Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Magical Glowing Memories

"And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more."
Dr. Seuss

I had prepared myself for a Molly-LESS Christmas. I had cried. I cried again. And, then I cried some more after that, until, I just had nothing left to cry. It had been almost 16 weeks since I'd seen my sister. We'd spent the last 102 day communicating via twitter, Facebook, and Instant Messenger. It was getting harder and harder to not just make every Dear Aunt Olly post "We miss you, We miss you, We miss you". And, the only thing I really wanted was to drink coffee with her in my parents' kitchen while listening the sounds of my daughter playing in the background.Then, last night, like any other night, Madaline and I traipsed upstairs with Morris and Murphy in our wake. It was bedtime. I sunk to the floor and felt the cold draft that whispers itself thru the cracks of our old house this time of year running across the bare floor. After making sure everything was just so, Madaline settled criss cross applesauce on her bed. And, with the glow from the hallway lights spilling into the room, just as my own Dad used to do, I told her our homespun bedtime stories. Days of her life, memories of love and laughter, all woven into a story that I want to be forever imprinted on the pages of her mind.
When I finished, she climbed out of bed, into my lap, wrapped her fleece covered arms around my neck and settled her head into the crook of my neck. As I pulled her close, inhaling the the sweet smell of her, I whispered "Guess who's coming home tonight". "Who Mommy". "Guess"...... Looking up at me with wide eyes "Aunt Olly?" she whispered and suddenly her trademark smile danced across her face. " girl, Aunt Olly will be home tonight". "Really, Mommy? So, I can give her a hug? I've missed her so much".

"Me too too".

note: My sister's plane arrived at JFK last night, from London, at shortly before 8pm. This was after she spent an extra 5 days in London when flights in or out of Heathrow Airport came to a screeching halt this past weekend. I heard my sister's voice clearly thru a phone for the first time in almost 16 weeks last night shortly after 9pm. I am thankful she's home. So, very, very, very, thankful she is home for Christmas.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dear Aunt Olly, {Week 15}

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I did not expect to be writing Dear Aunt Olly {Week 15} as if my sister was still in the United Kingdom. However, she is. Molly is one of the thousands of passengers affected by the snow which brought Heathrow Airport to a screeching halt. So, if you could, and I'm not usually one to ask, PLEASE, I need you to pray, chant, work your juju, beg, conjure the spirits, send positive thoughts skyward, cross your fingers/toes/eyeballs, heck, I'm not above asking you to break out the voodoo mojo - just do what ever it is you believe in doing - so that Molly's plane, leaves Heathrow Airport, tomorrow, so that she can be home for Christmas. It is and will be be greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Dear Aunt Olly, {Week 14}

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Monday, December 13, 2010

And, The Winner is,

Congrats Michele!
Please send me your ship to information at MagnificentMayhem{at}Gmail{dot}com

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Dear Aunt Olly, {Week 13}

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Monday, December 6, 2010

ReView/GIVEaWAY: Pet Cakes

Madaline LOVES all things cupcakes. We are HUGE fans of Pinkalicious. There was never any doubt when we asked her what she wanted to be for Halloween. And, not a holiday passes where we don't do some sort of holiday themed cupcakes to celebrate. And, so, that why when I was asked to review PetCakes it really was a win win for us. How can one go wrong with cute cuddly animals with a clever cupcake theme? Well, in my mind, you just can not.
from left to right: Twinkle Sprinkles, Coco-Coconut, Blueberry Buddy, Randy Candy

We received all four of their new fall line, "Sweet Puppies" which debuted this fall. Each PetCake animal features a "frosting" hat, comes nestled in its own cupcake wrapper and has its own whimsical back-story. It's very easy to see why PetCakes would make an ideal option for birthday part favors, rewards for good behavior and of course stocking stuffers. And, since Christmas is just right around the corner, I gave Madaline "Randy Candy" to play with now, and will be giving her the rest of the set for Christmas. Are they not just the cutest little toys? PetCakes are sold individually and are available at (online only), and and other specialty stores. But, before you start cruising the drop down menus and search boxes at those aforementioned retailer, I have a chance for you to win two Sweet Puppies PetCakes pals. Not only did Well Made Toy Manufactures provide me with a set for Madaline, but they have offered to ship two "Sweet Puppies" to one of my readers. If you win, your Sweet Puppies PetCakes will by chosen by the company(based on inventory at the time) and shipped directly to you.

