Please say you didn't

Oh, but I did. I sang.

You know that old joke about not being able to "carry a tune if it had a handle on it?" I'm fairly certain that joke was written specifically about me. No one in my family can sing. It's sad, because we're all big music lovers.

Yesterday, the kid and her dad and I attended a rousing summer party/cook-out given by some friends from our church. Their daughter is friends with our daughter, which worked out well because A had someone to play with the whole time.

I started out slowly, sipping some punch that was lightly spiked with rum. Eventually I started mixing random liquids that were set up on a table outside the party tent. I realized I made one of my drinks way too strong, so I squeezed an orange wedge into the cup because, you know, that always helps. After the sun went down, the hosts fired up "Rock Band 2." There was a drum kit, two guitars, and a couple of microphones. And a huge screen. The kids at the party were the first to try out a song, belting out a downright decent version of "We Got the Beat," singing the lyrics as they scrolled across the top of the screen. A was dying to take the microphone and sing but we pointed out to her that there was just one little problem: she can't read.

Various partygoers got up and sang or banged out a tune. As I was watching someone flipping through the song list, "Alex Chilton" by The Replacements went by. I exclaimed, as did a librarian (the hip kind, not the dowdy, wool-skirt-wearing kind) standing next to me. We conferred for a few minutes and it was clear we both a) loved the song and b) knew the words. I should add that the librarian is pregnant and therefore was not drinking. It seemed I had consumed enough for the both of us (and her baby), though.

Moments later, microphones in hand, we were singing "Alex Chilton," accompanied by kids on the guitars and drums. The kids didn't know the song, but played admirably. In fact, I am pretty sure most of the partgoers were equally perplexed by our music selection. But, we sang it loud, we sang it proud. My new librarian friend and I chatted about Paul Westerberg for a while until eventually P and I decided we should be responsible parents and go home. (He drove.) I gave the librarian my card and demanded that she Facebook me. I also may have proposed to her at some point. It's hard to say.

Anywho, it was a fun evening. I returned a call to my mother when I got home, and mentioned to her that I sang. Into a microphone. In front of other people. She paused for a moment. "Oh . . . you sang?" Her voice held a mixture of surprise and sympathy. I'm headed to a picnic this afternoon with some of my therapy dog friends and I just want to reassure you that neither alcohol nor microphones will be in attendance. I'd hate to keep embarrassing my mother long distance like that. Little does she know, I came very close to performing "Monkey Gone to Heaven" as an encore last night.

Speaking of music, lately I have really been digging The Phenomenal Handclap Band. I doubt their music is going to bring about peace in the Middle East or anything like that, but it's fun.


Pennsylvania Dutch Folklife & Fun

The 60th Annual Kutztown Festival
June 27 - July 5, 2009
9am - 6pm
Kutztown Fairgrounds, Kutztown, PA
Route 222 between Allentown and Reading, PA

Win A Free Overnight Trip For Your Family To The Kutztown Folk Festival!

Check out the Entertainment Schedule!

Click here for a $2 off admission coupon

Bring your family to enjoy the finest in traditional crafts, food, music and folklife. Fun for all ages! 200 of Americas finest traditional craftsmen. Fascinating demonstrations and treasures you can take home ....

Visit America's largest Quilt Sale. Over 2,500 traditional quilts, handmade by local quilters. Experience the exciting quilt auction of the top 24 prize winners on the second Saturday.

A wonderful experience for children! Delightful baby farm animals, puppets, make-and- take crafts, hay stacks and mazes, story time, singalongs, and hands on fun.

History unfolds before your eyes. Folklife, farming and gardening, churches and weddings, PA-Dutch dialect and folklore, spinning and weaving, country cooks, blacksmiths, furniture, candles, and more...

Mouthwatering PA-Dutch Food! Tantalizing family style feasts, ox roasts, sausage sandwiches, pies, pastries and lots more! Non-stop entertainment. Live music and dancing, comedy, country auctions, parades and bands. Fiddling, storytelling and historical seminars and traditions.Witness a 19th century hanging or take part in an old-fashioned cake walk.

The best examples of Pennsylvania Dutch and early American folk art and crafts are found in the outstanding works of 200 of the nation’s most skilled artisans.

Included in this year's festival will be fine furniture, miniatures, pottery,clothing, musical instruments, hand-painted art, iron ornaments, weavings, brooms, baskets, florals, hex painting, jewelry, leather, cut paper art known as “scherenschnitte,” Pennsylvania German calligraphic writing called "fraktur", beeswax candles and more.

