Thursday, December 31, 2015

Photo Blogging Challenge - Holidays!

Thank you, PJ, for the easy theme this busy month!

 Around here, we start the holiday season with Advent. And when Mom forgets to get new purple candles for the wreath, we are grateful for the kindergarten teacher who made paper wreaths with her class to use at home. It worked just fine for our Advent meals and prayers. But I will be sure to buy candles before next year.

When you let the youngest two people in the house put the ornaments on the tree without adult supervision...

We don't do the elf on the shelf around here. I just don't like the entire premise of it. Plus, it's creepy looking. For a few years now, we've had three wise men wandering the house looking for Jesus. Each morning the little kids get up and immediately start looking for them. Come the Epiphany, they will wake to see that the Wise Men are gazing upon the baby Jesus in the manger.

Apparently, they need some coffee to help them continue in their long journey.

Christmas morning comes, presents are opened, and for many days we have loads of time to relax and enjoy the new toys and games and other gifts we've been given.

Never would have guessed that a Crayola animation kit could be fun. It's way niftier than I thought. Grandma made a good choice with this gift.

What would the holidays be without traditions? For several years now, Bryan has taken Buttercup and two of her friends to make gingerbread houses and have lunch downtown. And every time, I have to beat the boys off it before they eat the decorations.

And so ends another year of blogging. Another year of sharing stories and getting to know all of you better. Thank you for reading. Thank you for the encouragement. Thank you for being my friends.

I can't wait to see what 2016 has in store for us!

If you have 5 photos you've taken in December that would go with the theme of "Holidays", throw them into a post and link it up over at A 'lil Hoohaa. If you want notice as to the coming themes, you can also join the Facebook group here.

Happy New Year!

Be safe if you leave the house tonight!

Have a lovely day.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Christmas Thankfuls, TToT 131

Merry Christmas!!!

So many things for which to be thankful, so I'm going to jump right in.

1. Buttercup had a bunch of friends over to make cookies and watch movies one day. It was nice to get to meet some of the kids I hear so much about. They were all nice kids and caused no trouble whatsoever. They even welcomed Cuckoo in to help them with the cookies.

2. When our family opens gifts, we take turns. One person at a time, one gift at a time. Every single year, the kids choose to open the gifts from each other before the gifts from Santa and Bryan and me. They know that these gifts were purchased at the Dollar Tree, but they are excited to see what their siblings picked out and to see how their siblings react when they open the gifts given to them. It melts my heart each and every year.

3. The kids were pleasantly surprised with the gifts we gave them. When asked what they want, they all say, "I don't know", so buying for them can sometimes be difficult. We're always happy when we manage to find things they didn't know they wanted. :)

Cuckoo was thrilled with the gigantic remote control car Bryan found. It had no trouble driving over gravel and grass.

4. Traffic to and from Ohio was light, so we made good time both directions.

5. For the first time in 20 years, all 3 of Bryan's siblings were home for Christmas. We had a good time visiting with them and the kids had fun getting to know their cousin.

6. The weather was ridiculously warm, so the boys were able to spend no less than 10 hours playing football in Grandma's front yard. With all the relatives filling up Grandma's house, it was nice to get the sugared up, rambunctious boys out of the house for so long. It's never happened before, which made it an extra-special Christmas treat.

7. When the boys managed to get the football stuck near the tippy top of Grandma's huge tree, one of Bryan's brothers took one for the team by hauling out the ladder and climbing 30 feet into the air to retrieve it. (He may or may not have been swayed to do it when Giant said, "Well, if someone doesn't help us, all of us boys will have no choice but to come back into the house.")

Sad faces all around.

See the football still waaaaay out of his reach?

8. The kids received some great new board games from the relatives, and we had plenty of down time to play several of them on Christmas day.

9. As always, it was a low-key affair at my dad's house Christmas evening. We're the only ones to come in from out of town each year, and I know my dad is glad we do. And as always, after a few hours I took Bryan and the kids back to my mother-in-law's house, then went back to my dad's to play some cards. It was a nice, quiet time to end the day.

10. We had some leftovers in the fridge for those of us who were hungry when we got home from Ohio. Ain't nobody got time or energy to be making food after that long drive!

I pray your holiday was happy and full of good times, but I know not everyone was jolly that day. If you could, please say a prayer or two for a friend who lost her dad last week, as well as for Bryan's aunt (by marriage) and cousins who lost her father/their grandfather on Christmas Eve.

So, tell me. What are you thankful for this week?

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful

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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The 2015 Christmas Letter!!!

