fest, boring, blah, blah, blah.  That was the story of our staircase before this month.  

And now...

We have beautiful, fun, sensational, sassy stairs. 

We used lovely flower decals from Target to spruce up the front panels of every other stair. 

Now, those are some stairs that I could get excited about climbing multiple times everyday...or not.



Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Turkey Anxiety Disorder (T.A.D.)

Oh, help me Rhonda!

Today is T.P. Day (Turkey Preparation Day). My palms are so sweaty that I could brine the turkey with them.

In order to process my feelings on this dreaded day, I have written a poem. I have titled it "Turkey Lurky". Here goes...sorry in advance...

Turkey Lurky, Turkey Lurky
Where for art thou, Turkey Lurky?

In the fridge you wait for me
To come and place you gently
In a brothy, frothy brine
Seasoned well with salt and wine.

A turkey by any other name would smell as sweet
I'm so sorry that they cut off your feet
And stuffed you in a plastic bag
I feel the need to stop and gag.

Composure gained, I must go on
This poem is getting way too long
All the world's a stage, and the time is nigh
I think that I'm about to cry.

Turkey Lurky, Turkey Lurky,
Where for art thou, Turkey Lurky?

Out, out darn spot I start to say
Giblets make me swoon and sway
The time has come, the time is near
When I will scream, "Pete!!!! Please stick your hand up this turkey's rear!"

Turkey Lurky, Turkey Lurky
Where for art thou, Turkey Lurky?



P.S. I am so thankful for those of you who bravely endure this blog and I want to thank you. Please see yesterday's post for a chance to score a gift card from Amazon.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

When In Rome...Do As the Romans Do and Say Thank You!!!

This giveaway is closed. Thank you so much!!!!
This and That is celebrating its 2nd Birthday and you are invited!!!

Friends, Romans, countrymen, women and anyone else in the world over the age of 18, lend me your ears, um, eyes...

I have something fun and fabulous to share with you.  Oh boy, this is really, really, ridiculously exciting.  SQUEEEE!!!!!

On November 30, this here blogalicious blog will be exactly two years old.  I love this blog, it is like a member of my family.  Except it's really quiet, it does not complain about my cooking, and it's only slightly weird and awkward. 

What I love most about this blog though is YOU!!! Yes, you faithful family and friends that I know and friends that I would love to know, make this little project very special to me. You have blessed me with your awesomeness these past two years. 

So, I would love to say thank you and here is how...

From now until November 29 at 11:59 PM,  please leave a comment at the bottom of this post (you will have to become a follower of "This and That" to do so).  I would love to hear what your favorite post has been these past two years. Then, on November 30, 2012, our bloggy birthday, a reader will be randomly selected to win...drum roll please...

A $50 Amazon Gift Card!!!  It will be emailed to you, and you can spend it any way your little heart desires. 

The winner will be announced on the blog on November 30, 2012.

Once again, thank you for making blogging so much fun.  Now, go spend time with your family, eat a ton of turkey, and try not to make too much fun of Uncle Bob as he falls asleep sitting up in the armchair, snoring so loudly that the house shakes. 

P.S. This is not an endorsement or a paid thingy for me.  Amazon does not even know that I exist (although I have been called an amazon woman from time to time by Pete, when I have gone three months without shaving my legs, but that is really more than you cared to know).  Sorry, sometimes I just share too much. 

P.S.S. Also, please just leave one comment per follower. That means your brother Daryl and your other brother Daryl will have to comment on their own.  Oh, and Facebook comments are great, but my brain can not handle that much greatness, so they will not be able to count as an entry. 



An Alien Ate My Eyelashes

Don't be fooled, this is really an alien disguised as a cute toddler. 
Last week I was feeling a bit adventurous and I bought my first pair of false eyelashes.  I just wanted to try them and see what it was like to have long, lush lashes.  After 30 minutes of wrestling with the little buggers,  I finally got them to stick to my eye lid and not my fingers or face.  Then I spent the next several hours batting my lovely synthetic lashes at Pete, winking at strangers, and giving the kids butterfly kisses.  It was great fun for someone like me who leads such a glamorous life.

After the novelty and glue wore off, I took the lashes and put them away in their cute little case for safekeeping. Then, I sort of forget about them until tonight.  Pete and I had a dinner date with some friends and I was feeling all glamorous again.  So I went to put on the little lashies and they were not in their case! Dum...dum...dum...

I also noted that there was a seriously large glob of toothpaste on the counter next to the empty case.  Our bathroom suddenly morphed into a crime scene as I followed a trail of minty tooth polish on the floor.  The trail ended abruptly at the toilet, where it looked like someone had used a week's worth of toilet paper in a failed attempt to wipe up the Colgate carnage.  This looked like the work of a real professional.

With my eyelashes missing and a toilet paper mache sculpture left behind, I needed answers and quick. I questioned a couple of the older monkeys, but they were most unhelpful.  Then, I caught a whiff of peppermint as Mr. Toddler Toes twinkled by.  Hmmm..I had found my number one suspect, and the evidence was stacked against him.

So I asked, "Have you seen Mommy's eyelashes?  They were on the counter in our bathroom."

