Sunday, January 30, 2011

Elizabeth's Dr. Seuss 5th Birthday Party

Being the control-freak that I tend to be, at least with parties, I love that I can still convince Elizabeth what she "really wants" for a birthday party theme! So this year, Elizabeth really wanted a Dr. Seuss birthday party!

In years past, I would have done more than I did for her birthday party...but it is either maturity or having another baby that has brought me a bit further close to reality -- for a birthday party for a 5-year-old...that is a small affair. I'm going to chalk it up to maturity (as I'm not ready, at least at this point, to start saving up for Cate's therapy sessions that she will inevitably need as a result of being a second child...)

Disclaimer: I didn't think of all of these ideas up myself...lots of super-creative folks have held Dr. Seuss baby showers or birthday parties...I did a lot of research on the web and liberated several ideas from these folks...some things were my own ideas, too...
The invites were exceptionally cute, I think! I wanted to make a Dr. Seuss-like book...but when reality set it, a 4-page book was going to have to do as I didn't have the time to make it more than 4 pages, so each page was glued on a panel of a 4"x6" card. The cover I wanted to look as much like the cover from The Cat in the Hat...for the back image, I used the cover from The Lorax as my starting are the images from each of the panels (if you click on each image, you'll be able to view it larger):

I was happy to find a lot of Dr. Seuss decor at the teacher's supply store here in Wheeling, the Imperial Warehouse. Unfortunately, we had trouble with getting them to hang on the walls (tried multiple types of double-stick tape, the tacky wall gummy stuff worked okay, but many things had to be put back up...) Therefore, I purchased a bit more stuff than I was able to use, oh well! I'm sure the folks at Holy Family Child Care won't mind some free bulletin board supplies! The rest of the decorating was a snap -- as we used Elizabeth's Dr. Seuss books -- and Nana & Papa brought some of their stash (including E's "Morton" (aka Horton) stuffed animal), and the Happy Birthday to You giant puzzle that E got on her birthday from Grandma & Papi (that was on the dining room table along with some of the bulletin board decorations -- with a clear plastic table cloth over top of it for protection.) The Happy Birthday banner (I have two -- one in darker colors, one in pastels) may be the best birthday party purchases ever! I have used at least one of them for E's birthdays for the last 3 years...

Next I was on to figuring out the menu. As you can read from the invitation, the party would be after the West Liberty basketball games, which were at 2 & 4 PM, so around dinner I wanted more than just green eggs & ham... Everything was labeled because, yes, I am THAT kind of we enjoyed the following:
  • Green Deviled Eggs & Ham - deviled eggs with dyed green filling and ham - (from the book Green Eggs and Ham)
  • Poodles with Noodles - "adult" mac & cheese - (from the book Fox in Socks)
  • Yot in the Pot - baked beans - (from the book There's a Wocket in my Pocket)
  • Schlotts Knots - rolls - (from the book Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?)
  • One Fish Two Fish - Swedish Fish & Gold Fish - (from the book One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish)
  • Cheese Trees - cheese! - (from the book The Lorax)
  • A Crumb that Was Even Too Small For a Mouse - a crumb that was even too small for a mouse - (from the book How the Grinch Stole Christmas)
  • Circus McGurkis Pink Lemonade - pink lemonade - (from the book If I Ran the Circus)
  • Hop on (Soda) Pop - assorted soft drinks - (from the book Hop on Pop)
  • Thing 1 and Thing 2 - red velvet cupcakes - (from the book The Cat in the Hat)
  • The Cake!!! (Not in a bath tub!) - rainbow cake decorated with the Cat in the Hat on top - (from the book The Cat in the Hat)
If I must say so myself, I may have created one of the cutest Dr. Suess cakes for someone who hasn't taken a cake decorating class (save for the cake decorating class at 4-H camp one or two summers when I was in middle school!) The topper was made from fondant -- which I made. It tasted good, but was a complete pain to work with. I must be doing something wrong with the fondant, too, as there wasn't any way that I could have used it over the entire cake if I wanted to, which I didn't (as I love, love, love butter cream icing!) I used one of the Dr. Seuss decorations (see the picture with the Happy Birthday banner) as a reference and after cussing, rolling out the effing fondant, and more cussing...I free-hand cut out the shape of the Cat in the Hat with a pairing knife. It was then my intention to use edible markers to draw onto the fondant, but that went over like a fart in a library. I was then forced to free hand using colored butter cream icing the details on the cat. It ended up looking much better than I think it would have if I could have gotten the edible markers to work the way I thought they would... It was Elizabeth that wanted her name on the cake, which I think made it just perfect! The Thing 1 and Thing 2 cupcakes were pretty darned cute, too!

