Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Twelve?? I"m Supposed to Pick 12?!?!

Dwija has put a call out for posts which include 12 favorite photos from 2014.  Clearly Dwija doesn't know that I have taken thousands of photos this year alone, and choosing 12 would cause much angst and time and hand wringing and time and himming and hawing and time and did I mention time?

Luckily for you all, it's Christmas break and I require less sleep when I don't have to drive kids hither and yon each and every all day.  I was able to narrow the photos down to 12 photos highlighting the big events of our year.  

First up, the winter which shall not be named, because I don't ever want to hear those two words ever, ever again.  There was only one good day out of the entire winter.

Phoenix carrying a bootless Turken back to the house.
By March, the kids and I were fed up with the cold, so we packed up the van and headed south for Spring Break.  No reservations.  No definite plans.  We just drove on back roads until we saw something interesting or felt like taking a silly photo.  We took quite a few of them.

In April, my sister remarried. One of my brothers and my mom made the 10 hour drive and met up with my dad in Virginia for the wedding.  No kids.  No spouses.  I was surprised at how quickly grown adults can revert back to their childish ways when they travel with their parents.

It took us about 20 tries to get one in which we are both in the air at the same time.

I am behind the wheel of the van a lot.  I mean a lot a lot.  One of the few positives of the situation is that I get to see all sorts of beautiful sunsets and awesome views in the sky.

Bryan and I celebrated our 20th anniversary this summer by taking a trip of a lifetime to London and Paris.  I took hundreds of photos, some of them I really liked, but I'm posting the photo someone else took of us.  Partly because it is one of the few of the two of us, but mostly because I find it hilarious that we were photo-bombed by a double decker bus.

Ten days after our return, I finally had surgery to correct the spectacular disaster I made of my knee when I played soccer with my kids a tad too competitively.   Bryan took this photo of me when I was still completely doped up on pain meds and passed out in the middle of eating my cup of pudding.  I think it was to get back at me for calling him a bad driver on the way home from the hospital.

Please don't ask me why a Christmas pillow was out in the middle of July but was sitting in a box on Christmas Day.

Ten days after surgery, we took our 12th annual vacation with our high school friend and his family.  This year we spent the week at a lake in upper Wisconsin.

We only made it to the local pool one time this summer.

With the knee injury and subsequent 4 weeks of therapy, surgery, and 6 more weeks of therapy, the kids had to basically raise themselves and take care of me over the summer.  I felt terribly guilty about it, so instead of going to the state fair in August like we normally do, I surprised them with an afternoon at King's Island.. Who knew the park has such a fabulous area for younger kids??

How can I do a year-end wrap-up without mentioning soccer?  With 5 kids playing on 5 different teams, I can't.

Mine is the keeper.
It was the youngest's year for a special trip, and he wanted to go to the beach. I took him to Florida, where we stayed with a blogger friend for four full days.

That's my baby, approximately 30 feet in the air.
And because this year didn't have quite enough travel in it (That's a joke.  We never, ever travel this much in one year!), Bryan and I jumped at the opportunity to take a (remarkably cheap) trip to the Bahamas.  In December.  I still can't believe we did it.

The view from our hotel room.
Despite the minor calamities of dead pigs, broken bones, knee trauma, shredded car wires, and chicken mass murder, it's been a wonderfully fun year.

Thank you for being a part of it.

I pray your coming year is full of laughter and fun.  Take lots of photos!

If you'd like to join the link-up, head on over!

Have a lovely day!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Illness Didn't Completely Ruin our Christmas, TToT week 80

Merry Christmas Everyone!

I hope you had a lovely holiday regardless of how you chose to spend it.

My family was fighting illness almost the entire time.  I even suggested to a sick Bryan that we not go to Ohio.  He quickly replied that it wasn't an option.  He suffered through with a stomach ache the entire time.  Cuckoo woke up Christmas morning with a fever and a sore throat.  He basically cuddled up on my lap the entire day.  When it was time to head to my dad's house for dinner, I only allowed the three kids who hadn't shown any sign of illness to go with me.  My 90-year old Grandma and 1-month old niece were both going to be there, and I wasn't about to be the family who got them sick.  To be even safer, the three kids and I changed clothes so as to leave those germs behind, too.  Especially since I had been holding a feverish 5 year old all day and was planning on holding that itty bitty baby all evening.

