Posts from the ‘family’ Category

Poor neglected blog and strawberry balsamic jam

So this summer has been flying by. A trip to Memphis for my brother’s wedding, vacation bible school, a trip to Florida to visit the parents and our first trip to Disney World, all of which deserve their own posts.

So instead I’m going to write about jam. I got a big old thing of strawberries on sale and as seems to happen they were pretty ripe and needed to be used pretty quickly. So I googled and learned that making small batch jam is pretty easy. And I had all the stuff in the pantry, so I made this.

Strawberry Balsamic Jam

And it was so good! The kids loved it. We ate it on waffles.



Babybels wear pajamas

So yesterday the boy and I went to Costco and bought some of those babybel cheeses. As he is taking off the waxy part he says, “Mama, it’s like the cheese is wearing red pajamas!”

There are so many blog posts that I’ve had in my head, unfortunately I haven’t gotten around to writing them down. So I’m kind of going backwards.

Earlier this week, the girl decided to attach her homework together with spray cheese. Yep. Needless to say that was a redo.

On Thursday, I had a complete freak out before class. The poor librarian must have thought I was insane. I’m doing an Orff unit with the middle schoolers (that i plan to write about later) and there were no mallets in my class room. Couldn’t find them anywhere. And since I had just read what happened to Sophanne, I feared the worst. The class coming to music that day was the group I was a little worried about in terms of buy in and to not be prepared is asking for trouble. As it turned out, one of those students saved the day. The day before, if you’ve been following Colorado weather, it dumped snow and many of our teachers were stuck, including one of my teammates. When this happens, we often double up the classes in my room and have a movie fest. 60 kindergartners at once. That’s all I’m going to say about that. Anyway, I had asked one of my choir students to help clean up the room before they came and put away anything that she thought would be distracting. Thankfully, she was in that class coming down the hall, saw my distress and quickly showed me where she had hidden the mallets. I ‚̧ my students. Heh.

Over break, I actually knit! Ear flap hat and mittens for my friend and soon to be sister in law, 1940s watch cap for my brother and mittens for my nephew, the most happiest toddler.

Can't find any pictures so I'll leave you with a cool sunrise shot I got the other morning in the way to school.


Christmas 2011

Dear family and friends,

Once again, I did not come even close to getting cards out this year.

Struggling to find that balance between work, school, extra curriculars and family, I count myself lucky to have such problems. ūüôā

I have a job that I love, as hard as it is somedays. This year, in addition to teaching general music, I am the district middle school choir director. As weird as it sounds, I had forgotten that I like choral music and this has been a wonderful opportunity to rekindle that. John’s been an amazing help with the new schedule. Did I mention that the choir is at 7 am? He juggled his work schedule so he can take the kids to daycare in the morning. Love that guy.

Both kids are in school! The boy is loving kindergarten. If you ask him what he’s learned this year he will tell you, I am very good at being quiet. Heh. It amazes me how fast they grow once they start school. He’s reading now. He doesn’t love that as much as his sister, but I bet that will come with time. The girl is a third grader, 9 going on 35 somedays. She reads all the time now, even holing up in the bathroom sometimes. (Mom, Dad, sound like anybody you know?). She is such a hybrid between John and I. It’s so strange seeing yourself in your children. It’s like they are a fun house mirror of who they are and what we’d like them to be.

The girl is still in Children’s Chorale. It is very weird being the mom waiting in line at drop off. I think I’ve been in all the roles now. Singer, grad, assisstant, and now mom. It’s so cool to see her up on stage at Boettcher Hall. The boy spends most of his afternoons playing with the cousins and the neighbors. Again, we are fortunate for the kids to have such wonderful playmates!

And if 2011 has been anything, it’s been a year for family. I often tell my children how wonderful it is that they have gotten to spend so much time with their cousins, but truthfully, its been wonderful for me too. I love having my sister and her family nearby. We are a weirdly wacky bunch and I will miss them when they move back south.

We’ve been preparing for Christmas round our house. We’ve got Christmas lights up, half of which quit working after the first freeze, but amusingly enough, the light tree dad built twenty years ago is still going strong. The kids have been to their grandparents to make cookies with them and their cousin. My sister has made probably two batches fudge and I don’t know how many cookies. With everyone else making cookies I made a lot of Sprucehill’s pumpkin gingerbread and some homemade limoncello. We may or may not have tasted it this morning. At 9 am. After making apple fritters. Heh.