While I was at the games with Elizabeth and Cate, the magical birthday elves (Grandma and Papa) took care of cooking up the ham...and timing out the mac and cheese and baked beans (Kristin's recipe!) getting in the oven. (When you read the recipe for the mac and cheese - it really does make enough servings for 20 if you're hungry, stop by!) That was a huge load taken off of my shoulders -- to be able to enjoy the #1 in the nation West Liberty Hilltoppers' game and know that the party stuff would be taken care of!

January birthdays stink so far as the weather keeping folks away. E was bummed that Papi and Rikki & Uncle Dougie stayed at their respective homes...we're hoping that Doug has been able to cope with the guilt of disappointing Elizabeth on her "second birthday...that you'll come to, Doug." (We definitely hated that we didn't get the quality time with my Dad/Papi and Rikki & Doug, but are happy that they stayed the weather reports are calling for more of the white crap! I'm sure the painful scars can be eased, Doug, with a check to cover her college tuition!) Of course, we have missed Anne, Sean, and Alex at E's party as well...not that even if the weather would be cooperative, which it certainly isn't right now in the Big Apple, it would be most impractical for them to make the long trek from NYC to Wheeling for the birthday party.

As bummed as we were of those who weren't able to join us, we were thrilled that Nana and Papa made the trip north from (the town that claims to be "the friendly city" but doesn't hold a candle on the friendly city department to Wheeling!) Fairmont. We have been completely spoiled with Mom/Grandma being with us for practically the entire month of January, too!!! (She says she will stay with us until we kick her out. Reid is meeting with a contractor to put an addition on the I don't see that happening any time least not until the end of basketball season...) And what would a party be without friends? Elizabeth's buddies, Campbell (her future first boyfriend...the one that she's already saying she'll break up with so John Wolosinczuk can be her boyfriend!) and, of course, their parents, Jason & Sarah Koegler!

Between her "actual" birthday and the party, Elizabeth is quite the spoiled gal! She is already mastering the fine art of Wii dancing while showing off her monkey underpants through the pink & purple skirt (that Campbell picked out). It was too much fun watching the kids play with the Wii (kids including Reid & Jason as they were getting into bowling and fencing) -- especially with Cam, Will, and Elizabeth dancing to Toni Basil's "Mickey" (it brought back many a memory from Sutton Blue Devil cheerleading days for me!)

Honestly, the only party SNAFU that I can think of is the candles. They were the re-lighting variety...only they didn't re-light. Oh well, we'll just need to use that type of magic for her 6th birthday party (aka the 2nd birthday party that Uncle Dougie will attend...)

Now off to work on stuff for Cate's 1st birthday (10 months from now...but no worries -- I already have the theme!) Or Alex's party once a theme has been set...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thankful Thursday

Today I'm thanful to/for/about:

  • My funny Elizabeth (stories to follow!)

  • My beautiful Baby Cate

  • My fabulous and hard-working husband, Reid

  • My over-the-top awesome Mom, who does my windows and laundry (among other things)

  • My puppy, Kennedy, except when she whines every 45 minutes to go outside in this ridiculously cold weather

I'm thankful for a ton more, just couldn't remember when I did a Thankful Thursday post -- and we're getting ready to head out the door shortly to watch the #1 Hilltoppers, so it had to be a quicky!

Funny Elizabeth Stories:

When we were getting in the car from picking up dinner at Subway this evening, Elizabeth and I have the following conversation:

E: Mommy, when I'm bigger I'm going to have a boyfriend.

Me: Who is going to be your boyfriend?...Campbell (Koegler)???

E: Maybe...

Me: John Wolosinczuk???

E: Yes! After I break up with Campbell, it's going to be John Wolosinczuk!

I love how she is already planning for being a heart breaker!!!

When we pulled in the driveway this evening, she noticed the Ritzes in their kitchen and said that she could see her neighbor -- he was watching TV. I asked her if he was watching iCarly. E responded, "No, Mommy. Big people don't watch iCarly -- they watch the boring news!"

