Tuesday, December 31, 2013


The girl is running around the house singing, "You look like a lady!" I can't decide if this is a parenting victory or a parenting fail (the lyrics are wrong, after all, and yet the actual lyrics are not appropriate). Still, it is better than singing a Bieber song, I decide.  Parenting victory.

The boys are chasing each other around like maniacs, tackling instead of tagging. I guess everyone is finally feeling healthy again. Joey's appetite is back to normal.  Well, normal for a horse.  The kid is eating everything in sight. I guess he is trying to make up for lost time.

Even though I had cancelled our little New Years Eve party due to the sickies I think I may be able to pull something together last minute.  The kids get wind of this and the energy level in the house kicks up another notch.

Hors d'oeuvres are planned, games are picked out, and movies are rented.  I think we are ready for some fun.

As I begin making my hors d'oeuvres I find When Harry Met Sally on tv, followed by When A Man Loves a Woman.  Score! This just got fun.

My mind wanders as I'm busy in the kitchen. I reflect back on our year and think about the new year that is about to start.

I contemplate possible resolutions but once again find that I don't feel the need for resolutions. There are things to work on. Definitely. I could start running again. I could eat better. I must continue to work on my temper. On patience. On many things. But in the end I just don't believe in resolutions.

Instead I focus on each day.

I think of a word to focus on. One word that I will chant to myself when life gets overwhelming or stressful. A word that I will remind myself of when my temper flairs and my patience fails.

I toss around ideas.  Peace. Joy. Still. Love. See. Calm. Breathe. Peace. Pause. Quiet. Think. Heart. Serene. Silence. Listen.

Breathe.  Yes.  Breathe jumps out at me.

When life gets busy. Breathe. When my temper flares.  Breathe.  When life is full and good.  Breathe it in.  Appreciate each moment.  Breathe.

That's my word. In the new year I will breathe. I will pause. I will take it in.  I'm ready for the new year.

Whether you make resolutions, pick a word, go out and party, or stay at home, I hope you all have a wonderful New Years Eve and an even better New Year. I hope 2014 brings contentment, peace, love, happiness, and joy to you all.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas Wrap Up

And just like that Christmas is over.  

All the preparations.  All the planning.  All the plotting and secret keeping. And blink! All done. 

Christmas Eve was spent at my mom's house. Food was eaten, games were played, laughs were had.  It was a lovely night. It was fun just sitting around spending time with family.
When we got home that night the kids quickly changed into their jammies and went off to bed so that Santa could make a swift delivery.  Later that night, as the kids lay sleeping in their beds, Santa did indeed make his visit.
The next day was your typical Christmas morning madness with just a little more craziness thrown in. The snowstorm that brought yet another few inches of snow made our morning more hectic.  And then Joey fainted at church (he hadn't been feeling good for a few days prior- stomach bug). That was a smidge stressful.

After a little rest at home we managed to make it over to Todd's mom's house for more food, more games, and more laughter.
Overall, it was a wonderful Christmas. Nevermind the snowstorm, the fainting Joey (or the puking Joey for that matter- the kid was a trooper).

The next day we all just sat around trying to recoup from all of the holiday craziness. Joey continued to recover from the stomach bug he had all week and the kids played with all their Christmas loot.

We had planned on going up north and going skiing for a few days but I just didn't think I had the energy for it and Joey was still regaining his strength.  Instead Todd went up north to attempt another go at getting a deer (this is the only year I can remember that Todd didn't get a deer) and the kids and I stayed home and relaxed.

As Joey got stronger the kids and I ventured out to the local sledding hill and took advantage of the warm weather.  The kids even got to spend some of their Christmas money at their favorite store and purchased a few more LEGO sets for their collection. We ended up having a really nice time together.

When the kids went to bed that night I really got into relaxation mode. I pulled out my Christmas gift (an extra large bean bag), started a fire, made myself a drink, and kicked my feet up.

It was just what I needed to unwind and reflect on our busy but blessed Christmas.

I hope your Christmas, busy and/or imperfect as it may have been, was filled with warm memories, love, and happiness.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Sending you all a big virtual hug and prayers for a holiday season filled with family, friends, love, and joy! God bless!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Magic

Anyone dreaming of a white Christmas would be happy to celebrate Christmas in my neighborhood this year.  I think we now have more snow at our house than we did up north this past weekend.  Which is just as well because most of our time up north was spent inside since Joey wasn't feeling well.  Not as relaxing a weekend as we had hoped, but ah well.

Yesterday we came home to 8 inches of fresh snow and the snow continued throughout the night and into today.  When all is said and done I think we will have over a foot of snow.  

With Joey feeling much better today (although my glands are extremely swollen now) we decided to tie up some last minute Christmas loose ends.  

Today we finally got to see Santa.  It was actually quite emotional because it was the last time anyone will be able to see Santa at this location.  A spot where kids have been going to see Santa for almost 100 years. A spot that always made waiting in line a joy. The very spot where I went to see Santa when I was a kid. Mechanical animals and elves danced and played and Bruce the Spruce would tell jokes to the kids. 

In a few weeks this Santa's enchanted forest will no longer be there as the store is closing down.  Sad, indeed.  
The good news is that the enchanted forest will be moved to our city's museum and will be on display every Christmas.  Still, I'm glad that we were able to visit Santa and Mrs. Claus in the enchanted forest one last time.

After our visit to Santa the kids and I decided to take advantage of the snow and we went sledding.
Up and down the kids went, again and again.  It was probably the most relaxing sledding trip I've ever had with the kids as they each were able to make their way up and down the hill by themselves.  
And it was pretty heartwarming to watch Grace's brothers help her out when she got tired climbing the hill.  Does a mama's heart good.
We stayed on the hill for a couple of hours before we'd finally tuckered ourselves out.
 After that we went home to pick up Todd and then more fun was to be had.  We drove through an awesome Christmas light display at a local park and then went to another light display after that.  Both shows were set to festive Christmas music.  It was so much fun.  After all of that the kids begged us to take them to the dollar store so that they could buy Todd and I a few Christmas presents that they had their eye.

