Monday, December 31, 2012

13 for 2013

I'm not big on resolutions.  I've made them before, and like everyone else they fade into the blur of my life.   I last a few days, a few weeks, and before I know it I don't even remember to try and keep up with my resolutions.

I've never had much success promising to change myself.  But I have had success promising myself I will do something.

In 2013, I'm not changing myself.  I'm resolving to be myself.  And here are 13 other things I will do in 2013.
1.  Pay for someone behind me in the drive-thru.
2.  Boogie Board at the beach.
3.  Try a new recipe.
4.  Take my kids sledding.
5.  Run.  I will run Maybe the more appropriate word is jog.
6.  I will pay all my bills on time.  Even gymnastics. (sigh.) 
7.  Visit a museum.
8.  Every time I'm given the opportunity, I will give to charity.  Even if it's $1.00.  I will give.
9.  I will eat more fruit and vegetables.  Not much, but more.
10.  I will love more, and need less.  I will listen more, and speak less.
11.  I will teach my kids something new.  I will also teach myself something new.
12.  I will laugh.  Every single day.
13.  I will shop more downtown.  I will support small merchants.

What are some of your 13 for 2013?

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Recharge and Watch for Snowballs

It's been cold and snowy here.  Just thought I'd update anyone who does not live in the northeast.

While I usually dread winter, and the cracked dry skin that accompanies it, this week I'm good.  We're home, we're lounging and we're watching the snow fall.

The kids are alternating between watching movies and bundling up and playing outside.  They're playing with Christmas toys, making snowmen and building snow forts. 

Apparently, they're also throwing snowballs.

Hope you're enjoying the same relax and recharge time wherever you are.  January and all its resolutions are just around the corner.

Watch out for snowballs.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


Today I'm lounging, still in my snowflake pajamas.  Aside from blogging, I've been stepping over toys and stepping on tiny figures.  I've been recycling boxes and crunching up wrapping paper.  I'm doing all of this in total and complete peace because all the munchkins are happily entertained with all of Santa's toys.

The true magic of Christmas.

I don't think any of them has eaten yet.  Other than Moopa I haven't seen a morsel of food cross their lips.  Unless of course I count myself and the three chocolates I had about fifteen minutes ago.

More Christmas magic.

Recovering from Christmas is a beautiful time.  The family is home, the kids are entertained, and the food is still abundant.  The wrapping is done, the craziness has subsided.

Today, we recover.  And eat chocolates for breakfast.

Happy recovery day.

Mommyhood Christmas Album

Hope yours was merry!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry and Bright

Our weekend, so far, has consisted of lounging around. 

Of watching Christmas movies.

Of baking cookies. 

Of eating take out.  Or our Christmas cookies.

We've even sewed a stocking, from an old shirt, for our pup Penny.  My oldest did this, on his own, because he now knows how to sew thanks to "Family Science."

Such a fancy word for Home Economics.
Excitement is in the air.  This time of year is all about giving, about loving and about family.  In our house it's also about good behavior, because my munchkins can see the finish line.  It's in sight, and they up the amount of sharing and helping and loving by at least 50%.

It never fails.

Happy almost Christmas.  Make these days merry and bright, because Santa's packing his sleigh tonight!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Cheer

This morning I attended a "Spirit Assembly" at my kids' elementary school.  They have one of these every month, and several students are recognized for different achievements and behaviors.

Today my little guy, LLG, was recognized for his kindness.  His teacher told me how he defended a boy that was being teased, without anyone asking him to do so.  My little guy went out onto the playground, on his own, and asked his friend to leave this boy alone.

Is there any better award?

While there were police outside when I arrived at the school, and security was at an all time high, the mood inside the gym was cheerful.  Kids were wearing reindeer antlers and Santa hats, and they were chattering in excitement as usual.  These kids were unaware of the sadness and the cruelty and the trauma outside their little worlds.

It was wonderful.

I am a staunch believer that kids need to be kids.  They need time to believe in Santa, and believe in fairies.  They deserve time to imagine a world where anything is possible.  They need to play with toys and play with friends.  They don't need the weight of the world on their shoulders.

Tiny shoulders can't carry it.

My oldest is eleven.  He is aware of the tragedy in Connecticut, and he hears plenty at school.  Today he stayed home, and joined me at his old elementary school.  He needed the breather, the space away from rumors and chatter about threats and the end of the world.

He needed to be with his family, in his home.  Like so many of us, he needed to step back and take comfort in the love surrounding him.

Hug your babies.  Play your Christmas music.  Bake your cookies.  Bring your family and your friends together these next few weeks and celebrate a new year of happiness. 

We all need a little Christmas Cheer.  Wishing you plenty this weekend, and in the weeks ahead!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

My Best Baking Tips and Tricks

As of late I've been baking. So far, under my belt (literally), I have two batches of fudge, one batch chocolate chip cookies, about 100 homemade peanut butter cups and brownies.

Tis' the season for trans fats.

Since ovens in America will be cranking out all kinds of holiday treats these next two weeks, I've decided to share my best baking tricks. They are crazy helpful when packaging and making desserts for just about anywhere.

Happy baking everyone!

1. Package goodies in a shirt box. If you're bringing these to school for a birthday, dress up the box with a ribbon. If you're bringing these to a party for the holidays, add a holiday bow and bells. If you're bringing to a soccer match for the players, don't bother adding anything.