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Babies About the House

Elizabeth is such a good big sister -- she hasn't once shown any signs of jealousy! I'm still amazed with this as I can't tell you the number of times she has asked for something (to play, to read, to get a snack, etc.) and my response has been, "In just a minute, I'm (feeding/changing/etc.) Baby Cate."

E has enjoyed exploring all of the baby items, including having her doll (the one that Aunt Anne gave her the day that Cate came home from the hospital) give Cate's car seat travel rocker a spin.

Reid snapped several cute pictures of me reading to the girls. E has assumed one of her new favorite positions -- with her head on the Boppy and her long limbs curled up between my legs in the recliner.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Cate is 1 Month Old!

Happy 1 month birthday, Baby Cate!

Unlike with Elizabeth, with Cate we had bigger concerns of jaundice. We had to make 2 trips back to the hospital for repeat biliruben tests, but considered it quite fortunate that Cate (and as a result of the feedings) didn't need to be checked back into the hospital so she could get the photo-therapy treatments -- AKA: baby tanning bed treatment. (Tanning bed treatments at such a young age would make her quite the envy of too many girls in the greater Clarksburg/Fairmont area...)

Cate, definitely unlike Elizabeth didn't have feeding issues! She regained her birth weight in just a few days after being born (it took Elizabeth over 3 weeks to do so).

Knock on wood she has been a better sleeper than E was, too -- although E set that bar pretty frickin' low! She eats so much, though, I am still quite groggy in the mornings as I am up several times at night with her.

She's such a good baby -- seldom fussing, but when she has cut a shine, it has been around midnight, which makes it additionally stressful on Reid & me -- just when we're needing sleep!

(The picture on the right is Cate at 1 week; on the left is Cate at 1 month.)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

2010 - A Fabulous Year in Review

What a fabulous year 2010 was to our family! In brief, here's the recap on our 2010:

Elizabeth cheered for the West Liberty Hilltoppers! Her favorite players were Tori Hansen, Laura Malernee...and John Wolosinczuk! She loves watching John play so much that when he wasn't on the floor, she would often turn her back on the court in protest. (I mean seriously, with nothing but 20+ win seasons every year, what in the heck does Coach Crutchfield know about coaching hoops -- more Wolosinczuk!) Yes, she can say his name, too -- much to the delight of everyone and the demise of TV sports reporters! (wol-oh-SIN-chuck)

Elizabeth celebrated her 4th birthday (actual birthday) with a modest at-home event with Mommy, Daddy, and Grandma. We enjoyed dinner at Fusion with cake and presents at home where Elizabeth got her first Barbie from Aunt Anne (the start of another obsession I'm afraid!)

Three days later, Elizabeth had her tonsils and adenoids removed and tubes put in her ears. Her ENT told us that her poor little ears were more infected than he thought they were and that her adenoids completely blocked her nasal passage -- making it all the more amazing that she didn't complain (EVER!) about her ears hurting and that she has always been such a good eater! In addition to the obvious reasons for which we were thankful following her surgery, I am additionally thankful that she doesn't take after me with allergic reactions to pain medication...but also frightened that hydrocodone causes her to strip naked and dance late at night. (At least her last dose of the good stuff caused her to do that, at which point we made the executive decision to stop giving it to her!)

We rounded out the month with her Sesame Street 4th Birthday Party! We were so thrilled to have Grandma, Nana & Papa, Rikki & (a guilt-ridden) Doug, and the Koeglers - Jason, Sarah, Campbell & Will as guests. (Papi wasn't able to make it due to weather. Doug was guilted by Elizabeth into taking whatever measures were necessary to ensure coming as she gently pointed out to him that he had never been to her birthday party and that she wanted him to come and bring her Aqua Sand. He complied, but perhaps in future years, I need to train her to ask for more expensive presents like a car or a college education...)

FEBRUARY - We continued to cheer on the Hilltoppers (the men's team was undefeated in January & February!). E's man, John Wolosinczuk, was featured on the Dorm Room website on Valentine's Day no less! Elizabeth was the darling of so many admirers at the West Liberty games in her uniform (custom made by Nana!) She got so many compliments on her game-day attire!

We got pummeled with snow (I didn't consider that part of our good fortune, but Elizabeth did when we went to Oglebay to sled ride and play in the white crap!)

MARCH - We were so excited to have the Martin family (Jason, P.J., John Patrick, and Jackson) move from Florida to Wheeling!!!

