Friday, February 20, 2015

I've Been Remiss...

Used to be that every birthday/anniversary/special event I would pound out a touching and somewhat witty post related to said event. Then...well, then life happened and I started working full time and spending my daytime hours in front of a computer screen and, well, suddenly blogging felt more like a chore and less like a hobby and before I knew it, a special event would pass and a few days later I'd be all "Huh...I forgot to write a post on that...".

Then, last night, my biggest bro sent me a text that said "Where is your blog post about my first nephew's birthday?"...and I was all, "Oh shoot. I forgot another one.".



(Look at me, with my "Smile for the camera, kids." speech goin' on...)


And so, without further ado, lemme catch us up on...well, apparently on the last year of big events! (Interesting...my last "event" post was Pal's birthday last year!) Grab a cozy seat and cup of coffee...you might be here awhile.

After Pal's 18th birthday came my beloved's 41st birthday. As #6 (out of 10) in his family, every year I like to express my gratitude that his mom and dad didn't stop at 5. Love that man and the life he provides me!

Next up? Hambone's birthday in August...also, in the whirlwind finishing (sort of) of our major Home Remodel. 9. Nine years old...and still goofy and full of one-liners. This kid keeps us laughing and if Hollywood weren't so dang far away (and, let's face it, so full of CRAZY), I'd encourage this kid to be an actor. He can nail movie lines/impressions after the first time he's watched a movie. It's a gift, I tell ya!

Then...my sweet Belle hit 13. Kiddo #2 to enter the teen years and gosh dang if I can't say I've loved every (okay, okay, MOST) minute of it. She is sweet and delightful and her exterior beauty is only a hint at how beautiful she is inside. This girl makes (so far) teen years look easy. While shopping at a local sporting goods store, the sales associate who was helping us asked her, "Are you 13? I have a 13 year old and I think everyone needs to have one...they're delightful!"...and the look of pure love and joy on her face warmed my heart and I agreed. 13 is pretty awesome.


Dubya's birthday followed shortly after...11. Let me ask you something...how are my kids getting so old?! Seemed like just yesterday that just getting out of the house was a TOTAL CHORE because I had several small children and OH. MY. GOSH the gear. And now? Now they're all big and independent and waaaaaaaaaaaa!!! My babies!! Anyway, Dubya. This kid is a hoot. Talkative to beat the band, he often times doesn't wait for an answer before asking his next question. They come into his head and he spews them out so fast, it leaves little time for one to actually answer anything he asks! Which leads me to this: the kid is brilliant. Now, I realize I'm his mom and I'm a bit biased, but just this year, it's dawned on me that the kid NEVER has homework (I'm not complaining...trust me, NOT COMPLAINING!) and is always scoring 100% (or more, depending on the extra credit offerings). I mean...I'm not even sure I could get the scores he's getting!! He's a delight and joy to have around.

And then...Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year's came and went without any drama, unlike years past.


Which brings us to February...and our Baby Girl's 7th birthday. Gracious. Where does the time go? We all get the biggest kick out of watching videos of her and she often says "I want to be little again!!!" ('cuz, you know, 7 is SO old...). She is the perfect baby in our family...kind of our "family pet". She gets away with EVERYTHING and uses her baby blues on her daddy to break him down and wrap him even tighter around that little finger of hers. Lately, she's perfected the cartwheel (I mean, seriously PERFECTED) and rather than walking through the house, she does cartwheels to wherever she needs to go. Cartwheels...all day, e'ry day.

Then the Mr. and I celebrated 14 years of marriage. Good golly do I love being married to that man. No, it's not perfect, WE are not perfect, but it's perfectly imperfect and I wouldn't want to be walking this life alongside anyone but him. He is a Godly man, a strong man (physically, emotionally, spiritually), a kind man, a giving man, an amazing father and an absolutely wonderful husband. He makes me. Yes, makes me.

Finally, we come full circle to Pal's birthday. 19. NINETEEN. Did you hear that people????? He is the age at which I had him. Gah. Nearly 3/4 of the way through his first year of college and learning a lot. Not just book learning, but life learning. How to prioritize. What it's like to live away from home. Making life-long friends and memories that will be talked about for years to come. The time of his life. He makes me so proud. So happy. And so excited to see the places he'll go.

And, with that, I've just summarized the last year of our life in events! Now...let's see if I can keep up this year!!




Thursday, February 5, 2015

I Guess I Don't Like Being Wrong.

