Aug 31, 2012

A Decade

Ten years ago, I married this guy:

He is loving, handsome, goofy, kind, gentle, smart, supportive, funny, patient, respectful, faithful, and completely wonderful.

And when I refer to him as my prince, I absolutely mean it.

He has saved me in a thousand ways.

And while this year has definitely tried our marriage, we have stood strong and he has been rock solid.

To say I love him more today than the day I married him would be a massive understatement.

Happy Tenth Anniversary to my Best Friend and The Love of My Life!

Aug 30, 2012

The Pain Of Another Loss

You may (or may not have) noticed that this blog has been silent for a few weeks.

Unfortunately, our family has had to deal with yet another heartbreaking loss.

Just 3 short months after losing my mom, I lost my dad.

He passed away on September 21st.

It was sudden and fast and I still can't believe it.

My mom and dad had been divorced since I was 5, so this was my biological dad.

There's no romanticism about him missing her or dying of a broken heart to blame it on.
It was just life.

And sometimes, life just isn't fair.

I might go into details of what happened at some point, but not now.

Right now, I'll just tell you about my dad, and what he meant to me.

My dad loved Christmas and he would decorate the tree until all you could see was sparkle, and he would buy enough gifts to fill a room.  I totally get my love of giving gifts from him!

And when we were little, he would teach my sister and I silly songs while we drove in the car with him.  And it is fun to teach my girls some of those same songs.
And he enjoyed taking us out to nice restaurants and ordering the most expensive things on the menu.  Even when we were kids.  It might seem odd for an eight-year-old to order filet mignon like it was a happy meal, but that was how my dad liked to roll.

And Oh My Gosh, how he LOVED to theme dress for any occasion.  St. Patty’s day was all green, Christmas was all red, and Game day was brown and orange all the way (GO BROWNS!).
I will always remember how happy it made my dad to watch a new western…or ten. We ALWAYS knew those would be on his Christmas wish list!
And my dad had a lot of pride in the fact that he served his country.  He volunteered to go to Vietnam when he was seventeen.
And he was an expert QVC shopper!  Pretty sure they knew him by name...

And my dad was willing to sacrifice to help those he loved, without asking anything in return.

And I will laugh every time I think of how much my dad loved sports and would yell at the TV as if the players could hear him.
And he would give the biggest hugs every time he saw us and tell us how much he loved us.

And spending time with his grandchildren made him the absolute happiest.
These, and a million other little things that make me smile, are the things I will remember about my dad.

But one thing I have learned through all of this loss is that for the rest of us, life goes on.

And so it will.

My dad wouldn't have it any other way. 

Thanks, friends, for staying loyal and continuing to read. 

I cannot tell you how much I appreciate it.


Aug 15, 2012

First Day Of School Happiness {2012}

Both of My Big Girls on their First Day!

Addy showing us her First Day of 3rd Grade Outfit!

Addy and Mommy

Off she goes!

Faith is all smiles about being in First Grade this year!

Daddy's Girl!

My baby girl getting on the bus

Mommy and daddy are so proud of our Big Girls!

Aug 14, 2012

Don't Be {THAT} Mom

School is starting, and you have a choice to make.

What kind of mom will you be this year?

Here are some Moms you DON'T want to be!

1.  The Hooker Mom.  No one wants to see you prancing into school with the words "Juicy" or "Pink " on your behind.  It's a school, not a meat market.  And by the way, it's also inappropriate to send your six year old to school with anything across her behind too.

2.  The Over Achiever Mom.  Other mom's don't like her, because she makes us look bad.  Don't volunteer for every.  single.  thing.  And at least ONCE, send in something that is NOT homemade!

3.  The Clueless Mom.  Teachers hate this mom.  They send home all those information packets for a reason.  Try reading it. 

4.  The Gossip Mom.  It's a quick way to lose friends and get a bad rep.  Unless of course you are gossiping about celebrities.  In which case, Gossip On My Friend!

5.  The Mom whose Kids are ALWAYS right.  No kid is perfect and every kid has issues.  Little Johnny did hit that girl.  And for no good reason.  Accept it.