Using a shirt box is cheap and efficient. The box can be tossed after indulging, and you won't be chasing down your favorite tray for the next three months.

2. When baking brownies, omit the oil, and add same amount applesauce. Add a squeeze (about 2-3 tablespoons) chocolate syrup. Bake as usual. This trick cuts the fat, but still produces a delightfully fudge-y and decadent brownie.

For an even better brownie, double the recipe.  Bake 40-45 minutes, rotating pan half way through baking.  Check center with a toothpick, and do not overbake.

3. When baking sugar cookies, keep your cookie cutters handy after you put those cookies in the oven. If your cookies don't hold their shape while baking, grab the cookie cutters (when cookies are fresh from oven, still hot) and trim those edges for perfectly shaped cookies.

4. If you're in the mood for chewy, gooey chocolate chip cookies, chill your batter before baking, and shorten baking time by a minute or two. Remove cookies from oven when they are a tad undone in center. Leave them on the tray a two to three minutes to set the center, and transfer to wire rack.

5. If your first batch of chocolate chip cookies comes out of the oven flat, looking like a hot mess (it's happened to us all), grab a 9x13 pan. Firmly press the remainder of your batter into the pan and bake at 350 for approximately 25-30 minutes (until center is just done).

 If desired, crumble up your first batch and sprinkle over top when the bars are finished baking. Cool and cut into cookie bars. Cookie disaster averted, and more importantly, dessert is saved.

Don't forget the aerobic activity January 1st.  It helps with the tight pants.  I promise.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


These past few days I've been floating around, kind of focused, kind of unfocused.

Our world was incredibly shaken last Friday, and I still believe we will never be the same. In my moments of sem-normalcy, I've listened to Christmas music.  I've baked.   I've shopped and went to church.

In my moments of grief, I've prayed.

I've cried.

I've stared off into space thinking about nothing.

Early this morning, I turned off my alarm. I want to believe it was an accident, because in my foggy memory I didn't turn it off, I turned the knob to radio.  I just didn't want to wake to the blaring beeping noise.

It's an awful, jolt-me-out-dreamland way to start the day.

I woke up an hour after the middle school bus pulled away. The house was still quiet, the kids were still dreaming. Maybe, just maybe I turned off the alarm to keep my babies with me a little longer this morning, sleeping and resting. Maybe I felt, somewhere in my unconsciousness, that we needed to rest.

I know we did.

Tonight I've been looking through photos on my hard drive, because months go by and I realize nothing has been uploaded and made into prints. This is me constantly, always catching up on my photo albums. Just now, I found this picture.
I love the innocence, and the excitement. I love the joy on my daughter's face and the cupcakes my babies made for Santa.

There is such beauty in the world. Even in the wake of all this horror, there is beauty all around us.  A week ago I would have looked at this picture, loved it, and uploaded.  Tonight, I look at this picture and I see the jammies, and the cupcakes.  I see the twinkle in my daughter's eyes.

I'm awake.  I'm present.  I'm looking for the details and the beauty. 

I remind everyone to pray. Continue to pray hard.  The families directly affected by this tragedy will need those prayers long after the news coverage disappears.

And drink in all the wonders and the love all around you. Usually, everything you need is right under your nose. Grab hold of it, love it and don't let it go.

Make today wonderful.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Stocking Stuffer Must: Crest Whitestrips

Several years ago, a few of my friends were using CrestWhitestrips.  I never saw the need for any tooth whitening strips, and I certainly wasn’t about to spend money on them either.  My teeth were looking plenty white to me.

My view on this changed when my mother saw one of my childhood friends, and her husband.  While telling me how wonderful they looked, she tossed in, “They MUST be using those white strip things.  Their teeth were gorgeous!”

Don’t you love motherly hints?

Like all good children, I immediately decided to try these whitening miracle workers.  I clipped my coupon and bought a box.  Every morning, I wore my strips while I dressed and made breakfast for the kids.  I wore them again when I put my babies to bed.  I was very dedicated and excited to unveil my new smile to the world. 

I am thrilled to announce to everyone, they worked.  They truly, honestly did.  I have never been a smoker, and I drink iced coffee only through a straw.  I was never a victim of coffee or cigarette stains.  I didn’t see any need for teeth whiter than the ones I had. 

Until I used Crest Whitestrips.  

I bought that first box of Crest Whitestrips six years ago.  I have only whitened once since then, and I constantly have friends and family remark how white my teeth are.  It may seem like spending twenty or thirty dollars on a tooth whitening kit is unnecessary, but these bad boys are worth every dollar.

With Christmas rapidly approaching, I highly recommend tossing a box in your Hubby’s stocking.  Even better, leave him a coupon, or the P&G site scribbled on a pad in front of his breakfast, so he can toss a box in your stocking.  These little whitening strips are the best invention since sliced bread.  They are an affordable, easy way to freshen up your beautiful smile for 2013.

I promise you will love them.  I pinky promise.

The P&G online store offers free shipping on all orders over $25, and 15% off your first purchase.  If you need to fill a stocking, consider buying a few health and wellness items from P&G and take advantage of this great offer.

Happy whitening!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Look for the Helpers.

It's been an emotional few days.  There's been more hugs, less worrying about crumbs and laundry.  One minute I'm baking and planning for Christmas, the next minute I feel broken inside that I can bake and plan for Christmas.  The horror of Friday will stay will many of us for a very long time.