Which will be my thankful numero uno.

1.  I spent 4 hours Christmas Day doing this:

2.  So far I have managed to avoid illness.  Can you tell from this annual photo on the steps who was sick the day Santa came to our house?  (He comes early, since we spend Christmas in Ohio.)

3.  Buttercup and I spent most of that day binge watching Downton Abbey.  We don't have Netflix, so had never seen it.  She got the first season on DVD in her stocking.  She was sick and didn't feel like moving, so we didn't.  For 6 hours.  We watched the entire season in one day.

4.  The kids were happy with the gifts they received.  The one Bryan picked out for Cuckoo made us all smile.

5.  On our way out of town, we stopped at the library to let the kids pick out books for the trip, only to find the library closed.  Bryan suggested we go to a half-price bookstore by the freeway. (He also made the comment, "It will probably be cheaper than the library", alluding to the ridiculous amount of fines we've paid over the years.)  Turns out, it wasn't the chain store he thought it was, but a wonderful mom-and-pop place.  Books were stacked as far as the eye could see.  We would have liked to have more time to explore, but we had to get on the road.

6.  It has been warm for December.  Sure, it's been raining almost the entire month, but there was a few moments of sun yesterday.  Before we loaded back into the van to head home, the boys were able to play outside and use up some of their pent-up energy.

7.  We made it to and from Ohio without incident.  No one vomited in the car.  Traffic was moving.  The kids were quiet.  Bryan drove, so I got to do a whole mess of reading.

8.  I found a new series that I am really enjoying.  Added bonus, the books are only $2 on Kindle.  I started the series on Wednesday, and I'm already on the third book.  (It's called The Scavenger's Daughters by Kay Bratt if you are interested.)

9.  Still thankful for our new(ish) washer and dryer.  I was able to get all of the clothes from our trip washed and dried in two loads in no time at all.

10.  The kids were well-behaved and polite and just plain easy the whole time we were gone.  At one point, as the adults were all chatting over dessert (There are no kids besides ours at Christmas gatherings.), I glanced downstairs to find the kids all watching a Christmas movie.  Cuckoo was cuddled up with Star and Turken was lying in the crook of Phoenix's arm.  It made my heart melt to see them.

Alrighty, it's your turn.  Did your heart melt this Christmas?  What made you smile this week?

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The 2014 Christmas Card

For 10 years now, we've included a completely obnoxious, 4-page Christmas letter in the cards we send out to family and friends.  It takes a lot of work to keep it to 4 pages.  I hate leaving things out, but I must if I ever want people to read the blasted thing.  So, here it is, in its entirety for you.  Get your coffee ready before you begin. 

How often do you find yourself enjoying a TV or movie simply because it reminds you of your life?  Earlier this week, I was jolted by the realization that our life closely resembles not just a movie, but a franchise.  I was watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation at the time.  As the movie went on, more and more similarities came to mind.  And not just from that one movie, but from all three of the Griswold movies. 
National Lampoon’s Vacation
Throughout the movie, the Griswolds’ station wagon gets beat all to heck.  By the end, it is a wobbly, creaky, filthy mess of a vehicle.
In one year, our van inexplicably got a flat tire in our driveway.  On another day, every single wire on the back half of the van was shredded into teeny tiny pieces when the dogs tried to capture a squirrel that had scrambled up into the undercarriage.  And when those wires weren’t fixed properly, on one dark and rainy night, the sensors didn’t alert me to the fact that I was about to back into a parked car behind me.  That dent is still there.