Now we are sitting around watching a movie and eating Christmas cookies. It's been a great preChristmas day.

We are now ready to let the real celebration begin.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas Cut

Each and every time I plan to write a blog post I have the best of intentions.  In my head my post is filled with Christmas warmth and loving stories.  

However, by the time I actually sit down to write the post all I can think about is how frazzled I am and how I just got done yelling at the kids again.  Merry Christmas, everybody! Ho, ho, ho! And all that crap.  Whatever.



I will attempt to make this post about Christmas goodies, mmm-kay?

I won't even tell you what a completely crazy mess yesterday was, and how I honestly did not sit down all day (or eat) until 9 o'clock last night when we got home from Joey's very late basketball game.  I won't even mention the massive migraine I got last night after all the craziness.  And I won't tell you how today was the last day of school (complete with class parties and a talent show), I bought and wrapped 40 small gifts for our family Christmas/Eve dice game, and I went grocery shopping and packed everyone's stuff for a trip up north this weekend.  All before noon when I had to pick up the boys from school.  And I still have a migraine hangover.  

But, alas, I will not talk about that! Nope.  It will not make the Christmas cut. This is my Christmas fun post! Or something.

I will instead tell you about Grace's lovely haircut.  Grace has been begging to cut her hair for a while now (probably since I cut mine- even though it made her bawl).  She was just so tired of all the snarls and she wanted a change.  I finally gave in.  And I cut it myself.  

I was extremely nervous about cutting her hair.  Sure, I cut the boys' hair all the time, but that is different.  This is a real cut.  And straight hair is difficult to cut too.  

This is Grace the morning before her haircut at her Christmas party.

This is Grace shortly (puns!) after her haircut.  Super cute!
When she got up from her nap she was SO EXCITED at how easy it was to brush her hair.  I even curled the ends for her and she loved it.  I may have started something I shouldn't have.
Either way, the darling girl looked adorable.  She loves her hair and so do I. So sweet.

Also sweet?  This recipe I found for Cinnamon Pecans.  My favorites!  We always get them when we go to Cabelas and now I can make them myself.  They are even better homemade.  I am in trouble!

And I'm sharing the trouble with you!

Crock Pot Cinnamon Pecans (you could also use almonds or cashews)

Great holiday gift idea! (if you don't eat them all yourself)


1 C. Sugar
2 C. Brown Sugar
4 Tbsp. Cinnamon
1/8 tsp. Salt
2 Egg White
3 tsp. vanilla
6 Cups Pecans
1/4 C. Water

In a medium sized bowl, mix together sugars, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside. In another medium sized bowl, whisk the egg white and vanilla until it’s a little frothy. Add pecans. Make sure the pecans are thoroughly coated in the egg white mixture. Add cinnamon mixture to the pecans and toss until coated.

Thoroughly spray the stoneware of your crock pot with non-stick cooking spray and add the mixture of pecans and sugars.

Cook on low ( with the lid on) 3-4 hours stirring every 20 minutes. In the last hour, add the 1/4 C. of water and stir well. This ensures a crunchy yummy coating. (*make sure after you’ve added the water that you continue to cook the nuts for another 45 minutes to an hour.)
You have to stir really well, especially as it gets later in the cooking process.

Line a baking sheet with parchment and spread the pecans flat to cool. The pecans will be sticky at this point, so make sure you separate them a little and have no large mounds.

There you have it!  A fabulous holiday treat!  

I hope you find some time to relax this weekend and try to enjoy the holiday madness.  I haven't perfected it yet, but I am still trying.  In the meantime I plan on sitting in front of the fire all weekend up north with a good book. Let's see how that pans out.  

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Almost There

I was feeling so good.  I was feeling so jolly.  I was feeling peaceful.

This past weekend Todd decided to take the kids and head up north since I was stuck in rehearsals and concerts and wouldn't be home much of the time. It was the perfect opportunity for me to try and tackle some of the items on my mounting To-Do list I had been fretting about all month.

Despite the nasty snowstorm that hit our area I managed to plow myself out of the driveway and get most of my Christmas shopping done. It was quite the feat, running from store to store to store in the icy snow with only a few hours to spare before my concert but I succeeded!  And I managed to score some HUGE deals.  When you have a child who asks for things like "a tornado stuffed animal" and "a tornado pillow" shopping can be difficult.  But between some specialty toy stores and some very cool finds online I think all of my kiddos will be surprised and delighted with their loot this Christmas.

The concert went beautifully on Saturday night.  It was powerful and for me it was emotional too.

You may not believe me, but I'll tell you anyway. At one point during the concert my dad made an appearance and sat with me.  It happened when I was onstage and I asked my dad to help one of the soloists with her solo (she had been struggling awfully at rehearsals all week and I was so nervous for her).  I always said my dad had the voice of an angel and I knew he would love to help another singer. The minute I asked my dad for help I saw his smiling face and heard him say, "Oh honey. That's so nice of you to ask me!" He was so honored and proud that I would think to ask him to help someone. I told him that I didn't know who the patron saint of singing was but for me he could do the job.

I felt my dad all around me. Behind me. Beside me. As the soloist sang her solo (beautifully) I saw my dad singing the words with her. It was all so overwhelming that I had all I could do to keep myself from breaking down and sobbing on stage. I thanked God for allowing my dad to be with me and giving souls the opportunity to continue to love and help each other.

I was very emotional after that and when we got to the Hallelujah Chorus and the entire audience stood throughout the whole song I was so choked up I could barely sing. As I said, it was a very powerful and emotional concert.