Click here to visit the festival blog.

Frugal Finds Friday: Getting Control is Key

The other day I pulled out my favorite pair of jean shorts. I was shocked at the condition they were in. Paint splattered down the front. Errant strings hung down like a warped version of Daisy Duke's country attire. I wondered when they had gotten so bad?

I thought of a bazillion parallels to life. We get so busy. One day, we open our eyes and it may be paper piles, cleaning, weight, or finances that have gotten out of control. Or maybe all of the above. Remnants of past good intentions are hidden in a messy drawer or a box in the basement. Systems that once controlled your life are now in shambles. What's a person to do?

First, take stock of the situation. Just how bad is it? How far are you from your goal weight? How far are you from your desire to be out of debt? How quickly can you get your house clean? How big is that mountain? If you don't know, then how are you going to do anything about it?

Click HERE to read more!

Sarah Peppel is a Frugal Living columnist at the Phoenix and runs the following blogs: DIY Frugal and Genesis Moments.

Surf Sweets Review & Giveaway

As moms, we know that filling our kids up on unhealthy treats and sweets isn't the best thing in the world! But every now and then our little ones want a sweet treat...or better yet...they deserve one! But in a market full of treats made primarily with high fructose corn syrup and truck loads of sugar...what's a mom to do? Is it possible to reward our little sweeties with sweets of their own and not feel guilty about it?

You bet!

There's an incredible organic candy & natural company called Surf Sweets...they are making some of the yummiest gummy candy around! We were able to try out some of Surf Sweet's most delectable treats...and let me tell you...they are incredible! Don't think for even one minute that you have to sacrifice on flavor or taste just because they're organic and all natural! Surf Sweets has hit the jackpot! Some of our favorite Surf Sweets products are the Gummy Swirls (SO scrumptious) and the Sour Berry Bears (Mmmmm)!
You've gotta try them!

All of their treats are made with natural sweeteners and organic ingredients such as Organic Fruit Juice and Organic Cane juice...they are Vegan, Gluten Free, contain Vitamin C and are made in a Nut-Free facility (yay)! And last but not least...they do not contain GMO's or corn syrup!

So...our little ones can snack on yummy treats and all of us mamas can sit back and relax knowing that they are eating natural, organic & quality treats!
Surf Sweets even has little 9 oz. packets of Gummy Bears - perfect for tossing in the lunch boxes, packing for a picnic or even giving them to all the local neighborhood kiddies who will be over all summer long!

Surf Sweets products can be found at local retailers and organic markets. Click HERE to see if you have a retailer carrying Surf Sweets near you! You can order them online as well.

Want to Win a Prize Package full of Surf Sweets treats and a free Surf Sweet t-shirt?!

All you have to do is email us at (Subject Line: Surf Sweets) or leave us a comment below with your email address so we can contact you if you win!

Want extra entries?

Follow us on Twitter and Tweet about this giveaway! Leave us a comment below or an email letting us know you tweeted!
Follow Surf Sweets on Twitter too! Let us know you are following their tweets in a comment below or send us another email!
Become a Fan of Surf Sweets on Facebook! Tell us that you are!
Become a Fan of Chester County Moms on Facebook too! Remember to tell us for your extra entry!

This contest is open to US citizens only. Contest ends at midnight (EST) on June 30, 2009. The winner will be chosen make sure you give us your contact info so we can let you know if you won!

Photography 101 with Caitlin Domanico

"OMG I love your pictures, what kind of camera do you use?"
Part Three
Are you ready for the latest installment of "OMG I LOVE YOUR PICTURES"?

I really feel that this is one of the most important tips, but it is very intimidating for people to begin to use. Would I make you do anything TOO hard? No! Just relax and read on.

Soak up natural light when it's available.

Turn off your flash.

I know, it's hard to do, but do it. If lighting is low, then use your arms as a tripod and prop your camera on a steady
surface. No surface available? Draw your arms in tightly, hold your breath, and take the photo. If you are using an SLR and know a bit more about the technical
end, boost your ISO, widen your aperature and/or adjust your shutter speed. There is nothing like a beautiful portrait lit by a window. Skin tones are more natural,
colors are more true, and there are no harsh shadows and flash spots.

Check out these examples:

Flash~ could have been so much better! (or will require much more editing)

No Flash~ pretty!