Using nothing but a map, the Griswolds made their way from Chicago to California to go to Wallyworld.  They had no reservations, but stopped whenever a tourist attraction caught their eyes or circumstances forced them to.
I took all six kids on a Spring Break trip in which we simply drove southwest.  No reservations or plans were made before we left.  We took back roads and stopped whenever we felt like it.  While we did not make it to Dodge City like the Griswolds, we did stop at Hillbilly Gardens, the Big Dam Bridge, and Cairo, Illinois, where the Ohio flows into the mighty Mississippi.  The kids were just as impressed by the merging rivers as the Griswold kids would have been.

The Griswolds stopped to visit Cousin Eddie and his family.  They were not happy to find out that Aunt Edna was going to join them on their vacation.
To start our spring break trip, we stopped in Kentucky to celebrate March birthdays with the relatives.  When we left, my mom hopped in the van to join us on our spring break adventure.  Don’t worry.  Mom didn’t die and we never once strapped her to the roof of the van.

In the movie, Clark accidentally left Aunt Edna’s dog tied to the back of the station wagon, and it died a tragic death.
In our real life, our dog did not die a tragic death.  Instead, the electric fence broke, our dog wasn’t tied up, and the pain in the neck dog caused the tragic death of 20 chickens in one fell swoop. 
Two of the pigs were dragged, but not tied to the back of the van, and only after they had already died of pneumonia.

At one point in the movie, Clark walked through the desert to find help and save his family.  In the end, he barely survived and the family got help from some passing cowboys.
Back in January, Bryan spent hours and hours using his new snow blower to clear over a foot of snow from two tire-sized lanes down our ¼ mile driveway.  In -10 degree weather.  He managed to get his car out and went to work.  The kids and I were left to our own devices to get the van out.  FYI: there are no helpful cowboys in the Indianapolis area.

In the movie, Clark causes quite a commotion in the pool, attracting the attention of all of the guests in the hotel.
Back in April, my mom, some of my soccer mom friends, and I apparently caused quite a commotion while at a Dayton-area soccer tournament.  While hotel management didn’t do anything to Clark, my mom, my friends, and I were cut off and kicked out of the Olive Garden.
National Lampoon’s European Vacation

On the way to London, Ellen dreamt about the royal familyIn her dream, they are friends with the queen, and Lady Di is infatuated with Clark.
While in London, Bryan and I actually walked across the street with Prince Edward and his wife.  Just the four of us and their bodyguard.  I could have reached out and held hands with him. Unfortunately, Bryan and I argued about the identity of Prince Edward (Bryan said it was Prince William, I said he was nuts.  Plus, actual princes don’t just walk to work!) all the way across the street and up until Prince Edward walked through the gates of Buckingham Palace.  Prince Edward not only didn’t become infatuated with me, he probably heard every word of our argument and now thinks of me as just another stupid American.

The Griswold family got stuck on a roundabout for hours, and each time they went around, Clark would say, “Look kids!  Big Ben…and Parliament!”
Bryan and I spent hours walking around London, and much of that time was spent standing in a roundabout in front of Big Ben…and Parliament.  By choice. Not only did we say, “Look kids!  Big Ben…and Parliament” 100 times, we took photos and sent them to the kids.  Kids who have never seen the movie and had no idea what we were so excited about.

Clark was a bad driver in all of the movies, but he especially had trouble driving around Europe.  In England he drove on the wrong side of the road, and in the rest of Europe he raced through towns for a variety of reasons.
Phoenix got his driver’s permit in November.  While he hasn’t run over any flower stands like Clark did, he has driven on the wrong side of the road and almost run over the bush at the end of our driveway.  I’m crossing my fingers that he is also unlike Clark in that he never has to drive through town to avoid capture by men in lederhosen.

When the Griswolds fled the lederhosen-clad German folk, they had to leave their luggage behind.  Once they got to Rome, they went shopping for new clothes.
When Bryan flew to London (We took separate flights on separate days.), he missed his connection.  His luggage took a much longer route than Bryan did, which meant he had no clothes upon arrival in London.  Unlike the Griswolds, Bryan chose to wear the clothes he had on his back for three days.

