31 January 2013

Fonthill Castle

 Last Saturday we dropped Goosey at a birthday party, drove a couple of blocks, and came upon a castle.  Ummmm.....what?  A castle.  In a little town in Pennsylvania.  So cool!  I can't wait to come back and see the grounds in the summer and fall.

Great lines!

 And, there's a museum on the property as well.  We'll be visiting in the spring, when it warms up, because it's made of concrete (very cold).

29 January 2013

First trip to Philly

Confession:  Sometimes I think I blogged something, but then I realize I only shared it on Instagram.  Oops.  So, here's an outing I shared on Instagram originally.

One Friday in December the kids had no school, so we decided to trek to Center City Philadelphia for the first time.
No school, (Happy Hanukkah) so we took the train to Philly for the first time.

And Lew too!

HUGE TV screen at the Comcast Center.

Crazy cool art in the Comcast Center foyer.

More Comcast Center art.

Comcast Holiday Spectacular Show.  Every hour, on the hour,
Thanksgiving through New Year's Day.  Just walk in.

Not your average cafeteria food.

Part of the view from Craig's work cafeteria...wish you could see the full 360 degrees.

They're playing "I Spy".

At the Philly Christmas Village.

Buy a heart, write a wish on it.  Proceeds benefit local
Make A Wish Foundation chapters.

The big noodle sculpture.

Christmas heaven.

The City of Brotherly Love.

Roasted nuts.  Don't mind if I do.

Chocolate covered banana on a stick?  Okay.

Christmas in Philly.

Not just in Monopoly. 

Sleeping on the commuter train.  She's so urban.

Back to our little town after a day in Philly.

25 January 2013

Lew goes to Preschool

I love this picture of Lew.  My baby heading off to preschool.  Sniff, sniff.

24 January 2013

21 January 2013

Jen, Just plain awesome

Last year I wrote a blog post about my brother-in-law that generated a comment about how interesting my family is.  I realized that it's so true!  My family is super interesting.  Each Monday I'll be interviewing a family member (or dear friend).  I hope you enjoy these Meet Me Monday posts.

Jen and the love of her life.

Today's interview is with my friend, Jen.

Where do you live?
I live in East Georgia, on an Army Post called Fort Gordon.  We have lived here for about six months.  Before that, we lived in El Paso, Texas for eight years.  I miss El Paso every single day.  Georgia is nice, but it does not feel like home to me.  And there is a paucity of tamales.

What are your hobbies or special interests?
Here is where the honesty comes in:  I don't know what my hobbies and special interests are.  I feel like there is a line in my life:  pre-medication and post-medication.  Let me back up:  I have clinical depression, have had it since I was a tween.  I first started medication in my twenties (up until then I was too afraid to tell anyone how crazy I was, and thought I could just work harder to be happy/stop the anxiety with righteousness.  This did not work.  It never works.  Righteousness and hard work will not make your brain make chemicals it is unable to create on its own.) and felt wonderful.  Then we moved, adopted, did Army things, and little by little my meds stopped working.  I did not realize this, of course, I just thought I was becoming more and more of a failure, more and more tired, more and more hideous, more and more of a horrible person/wife/mother/friend.  I had two miracle babies in a row, and the combination of hormones and depression finally hit me--I was barely able to get out of bed.  If I left the house I had to take DAYS to recover.  Mostly I prayed for God to release me from life--with all seriousness.  I had multiple panic attacks each day, and my sweet husband pretty much did everything for me.  I had no idea that this was not normal.  (All I can say is, imagine being born underwater.  You have no idea that dry land exists, you just figure everything is wet and soggy.  That is how I felt.)  Eventually I was able to tell him how serious I was about dying, and he hauled me in to get help.  Seven months have passed, and some new medications are starting to work in me. So hobbies?  I used to like reading and sewing and exercise.  I think I still might like those things.

What is your current profession?  What did have you done in the past?
I stay home and raise the kids.  It is not my life.  It is not my calling.  It is what I do to make sure the kids are healthy and happy and don't get molested by day care workers or sold to gypsies.  (I was raised by the television.  I have a VERY warped sense of what Day Care is.)  Before I had kids I was a high school English teacher (Student Teaching made me realize how much I hate the children), a secretary (I love accounting and charts and office supplies) and a retail manager (made more than the teaching gig, had to quit before I started stabbing people).  

What made you choose that line of work?
All three I fell into, because I was super lazy about deciding.  I figured I would be a mom, and so didn't need to choose.  But then kids never came, and I got a degree, and they wanted me to do stuff.  And then I hated it, and tried other things.  And when I hated them, I tried new things.

When people find out what you do, what question do they usually ask you?
They ask if I will edit their papers.  I tell them no.

What insider information would you like to share?  
Retail will slowly kill you, but not as fast as high schoolers will.  People who truly love teaching are honest-to-goodness angels.  If your kid has a teacher who loves teaching, HOLD ON TO THEM AS LONG AS YOU CAN AND BUY THEM SONIC ROUTE 44s EVERY DAY.

If you had it to do all over again would you choose the same thing?  Why or why not?
I always wanted to be a marriage and family therapist, but thought it would be too hard to get into grad school.  Until I went to grad school.  (GRAD SCHOOL IS SO EASY.)  And--here's a secret--I think when I pay off my student loans I might go back.  So, you know, when I am 75.