Have you mastered all of these techniques and still want more from your photography? Stay tuned for next Thursday's topic- editing software for all budgets.

Until then, happy shooting!

Have questions, or want to book a session? Head over to!

And this bird you cannot change

Greg is a good student but he runs around a lot and makes fun of the other kids.

This is an excerpt from a report my stad received when he was in elementary school. His mom saved it and at some point passed it along to my parents. I think it's sitting in a box somewhere at their house.

I have not received that exact report on my child, but I think we're getting close. It's something to strive for. Earlier this week, I did receive this little gem from her teacher:

A had a hard time listening and following directions. She did like playing with playdoe [sic] and shapes. Disruptive to others at nap. Please have A wear shorts under her dresses, she has troubles not showing her underwear.

Great, she's a troublemaker and an exhibitionist. I've learned, though, that there is a fine line between teaching a child to follow the rules and squelching a free spirit. My daughter is a bright, loving, night owl of a child who has no time or patience for social norms and rules. She changes her clothes several times a day. She walks out of her underwear and leaves them where they lay (she gets this from her Aunt Craggy - hi sis!) She gallops in public and talks to strangers. She dances whenever and wherever there is music, even if it's just the "Dragon Tales" theme song. She has no interest in schedules or puzzles. You might say she's got a lot of joie de vivre.

I'm learning, however, that her new teacher doesn't dig joie de vivre. Or talking during naptime. I understand that it does cause a problem if my child is disruptive when other children are sleeping. If I spent my day dealing with pre-schoolers I'd surely want them to nap, too. So, I had a talk with the kid. Again.

"I need you to play or read quietly during naptime so that you don't bother the other kids, okay?"

I could tell that, as usual, she was wearing her ornamental ears and not the functional pair - the oft-mentioned "listening ears" that they want her wearing at Kindercare. I decided to try a different tactic and made her shake on it. She shook my hand and nodded solemnly while agreeing to try harder during naptime.

"Having integrity means doing what you say you're going to do, and when you shake on something you have to do it. Do you have integrity?" I asked her.

A nodded again. "I have tegrity," she replied and went back to making herself a moustache out of a yellow Bendaroo.

There's a part of me that would love to home-school her and let her be who she wants to be. But, our financial obligations dictate that I have to maintain gainful employment. So instead, I try to walk that line. I want to raise a polite child who has respect for others, but who is also a free-thinker and not a conformist. I envy her and wish I could be that free spirit. I have a friend who has an in-ground pool and occasionally she invites us over for a swim. Each time I visit this friend's house, I notice that the pile on her dining room table grows ever larger. I have actually never seen the surface, truth be told. And to be honest, I really admire my friend's ability to frolic in the pool while the clutter expands inside the house. I would be the type to say, "Just five more minutes and I promise we'll go swimming." And really, that's no way to be.

My daughter works on me and my goody-two-shoes ways as much as she can, though. I was trying to work on a website the other day, but she pulled me away and made me play the hand-clap game "Miss Mary Mack" on the couch instead. She requires me to dance to the theme song for "Bob the Builder." ("Can we fix it? Yes we can!") She pulls my hand until I agree to skip across the parking lot, into the grocery store. "Mama, can you do this?" she'll ask, hopping on one foot and contorting her face with her hands.

I can, and I do.

Time for a facelift!

With our 1 year anniversary approaching, we thought it was time for a little nip tuck. We appreciate your patience as will be offline until noon on June 25th so we can work on the finishing touches.
We are really excited about our new look.. Stay tuned!

The cutest words to my ears....

This is one of my most favorite videos. I promise it'll make you smile too! I can't stop if only I had that much enthusiasm "making the bed"...ha ha.

Real Estate 101 with Craig and Gina Wiley

Staging Tips

Having curb appeal and preparing your home for buyers is one of the most important steps in the selling process. Below are some staging tips that won't break your bank!

  • First impressions are EVERYTHING! Keeping your lawn watered in warmer months to maintain a healthy green color, planting flowers along a walkway or around a lamp or sign post, and/or placing attractive flowerpots on the porch are all good ideas. Make sure your trash cans are out of sight and there are no toys left outside.