Our family doesn’t tweet. We barely Facebook. But if we did do either of those things, this right here is how our year would have been documented.
 “When I’m married, I hope my wife likes me and makes things I like for dinner. If she doesn’t like me, maybe she’ll leave and I can make what I like.” – Turken, when he heard we were having meatloaf for dinner.

Cuckoo, from the back seat of the van: What is 2-4?
Me: negative 2
B: Oh!  My gloves are size negative 2!
B: *proudly smiling, perfectly ok with that answer*

(Because Giant has no confidence in our friends’ and family’s ability to figure this out…His gloves were size 2-4T.)

When Phoenix was 6 years old:
Him: That’s just stupid!
Me to him: Honey, that’s not a nice word. Find a better way to say what you mean.

Now, after 11 more years of raising kids:
Cuckoo, chanting: Phoe-nix! Is-so! Stu-pid!
Me to Bryan: Hey, when did he learn syllables?

A woman at preschool needed to get rid of some barn cats, so I agreed to take 2. When I got home with them…
Me: Hey kids! We have cats!
*opens carrier to let cats out*
Cats: Hell no!
*run off to take their chances with the coyotes*


- mph a teen drives in any given 5 minute period on his first attempt at the freeway


- mph an idiot (who failed to specify what kind of rental car she actually wanted and ended up with a Yaris that had crank windows, a useless radio antennae, manual locks, no cruise control, and only one windshield wiper (not because one was broken, but because the car was so small it only needed one windshield wiper)) drives in any given 5 minute period when she takes this Yaris on a 14 hour road trip

What is life like with 5 boys?

Every single day, this…
Kid: It’s OK! Nothing’s broken!

But sometimes, in addition, this…
Me: What was that?!!?
Other kids:  *fall all over themselves trying to get upstairs before I can get to the room*

Any more questions?

“Well, I’m glad I found them at the end of the bag. I would have hated to have to throw all of those M&Ms away.”  -Me, after finding a bunch of dead and dying ants in the bottom of a 42oz bag.


“It was horrible. We felt so bad for Mom. That wasp was stuck in her hair, and it kept stinging her in the head, over and over and over. She was yelling and hopping around while the two lifeguards tried to simultaneously help and not get stung themselves. Finally, as soon as the wasp was killed, we jumped in to hug her and comfort her and make her feel better.” – Us kids

Just kidding.  We kept swimming and pretended we didn’t know that crazy lunatic.

Dead Mouse Scale of Horror:

Low: finding a dead mouse
Moderate: finding a dead mouse that has been dead for so long its innards have leaked out
High: finding a dead mouse that has been dead for so long its innards have leaked out in the kitchen
Very high: finding a dead mouse that has been dead for so long its innards have leaked out in the kitchen behind the toaster oven
Extreme: finding a dead mouse that has been dead for so long its innards have leaked out in the kitchen behind the toaster oven as a college friend you haven’t seen in 15 years and her family pulls into the driveway for dinner and a visit

Not that it’s ever happened. Just a helpful guide in case you find yourself in one of these situations and need to know just how horrified you should be.

“Wow. Nice work. When you had those 8 yards of dirt dumped in the yard, I figured it was just another place for the little boys to play. But no! You and the kids actually spread it out all around the foundation. I was especially impressed when you brought back that van full of plants and got them put into the ground. But when you and the kids spent another week getting all of that mulch spread so nicely all around the house, I really admired your gumption. Well done. Very well done.”  -Roy the Wonder Dog, as he spent the evening digging up ¾ of everything we spent 2 months putting in.

Was it for the cheese omelet I make for him every morning?
Was it for making sure all of his favorite clothes are washed and ready to be worn at a moment’s notice?
Was it for taking him to play at the playground?
Not that either.
What did I do that prompted Cuckoo to express his gratitude?

“Thank you, Mom, for getting the better toilet paper.”

Normal person: I like tomatoes. OR I’m not a fan of tomatoes.
Our kid: I like tomatoes on burgers but will obsessively pick out every visible tomato bit in the soup or chili placed in front of me, ‘cause canned tomatoes (including home-canned tomatoes) are just gross.

Normal person: I like raisins. OR I despise raisins.
Our (other) kid: I like raisins, but only if they are the non-sour ones, and yes, I can tell if a raisin is sour just by looking at it and will spend 30 minutes obsessively inspecting each and every raisin in my bowl.

Normal person: Yay peanut butter! OR I’m deathly allergic to peanut butter.
Our (yet another) kid: I like peanut butter on bagels but not peanut butter sandwiches.