Probably forever.

I have a strong belief that as parents, it's our job to teach our kids what is right.  We can't let society do the job for us.  We need to stay involved, and to keep the conversation open about just about everything.

Even the little things.

There is good, I know there is.  When the world frightens us, we need to be brave.  When the world is cruel, we need to be kind.  In the wake of this unimaginable horror, we need to band together, because we are stronger than the evil that creeps among us.  We need to find the good, the strong and the faithful.              

As my good friend Mr. Rogers so eloquently said, when there is tragedy on the news, "Look for the helpers...There are always people helping."

Look for the helpers.  Believe in the good.  And continue to pray.

Friday, December 14, 2012


Today, in the wake of the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, I'm convinced the world is broken.

I've long wondered about the world we live in, and about some people living among us, but today has convinced me society is in fact, somehow broken. How can we ever put back the pieces after seeing the horror of today?

I had my oldest baby in Bridgeport, Connecticut, not far from where the children screamed today in that elementary school. I've driven on those roads. Shopped in those stores.

Newtown is quaint, and quiet. I often wished we lived there, instead of the town we lived in. I admired its beauty, its neighborhoods. I have a dear friend who lives there now. And by the grace of God, her daughter does not attend that school.

But twenty other children have parents who now wish their children didn't attend that school either. What spares one child, and not the next? These tragedies force us to look long and hard about what separates us from the families grieving today. It's not much. It's where live, what schools we send our babies off to every day. No one asks to be in the face of such a horror. Unfortunately, the horror chooses us.

I can't begin to fathom how anyone could look at a class full of kids, full of innocence, and pull a trigger. I can't imagine how mentally ill someone could be, how they could have been living among us and no one ever noticed how close to the edge they were. There is no amount of political commentary that could every fix or explain this tragedy.

There are no words for the pain inside.

I can't imagine how the victims' families go on, how the responding officer's who saw what they saw go on. How can anyone wake up tomorrow and feel the world is the same?

It isn't.

Hug your babies, and all the while pray for those parents who are waking up to the most devastating reality one could ever imagine. They are waking up to the nightmare they wish was just that, a nightmare.

Pray. Pray hard. Because after today, I'm convinced this world is broken. And we need to pull together to put society back together.  Change starts with us, because as everyone knows, kindness is contagious.

We can't change what happened today, but we can change tomorrow. I pray this world can heal, and somehow, somewhere, we can find peace.

Prayers, many prayers.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Last Minute Teacher Gift: Mason Jars

Today is my little one's last day of school with her occupational therapist before break.  I realized this when I woke up this morning.

I am nothing if not prepared.

With such little time, I grabbed my favorite easy and fun gift container: a mason jar.

I grabbed the mint fudge I mixed up last night because I was in the mood for mint fudge, and I neatly cut four squares.

Next I opened the Christmas M&M's in my pantry, and I poured in a few to fill up the spaces.

My jar, before I fancied up the lid, looked like this:
I added red tissue paper under the twist lid, and used my glue gun to secure my daughter's craft ribbon around the edges.
Since I had a few extra minutes, I really went crazy and gave Moopa a bag and Christmas stickers.  She decorated the bag, I made breakfast, and we left for school ready with a gift for her occupational therapist.

Of course, like all good families, we added a gift card to Dunkin' Donuts.

Happy Thursday!  12 days until Christmas!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Switchboard Operator

Today, I'm going to do better than I did yesterday.

Yesterday, I was preoccupied. My kids didn't get what they needed from me, because I was focused on moving, renting and what seems like a zillion other things.

But it all could have waited until after bedtime.

I wasn't yelling, or screaming or scary mom ranting. I was just preoccupied.  I didn't make myself available to them the way I usually do, and I know it.  Homework took more time for them because I wasn't over their shoulders when they needed help.  They spent more time watching cartoons, and we spent less time reading books.  I was more frustrated than I usually am because my mind was in too many places at once.

I remember when I answered the switchboard at my dad's office.  I was the "switchboard operator."  I had this job after school for two years, and sometimes during the summer.  I used to bring magazines to read when the phones were slow.  Trouble was, I would get really into some juicy article about Jen Aniston and Brad Pitt, and then a call would come in.

I would answer it.

Then I would start reading again. And three sentences later, another call would come in. And another one.

Pretty soon, I wanted to punch the switchboard in the face.

There were too many interruptions, and it frustrated me and annoyed me and made me a very curt telephone operator.  Except, it was my job to answer the switchboard.  It may not have been the most glorious job in the universe, but it was mine.  And one afternoon, after an Oprah "ah ha moment" I decided to just sit, and focus on answering the phones.

And I did.

The job was so much less frustrating. I was 100% available to the switchboard, and I was the most pleasant operator in the millwork business.  Other than my mother, of course.

She really took the cake when it came to directing calls.

Yesterday, it was the switchboard all over again.  My kids, even though they may get quiet, are still my job.  And it's not fair for me to get preoccupied with things that can wait until they are at school or happily dreaming of Disney World. 

Sometimes there are issues that can't wait wait, and that's okay.  That's life.  But sometimes the issues can wait.  My babies are only young once, but the chaos of everyday life will be around forever.

