Inspiration from 2010

Thursday, December 30, 2010

JanuaryHaitian earthquake relief teams & rescuers.  In my state of mid-pregnancy and thinking about babies and being an emotional rollercoaster, it was almost too much to bear to watch the relief efforts on tv.  I literally would watch for just a few minutes and then have to go do something else to get my mind off of it because I would be stuck in an endless state of depression.  But so many people were willing and eager to help.  From the folks that adopted babies, to those that were there picking up the disaster, and those that helped state-side to collect supplies (shout out to Brent Olsavsky who organized water bottle donations), I was inspired by your dedication to helping people who had literally nothing left.

FebruaryThe Olympics.  I can't help but get all emotional when I see everyone so proud to represent their country.  Battle of the Nations in a peaceful way.  Its just something about the Olympics that makes me feel very Kumbaya.  Along with the rest of the population of facebook status update-ers, I also found extreme enjoyment in watching (and very enthusiastically cheering) the Curling events.

MarchMy Mom.  Somehow after the unexpected passing of my grandma, HER mother; my mom found strength to still be MY mother when I needed her most.  Thank you & I love you, Mom.

AprilMy Son.  On April 8th, 2010 at 8:04 am, it was just me and my husband that made up our family.  And then one minute later, from nothing, came another person.  In just a moment he wasn't here, and then he was and our whole life changed for the better.  Everything was new to us because it was new to him.  We never studied anything as closely as the little hairs on his head.  We never worried about anything as much as we worried that his little breaths were going in and out while he slept.  We never thought our hearts could grow three sizes too big in an instant.  We never thought we'd be beaming with so much pride when the doctor said he has strong lungs.  He was strong and screaming and beautiful and so full of potential.  And he is ours.  We are his.

MayHoly Cross Church.  In my whole life, I have never felt deeply connected to a church or its community.  I am a born & raised Catholic girl that went through all the motions of our religion because its a tradition and feels comfortable.  I pray and believe in God, but I never felt invested in the sermon or the service.  I have friends that believe all kinds of things & attend all kinds of churches, and I've always felt a little envious of people who love their church.  And then we joined Holy Cross in Fairview, PA and my eyes were opened to a church, priest, and community that really made me feel welcome and surrounded by people who are inspired to go to church on Sunday.  It wasn't just part of their weekly routine - they went and celebrated every week.  Our priest, Father Scott, says every Sunday mass like his life depended on it; like he has absolutely no where else that is more important to be than right there repeating those words he could probably say in his sleep.  If he cares that much, I can't help but be excited and inspired.  Our little man was baptised there in May and the service was like it was the first and most important baptism they had ever seen.  Everyone came up to congratulate Grey and all parishioners present on the day signed a letter addressed to him when he is a teen and ready to be confirmed; reminding him that he has a whole community of people happy to help him navigate his way through life and through his faith.  Its so beautiful and makes me so joyful to be there.  If we ever move, leaving Holy Cross will be the hardest part. 

JuneWaiting for Superman.  The movie wasn't released until later in the year (out on DVD/blueray in Feb.2011 if you didn't see it!) but I stalked the trailer about 30 million times over the summer and had my heart swell up in inspiration every single time.  There isn't much I can say about this without going on a super rant about public education in our country - but know that this is happening in our country, the one we claim to be better than everyone else's.  Young kids are begging and crying to have the opportunity to attend a great school.  Its a disgrace that we don't offer quality education for every child.  What does that say about us as a nation, if we don't care about the education we offer our children?  Okay, I'm done...for now.  See the movie.  Once you know, you can't unknow it.