"Oh yes!" he said.

"Did you touch them?" I inquired.


"Where are they?" I pried.

"They are in my playroom."  he said.

"Will you find them for me?" I pleaded.

"No, they are really lost, Mommy. You need to get some new ones." he said in his most matter-a-fact voice.

I still have not found those lashes and I have searched his playroom several times.

I think that he ate them.

I guess we will find out soon enough. What goes in, must come out.  That is sure to be one glamorous poop.



Saturday, November 17, 2012

Celebrating the Season - How to Make a Grand Entrance

With the season of thanksgiving upon us, I thought it might be fun to share some ideas and tips with each other for making this Thanksgiving a memorable occasion for you and yours.

There is nothing quite like a warm welcome, right? When guests come to our home, I like to create an inviting mood before they even enter the front door.

To create a great first impression, consider adding a wreath or hanging a flower urn on your front door. I love changing the flowers in our urn to coordinate with the seasons. Fresh flowers and foliage can be preserved easily with florist's water picks added to the stems.

Other fun touches may include: outdoor lanterns with aromatic candles placed by your front door to light the way for guests or seasonal decorations such as rustic willow pumpkins and springs of fall grasses.

Really, the sky is the limit when it comes to making your guests feel welcome. I would love to hear your ideas friends. Feel free to leave a comment / link to pictures below.



Friday, November 16, 2012


Nineteen years ago, today a little person we love was born and the world became a better place.

If you ever have the chance to meet her, you will not soon forget her.

Those eyes, that hair, her smile...

But those physical features are just the icing on the cake.

Her heart is what you will captivate you.  It certainly has captivated us...

Amanda, we count it a privilege to be called your family.  Happy, happy birthday lovely one.




The picture attached below is just a glimpse into our day to day world...

I am thankful that this hot mess of teenagerness is a part of our life...he keeps it real around here.



Saturday, November 10, 2012

100 Montaditas - I Love You Tiny Sandwich Place

So, there is this new place in town called 100 Montaditas. Fun and trendy, straight from Miami. Very fresh ingredients on tiny little buns. Oh, and the olives are wowsers!

Pete really liked the the Spicy Bravo Potatoes with garlic mayo. I really liked everything, which is pretty much par for the course when it comes to food.

This is a fun little place to hang with your peeps any old time. Just make sure you invite me.



Friday, November 9, 2012

Truffle Oil Popcorn

Popcorn with butter is delicious.

Popcorn with truffle oil is divine.

I highly recommend you try it sometime.



Thursday, November 8, 2012

Life is Like A Ferris Wheel

I snapped this night shot of the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier in Chicago over the weekend. I think that Ferris Wheels are very beautiful especially at night, but I would not dare to ride one. I am terrified of heights.

It may sound weird but life is kind of like a ride on a Ferris Wheel. Before the ride starts, we find ourselves at the bottom of the wheel not able to see much but the ground and the carts ahead of and behind us.

As as the ride begins, slowly we begin to rise up, we start to be able to see past the ground level. The carts ahead of us no longer impede our view. We don't even notice the carts behind us anymore. And why would we? There is so much to see as we look out. As we climb, ever-so- slowly, we see things we would never be able to see at the ground level. We are rising above it all, getting a bird's eye view of the scenery. As we reach the top of the wheel we can see for miles in all directions. Then, slowly we descend again to the ground. Our all encompassing view becomes impeded with each moment. Finally, we reach the ground exhilarated by the view. Wanting for more.

Riding a Ferris Wheel is like those times in our life when we can't see anything but the here and now, the tasks ahead of us, reminders of our past mistakes. We long to move forward, onward and upward, to see past the hardships, the hurts, the never ending responsibilities. We wait with hopeful anticipation of better days. It may take days, months or even years, yet we wait.

Then the ascent begins. We find that we can see past the obstacles blocking our view of what lies ahead in our life journey. We find ourselves looking at the here and now, but seeing the horizon rise up before us. We realize that there is a much bigger picture. We find clarity in the 360 degree view, even if it is momentary. Just that glimpse gives us hope for the future, peace with our past, and joy for the present. The descent is now full of understanding, full of anticipation, alive with possibilities. Even when we reach the ground again, we know that the only way to go again is up.

In Jeremiah 29:11 God says, "For I know the plans that I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future."



Sunday, November 4, 2012


Our youngest monkey girl has been studying about birds lately.  Recently, we read about bird migration.  It was really fascinating and I was kind of geeking out over some of the information.  For instance, did you know that some birds will fly 3,000 miles non-stop over the ocean during migration? 3,000 miles!!!

For the past couple of mornings, I have been thinking a lot about migration.  There are several hundred geese in the field behind the hotel and they have become my alarm clock.  There is no sound quite like a collective chorus of honking geese. Wow!  

As I watch them from afar (geese are not known to be very congenial creatures), I notice that they are on a mission of sorts.  They spend hours in the field doing two things.  First, they seem to be positioning themselves in the most sunlit areas of the field.  They stay on the grass that is drenched by the sun.  At the beginning of the day, when the sun is only shining on a small portion of the field, they cram into that area.  As the sun rises and more of the field is illuminated, they spread out.  Second, they are constantly eating.  The field must be full of worms or bugs of some sort that the geese are gorging on. 