I left that concert feeling such a high.  Not only was the concert fabulous, I cherished the visit with my dad.  I was so happy and full of the Christmas spirit.

The whole weekend was a success.  I was so happy and excited to see my family when they came home on Sunday afternoon. I was rejuvenated.  Heck, the Packers even pulled off a monster of all come from behind wins!

And then school began again on Monday.  It has been madness every single day.  All that shopping I thought I had gotten done was just a mirage. More and more items got added to my shopping lists.  I'd forgotten this and that and the errands seem never ending.

I remembered the teacher's gift cards, but I'd forgotten their little treats.  I remembered my Christmas cards, but I hadn't ordered enough.  I addressed all the cards, but I forgot to buy stamps.  I ran out to get juice for Grace's class party only to find out the next day that I had to go back to the store and get a snack for Joey's class party.  Joey let me know last night that he had a reading for mass this morning and I definitely couldn't miss that.  And I had just enough time to go to mass and then run to the store once again for a last minute necessity for Ben's class party before I had to get to Grace's gingerbread house making party. I wrapped all the kids' presents (the earliest I had EVER done it- usually it is done on Christmas Eve eve) and then realized that the shoes I had bought Tommy and Ben when they were on sale a few months ago were already a size too small.  Back to the store I ran.

Then Ben came home from school missing a mitten and his lunch box.  Add that to the pair of gloves he lost up north this past weekend.  Today I brought Grace home from school and unloaded her backpack to see that she was also missing her mittens.  Add that to her missing snowpants I looked for for 20 minutes at school earlier in the day.

The last straw was when Tommy came bounding in the house after school today with no backpack. Apparently he left it on the bus.  So, that's good. Or, not.  I tried to track the bus down but the only option I have is to pick the backpack up at the bus station between 4:30 and 5.  I guess I can fit that in when I drop Joey off at basketball practice at 4:30 and it should give me enough time to pick up the backpack and get Ben home in time to get ready for Boy Scouts at 5:30.

Help me.

This is such a beautiful time of year.  I know that.  I witnessed it this past weekend and I'm trying to hold on to that feeling.  But sometimes, sometimes I just want to throw my hand up in the air. I surrender!

Luckily, we only have two more days of school and then the majority of the madness will all fall away. Then we will be able to focus on Christmas. The real Christmas. Not the Christmas of plays and concerts and class parties and errands and presents and running and shopping and decorating. Not the Christmas crazy.  The Christmas that is family and togetherness and love.  That Christmas.

That is the Christmas I look forward to.


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Spreading The Joy

I think this is the best flash mob I've ever seen. I really can't watch it without bawling. These singers do such a beautiful job of bringing the Christmas message joyfully to the masses and in such a public way. And it seems the public love it as well.

Tonight I will be singing Handel's Messiah with the Symphony Chorus, including the Hallelujah Chorus. You can bet that I will be thinking about these food court singers and how much joy they brought to those who were lucky enough to hear their performance.  I hope we can deliver the Christmas spirit as well as these fine folks did.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Thinking Warm Thoughts

I am struggling this morning.  Too many late nights, too many activities, too much junk food, and too much running around.  I'm beginning to wear out.  Wear down. My body does not want to go, go, go anymore.  My body wants to sit, stay, and not move.

We are in full "Christmas rush" mode around here.  This week has been a blur of activity. 

Joey's basketball tournament took up every spare moment this past Friday and Saturday but luckily the kids had some time on Sunday to just enjoy being kids. I used the downtime to be grouchy and crabby and yell at everyone every chance I got.  Yeah me.  Luckily, the kids were able to escape to the great outdoors.

Much to the kids' delight snow finally made a stop at our house on Sunday morning. By the time we got out of church there was enough snow to play in, and play they did.  The snow was falling faster and faster and the kids had a blast outside despite the very chilly temps.  
I couldn't believe how tough my kids were in the 10 degree weather.  They stayed out there for hours upon hours. I'm telling myself that the kids stayed out there because it was fun and not because they were avoiding me. Not sure how accurate that is.

But they were troopers. As if the cold weather wasn't enough to chill them to the bone they laid around in the snow eating icicles.   Ah, to be young again.
That night the kids went to bed easily and slept solidly.  And luckily for everyone in my household I woke up in a much better state of mind on Monday and was able to pull myself out of my foul mood and start the week fresh again.

As for me, I have been trying my best to stay warm. This week has been the coldest we've had in some time. The constant running here and there, in and out of the cold, has left me a frigid mess. It seems that no matter how many layers I dress myself in I still find myself shuddering and shaking, my fingertips nearly numb. Even now as I type I am wearing two layers of everything and a scarf as well and I still can't stop my body from shaking. And I'm INSIDE! It is cold, people.

I wrap my hands around my coffee and try to absorb the heat into my body.  Must think warm thoughts.

My mind wanders back to last night.  The kids had their annual school Christmas concert held at church.  It was so much fun watching my kiddos sing their hearts out.  Joey and Tommy took the job very seriously, Ben wore an impish smile the entire time, and Grace was a little charmer singing her heart out and adding in all the gestures to the music.  It was such a fun night and it put me in the Christmas mood until Todd pointed out that it was the first Christmas concert that we didn't have a little one sitting in the pew with us.
Still, it was a lovely night and I was so proud of my littles.

Now it is back to the grind again.  Tonight Joey has another basketball game.  Tomorrow I have rehearsal and then a concert on Saturday.  Next week is the typical school madness that comes with the last few days before Christmas break.  But then! Then we are home free!

Until then I will be attempting to think warm and lovely thoughts.

What are your warm, lovely thoughts this holiday?

Friday, December 6, 2013

Finding Christmas

Each year it is a struggle to enjoy the season.

Each year I find myself tense and stressed instead of joyful and peaceful.