I have a little story to tell you...a story that made me realize I really don't like to be wrong (I mean, I rarely am, so, you know...)...or, more so, I don't like to be thought of as being wrong when I really know I'm right. Here's the story:

I stopped at Subway to grab a bite to eat after a hospital shift. I had a small, random Visa gift card balance that I had found after going through my purse and so, at checkout, I asked the cashier if I could use it. She affirmed that I could, if I knew the balance (I did) and so, she ran the card...then whipped out a handy little calculator and proceeded to tell me I owed her an additional $2.75.

All I had was a 10 dollar bill, so I handed it over, she sighed a little, thoughtfully grabbed me my 7 dollars then reached for the change dispenser thingamajig and started to disassemble it.

"Oh gosh", I interrupted, "Would it just be easier if I gave you the change?"

"Um. Yeah...kinda."

So, I started scrounging up 75 cents. Then she got me all confused and said, "Oh no, it was only a quarter."

"Oh, I thought you said .75..." so I put the rest of the change away and handed her a quarter. She plopped it in the till, slammed it shut and said, "Thank you!".

"Erm...but...um...aren't you supposed to give me a dollar back now?" I said.

She, looking totally confused, "Um. No."

"Well, see I gave you a ten, and then another quarter...I should get a dollar back."

"Um. No."

By this time there was a nice man waiting behind me, so I said, "Well, I'm confused, because I should have gotten a money back, but it's just a dollar, so no big deal." 

So I leave. Running this over and over in my mind, thinking I should have said something like, "Okay, see...YOU were going to give me money back...and then I gave you MORE money...and you didn't give me ANY money back after that." And I kept reminding myself, "it's only a dollar...it's only a dollar"...when it dawned on me what I was truly upset about: She THOUGHT I WAS WRONG. I was having internal turmoil, not because I paid more for my sub than I should have, but BECAUSE SHE THOUGHT I WAS WRONG. I mean, AS IF.

Me? Wrong? Why I NEVER...

(Gah. She THOUGHT I WAS WRONG!!!!)




Thursday, January 29, 2015

My Barn Door!!

If you happen to enjoy my mishmash of photos on Instagram (@mama_m) then you've likely already seen this news. However, for those of you that don't peruse Instagram...boy, have I got a treat for you in this blog post!

The remodel. Yes, I'm working on a "Before and After" post...I'm dragging my feet a bit because there are a few things we still need to do, but I think I'll do it anyway and hope that maybe you won't notice our missing backsplash or lack of appropriate floor transitions.

However, in the meantime, there IS something I want to show you (missing floor transition and all)...remember the barn door plans I talked about? Well, it was something I tucked away on a wish list when we realized we had worked ourselves into a custom door. But then, we need more wood work stuff done and we decided, what the heck. Let's just do it.



And it was like Christmas ALL. OVER. for me! When I came home from work the day this beauty was installed, I was like a kid in a candy store!!



Oh my friends. I love it. I love its practicality. Its functionality. And its sheer beauty. It turned out magnificently.

And I am one happy mama.


Monday, January 19, 2015

Large Family Chore Checklist...for Kiddos That Like to "Check"!

Have you heard of this thing called "Pinterest"? Oh...you have? Silly me. ;)

Anyway, the Mr. and I were trying to find a good chore checklist to help with our kids getting their chores done. We're terribly inconsistent about making them stick to their duties and there is so often a "it's not my kitchen night" battle happening, that we decided we needed something in writing.

And a little positive reinforcement.

Back to aforementioned Pinterest...I scoured Pinterest, trying to find just the right checklist...but they were all just...well, not right. Pretty, yes. Some organized by day, some by week, some by room, some by the phase the moon was in, or the correct alignment of the stars...but nothing that was quite what we were looking for.

So, I took it upon myself to create a little something that worked for our family. And this is what we came up with (for winter, anyway...summer will be different chores...like, no shoveling snow, for instance!), which seems to be working quite well for our large family:







 

I don't know about your kids, but our kids LOVE checklists. We've found that a checklist will not only help to keep our kids on track, ensuring that their assigned chores are getting done fully and completely, but it also gives them a sense of on-going accomplishment. How great is it to see the progress you're making, by being able to check items off a list?!

One of the problems I had with the "other" checklists on Pinterest is that they would say, "Kitchen" or "Bathroom" but not list out the actual chores that needed to be completed. It was important to us to list out what, exactly, we expect to be cleaned in those rooms.

And the icing on the cake? The carrot to keep them going? A weekly incentive drawing...ranging from $5 to a night free from kitchen duties to one-on-one time with mom and dad. The incentive keeps them going during the week and we've found them frequently talking about "what do you think this week's incentive will be?!". They now know that chores must be completed in a thorough and timely fashion to be included in the drawing.