The days are growing shorter and colder. Instinctively, the geese are preparing for migration.  They will need the extra fat from the bug feast and the warmth and vitamins that they get from the sunshine to make their long hard journey South.  It's almost time. 

As they take fight in a few weeks, they will take a course that is familiar.  In fact, birds have been known to stop at the same bird feeder around the same time each year as they migrate. They will face wind resistance and have to self correct.  Even a slight deviation in one direction can throw them miles off their mark.

I feel like I have learned some valuable lessons by observing the geese for the past couple of days.  It dawned on me this morning that I am preparing for a migration of sorts.  I am migrating out of one season of my life and into another.  It takes a lot of preparation to migrate.  I have to make sure that I stay in the light of the Lord, so that I do not loose my footing.  He guides me with his light.  I need to make sure that I am filling myself with spiritual truths.  Feasting on them.  Fattening up, preparing for the long and often times, difficult journey that lies ahead.  There will be resistance and that could result in me deviating from the course if I am not able to recalibrate.  Ultimately, I want to stay the course and migrate well.  At the end of the migration route, there are greener fields. 



Thursday, November 1, 2012

Chilling In Chicago

I had to pinch myself just now as I typed that title. Not just because I am in Chicago which is pretty awesome in and of itself. And not just because I am chilling out listening to some great worship music. And not just because I get to spend time with a dear friend. And not just because I am wearing the softest, fuzziest socks ever. But mostly because I have an amazing husband and sweet children who encouraged me to go take some time to recharge and reconnect with my Creator.



Sunday, October 21, 2012

Just How Hungry are You?

Do you have a hankering for some gourmet junk food?  Check this out...

How would you like to sink your teeth into a slice of this pizza?

Photo credit: Reuters

It looks pretty inviting, right?  And it should, because it is loaded with creme fraiche, Maine lobster tail and caviar.  And you have a small slice for $125 or the whole pie for $1000! 

And after you have cleaned out the pizza box and your savings account, you can dip into your retirement account and have this gourmet ice cream sundae for dessert.

Photo credit: You Tube/Destination Luxury
With rich Tahitian vanilla ice cream, melted chocolate from Venezuela, and gold covered almonds, it's just a mere $1000.

Let's see, $2000 for dinner and dessert? Hmmm...that is just a little over our monthly grocery budget.  Maybe if we don't eat or feed the kids for a month,  Pete and I can take the monkeys out for a sliver of pizza and a spoonful of sundae.  Oh wait!  There's probably a sharing fee. 

Maybe we will just have to settle for the $1500 hotdog...

Photo credit:


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Seasons of the Heart

We are at our daughter's middle school writing class this morning. Her teacher lives out in the country on a beautiful piece of property. There are cats and dogs, butterflies and chickens, cows and our favorite...these gorgeous horses.

I love how they look this morning relaxing in cool shade of an autumn colored maple tree. So peaceful and gentle...

The warm glow of the morning sun on cypress trees in the background and the hints of coolness in the air announce that fall is settling in here in Florida.

Just as the seasons change here on Earth, I feel that we have seasons of change in our hearts. Hearts are like our internal barometers, sensing the rising and falling emotions that come with life's transitions. Seasons of the heart can include times of strength, contentment, fragility, joy, desperation, confusion, and countless other expressions. What happens around us or to us directly affects the deepest reaches of our inner being - our hearts.

What season are you in now, my friends? Is this springtime for you, full of the promise of newness or renewal. Is it summer? A time of growth and digging your roots down deep. Maybe it is fall and you are preparing for a harvest of this season of your life. Or could it be winter, a time of rest, reflection, even sadness?

I think that we can and will fluctuate between seasons of the heart our whole lives. Life is complicated and beautiful. As it says in Ecclesiastes, there is a time (or season) for everything under the sun.

I would really enjoy hearing your thoughts, my friends.



Do You Date Your Kids?

Years ago, we heard the best parenting advice ever.  It's simple.  Take your kiddos on a date.  We started this tradition with each of our kids and it has been a great way to connect with them. The date does not have to be anything elaborate or expensive.  We are talking quality time.  

Sometimes, the little monkey and I like to go have cinnamon rolls in the morning.  It starts the day off just right.  He gets a sugar high and some mommy time and I get some monkey time and fatter thighs.  Yes!



Saturday, October 13, 2012

Life is What Happens When You are Making Plans

We made it back from our camping trip on Monday night.  We have been sick ever since.  Actually, we were in various and assorted stages of sick on our camping trip.  It was awesome.  Throat blisters, raging fevers, and hacking coughs.  Sounds like a blast, huh?

The monkeys all look so pitiful in these pictures...

However, during the 4-6 hour windows of time that the ibuprofen and cough medicine kicked in, we did manage to have some fun.

After all, there was comfort food to been eaten...

Campfires to be built...

Cousins to play with...

And I am pretty sure that Santa works for the Tennessee Valley Train Authority during his off season. 

If I had not actually downloaded this picture from my camera, I would have sworn that I had a fever-induced hallucination that day.