Saturday, December 24

Merry Christmas Eve

(Take note of the tree skirt- I finished that yesterday and I love it!!!)

Things we love this Christmas season:
Amazon Prime (free 2 day shipping on almost everything)  how will we ever live without you?
Packages and letters in the mail
The green grass- yes I said Green- there will be no white or brown Christmas here- it looks like summer out there!  It may not be as warm but I will enjoy it as long as I can.
Our REAL beautiful Christmas tree adorned with mostly homemade decorations and a new tree skirt.
Each other- we are grateful to be together and healthy and happy.
The real reason we celebrate Christmas.  Though Santa is fun we have really been trying to focus on Jesus Christ this season.  We have made a point to talk about different parts of the Christmas story every day and read books that focus on the nativity.  It has been a special Christmas for us all.  We watched these videos yesterday together and the kids loved them.  (Though Ruby had a hard time wrapping her head around the fact that they were just actors and it wasn't the real Joseph and Mary.  She just thought they were being being video taped like she always is.  We had to explain to her that there were no cameras back when Jesus was born...  she couldn't believe it!)
Friends that we have made here that make it a little easier to be away from family at this time...
Simple traditions that are passed down- things like decorating the Christmas tree, making the house dark and turning on the Christmas tree lights and laying under it- just enjoying the beauty and wonder of Christmas.

Things we will miss this Christmas season
Family- of course.  It just isn't the same without everyone.  I keep thinking about what everyone is doing back home and wishing that we could be there too.  Luckily it won't be too long until we are back visiting.
Snow- I know I was just bragging about the green Christmas that we are having- but lets be realistic- how can it really feel like Christmas without snow?
TOFFIFEE- Cannot find the stuff anywhere.  How can it be Christmas if I don't have toffifee in my stocking?  I know that they sell it down here (they actually spell it toffifay down here) but they must not sell it in ohio.  So if anyone hears my plea- buy me a pack of toffifee and I will come and get it in January!  (while I was writing this I looked it up on Amazon- they sell it, of course, 15 pieces for 10 dollars- does that seem right?)

We would just like to say Merry Christmas.  Thank you for all you have done for us and for all the packages and love that we have received.  We are grateful for this time of year to celebrate the miracle of Christ's birth and the magic of Christmas.

Monday, December 12


About 2 weeks ago after a delicious Thanksgiving dinner with friends we hit the road and headed out to Gettysburg, PA for a little adventure.  After paying about $20 in tolls, taking the craziest windy roads ever, us all getting a little car sick (which is saying a lot for me), and Myers crying for about the last hour on and off because he couldn't sleep we finally made it.
We got into the hotel, declined the meatballs we were offered, and went to bed.
We woke up the next morning with both vigor and vim and were ready for our historically enlightening adventure.
And historically enlightening it was.
We had been told to watch the Gettysburg movie before we went, and though it was a little bit painful to get through (it is like 4 hours long), we were glad that we had.  I mean who needs a book when you can watch the movie?  Am I right?
 Meeting Abe Lincoln himself.  He really is as honest as they say....  He said I wouldn't look very good in this picture because the sun was in my eyes and my hair looked weird and I tilted my head like a crazy person.  He was right.
 Once Ruby figured out that he was a statue and not an actual person she warmed right up to him.
 The field where the famous 'Pickett's Charge' took place.
 Little Round Top  Justin and I both have a special place in our hearts for Colonel Chamberlain (he had a really big part in the movie and he seemed like a pretty stand up guy).

The Cemetery at Gettysburg  
This was where the famous Gettysburg address was given by Abraham Lincoln.

 This was how we ended up carrying Myers most of the day.  He had had enough.
 An actual Holly tree.
 Myers was pretty excited.
Gettysburg was a truly humbling and sobering experience for me.  Many men died in that battle- and though I am not American my ancestors were.  And it was a pivotal point in the civil war and a pivotal point in MY future.  And yours (lets face it- whatever happens to America affects us all).  I have great respect for those who fought and lived and died for their country, and state and beliefs.  The point that I found interesting while we were there was that no one was portrayed as the 'bad guys' and the 'good guys'  It was just americans who had died and were being honored and remembered for their sacrifice.  There was a great feeling of sadness there.  I learned a lot about American history and it felt good to increase my knowledge in that area.  We bought the cds to listen to in our car while we drove through the various sites.  It was the best idea ever.  We could decide what we wanted to see and where we wanted to go and how much we wanted to listen to.  We were able to learn lots from them and enjoy ourselves.  I love these mini adventures that we are able to have together.  It builds memories and bonds and knowledge.  All good things.  It also builds patience.....

