Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Goodbye, Godbless, Goodnight- 2008

2008 will go down as a year of extreme highs and lows. It's telling that this morning Ben was naming all his friends at school and told if they were "pooping or not". A highlight of the year has been his language explosion as I was a little concerned early in the year. So in typical fashion here's the short list:

Lows- Being worried about my mom, insulin issues for myself, Motricity's downturn and an IPO that never materialized, 2 bouts with mild month-long depression, still didn't loose the 25 pounds from my first year as a mom, not knowing if I want to stay in teaching, major losses in our 401k and investments, missing the market to sell our house.

Highs- Ben's development into a little boy, another stable year of marriage, Bill's move to Microsoft, AP Government, Election 2008 in general, faithfully working out 3-4 a week, trips to FL and SC to see family, 3 beach trips, adult friendships, making date nights a regular thing, returning to reading more books for fun not school, NCCAT trips, being published with DPI and our local paper with school achievement, making the time for therapy, not spending as much time at home on grading and parent emails/contacts, keeping this blog going for myself, a festive Holiday season 2008 including a great trip to Atlanta

Wishing everyone peace and joy in 2009

To JBH at 8:11 pm- I get my answer everyday so I know you heard me- love h

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Wow did we pack alot into 5 days and 800 miles! As Bill and I were driving home last night I mentioned that the whole trip was relaxed. I think we made the best use of time and picked activities that gave us the most bang for our buck. So here goes a photo diary of our trip:
Opening gifts at Mema's house in South Carolina with Uncle Brian

Uncle Brian giving Ben the claw and a JBH "smeefin"

Happiness is in Mema's lap with a book by the fire (ok No fire this year as it was almost 70 on Christmas day)
On to Atlanta to Dave and Busters for dinner and games with Grandmommy Pam and Uncle Jamie (aka Mini-Bill). Ben decided to roll the skee-balls down other people's lanes. The most famous thing in Bill's hometown of Smyrna is the Original KFC with the Big Chicken landmark.

Fun on the MARTA subway to the Georgia Aquarium. Other subway riders were none to thrilled at Ben's train noises and motions for the entire trip.

Heather felt the need to stop and drool at her man candy outside CNN

I LOVE this picture in front of the Barrier Reef Tanks

Family Reunion time at the McGreaham's home in Roswell. Big family picture to come from Aunt Lynn as soon as she gets home.

Time for holiday lights at a local Atlanta display that also had a petting zoo and pony rides. Ben was scared of both, but wanted to talk about them and tell them good bye repeatedly.

I tried to get Ben to hold the bear for this photo but he refused, so Mommy held it instead

Really Awesome lights!!!!!

Sunday and a trip to Lenox Mall where the "Pink Pig" had moved from it's home in downtown Atlanta to Macy's in the Buckhead area suburb. This is an Evans (Bill's family) tradition dating back to the 1950's to ride each holiday season. I did ask Pam for a picture of Bill for a future side-by-side. More shopping and a nice dinner followed before Pam and James had to leave.

Last day and we are headed to 2 stores before splitting town:

IKEA for mommy (and daddy too)

and Fry's Electronics for Bill

Final dinner with Mema and Brian at Cracker Barrel in Easley, SC on our way home. You know you are from a small town when before you get your food 3 sets of people you grew up come by to visit.

All in all it was a great trip to see family and celebrate the holidays. Ben was mostly well behaved, loved the hotel pool, sleeping in his sleeping bag, playing with cousin Gray's baby toys, got lots of new toys, games, puzzles, and even a little computer (to Bill's happiness that Ben loved).

Onto April 2009 where our Destin road trip is already being planned!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The 12 Days of Christmas-Vinson Style

We decided to leave on our trip to Atlanta via South Carolina in the morning and have a nice Christmas Eve family night. We feasted on grilled steaks, loaded baked potatoes, and creamed spinach for dinner after the 5 pm service at our church and some light viewing around town.

I really hate the song "the 12 Days of Christmas" along with the movie "It's a Wonderful Life". I know I should be burned at the Christmas stake but we will likely turn on Bad Santa, a my type of Christmas movie followed by mandatory viewing of "A Christmas Story" once Ben is in bed. So to prove that I am not without Christmas cheer here's my own version of the ever famous and never ending song.

On the 1st day of Christmas my family gave to me- A jam-packed festive season
on the 2nd day of Christmas my family gave to me- 23 Chrismas books read by the tree
On the 3rd day of Christmas my family gave to me- Pink phallic shaped cookies
On the 4th day of Chrismas my family gave to me- 2 Christmas crafts made with Ben for grandmoms
On the 5th day of Christmas my family gave to me- A fun date night for sushi and Quantum of Solace with the Pressleys sans the kids.
On the 6th day of Christmas my family gave to me- Getting caught up on This American Life while cooking up piles of holiday goodies
On the 7th day of christmas my family gave to me- The great reveal of the green bed
On the 8th day of Christmas my family gave to me- Awesome family photo cards with our 2008 countdown
On the 9th day of Christmas my family gave to me- Watching our favorite kids Christmas shows with Ben with eyes of wonder
On the 10th day of Christmas my family gave to me- Special family ornaments dating back to 1975 made by my mom
On the 11th day of christmas my family gave to me- Peace and quiet to practice yoga, read, write, and watch a Six Feet Under Marathon
On the 12th day of Christmas 2008 my family gave to me- A more positive diagnosis for my mom, a new job for my brother, another year of marriage to my appendage, a trip to see Grandmommy Pam and MeMaw, and most of all unconditional love from my family.