I'm giving you 3 easy ways to enter this giveaway. You can do just one of the tasks listed or all three, totally up to you. All I ask is that you PLEASE leave a SEPARATE comment for each task you complete.

1 - Leave me a commenting letting me know what you'd do with your Sweet Puppies PetCakes if you won. Are they for your own child? Are you planning on adding them to your last minute gift stash?

2- Become a follower or subscribe in your reader to Madaline: The Magnificent Mayhem Maker If you already do then just leave me a comment letting me know that.

3 - Follow me on Twitter and tweet the following: I entered @HaBryerton 's Sweet Puppies Pet Cakes giveaway - then just click back over here and let me know that you did.

Good Luck!! Give-a-Way starts today and ENDS on Sunday, December 12th at 12:00AM EST. I'll will allow Random.Org to choose a winner to be announced here on Monday, December 13th.
PetCakes will ship directly from the company to the giveaway winner. Limited to US resident only (sorry to any of my Canadian readers)

disclaimer: I was given the opportunity to do this review/giveaway for being a member in the Business2Blogger network. A complete set of Sweet Puppies PetCakes was provided to me in exchange for this post and an honest review of their products.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Welcome Winter


LET IT SNOW.....LET IT SNOW....LET IT SNOW!It's that time of year again. The wind is screaming through the pines, the snow is covering everything in a blanket of sparkly whiteness and there is a biting bitterness in the air that just chills you right down to the bone. This is the kind of weather that call for stew. Stew so thick, rich, hearty and warm that when you put a wooden spoon vertical in the pot, let go, it stands there by itself. That's the kind of yummy goodness we like to make over at The Townsend Bakery. Click on over and check our our latest RE-DO Recipe. And, of course, as always, it has passed the Mayhem Maker taste test.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

18 MORE Days

We have 18 MORE days left.

18 MORE days of NO Aunt Olly

18 MORE days until Olly boards a plane and wanders her way home from Across The Pond.

18 MORE days of hearing "Aunt Olly at 'cow-ledge' Mommy" even though I'm not sure she fully understands that "cow-ledge" is 3,286.96 miles across the Atlantic Ocean in Wales.
18 MORE days until we give Aunt Olly welcome home Hugs & Kisses. She's going to be home just in time for Christmas - which is only 24 days away.

{original 18 days post: click here}

Looking for more? Check out:

Dear Aunt Olly, {Week 12}

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dear Aunt Olly, {Week 11}

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{Aunt Olly's birthday isn't today - it's actually Turkey Day - November 25th -just thought I should clarify that in case anyone wanted to wish her a Happy Birthday}

Monday, November 22, 2010

Mayhem and MADS-isms {edition 2}

I really need to teach Madaline how to make coffee - it would make dealing with the full force onslaught of "mommy....moMMY....MOMMY" before I can even get the filter in the basket so much more tolerable

That when Sunday starts before 6AM your child's ability to listen will start to malfunction no later than 6:15AM

And, to add insult to injury - That the volume and energy level control knobs on Mayhem Makers, specifically the "Madaline Elizabeth" Model, circa 2007, will promptly start malfunctioning at 7:15am on that exact same Sunday

When one has only had a 1/2 a cup of coffee the voice of the characters on Little Einsteins are extremely reminiscent of nails on a chalkboard

Pants are pure evil in the mind of Madaline - and it is absolute torture having to wait for a pretty dress to finish drying in the dryer.

LOVE: Little girls who wear denim jumpers and stripped tights. LOVE!! *melts my heart*

Allowing Nick Jr to entertain your child in the hour before dinner will award you the opportunity to clean the kitchen and cook dinner in peace and, ah, quiet.