Normal parent: I’ll make dinners my kids like, because I want them to be happy and healthy.
Me: Since I can’t bring the starving children from Africa to Indiana in order to beat the crap out of my kids, I’ll take the passive-aggressive route and make every single meal all of my kids hate. On the menu this week: stuffed peppers, shepherd’s pie, meatloaf, and leftovers. Mwaahahahaha…

Guess which extreme activity ended in one of our family members bleeding profusely. And by profusely, I mean so much blood that people around our family were gagging and getting sick:

1. Extreme Escape, in which 5 of the kids, 2 strangers, and I, were handcuffed together, locked in a jail cell, and given 60 minutes to find a way out.
2. Off-roading, with Phoenix behind the wheel of the Jeep after only 2 weeks of possessing a driver’s license, on the Michigan dunes.
3. Buttercup and Nana (my mom) racing up an escalator at the Dayton airport.
4. Shooting large handguns and AK-47s, which Star and Bryan did while in Texas for the Ohio State game

I’ll give you a hint: the airport personnel relaxed when Bryan, who was on his knees wrapping bandages around Nana’s legs, told them, “Yes, you heard correctly. They were racing, so you don’t have to worry about any lawsuits coming your way.”

Just so you know, after Cuckoo refused to let me walk him into class on his first day of (all-day) kindergarten, the tears you saw me crying were less about me missing him and more about me missing the idea of him.

Now that we’ve lived at the farm for 10 years, through spider infestation, stupid chicken stunts, bats in the house, ridiculous pig deaths, opossum shenanigans, the care and keeping of sick pigs, and the ownership of the worst farm dogs in the history of farm dogs, I think it’s safe to order the bumper stickers:

My kids’ future therapists will be way more entertained than your kids’ future therapists.

Yes, I had 5 kids playing soccer this fall, but don’t you dare call me a soccer mom. I prefer the term Matriarch of Maradonas , Sultan of Schedules, Rajah of Referees, Countess of Carpools, Harbinger of Hat Tricks, Sovereign of Snacks, Overlord of Off-sides, Guardian of Goalkeepers, Baroness of Benchwarmers, Procreator of Play-makers, and if there was a soccer term that started with z, I’d totally be the czar of it.  

Bad poetry comin’ atcha:

When taking 6 kids and two mothers
Away for a Disney vacation (as a last hurrah before kids head to college)
Learn from mistakes we made in the past and
Take all necessary precautions. You’ll then have a blast!

Don’t drive. Fly if you can.
In a Disney resort you should stay
So people can choose to sleep or to play.
Nibble on snacks you remembered to pack and loop
Epcot’s food and wine festival to stuff the whole troop.
Your trip will go smoothly if you wait in no lines.

Who knew there were tour guides to save you some time?
Ordering photos is a thing of the past. All of those silly posed
Ride shots are yours with a Disney PhotoPass!
Last but not least, for this trip you must pay. So to the kid whose college fund is now gone
Don’t forget to say Hey thanks!

Merry Christmas! We pray that the coming year brings you good health, great memory-making, and many laughs.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Some Thankfuls and a Giveaway!! TToT 131

Ah, my poor neglected blog.

Not much longer before I can get back to writing a bit more.

Until then, it's all about the thankfuls!

1. Cuckoo took charge and got the ornaments on the tree while the other kids slept and I made breakfast. I merely told him, after seeing he had done the usual kid thing of putting 8 ornaments on two neighboring branches, to try to spread the ornaments out.

2. He listened and did a good job decorating the bottom half of the tree. Plus, when Turken woke up and began helping, I didn't have to go in to remind Turken to keep the ornaments spread out. Cuckoo totally took care of it by screaming, "I TOLD YOU NOT TO PUT THEM CLOSE TOGETHER!!!" at least 5 times.

3. My family got together for Christmas in Kentucky last Saturday. The weather was nice and warm, so the kids were able to get plenty of time outside to play. Everyone had fun visiting and sharing a meal.

4. It just so happened that Phoenix's volleyball tournament took place the next day in the Louisville area, a mere 30 minute drive from my mom's house. It was very handy, and several family members were able to come out and watch him play.

5. I have been having some seriously crazy dreams lately. I'm glad my life isn't as bizarre as my dreams.

6. I am so thankful for Bryan and his ability to make me laugh every single day.

7. Finals are over! We have over two weeks in which homework and studying and early rising does not have to be done. Except for Bryan. Poor guy still has to go to work.

8. I got to have a night out with my book club last night. We went to a new place for dinner downtown then a funny Christmas show. It had been quite a while since we'd gotten together, so it was extra nice to have this chance.

9. I was only able to go because we have lots of babysitters in our house. (Bryan had a work thing to go to.) The boys were on their own for half the night, and I'm grateful that I can leave them without a worry for their well-being.