Today, I'm putting down the magazine and I'm making myself 100% available to the switchboard.  I'm going to be the most pleasant mommy in the mommy-ing business.

I promise.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Milkshakes

Last Friday, after we settled in from all our running around, I was feeling "weekend-y."  It was finally time for movies and blankets and lounging around.  Our week was winding down and we were all in need of the recharging.

Since recharging is best done with ice cream, I blended up Christmas milkshakes.  By chance, I had bought peppermint whipped cream from Target, and I had a fresh container of Christmas sprinkles in my pantry.

And I always have ice cream.

While these milkshakes can easily be made with mint chocolate chip ice cream, unlike me, not everyone is a fan.  I went with cookies and cream and a few drops of green food coloring to please the entire crowd.

To blend up these bad boys, toss 3 heaping scoops of ice cream into your blender.  If you don't like mint (gasp!) use anything white.

Drop in red or green food coloring, splash in a 3/4 cup milk, and blend.

Add more milk if desired, we like a thick milkshake.

Pour into clear glassware for the ultimate experience, and add a swirl of peppermint (or regular) whipped cream.

Top with red and green sprinkles, and voila, a Christmas milkshake.

Enjoy snuggled under a blanket, surrounded by munchkins, watching a Christmas movie.
Makes 2 small milkshakes, or one supersized.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Georgia, oh Georgia

My Hubby had to leave extremely early for work this morning.  Early to the tune of 4:30am.

My sweet love let the dogs out, and fed them.  Since we have a hard and fast rule that the dogs have to go back in the crate if no one else is up (the dogs will find someone and wake them), he crated them.

I woke to my alarm at 6:30am.  The house was dark and I turned to smack Hubby and tell him it was time for him to go.  He wasn't there.  It took me a Monday morning minute to realize it was time to get up.  I woke my middle school bus riding son, and headed down the stairs.

I stopped.

I smelled.

There was doo in the house.  My sense of smell is far superior to anyone else is our house, and I could smell it.  It punched me square in the face at 6:35 in the morning.

I approached the dog crates, and saw Georgia with puke out the front of her crate.  I saw sh*t crammed against the sides.  Some fell out on the wall.

This, is Georgia.
I opened the crates, and as Georgia ran out (surprising clean) more fecal matter tumbled out of the crate after her.  And then I kind of threw up in my mouth.

I'll spare you the details of the cleaning.  I'll just tell you Georgia is in the market for a new doggie bed. 

Happy Monday to me.  I need a Starbucks and it's just after 7am.  I'm thinking I'll tie my coffee in with some Christmas shopping to really put out these flames.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Great Gift Idea: Babbabox

Babbabox just may be one of the most unique concepts I've seen in a long time.
Until a few weeks ago, I'd never heard of Babbabox.  Babbabox is a box of goodies that is delivered to your door, complete with a theme to thrill kids ages 3-6.  Each box includes two to three activities, a theme based product to engage your child in the world around them, a book and prepaid downloads.  If you have nieces, nephews or friends that are tough to shop for, consider sending a Babbabox.

With chilly winter months upon us, these activities will keep tiny hands busy and inspire their minds.

When our Babbabox arrived, I had no idea what to expect.  When I opened the package, (click to continue...)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Winter Gripes and Olay Body Wash

I have a gripe about the cold weather that is rapidly descending. Truthfully, since I firmly believe I was meant to live in a warm climate, I have many gripes about the cold weather that freezes me every evening.

However, in an effort to keep things simple (always my style), I'll stick with one gripe at a time.

I can't stand cracked, dry, winter skin. It's enough to make me relocate.  Since relocation isn't in the cards, I've developed a system to deal with hands that feel like sandpaper and itchy arms under my sweaters. My system involves heavy moisturizers right out of my hot showers. The moisturizer needs to be thick, creamy and leave my hands looking as if I dipped them in oil. I need to apply the moisturizer immediately after I dry my skin.
When the weather really drops into the freezing zone, I can't skip my moisturizing system. Ever.

This week, I found a body wash that not only moisturizers as I wash, but prevents dry skin in the future. It smells like warm vanilla and makes me want to shower forever.


While shopping with Moopa, I purchased Olay® Vanilla Winter Retreat Ultra Moisture Body Wash. Since Moopa is three now, and she is fascinated with my phone and all of its gadgets, Moopa chronicled our shopping adventure.

Here is me finding the body wash:
And here is my body wash next to my French bread:
I think I have a photographer in the making. Or a broken cell phone.

Olay® has made my life easier with a body wash that smells of delicious vanilla and helps cure dry, cracked winter skin. With continued use, skin stays soft and crack-free. I'm convinced Olay's® Winter Retreat may just be the best thing since sliced bread. Or low-fat ice cream.

Olay® has made a body wash that keeps me feeling clean, my skin smelling good and my hands softer than sandpaper. I never thought I'd see the day.

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BlogHer is also sponsoring a $100 Visa gift card Sweepstakes (hello holiday shopping!). To be entered for a chance to win comment below and answer the question:

How would Olay's® Vanilla Winter Retreat Ultra Moisture Body Wash fit into your everyday life?
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Peanut Butter and Jelly Cups

As with all wonderful things, I found this idea on Pinterest.  Since peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are one of my favorite lunches, and chocolate is one of my other favorite lunches, I knew these would make my taste buds sing.

And they do.