The Hilltoppers capped off great seasons. Hansen was a DII All-American, Malernee DII's two-time 3-point leader, the men were the 2009-2010 WVIAC Conference Champs! Despite her love and adoration of John Wolosinczuk, Elizabeth still refused to talk with him and she cowered behind either Reid or me when he came over to say hi or give her a high 5. She has more of a long-distance love affair with John...

March was basketball heaven for the Amoses and our fellow Mountaineer fans! The WVU men's basketball team, behind the leadership of Da'Sean Butler, won the Big East Championship endearing the team to many more fans in the metro-NY area (as so many of the team members were from that area) earning them a new nickname in NYC, the Metro'neers...much to the delight of Anne, Sean, & Alex (who, at 2-1/2 does a mean John Flowers impersonation and when asked who his coach is will reply, "Coach Huggins.") We went C-R-A-Z-Y here in the Amos household when the #2 seed West Virginia Mountaineers upset the #1 seeded Kentucky to reach the Final Four!!!

APRIL - Reid & I made the trip to Indianapolis to watch the Mountaineers in the Final Four (while Elizabeth celebrated Easter with the Mortons). We were obviously disappointed that the Mountaineers didn't win the national title, but what a fabulous trip we had in spite of the team's loss! While enjoying a couple of beers at a pub before taking in the Indiana Pacers' game (thanks to former WJU men's basketball and current Pacers' assistant coach Jay DeFruscio for the free tickets, I took in my first NBA game!) we met Butler's assistant SID, Josh Rattray. He's a fabulous guy -- and gave us a tour of historic Hinkle Field House the afternoon before Bulter played in the championship game, which they ultimately lost to Duke (blech! I hate Duke after that weekend more than I thought possible!) On our trip back home, we stopped by Historic Hoosier Gym (where the home games for the movie Hoosiers was filmed) and got to shoot some hoops and hang out in the locker room before stopping at the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.

After having four previous miscarriages, we are cautiously optimistic when I get pregnant again. I teased Reid by telling him that we would be obligated to name this "Final Four baby" Bobby John Da'Sean Amos if it was a boy -- in honor of the Mountaineers...

MAY - Hans graduated from WJU with a degree in nursing! We're so proud of you, Hans!!! We're bummed that he would be moving back to Philadelphia, but can't say that we will miss his Communist soccer games ;-) Congratulations to Hans, too, for being named 1st Team All-WVIAC and 2nd Team NSCAA All-Atlantic Region!!!

We rounded out the end of May with a surprise 80th birthday party for "Grandma" Helen Wine and Alex's 4th birthday!!!

Reid got the opportunity to broadcast the MCLA Championship (lacrosse) in Denver, despite never having watched a live lacrosse game. He was fabulous!!! No surprise there as he is such a talented broadcaster! (Anne noted that Reid was the Keith Jackson of lacrosse -- "Woah Nelly!")

JUNE - My pregnancy progressed well, but we were still nervous...

Elizabeth got to watch her Daddy play golf (at least a few holes) for the first time. Mind you, I told her she HAD to be quiet...that she HAD to whisper...when Reid & Jason are approaching the area where we are sitting with Sarah, Campbell, and Will, and Elizabeth belted out a big "Hi Daaaaady!" before I knew it! Fortunately, he and Jason were amused by her...and they made the cut in the tournament...

Elizabeth got her very own set of golf clubs -- complete with the panda bear head cover...

Elizabeth was really taking off in the water with the help of her swim vest. She didn't at all complain with having wear the ear plugs, which we had our concerns about that being a battle before the start of summer...

JULY - We celebrated July 4th with the Cunninghams...getting to be with Alex for his first fireworks display (in the big town of Gassaway) was a lot of fun!

Elizabeth got to spend a week in Sutton with Grandma & Papi -- and Aunt Anne, Sean, & Alex! Swimming every day was the highlight of her time in Sutton! (In order to sound like Elizabeth, you have to make your voice rather nasal-ly and say "Aunt Anne" rather quickly, loudly, and very, very frequently! I don't recall her saying just Anne, it's always "Aunt Anne! Aunt Anne!")

Elizabeth began swimming independently (no vest!) E and I were at the pool at Oglebay and she said that she wanted to take off the vest to which I said sure. She jumped in and swam right over to me without hesitation. She never looked back at wanting that vest. A couple of days later when Reid was able to join us at Oglebay we surprised him when she jumped in and swam to me without her vest! She is truly remarkable!