Anyway, I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!

Love, Nicole

PS. Did you know you can follow Santa on google maps? Crazy world we live in!



Me and the kids are hanging out and making cards for their teachers. They are reminding me that my handwriting does not pass kindergarten muster. The boy is objecting to the Christmas wish story on the John Denver and the muppets album. It’s just talking, Mom. Where’s the singing? Oh. There. Most happiest nephew is cracking me up, because he wants to color with the big kids but can’t get around the table. So each time he needs a new color, he ducks under the table, and grabs another crayon from the box, emerging victorious on the other side. From a teacher’s perspective, handmade cards are my favorite gift from students. And hugs. And the occasional Starbucks card. Heh. But mostly the other kind of cards. I have a notebook filled with letters students have written me over the years. If they only knew how much those mean to me. Especially on days where I don’t feel like the most awesome teacher on the planet. So the kids are writing their teachers. In between marker wars.



10 Things I Know To Be True

I was very inspired by a talk by Sarah Kay on ¬†She’s a spoken word poet who encourages us to write a list and then discuss it. ¬†It can be anything and you need to not think about it too hard. ¬†So here goes.

1. When your child/student tells you you’re the best mom/teacher ever, it probably means that you said or did something that you didn’t think through. ¬†Yeah, go ahead and have that soda. ¬†Before bed time.

2.Most kids don’t learn to like something. ¬†They learn to dislike something. ¬†And they learn that from us.

3.Kids will almost always do what we do and never what we say.  Grown ups are the same way.

4.Being part of a musical performance/event is something all humans should experience. ¬†It’s part of what makes us human. ¬†As I tell my students, ants can build cities but they can’t sing the blues when they’re sad. ¬†(or maybe they do, I just don’t speak ant.)

5.Life is about learning.  And evolving.  I am not the same person I was last year.  Or the year before that.  Hopefully I am  better.  (Seriously, who wants to be worse?)

6.No man is an island. Or an archipelago.

7.With experience comes wisdom, but being old does not mean you are always right.  And yet, the simple realization that we are not always right shows wisdom.  (Sounds like a fortune cookie.)

8.Fortune cookie’s do not always have your best interests at heart. ¬†Really? ¬†A cat?

9.Thai Basil Eggplant at Thai Chili is really the most amazing dish I’ve ever eaten.

10.You can buy your children the smartest, most educationally sound, creative toys, but their favorite will always be the annoying Donkey Shrek toy from a Happy Meal that yells at you.  Until you shut it off.

Here’s the original video.

I look forward to reading your 10.


Well let’s see. ¬†There was swimming.

Check out those goggles!




She may never forgive me for posting this one. Heh.


Skateboarding girl spent the week at the cabin with her grandparents. ¬†Supercute niece says, “Aunt Nicole? ¬†When is she coming back from the cabinet?” ¬†Love.


So Most Cheerful Toddler wakes me up every morning. ¬†In a myriad of ways. ¬†Today, I hear him toddle in the room, exclaim “Cole!” and handed me a Diet Coke. ¬†Another morning he brought me the TV remote. ¬†Both days were much more pleasant than the day he woke me up with the fly swatter.

They all start school next week.  (Except Most Cheerful Toddler.)  And so do I.  Must.  Go.  Plan.  Now.

Minnows, Trout and Stingrays

So the kids started swimming lessons this week.  Every summer we sign them up for a session and they get a couple kicks closer to actually being able to swim.  The girl has really hit her stride this year, overcoming her fear of the diving board and become a swimmer.  This is the same kid that spent 3 years in the Minnow class (level 2).  (I probably jumped off the diving board only as many times as necessary in order to pass my swimming class.)

And speaking of proud. ¬†And Minnows. ¬†The boy was supposed to be in the Minnow class this summer and I someone¬†mistakenly signed him up for the Trouts. ¬†He was so scared. ¬†It is with a strange mixture of pride and remorse that I watched my youngest in the Trout class these last two days. ¬†Between momentary sobs and shaking with fear, he did everything the instructor asked him to do. ¬†And lest you think me the meanest mother ever, I did pull him from the class and enroll him in the correct level. ¬†I talked to his instructor and we agreed he could probably push through and stay in the Trout class but he might benefit more from gaining some confidence back with the Minnows. ¬†Don’t want him hating to swim. ¬†I did tell him though, through towel wrapped hugs, how proud I was of him. ¬†It is an amazingly brave thing to be that afraid of something and do it anyway.

