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Monday, October 31, 2011

Not Me! Monday Spooky Edition

There is no way that I waited until today to throw together costumes for the kids for trick-or-treating. I'm not using the exact same costumes from last year when I know other mommy friends of mine plan months in advance to have coordinating costumes for their family.

I did not wait until today to shop for candy for handing out this evening, knowing that our family would not eat it if they found it it in the cupboards. I did not know that I had to save myself from the candy and thus wait just a few hours before trick-or-treating to buy it. I also do not know that there will be slim picking when I go to the store later today.

I do not hate carving pumpkins with the kids. It should be a fun activity but often mommy ends up doing it all as certain children don't want to stick their hands into a gooey mess. And yet, there is no a golden lining, as we do not all love, love, love roasted pumpkin seeds and look forward to that snack after pumpkin carving.

My daughter did not go to a haunted barn the other night with her aunts, uncles, and Grandpa. She did not clutch my sisters hand as they walked through it and scream "MOM!" as someone popped out to grab her. I did not find this extremely funny when she told me this later. I also did not laugh at the thought of my dad getting stuck in one of the tubes they had to crawl through when he tried to turn around in it! What kind of mom lets her 8 year old go to a haunted house?!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Clean Up in Aisle 6!

There is a reason that comedies such as "The Middle" are wildly popular. The situations are so grossly exaggerated and yet sometimes they end up being exactly like real life.

Take shopping with children, for instance. Unless you have them all strapped down in a cart (even then there would be something to complain about) or have a cattle prod for the ones on hoof foot things just never go as planned.

Yesterday we awoke to gloomy skies. A week of being cooped up together due to a nasty cold had left us feeling crabby, confined, and sick of each other. Matters were not helped when I opened my closet to search for an outfit for the cooler weather only to find myself flipping through everything I owned and hating it all. A year filled with stress has helped to expand my waistline a bit lot, making what little I liked not look good anymore. Needless to say, opening my closet only helped to make me more depressed.

So spur of the moment I decided to pack the kids into the car and head off on an impromptu trip to go shopping! I had my happy face on and I was bound and determined to make this a fun trip, even if it killed us!

My first clue that the day wasn't about to go as planned should have been when it took an hour to get everyone ready just to head out. One unnamed child didn't want to wear socks, trying to make their already stinky sneakers twice as funky. Another child couldn't find their hat. One child was standing at the door raring to go and was getting angrier by the second that the rest of us were taking so long.

Our first stop was McDonald's where I purchased everyone a kid's meal to start our fun day off right. Nothing like feeding the kids some poison for a few moments peace on the way there. Actually, you won't hear me complain about the kids in the van...they are actually quite good travelers and it is typically relaxing driving with them (no, really!).

Anyhow, our first stop was Target, where I was mainly looking for some stylish boots and kitchen towels. We picked out the cart with the little twin caboose on the back so that both Jacob and Joe could ride together. The peace lasted for 39 seconds before Jacob started to need to stretch his legs out of the caboose and put his feet directly in my path as I pushed the cart. I repeatedly stepped and stumbled on his feet before demanding that he put them back in. By that time, Joe had decided he was finished with riding and wanted out. And Becca then wanted in, which then made Joe want back in. Then Jacob decided he wanted out, but Joe didn't want Becca to sit by him...and on and on it went. The worst part is I couldn't find neither the boots, nor the kitchen towels I was hoping to find. We left quickly, empty handed.

Next was PetSmart for dog food. Hoping to get in and out quickly I made a run for the dog food aisle and quickly scanned the clearance shelf to see if there was anything we needed. We got through the store fairly unscathed, except for the part when Jacob and Becca fought over "which dog was theirs". See, they have this game which they play whenever they see a dog (whether we are driving past one, one is walking past our house, or they see a cute picture of one). Whoever says "I get that dog!" first when they see a dog "gets the dog" (to do what with, I'm not sure!). But often times they fight over who said it first, or will try to trade their previous dogs for this new one. It gets old pretty fast. They started the game up again in the store and started to bicker over who got what...I was quickly able to divert their attention to the cages of hamsters and make a run for the counter in order to check out and get out!

Next stop was Kohls, where I was admittedly hoping to find some clothes that I liked. Immediately upon entering the store Jacob suddenly became freakishly super sensitive to touch and shrieked every time Becca "accidentally" brushed against him...which seemed to happen all too often for it to be an "accident". I scoured the clearance racks hoping to find something that I liked. I came up with several dresses for next summer (as if those will help me now!) that I wanted to try on.