Reid and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary! :-)

Late in the month I discovered that removing the wallpaper in the dining room wasn't going to be the complete headache that I was anticipating it to be...the exorcism began!

Reid began tearing up the bricks on the side of the back side "lot" at our house to make way for a small spot where we can get some grass growing to eventually put in a playground for Elizabeth.

AUGUST - My pregnancy was going well and we were able to breathe a bit easier with that!

We took Elizabeth to Idlewild for a day of fun. (I went along basically to serve as Reid & Elizabeth's personal photographer as being pregnant you aren't allowed on any of the rides.) Idlewild was great fun, but I cannot recommend it to anyone who is in the family way...

Elizabeth went off the diving board by herself! She was amazing!!!

We took Nana with us as we made our annual Amos family visit to "the Big City" of Washington, D.C. to spend some quality time with Rikki & Doug. Each year we take in the National Zoo -- the giant pandas remained Elizabeth's favorite. This year's trip was made even more special (Reid would say by his continuing bro-mance with Doug) with the celebration of Rikki & Doug's impending nuptials with a bridal shower in honor of Rikki! My favorite moment from the shower was when Rikki, with the help of Elisa, started opening the picture quilt that Carol made for her...and everyone that was there just got up and started gathering around the quilt. Everyone was holding a part of it and pointing out pictures -- truly sweet! Some other brief highlights of our trip: Carol learned from her future son-in-law that the public begins on the other side of the front door of their house...and we learned that Doug especially loves the adult mac & cheese...

SEPTEMBER - Reid interviewed the legendary Jerry West at the Greenbrier while at the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting and Business Summit! Awesomeness!!!

We took Elizabeth to her first Mountaineer football game...I thought I could pass out from heat exhaustion! Seriously...I don't think I've even been that hot before -- the extra weight from the pregnancy didn't help matters! WVU beat "the bad guys" (from) Maryland 31-17!

We traveled to The Homestead for the wedding of Rikki Amos and Doug Eckstein on September 25th! On the drive over the mountains on Thursday evening, I don't believe I've ever seen the moon look so large...unfortunately a camera wasn't handy for me to snap a picture of it! I wasn't on my camera A-game on Thursday at all, as I forgot to put the SD card in before we headed over to Sam Snead's Tavern...I wouldn't make that mistake again! Over the next three days, I took more pictures than could be counted. Elizabeth became instant friends with Lexi and Stella! After the rehearsal we all enjoyed getting to hang out at the Presidents Lounge (the boys enjoyed hanging out a wee bit more on the front porch...and raided the kitchen...and eventually retired at 4AM!), the wedding was simply beautiful and touching, we danced for hours at the reception...and before heading home, Elizabeth went bowling for the first time -- and even bowled a strike under the tutelage of Doug!

OCTOBER - We completed the dining room make-over (aka exorcism!) We love the room now (as opposed to cringing with the hideous 80's flowered wallpaper and border)!

We had a great time at my 20-year high school reunion! (20 years?!? Man, I'm old!) Everyone continues to Blame Palmer...some things, I guess, will never change!

We thoroughly enjoyed the time we had with the Perrys (Kristin, William, & Greer) as they were able to make the time to come to West Virginia during their trip to the US from Berlin! My friendship with Kristin is so incredible -- that we can have a great time doing nothing exciting (well at least "going Krogering" isn't exciting for me, but Kristin is excited to shop when she's in America as we have so much crap on our store shelves!) Reid took William out to golf with some of his buddies, who were all charmed by his Scottish wit! Elizabeth and Greer became great friends, too! It was especially fun to get to share my last big ultrasound with Kristin, who is preggers too (with an Alpha Gam legacy!)

Elizabeth dressed as Jessie from Toy Story 3 for Halloween! Nana, of course, was once again to thank for her over-the-top costume!

NOVEMBER - We were anxiously awaiting the arrival of Baby Cate...who gave us a "scare" that she would come sooner than expected. We quickly learned the efforts that people (not just family members) would go through to help us welcome our baby!

Reid and Elizabeth went to the Wheeling Christmas parade and got prime seating thanks to Bill & Debby Koegler!