  • The front door is the place that could be examined the longest, here's why.... the buyer is usually standing with the REALTOR as he / she is unlocking front door. In reality this takes only a minute or two...but while the agent is fumbling around with the lock box and key, the buyer has nothing better to do than to look around. Make sure your doorway is clean, fresh and inviting. Look in the corners of your doorway for unexpected cob-webs or dirt and clean it! Shine your door-nob, door-knocker, and door-bell if applicable. Hang a seasonal wreath to brighten up the entrance way. These may seem like insignificant things...but they do catch the eye of the buyer waiting to get inside your home. they made it past your beautiful entrance and what do they see? Here are some things to think about as you prepare your home to sell.

  1. De-personalize. We've all heard this term, but what does it mean. It means, pack up all your family pictures and put away your heritage artifacts. You don't want buyers to ask themselves what kind of family lives in this want them to imagine themselves in your house.

  2. Satisfy their sense of smell! There is nothing that is going to turn potential buyers off more than a "smelly" house! Get rid of any odors. Use air fresheners, candles, bake cookies before showings. Do whatever it takes to make your home smell nice and don't forget closets, bathrooms and the basement. If you have a pet it would be wise to remove it and things like cat litter, dog crates ...etc during showings.

  3. De-clutter. When selling your home, less is more! Pack away all of the things that you don't need. Clean off the kitchen counter-top, put away all the appliances. Show off the counter-space and closet space. If you think you have too much furniture in a probably do. Put some in storage. Remember the way you live in a house may be very different from the way you showcase your house to sell.

  4. Make minor updates. Replacing light fixtures, switch plates and outlet covers is an inexpensive way to freshen up your home. Also minor things like new hand towels in the bathrooms and fresh flowers throughout your home sets a pleasant environment. If you you recently bought new carpets of if your normal practice is taking off your shoes before coming all means leave a note asking the buyers to do the same. Believe it or has been our experience that buyers respect the owners wishes and are very impressed that the owners care enough to leave a note with this request. It shows that the property was well taken care of.

  5. Things you may forget but are important. Make sure that your front door key works easily. There is nothing more frustrating to a showing agent and their clients than not being able to open the door. This is particularly important because most times sellers will get a key made to put into the lock box. If the key is not cut perfectly it will cause trouble when trying to open the door. Perhaps you will want to hold onto the new key and put the original key into the lock box assuring a smooth entry into your home. Another thing that is important is to create a clear path to your electrical box, heater and air conditioning units. Make sure they are wiped clean and cob-web free. Red flags will go up to potential buyers if the systems in your home look as though they haven't been serviced or cleaned in a long time.

  6. Get feedback from someone that will tell you the truth! Find a friend or relative to walk through your home and give you honest feedback. Then make changes that are necessary. Remember that living in a home is a lot different than showcasing your home to sell.

With all of our listing agreements we offer a free home staging consultation that will provide you will great tips and ideas on staging your home to sell fast. Staging a home doesn't have to break your bank account. You can stage a home on any budget and in some cases you can pay the costs of staging at settlement!

Contact us directly to learn more about this.

Coldwell Banker Preferred
390 Waterloo Blvd., suite 101
Exton, PA 19341
Office 610-363-606
Direct 484-881-6066

"Teamwork makes the dream work!"

2009 DARC Discount Ticket Prices

Purchase discount tickets at Downingtown Area Recreation Consortium
114 Bell Tavern Rd. Downingtown, PA 19335
Hours of operation are: M-F 8:30AM-4:30PM

For more information call (610) 269-9260 or visit

Adventure Aquarium
Adult (13 and over) - $15.00 - DARC Savings $ 6.35
Child (2-12) -$11.00 -DARC Savings $ 6.07

Baltimore Aquarium
Adult (12 – 59) -$20.00 DARC Savings $ 4.95
Senior (60 & over) -$19.00 - DARC Savings $ 4.95
Child (3 – 11) -$12.50 -DARC Savings $ 2.45

Dorney Park
Adult (48” or taller) (valid 5/23-9/7) -$31.00 - DARC Savings-$ 8.99
Child (under 48” age 3+), Senior (62+) -$19.00 -DARC Savings -$ .99

Dutch Wonderland
General (3-59) Sr. ticket available at park -$27.00 DARC Savings -$ 3.95

Hershey Park
Adult (9-54) -$41.00 - DARC Savings-$ 10.95
2 & under free
Child (3-8) Senior (55-69) -$29.00 - DARC Savings -$ 1 .95
Early Season: (5/3- 6/30; Sun-Fri) -$31.00 - DARC Savings -$20.95
Groups of 20 or more only (6/30-8/20):$31.00 DARC Savings-$20.95

Weekday, Regular (48” or taller) -$26.00 DARC Savings -$ 3.50
Weekday, Child (under 48”) -$16.00 -DARC Savings -$ 3.50

Philadelphia Zoo
General Admission (2 and over) -$14.00 -DARC Savings $ 4.00

Sesame Place
24 months & over Free upgrade for 2nd day during season -$43.00- DARC Savings $11.72

Six Flags Great Adventure
Regular (3+) (Theme Park and Safari) -$29.00 -DARC Savings $35.19
Hurricane Harbor Water Park -$18.00 - DARC Savings $16.99

Click here to visit the DARC website for additional savings and community day trips.