Merry Christmas to All
May Peace and Grace find you this season

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

File that under Christmas 2009, 2010, 2011...

One of the things I want to remember this holiday are all the great ideas I have read, heard, or seen in action that I want to include for future years. Number 3 is of my own imagination I'm proud to say.

1. Make a Santa Sleigh Landing Strip using a string of blinking lights and cardboard. Kids get to decorate and pretend Santa is landing with their gifts.

2. Make salt dough ornaments using this recipe. Use food coloring in the dough to avoid the painting step.

3. Create the 12 days of crafts leading up to the big day and have a art walk to display complete with fancy kid drinks and treats for your guests.

4. Make a pan of rice crispy treats and cut using holiday cookie cutters. Decorate with sprinkles and candy (nice alternative to cookies)

5. Christmas shirts using felt, hot glue, and bag o' sparkles- this one I did after my iron on transfer didn't work. I am in the process of making a snowman for January and likely hearts for Feb. I hope I can stop myself and not make 12 shirts.

6. Participating in a cookie swap gives you a ton of cookies for guests, coworkers, family without all the work.

7. Make Stocking Countdown Calendar next year Family Fun Magazine is a favorite, but I discovered all these cool online projects at thier site today.

8. Take time to write each year in the Advent book I made by hand at a NCCAT seminar last year. The book has four internal hand folded envelopes, each with an advent themes of Love, Peace, Joy, Hope, and Christ. Within each envelope is a hand bound book on which I can record the next 20 years of Christmas in our home.
It took almost 17 hours to make the book, sew the bindings and envelopes. Of all my crafy-crafiness it is one of my most proud achievements. So tommorrow in keeping with my own tradition I will put on some Windham Hill and write about this very special holiday.

Monday, December 22, 2008

'Twas the Night before Christmas

Better make that the DAYS before Christmas and all through Casa Vinson not a creature was stirring except Santa with train table in tow.

Come Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and Vixen and watch and Heather and Bill drop half of the table down the steps to get it all in place for morning reveal.

How they have planned this great surprise while Ben was snuggled safe in his bed with dreams of firetrucks dancing in his head.

Check out Bill's Video of the great "green bed" reveal.

It was an awesome parenting feat to say the least.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Overdue to Read More

Last night was my neighborhood book club. I was invited to join this group 5 years ago shortly after we moved into our house and it was a welcome invitation of friendship with new neighbors. This year I am really proud that of our 12 books I read 7 of them. I found time to read 8 other non-book club books. I kinda got a on an Augusten Burroughs kick this summer and read 4 straight books of his and hope to read his other 3 in 2009. Here's my total 2008 list starting with my personal choices first.

Team of Rivals
When you are Engulfed in Flames
Running with Scissors
Wolf at the Table
Feminine Mystique
Freakanomics- 3rd time

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
Eat, Pray, Love
A Thousand Splendid Suns
Where the Red Fern Grows
The Birth House
World Without End
Alyas Babylon

My 2009 resolution is to read 10 of 12 books including my own choice The Glass Castle
as well as at least 9 other book club books as the books picked last night as almost all ones on my list to read. Plus I hope to read at least 8 other personal choice throughout the year. What are you reading in 2009?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Code for Hellion in 7.5 shoes

I got a thank you note from one of Ben's teachers yesterday for the giftbasket I had made her. In the note she referenced, Ben's "creative energy that encourages her".

Ok- as a fellow teacher I can read between the lines. My son is a wild hellion. Oh dear, this is not what I had hoped for this year. I think we are doing an OK job with discipline at home in being consistent and establishing rules.

In yesterday's John Rosemond's parenting column he talked about 6 ways to get you child ready for life. all were food for thought-

1. Put yourself at the center of your child's attention
2. Give your child a meaningful role (responsibilities) within the family- ben helps feed our dog, cleans up toys before bed, and hangs up his jacket nightly
3. Electronic media minimized until they can read and self entertain
4. Keep toys on the minimum side, low maintenance kids have fewer toys that they appreciate more (Bill read this one again)
5. Empathize manners over skills (Heather read his one again)
6. Love your child enough to raise a happy child.

well stated-

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

How many years to accomplish it all?