We feasted at Thanksgiving (seriously feasted!) and were delighted to host Grandma (who had come to stay with us until some time after the arrival of Baby Cate), Nana, Papa, Rikki & Doug. We feasted (did I say seriously feasted?) on turkey (highly recommend brining the bird!), mashed potatoes, stuffing, oyster casserole, corn pudding, green beans, rolls, pumpkin pie, peanut blossom cookies, and Pilgrim hat cookies.

DECEMBER - Victoria Catherine Amos arrived at 11:00 AM kicking off the month and rounding out a quite perfect year! After all of the issues I had experienced the previous two years, we have felt additionally blessed with the addition of Cate! She brings us such joy!!!

Although we were most saddened with the news of the fire that destructed the Koegler's home, we were happy that no one was home at the time of the incident, no one was harmed...and happy to be a part of the group of friends that helped set them up in their temporary residence (before the real temporary residence) shortly before Christmas. Wheeling is a wonderfully friendly place to live and this effort was a testament to the people we have had the good fortune of meeting in our brief time here!

We celebrated the end of the year at Christmas getting to introduce Cate to her family and rang in the new year with just the four of us -- watching the ball in NYC's Times Square drop with Dick Clark doing the countdown.

2010 was a truly awesomely great year!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to All!

We have had a great Christmas -- too much much so that we may need to build onto our house, but a great Christmas! We started with a trip to Fairmont on the 23rd to celebrate with Rick & Carol (aka Nana & Papa) for their anniversary. Rikki & Doug arrived that evening and got to meet Baby Cate. It's so special when you get to introduce your baby to her aunts & uncles! And there is no doubt in the looks department that Cate looks like the Amoses -- as she looks so much like Elizabeth did...and they couldn't deny E if they wanted to!

On Christmas Eve, Reid & Doug continued their bro-mance with a shopping trip to Morgantown. (Reid was the one who needed to shop, Doug was along for the ride...not that it should come as a surprise to anyone that Reid was still shopping up to the last minute...) Rikki made her award-winning chili -- yumminess! The evening concluded with the traditional reading of stories: Rikki "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas," Doug "The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming: A Christmas Story," Me, "Santa Mouse," and Reid always finishes the stories out with, T'was the Night Before Christmas."

2010 Christmas might be definition of over-indulgence! E got everything that she wanted from Santa and more (Mimi must have given good reports every night when she went back to the North Pole!). She & Cate both got lots of clothes (Cate got the same adorable bear outfit in three different sizes in three different colors - one from Nana & Papa, one from Rikki & Doug, one from Aunt Cathy & Uncle Rich -- great minds must think (and shop) alike!) E especially loved her Barbie & Barbie car (both from Santa), her Bride Barbie (from recent bride Aunt Rikki), the pack & play for her baby doll (like Baby Cate's pack & play -- from Aunt Anne, Uncle Sean, and Alex), and her TWO pillow pets (from Grandma & Papi). We've been having a lot of fun with the Wii (the epitome of over-indulgence from Nana & Papa)...Reid & I are looking forward to getting the bed-frame that matches the rest of our bedroom suit (thanks to Mom & Daddy aka Grandma & Papi). Cate doesn't even know she has hands but got more cool things than she has finger to eventually count on!

Despite all of the wonderful surprises and gifts that Reid and I -- or our daughters received, one of my favorite gifts were two that we gave. Wedding scrapbooks to Rikki and Doug and then another one to Rick & Carol. I had so much fun making the books and am still amazed that with Elizabeth being in the know that I was able to pull off the surprise.

After spending the morning with the Amoses we were off to Webster Springs to celebrate with the Mortons. There we were excited to get to introduce Cate to Aunt Anne, Uncle Sean, Alex, and the rest of the Mortons -- especially her name sakes, Uncle Joe (Ernest Victor Morton, III) and Aunt Cathy (Mary Catherine Morton-McSwain).

We were able to get out of Webster Springs to head back to Sutton for a few days just before the weather got too bad. It was, as it always is, too short of a visit with the family!

Before we got back to the Friendly City of Wheeling, we were able to squeeze in a visit with the Cochrans -- where Elizabeth got a cheer lesson from her buddy Haley.

We spent a nice quiet NYE here at home. On New Year's Day (after Reid did his obligatory gumbo dance), I got to cooking gumbo, kielbasa and sauerkraut, and peanut butter log cookies. E enjoyed getting to play with her buddies John Patrick, Jackson, Campbell, and Will. We enjoyed getting to spend time with their parents.

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year!