I never knew that something as simple as a brand new sheet of stickers would bestow upon me the "Your the best-est Mommy ever" award

An unopened wind up dinosaur Happy Meal toy stashed in my go bag that I cart back and forth to work every day came in very handy last Friday when I realized I was out of dum-dum lollipops at daycare pick up.

Mads clearly knows more than I give her credit for - as Grammy and I were informed last night that this week is "Thankgibbing" and then comes "Chris-Mist"

Last Wednesday, Madaline spoke with Aunt Olly on the phone. Not a day has passes since that she's asked me about Aunt Olly or tells me some snippet of their conversation.

I might as well just hand Madaline a bowl of frosting sprinkled with raisins - because out of her slice of Sunday dessert - all she ate were the raisins she picked out of the cake which she thne dipped in the frosting.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Dear Aunt Olly, {Week 10}

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Dear Aunt Olly, {Week 9}

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sounds of Morning Silence

There is a peacefulness to mornings in our house. A peaceful silence mingled with the anxious anticipation of the start of a new day. And, each morning, without fail, the nighttime silence gently yields itself to the dawning sounds of another new day. Gentle sounds that tickle our ears and let us know, without fail, that morning has arrived.
The quite rush of the water in my shower. The warming drip, perk, dribble noises of the coffee pot. The gentle clink of the spoon coming to rest on the counter after stirring cream into that first steamy mug of coffee. The whooshing humming of the blow dryer as I dry my hair.
The muffled rustling of blankets and covers being pushed aside. Followed by the shuffling sounds of little feet, encased in footed fleece jammies, coming down the upstairs hallway. A tiny voice calling from the top of the stairs for me to turn the hall light on. The thump, thump, thump on each step as Madaline, Morris & Murphy comes down the stairs to greet another day.
Suddenly, as if on cue, the sun finally starts to peak above the Eastern tree line. The nighttime silence is gone, completely broken. The peaceful sounds of morning start to fade into the the background. And, before we know it, a new day crescendos before us.

This post is part of

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Cupcakes, Pumpkins, and ANOTHER cupcake??

The annual baking of Halloween cupcakes with Grammy. Next time we just have to remember not to put sprinkles on all of them - as Daddy is not a big fan of sprinkles.Sunday morning hanging with Grampy carving pumpkins. Little did we know, that carving pumpkins with Grampy was such serious business.And, finally, Mommy spent 3 days and 10 hours sewing ruffles. Grampy engineering the cupcake liner base out of a laundry basket, cardboard and spray paint. Pretty sparkly pom-pom sprinkles. And, voila! We had our own version of the Pinkalicious cupcake.
And, based on the Mayhem Maker's smile....I'd say it was a Halloween filled with happiness! Hope yours was just as happy as ours!

Need more wordFUL or wordLESS Wednesday posts? Check out:

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Dear Aunt Olly, {Week 8}

{You can click on photo to make it larger & some have told me it makes the text easier to read}

Friday, October 29, 2010

Mayhem In The Kitchen

Mommy...I want to sit on the counter

Can I stir it?

Can I do it mom? Please? I wanna do it!
It's quickly becoming well known that Madaline and I bake Thursday evenings. Last night my husband said that he could smell that sweetness of the brown sugar and the faint hint of pumpkin as soon as he reached the top step of the back deck. So, with that, have a great weekend. And, if your interested, click HERE and see what we made last night - because they are the almost perfect breakfast treat for this upcoming chilly weekend.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Stacking Dreams

*squee* Mommy - Aunt Olly home! *squee* Aunt Olly home!

"No sweetie....her cars is here,but she's not home. Aunt Olly is away at College"

"Mommy......Aunt Olly at College?" (only it sounds more like Cow-ledge)

Yep. She's at 'cow-ledge'.
That night after the last of our dirty dinner dishes had been tucked into the dishwasher, we snapped photos. Photo's that I promised Madaline I would print. Photos we would send to Aunt Olly who is away at 'Cow-Ledge'.