Coming up daiseys!

Well if you haven't had your dose of "Insane Mommy" this week here's a little bit more of me. I just LOVE this cake - I completed this tonight for my fianl cake class. Yes, I completed all four courses - not bad for someone who'd never baked a cake before.....Mr. Man still bakes the cookies....
Stay tuned - I've got a great recipe I will be posting soon!

Day of Fun at Dutch Wonderland

DUKE's (surprise) Birthday Party

Dutch Wonderland Family Amusement Park
June 24th
1:30pm at Duke's Lagoon

SHHHH! It's a surprise! Everyone's favorite dragon is having a birthday party at Dutch Wonderland, but he doesn't know it! Join the Princess and Knight of Dutch Wonderland and all their friends as they give DUKE a party to remember. Expect treats, games, music and lots of fun, but don't let the secret slip! DUKE will be so surprised to see you!

Click here for more information or call 1-866-FUNatDW for more details.

We Ain't Hitched?

P and I have been married over 12 years now. A few weeks ago, the HR person at his place of employment advised him that he had to provide proof that A is his kid and that I am his wife. Failing to show such documentation would result in us getting booted from the medical insurance. We fork over something like $6,000 a year out of pocket for the insurance, so I find it amusing that they think we'd pay that kind of money illegitimately.

I handed my husband a copy of our daughter's birth certificate (when you adopt a child, the birth certificate is re-issued after the adoption is finalized to reflect the names of the adoptive parents as well as the child's legal last name - ours). We also have a separate court document that proves she's ours. If she's not ours, that kid owes us a lot of money. Ha! I also gave him a copy of our marriage certificate. I felt a little bit iffy about the marriage certificate because I noticed it had no seal on it. However, it had never caused a problem before (we had used that same certificate to buy a house and adopt a child) so I figured it would be fine. After all, who would go to the trouble to forge a document like this and then hang onto it for 12 years?

As luck would have it, the certificate was not, in fact, accepted. The HR person notified P via email that we had not shown proof that we had filed the certificate with the court in Fairfax County, VA, where we were married. I went into complete and total panic mode when I saw that email. What? We were supposed to file something? The momentary thought that we were not legally married - well, it was like a bad sitcom. A completely unfunny one at that.

Then it occurred to me that if every couple had to file paperwork after their wedding, virtually no one would be legally married. I dug through filing cabinets and boxes, looking for some official-looking wedding-related document. Then I remembered that I have a plastic Rubbermaid tote full of stuff from the wedding itself. I had to dig out the entire closet in the office/guest room to get to it. The good news is that I found a watch I lost last year as I was digging.

I opened the bin and found the ring bearer's pillow, extra copies of the invitations, honeymoon planning brochures, and lots of other goodies that I saved from the festivities. I also found a form that indicated that we could send it in and receive an official copy of our marriage certificate. Oops. It would have cost me a couple bucks to do it in 1997, but lots and lots of bucks to do it online (and have it sent by second-day air) in 2009. I immediately placed the order, of course. I also ran across a sheet explaining that the officiant (not us) had to send in the paperwork to the county within five days of the service. I was relieved to learn that we are, in fact, legally married. I didn't want to have to explain to my daughter that she is illegitimate. Now that I think about, it, though, a second wedding would have thrilled her. She is always handing me flowers "for your wedding, Mama" and picking out dresses I can wear to my wedding (usually frothy yellow numbers that would make me look like death warmed over). She gets mad when she sees photographs from our nuptials, because we didn't invite her.

Since I had my wedding stuff out, I thought the kid would get a kick out of it, so I called her in and showed her the bin and all the relics therein. She, however, was interested in only one item in the bin: the knife we used to cut our wedding cake. I don't know what to say about that . . .