The Griswolds were supposed to spend a night with relatives they had never met but only written to.  They accidentally spent the night with their relatives’ neighbors instead.
When I took Cuckoo to Florida for his special trip, we were supposed to stay 2 nights with a family I only knew through internet, phone, and mail correspondence.  I’m sure they were thrilled when we decided to stay with them an extra two days. They were even happier when we made them trick or treat three times and go to the beach in the freezing cold.

In the movie, the French waiters made fun of the Griswolds for their inability to speak French.
In reality, Bryan and I were also made fun of by French wait staff.  Sometimes it was subtle, like when I couldn’t understand if the guy was asking if I wanted my water “with gas or no gas”.  Sometimes, I was outright laughed at, like the time I ordered crème brulee, and she put it down in front of me when it was still on fire.  When I jumped back to avoid catching my nose hairs on fire, she laughed and said, “Brulee means fire,” and waved her hands over the brulee.  While I ate my dessert, I caught her looking over at me and laughing several times.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

In the movie, the Griswolds go hiking through the woods to find the perfect tree.  They come home with a tree way too big for their living room.
In our reality, Bryan and Phoenix bought our tree at a tree lot, but they, too, chose a tree that was too big.  It took 4 teens and 2 adults five tries to get the tree upright.  We never could get it straight.  In a fit of frustration, Bryan hollered, “We’ll just turn it so if it falls it will hit the wall!” 

When Clark cuts the twine and the tree pops open, he says from inside the tree, “There’s a lot of sap”.  The next scene shows him getting stuck to everything he touches.
After the kids and I buried ourselves into the tree to heave it into an upright position, one of us commented on the amount of sap in the tree.  I’ll just say that in real life, toilet paper sticks to sap really, really well. 

A squirrel jumps out of the Griswold Christmas tree and wreaks havoc amongst the relatives.
Nothing came out of our tree, but a bat did fly into our house.  It didn’t cause much problem, seeing as how our kids aren’t fazed by a bat.  Phoenix caught it (Bryan and I weren’t home.) with little fanfare.  However, Bryan’s mom heard about it.  She’ll never sleep well at our house again, if we can even convince her to sleep at our house again.

Cousin Eddie parked his RV in front of the Griswold house and emptied his toxic waste into the storm drains.
We did not have a Cousin Eddie dumping waste into a drain, but we did have a clogged septic tank overflowing all over our back yard.  For weeks.  Thanks to the Polar Vortex, we didn’t know it was happening for a while, and then we couldn’t get anyone to come out until after the big thaw.
Finally, someone came out to diagnose the problem (a clogged filter (Who knew septic tanks installed in the last 6 years had filters?!?!)) and empty the tank.  Afterwards, that septic truck became our Cousin Eddie’s RV.  Because of the thaw, our driveway was a muddy mess, and that blasted septic truck got stuck good and low in the mud.

National Lampoon’s Summer Vacation

OK, we know this movie hasn’t been made, but if the franchise were to continue following our life, this is what the next movie would look like.

In the movie, the Griswolds’ pet would get very sick, requiring lots of money to be spent at the vet in order to save it.
In our world, it was the pigs that got sick.  There is no expensive vet, so we had to diagnose and treat the animals ourselves.  They had pneumonia, and they all needed several rounds of shots in order to be cured. 

The Griswold kids would start playing a sport, and their team would have an end of season party.  Clark would see this as an opportunity to show off his athleticism.  In the process of showing off his skills, he would severely injure himself and at least one of his kids.
In reality, Turken broke his collar bone all on his own by tackling the padding for a football upright.  A week later, there was an end-of-season CYO soccer game of parents vs. players. I played, of course, and at one point, I took off at full speed to beat an 8th grade boy to the ball.  I will have you know, I did beat him.  Unfortunately, once I got there, I tried to turn with the ball and my foot didn’t come with me.  I ended up in a heap, rolling on the ground in a very dramatic fashion, crying out that, “This is bad!  You’re going to be taking me to the hospital!”  I ended up with an ACL torn all to pieces and 2 meniscus tears.