We giggled. *click* Madaline built towers with blocks. *click*
We laughed. *click* Morris and Murphy tried to escape from the Mayhem. *click*
We made silly faces *click*
Much later, surrounded by the quiet peacefulness that only appears once Madaline is in bed I anxiously grabbed the camera to see what what we had captured. I fretted that the memory card would be filled with dark, useless, blurry shots. For once I hadn't worried about staging the perfect shot. I just had the camera in my hand and clicked away at different points of the evening. And, what I found surprised me. There, embedded in a memory card, was the essence of my evening. The time of day that makes me feel more than a mom than any other time of day. It is just her and I. Heather and Madaline, a mom and her daughter.As I scrolled through the photos I realized that these could have been taken on any given week night. I see the tiredness of my work day tugging at the corners of my eyes. The mischievous twinkle in my daughter's eye as she recounts a days worth of stories - some coming so quickly that I can hardly keep up. Scattered toys that kept Madaline entertained as I hurriedly made dinner. The leaning block towers knocked down as Madaline reached for Murphy as he scampered across the living room floor.
Memories of yesterday.
The memory of today
a memory for tomorrow.
Memories that we create one stacked block at a time. Each of those stacked blocks holding within it our dreams. Dreams we are living in this little house. Each day we're adding to the blueprint for our lives and hoping all the pieces come together. For it is inside this little green house, we have built a foundation of love. Our walls are held together with support and understanding. Each day we do our best to patch any holes or cracks with smiles, hugs and kisses. Each room is painted with patience and understanding. Occasionally, we have to sweep away tears and disappointment. Our walls are decorated with the memories of the times we spend together. Memories that will hopefully out live our own lifetime.
One block at a time - we are building and stacking our dreams into memories. This is LIFE. My LIFE. 5 nights a week. Just me, with Madaline, Morris and Murphy. Building memories.

Find more wordFUL and wordLESS Wednesday posts at:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Dear Aunt Olly, {Week 7}

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Mayhem and MADS-isms, {edition 1}

The other night we were finished with dinner and Madaline was climbing out of her booster seat. Not wanting her to fall, I said "Hold your shorts" as I extended my hand to help her. Her reply? "I'm not wearing shorts mom - I don't even have pants on".
And, she didn't. She's gotten back into the habit of stripping down to her unders as soon as we walk in the door every evening.
My parents took Madaline Saturday afternoon to get pumpkins. I got a much needed afternoon to myself that I filled with a hair cut and grocery shopping. Later that evening I was asking her how the afternoon went:

Me: "Did you have fun at the pumpkin place with Grammy & Grampy?"
Mads: "Patch. Not a pumpkin place - a Pumpkin PATCH"
Me: "Huh?"
The evening sky has been like a sheet of glass sprinkled with stars the last few weeks. A few Friday's ago as we were walking across the back deck after coming home from my parent's: .

"Wook-it Mom - Stars. Mom - Stars"
Me: "I see them Mads"
"I want one Mom"
Me: "One what?"
"A star"
Me: "Ok"
*grunts & jumps* "I can't reach - can you get me one?"
"I wish sweetie...I wish"
*thunk, thunk, thud*
Me: "Madaline, how many times do I have to tell you that we don't play on the stairs?"
"I'm not"
*thud, thunk, thud*
ME: "MADALINE - We DON'T play on the stairs"
"I'm NOT"
*thunk, thud, thunk*
Me: "Than what are you doing?"
and sure enough, she was just sitting on the landing, eating her apple, thumping her feet on the stairs, under the watchful eye of Morris & Murphy
Madaline came thundering down the stairs Sunday and running into the living room
"Mommy I got a boo-boo"
Me: "Really? Where?"
"Right here" *hold up her middle finger and flips me off*
Me: *annoyed* "Did your Dad teach you that?"
Me: "Did your Dad teach you that?"
"Noooo....Mom - I got a boo-boo" *continues to flip me off while showing me a small scratch on her finger*
Me: "HONEY..... *Husband appears around corner* Maddy - show Daddy your boo-boo"
"Daddy.....I got a boo-boo" *turns on her heel and flips my husband off*
It took all I had to keep a straight face as my Husband almost choked on his coffee