6.  The Bragging Mom.  We know your husband is a doctor.  And you're building your dream house.  And you just got back from Fiji.  And you bought a new Mercedes.  And you lost 15 pounds.  And your nanny is the best.  Yay for you!  Now quit telling us about it.

7.  The Slacker Mom.  You know, the mom who never helps at the dreaded classroom party, or worse yet, volunteers and then never follows through?  Or the mom who can't even send in a bag of chips on teacher luncheon day?  Yeah, don't be her.

8.  The Green/Whole Foods Mom.  It's all well and good that you buy raw milk, save rain water in a barrel, and plan to save the Earth one sheet of saved paper at a time.  But please, for the love of parents everywhere, stop insisting that the entire classroom participate in your projects.  When I'm ready to make my kid's clothes out of grass, I'll let you know.

9.  The Bad Mood Mom.  Grumpy is not a lifestyle.  Even if you have to fake it, try acting happy every once in a while.

10.  The Sales Mom.  We don't want to buy your Tupperware, or your Avon, or your energy/diet drink that will take off 100 pounds in three weeks and make me feel like a new person.  (Okay, if you *actually* sell something that promises that, call me!).  The classroom is not your new sales territory.  Quit asking!

Here's hoping for a great year of wonderful teachers, well behaved children, and sane parents.

I will be linking up with Many Little Blessings for Top Ten Tuesday and We Are THAT Family for WFMW.

Aug 13, 2012

Tales of The First Grade Nightmare {For Mom's}

When my oldest daughter started first grade, I was so excited!

She would be at school all day for the first time, (we did half day kindergarten), and I just knew that would be the year she blossomed.

Ummm, not so much.

{At least not at first}

The first day was wonderful.  She loved her teacher, her classmates, and getting to eat lunch at school like a "big kid".

But after that first day, things changed a bit.

I noticed that she was a lot more emotional.

And when I say a lot, I mean laying-on-the-floor-crying-for-no-reason kind of emotional.

She would hit and kick her sister for no reason at all, (which may be a normal thing now, but back then it was completely out of character), and scream and my husband and I when we asked her why she did it.

It was as if I had sent my sweet little precious girl to first grade, and they had sent back an emotional basket case.

After this had continued for several weeks, I started to get concerned.

Did she have some kind of psychiatric problem that was just now surfacing?

Did she need medication?

And I was wondering if she was behaving this way in class.

I emailed her teacher, and I am so thankful for the advice she gave me.

She said that while it was frustrating for me, this was completely normal behavior.

She explained that transitioning into a full day at school is a BIG deal for a kid.

She told me that she was behaving wonderfully at school, and that may have even been responsible for some of the problems I was having at home.

You see, My little girl was holding all of her "stuff" inside all day long.

Her nervousness.

Her anxiety.

Her insecurities.

Her extra energy.

Her emotions.

And once she got home, all those things had to come out.

In the safety of her home.

The place that she knows that she is loved unconditionally.

And yes, it was VERY frustrating to me.

But after she explained it, and I thought about it, I knew she was right.

This was one of the biggest changes in her life, and of course it would be a big adjustment.

So instead of yelling at her and sending her to her room, I started having conversations with her about all the feelings she was having about school. 

We started talking about ways to help with her tiredness and frustration.

We had earlier bedtimes, and decided that when she got home, being alone watching TV or reading was what she needed for the first half hour or so.

And we also encouraged her to write about how she felt, or whatever was going on.  And she LOVED that.  In fact, she is still a writer today.

Not all of the emotional craziness went away, (she is my daughter after all....the craziness is inherited!), but it did get better.  And over time, it got a lot better!

Now I have my youngest starting first grade in two days.

This time, I'm prepared.

{As well as any mom can be}

I am expecting the emotional roller coaster we will probably face for the next several months.

Not fun, but completely "normal".

Anyone else have this same experience?  How did you handle it?

Aug 9, 2012

Clark Howard For President

I'm pretty sure Clark Howard isn't running, but I kinda wish he would.

I am SO SICK of all the political ads already.

I turn the channel whenever one comes on.