10. A couple of weeks ago, my blog friend, Diane, sent a book for my kids. Her brother-in-law wrote a kids' book about soccer, and she immediately thought of me. Yay for us! I read Soccer Sami and the Big Meanie Coach to the boys, and they asked me to read it 3 more times. While they liked the story, they were especially enthralled with the illustrations. We spent 20 minutes just looking at the page numbers!

BONUS thankful! Diane sent an extra copy for me to give away!! If you would like your name in the drawing, just comment below about a favorite coach, either yours or one of your kids' coaches. I'll choose a winner on Tuesday.

Did you know that these thankful posts are interactive? Either link up a list of thankfuls or let me know in the comments what good things happened in your life this week!

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful

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Friday, December 11, 2015

How to Worry Less About Christmas Decorating and other Thankfuls, TToT 130

We don't have a Christmas tree. We have an Advent tree. No, that's not a Catholic thing. I made it up. It's for all those families who have three Christmas programs and basketball practices and parties and shopping and volunteering and working and other things happening to prevent them from decorating the tree in one fell swoop. Decorate the tree and the house over time. The anticipation, just like Advent, is quite beneficial. For example the tree went up on Monday. The next day I worked on Christmas cards. Then another day, the lights. The next day, I dug out the Santa hats, because the kids dressed up for school, and that's a Christmas decoration, so it counts Each step is important, and we have the chance to focus on it.

It is amazing how the human mind can rationalize and make up excuses, isn't it?


On to the point of the post...


1. My Christmas cards are written and stuffed and stamped. They'll be going out tomorrow.

2. I was working at the Christmas store again this week, and Bryan and I were able to have lunch together when I was done. We went to a fabulous, local, authentic German place. Delicious! And we were able to simply sit and talk for a while, which we haven't done in quite a while.

3. We have had some seriously warm December weather. Every day I don't have to shovel the walk, scrape my windshield, or bundle up in 5 layers makes me happier.

4. My dad had his birthday this week. I'm so thankful that not only is he still with us, but that he is healthy. I know two people who have lost their fathers just this week, so it makes me appreciate my dad's health even more.

The photo I posted on his FB wall on his birthday. That's me when I was one, and my dad when he was an undercover narcotics agent. 

5. As I mentioned, we have a tree. The process of getting that tree was the most frustrating experience I've had for a long while. When we bought it, they asked if we wanted it delivered. It's free, and it will be at our house in 2-3 hours. Heck ya, deliver it. Tying it to the top of a 12-passenger van is a pain in the rear end. 3 hours later, no tree. Bryan had already left with Star for his game, and I was supposed to meet them once the tree got there. 3 and a half hours later, I call. They say, "Sorry, we got a rush. It will be there between 7:30 and 8:00." OK. That means I miss the game AND dinner we were going to go out for. I get a call a bit later saying it wouldn't happen until 10-10:30 the next morning. I was annoyed, seeing as how I was supposed to leave the house bright and early to get a long list of errands done, but they had my tree hostage. Not much choice. Guess what happened...Yup. 10:30 came and left. No tree. No call. I called them at 11:00. "I'm sorry. It is on the truck, but I don't know where in line you are. I'll try to find out and call back." Our tree finally arrived at 12:10. So, I'm thankful we have our tree. I'm thankful I was able to voice my displeasure without losing my cool. I'm thankful we have our tree. What is Advent without an Advent tree? :)

6. While shopping for my mom and niece, I walked into a little boutique I'd never ventured into before. Seriously, I heard music when I entered and forgot all about my mom and niece. I wanted to buy almost everything in the store. Luckily, I had gotten money from my dad for my birthday, so was able to come out of there with a few new things for me. I wonder if they have a gift registry. I can just send Bryan there for every holiday and birthday and Mother's Day and Sweetest Day and Valentine's Day and I-Want-to-Do-Something-Nice-for-My-Wife Day.

7. Cuckoo isn't feeling so hot. He says his ears hurt, and he even fell asleep after school. The boy hasn't fallen asleep in the middle of the day since he was 2 unless he was sick. When he awoke, he was on my lap the rest of the evening. He's not miserable, but just sick enough that he just wants his mommy. He never wants his mommy these days, so I ate it up.

8. There is a woman from our school who lives near us. Her son is in Star's class, and her daughter drove my kids to school last year. I wouldn't say we were friends, just acquaintances we see simply because we go to the same church and our kids are in the same schools. Odd thing, though, we run into each other at Meijer All. the. Time. I'm there often enough, that it's not unusual for me to run into people I know. Almost every time. But this woman in particular, at least once a week. Now keep in mind, Meijer is a GIGANTIC box store. Groceries and toys and clothes and pharmacy and garden center and home improvements and homemaking and electronics and who knows how many other departments. Last week, when it happened yet again, in a part of the store neither one of us frequents, we decided that God wanted us to talk. We scheduled lunch together. Two days before the lunch, we had a text conversation:

Me: I'm about to head into Meijer. In case I don't see you, are you still up for lunch on Wednesday?
Her: Yes! And guess where I am.