JulyOur friends.  As you may have noticed, we like planning events throughout the year that demand family & friend involvement.  We get pats on the back for doing all the planning & organizing - but it literally would be all for not if we didn't have people in our lives that supported our crazy ideas and showed up to participate.  At the second annual Beer Olympics, we had so many friends show up to donate money & participate that I was literally overwhelmed.  Yes it is easier to wrangle people to join in on the fun with such a catchy & interesting event - but its a beautiful summer weekend AND it costs money AND you have to follow the rules AND you have to get your face painted AND you have to play on teams with strangers AND you have to participate in a very childish and silly awards ceremony....and despite all of those limitations - our friends still show up with money in hand and a resounding, "Hell yes I'll sign this waiver."  Thank you, thank you, thank you for playing along while raising money for others.  I love you.

oh and the VH1 Do Something Awards.  If you didn't see it, sorry to say - you missed out big time.  I watched the whole award show with tears of inspiration streaming down my face.  So amazing and unbelievable what determination and persistence can do.  Vh1 is admirable for spotlighting so much good-deeding!  See the nominees & winners here

AugustTeachers.  I mean the using their own money to buy school supplies kind.  And the stay afterschool to teach ballroom dancing classes kind.  And the kinds that go to cheer at their students' sporting events.  The kinds that get teared up when their students put on a show they have rehearsed for weeks.  The kinds of teachers that teach their students its important to be nice and try your best.  Thank you teachers for making a difference everyday.

SeptemberThe Buried Life.  This show makes me so happy.  First the boys are adorably hilarious but more than that, I am so inspired at the way they just go after what they want.  balls to the wall..excuse the cliche.  So many people make a bucket list and then never get around to it...but these four guys have decided to get it all done while they have the time now.  I seriously love them.

October: Strangers, like;
This woman and her son.  This is the kind of mom I want to be.

Johnny from the Dominican Republic who I am eternally indebted to for taking care of Greyson when we had some unexpected oceanic turbulence on vacation.

The Chilean Miners.  It's impossible for me to watch the video without tears filling up my eyeballs and a smile so wide it makes my cheeks ache.

The Pioneer Woman.  Literally cannot look at her blog for less than 45 minutes.  So obsessed with her layout, her photography, her writing, her recipes, her overall humor about the hilarity of momhood; just so obsessed with her.  Warning - if you look at her blog, I just want to warn you its almost impossible to stop.  Just sayin'.  (shout out to one of my fav bloggers, Zina, for introducing me to the wonderful world of Pioneer Woman).

NovemberThe Conemaugh Valley Community.  I've already wrote a blog post about it, so to save being redundant let me just say that my faith was restored in promises kept.

DecemberMy Husband.  It is hard being a grown up, its even harder being a husband, and hardest being a dad and a husband and a grown up all together.  Add that with a big glob of having caretakers surround you for your whole life and its even harder...because now that my husband's main caretaker (ie. me) has two other beings that suck the caretaking out of me all day (ie. the baby and the dog) my husband has had to take on new jobs that he's never had to do, like the laundry and dishes, making sure bills are paid, and maybe that all seems very small, but B has never had to do any of that because I used to do it (& like doing it!) and then before me his mom did it all and then if his mom couldn't, his gram would, and so on and so on...which is probably why his mom still jokes, "yea, that's my fault; sorry I never made him do anything."  But even though it has been a rocky road this year adjusting to dadland and gaining lots of responsibilities AND managing a super stressful and demanding husband is trying his hardest everyday.  thank you for learning to do new things for me.  thank you for loving me even when i'm bossy.

Booboo wants to run!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Uncle Joe & Aunt Ginger got Greyson a "pediatric walker" hah, and after a few hesitant tries, Grey has been zooming around the basement with the help of one of his favorite Christmas presents!

how an 8 month old celebrates his first Christmas

Go to Christmas Eve mass and does pretty good at being quiet and listening to the music.

And then eat a cookie

And then open your first gift

And then play with it like its the best present EVER.

And then get a bath

And then leave cookies for Santa

Then go to sleep with sugar plums dancing in your head.
Then when you wake up, be really really excited 

Then go see all the presents that Santa left for you and be confused!

And then go crazy.

Hope your holiday was just as new and exciting to you!