Sunday, December 11

Our First Christmas Tree

We have been married almost 9 years now and have never had our own Christmas tree.  Never really had the need to- we have always gone home for Christmas- and when we were living in Waterloo it was normally 2 weeks before Christmas until a week after Christmas so no need for a Christmas tree.
Well this year was different since we weren't going home at all- so we headed to the best tree buying place EVER and got our Christmas tree at Brunner's.
Ruby had the job of picking the perfect Christmas tree, and she took her job VERY seriously.

She finally decided on this one.  The most beautiful tree there....

They tied it on the roof for us and we were on our way to hot chocolate and pie.  It was such a great experience and so fun for everyone.  I love Christmas.

 We headed home (after hot chocolate and pie) and decorated it with the 5 ornaments that we had.  We had to buy lights on our way home but didn't get enough (as you can tell in this picture).  I headed out later that night to get more.  We have since strung cranberries and made many more ornaments to adorn our tree...
How many other people have Rapunzel decorating their tree?

Thursday, December 1

Random Randomness

It is my birthday today, and since it is my birthday I get to do whatever I want.  So I am just going to post a whole bunch of random things that I have been thinking about lately or that have happened to me recently.  Things to remember as I get older (as my memory goes...)

1. Random acts of kindness, however simple, really do brighten a person's day.  Remember that time about a year ago when someone I didn't know bought me that wallet?  I think about that ALL THE TIME.  And every time I think of it it makes me feel good.  Recently I was grocery shopping with the kids by myself (which was my first mistake...) and I was loading the groceries and the kids into the car when a lady passed by and asked me if she could return my cart for me.  Such a simple thing, yet it has left a lasting impression.  I really didn't want to return that cart (though I would have) and she saw a need, a simple need, and she filled it.
2.  Accept these simple acts of kindness with kindness and gratitude.  Recently the kids and I decided to do our own act of kindness for our neighbors.  We were waiting for a ride somewhere and were outside playing while we waited.  It was garbage day and everyone still had their garbage bins out, now hauling the garbage bins in is probably my least favorite thing to do, so we thought that we would bring some of our neighbors bins in.  The first house went well so we headed to the second house.  We were met half way by a very bleary eyed neighbor who was a little suspicious.  He couldn't be convinced that we were just doing something nice for them.  He thought we were campaigning.  Because I always see a woman in her yoga pants and 2 kids campaigning... (but that is beside the point...) I left after our brief conversation feeling awkward.  But I learned that it is ok to be grateful.

3. I just learned about this Beauty Redefined campaign.  I think it is a really great thing and I hope that I can raise my children to feel good about themselves ALWAYS.  And to know that the media should not define what is beautiful and worthwhile.

4. I found what I think is the best Christmas advent that I have ever seen.  I saw it on Delia Creates.  It is the box advent on there- Every night I will fill it with something we will do or read or get the next day.  Every day is different and I don't have to do too much prep.  I just sit down for a few minutes the night before and determine what would be best for us to do the next day.  I love it.  And I know Ruby will too.

5. We are going to get our first Christmas tree ever.  Not because we don't celebrate but because this will be the first Christmas that we spend just us.  It is exciting but if I am being honest I am already missing family...

6.  I have been super busy making presents and ordering presents online... One of my favorite things about living in the USA is the shopping.  I have gotten so many amazing deals.  As an example- recently I went to Old Navy when they had a special for 75% off all outerwear and I had Old Navy Bucks.  I bought 2 winter coats for me, 2 for Justin, a pair of running pants, 2 skirts and a maxi dress all for 60 dollars.  I saved 350 dollars that trip.  It was amazing.  I felt like an extreme couponer and was on a 'shopping deal' high for days!

7.  You've had them fried, scrambled, hard boiled, and poached but have you ever had them baked?  One of Justin's many experiments- but this one went wrong.  Very wrong.  Baked eggs are a no go.  Weird, hard, inedible outer crust and weird texture.  The pictures say everything.