The weekly chore day is more of a "suggestion" as the deadline for being included in the incentive drawing is Friday at 6pm. Chores MUST be done by then to be included.

What have you found works well to keep your kids on track with their chores?


Monday, January 5, 2015

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Wow. I have been SERIOUSLY remiss in documenting the goings-on of our home on my blog! It's been over three weeks since my last post?! Why, I never...

Anyway...can y'all believe another Christmas has come and gone? I can't. It makes me sad...Christmas is my most favorite time of the year and it goes by SO STINKING FAST!! In fact, my Belle said, the day after Christmas, "Mama, Christmas is so slow to come and goes by way too fast!". Yes, my love. It does.


But, go by too fast or not, it was wonderful! I absolutely love the traditions, the big, loud, crazy Christmas celebrations, the fun and family and getting together and ALL THE CHRISTMAS EVERYTHING!



One thing I did not love...missing "midnight Mass". Somewhere along the line we missed the memo that my beloved, cherished, most looked forward to mass was changing from midnight to 10pm. I had always been SO PROUD of our church for continuing to celebrate midnight Mass...for honoring sweet Baby Jesus at the VERY START to his birthday and when I found out it had changed (at 10:10pm on Christmas Eve, mind you...), well, my heart broke a little. It actually makes me a little teary to know that this tradition is gone.

Gah. I can't think about it any more or I'll be cryin' all over my keyboard!!!

Okay! Moving on...*wipes eyes*...so, New Year's celebration. Yes, let's move on to that...we turned down to very tempting, incredibly fun offers of a night out in exchange for? A quiet night in with our brood! (Well, most of 'em, anyway...two were away...) We had a dance party (and ohmigosh...check out this link of my hubby shakin' his booty to Just Dance!!! I die.), played Qwirkle, had some plain old "simple" fun, and rang in the New Year with champagne (us) and kid booze (sparkling juice) (them). It was delightful!



And we woke up feeling like a million bucks!

Now...we cherish the remnants of another Christmas gone by, the start to another year, and the simple prayer for "health and safety" for our family (and yours!).

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Friday, December 12, 2014

#DubyaDoesFL

Why yes, I did, indeed, just use a hashtag in the title of my blog post, but only because: Dubya Did FL!! (And yes, that was the Insta hashtag that I used to document our trip!)

Remember the fabulous 11th birthday tradition my parents have with their grandchildren? Well, guess who just turned 11? Yup...my sweet, big hearted, non-stop talking, thrill ride loving middle child turned the big ONE-ONE.

So, without further ado, let me bring you up to speed on the whirlwind trip that is our 11th birthday FL tradition...(oh, and I "get" to go along, but I pay my own way!)

First up...Dubya's first airplane ride.


Gosh dang is it cute to watch a first time airplane rider. At least...I think it was cute. Maybe it was cute? I dunno...I was chillin' with a little Valium coursing through my veins, so who knows, really, how "cute" his first plane ride was. :)


(Actually, I don't get that zonked from the drugs...it just leaves me a little chill...a little "meh"...a little sleepy...and a lot less panicky.)

As we're soaring higher and higher into the sky he kept remarking about the cars..."Look how little they are!!!"...and thought it was the coolest thing in the whole wide world that we ALL, each and every single passenger, got our own TV screen to look at AND could choose a movie to watch! I chose "Divergent". His choice? "Willy Wonka"...you know, 'cuz he hasn't already seen THAT movie 87 times.


Somewhere over, oh, I dunno, Nebraska maybe? I took a nice long nap and missed the middle chunk of "Divergent" (thankfully, I read the book, so no worries) and woke up as the plane began to descend. We landed, got our car and took off to the hotel...the first night we were there? Downtown Disney, baby!


Day #1 in FL: Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. He loved the Yeti ride at Animal Kingdom...I nearly lost my delicious jalapeno cheese filled pretzel after we careened backwards for far longer than my brain could handle. My dad told me I looked a little green coming off that ride. Dubya though? Coulda stayed on it all dang day! Hollywood Studios brought the Tower of Terror (yay!!!) and Rockin' Rollercoaster (fun!!) and dinner at the Prime Time 50's cafe...which Dubya thought was the best thing since sliced bread. And then? the Osbourne Christmas Lights!! Wow.