December Kindness: Adopt-a-family

Our family decided to “adopt-a-family” this year for Christmas. We spoke to the Salvation Army and learned that there were over 1200 families in Erie alone that had filled out “adoption” applications for the season this year. Adoption includes children’s gifts and the Holiday meal. We know it has been a tough year for all families, so in the true spirit of the season; we happily adopted a family of three; a single mom, and her two sons; Andre and Matthew. Their wishlist included things like a remote control car and a train set. Our contact at the Salvation Army mentioned several times that what the boys really need are pajamas and socks.
So, on our day off, my little family headed to the bustling shopping center with the stranger’s wishlist in hand. And we had a blast buying for these little boys we’ll probably never meet. Brandon must have spent 15 minutes in the remote control car section of Toys ‘R Us, only to return and announce proudly, “Ok, is this the most badass car over there.” The little brother needed to have an equally awesome train set and we were still able to buy them a few extra toys and batteries too. I morphed into Mom mode and went the most practical route and bought the kids two sets of jammies and ten pairs of socks each. We left those shops with aching arms for all of the surprises for our two little mystery guys.

Our next stop was the grocery store to purchase their Holiday morning meal.  Our adopted family will be doing some fine dining - with even some sparkling cider and hot chocolate for toasting!  I wrote out a card for the momma and included a Ham Pot Pie recipe so hopefully they can get more than just one meal out of the groceries we purchased. 

When I asked the Salvation Army contact whether or not we should buy something for the mom, she told us, “Some people do; like lotions or candles; but all of our mothers rather you spend the money on the kids.” And that’s when I really felt connected to this family; to this woman that I’ve never met. On the outside, we live very different lives; I have a son who will receive too many gifts this Christmas and she has gone through the trouble to fill out an application to ask strangers for help, just so her sons can wake up to a few gifts under the tree. But despite our differences, we are both mothers who want a Christmas that brings joy to our children’s eyes; which really makes us just the same inside. I included in her card, “From one mom to another, know that you are NOT alone.”

We loved this month's kindness; it feels good to know that somewhere in Erie there are two little boys with full bellies and smiling faces, and a very grateful mom.

illiterates of today

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I read a beautiful quote today.  Sometimes I get so frustrated with closedmindedness that I get filled up with red, hot, molten, anger...but this quote helped me unboil myself after reading some ridiculously ignorant and blantantly childish remarks while I was lost in a facebook stalk on someone's page I don't even know...aaanyway, in my winding path through a stranger's semi-locked page, I stumbled across an amazingly brilliant (at least what I can tell from his quotes section & his comments) human and felt uplifted.

"The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn."  -Alvin Toffler

Lesson for today & always - NEVER stop learning and questioning.

holiday sweets & treats!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

I am just going to go ahead and say it, I am damn proud of my baking efforts this Christmas.  I'm not much of a baker, chef, or candlestick-maker, but I put forth the effort this year and I'm just going to go ahead and boast.

While my family was visiting, I felt like a powerful woman with all the "free time" (aka someone else was watching the dog and the baby) and I went to the kitchen like one of those women you see in old movies that bake because they're nervous.  Brandon said, "holy crap, why do you keep baking more?"  I just couldn't stop myself, I was overcome with the ghost of christmas bakers past.

I started my baking journey with the ever favorite sugar cookies & boiled icing; both recipes from my late Gram Adams.  When we were little girls, every holiday we would make the trek two doors up the street to my grandma's house to bake sugar cookies and ice them.  It was a full day event and all the granddaughters would join in the fun.  The table was caked with flour and our bellies full of raw dough be the end of the day, but we sure cookie-cutter'ed and ice'd the heck out of about 10 dozen cookies.  After four years of Gram's passing, I am still trying to perfect the icing, just can't get it yet - but I'm getting a little better each time.  I made the dough and icing earlier that morning, and then slapped my sisters in some aprons and put their behinds to work!

By the end of all that flour mess-making, laughing, and creating of weird designs; we had ourselves 5 dozen of delicious sugar cookies.  here's to you gram; my best attempt at your icing - miss you everyday.

Know that your great grandson is enjoying your icing recipe, Gram!
I also got a deliciously amazing recipe from called Montana whoppers.  They are basically chocolate chip oatmeal cookies on uppers, and by uppers I mean with milk chocolate & white chocolate chips AND mini m&m's.  The recipe is here if you feel like totally blowing your diet before your new years resolution kicks in.

waah!  messy kitchen!!
Then it was a quick toss in the oven for our store-bought sugar cookies for our December kindness; deliver cookies to St. Mary's of Asbury's.  Those are no trouble, but are much appreciated by the folks over at St. Mary's. 