Each year I worry and rush and panic and frantically try to remember every little item on my to-do list and every event on my calendar. And there are too many to-dos and too many events.

Each year I tell myself I will simplify until I realize there is virtually no way to do so.  

Each year gets busier and busier.

The list is ever growing and it is making me a grumpy mess.

-Set up two Christmas trees, a house full of decorations, and all the lights on the outside of the house, while trying to maintain my patience and enthusiasm while the kids "help".

-Don't forget the St. Nick's gifts for the kids stockings. And don't forget to put the gifts IN the stockings for the kids on the correct date!

-Buy little treats for all 4 of my kids' Secret Santa gifts every week.

-Remember dates for the kids' Christmas concert and rehearsals.

-Remember dates for my Christmas concert and rehearsals.

-Remember dates for Ben's Boy Scout meetings.

-Remember dates for Joey's basketball practices.

-Bake treats for Joey's basketball tournament concession stand this weekend.

-Remember times for Joey's games for the tournament this weekend.

-Remember the two five hour shifts I'm signed up to volunteer for at the tournament this weekend.

-Think of gifts for the six teachers I have to buy for.

-Remember to buy the actual Secret Santa gifts, and wrap them, for my kids to give to their assigned classmate on the appropriate day.

-Pick up approximately 40 small gifts and gag gifts for the games we always play at the grandmas' houses on Christmas Eve and Christmas, and then wrap the 40 small gifts and gag gifts.

-Sign up to bring treats to all 4 of the kids' class Christmas parties.

-Attend and help at Grace's class Christmas party.

My head is so clogged up with trying to remember dates and times and practices and rehearsals and gifts and obligated FUN that I suddenly remember that I haven't even really started my Christmas shopping yet. I don't even know what my kids want this year.

Last night I approached the subject with my kiddos.

"So, if we have a free night in the next week or two we need to go and see Santa. What are you all gonna ask Santa for when we finally see him?" I say, attempting to fake my enthusiasm as we are finally getting the ornaments on the tree in the front hallway.

"Meh. I don't really need anything. I'm not gonna ask for anything. There are so many kids that don't have anything and I already have so much stuff." Tommy tells me earnestly.

"Yeah. We are so lucky. Some kids don't even have a house! They live in a BOX!" Ben adds.

"Some kids don't even have a BOX!" Grace informs us.

"That's why we give money in those red buckets at the store. That money goes to help people." Joey says, trying to make his siblings feel better.

"I'm gonna put my allowance in there!" Ben decides.

"Me too! I have lots of monies but only one dollar. But they can have my monies and my dollar." Grace happily tells us.

"That is so nice of you guys. It is important to always remember to help other people. Why don't we take a few stars off of the giving tree at school so we can help some other kids have a nice Christmas too?"

"Yeah!" they all agree.

"You are such thoughtful kiddos.  I bet Santa knows how sweet you are and he probably thinks you deserve a present or two. Can't you think of anything?" I urge them.

Soon, with my prodding, the ideas are starting to come; Packer or Badger helmets, LEGOS and dollies, but they are still hesitant to ask for too much.

And once again the Christmas spirit finds me.

Amazing how my children always know how to restore my Christmas spirit.  Last year their giving hearts rejuvenated me and this year their compassion for others does it again.

I realize there will always be too many events and too many to-dos this time of year but I am reminded once again why the holidays are so beautiful and such a blessing.

I'll take one day at a time, I'll do what I can, and I'll keep my kids close so that I can get my refill of the Christmas spirit any time I need it.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

For All The Animal Lovers

My family is filled with animal lovers.  Serious animal lovers. I swear I packed up more leftovers for my family to take back to their animals than I packed for themselves. We love our animals around here.

On Thanksgiving my brother just had to show me a few animal videos on YouTube that he thought were hilarious. Maybe you've seen them already but in case you haven't I'd love to show you a few of them.

This one is BY FAR my favorite:

The guy has done a few more of these videos.  This one is funny too:

This one I didn't think was that funny but apparently my family did.  What do you think?

This was the girl's eHarmony video.  My brother insists it is real, but I think she was acting.  Either that or this girl is in need of medication.

This one set to music was much funnier:

Funny, right?
My kids love the first two videos.  I can't tell you how many times they have watched them.  They go around the house reciting them, actually.  Kinda silly.

Hope it at least gave you a little laugh.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Turkey Stuffed

One down, one to go.

Thanksgiving went fairly smoothly. Well, if you don't count the morning scramble to the grocery store for the forgotten Gorganzola for my green bean salad.  And then Todd's late afternoon run back to the grocery store for the forgotten wine.  And the crazy kids.  And both Todd and I not feeling well (achy, sore throat).  And, oh yeah, my new lamp that was broken by the boys in their craziness.  

But OTHER than that.  Thanksgiving was lovely. I'm thankful that I look forward to getting together with my family instead of dreading it.  That goes for my in-laws too. I truly enjoy being with my family and that is something to be very thankful for.

Todd and I are attempting to rest up a bit today if we can.  Tomorrow we are hosting another Thanksgiving dinner for Todd's side of family. We are contemplating taking the kids to a movie this afternoon.  We'll see if we can muster enough energy to leave the house.
(Eww. That one is gross. Sorry.)

I hope you all had a wonderful time with your families with more blessings than you can count.  And I hope you are all recovering nicely.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


I'm hiding out.

Hiding from the cold.

Hiding from the kids.  They're wild.

Hiding from cleaning.

Hiding from the grocery store. It's probably wilder than my kids. *shutter*

Hiding from winter. The cold.

Hiding from the prepping it takes to host two Thanksgiving dinners in three days.

Hiding from the laundry.

Hiding from homework.  Theirs, not mine. But still kind of mine.

Hiding from housework.

Hiding from cooking.

Hiding from baking.

Hiding from the dishes lurking in my sink.