Day #2: Seaworld. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Blackfish. Bad stuff. Evil company. But still TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY fascinating to me. I nearly got my hand bitten off by a dolphin (true story...I think she liked the ring on my hand...thankfully my lightening fast reflexes kicked in and I was able to spare my hand) and the second time she came around, I sacrificed myself for my boy so that he could touch the dolphin. They are such amazing creatures. Ride highlights? Manta. A strap-you-in-so-tight you can't move ride that hurtles you, head first, through the park at the speed of sound. Or light. Or something. It was a thrill!! (And, I didn't get green afterward!!)



Day #3: HIGHLIGHT DAY!!! Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. As a huge Harry Potter fan, I could've stayed at these two parks ALL day and JUST done the Harry Potter stuff. It was absolutely amazing...Diagon Alley? I was awestruck!! I think I rattled my brain loose on one of the rollercoasters at Universal...but, to make up for it? Mannheim Steamroller was there for a concert!! I mean. I can't even. :) Dubya's fave ride of the day? The Hulk rollercoaster.





Day #4: Final day...Epcot and Magic Kingdom. And the weather was AWFUL. Cold, constant drizzle, cool wind. Gross. We spent a lot of time in the "countries" of Epcot (mostly because they had a lot of shops and we could be sheltered from the yuck outside). We headed over to Magic Kingdom where I had one goal: Dole Whip (and it did not disappoint!!). I think at this point in the trip, we were all exhausted. And cold. And damp. But, at the end of the night, they had a projection show on the castle that was absolutely jaw dropping. And fascinating...I mean, HOW do they do that??? It looked like the castle was on fire, then Wreck-it-Ralph wrecked it, then it was striped like a candy cane, then all different colors, all interspersed with a variety of Disney characters??? I was in awe. The rest of my party? Not so much...I mean, they thought it was cool and all, but I was riveted by it!




Day #5: Fly home day. And boy was I ready. I missed my husband. I missed my other babies. I missed my bed. So, we repeated the valium/nap/movie scenario and we were home before supper!


Now, we're nursing a multi-day Disney hangover. I'm still pooped. All I want is a day in my jammies at home and it doesn't look like its coming anytime soon.

Next up: Finish getting ready for Christmas!!

Eeeeek.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Baby, It's COLD Outside!

Actually, I digress, it's a bit warmer today. But anyway, back to regular scheduled programming...

Lemme tell you a little story.

Once upon a time, a young couple (that'd be me and Mr. Wonderful) and their little family (that'd be Pal, Belle, and Dubya) bought a house from a couple that had previously had a wood stove in aforementioned house and, hence, were eligible for "dual fuel", or "off peak" heat.

Quick factoid regarding "dual fuel" heat: you get a significant savings on your electric heat if you have a back up heat source and allow the electric company to turn off your heat (only for a couple of hours) during peak usage times. Another factoid: electric heat is SPENDY, so the inconvenience of the electric company shutting off your heat, temporarily, is well worth it.

Back to the story:

So, we also have fireplaces...more for looks, but they'd prob do in a pinch if we were in dire straights...so, we still qualify for the dual fuel thingamajig.

Anyway...so, we've made do. Noticed some chilly times here and there turning out 10 years here, but nothing we couldn't handle. AND THEN...we remodeled. And we knocked out walls and lost a baseboard heater. No big deal, right?


WRONG.

Oh, so wrong.

Our current baseboard status is sorely lacking...and the last "off peak" day just about offed me. 

I noticed a chill to the air the other evening...it was FRIGID outside, so figured we just had to wait it out. And then it got colder. And colder. And OHMYGOSHI'MGOINGTODIE colder. I had on leggings. Sweatpants. A cami. A Sweatshirt. Socks. Slippers. And my big fuzzy, fleece robe. AND IT WASN'T CUTTING IT PEOPLE.

We said bedtime prayers (mine included a "Please, Lord, Baby Jesus, please let me survive") and I sat down on the recliner. Then, my oldest daughter looked at me, giggled and said, "MOM! Your nose is RED!!"...I was so cold it looked like I had been out in the elements!

It was then (when I determined I was getting frost bite, dying from hypothermia, and slowly losing feeling of my appendages) that I threw in the towel. I changed into flannel jammies, kept my socks and robe on, snuggled up with my fleece footie jammied baby, had my hubby heat up our fave hot pack and hoped for the best.

Turned out, I over dressed...slightly...because, OF COURSE our heat kicked in and I woke up in the middle of the night SO FREAKING HOT!!!!

The outside temps have risen and so, we haven't yet experienced another cold snap/peak usage night but guys? If I got that cold when when the mercury hovered at 0 outside, what the heck is gonna happen when it plummets to -30 in January??????

Help.

Please send warmth...and a baseboard heater or five.


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