Tasty Tuesdays - Kids in the Kitchen

Since we've all been glued to the Food Network channel each Sunday night rooting of our own local Katie Cavuto on The Next Food Network Star, I thought it would be fun to round out June's BBQ themed Tasty Tuesdays post with a delicious recipe from their website! And get this...round up the little kiddies, because this recipe is a fun one for them to help out with too!

Kids will love to help assemble these delicious kabobs! These can be broiled or cooked on the grill for a delicious meal!

Pineapple Salsa:
1 cup diced fresh pineapple
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup diced cucumber
2 teaspoons rice vinegar, optional
1/3 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce

1 1/4 pounds boneless beef top sirloin steak, cut 1-inch thick
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Salt, optional


Special equipment: 4 (10 to 12-inch) metal skewers*

Combine Pineapple Salsa ingredients in small bowl. Set aside. Preheat broiler....or get the grill started! Combine ketchup and hoisin sauce in a bowl. Reserve some of the sauce in a small bowl and set aside. Cut beef steak into 1-inch pieces. Thread beef pieces evenly onto 4 (10 to 12-inch) metal skewers. Season kabobs evenly with pepper. Place kabobs on rack in broiler pan so surface of beef is 3 to 4-inches from heat (you may also cook these on the grill). Brush beef generously with some of reserved sauce mixture. Broil 7 to 9 minutes for medium-rare to medium "doneness," turning once and brushing with remaining sauce mixture. Season beef with salt, if desired. Serve kabobs topped with Pineapple Salsa.

You can also add pieces of veggies or fruit in the kabob too...chunks of red onion, peppers, tomatoes and pineapple can be skewered in between the meat cubes which might add some gorgeous color and lots of yummy flavor!

Cook's Tip: 2 beef shoulder top blade (flat iron) steaks (8-ounces each) may be substituted for top sirloin steak. Broiling time remains the same.

Cook's Tip: For easier preparation, use peeled, cored and sliced fresh pineapple available in the supermarket produce section.

*Note: This recipe calls for the use of metal kabob skewers...but if you don't have them, you can substitute them with simple wooden kabob skewers that you find at any local grocery store. Just remember to soak the wooden skewers in water prior to using them...this is to prevent burning them on the grill or in the stove.

And...if all else fails...what kid wouldn't LOVE these kabobs?

That's right...donut hole kabobs!
All you need to do is get a variety of donut holes from you favorite donut shop...then let your kids skewer them onto a kabob skewer! Ta da! Yum!!!

Coupons, Coupons, Everywhere!

Okay, so you want to use coupons to save money. You know the lingo, you know to wait for a sale, but where can you find good coupons?!

Good coupons are EVERYWHERE!

Types of Coupons
Some of the different kinds of coupons out there include:
- Inserts: Manufacturer coupons found in the newspaper inserts in the Sunday paper
- Printables: Just as the name suggests, these are coupons that can be printed off of the internet. Many stores are leery of accepting these (some actually have written policies rejecting them). That is because they are frequently targets of fraud, through reproductions, barcode altering, etc. Make sure you know your store's policy before trying to use them.
- Tear Pad: Coupons found in the store on a tear pad usually located right near the product they are advertising
- Catalinas: Coupons that print out of the little machines next to the register at grocery stores, drug stores, etc.
- Peelies: Coupons found on the actual product that you peel off to use
- Hang Tags: Coupons that hang from the actual product (most common on bottles, such as wine)

Next week's topic: Coupon Stockpiling

Devon posts regularly on her blog, When she is not blogging or designing personalized candy wrappers for her store, Winterwood Press, she is spending time with her husband and her 9 month old daughter.

The Par-tay!

Few words are needed. They came. We laughed. We enjoyed. Wow. Still coming off the high of yesterday! What a party! There were no tears this year, however, there was lots of squealing and laughter. Too fun. Thank you friends for sharing in on what was such a special day for the girls. I can't imagine what "The Magic Kingdom" is going to be like.......

Note: Yes, I made the princess cakes....

There she sits buddy just a-gleaming in the sun*

*Bonus points if you know the song without Googling it. Your entry doesn't count if you are related to me.

Did I tell you I bought a bicycle on Craigslist? Yessirree! I wanted a bike, but I didn't want to go to Dick's and spend $300+ on one. If I did that and then didn't ride it, I'd feel like dung. $50 didn't seem like quite such a commitment, however. A guy on the other side of town spends the winters fixing up bikes as a hobby and then sells them when the warm weather rolls around. I called him a few weeks ago and he said he had several women's bikes in his basement, ready to ride.