Even better, they are super easy to make.  Package these bad boys up in a candy box, add a bow, and these little delights are the perfect teacher gift.  Or bus driver gift.  Or dance teacher gift. Or hostess gift.

You get the idea.

2 (11.5oz) bags milk chocolate chips
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup grape or strawberry jelly
2 tablespoons confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon canola oil (or similar)
24 paper small cupcake liners

Line two muffin/cupcake pans with paper liners.  Set aside.

In a large glass bowl, empty both bags of chocolate.  Set aside 1/2 cup chips, and place large glass bowl in microwave.  Heat on HIGH in 45 second intervals, stirring after each interval until chocolate is smooth.  Add in 1/2 cup chips and stir until smooth.  Add oil, stir.

Using two spoons, drop 1 tablespoon (approx) melted chocolate into each cupcake liner.  Tap tin and use spoons to make sure chocolate covers entire bottom.

Chill 10 minutes.

While chilling, take 1 cup peanut butter and mix in bowl with confectioner sugar.  Place in freezer to chill for several minutes.

Remove cupcake pans and peanut butter mixture.  Drop 1 teaspoon peanut butter into each cup.  Flatten slightly with back of spoon.  Drop 1 teaspoon jelly over top, and chill 5 minutes.

Remove pans, and cover each cup with melted chocolate.  Make certain chocolate covers entire top and down the sides.

Chill until set.

Mommyhood Footnote: Don't like PB&J?  Make these as Peanut Butter cups.  I made one tray PB&J, one tray PB.  Delish!


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Christmas Tips and Tricks (Wrapping, Shopping and Giving)

During the holiday season, I blog about Christmas often.  I blog about it because I love it dearly.  I always have.

My mother, who raised six kids, has pretty much taught me everything I know about parenting.  Some of these things I have tweaked, some I implement full force, and some just have to get done with a tighter budget.

Christmas, for us, is on a tighter budget.  But it's still big and brilliant, just like my parents always did for us.  It's about family and giving, and remembering those around us.

To efficiently pull off an over-the-top Christmas with six kids, my mom had to be organized.  She never rested.  She shopped and wrapped and had the holiday down to a stressful science.  But she loved it because nothing compared to all the "magic" of Christmas morning. 

Here, in a nutshell, is what I've learned from my parents about Christmas.

1.  Not all wrapping paper is created equal.  Not all gifts are to be wrapped the same.

Anyone who has ever sat up wrapping gifts in cheap paper knows that it pays to invest in sturdier paper for some items.  Hubby sits every Christmas Eve, wrapping away (in our house, I call this "I buy it, YOU wrap it") and curses the cheap paper as it tears and he patches and then it tears again.

I explain to him that for how much we have to wrap, cheap paper will have to do for Imaginext Castles.

I buy glossy paper to wrap adult gifts.  I buy ribbon.  I tie on bells and ornaments.  I firmly believe in extravagant wrapping just like my mother does.  Fancy wrap reminds me of how I like my candy.  The prettier the chocolate, the better it tastes.

Buy cheap paper for kid's gifts.  They tear through it too quick to notice what the paper looks like.

2.  Store gifts in large boxes or black garbage bags.

With six kids, my mother had to be crafty when it came to hiding gifts.  To keep things organized, she stored our gifts as she bought them, and they were separated according to child.  One large box would hold one child's gifts.  Or one large black plastic garbage bag.

These were lined up in the basement, or storage room, or my dad's office.  We never knew that Santa's workshop was right under our noses.  We never suspected anything, because the gifts were hidden among all the other storage.

I have implemented the same system.

3.  Save receipts in envelopes.

For every child, she had an envelope.  She wrote on top of receipts what she bought, and stored the receipts in the appropriate envelope.

She still uses this system.  Every Christmas, she hands me  an envelope full of gift receipts for the grandkids.  This makes life very, very easy when items go unused or we have duplicates.

4.  Remember everyone, from the mailman to the teachers.

My mother believes in remembering everyone at Christmas.  When I was growing up she made gift baskets for the crossing guards, left tips for the garbage men, and brought a gift for everyone who would be attending Christmas Eve.

If a second cousin or grandparent was expected to be joining us, they had a gift.  No question asked. 

Christmas is about giving.  It's about remembering the people around you, and acknowledging them.  These gifts don't have to be extravagant.  Even a $5 gift card for a cup of coffee goes a long way.

5.  Keep the magic alive.  Always.

Even after myself and my siblings knew what was really "going on" every Christmas, we still had to go to bed for Santa to arrive.  Our stockings were still full in the morning, and we never knew what was going to be under the tree.  There was no "you pick it out and I'll wrap it."

That would go over like a fart in church.

There was magic.  Always.  Every year we watched Christmas movies, made cookies, and read "The Night Before Christmas."  Table settings were festive, there was a fire in the fireplace.

There still is.

No one is ever too old to believe in the magic of Christmas.

Happy Christmas Season!  Enjoy every minute.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Coughs, Fevers and Sanitizer

Over the weekend, my oldest had a little bit of a cold.  He has a flair for the dramatic, and it makes it fairly difficult to gage when he requires a visit to the pediatrician.

$20 co-pays add up quick.

Yesterday, after running a fever the night before and complaining of a sore throat, I decided it was time to make the call.  I let him sleep in (heavenly when your bus is 6:55am) and I called the doctor.  I was hoping for a nice late morning appointment, an appointment that would have us home for the elementary school bus at 3:23. 