If a movie were to be made, the pig event and the knee trauma would happen on separate days in order to make the movie an hour and a half long.
In actuality, these two events, as well as the shredding of the van wires by the dogs I spoke of earlier, all happened on the same awful, no good, very bad, miserable day.  THE SAME DAY!!!  Since I caused such trauma to my knee, I was unable to give the pigs their follow-up shots.  Bryan is incapable of doing such a thing, so two of the four pigs died.

Now, onto the quotes.  There are plenty of lines in the movies that get quoted on a regular basis.  We have some memorable quotes from the year, too.

1. “I’m holding hands with a dead pig.” –Giant, when he and Phoenix had to drag the dead pig out to the field.

2. “You are a TERRIBLE driver!” – me, from the backseat while Bryan drove me home in my very doped up state after knee surgery.

3. “This doesn’t taste anything like mint!” – my mom, at Dairy Queen, after Cuckoo gave her an Oreo from his Mint Oreo blizzard.

4. “That’s because I sucked the mint off for you!” – Cuckoo, after my mom said it didn’t taste like mint.

5. “Wow, that must have been one bad accident.” – a complete stranger at the hospital the day we had to get Turken’s collar bone X-rayed (his arm was in a sling) and Buttercup’s back x-rayed to check for scoliosis.  I was hobbling around on crutches.

6. “This is the best day ever!” – Bryan, on New Year’s Day, when he was able to eat Polish sausage he made himself with his new sausage stuffer, topped with sauerkraut I helped a friend make.  We will ignore the fact that he ranks it above his wedding day and the days his children were born.

7. “Sauertwaut is da woost.  Down at da bottom.” – Cuckoo, with his nose plugged.

8. “We can’t be lost!  We don’t know where we’re  going!” – Giant, on our spring break trip, after one of the other kids asked if we were lost.

9. “MOM! A CHICKEN STUCK IT’S HEAD UNDER THE DOOR AND GOT STUCK AND KILLED ITSELF AND IT’S GROSS AND I CAN’T EVEN OPEN THE DOOR AND YOU NEED TO COOOOOOME!” – Buttercup, on a day that I was hopped up on Nyquil and was in no mood to deal with a dead chicken, especially a dead chicken that was peering at us from under a door.

10. “Who tf is dis” – in a text from someone we don’t know, after I texted him thinking it was Giant’s number.  I only know it was a full-grown, cranky man who probably smokes and just woke up because I answered his text with “your mother” and he called me right away.

11. “The marker said it was washable.” – Turken, with a very sad face, while carrying a sopping wet thank you card he had spent the last 30 minutes making.

Merry Christmas!!     

Friday, December 19, 2014

We Were Thiiiiis Close to Another OrthoIndy Visit and We Have a New Phrase for the Vocabulary, TToT #79

Just a typical, so much to do, Who is hurt NOW? kind of a week.

1. Do you remember where you were when someone you were with got his hand caught in a slammed door?  I remember every single time it has happened in my presence.  Well, we added another one this week.  On Tuesday, loading up to go to school, Bryan didn't know that Turken's hand was in the way of his closing door.  Much screaming ensued, but no major injuries.  Thank heavens.  Just a bruise under Turkens' middle finger nail.

2.  About 2 months ago, the preschool had "wear you favorite color" day.  Cuckoo had to wear his second favorite color, because we have never found a purple shirt for boys.  This week, Cukoo's best friend's grandma showed up at preschool with a purple shirt, purchased in the boys' department, just for Cuckoo.  He was beyond excited.  There are such nice people in this world.

3.  My Christmas cards are written and mailed.  Finally. Except for the few for which I'm waiting for addresses.

4. IT'S CHRISTMAS BREAK!!!  No school pickups or dropoffs or homework.  If you need me, I'll be home.  In my PJs.  As much as humanly possible.  Which should be a whole heck of a lot.

5. There's been some illness in the house this week. Phoenix had a nasty cold, Cuckoo threw up and felt crummy one day, Star stayed home from school for two days, and Buttercup had a painful sore throat.  BUT, everyone is either better or on the mend.  So glad my kids' illnesses don't usually stick around for long.