And here's why:

I don't feel like I can trust anyone.

Of course The President is going to say Mitt Romney is a only out to make the rich richer and the poor poorer. 

He wants to stay in office.

And of course Mitt Romney is going to say that The President hasn't done his job, and has only increased the debt.

He wants to become President.

And while I am all about social issues, I also care about our economy.

And I kind of think that our economy is the main issue in this race.

And if that's the case, I think that Clark Howard is my guy.


I think he wouldn't be interested in any kind of hidden/personal agenda (other than scoring a great deal at Walmart).

And isn't that what we think about most politicians?

(Not the Walmart part.  The hidden agenda part.)

I am generally pretty conservative, but even I have to admit that I usually feel like I'm choosing the lesser of two evils.

And I hate feeling that way when I vote.

So, I may be writing in Clark Howard's name in on the next election.

Because at this point, it might be the only thing I do feel good about.

{And yes, I'll be stepping down from my soap box now.}

What do you think about all of this political business?  (Warning: If you leave a comment, Be Nice!)

Aug 8, 2012

For The Love of Reading: Sophie Kinsella

I have shared my love of reading before. 

And often, I am asked which Authors I like to read.

So today, I want to tell you about one of my favorites: Sophie Kinsella.

You may have already heard of her, as she wrote the book, "Confessions of a Shopaholic" which was made into a fun movie starring Hugh Dancy.

And while the movie was cute, the book was soooooo much better!

{Which, in my opinion, is almost always true...}

And, in fact, she has an entire series devoted to 'Shopaholic'.

The reason I love Sophie Kinsella's books are that they are always light hearted, spirited and fun to read. 

The main character is usually a young woman who has the best of intentions, but always finds herself in some hilarious, crazy circumstance.

And her witty, irreverent, British humor cracks me up.

Often, I find myself laughing out loud while reading.

And for a time, I can just relax, forget the serious stuff in life, and enjoy a story that is zany and fun.

I have read several of her books, including:

I've Got Your Number

Twenties Girl (my favorite!)

The Undomestic Goddess

Can You Keep A Secret?

AND, I'm getting ready to start Remember Me?

So tell me, have you read any Sophie Kinsella books?  Which is your favorite?  What are some of your other favorite Authors?

Aug 7, 2012

10 food Blogs Every Mom Needs To Read!

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Meal planning is one of the toughest things for me.

And it's not because I don't like to cook.

It's because I have four different people to please, and I hate making the same things all the time.

AND because the crazier our schedules get, the harder it is to think of healthy, fast, and tasty meals.

So I rely heavily on the food blogs I read for new ideas and recipes.

Here are the Top Ten Food Blogs I think every mom should be using as a resource!

1.  Once A Month Mom:  This is a GREAT site for freezer meals.  (And I am NOT just saying that because she is a real life friend!).  I would use her site even if I didn't know her, (but I'm glad I do!!), because of the HUGE variety on her site.  Everything from Whole foods, Diet menus, Gluten and Dairy Free, and Traditional foods.  And don't get scared by the words freezer cooking...she breaks everything down for you into simple and easy steps.  Believe me when I say that if I can do it, anyone can do it!

2.  The Pioneer Woman:  If you haven't heard of Ree Drummond by now, you probably are living under a rock.  She has taken the world by storm, and for good reason!  While she's not just a "food blogger", her recipes are fabulous, and generally easy to make.  I use her site often!

3.  Eat At Home:  I met this gal at Blissdom last year, and after I got back, I decided to check out her blog.  Sooo glad I did!  Easy Peasy recipes that my kids like and are budget friendly.  Plus, she has menu lists that has printable grocery lists too!

4.   This is a great site for slow cooking.  I use my crock pot at least once a week, so this site has come in handy more than a few times when I want to make something different than the usual.  They even have slow cooker dessert recipes!

5.  KevinandAmanda: Speaking of desserts, this is one of the VERY best dessert sites I have ever seen!!  Again, not just a food blog, but my favorite recipes are these fabulous desserts that are sure to raise your cholesterol and increase your weight, but oh so worth it!