The best she could do was 4pm.  I knew at that moment they had to be busy.  I hardly ever have to wait until late afternoon to get my kids into our pediatrician.

Since I had planned to get some shopping done, and my oldest is able to understand direction and listen when I tell him not to touch things, I drugged him with some cold medicine and we went shopping.  I made this up to him with a Chocolate-y Chip Frappuccino. 

Helps the throat.

After the elementary bus dropped off my middle munchkins, I fed them, dressed my Gymnastics Queen for her 5pm practice, and we loaded into the car for the 4pm appointment.  We had one hour to be seen by the doctor and get to gymnastics, which was ten minutes from the pediatrician's.

We walked into the pediatrician's office, and there were people everywhere.  I wanted to bathe myself in Purell.  My stress level shot through the roof as I watched the 75% of my well kids touch items in the waiting rooms.  I sent them to the bathroom for hand washing and to the check in desk for sanitizer every three to five minutes.  My anxiety level was entering the red zone as kids around us coughed, sneezed and whined in their mom's laps.

We waited a half hour to be called in to see the doctor.  A long, clock watching half hour.

After I crammed my small army into the examination room we waited for the doctor.  I knew I had one thing on my side, the office is supposed to close at 4:30.  This meant a quick, to the point exam and a staff moving at warp speed to get out of there and close up shop.  Every nurse, secretary and doctor looked as if they fought a pack of wolves.  Hair was in need of a brushing, faces tired and pale.  I could tell this office had been through the mill.  I could also tell they wanted out, asap. 

For this I was grateful.

We left the pediatricians at 4:55pm, loaded into the mommy-van, and made it to gymnastics by 5:07pm.  Not too shabby. 

I dropped my daughter, and knew I had to feed the kids or my next stop would be a disaster.  I picked up twenty nuggets and beverages at the drive thru, and handed out nuggets as I drove to the pharmacy to pick up our prescription.   

Now I wait, hoping none of the other munchkins come down with anything other than a cold. 

Never a dull moment in mommyhood.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Rental. Or Not.

We're moving.  Many of you know this, and if you didn't, you know it now.  We decided to rent our house out, since selling in this current market would be nearly impossible unless we had tons of cash lying around to give the bank to cover what the selling price didn't. 

So not happening.

About two weeks ago, our realtor called with a possible renter.  We weren't planning on moving until after the holidays, but this renter wanted in.  He was a pilot in the military and needed the house by December 1st. 

No flippin' way.

Then my realtor said he can wait until the 15th, and since my parents can fit us comfortably in their house just eight miles away, I decided to say yes.  We'll move.  We'll take the piece of mind.  I will gratefully accept this renter with open arms and be mortgage free until we buy a new house in Pennsylvania.

This was on a Tuesday.  The guy was coming to see the house on Saturday.  And then on Thursday he wasn't coming, but sending his realtor to take pictures Saturday so he could see it in more detail.

I cleaned the house like crazy.  I cleaned windowsills when I had nothing left to clean. 

And then she didn't show up.

And then they didn't want it without seeing it.

And then they did.  We made a deal verbally regarding price and property details.  We started to pack.  I sold some furniture.  All the while I was waiting for a deposit.  Saturday, this guy flew in to finally see the house and leave a deposit.  We agreed to a few conditions, and were told he "loved" the house.

Whew.  Although he still left no deposit.  We were told his wife would "Fed Ex" it Monday.

This was at noon.  We moved some clothes to my parents' house, and went to dinner.  I was mentally ready for my Charlie Brown tree in my small two bedroom apartment attached to my mom's house, and to sit by the fire watching Christmas movies in her living room.

On Sunday morning, we woke up very early (4:30am) to drive our daughter to a gymnastics meet two hours away.  I checked my phone and had a message from my realtor.

The guy changed his mind.  He doesn't want the house.

I know this is how real estate works, people are fickle.  But don't ask me, Hubby and our four kids to accept a move in date two months prior to what is on our listing and change your mind three times in two weeks when it's Christmas time.

I take comfort in knowing I would have never wanted this jerkie for a tenant.  I was wondering if I did when he asked for an extra step out front because ours was a little steep.

Huh? The same step my three year old with hypotonia climbs up and down about thirty times a day?

Aside from not dealing with unreasonable requests, I am thrilled about two other things:

1.  We were able to put up our Christmas tree yesterday.  Yes, it is leaning to the right.

2.  I am able to sleep in my bed another few months.

Always, always look on the bright side.  And be thankful you won't have to deal with people you want to punch in the forhead for two years because they're leasing your house.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Life Skills and a Leap of Faith

Just now, cruising Pinterest, I found a very interesting pin about teaching kids life skills at every age.  This pin really has me thinking.  While I try my best to give my kids the skills they need to go out into the world, I realize every day we can never teach them enough.

Some of these skills they will learn just by living them.

Two nights ago, my oldest was invited by a friend to walk into town after school, grab sandwiches and do some shopping.  When my son came to me with this question, I froze.  I told my son that I couldn't answer right away, and to tell his friend we would call back.  My son has never walked anywhere without us.  Just six months ago I would have said that he wouldn't walk into town until he's a teenager.  I would have never even considered giving him this freedom.

In my twisted mommybrain my baby still looks like this.  Would you let this walk into town?