6.  On Wednesday, Giant came home from basketball practice with a swollen thumb he couldn't move without lots and lots of pain.  He went to bed with ice on it, and didn't feel much better by morning.  We sent him to school and crossed our fingers.  Thankfully, he was much, much better by pickup time, so no trip to OrthoIndy was necessary.

7. Kris and I left our families in shambles to get away and visit for a bit on Thursday night.  And by "bit", I mean 2 and a half hours.  It was wonderful to catch up with her, as we haven't seen much of each other since soccer season ended.  We both needed the break.

8.  I have sore muscles.  It's wonderful. I'm finally using muscles I haven't used in a long time, and I'm getting my metabolism back to where it should be.  

9.  Cuckoo and I had dentist appointments this week, and neither one of us had a single cavity or area of concern.  Keeping my fingers crossed that the same is true for the other 5 kids who go the last week of December.

10. Kids make me laugh, and Cuckoo is on a roll this week.  Two examples:

- He made out his Christmas list.  One item is "a piggy bank in the shape of a pig, with money already in it".  Apparently the 4 mostly empty, non-pig-shaped banks he has on his dresser aren't good enough.

- As he watched me wrap presents for the nieces and nephews, he got a surprised look on his face and said, "I poop-tooted".
Me: Come again?
Him:  I poop-tooted.
Me:  Does that mean you now have poop in your underwear?
Him: I tried to toot, but poop got in the way.

Have.  Mercy.

(And a couple of last-minute additions)

11. We finally got an egg from our new chickens!  We are going through 3 dozen eggs/week, and I'm getting mighty sick of buying them. It won't be long now that we'll have so many eggs I'll be begging people to take them.

12.  When we drove by the gas station, gas was only $2.09/gallon!  That saves us a whole lot of cash!

OK, so, as for the link-up.  Lizzi doesn't have internet access this week, and she's the only one who can do the code for it.  No easy link on the post until her internet gets fixed.  But, BUT, you can still link up.  Just go to our TToT Facebook page to link up there.  We'll be reading from the thread that has been started.  If you have any trouble, let me or one of the other hosts know and we'll help you.

From what injuries and/or illnesses has your family recovered this week?  Got any funny kid quotes?
What nice thing has someone done for you?

Have a lovely day!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Wow, This Is One LATE TToT List! Of course I Have Plenty of Excuses.

This is what I wrote on Thursday:

Hey, guess who's not at home for the umpteenth weekend in a row?  Unfortunately, I'm not at the beach this time.  (All explained here.) I am at a volleyball tournament in Columbus, OH.  I should have plenty of time to read through your blogs.  Can't guarantee I'll be able to comment, seeing as how I'll be reading from my phone, but know that I will be reading.  Phoenix has at least 4 matches on Saturday alone, with one hour rest in between.  I'll have plenty of time.

So, my thankfuls for the week...

1.  Bryan and I did not die in a fiery crash, leaving our children orphans and my mom in a world of hurt.

2.  I have finally joined a gym and have started getting myself back in shape.  I haven't been in great shape for a while, but the knee trauma really messed me up.  It's time to get rid of those extra pounds I put on and start feeling better.

3.  Much of my Christmas shopping is done, and I can't wait to see the reaction of some people's faces when they open them.

4.  The big kids have done a great job taking charge of the wise men.  Giant sent me photos each night to let me know where the little boys would find them.

5.  Instagram was wonderful for keeping up with the kids while we were in the Bahamas.

6.  I finally, FINALLY figured out the theme for our Christmas card this year.  After 9 years, it's getting difficult to come up with something original.  One of these years I'm going to have to give it up and just send a postcard that says, "Nothing happened this year".


And that's as far as I got.

I ran out of time on Friday to get this posted, and my iPad wouldn't let me once we got to the hotel.

Volleyball tournaments are exhausting!  Even we parents were tired, and we didn't do much of anything besides watch hours and hours of games.

Heard enough excuses yet?

To round out my thankful list...

7.  Phoenix and I had fun, despite the exhaustion.  He had fun hanging out with his team, and I had fun getting to know the parents.  Finally.