Hiding from leaving the house.  Did I mention the cold?


Monday, November 25, 2013


Thanksgiving is quickly approaching and it seems that many (especially retailers) would prefer to skip right over it and go straight on to Christmas. Even Mother Nature seems to have jumped on the Christmas bandwagon. Personally, I'd like to enjoy Thanksgiving before moving on to Christmas. I have much to be thankful for.
This morning when I awoke and saw the layer of snow on the ground, and big, juicy snowflakes furiously falling, I didn't feel like being thankful for the turn in the weather. I am not a fan of the cold. Good thing I live in Wisconsin.
But slowly as the kids came down the stairs, heavy with sleep still worn on their faces, I couldn't help but feeling thankful again. Four sleepy kids at my breakfast table. Thankful.

Yesterday Joey returned from deer hunting with his dad. Since Todd will be staying up north until Wednesday Joey rode halfway home with a friend of Todd's and then the kids and I drove the to the friend's house in Oshkosh to pick him up. We decided to make a day of it and I took all four of my kids (it was good to have all 4 with me again) to the EAA (Aviation/Airplane museum that my kids LOVE) for a few hours and then to an early dinner.  It was a fun day and a nice welcome home for Joey.
The drive back home was eerily quiet. Joey was overtired from lack of sleep at deer camp and the rest of the kids were worn out from the exciting day. While Gracie slept Tommy and Ben told Joey about an accident we saw on the way to Oshkosh. A huge accident. A scary accident. Firetrucks, police cars, ambulances, and helicopters were all on the scene. We all said prayers for the people involved and were reminded again how lucky we are. I think it had an impact on us the rest of the day.
It was very dark by the time we got home.  Showers were taken, snacks were handed out, and we all snuggled together for a movie before bed.
It was very strange not having Joey with us this past weekend. One by one the kids will be joining their dad up north for deer hunting and Joey started the tradition this year. I think deer hunting season will just get weirder and weirder for me from here on out. It has been just me and the kiddos during this week for so long and I am starting to see that fade away. Bizarre how quickly this time has come.

But this morning there they were around my kitchen table.  All four of my sleepy children munching quietly on their cereal. The more the snow fell the wider awake the kids became. The bigger the snowflakes the bigger the smiles spread across their faces. Soon our house was bustling with the excitement and chatter of all FOUR of my children.  And I was thankful again.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Old School

I'm going old school, people!  My very good bloggy friend, Elaine, is hosting an old school meme and I decided to participate.  Finally!
In the past when I have done these I got a smidge sarcastic.  As a matter of fact my last one became one of my most popular posts ever. Y'all must like my sick sense of humor. Anyway, I am attempting to keep this one somewhat straight.  We'll see how it goes.

Where is your cell phone?  In my purse

Your significant other?  Is currently up north with my boys getting everything ready for deer camp next weekend.

Your hair?  Has just gotten significantly shorter. See this post. I am still getting used to trying to style it. My stylist got it beautifully straight, but the back of my hair is so short that when I tried it I couldn't even get my hair around my round brush.  So my hair got all curly in the back and then I just decided to let it get curly all over. I may like it better curly now.  

Your mother? 
Is my moral compass, my best friend, my inspiration.

Your father?
 Is my angel now.

Your favorite thing?
  Sleeping in late.

Your dream last night? I dreamed I had another baby and the day after the delivery I went to a New Kids concert.

Your favorite drink? 
Coffee.  And lots of it.

Your dream/goal?  The hubby and I always dreamed of eating our way through Europe.

The room you are in?  My living room.

Your fear?
 Honestly? Losing one of my children (is scares me to even write that down). Superficially? Sharks.

Where do you want to be in six years?
  I really don't want anything to change.  I love my life as it is right now.  Hopefully my life will be much the same. Maybe I'll be pursuing a career in medicine at that point.  We'll see what God has in store.

Where were you last night? 
First Gracie and I went to a craft fair, bought matching rings, ate some yummy food, and listened to the local high school jazz band play some Christmas (ugh) music. Then we went to church, came home, took a few silly pics, ate dinner, sat in front of the fireplace, and watched a movie together.

What are you not? 
Batman.  Whew!  The secret is out.

Muffins? I have zero feelings on muffins.

One of your wish list items? A giant beanbag chair.  Yes, I am a child.

Where you grew up? About three miles from where I'm living right now.

The last thing you did? Fed the dog.

What are you wearing?
 Kind of a pervy questions. My new super cute pink plaid flannel pajama pants, a pink shirt, a pink sweatshirt, and my bathrobe.  

Your TV?
Is off. There is a thunderstorm this morning and I just love listening to the rain and thunder.

Your pets? Molly, the dog. Stanley, the guinea pig. Hugo, the hamster.  And lots of fish we don't really name.

Your computer? Is new and I'm still getting used to it.

Your life?
 Is blessed.

Your mood? Peaceful, happy, calm, reflective.

Missing someone? 
Always. (Dad)

Your car? Is a rusty minivan that the husband keeps wanting to replace but that I think we should squeeze every last mile out of it before we buy something else.

Something you are not wearing My contacts.

Your favorite store? It has been so long since I've gone shopping for pleasure and not out of necessity.  It is really hard to say.

Your summer? Went entirely too quickly.

Like someone? Like, totally.

Your favorite color? Peach.

When was the last time you laughed?
Last night watching this:

Last time you cried? This morning reading about Batkid .

What is one thing on your to-do list?
Rid my closet of unnecessary items.

There!  I did it!  Now wasn't that fun?  I think so. Go ahead and get old school with us!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thankful Thursday

I'm coming out of hiding to be thankful.

Life has been crazy busy around here and I have all but ignored my blog lately.  So much going on in the real world that I don't even feel I have time to write anything down.  Good things and bad things have been happening.  But today, I'm focusing on the good things.