To look into the deep, close your eyes, hold your breath, and let the water close over your head.

So, so proud of my kids today. ¬†ūüôā



5 Snapshots

If you’re my facebook friend you’ve probably already seen these, but they are too good not share.

Giving her brother a fauxhawk. Or at least trying.


Happy Dinner Time


Planina at the Russian Festival in Boulder


L's reminder to throw away 2 year old frozen turkey


Most Cheerful Baby's Summer Reading

English Language Learner

So, having two boys as close in age as the boy and his cousin are living under the same roof has taught me many things.  Mostly that little boys (and their sisters) really want to be first.  At everything.  Going in the door.  Getting their food.  They even only want to use the number one Wii remote.

Which brings us to today.¬† I asked Kindergarten to get into a circle, and two boys were lagging behind, bickering in Spanish.¬† I asked them, “Are you arguing about who gets to go first?”¬† They sheepishly hung their heads, said, “Yes.” and sat down.¬† The little girl sitting next to me asked, “Did you learn Spanish over break?”

I said, “No.¬† But I’m pretty fluent in 5-year-old boy.”

Merry Christmas 2010

A friend of mine on Facebook used the Year in Status Collage application and pondered if it was going to replace our Christmas letters.  I played with it and found it gave a pretty accurate snapshot into what my year had been like.  It reminded me of things I had already forgotten.

My dad¬†says that the adult years pass so quickly, and he is right.¬† Things happen.¬† Funny things.¬† Sad things.¬† Stressful things.¬† Lucky things.¬† It’s weird seeing it summed up by short witty Facebook phrases.

I’ve just finished my first year back teaching music.¬† Loving it.¬† My students inspire me to become better at my craft.¬† It’s so strange the differences between being a young single teacher and now a not so young mama teacher.¬† My mama and teacher voice are starting to sound similar.¬† Heh.¬† I used to rely solely on the piano as my accompaniment but I’ve started using guitar (Thanks Marcy for the loan!) much more often.¬† (I think Santa might be bringing me one this year!)

The husband is still working for the same company.¬† As I understand it, he’s starting to work more internationally (there have been conference calls to India!)¬† We both feel very fortunate to be working when there’s so many people looking for jobs these days.¬† He is a patient patient man who has been very supportive with all the changes this year.¬†

The girl is in second grade and now a proud member of Prep Choir of the Colorado Children’s Chorale.¬† She has learned many of the same songs I learned back in the ’80s when I was in CCC.¬† They do way more choreography now, though.¬† So cute!¬† The husband and I went to the Christmas Concert.¬† When I asked her what it was like to sing at Boettcher Hall, her eyes grew wide and she answered, “Awesome.”¬† Yep.¬† She’s my kid.

The boy is in his last year of preschool and¬†continually cracks us up with his antics.¬† I especially enjoy his dance maneuvers.¬† I often forget what a big boy he is, and am surprised when he uses grown up words and phrases with his little boy lisp.¬† Lately, the kids have been playing Harry Potter and my favorite spell he uses is “Potato!” (Protego!)¬† It is quite a sight to see, the boy running around, Tinker Toy wand in hand, shouting “Potato!”

This year we also welcomed my sister and her family to stay with us.¬† It’s pretty much a sitcom waiting to happen, but times are hard and when we can help, we should.¬† Sometimes people think we’re crazy, but I cherish this time with my family.¬†¬†We get to hang out with other adults (we trade babysitting), my children get to have a great relationship with their cousins, and I get a baby fix without having to actually have one.¬† ūüôā

Like my dad says, it all goes by pretty quickly and life at our house is anything but boring. 

So my Christmas wish for you, my friends, is that 2011 is chock full of not boring things and witty Facebook statuses.  What is the plural of status, anyway?

PS¬† You’ll notice (the boy often uses this phrase) I did not mention the C word this year.¬† In fact, I think this year, the C word is Crazy.¬† Heh.¬† Or Christmas.¬† Or even Cookie.¬† As in, I have not actually made any Christmas cookies this year and it’s now Christmas Eve.¬† Oops.¬† Or Card.¬† As in, I have not actually sent out my Christmas cards.¬† Maybe everybody gets Valentines this year.