Then I made some chocolate covered pretzel sticks and my baby sis reluctantly helped decorate them.  The secret to melting the chocolate; which somehow I forget every single time I make these, is that you put the chocolate in a pan on top of a pan of water.  Then the boiling water, melts the chocolate in pan above.  If you just melt the chocolate in a pan right on the stove burner, you'll get what I get at the start of making these, not kidding, every single time:  burnt chocolate.  You'd think a girl would learn? I'm blaming it on how nutty I was at that point from all the raw dough and chocolate intake!?

final products!!
Later in the week, I hesitantly baked up some pumpkin roll.  I know, one holiday too late, but Brandon has been pleading with me to try it out since before Thanksgiving (oops) and I finally caved and tried it out for the first time.  It was suprisingly easy and delicious.  I even threw in some coconut into the cream cheese filling for my hubs.  best wife ever?  yes, if you don't count the fact its a month late.

Bully has the best day ever...

While my family was visiting, Bully had a great day when almost all of us went outside and chased him around the yard.  We played keep away, football, and some snow tackles were in order for everyone (thanks, Dad!)  Bullet had a blast running all over the backyard and getting so much attention from so many people!

After all that release of pent up energy, Bullet threw up twice in the garage and then went to sleep.  That's basically the equivalent of dog complete happiness.  hah.

photo editing is a girl's best friend

We have a good camera, thanks to one of my birthday presents in years gone by from  my hubby.  We have a Nikon D40x and I have given that thing a beating over the year.  But it withstands all of my abuse and produces beautiful pictures.  Definitely worth the money if you're looking for a better camera that can withstand the test of time. 

I am no photographer, although I aspire to be - however with my great camera my pictures usually come out pretty nice.  But I didn't know how nice I could make my pictures until I was introduced to Picasa. 

First of all, I love google and any products that were produced from the womb of google are automatically in my good graces.  A few blogs in the past, I mentioned that I use google to create my header collages (love) and I've been using it ever since to create collages, as if you haven't noticed.  But I've recently discovered the amazing feats that Picasa can do to my pictures to make them even more memorable and adorable.

The thing with me is that between the job, baby, dog, husband, blogging, house work, and normal hygiene - I do not have time to go through every picture and edit it.  I'm sorry I can't be bothered with photoshop or picnik.  Photoshop has waaay too many options for me and it takes too long for my pics to upload to picnik.  I have found that Picasa is the quickest, idiot-friendliness, laziest, and easiest ways to get my pictures looking gorgeous with just a few clicks!

So here's the original taken with our awesome camera.  Pretty freaking cute pic of my son in the bathtub making a goofy face.  I could have just left it be, right?

Once I upload my pics to my computer, they go straight into Picasa.  So it's easy for me to edit them right there.  This picture stood out to me as one of my favorites, so I took a few minutes to edit it before it made it to facebook.  hah.   Following are a variety of edits I made to the original to give its cuteness some different flavahs.

Title:  My little blue eyed booboo bear.
The Picasa edits for this one included: croping, film grain, and color temperature decrease.

Title:  Retro booboo
Picasa edits include:  cropping, highlighting, shadow increase, fill light, and warmify

Title:  perfect babydoll booboo
Picasa edits include:  cropping, fill light, shadow, highlights, filtered black&white

Title:  Mumma's baby
(this one's my favorite both visually and ease in editing)
Picasa edits:  cropping, "I'm feeling lucky" button

Lesson for the holiday:  Snap away!  You can edit until the pictures look professional in your FREE download of Picasa.  seriously, I love it.