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Dear Aunt Olly, {Week 6}

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Monday, October 18, 2010

The Fragile Fibers of Parental Confidence

It's been a LONG time since Madaline threw a temper tantrum of epic proportions like the one she thre Saturday evening at Old Navy. A throw myself on the floor, roll around and scream at the top of my lungs kind of fit. It all stemmed from me telling her "No" to a pair of clearance jelly sandals. And, then to make matters even worse, I had what I'm calling a brief moment of stupidity. As I struggling with her towards the exit, I saw a bench. And, for a small moment I thought I could salvage this little shopping trip. Perhaps a few moments collecting herself while sitting on a bench would be enough to correct her bad banshee behavior.

Nope. It only aided in escalating the situation. The wailing, the shrieking and the 'No Mommy's" got louder and more hysterical as the seconds ticked by. And, the looks from my fellow store patrons got nastier and more obvious in their disgust of my daughter's behavior and my inability to curb it. Sensing that there was no end in sight I got down on her level - Looked her in the eye and firmly stated "This is enough - your making a fool of yourself - put your shoes & socks on NOW or we are going home". It seemed to take an eternity as I counted to 10, giving Madaline one final chance to comply with my request. And, then, once again I struggled to pick up my flailing child, almost dropping her on the concrete floor. (thank you lady looking at the coats near by for your overly LOUD and clearly for my benefit *GASP* as I almost dropped her on her head - I appreciate it) Exasperated and frustrated, I composed myself, got a better grip on my 'Toddler with Super Human STrength', picked my head up, put a smile on my face and walked as calmly as I could out the door. Of course, as we left, my daughter serenade customers with an encore performance of "Mommy, put me down" and "No Mommy NO". I, on the other hand, got another 25 minutes of temper tantrum complete with added bonus tracks of "Turn this Car Around" and "Take me Back, Right now"on our drive home.

But, really - It's wasn't Madaline's behavior that bothered me the most. It was the behavior of other adults that got me. I know she was loud. I know she was being naughty. I know that her screaming and yelling hurt your ears.But, really, were the icy stares of disbelief necessary? Did you really need to shake your head in disapproval at me? Don't get me wrong, at first, I did find your sideways glances of curiosity rather humorous, but when they morphed into the head shaking looks of disapproval? Yeah. There was nothing funny about you anymore.

I'm sorry. Truly sorry. I apologize to you right now for her behavior. But, know this - no amount of disapproving glances you shot my way will ever compare to the how much my inner monologue will berate myself in the days and weeks to come. Your nasty looks filled with judgment and skepticism of my ability to be a parent have done nothing but tear at the fragile fibers already barely hold together my confidence of being a mom. Each narrowed eye stare sent my way makes me ask myself - Where did I go wrong? What should I have done differently? Every head shake of disapproval makes me wonder if maybe we should have just stayed home? And, the larger implications of your reaction to my daughter's behavior? It makes me questions my over all ability to be a parent. Maybe I'm not cut out of be a mom. It makes me doubt myself, even though I know in my heart, I am a good mom.

And, so, a word of advice - stop. Stop with the nasty looks and the disapproving stares. It doesn't help. Perhaps what you can do next time you is give me one of those nice, I know what your going through smiles. Perhaps a quick glance of understanding. Even the knowing nod of having been there done that. Because, it will make a world of difference. It just might be the one small thing that helps hold together my parental confidence and makes it stronger - especially in those moments you are witnessing - when I probably need it the most.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Looking for a kid friendly, easy, slow cooked, no fuss dinner recipe?
Check out this weeks RE-DO recipie over at The Townsend Bakery - Chicken Soup w/ Mini Raviolis.


How about something for dessert? Or, maybe a late night snack or a weekend breakfast treat?
I have baked up just the thing to help you use up one of those apples you probably have in a pretty bowl on your kitchen counter right now! Caramel Apple Muffins!
Gooey caramel with the still slightly crispy apple held together with warm cinnamon laced cake? Heaven, I tell you. Heaven!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Apples, Cider and Doughnuts, OH MY!