We are approaching Thanksgiving and these days I am reflecting on all the things I am thankful for.

- Today would be my dad's 82nd birthday.  I am so thankful that I had such a wonderful father.  I miss him every day and I'm thankful for that too.  I am grateful that I had the type of father who leaves such a void when he is gone.

- A few days ago I was hauling firewood and with a huge stack of wood in my arms I felt a sharp, stinging pain.  I dropped the wood on the ground, pulled up my sweater sleeve and saw two bite marks on my bicep.  It looked like I had been bitten by a vampire. And it hurt.  It immediately started to get red and puffy.  I started to worry that it was a bad spider bite and the boys helped me look around on the ground for the source of my bite (you know, in case it was a horribly poisonous spider). I was very relieved when Tommy found a huge wasp on the ground.  Stupid wasp stung me but I was very thankful that it was only a wasp and not, say, a black widow spider or something.

- The wasp stings kept swelling and left a huge red, raised patch on my arm.  The next day I went to go and give blood and I warned the phlebotomist of my wound.  I was told it wouldn't be a problem.  The phlebotomist attempted to draw my blood from that same arm but just couldn't get a good stick (which is weird because I NEVER have a problem as I have great veins).  She was jabbing me all over, moving the needle all around, calling other people over to try it.  My poor left arm went through hell before another phlebotomist decided to try my right arm.  The right arm worked out just fine until the phlebotomist began talking as she was taking out the needle and was gesturing with her arms, thus moving the needle all over.  I now have two massive bruises from giving blood, and one massive bruise from the wasp stings (which is still itchy) on my arms.  I look like a crazy person.  BUT, I am thankful that I wasn't allergic to the wasp stings and that I was able to donate blood for Veteran's Day.

- I am thankful for all of the brave men and women that give everything they have to protect the freedoms we have in this country.  Nothing we could do would ever be enough to thank them.  I have so many people in my family that have served in the military and many friends as well.  I am so grateful for them and all the other thousands that serve every day.

- This morning after I dropped the kids off at school I drove by the lake on my way home.  I noticed a huge coal ship fairly close to the shore and I was so thankful that I had decided to put my camera in the car that morning.  I took a few shots of the ship (the kids are gonna be thrilled I got such close ups of the ship) and then continued on my drive.

Further down the beach I noticed a few surfers off the point (the beach comes to what is referred to as "the point" where beach juts out a bit. The waves are usually bigger but not many surfers surf there because it is rocky).  I was able to capture a few shots of a surfer catching a wave.  I am so thankful that I live so close to Lake Michigan that I can see cool stuff like this every day. It was 38 degrees this morning when this brave surfer took to the water.  I was thankful to be able to watch from the warmth of my car.

- Tommy picked up my very old copy of Little House In The Big Woods a while ago and LOVED it. He is an outdoor boy and loved reading about all of Laura's adventures.  He is so excited to move on to the next Little House books now that he is finished with The Big Woods.  I love that he loves these books.  Love it. It also made me remember that I have a few of my favorite Little House episodes recorded on the DVR and I showed it to the kids.  They love it.  Every day when they come home from school they ask if there is a "new" Little House episode. It just cracks me up that my three boys love to watch a show about three little girls. I am so thankful that my kids like a show that has such wonderful lessons and stories to tell.  They really don't make shows like that anymore.

- This morning I had an appointment for a haircut.  I have been feeling like I am in a hair rut so I decided to change things up a bit.  I chopped about 6 inches of my hair off. I was feeling pretty good about myself as I left the salon until I picked Grace up from school.  The minute she saw me she freaked out and started crying. "Why did you DO that? I don't like it!" she cried and cried.  It made me laugh at first, but I gotta say, it did start to bother me a little bit after about 20 minutes of crying.
So my thankful post on the hair front is that while I'm not thankful that my new haircut makes Grace cry, I am VERY thankful that the hubby absolutely LOVES it.  Whew!

- Joey is busy growing up. Every time I turn around I see him reaching a new milestone, trying something new, learning an important lesson, and basically growing up before my very eyes.  This week he volunteered to be the song leader for the school mass.  He was paired up with his classmate and together they led the entire congregation in song.  And they did beautifully together.  I was so proud of Joey.  It takes some major guts to get up in front of so many people and sing.  All the singing I've done in my life and I never would have had the guts to do that when I was in 5th grade.
The picture is a little blurry, but you can see Joey standing and his friend standing on the stool.  Their voices blended so well together and they sounded awesome. The music teacher was thrilled and asked them if she could use them for church more often. Very cool. And very thankful that Joey has the confidence and courage to try something new and intimidating.

- Last night was parent/teacher conferences at school.  I could not be more proud of my kiddos.  Their grades are good, they are respectful, kind, and listen well.  When I asked their teachers what we could help our kids improve on none of the teachers could think of anything. Each teacher did say that the respective child was silly at times but that is not something I'm willing to ask my kids to do away with. As long as they aren't disruptive and they stop when asked (the teachers assured me they do) then silliness is fine by me.  I am so thankful for my sweet, silly kids.

- That is not to say that everything is all sunshine and roses around here these last few weeks.  We've had many trying moments.  Lots of arguments (Todd and I) and temper tantrums (all of us) and tension. But we have managed to work out our problems once again and I think I've learned something from each situation that will help me be a better wife and a better mother.  So, even though the past few weeks have been trying, I'm thankful for the struggles too.

- I am currently adjusting my parenting (as a result of some of the above struggles). I have always been somewhat of a control freak and with 4 very small children I think that is a necessity.  However, the kids are getting older and I need to loosen the reins a bit now.  I need to let certain things go and give the kids a bit more freedom to be kids and make mistakes.  I'm also trying my best to focus on the bigger picture and not nitpick all the time. And I'm trying to model good behavior.  I need to learn to control my temper better, and the way I speak when I'm angry, so that my kids can learn how to do the same.  It is a lot to work on all at once, but so far this week has been so much better.  I am a work in progress.  I know I'll fail over and over again but I need to keep trying.  And I'm so thankful that I have the opportunity to try again every day.