But my baby doesn't look like this.  He's in sixth grade.  And town is down the street from school.  After school kids can be found all over our town, walking home, eating and shopping.  And I do watch from the car as he picks up and pays for our pizza.  He is extremely responsible, a good kid.  Why shouldn't I give him this freedom?

I wondered if he knew enough, and I started to think about all the life skills I still hadn't taught him.  But I have taught him about using money, behaving in stores, and minding his manners.  I took a leap of faith, and I told him to call back his friend and say he could go.

And then I hyperventilated for about three hours.

I called my mom, who reminded me that I walked all over town when I was in sixth grade.  I do think I lived in a different era, but I also believe I handled my freedoms well.

And I knew my Sports Fanatic would do the same.

Yesterday morning, before he left for school, I went over every rule about crossing the street, using the "walk button," staying in view of people, doing only what he told me he was going to town to do, and behaving in stores.  I rattled off more instructions than I ever have in about three minutes.  While I know all my panic made him nervous, it also made him understand the magnitude of this situation.

I was trusting him.  He could make or break this opportunity.

Yesterday afternoon, at 2:32 on the nose, he called from his friend's cell phone to let me know he was at Subway.  I reminded him the time I was picking him up, and to please not get hit by a car.

At 4pm, I packed up the rest of my crew to retrieve my oldest from the basketball gym.  When I went inside to get him, he was ready to go, patiently waiting.  He got in the car, and handed me a bag.  He told me that after his buying his sandwich, he only had a few dollars left.  He used that money to buy me a brownie at a Cafe downtown.

Que the mommy tears.

Even better, he came home to me in one piece.  With more life skills than I could have taught him.

Happy Thursday.  Have faith everyone.  Take that leap, because the world just might surprise you.

To read the life skills post, check out Busy Kids=Happy Mom.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Elf on the Shelf

Today it's Wednesday.  I have few words because it's early in the morning, and I was up in the middle of the night because someone who shall remain nameless desired juice.  This nameless person is very, very small and she sleeps in a crib.

Due to 3am juice deliveries, I currently have writer's fog.

After I let the pups out, I was happy to see or beloved Elf this morning.  He jacked some of my daughter's blocks and built himself a chair.

 He also brought Christmas socks.  What a sweetie pie.
I'm rolling my eyes because as I type this, someone who shall remain nameless is up and yelling for juice.


Happy Wednesday.  Make it awesome.

Monday, November 26, 2012


Today, I'm recovering from turkey, no-show-house-showings, football banquets, Twilight movies and shopping.  It's been a long weekend.

Thanksgiving, as always, was pleasant.  Fire in the fireplace, football on the teevee, family all around and the food was plentiful.  Very, very plentiful.

Shopping on Friday was just as pleasant.

Breaking Dawn Part Two, and my panini beforehand, were more than pleasant.  I left the theater feeling compelled to read all the Twilight books over again, start to finish. 

We did have a family interested in our home that was supposedly sending their realtor to take pictures Saturday.  They live far, need to move quick, and were seriously considering renting with only seeing pictures.

Naturally, Hubby and I went on a cleaning frenzy Friday.  Floors, counters, laundry and everything else we could find.  We fell into bed exhausted and stinking of Clorox.  Saturday morning, we forbid our munchkins to touch anything and shuffled them out of the clean house as soon as possible to visit their cousins.

All day Saturday I waited for news.  I checked my phone at lunch.  I checked again at the movies.  I wondered what time this realtor was showing up.

She never did.

Anyone who has ever sold or rented out their home knows how nails-on-the-blackboard annoying it is when you clean and clean and no one shows up.  This is even more annoying when you have four kids.  The second we arrive back home after a "no show-ing" mess starts to reappear.  And if anyone wants to see the house I have to clean it all over again.

The upside of the whole situation is that my floors are clean.  For the next five minutes anyway.

On Sunday, we left the house clean again in case the realtor decided to show (she didn't) and we went to football banquets.  The kids spent time with good friends, and because we are moving, these banquets were extra special.

My oldest is retiring his jersey, complete with signatures of his teammates.
Moving is already quite an emotional adventure.

Happy Monday everyone!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Black Friday (and me)

A few years ago, I became a fan of Black Friday.  I had a circle of mom friends who swore by the deals and the excitement.  While I wasn't keen on elbows in my ribs and being trampled on by a swarm of shoppers trying to secure a $50 television set, I was curious how great these deals could really be.

And so one early post Thanksgiving morning, around 3am, I awoke with a tummy still full of turkey.  I warmed my car, showered because I just can't leave the house without a shower, and drove off into the darkness to Kohls.

That year, I scored some pretty awesome gifts.  The lines were long, but not unbearable.  I returned home at 8am with a car full of goodies and desperately in need of a nap.

Ever since, I have been a Black Friday shopper.  My routine went from one to two stores, to hard core middle-of-the-night-all night-shopping-extravaganza, to a few stores, to my current laid back shopping schedule.

Here I am, this morning, enjoying my shopping.  I took this photo myself.
The past two years, I shop around 6am.  The stores are the same as if I was shopping on a Monday morning.  I tell you no lies.  The dedicated, doorbuster-deal-finders are already back home or having breakfast by the time I even park my car.  It's glorious.
I am early enough for the "early bird" deals, but late enough to feel relaxed.  I set my car radio to XM Holly, grab a Starbucks, and I enjoy my morning.
I'm not aggressive enough to fight for those five ipod and laptop doorbusters, and I realized if you aren't in the market for those deals, you don't need to be in line waiting for a store to open while your family eats pumpkin pie.