We look happy here- its all a ruse.
You eat them and that film is left behind.  In this picture I'm using my teeth to scrape the egg out of the film...  classy I know...  It's a little creepy but cool at the same time...  They tasted fine but like I said, they had that weird film.  I would never recommend baking your eggs...

8.  I love pinterest.  Such great ideas all in one place.  What could be better than that?  I am making this for our christmas tree skirt.  I will also be making all of our decorations- since we have none.  I can see a lot of our advent activities being based around making decorations.  I am thinking of stringing fresh cranberries as garland- does that even work or do they just go bad?

9.  I am grateful that there is no snow on the ground for my birthday.  It was my one birthday wish- and it happened!  Ruby and I are definitely having a little disagreement about snow.  She claims she loves it and she CANNOT believe that I don't.  She is constantly trying to convince me that I like snow.  It makes me laugh.

10.  Two things that can always make me feel better- a clean house and exercise.  A clean house always feel better than a dirty house.  If ever I feel super lazy or gross I know it has to do with the state of my house.  So I 'get up off of that thing and (clean) till I feel betta' (that is a real song- it doesn't say clean it says shake it- does any one else know what I am talking about?  I don't know what song it is but I think it is pretty widely known.)

11.  I love INSANITY.  The work out.  Justin and I have been doing it for 4 weeks straight.  It is just good to have a common goal and motivate each other and do something together.

12.  Justin meet Justin.

Justin took this picture at Elder Beerman (a department store here) with a Justin Bieber billboard.  It made me laugh because he came in the car trying to convince me that he met the Biebs.  Not only is the flash bouncing off of J.Biebs but he is looking a little flat AND I watched him take that picture through the window of the store.  It was awesome, especially for all the people watching the 30- something year old taking a picture with the fake Justin Bieber.  I love that man of mine...

I am now 28 and have embraced it surprisingly easily.  I look forward to what is to come in this life of mine.

Tuesday, November 29

Cleveland Zoo

There is so much to catch up on.
I guess that is what happens when you neglect the blog...
Anyway- here is our trip to the Cleveland Zoo!
That place is HUGE- it was really fun!
We were there for 4.5 hours and we still didn't see everything....
But we saw the really cool stuff.
 Like the Reindeer fighting...

 And the seals!

 And the sharks- which were incredible awesome...
 We even got a little note from fellow Canadian friends (we assume...) They saw our license plate and left us this note one our windshield!
The end to a perfect day....  And once again.  I love Cleveland.

I Start Walking Your Way, You Start Walking Mine....

It was a magical moment when we headed to Hershey, PA to meet up in the middle with some long lost friends....
Our first stop was Wendy's of course.  What is a 'Snughes' adventure without Wendy's?  Nothing I tell you- NOTHING!  Plus we were famished.  Fries and a Frosty- is there anything better in this world?
It was a quick trip so we didn't waste any time- we headed to the Chocolate World and took a tour of the 'factory'.  There were singing cows and candy at the end- so it was pretty awesome.  Plus it was free....

CANDY!  (Which no one particularly liked- stick to what you know Hershey, stick with what you know...)
Stuck the kids in with the stuffed Hershey kisses- they didn't want to get out- and who can blame them?
Used the memorabilia, that we didn't buy, to cool us down...
And did our best to get all the kids in one picture together....
Met the Reese's Peanut Butter cup mascot- a dream come true!
We also headed to the amusement park- which was fun- for most of us...  Ruby discovered she is more like her dad than me- she got sick from the ride- no actual puking but no fun after that either...  We headed to Dunkin' Donuts for some hot chocolate while Mark and Henry finished up the fun having.

We also did some Hershey exploring- I love the light posts!
Trying to decide where to have our last meal before the dreaded good bye...
Houlihan's it is!
I think Justin's face says it best.  We had a great time in Hershey but mostly because we had great company.  (His face does say all of that, doesn't it?)  My favorite time was when we were just able to relax and hang out- order a little wendy's and watch a little modern family- while the kids were sleeping.  Just laugh and joke and have a good time.  And as an added bonus Kim and I were able to get a little bit of post Thanksgiving shopping in, which was nice.  We are just glad to have such great friends who are willing to drive 5 hours to meet up and have some great times and make some great memories.  Until next time Hughes', hopefully it won't be too long.....