- The weather has been less than delightful.  It has been cold.  Too cold.  And it snowed here this week. I don't like snow in November. Or even early December.  But I am thankful that the snow has already melted and there is no snow in the immediate forecast.

So much to be thankful for.  I really could go on and on.  And I'm thankful for that too!  Tell me, what are you thankful for these days?

(If you made it the entire way through this very long post you deserve a special prize.  I wish I could give you some of our Halloween candy or something.  ;)  At least I can add you to my thankful list! I'm thankful for all my bloggy friends who are always so sweet and supportive and whom I continue to learn from every day!) 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Tricks and Treats

We are sufficiently exhausted today.  Tired.  Bone tired.

Getting the kids out of bed and moving around speaking in coherent sentences this morning was tough. Heck, getting myself out of bed this morning was tough.

Halloween is one of my favorite days of the year but it always leaves me exhausted afterwards.

Halloween morning I went to help out with Grace's class Halloween party. I was the only person in the whole school that was wearing a costume.  I'm cool like that.

After successfully navigating the 4 and 5 year olds through the ping pong ball/pumpkin toss game, and passing out all the treats, I took Grace with me to the lunchroom to embarrass my boys good and proper.  Not really, but seeing as how I was the only person in school in a costume I think the boys were just slightly embarrassed anyway, even though all of their classmates thought I was super cool.

After that Grace and I ran around with last minute errands, cleaned up the house, and prepped for trick or treating.

By the time the boys came home from school we were ready to go.  Unfortunately, the weather was not cooperating.  It was a lovely 60 degrees outside (perfect for trick or treating) but it had been pouring for much of the day.  Including at 4:00 when trick or treating was supposed to begin.  We decided to visit the grandmas while it was raining, collect candy at their houses, and then hopefully the rain would let up after that.  It didn't.  But we didn't let that stop us.

Once we were done at the grandma's houses I grabbed an umbrella (thanks mom!) and headed out with the kids.  Todd stayed in the warm, dry truck following us down the street should we suddenly and desperately need shelter.  Too bad Todd actually lost us for 45 minutes.  Up and down the street he drove searching for his trick or treating family while I flapped my umbrella at him and waved my arms as he drove by.  Grace tired and cried and wondered WHY her daddy wouldn't just come and pick her up so she could go home.

I borrowed a stranger's cell phone to call Todd and got his voicemail.  Mother of Pearl!!!!  I left him a message with the approximate area we were trick or treating in and 15 minutes later he finally found us.  Good grief.  Grace was soaked and tired and jumped in the truck with daddy and went home while the boys and I toughed it out until the end.  The boys were absolute troopers (anything for candy!) and we really did have fun.

Over all it was a trick or treating success!

Todd felt so badly for losing his family that by the time the boys and I made it home in the pitch darkness he had a nice roaring fire going and a pizza in the oven. And he even ran out to get me my special dinner after the kids were in bed.

And now here we are this morning.  Exhausted.

But there is no rest for the weary.  There was more fun to be had.  I had to get Joey's snack for his class party today (they were focusing more on All Saints' Day than on Halloween) and Ben had another costume to wear. The kids' school had mass this morning celebrating All Saints' Day and Ben dressed up as St. Joseph and marched up and stood in the front of church. It was very cute.

I sat with the kids in church and they had a difficult time keeping their eyes open.  I suspect by the time they come home from school they will be thoroughly done. Early bedtimes for all!

How was your Halloween?  Are you as exhausted as we are?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Getting Our Fall On

The weather has taken a turn for to the cold side.  We went from 70s to low 50s seemingly overnight.  Luckily, we had plenty of fall goodness this past weekend to keep us happy.

On Friday night the kids' school put on their annual Halloween party.  This year I was able to help decorate and also made some treats.  Over two dozen owl cupcakes.  And they turned out better than I expected. Yay!
They were a hit!  Also a hit?  My kiddos. You should have seen everyone's reaction when the three Ghostbusters and their ghost walked in to the party.  It was pretty fun to watch.  And of course, my kiddos ate it up.
My crew ended up taking home the prize for The Best Group Costume.  They were in heaven!
Because I was busy all day decorating the school cafeteria for the party, and making owl cupcakes, I wasn't planning on dressing up for the party.  But, when I came downstairs in my regular clothes my kids all looked at me and said, "You're not dressing up this year?" in the most disappointed voices.  I felt like a horrible mom.  So I quickly rummaged through our costume box, threw on a wig and a skirt and went as a witch. Not one of my more inventive outfits but it made the kids happy.

Anyway, the party was a hit. The DJ was great, the games were fun, the Haunted House (put on by the 8th graders) was spookey, and the treats were yummy.  It was a great night.

The next day was spent prepping the yard for winter.  Only half of it got done (emptying pots, cutting grass, chopping kindling) and then I had to hustle Ben and Tommy off to church.  Ben's first grade teacher was getting married and she invited all of her students to the church ceremony.  Tommy was actually in the first 1st grade class she ever taught (she has only been teaching three years).  They are so lucky to have such a sweet and thoughtful teacher.  I'd never heard of a teacher inviting students to her wedding before.  And after the ceremony she called the kids up to the altar to take pictures with her and her husband.  Then afterwards she threw the kids a little party in the basement of the church, complete with cookies, popcorn, punch and goodie bags.  She is amazing, and it was a lovely wedding.

After that we came back home and changed our clothes for the pumpkin farm.  Off we went to get our annual fix of pumpkins, apples, and apple cider.
The kids love all the animals at the apple orchard/pumpkin farm.  A friendly goat even joined them on the haystack maze.  So funny.