I positioned the stroller outside the dressing room and told Becca and Jacob to stay put and brought Joe in along with me. Bringing an overactive child into a tiny dressing room is not the brightest idea as he instantly tried opening the door again and again. While slamming my purse with a bit more force than necessary on the purse hook I somehow managed to shave a large piece of my thumb off on the sharp metal. So now I'm bleeding in the dressing room with a child who continues to try to get the door open with background sounds of a shrieking child because his sister is touching him! I somehow managed to stop the bleeding, try the clothes on, and get out of the store alive (with two new dresses and a pair of cotton capris for next summer...all for $17 since the items were 80-90% off!...but which still won't help with my plight for WINTER clothing now!).

By this time I'm exhausted and about to just drive home but it was a 45 minute drive to "the city" and I couldn't give up yet. We made one more stop which was at Old Navy. Somehow within minutes Joe is out of the stroller and instead pushing Jacob up and down the aisles. Seeing as how the store was deserted and the children were behaving I let this continue, affording me a bit of browsing time. All was well until Joe rammed Jacob's knee into the edge of a shelf and he let out a wail. At this point I bought the shirt I was holding (again, on clearance, which was an additional 30% off so I only paid $4.50!) and called it a day.

Our very last stop was Panera Bread where I grabbed a bakers dozen of Cinnamon Crunch bagels (heat these in the microwave for 35 seconds and you will be in HEAVEN...thanks to Jacki for getting me hooked on these 11 years ago!). I'll be honest and say I ate three of these after arriving home (within a couple hours time, mind you, it's not like I'm a pig or anything!) and while that won't help my ever increasing waistline, it did make me feel better. It doesn't really matter, because I didn't buy a single thing to put in my closet for this winter, so I may just have to eventually fashion a mu mu out of a bedsheet.

When I imagine it on an episode of "The Middle" it's hilarious. When it happens to me, it's called my life. If only the writers on that show paid me a little for some of our real life experiences...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


For those days when you are craving something divine...this is delicious!

Cherry Bliss Brownies

Brownie mix & ingredients listed on box

8 oz. softened cream cheese

5 T. butter, softened

1/3 c sugar

2 eggs

2 T. all-purpose flour

1/4 t. vanilla

21 oz. can cherry pie filling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In large bowl prepare brownies mix according to package directions. Spread batter in a 9x13' greased pan. Set aside.

Beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until fluffy. Add sugar. Beat in eggs, flour, and vanilla. Drop spoonfuls of the mixture over brownie batter in pan. Use knife to gently cut through batters to create a marble pattern.

Spoon pie filling over the top. bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before serving.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Not Me! Monday

While on vacation I did not accidentally turn most of the towels at the villa blue when a blue beach towel slipped into the washer. This does not happen to us at home, much less while on vacation!

When showing the kids the beach for the first time in their life I did not get distracted by them running towards the water, so did not throw down the sunscreen bottle and dash out with them, forgetting about my back. I did return to the villa three hours later with a back on fire and have to rush out to Wal-mart to purchase a bottle of Aloe Vera. My husband did not also get a bad sunburn on his back and we did not go through half of a bottle of that stuff before we started to feel better.

Becca, Jacob, and I did not go on the Jurassic Park ride at Universal Studios thinking that it would be quite fun and just somewhat scary. We were not told by the lady ahead of us that it is a thrilling ride and not scary. So when we started going up, up, up towards the end of the ride I did not get a tight feeling in my chest knowing that there was a hill to go down. Our hearts did not almost stop as we started falling, falling, falling in complete darkness. I do not loathe drops like that at amusement parks and I did not feel like I just escaped death. Becca and Jacob were not speechless for several moments, ingesting what had just happened. And yet, when we were leaving later that day Becca did not say "I want to go on that ride again!"

My husband did not get stuck next to one of the crabbiest ladies on the planet on our flight back home and he did not spend $6 on a beer in flight just to get through his time with his seat mate. Nope, not us!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fitting Find For Sunday

The world...
is our classroom.

Everything in it...

is God's creation.

Which is always...

an interesting masterpiece.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Surf's Up

One of my favorite parts of our trip was visiting the beach. I've been to the beach before (the same exact beach, as a matter of fact, Cocoa Beach) but this time I was able to see it through my children's eyes. The roaring waves, the hidden seashells, the peacefulness of it all.