How can one usher in fall without a trip to a Cider Mill? One really can not. One of my favorite memories as a child is when my Dad and I used to take apples up to the local Mill to be pressed into cider for the annual neighborhood Halloween party. Well, long gone is the local Cider Mill as well as the annual neighborhood Halloween party. So, after doing a little google-ling I found this place: "THE CIDER MILL". One of my co-workers commutes from that area each day and so I inquired if he had ever been there. He spoke very highly of that place and so it was settled. Sunday we would make the almost 90 minute drive.It really was fun. Madaline thought it was neat how they ground the apples into a pulp and then squeezed the juice from the pulp, to get the cider. And, the doughnuts. Oh my good Heaven, the doughnuts. You really can not have cider and not have a doughnut. They make what I call old Fashion/Old School doughnuts at the cider mill. They are melt in your mouth, oh my gosh, I'm going to gain 5lbs with eat bite I take kind of doughnut. Now, don't get me wrong - I've had good doughnuts before. There is a local bakery that makes a killer Long John and even the occasional Krispy Creme or Dunkin Donut is not to bad. But, these - these homemade doughnuts at The Cider Mill - just the smell of them put every other doughnut ever made to shame.
*silly face for Daddy - since he couldn't join us because he had to work*
And, of course, there were bins full of apples, beautiful pots of mum and rows, upon rows of pumpkins. And, as you can see, Madaline was even kind enough for a few photo ops. As long as I made sure to get her picture while she was sitting on a pumpkin. It was a great way to spend the day. And, yes, the powdered sugar mess later that evening all over the carpet in the living room was well worth it!

Looking for more WordFUL Wednesday or WordLESS Wednesday Post? Check out:

*In case you are wondering. I was not paid or asked or given anything to write about The Cider Mill. I am simply telling you about the great time I had this past Sunday with my daughter. Nuff Said.*

Friday, September 24, 2010

Pavlov's Ducks

Its really no secret that we live in the country. I talk about it all the time. And, honestly, I wouldn't trade it for the world. It is beautiful here. The views are stunning, not to mention this is where I grew up.
However, living in the country kind of comes with it's own unique set of driving hazards. Most drivers have to mainly worry about other drivers, children darting across the road and maybe a few squirrels. Then there are some drivers that worry about the aforementioned things in additional to deer, skunks, opossums, dogs, cats, foxes and coyotes. Of course, on any given day, anyone, anywhere, can have to deal with any combination of those road hazards. But, we like to make it even more complicated where I live. In my neck of the wood, you need to add the following to the lists of potential 'car denting sure to put you in a deep ditch' road hazards: farm animals. Yes. Farm animals - horses, cows, sheep, goats, guinea hens and, well, ducks.

(Please note that where I live is so rural - note I said RURAL - NOT REDNECK - that some of the roads are not even marked with yellow and white lines.)

That's right. Ducks. Last night, after picking Madaline up from daycare, I once again, crested the top of the hill on our way home, only to suddenly need to slam on the brakes. I had gotten out of work late, which meant I got to daycare late, which meant, that we were just late. Instead of getting home by 5:45 it was going to be close to 6pm. And, so I was thinking about the impending logistical nightmare of dinner, playtime, shower, jammies, show, snack, and stories done by Madaline's 8pm bedtime when a little voice loudly interrupts my thoughts from the back seat "Mommy.....ducks - DUCKS!" It seems that the sound of my car coming over the hill is to the ducks what a dinner bell was to one of Pavlov's dogs.

"I hear it....I hear it.....go-Go-GO.....Waddle....WADDLE across the road NOW!"
So, for the 4th night in a row we waited for the ducks. I took a deep breath, blared the horn and once again sighed in annoyance while Madaline squealed with delight from the back seat. After what felt like 5 minutes which was probably really only a minute or two, we were finally on our way. Madaline spent the remainder of our ride chattering and asking me questions about ducks. Me? I may or may not have forgotten about our evening schedule and started to day dream about fluffy new down pillows for my bed.