18 January 2013


Neutral paper- "June 2009 Collection" by Crystal Wilkerson; brush- "Anne Swirls"; all other papers and elements-"Earth Love" by Cosmo Cricket; Template by Lindsan
I just really love the soft, sweet colors in this layout.

17 January 2013


My neighbor's house is my favorite in the neighborhood.  I love the windows, the porch, the brick.  I slightly covet this home.

16 January 2013



January is the hardest month for me.  I always feel a void after the holidays.  I love the holidays.  I love cooking Thanksgiving dinner and cramming as many people as I can invite to our house to enjoy it.

I live for Christmas.  It's my absolute favorite time of the year.  Christmases growing up were always simple, but full of magic.  Deep in my heart, I always believe I will feel that magic again.  Some years it happens, most years it doesn't.  Regardless, I love the build-up.  I enjoy every single gift I wrap, carol I sing, and wreath I see on neighbors' doors.

I don't even mind my anniversary being the day after Christmas, or my two boys having birthdays immediately following.  After all, they're the two best Christmas gifts I've ever received.  But, after we've celebrated each of those occasions I stare my own birthday straight in the face.  Two weeks after Christmas, it's a crapshoot and historically, the odds haven't been in my favor.  This year there was nothing disastrous to report (thank goodness), but nothing extra super out of the ordinary either.  Just another birthday. Ho-hum.

And then the "real" January sets in.  It's cold, and dark and there are no highlights to anticipate.  It's a new year, and feels like it should be some sort of a "new beginning", but it's not.  It's the same routine, the same bills, the same same.


11 January 2013

Nerdy Little Secret

Two years ago I was taking a scrapbooking class from jessicasprague.com that gave us a challenge:  create a page that reveals a "Nerdy Little Secret".  I love the way it turned out.

07 January 2013

Stephanie, former PR Professional

Last year I wrote a blog post about my brother-in-law that generated a comment about how interesting my family is.  I realized that it's so true!  My family is super interesting.  Each Monday I'll be interviewing a family member (or dear friend).  I hope you enjoy these Meet Me Monday posts.

Stephanie with her family.

Today's interview is with my friend, Stephanie.

Where do you live?
I'm a Bay Area native, but currently live in the Sacramento region. My heart is Hawaiian, and my soul belongs in Europe.

What are your hobbies or special interests?
I love to travel, eat, cook, bake, write, read, dance, mother, blog... I bore easily, so I'm always interested in new things.

What did you do before staying home with your kids?  
I was a broadcast journalist graduate, who fell into working in public relations in the Bay Area for clients in the semiconductor, foundry, EDA, and consumer electronics markets. You know how they often say "Intel inside"? Well, my clients made the stuff that goes inside of Intel. 

What is your current profession?
Currently, I write for my blog, Frankly My Dear (http://www.queenscarlett.com), and Today's Mama (http://bayarea.todaysmama.com/author/stephaniehuangporter/). I'm also the social media manager for Sacramento Bloggers (http://www.sacramentobloggers.com).

What made you choose that line of work?
Well, with a broadcast degree I had received some offers in small markets, for a pittance in pay, no benefits, no holidays, and living in tiny places like Twin Falls, ID, or Klammath Falls, OR. All I wanted to do was start working and making money. PR was the place to be when I graduated. The market was booming and we were all in high demand. 

Today I'm a stay-at-home mom - which I love. I also blog, which I enjoy, but I have yet to figure out how to turn it into a paying job.

When people find out what you do, what question do they usually ask you?
Most people in the Bay Area know all about electronics. When I moved from the Bay Area to the Sacramento area, most people looked at me like I was speaking gibberish. It was difficult moving from a place that lived, and breathed tech, to an area nearly untouched by it.

What question do you wish they would ask?  
Honestly, I don't care to answer many questions about it. I like to leave my work, at work. PR is often a thankless job. Everything you do is behind the scenes. A sign of a good PR job is one that looks as if it was done all by the client themselves. No matter how great a campaign, or how great an IPO, or press release you helped create, none of it was lasting. In the world of high-tech PR it's "what have you done for me lately." Our jobs often focused on the fickle nature of every uptick of the stock, or downtick. 

My favorite parts of the job included people. I enjoyed interacting with the press, and working on events, and tradeshows. The fact that so much depended on our relationships with media and investors, made that part of my job something I valued most.

If you had it to do all over again would you choose the same thing?  Why or why not?

Here's the deal. I wasn't one of those girls who grew up wanting to be a mom first. I grew up dreaming of business suits, and conquering boardrooms. Granted, Murphy Brown wasn't a real newscaster, but I wanted to be her. She was so funny, polished, and brilliant. 

I am very grateful for the path I have taken. I believe in every woman earning a strong foundation of education. I believe that we all need to have the chance to explore the world via career, or travel, or relationships with people who have broader perspectives. 

So having a career like PR helped me fill that need to be a part of a world much bigger than myself. I believe, that my focus on having a career first, helped me appreciate my current role as mother more than I can even fathom. I don't sit at home pining for what could have been, I've done it. I don't wish my life was different, because I've had my opportunities, and enjoyed them. I am happy, and fulfilled to be at home, with my daughters, teaching them to be strong women, and finding ways to constantly utilize my skills.

Short answer, yes, I would do it over again, if it led me back to where I am now. PR afforded me the ability to be flexible, meet people, travel, and when I had kids, it allowed me to work from home for a time. It used the writing skills, and communication skills I honed in college, and those are still skills that I utilize today.

04 January 2013

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