6.  Our Best Bites: This is a great site for a little bit of everything.  Plus, they always have really great kitchen tips!  For example, if you want to know how to pick out and cut a watermelon...Check it out here!

7.  Real Mom Kitchen:  This is another great site for those of us who need normal, every day, no nonsense recipes.  Everything on her site is pretty simple and easy to understand.  It quickly became one of my favorites!

8.  Plain Chicken: The name might suggest that it's just a chicken recipe site, but that's not the case. They have lots of other good recipes. BUT, I must admit that I use it mostly for the chicken recipes, (because we eat a lot of chicken around here..cluck cluck!). They are tried and true

9.  Skinny Taste:  This is a blog I found via Pinterest.  I realized that i was pinning a lot of the recipes/ideas and decided to start following the blog.  She has a lot of great recipes that are low fat and healthy.  And she also has a lot of great switchout ideas using better/healthier ingredients in traditional recipes.

10.  Cooking With My Kid:  The title is pretty self explanatory.  This site has great recipes that are also kid assistant friendly.  I use this one on days that the girls want to help me in the kitchen and I want to keep them busy!

I will be linking up with Many Little Blessings for Top Ten Tuesday and We Are THAT Family for WFMW.  Check em' out!

Aug 6, 2012

I'm Taking a Mom Sabbatical

Not really.

But I've thought about it.

And so has every other mom.

(Even if they don't admit it!)

And here's why:

I can go away for a night or two or maybe even a week and leave the kids with my husband.

At first it's all fun and games.

He takes them to a few parks, out to dinner, and sometimes even the pool.

They might watch a fun movie, or read some books, and he plays all kinds of games with them. 

And maybe after the first few days, things start to get a little more stressful.

But he's got this.


Because he knows that I'm coming home.

He knows he only has to last a few more days, and then he'll be back at work while I'm home doing what I always do.

His perfect world is restored.


what if I were gone longer?

Maybe a month or two.

Now we're really talkin'!

The thing is, anyone can entertain kids for a few days, or even a week. 

And when you do all the fun stuff, you're a rock star!

But after the fun stuff wears away, and you realize McDonalds doesn't taste good after the 3rd night in a row, and your bank account is quickly depleting because all this "fun stuff" starts to get expensive, it's not so easy anymore.

This is why I say I want a sabbatical.

I want my husband, (and children), to know what being a full time mommy really is.

I want them to know that it takes Super Hero skills to make dinners that children will eat, husbands will like, and that cost under $10 for the whole family.

I want them to appreciate that it takes many a' midnight hours lying awake to try and think of new and fun things to do that won't completely throw your budget off.

I want them to experience what it's like when mom isn't there to organize the schedules and activities of the entire family.

I want to know what happens when kids are tired and whiny, dad is losing his patience, but homework, dinner, dishes and laundry all still have to get done.

And a library book is missing.

And the oldest left her lunch box at school.

And the youngest can't find her special blankie that she can't sleep without.

And the refrigerator isn't working right.




And I want to see how long it takes before all of them are begging me to come back!

See what I'm getting at?

And please don't think that my husband doesn't already appreciate what I do as a mom.

He does.

At least to the best of his ability.

But the thing is, no one can truly appreciate all a mom does for her family, until she isn't there to do it.

And even though I say that I would like a sabbatical, (or maybe just a month long Hawaiian vacation...), the truth is, I don't do this job for the praise or appreciation, (even though sometimes, that's nice, too!).

I do it because I love this family of mine.

And I hope, (for everyone's sake!), that they never really have to experience what it's like when I'm not there!

Aug 3, 2012

Back To School 2012: The Teacher Questionnaire {Free Printable}

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I posted last year about ideas for Teacher Gifts and I also mentioned a letter I send to the teacher during the first week.  It's a little questionnaire that I use to help me when it's time to get a teacher gift. 

I got a TON of positive feedback from it and this year, I thought I would share mine so that you can use it, too.

My Back To School Gift for you :)

Click here for the free printable!