I was interested, but decided I'd better take P along with me in case the innocuous bike tinkerer turned out to be a psychopath. Since the bicycles were all in his basement, I had a disturbing vision of this Boo Radley type saying, "Come right down heeeeere . . . " and then the last thing I see is the business end of a hatchet. So, we made it a family excursion and headed across town to the bike man's house.

Well, the bike man turns out to be about 5 foot nothing. And a chain smoker. When we got there, he was walking a geriatric semi-dog that was no larger than my shoe. So yeah, I could've taken this guy with my eyes shut. But, better safe than sorry, you know.

I chose a red Schwinn touring bike. It has no kickstand, but rides just fine. I've taken it out on several excursions around the 'hood and hope to hit a nearby bike trail soon. The warm weather took its own sweet time arriving this year - I turned on the heat as recently as two weeks ago. I also entered a local charity ride that takes place next month, so that should give me some motivation.

In my early 20s, I owned a red Giant racing bike. I did a lot of biking back then, and I've really missed it. There is something about cycling that really appeals to me. I don't know if it is the fact that it is a largely solo activity, or if it's the wind in my ears, or perhaps I simply enjoy the mind-clearing benefits of repetitive pedaling. When I lived in Virginia, I used to park my car in Old Town Alexandria and then hit the Mount Vernon Trail, which winds along the Potomac. I listened to my music ON CASSETTE thankyouverymuch. There were two ways I could go. If I went south towards Mount Vernon, the path was shady but hilly. If I went towards the District, the path was flatter but sunny (which would sound like a good thing unless you're like me and you once got a sunburn selling Christmas trees). I usually alternated. I liked riding to National Airport (I still have trouble calling it Reagan National) and then watching the planes for a while.

One time, I was cycling south towards Mount Vernon. I encountered a largish hill and had to stand up on the pedals in order to make it to the top. A more experienced cyclist passed me on the hill, but then turned his head back and said, "Good job, you're strong." I tell you, to this day it was one of the best compliments I ever received. I want to remember what it feels like to be strong. Oh to be 21 again, pedaling along the Potomac, with no credit card debt to speak of, no mortgage. The world is too much with me now (with apologies to Wordsworth). I gotta pedal my way back to my peace.

Real Estate 101 with Craig & Gina Wiley

Home Warranty & Homeowners Insurance .....

What is the difference?

Homeowners Insurance covers...
  • Personal property, furniture, clothing, jewelry, etc up to some value.Structure and contents of the home.

  • Your living expenses if the home is not in living condition due to natural disaster.

  • If someone gets injured on your property (slipping on the icy driveway) and if you are sued, you are covered by homeowners insurance.

  • It protects you from a variety of event, including fire, lighting, tree-falling, burglary and storms.

Home Warranty covers...

  • Repair and replacement of major appliances such as heater / cooling system, water heater, refrigerator, dishwasher, range, oven etc. Plumbing and electrical systems are also covered.

  • Coverage is generally effective 30 days from the date of buying the policy. Be aware that claims can be denied for various reasons, such as maintenance negligence. A claim that is covered could mean the difference in paying thousands of dollars for repair or a deductible of less than $75.00!

A Home Warranty is an incentive for buyers!

  • If your home is on the market, you may want to consider purchasing home warranty for the lucky buyer. Talk to your REALTOR about your options. This can be a very nice incentive for potential buyers and will give them peace of mind in buying your property.

If you are thinking about buying or selling a home and you are not already working with a real estate agent....allow us to protect you!

We are offering a FREE ONE YEAR HOME WARRANTY (valued at $435.00) to anyone that buys or sells a property and is represented by Craig & Gina Wiley of Coldwell Banker Preferred. Keep the warranty for yourself, or use it as an incentive while selling your home....the choice is yours.

Contact us directly for more information.
Craig & Gina Wiley
Coldwell Banker Preferred
390 Waterloo Blvd, Suite 101
Exton, PA 19341
Office 610-363-6006
Direct 484-881-6066

“Teamwork makes the dream work!”

Next Food Network Star - Tonight at 9PM

Don't forget to watch West Chester's own, Katie Cavuto on The Next Food Network Star on Food Network tonight at 9PM.

Click here if you want daily nutrition tips and recipes. Katie is a contributor for the blog and it is a great resource for everything healthy!