Step by step visual: how to dress an 8month old for Christmas pictures

Holiday visits

We had an appreciated influx of visitors over the past few weeks.  It has been a lot of fun hosting and so nice to see people especially around the jolliest time of the year.  Gma and Pappy Butch came for a visit the last weekend of hunting season.  So while Daddy and Pappy Butch were in the woods; Grey hung out with his Mum and Gma.  I was able to run some errands unrestricted by a car seat which is always amazing.  Grammie even made us some homemade chicken noodle soup, which Grey slurped down like a little porker.  He loves him some pasta.
So comfy - snoozin' on Gma

Then we got a visit from my NY/TFA friend, Kelly and her husband Matt.  Kelly & I were roommates in Brooklyn and we haven't seen each other for three years.  So on their car trip down the east coast from MI, they did a somewhat out-of-the-way trip to stop and visit us for the afternoon!  It was so nice catching up and seeing them again.  Grey was a big hit and Bullet was the happiest of all to have a playdate all afternoon since Kel & Matt brought their lab, Maka.  Oh, happiness for Bully.

Then we had a visit from the whole Adams crew the weekend before Christmas.  The boys all got to go ice fishing (happiness for them), while the girls hung out and baked cookies, drank "loaded" hot chocolate (aka +kahlua), and laughed and giggled the weekend away.  Booboo got lots of loving from everyone.

Abba & Grey

Poppa Chum & Grey playing with the window decorations

Aunt Kitty, booboo, and Aunt Uch

Grey hanging with his bud, Jordan
We also got a visit from cousins Mallory and Stef over the weekend.  It is always nice to get to see my goddaughter and fav cousin.   

Grey and Mals played so nice and are too cute together. They both look just like their daddies - its like watching tiny Justin & Brandon playing together, it cracks me up!

Jordan was quoted as saying, "Oh God, the apocolypse with those three Adams girls together."  But seriously, we are a little much to handle when SCF all gets together.  None of us barely have to finish a sentence because the other two already know exactly what we're talking about, so the conversations usually sound like this:

tab:  did you watch that episode of animal hoarders with the lady
tasha:  who had 97 cats?
kayla: yea and then the one with the guy with the lizards
tab: and he (exaggerated hand motions)
tasha:  no i know!
kayla: did you see that one (exaggerated hand motions)
tasha & tab:  yeaaaaaa

so its a whole conversation of basically no one saying anything completely but we all everyone around us is either bored, annoyed, or amazed out of their minds.  haha, i love my sisters.  And so does booboo!  but he is going to need a whole lot of practice to keep up with us!

November Kindness: 2nd Annual CV Alumni Turkey Bowl

Saturday, December 11, 2010

To the participants of the CV Alumni Turkey Bowl 2010,

Even though I don't live in Johnstown anymore, I still feel a strong connection to our community. I used to think that maybe it’s because our family still lives there or because you really just can’t get a snack as delicious as a sundowner at 2am anywhere outside of Jtown. But the truth is, there is something special about the people that come from our town; something that you can depend on.
So, for the second year in a row, my husband and I organized the Conemaugh Valley Alumni Turkey Bowl. We had double the number of participants this year, ordered all the t-shirts, coordinated the plans with the school, and printed all the programs. So, when Thanksgiving morning arrived and we looked outside, you can imagine my heartbreak. In a last ditch effort, I changed my facebook status to “the CV Turkey Bowl is on - no matter Rain or Shine,” and we made our way over to the field, sick in the stomach. After all that planning, who in their right mind would show up on Thanksgiving morning in this weather?

And then we pulled into the parking lot and to our extreme gratitude; we saw YOU…by the start of the game, there was 38 of YOU to be exact. That's not even including the volunteers who trekked through the weather just to help out OR the fans who showed up with umbrellas and ponchos just to cheer on the participants! Alumni from the graduating classes from 1977 to 2010 participated as either a player, a cheerleader, or a volunteer in the freezing, cold rain and mud. Maybe it’s been my time living away from our community, but I truly didn’t expect anyone to show up that morning. Thank you for reminding me why I am so proud of my hometown and my community; there is the solid truth that we can rely on each other. ..Even if it is 10am on a holiday and I’m asking you to play football in the freezing rain in old sweatpants and boots. There YOU were high-fiving and shivering with mud on your clothes and a smile on your face. I was thankful this Thanksgiving because of you.