Aug 2, 2012

Back To School 2012: Sending Your First Child To Kindergarten

Last year, I sent my youngest child to kindergarten, and while it was hard (for sure!), it wasn't anything like sending my first.

my first little baby going into kindergarten on the first day!

That first time you have to part with your baby to let them walk into school without you, is just heart wrenching. 

After all those nights of getting up with your baby, all the rocking them to sleep, kissing boo-boos, singing lullabies, answering a million "why?" questions, caring for them when they're sick, and snuggling them all day long, you have to let them go.

Not let them go forever, but just enough to make you realize that it's coming. 

That day when the leave the nest for good.

When they don't need mommy (or daddy) all the time.

When they want to be on their own.

It's coming.

And while we're so excited for them, we are scared too.  Because all we know is taking care of these little babies God has given us.

So, if this is you, here are a few words of encouragement and some small bits of advice to help you through this emotional time.

First, show your excitement for them more than your fear.  They take their cues from you, so if you act sad about it, so will they.  It will cause unnecessary anxiety, and this should be a super fun time for them!

Also, help them get prepared.  Visit the school they will be attending and let them look around.  My advice is to do this *before* the open house.  That way, they won't be overwhelmed by all the other people and activities going on there.  Also, the library has TONS of books on going to kindergarten.  Get some and talk with them about what to expect and all the great stuff they'll be doing.  Let them help pick out the school supplies, clothes, back packs etc.  This way, they'll feel like they are already starting to be a "big kid".

And on that BIG DAY, make it a BIG DEAL!  At our house, we make it a celebration!  I put streamers on their doors, they get to have a special breakfast, I put a cute note in their snack, and then we take loads of pictures.  And then when they get home, we have a special lunch and then make Back To School Bread (aka: zucchini bread).  It really makes them feel special.

Finding something else for you to do will also be important.  Especially during those first couple of weeks.  So make breakfast dates with friends, plan errands to run, join a gym, or start a home project.  Whatever it is, it's a way to get your mind on something else besides your little ones while they're in school. 

OR, if you have other children at home, make sure and help them adjust, too, by spending some alone time with them.  You can take them to a new park, find a new playgroup, or get them involved in an activity/lessons that they will enjoy but perhaps didn't have time for before.

Be sure that you talk with your new kindergartner a lot during those first weeks.  Find out if they have made new friends.  Ask about the teacher.  Find out if there is anything that makes them nervous about the new changes and talk about them.  Also remember that this huge change in their schedule will probably cause them to be pretty tired and they may be a little more cranky than usual.  Try to be understanding and gentle with them, remembering that this is a big adjustment for all of you!

Another quick tip is to not schedule a lot of extras during those first weeks.  I know we try to pack a lot in to those last few weeks of warm summertime weather, but kids really just need to rest and get accustomed to the new routine. 

And finally, don't forget to remind them that no matter how big they are, they are still your baby.  They always will be.

Aug 1, 2012

Back To School 2012: Shopping and School Supply Deals

We're all looking for a deal on our Back To School items,

and I've Highlighted a few of the really good deals out there for you!

Target has kids shoes Buy One, Get One at 50% off now thru August 11th.  Plus, 10 or 12 ct. pack of pencils are $1 and 10 ct. Eagle pack of Pens are $.94

JCPenney has FREE kids (grades K-6th) haircuts in August!  Must book an appointment!

OshKosh B'gosh has Buy One Get TWO Free Tee's thru Aug. 15th

Walmart has 24 ct. crayons and 3 pk. glue sticks for $.25 each, and markers and colored pencils for $.50 each!

Staples has $.01 paper folders, 100 ct. paper clips, and pocket tissues and $1 1" Binders with any $5 minimum purchase thru August 4th! (plus a $5 off any purchase of $50 or more!).  They also have $.25 5 packs of mechanical pencils.

Walgreens has scissors for $.49 each (limit of two) with coupon. and $.99 3 subject notebooks thru August 4th.

Office Depot has $10 Backpacks, $.01 folders, $.25 composition books, 10-pk. ballpoint pens for $.25, and $.99 pencil boxes thru August 4th

And for a FULL List of comparative Back To School Items, check out this list from!