Jacob and Becca loved the waves and continued to go further and further from shore until I called them back. Joe ran screaming from the waves but enjoyed digging in the shallow water and playing with sea shells. I wish I had better pictures but I didn't dig my camera out until after we had spent three hours in the water and on the sand and by that time the kids didn't present that many photo opportunities.

It's a day I will never forget and all I need to do is think about it in order to retrieve all the happy memories and mental snapshots. Hitting the waves, walking the beach, finding seashells, sitting in the surf and digging in the sand.

I'll gladly forget about the sunburn though! :)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Magical Week





All these animals made it a very magical week!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Give Kids the World

Our wonderful vacation was made possible by the organization Make-A-Wish which helps give children with life-threatening illnesses the chance to make their wish come true. While many children (such as Jacob) choose to go to Disney World...the sky is the limit. A child may wish for something as simple as a puppy or as big as a fishing boat. Make-A-Wish works with generous donors and companies to make each wish come true.

It is a once in a lifetime opportunity and they make everything as smooth as possible. All expenses are paid, airline tickets are booked, car rental is pre-paid, and our trip is planned for us. The vacation planning was literally stress-free, which was something that we really needed.

Most children going through Make-A-Wish and choosing to go to Disney World stay at the Give Kids the World village for their week long stay. This village is amazing and is staffed with wonderful workers but mainly relies on volunteers for keeping the place running smoothly. This village could have kept us busy for the whole week we were there, and it was wonderfully relaxing and amazingly magical.

It is a gated village and as you pull past the gates you are greeted at the House of Hearts, which is where we checked in.
Each villa is whimsical and private. They have a kitchen, living room, two bathrooms (the kid's bathroom had a whirlpool tub, even!), and a two bedrooms. They were clean and we immediately felt at home there.

The Gingerbread House serves breakfast and supper. Lunch is also provided at another location and I can't help but say that one of my favorite aspects of the trip was not having to meal plan, grocery shop, or cook. I finally had a break! They make it fun for the kids by having child sized tables, a locomotive cart serving kids food, and a huge variety of food. Jacob loved the waffles for breakfast and several kids piled theirs high with strawberries and whipped topping. Everything at the village is free, which is an added blessing for families struggling to pay off medical bills; it makes it a truly stress free vacation.

The ice cream parlor was fantastic! Ice cream was served from 7:30am until 10pm. The kids enjoyed ice cream cones, sundaes, and milkshakes all week. I enjoyed a couple banana splits myself.

There was a giant Candyland park, horseback riding, model trains and a real train to ride, remote controlled boats to drive, putt-putt golf, a castle to explore, spa for the kids, and so much more! More pictures to come (the ones above are courtesy of Give the Kids the World). All I can say is that it is amazing and they literally did give the kids the world for a week. I will never stop singing their praises and will thank Make-A-Wish and Give the Kids the World for giving my boy his wish and giving him something magical.

As we draw closer to the holidays, a time when many donate to charities, I hope that you will consider making a donation to your local chapter of Make-A-Wish or to Give Kids the World Village in order to help make another child's wish come true. I know that they will be on our future donation list.

Monday, October 17, 2011

We're Back!!!

We left this on Saturday:
to return to this a few hours later:

It's a real shock to go from 86 degrees to 50 degrees within a matter of hours. I'm still trying to get warm...except for my back, which is still hot from a bad sunburn (note to self: do not get distracted on the beach when only half way through applying sunscreen).

We are home and we are exhausted...which means that we had a week filled with fun! Jacob crashed on our bed at 8pm last night and didn't wake up until 9am this morning...that boy was tired! More to come about our vacation later; I'm too busy with errands, grocery shopping, unpacking, and, yes, potty training Joe. He decided today that he is a big boy and ready to wear underwear...6 hours into the day he has had one accident. Not the perfect day for another task, but when they are ready they're ready. We'll see how that goes.

Off to make some tea while I sort through the suitcases!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sneak Peek

We are all tired exhausted this evening after a long day at Disney. So we are spending the rest of the day in our villa, watching tv, and ordering food in. I'm also running loads of laundry after a sweaty day at the park today and a wet day at the pool last evening.

Here is your sneak peek at some of our fun.

Please ignore the amazingly happy guy in the back...creepy photo crasher!

Jacob wanted to go on this ride the most and loved it, though he says that his favorite ride was Peter Pan. More later, time to rest now!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

We're Off...