Monday, November 28

Thanksgiving Tree 2011

I saw this at a friends house and decided it would be a great FHE idea and something to help us remember to be grateful.
Presenting our Thanksgiving tree of 2011.  (This will now be a yearly tradition)

Thanksgiving, isn't it a little late for that, eh?  That is what my Canadian friends are thinking right now- am I right?
Well it seems weird to me to but when you are in America you do as the Americans do.
So we completely skipped over Canadian Thanksgiving and jumped right into American thanksgiving.
Hence the Thanksgiving tree in November.
All I did was cut out a tree like shape from packing paper (Ruby thought it looked like a mushroom) and then cut out a whole bunch of leaves from various fall colored paper.
Then we spent an evening talking about all of the things that we are grateful for and wrote them on the leaves.  Noni and Ruby placed them on the tree and now we have a constant reminder of what we are grateful for.  It can lift a person's spirits just looking at it.  That is why I like it.
It can also scare a person half to death when they see it in the dark (it resembles a person lurking in the dark out of the side of your eye)
I am grateful for the constant reminder to be grateful, sometimes I need it.  It is important to remember to be grateful for the things in our lives, and I am.
I feel blessed and grateful.
At this time I am grateful for family and friends.
We had a great time getting together with all the 'orphan' families (those who don't have any family living out here) and celebrating thanksgiving.  There was so much food and laughter, it felt like family and it was great.
After dinner, instead of lining up for black friday specials, we headed to Gettysburg and Hershey to meet up with the other thing I am grateful for- old familiar friends.  (The friends aren't old, just the friendship)
More to come on that soon!

Tuesday, November 22

Cleveland Rocks II

I am in love with this city.  I don't know why- it just has charm, and it isn't crazy crowded.
I like it.
So we took another trip to experience more of the city that is Cleveland, Ohio.
You can see our other trip here.
This trip brought along a few surprises.
Including our chance to meet Carlisle Cullen.   (He has a real name but lets face it, it was hard enough for me to remember what his movie name was....)
We were heading to the terminal tower that overlooks the city when low and behold in the same mall was an autograph and picture taking experience with Dr. Carlisle Cullen himself.

Myers was super excited about it.  He's a huge twilight fan- I mean what almost 2 year old isn't?

There he is!

And here he is closer.

And signing autographs.

We didn't get to actually shake his hand or get our picture with him (that would have cost $40) but we were among the admirers, though technically we aren't admirers...  But we posed as such.  I enjoy myself some twilight but not enough to pay for a picture and an autograph...
And then we got sufficiently bored and headed to the terminal tower...

It was awesome!  It just recently reopened after it was closed because of some scares from September 11.

We all had fun taking turns pressing the buttons in the multiple elevators we had to take to get all the way up there.  It reminded me of when we went up the Empire State Building- though less supervised, less money, and definitely less people.  But both were awesome in their own right...

 All the way up to the 42nd floor!  Myers looks super impressed.
 Part of the view...
 I like this picture- she looks super cute.  We were trying to point out a limo that we could see by a church down there- she couldn't find it.  You know how hard it is to have a child find something that is only 2 feet from them- well imagine a tiny little limo that is who knows how for from her.  We eventually took a picture of it and then pointed it out in the picture and then had her find it in real life.  To this day I don't know if she found it...
 The crooked river.
 Even Scrooge, E. signed the register.  Who knew he was from Germany?  You can thank Justin for that!
 Next stop was a childhood dream come true.  The actual house that A Christmas Story was filmed in.  You know- 'You'll shoot your eye out!' or ' Fa Ra Ra Ra Ra, Ra Ra Ra Ra'.  And if you don't know then you should...
 My family will love the picture below.  That is the actual 'I can't put my arms down' snow suit.  I thought it was brown!

 There it is- the house!  Ruby was really excited to be there- though she hasn't seen the movie.... yet!

 Hiding in the cupboard!
 Serving the turkey!

Randy's hat. 
 The Red Rider BB Gun.  I never would have shot MY eye out with that thing.  I'm pretty much a BB gun shooting genius!
 Justin's just plain awesome.
Careful or Ruby will shoot YOUR eye out!
 Token Leg Lamp Picture.  If I had endless amounts of money AND liked really ugly things I would have bought one....
 It was really a fun day.  Lots of memories and lots of dreams come true....
Who needs Disney World when you have Cleveland?


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