I'm telling you. All The Flippin' Time.

We had lunch on Wednesday. We sat and talked and laughed and talked some more for two and a half hours. The only reason we left was because we had to pick our kids up at school. I'm pretty sure we'll be doing it again.

9. Travel volleyball starts up this weekend! As much time as it takes up, I do love watching boys' volleyball. It's so exciting. As an added bonus, the three cities we travel to each year just happens to be in places where we get to see friends and family. This week it's in Louisville, KY, where my siblings and mom live. Next week, Columbus, OH, where my cousin lives. (And if Chris Carter is reading...)

10. I love that we go to a school and church with people who bring this to the school pick up line:

Just in case you don't know why this makes me laugh, today, the very same day this vehicle was parked in front of me at school, Phoenix wore this T-shirt to school:

Only one of the best Christmas movies ever made.

So, if you have a tree, is yours a Christmas tree or an Advent tree?

What fun or happy things have happened to you this week?

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful

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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Nearly Wordless Wednesday - Frost Was Nipping at My Nose

Over the weekend, we had fog. Lots of fog that lasted far into the afternoon. Sunday morning, the fog had frozen onto every surface, and the world became beautiful. I took some time before church to go out and get a closer look at all that frost.

My eyes aren't what they used to be, so when I'm looking through the viewfinder, I can't tell if anything is in focus or if what I want to photograph is actually getting photographed.

Besides the crystals of frost, I wanted to capture the glitter sparkling in the rising sunshine. Go through the photos again. Can you see the sparkles?

Have a lovely day!

Monday, November 30, 2015

What?!?! I'm Actually Linking up on Friday?!?! TToT 129

It's a darn good thing I took notes early in the week about what to write for this weekend's TToT. I never would have remembered what I actually did yesterday, let alone all the way back on Monday.

1. I am thankful for the internet and people who post helpful things on it. Our dishwasher hasn't been working so well lately, and I figured it was because it could use a good cleaning. It took me all of 2 minutes to google and find a pertinent video. I learned how to take my dishwasher apart in order to get the pieces all shiny and clean.

2. I am thankful for baking soda and vinegar. All that fizzy goodness quickly destroys all built up crud. The dishwasher looks so good even half the kids noticed.

3. I am thankful for helpful crafts. I still haven't found purple candles for our Advent wreath (mostly because I've only looked at Meijer), but Cuckoo came through with a paper one he made in school. It even has "flames" to be glued on each Sunday. We put that sucker right in the middle of the dining room table.

4. I managed to get started on Christmas shopping. I didn't get much, and I really need to pick up the pace, seeing as how I need all gifts for nieces and nephews by next weekend, but at least I'm started.

5. The elementary school had a half day on Tuesday, so I was able to get into my PJs by 1:30 in the afternoon.

6. I finally figured out a theme for this year's Christmas card and got it halfway written. I tell you what, the pressure to come up with a good, funny letter for 12 years straight is getting to me.  But I can't not do it, and not just because people expect it. I like them. When they're done.

7. The envelopes are halfway addressed, too. I did that while I was brainstorming for the letter. Now, to get the photo of the kids...

8. I'm always thankful for funny dinner conversations. No need to go into how it started, but it ended up being Buttercup, the little boys, and me telling stories about one or another of them getting into a pickle, then ending the story by saying, "Guess what Mom did!" The little boys would respond loudly and confidently, "Laugh and take a picture!" They will thank me when they are adults and have the most awesome photo albums to go through with their kids.

9. We have one out of three Christmas programs done for the season. Kindergarten and first grade had their show last night. Cuckoo never cracked a smile, but he sang and did all the motions. The end song had me crying, as usual. Every single year, for the last 11 years, every program ends with the same song. All older siblings join their younger siblings on stage to sing Peace on Earth while the parents sing Silent Night. Tear-jerker I tell ya!

The tears shut off quickly, though, when I ask Cuckoo to stand still for a photo.

10. If you ever have the opportunity to volunteer at an organization to which you donate, I would highly recommend you do it. We've been donating items for the Catholic Charities Christmas Store for years and years (It's a place where parents who are referred by social services or other service organization can go to shop for their families. The clients pay a nominal amount per child, then shop through the store. Presents aren't just dropped off at their houses. They get to actually be a part of choosing the gifts and finding things their kids would enjoy. Plus, each family gets a household item, like a crock pot, vacuum, bedding, or set of dishes.), but this week, I was able to volunteer for the first time. I was blown away by it. I have never seen such organization in an all-volunteer endeavor. Last year, parents purchased clothes and toys for 2,622 kids. That means over 5,000 toys, over 7500 articles of clothing, 2,600 hats, 2,600 pairs of gloves, and all the other extras each family receives. All of it brand spanking new. And fashionable. All donated. There really are lots and lots of generous, kind people in this world.

I was able to help a woman, with whom I had much in common, shop. She and her husband have 6 kids, most of them boys. They have no family in town. She'd never been to the Christmas store before, so we figured things out together. We chatted, we laughed, we discussed what her kids would enjoy, I introduced her to the brilliance of a crock pot. At the end of her shopping trip, we hugged and wished each other a Merry Christmas.

I urge you to get out and volunteer. It is the absolute best way to counteract the fear and hopelessness that you feel after watching the news or reading your FB feed.

Well, I didn't plan on going into all of that. It just came out. I'm keeping it. :)

Your turn! What happened in your life this week to make you smile?

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful

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Sunday, November 29, 2015

It Would be Silly to Miss the TToT on the Biggest Thankful Weekend of the Year, TToT 128

We're home safe and sound, so I can finally sit and go through the good things that happened this week.

1. On Monday, I was able to have a birthday lunch with my used-to-be-living in Japan friend. We see each other for approximately 5 minutes each day at pickup, when we can give quick little updates about our days. It was nice to have plenty of time to really chat and hear the full stories of what is going on.

2. On Tuesday, the 8th grade had it's Thanksgiving feast. I was able to work it, seeing as how I don't have any kids at home with me during the day anymore. I'm finding those silver linings, small as they may be.

3. I've gotten most of the photos I had printed organized and into albums. Our mothers were thrilled to receive albums with all of the pictures taken on our trip to Disney.

4. We made it to Canton in normal time. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is a crap shoot as far as time in the car goes. One year, it took us 12 hours to make the 6 hour trip. No snow and no backups and no 5:00 traffic in Columbus meant we made it to Grandma's house when expected.

5. The dessert I made for Thanksgiving made the trip unscathed. It was fragile and on ice in a tote, since we don't have a cooler that can hold a 9x13 pan. I was quite worried about it. But, it made it, and it was enjoyed by everyone.

6. I actually remembered to bring everything we needed for the trip, which is pretty astounding, as I was mostly in charge of Thanksgiving for my family and had lots of things on my list.

7. Thanksgiving for my family was more difficult and problematic for many reasons I don't feel like going into. In the end, it everyone had a great time, the food was plentiful and good, and there were delicious desserts aplenty.

8. On our way home, just before getting to the outskirts of Indianapolis, we spotted a police car with its lights flashing. In front of it, stretching for half a mile, were cars on the shoulder with their hazard lights flashing. Every one of the 15-20 cars had at least one flat tire. Apparently, something was scattered on the road, causing major problems for holiday travelers heading home. While I feel bad for every one of them, I am so, so thankful we were in the other lane and didn't hit whatever it was. Changing tires on a 12-passenger van is no fun. Changing tires on a 12-passenger van in the dark, in the rain, with 6 kids inside and a husband who doesn't do well with these sorts of situations is just plain miserable.

9. I managed to find our Advent wreath minutes before we sat down to dinner. Sure, I forgot to buy purple candles for it, but we still said a prayer and read from our Advent devotions book. I'll get some candles tomorrow. :)

10. CYO basketball is very popular here in Indy, but the number of gyms in which to practice are few. This means that as kids get older, their practices times get later. High school players get the most bizarre time of all. Star's practices are 9-10 on Sunday nights. I couldn't be happier that Bryan volunteered to be his coach, because it means I never, ever have to take the boy.

Your turn. How was your Thanksgiving and the weekend that followed it?

There's still time to link up!

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful

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Sunday, November 22, 2015

Forty-Four Years of Being on the Right Side of the Grass, TToT Week 127

It was a good week for a birthday.

One good thing about Facebook is it lets everyone know about upcoming birthdays. The many, many birthday messages I received made it a happy day online! (Even better when a friend writes a post all about birthdays and includes me!)

So, my thankful list this week has some mentions of my birthday, but there's more. Lots more!

1. All of the paperwork and background checks have finally been completed, so I was able to volunteer at a local public school twice this week. As I've mentioned before, the southside of Indianapolis has one of the largest, if not the largest, populations of Burmese refugees in the country. More than half the students in this particular school have parents who don't speak English, so I go in and simply chat and read with some students who are having trouble learning to read and write. It is exactly the type of thing I want to do with my time.

2.  I am thankful to live so close to a growing, popular big city. We live in the boonies, so we get to enjoy the peace and quiet of nature, but close enough to the city that we can take advantage of all the things going on there.

3. Things like national gatherings... Buttercup was able to attend the National Catholic Youth Conference. 25,000 teenagers from around the country (even from Hawaii!) descend on Indy every two years. It's a heck of a lot cheaper for kids from Indy, seeing as how they don't have to fly or stay in a hotel. They don't lose out on the experience, though. Instead of coming home to sleep, our parish's kids and chaperons camp out in the gym of the high school.

4. There are lots and lots of restaurants from which to choose on those rare occasions that Bryan and I get to go out. Last night we enjoyed a meal at an 80 year old Italian restaurant downtown.

5.The opportunities to be entertained are plentiful. For my birthday (yesterday!) Bryan and I went to see Martin Short and Steve Martin perform. We laughed and laughed throughout the show.

6. On Friday, I had a nice, long 2 hour lunch with Kris. (Remember Mrs. Always Random??) She and I have birthdays within a week of each other, so we try to get together to celebrate each year. This year all the celebrating we could swing was lunch and some chocolate chip cookies, but it was so nice to visit with her and the sweet little boy her family fosters.

7. The weather was great, until it wasn't. The beginning of the week was lovely, but by the end of the week, there was some nasty, cold rain coming down. I didn't have anywhere to go until school pickup on the worst day, so I stayed home under my blanket.

8. Bad weather means I can get stuff done in the house, but I hate to clean, so I spent the time catching up on printing photos. I have spent hours and hours and hours going through the photos on my computer, choosing the ones I want printed, and downloading them to the photo site to print. I have gotten all of 2012, half of 2013, half of 2015, and all of our vacations since 2012 done. Now to get them into albums...

9. I spent all of those hours getting as many printed as I could, because I had a 40 percent off coupon that expired yesterday. When one is printing almost 1,000 photos, one could really use that 40 percent off. To help, there was a mix-up with one of the orders, so the clerk gave me an extra $10 off, and another clerk gave me a $5 off coupon. I'm getting these suckers done for a bargain!

10. The first snow of the year was on my birthday.

Normally, I'd complain about such a thing, but the flakes yesterday were beautiful through the window.

Cuckoo was ridiculously happy about the snow. He had his snowpants and boots on before the flakes were even hitting the ground.

Notice, no gloves

But that simply meant he was ready when the snow really started coming down.

Now notice, one glove. His hands were getting cold, but he has a teeny, tiny boo-boo on one finger. Guess which hand. :)

And best of all, it all melted before Bryan and I left for our evening out. If it was going to snow, at least it was the best kind of snow.

So, how was your week? Did you get any snow in your neck of the woods?

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful

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Monday, November 16, 2015

The Ups and Downs in a Belated Quick Takes

Normally, this is called Quick Takes Friday, but the link is still open, so I'm doing it today. Lots of little things to tell you from the weekend...

****************** 1 ****************

The sunrises lately have been stop-ya-in-your-tracks stunning around here. Have you been seeing them where you are?

******************** 2 ***************

It's only taken about 4 months, but it seems our dogs have come to some sort of truce with the cat. She is hanging out around the house all the time now, and the dogs haven't chased her away.

She's sitting on the steps outside the mudroom door. The dogs are sleeping a mere 15 feet away. 

******************** 3 ****************

I ran into one of the parents of one of the several 13 year old boys that spent the night on Friday. He said his son proclaimed that night to be one of the best in his life. From the sounds of it, the game they played outside in the dark (I don't know what it was, but it had the word presidents in it, and it meant a whole lot of running around with flashlights. I heard them and saw them from through the window.) was the best part.

Although the mishap in the morning might remain more memorable.

A raccoon was smack dab in the middle of our driveway.

Everyone, including Bryan and the kids, went outside to see why it was there. They didn't get far off the porch when someone started driving up the driveway. (A parent to pick up one of the boys)  Everyone went running towards the drive, yelling and waving for him to stop. The driver was so busy watching everyone, trying to figure out what they were doing that he never saw the raccoon. Thump-thump went the raccoon.


***************** 4 **************

At about 2:00am, I was semi-awoken in the middle of a dream by Bryan, who was moaning that he was hurt. I didn't think much of it, seeing as how I was still asleep and all, until this morning. I asked how he was feeling, referencing the sore throat he's been fighting. He said his throat was better, but his eye was still hurting. That dream I was in the middle of when Bryan woke me up? Someone had thrown a ball to me, and I reached out to catch it. Apparently, it wasn't just in my dream that I reached out. When I went to catch the ball, I nailed Bryan right in the eye.

I will no longer complain about his stealing of the comforter.

******************** 5 ***************

I have a turkey cooling on the counter as I type. We have a lot of grocery stores around here, and they are always competing for business. Last week at Meijer, I could get a turkey for 42 cents a pound if I spent $20. I spend $20 within the first 2 minutes of being in the store, so I picked up a turkey. I'll be cutting it up and freezing it to make lots of dinners this winter. I'll probably grab another one today to cook on Wednesday. Bryan was surprise when I told him how cheap it was. He heard there was a turkey shortage and prices were going to be higher this year. How are the prices where you are?

******************* 6 ****************

Bryan and I get invited to events (through work) all the time, and he has almost always turned them down. When the kids were younger, it was because the hassle of a babysitter was not worth it. More recently, it's because they require black tie (Bryan didn't own a tux.) or our weekends were full with activities with the kids. Things are changing, though, and we decided to start attending a few things. Saturday night, we went to a black tie fundraiser.

We had loads of fun.

His firm is celebrating 60 years, so the Christmas party is going fancy. We'll be repeating this look, except hopefully a bit more relaxed and less rushed, in three weeks.

********************** 7 ***************

And while we were getting all gussied up, the little boys, thanks to Buttercup, were getting all fancy themselves.

I do believe he's trying to look like a tough football player.
Can you see that she didn't confine the paint to his face? That would be a football upright on his chest, and on his back it looks like a jersey, with "Luck 12" written on it.

That little bat on the bottom has Cuckoo's bellybutton as its face. On his back is a gigantic black bat.
Gotta say, I'm glad I wasn't there to have to wash it all off.

And lastly, can you even believe that we're all outside in the middle of November, without long sleeves, not freezing to death?


Have a lovely day!

Friday, November 13, 2015

On the Road to Recovery. TToT Week 126

I rose the white flag.

Threw in the towel.

Cried Uncle.

Packed it in.

After 10 days of this nonsense, I was done!

It is astounding the amount of snot one person can produce.

Shocking, really.

After defiling the contents of two and a half boxes of Kleenex and a partial roll of toilet paper, I finally went to the doctor for some help.

Amoxicillin to the rescue!

1. I am thankful that we live in an age in which we can go to the doctor and have medicine in our hands within minutes. I'll be feeling fine in no time.

2. I am thankful that we live in an age when some stores give medicine away for free. No joke. I went to Meijer pharmacy to fill my prescription. When I got to the checkout, it came up that I owed nothing. I looked quizzically at the guy and said, "It's free?!?!" He replied, "Yes. It's one of our 6 medicines we give away for free." What the WHAT?!?! I don't understand it, but I am liking it.

3. I am thankful that my kids rarely get really sick. Apparently this Meijer free meds policy has been around for years, but we have not had the need for antibiotics in our house since Turken was a baby and got constant ear infections.

4. I am thankful that I have at least one kid who takes oral hygiene seriously, to the point of keeping a tooth brush at school in order to brush after lunch. It proves it is not my fault that at least one of my kids doesn't give a flying fig about oral hygiene.

5. I am thankful for a warm house with warmer blankets. I've been awoken in the middle of the night a couple times this week (Someone explain to me how a laptop in my bedroom suddenly bursts into song at 3:00 in the morning!), and as I tried (in vane) to go back to sleep, I listened to the wind howling outside, warm and cozy in my bed.

6. I am thankful for generous people. My job at the crisis pregnancy center this week was to organize donations. I was blown away by the amount of brand new, adorable clothing donated to the center for the babies and children who are in need.

7. I am thankful for my kids' ability to choose kind, fun, responsible friends. As I type, I am listening to Giant and some of his friends who are here for the night. Every one of them is sweet as can be, polite, and a breeze to have at our house.

8. I am thankful that my kids are realistic and forgiving. We have three kids with birthdays right in the thick of soccer season. It is virtually impossible to have any sort of celebration with their friends anywhere near their birthdays. Shoot, we have a hard enough time finding a night just to take the birthday child out for dinner with the whole family. This get-together tonight is Giant's very delayed birthday party. (He was born on Sept. 11.)

9. I am thankful that our internet and tv are not linked together. The wind took out the satellite today, so no tv until they can fix it. The world wide web, and in turn the TToT, is a go!

10. I am thankful for friends, both long-time and new. Did you see I "met" a blogger who just bought a farm without having any farming experience. (She interviewed me here.) Plus, they have been remodeling the house before moving in, and the girl knows how to refinish floors!

Gotta run. A bunch of 13 year olds have invaded my space.

Your turn. What made you smile this week? Link up or tell me in the comments.

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful

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