Jacob received a fun visit last weekend...a visit from his Make A Wish friends!

They brought him surprises, balloons, and all his plans for our Disney World trip! As you read this, we will be in sunny Florida enjoying our time! Highlights of our trip will be posted all week long...if I happen to have time to log on!

It's amazing how tiring it can be getting ready for a trip. I was cleaning, washing load after load of laundry, paying bills ahead of time, and packing all of last week. My sister is holding down the fort at home and taking care of our animals.

And us, well, we will just be having the time of our life! :) More to come later!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Post From the Past

It's been hectic here this week. I've been exhausted. I have writer's block. To correct this, I am reprinting a post from exactly one year ago for Frugal Friday. And I will get back to regular blogging next week!

I personally find frugal challenges fun, for the most part. Seeing how much I can get at the grocery store for so little is an adventure. Clothing my children in nice clothing for a very small fraction of what they originally cost is a game...selling them at the end of the season for more than what I paid means I won that game! The list can go on and on.

It sounds like a but is coming, right? Correct! BUT, sometimes being frugal just for the sake of being frugal can be stressful and not so fun at times. I get that some people have no choice in the matter and have to do everything in their power to cut every single penny. They have to deal with those stresses whether they want to or not, and I feel for them.

For others, such as myself, there are certain frugal measures that are a given and then there are frugal measures that are a choice. We drive used cars paid for outright with cash because we can't afford a $200+ monthly payment on a car (while we do drop a load of cash at once when buying a vehicle we have it paid off right then and there. We do not want to carry a car loan because even if we could afford the payments when we bought the car there is always a chance that we couldn't afford it down the road. Not. A. Good. Situation.) We live in a smaller, older house because we can't afford a McMansion. We keep the thermostats turned down in the winter because we can't afford a hefty gas bill each month. Those are all measures that we take because we have to.

Other issues, not so much. I don't have to buy the majority of our clothing used, but choose to because I see no point in spending 90% more for the same exact thing. Used clothing may have a little wear...but they will get that way whether you bought them new or used in the first place. Eating out less is a choice. And so on.

Which brings me to my struggle the last two weeks. We have had beautiful fall weather. Perfect weather...an Indian Summer. I've also been up to my eyeballs in places to go, people to see, things that need to be done. Where am I going with this? This is the type of weather that a frugal person, such as myself, takes advantage of and gets all their laundry caught up with and hung on the line. BUT, I have been bogged down with stuff that needs doing that I really don't want to take the extra time to hang the clothing up and then remember to take it down before dark.

It was a stress that was adding to my plateful of stress. A small mole hill (my laundry) because a mountain...in more sense than one. Feeling as though I could only do laundry if I would hang it out (because mama never uses the dryer on a sunny fall day, right?!) made me put off doing laundry on the rainy days, which made the pile of laundry grow, which made me feel like I would never catch up. Add into that factor that many days I had appointments in the mornings, playgroups for lunch, and errands to run and I just wasn't at home to hang the laundry out.

It dawned on me that when being frugal for the sake of being frugal is adding such a huge burden to your life that something has to give. I've realized this in other aspects of my frugal life. For example, I know that baking your own bread can be done more cheaply (and healthy!) than buying it at the store, but I didn't want to add that stress to my daily life so compromised and buy bread at the bread outlet for a reduced price. It saves me time, and a bit of money.

When it comes to laundry I have been a holdout. I love hanging clothes on the line. I love the smell of the crisp sheets and crunchy towels. These past few weeks it hasn't been a pleasure to hang clothing out and I realize that when push comes to shove, it is worth it to me to pay a little to use a dryer if it means that my laundry is getting done and my stress is lowered. *Light bulb moment*

And that, my friends, is the point of this long drawn out post. If you have the money and are able to do something a bit faster or a bit easier it isn't always best (for your own sanity!) to keep doing things the hard way just because you *should*. Some days the hard ways are just too hard, and other days the easy ways are too easy. Compromise works.

I've been hanging my laundry out on the line when I have a little extra time but have not been feeling guilty using the dryer, even on a wonderful sunny day. Last week I loved watching my sheets and blankets dance in the breeze outside and this week I enjoyed popping the kid's sheets into the dryer and having them done lightening quick so that I was able to make their beds up in no time and get things in order faster. Some days are just like that.

Really, my point is to be aware of your frugal ways but to not get stuck in them.


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