We even managed to snag our annual fall family picture. Whew!  Glad that is over with.  It took far too many takes this year.

By the time our afternoon was over Todd and I both needed a nap.  But, lucky for us, we had a date night instead.  We saw the movie Gravity.  It was awesome.  And intense.  I'm thinking Sandra Bullock is going to be picking up quite a few nominations for her role in that one.  After the movie we went to a bar and watched the Badgers trounce their rivals.  And then we even got to try out a new restaurant we've both been wanting to go to.  It was fantastic!  If you are ever in the area I HIGHLY recommend going to The Blind Horse.  Yum! Sooooo good.  And great service too!  

It was a fabulous way to end out our busy day.  

After church on Sunday I made a vat of applesauce while Todd went to his office for a few hours.  The Packer game was watched and enjoyed and the kiddos spent All. Day. Long. playing outside.  

Overall, it was a perfect fall weekend.  Which is great because apparently this week is going to feel like winter.  Boo.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Random House


-I haven't posted in a while.  Part of that is because I have been busy paying attention to my attention hogs (aka- my family).  Another part of that is that I got a new computer and it has taken some time to set up. Either way, I've been gone too long, and now I have some catching up to do.

-While I've been away from the computer we managed to add to our household again.  Our hamster died so we decided to get a guinea pig.  It is the cutest pig I've ever seen.  We love him.  And because I am a glutton for punishment we also got another hamster (who we NEVER ever see so I don't really have a nice picture of him). The kids have been asking for a guinea pig for years.  Literally, years.  Joey even got a guinea pig stuffed animal for Christmas a few years ago in the hopes that it would stave off his desire for a real one for a while.  Luckily for my kids I am a huge sucker for animals.  (and daddy was out of town)

As you can see the kids are happy.  Truth be told, so am I.  He is the sweetest little pig.  I love holding him and listening to him squeak.  So cute.

-On another front, Todd has been taking each of the boys for a little one on one time up north.  Both Ben and Tommy got turns going bow hunting with Todd and sitting with him in his deer stand. Todd shot a buck when he was hunting with Tommy, and tracked it until it got too dark. When he went back the next day the entire deer had been eaten and all that was left was the antlers.  I think the bear are becoming a bit of a problem in the north woods.  Two weekends ago Joey went on his first hunt.  A youth hunt.  Unfortunately, they didn't see any deer (again, the bear are scaring them off) but a good time was had anyway.  My future hunters:

Todd went up north by himself this past weekend for a little bowhunting and destressing.  He didn't see any deer at all.  He is seriously ticked (after spending all that time putting the food plots in) about the bear (he saw them on his field camera) but all I can think of is this:

So cute.  Scary!  But cute.

-I'm thinking of changing my hair color again.  I actually like the blond, but I have not really had ONE comment on it so that is telling me something. If people are avoiding the topic that is usually a bad sign. Plus these conversations swayed me too:

Walking up to Tommy in the lunchroom at school a few of the little girls look at me and say,
"Your hair is blond!  Did you make your hair blond?"
Me: "Yep."
Girls: "Why?"
Me: "I get bored. I'm sure I'll change it again soon."
Girls: "I like it better brown.  You looked better before."
Me: "Yeah?"
One Girl: "Yeah. Or maybe I'm just used to the way you looked before."
Me: "Yeah. Sometimes we like what we are used to."
Girls: "Yeah. I like it brown."

Snuggled up on the couch with Grace:
Grace: "I think your hair should be like mine."
Me: "You mean brown?  You want me to have brown hair again?"
Grace:  "Uh-huh! I like when we have the same hair.  You should have brown hair again and then we can be the same!"

This conversation was not quite at sweet:

Tommy: "You look so old with that blond hair, mom!"
Me: "Oh yeah?"
Tommy: "Yeah.  Like, really old.  Some of the hair almost looks white.  You just look old.  Really, really old."
Me: "Um...  ummm..."

But I'm not the only one getting the shaft around here.

One night at the dinner table the boys were harping on their daddy to take them hunting again, or play catch, or something.  I can't remember.  They were basically pestering him.  Then Gracie spoke up:

Gracie:  "Be nice to daddy! He's so old!"

- Tomorrow night is the kids' school Halloween party.  It is a big hit every year.  This year the boys are gonna dress up as the three Ghostbusters and Grace is gonna be a ghost.  Is that cute or what?  Right now I am busy making a couple dozen owl cupcakes for the party too. I hope they turn out well.  Pictures to follow on both the cupcakes and the costumes.

I guess that is all the randomness I've got for now. How about you?  Any random thoughts you'd like to throw at me?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

WW- Heart Melted

Tommy is the picture of patience as he listens, encourages, and helps Ben in his reading journey. What a big brother. What love.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Sweet September

Oh September, how you make us fall in love with you.
You tease us with colors and smells, and memories and feelings.
You fill our calendar with school and games and meetings, busying up every spare moment, exhausting us to our core.
Yet you beckon us to sit and enjoy the warm days. Deep breaths. Peace. Silence. Rejuvenating our spirits. Strengthening our souls. Comforting. Enveloping.
The nights cool and brisk. The sunlight fading.  Football games with field lights, evenings with a roaring fire, warm pajamas, coffee on a chilly morning.
Still the days are warm and delicious, calling us to the outdoors. Therapy for our hearts and minds.
Oh sweet September, how you make us fall in love with you...
and look forward to October's start.

Words To Live By

Be grateful for each new day.
A new day that you have never lived before.
Twenty-four new, fresh, unexplored hours to use usefully and profitably.
We can squander, neglect, or use them.
Life will be richer or poorer by the way we use today.
Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could;
some blunders and absurdities crept in;
forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day.
You shall begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be
encumbered with your old nonsense.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson