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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Join the Ten Things of Thankful Facebook Group

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!