For the record, I'm all for unique, homemade, shop downtown gifts.  There are just a bunch of goodies that must be found in a specific store.  And I thoroughly enjoyed finding some of them today.

Tis' the season ~ enjoy every minute!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


This Thanksgiving, I'm truly focused on being thankful.  I'm breathing when I feel that urge to scream, I'm remembering it's easier to clean the mess after the kids are in bed and I'm counting my many blessings.

The kids are only young once.  I'm thankful for them; for their mess and for their chaos.  I'm thankful they still hug me, kiss me and wave goodbye as the school bus is pulling up.  I love their quirky stories, their handmade crafts and kind hearts.

I love how tiny they look when they are sleeping.  Even when they are eleven.

I'm thankful my Hubby still makes me belly laugh, and that he sorts laundry.  He loves our kids, provides for our family and is patient with my always chaotic method of reasoning.

He is even more patient when I attempt to tell a story.  I start at the beginning, move onto another story, go back to the first story, make a cup of juice, sign a paper for school, go back to the second story, ask him if he's still listening and then ask him, what I was saying again?

I'm very thankful for that man.  Even if he drives me bat-poop crazy at times.  It takes quite a man to put up with me on a daily basis.  Did I mention he (usually) still loves me even though I dress like a shlump-a-dinkle some days?

Heels are very, very overrated when you're wiping spills all day.

I'm thankful for my heated blanket, the ice cream in my freezer and my Starbucks Gold Card.  All three of those things, along with sunshine on my face and munchkin snuggles, make for a fabulous day.

My mommy friends, all those extraordinary women who also only talk between the hours of 9 and 3, you are my sanity.  My venting place.  My, Can you believe this?! Oh wait you believe it because you're living the same existence!, comfort.  Hugs to you all.

I'm so very thankful for my health, my family, my parents and my phenomenal siblings.  My mother has handed down some of the best mommy-ing tricks known to man, and her generosity is second to none.  She is my rock.  My Dad, that man keeps his cool and keeps me calm.  There is no better person to call when I need advice.

I'm more than thankful for all the ways my parents help us.  Lord knows we have needed plenty of help these past twelve years.

This Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for the many blessings the Lord has sent my way.  He has blessed me abundantly; to count the ways would take me to the end of time.

And last, but not least, I'm so thankful for all of you.  If you're on this page, if you're reading this, I want you to know I'm thankful my blog is worth your time.

That is very, very special that is to me.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

If you care to share, What are you thankful for?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Inside the Mommy-Van

My early "catch the middle school bus" mornings are fabulous for checking email, cruising Pinterest and blogging.  This early morn, I had an epiphany for a fabulous blog about great ideas Christmas with kids.  I started to think about what to write, and I decided to save this blog for another day.

Blogger's block and all.

Instead, I'll just share what was occuring in my mommy-van at approximately 5:52 last night.
These are my son's football game pants.  They are on my dashboard.

Last night was equipment return, and everything is to be returned just as it was when you picked it up in July.  I remembered equipment return at 3:50, and found these game pants muddy as all *bleep* in LLG's game bag minutes later.  Unfortunately I had to bring my daughter to gymnastics at 4:30, which left just enough time to run these bad boys in a very quick wash.

I grabbed them fresh from the spin cycle and brought them in the car with us as we left for gymnastics. I dried them, with the heat full blast, on my dashboard as I drove to gymnastics and then the grocery store.  By 6pm they were 80% dry and just about ready for equipment return.

I folded them, dry side out, and handed them in along with a helmet and shoulder pads.

Mission accomplished, Mommyhood style.

Happy almost Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving Craft: Pinecone Turkeys

My daughter brought an uber adorable Turkey home from preschool last week.  It was crafted from felt, a pinecone, and feathers.

This little guy is cute enough to sit as the focal centerpiece at our Thanksgiving feast, and cute enough to save year after year after year.

I know we all claim preschool crafts are cute, and they are.  But unless you have a room dedicated to collecting crafts and drawings from preschool through 12th grade, some items just have to go in the recycling bin.

At least at my house they do.  I take comfort in knowing my kids will cherish a few crafts from their childhood, but they would not care to clutter their future homes with all their masterpieces from twenty years ago.

But this little guy?  He's a keeper.

Large pinecone (sold at craft stores if you lack these beauties in your backyard)
Colorful feathers (also sold at craft stores)
Felt (red, yellow or orange.'s at craft stores!)
Elmer's glue or similar
Turkey Template (below)

1.  Cut template.  Fold felt in half and trace template onto felt with marker.  Cut felt, you will have two turkey heads.  Glue these together at nose and top of head only, not the entire length of the turkey head.  Make eye on both sides with marker. Set aside.

2.  Glue 5-7 feathers in between spaces in pinecone.  The front of the turkey is the bottom (more flat, rounded end) of pinecone.

3.  Once turkey head is dry, attach head with glue to the front of pinecone.  Spread the two pieces of felt apart at bottom (neck area of turkey head) and glue securely.

Turkey Template (Right click on template, save picture, and then reopen and print):