I have been working on this list since Thanksgiving at the beach but I think it's appropriate with recent news on my mom to post it today. I really liked the idea from Laura and in my typical list making fashion I think I am going to laminate it and put in on my fridge. Since her #7 is my #10 I will add one more goal. I'm sorry to steal-

1. Live to be at least 10 years older than my dad and stave of a diabetes diagnosis as long as possible
2. Have the conversation with my kids about "when they knew their current partner was the ONE"
3. Grow our family by 2 feet before I'm 35
4. Take the final step from my weight loss and have reconstructive surgery
5. Own a top of the line, loaded Audi that I pay cash to purchase
6. Be in single digit clothes for life
7. Take our 10 year month-long anniversary trip across Europe that didn't happen due to Ben's birth
8. Plan and take an awesome family camping and rafting trip following the Lewis and Clark trail one summer (as well as see some major site in the West)
9. Move and live in the Pacific Northwest at some point of life-retirement?
10. Get a second masters degree possibly in public policy and work for an education policy think tank. Dream school would be the Kennedy School of Government-
11. See the Obama inauguration in person and know that Personal, Professional, and family change can happen when you work for it.

Monday, December 15, 2008

allusion of perfection

Do you think anyone noticed that I had to duct tape the toparies to the wall behind us to keep them from falling? Martha would have actually finished them unlike me who made them 2 years ago out of remnant decorations, but ran out of fruit to finish the backs of them, hence the tape. Is allusion of perfection the same as denial?

I think we were all too busy gorging ourselves on yummy food and swaping cookies to notice or care. This holiday is going down as a keeper. Between the Santa train, cookie making, Sunday Cantata at church that Ben actually sat through for 30full minutes, tonight's MNO party, tomorrow night the live Nativity, and Thursday Book club which is always a late, late night of too much wine December 2008 rocks.

Too bad come January it will be 12 long months until this much action packed festivities roll around.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

You're Going Down Martha!

If the queen of domesticity saw the end result of these cookies (pink phallic shaped candy canes) then she would know her empire was safe.

With all due respect, Casa Vinson looks much in the spirit of the holidays. We made cookies as a family Saturday night and I made my usual trays of holiday goodies today(fudge, chess cake, sugar cookies, haystacks) for both Bill's work and mine. I also burned out my mixer on batch ONE of the holiday cooking so the rest had to be mixed by hand, taking oh so long.

We went to Pullen Park for the Santa Train and before Ben hit Bill in the face prompting us to leave, we had a good time. I did decide NOT to attempt the pre-fab gingerbread house, after ben kept making his own "cookies" out of the dough- I knew not to temp fate.

The coolest thing about Christmas 2008 is that Ben knows somthing is up. He seems completely enthralled to talk about Santa and Snowmen and loves all the outside decorations around town. Tonight I found him asleep clutching all the parts of this push Nativity scene my mom gave him and I thought if only to see the season as he does.


"carry this day with you, as it will sustain you and remind you of your completeness"-12/14/1996

I don't remember who said it on that day, but how true a statment to have gotten us through the joys and sorrows of 12 years together. love you- h

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Jack Bennett Hendricks 12/9/46-12/31/01

Happy 62nd Birthday. I hope you are eating Skins Hot dogs while listening to a never-ending Earth, Wind, and Fire concert to celebrate.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

disposable nipple clamps

For some reason this was the funniest thing I heard at Lewis Black tonight. It was in reference to how we celebrate Earth Day. We had a great night seeing him again at a beautiful New Arts venue in Durham-DPAC.

Back when Ben was a tiny baby Lewis Black did a book signing at Barnes and Noble. Bill and I being the nut-job parents we were that summer decided to take Ben everywhere. This was when he was portable and not able to say no 90 billion times a day. Needless to say we got some stares, but since consistently Bill and I have enjoyed seeing comedians in all the places we have lived and visited it seemed fitting to take our son at an early age.

I am going back to School tomorrow. Ben is going to do a 1/2 day too to ease back into his little schedule. He seems to be back to his normal self thankfully, although I did enjoy cuddling with him on the couch the past couple of days like days of yore.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving after Turkey day

Ben is MUCH better today. He has responded well to rest, fluids, and the meds from the ER. Bill took him to our peditrician and he thought he was making great progress. This was the best thanksgiving gift we could recieve, even if it didn't invovle turkey.

In general we had a great holiday at the beach. The weather was warm, beautiful for the majority of the trip. We walked on the beach, played and fed the ducks at the park, walked on the Pier, enjoyed the holiday lights at Arlie Gardens, sat on Santa's lap, swam in the indoor pool, visited the aquarium, Bill took Ben to see Bolt while I took a nap and finished a book.

We have enjoyed many trips to Kure beach as a family and this one was espeically fun. I am thankful for a beatiful place to spend with my family year after year. I worked on my list one morning while watching the sunrise over the ocean. Needless to say owning a beach home of our own one day to continue the Thanksgiving beach tradition with our kids and hopefully thier kids makes my list.