Click here and get to know Katie and Healthy Bites…

Family Fun at The Delaware Beaches

Headed to the Delaware Beaches this summer? Check out our complete guide to fun, family events at the Delaware Beaches.

Click here for a complete guide to events in Rehoboth.

Click here for info on Downtown Rehoboth

Tanger Outlets Complete Store Guide - click here for info on AAA discounts, store promotions & coupons.

FYI- the parking meters have increased to $1.25/hour.

Click here for a complete guide to Dewey Beach events

Historic Lewes

Click here for a complete guide to Historic Lewes

Click here for a complete guide to Bethany Beach.

Click here for a complete guide to Fenwick Island

Click here for a complete guide to Slaughter Beach.

Click here for a complete guide to events in OCMD.

June 21 - August 23 Ice Skating ShowsCarousel Resort Hotel, 118th St. Exciting ice skating shows nightly by professional group, Next Ice Age. Free & open to the public. 6:30 p.m. Anna Wagner, 800-641-0011.

June 29-Movies on the Beach & More-27th St. Beach Every Monday and Friday evening enjoy games and movie on the beach with our new 16-foot projector. Each week a general audience movie is presented free of charge. Bring a blanket and enjoy the night beside the ocean. Games and activities begin at 7:30 p.m. Movie starts around 8:30 p.m.

June 30th -Family Beach Olympics-27th St. Beach Each Tuesday evening features a variety of contests for all ages. Events may include sand castle contests, tug-of-war, relays and more. All activities are free and are offered from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Assateague Island - Visit the Wild Horses, Camp, Hike, Bike...just wear bug spray!

“Fee Free” Weekends this Summer at Assateague Island

For the following weekends, entrance fees will be waived:

June 20-21 (Father’s Day weekend)

July 18-19

August 15-16

Junior Ranger Program for kids over age 6

Family Activities at the Jersey Shore

Headed "down the shore" this summer? Check out our complete guide to all things Jersey Shore.


Click here for a complete list of events in Avalon

Stone Harbor

Click here
for a complete list of events in Stone Harbor.

6/28/09 - Sunday's at The Stone Harbor Farmer's Market -95th Street - Water Tower Parking Lot

6/28/09 - Ron Jaworski Fit Festival

6/29/2009 – Eric Dasher Magic Show Stone Harbor Firehouse Parking Lot- bring a beach chair or blanket. Begins at 7pm. For more information – 609-368-6101

Sea Isle City

Monday & Wednesday Nights-Free Summer Concerts Under the Stars, sponsored by Sea Isle City and the Tourism Commission, 7:30-9:00PM, 609-263-TOUR

Click here for a complete list of Sea Isle City events


Click here for a complete list of Wildwood Events.

Thursday Nights- Boardwalk Family Fun Nights Parades, clowns and music on the Wildwood Boardwalk. 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.609.523.1602 or

Ocean City, NJ

Click here for a complete list of events in OCNJ

Family Nights 7:30pm to 9:30pm on the Boardwalk .

Ocean City, NJ Ocean City Chamber

NJ Links:

NJ Division of Travel & Tourism

New Jersey Shore

Official Website for State of NJ (check traffic conditions & weather)

While visiting Cape May County, check out a blog written by our friend Elizabeth Norton, AKA.. The Party Planning Professor. Elizabeth is a contributor to the New Jersey Moms Blog, and is our favorite NJ shore " Mom in the Know". She is very excited to share her insider tips on all things Jersey shore.

We want to see your best NJ Shore pictures. Email them to us at July 1- August 31st. We will post the photos to Chester County Moms and ask our readers to vote on the best photo. One submission per family. Stay tuned for details.

Happy Birthday My Precious Babes!

I still can't believe you are four years old. OMG - how did that happen?!?! I never imagined that I'd be wonderng where the time went or how we could stop time. I know I've said it before, but I wish we could just slow it down for a minute! Honest to G-d, I am so glad that I am no longer working!! I love every minute that we spend together and love listening to you girls as you shatter about laughing and asking "silly" questions...

I made a very special birthday dinner on Tuesday, however, we're celebrating their birthday tomorrow with a big party! Code for food, friends, presents, and of course cake! Mommyy made all the cakes (four!!!). They are so cute and I know the chickies will love them. Everything these days is "Cinda-brella" - you can see where this is going! I will post pictures, but after the party....Here are a few pictures of the chickies for those of you who need your "fix". They are the cutests in the land, and as sweet as pie! Enjoy.......