8.  Our hotel was across the street from the tournament, so I never had to drive or find a parking space all weekend.

9.  Everything went well at home while we were gone.  The kids had all sorts of fun with Bryan and their friends.

10.  Everyone made it back home safe and sound.

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful
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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

I Never Meant for This to Be a Travel Blog (aka Wordless (As I'm Going to Get) Wednesday)...

So, about a month ago Bryan called from work and asked if I wanted to go to the Bahamas.

I himmed and hawwed for about .000005 seconds before screaming, "Heck ya!"

An opportunity came up and the price was just too good to pass up.  So, despite the fact we had already called on my mom to watch the kids for over a week earlier in the year while we were in Europe, I begged my mom to drop everything she was doing and come watch my kids again.

She agreed, as long as I made dinners for her to serve to the kids ahead of time, got rides for the kids as much as possible, and basically make it as easy as possible for her.

I himmed and hawwed for about .00000000003 seconds before agreeing to her terms and conditions.

This past Friday morning, we kissed the children and headed out the door before they even had their breakfast.

I'll let the photos do most of the talking.

(All photos (except one) taken with my phone and without a filter.  I did nothing but crop them a bit.)

There aren't any terminals in the Bahamas.  You have to hoof it from the plane to the building.  The arrow is pointing to a couple who became our favorite traveling buddies.  We ate dinner with them every night, laughing the entire way through.

One and only selfie

Funny how much more pleasant it is to get up early to watch the sun rise directly across from our balcony than it is to get up early to get 5 kids ready for school. 

Our balcony is far left, second from top.

Christmas concert and tree lighting in Port Lucaya.  

A foot photo is required at the beach, is it not?

We had a lot of these.
To burn off those drinks, Bryan and I went kayaking each morning.  Our new friends happened to see us from the beach both days, and took our photo the second day. 

View from our room. We kayaked around that farthest bend and kept on going.

Sunset on our last night.
Last photo before heading to the airport Monday morning.  I may have been crying.

I promise, that was my last trip for a long, long time.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled horrible weather.

Have a lovely day!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Don't Hate Me, TToT #77

I'm at the beach.

Shall we count that as all ten thankfuls and just end there?

Yes.  Yes, we shall.

This would have been a great place to put the TToT button and close up shop.  Alas, I wrote this WAY before Lizzi put the code together, so that cool ending is out the window.

Might as well do this the right way.

Before I left for the beach...

(Yes!  I'm really at the beach.  With Bryan!)

I was thankful for...

1.  my mom.  The saint agreed to come and watch our kids for us while we are at the beach.

2.  the many folks who are giving our kids rides in order to make my mom's job easier, because I'm at the beach.

3.  leftover turkey.  I was able to make white chili without any hassle of cooking meat. And we ate it 2 days before I headed to the beach.

4. Christmas lights.  We were able to get many of our Christmas decorations up before we left for the beach.

Ok, even I'm getting sick of all the beach talk.

5.  Even though the first thing each of the little boys said (completely independently at different times) when they saw the wise men was, "You put them there", they are having fun pretending the wise men are moving themselves each night.

6.  our Christmas tree's ability to defy gravity.  It is as wide as it is high, and it was a BEAR to get up.  It's not straight, but Bryan is done trying to fix it.  So, we directed the tilt towards the wall and crossed our fingers.  So far, so good.

7.  a working satellite.  The power outage last week took out the satellite box, and the boys (aka Brayn) has been mildly twitchy without his football.  The new box came on Wednesday, so all is well with the world again.

8.  the chance to get some Christmas shopping done.

9.  adorable first grade Christmas programs.

10.  the beach.  And for the opportunity to go there in the middle of winter.

Sorry, I had to one more time.  

Head to Lizzi's to link up!

Have a lovely day!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

What a Mom Wants: My Ultimate Dream Home

Our house was built right at the end of the Civil War.

In 1866, they had no idea what the future held, so plumbing and electricity and wi-fi were not part of the plans.  Our house, while beautiful, has needed lots and lots and lots of work.  There's still plenty to do.  One day we'll have a garage in order to prevent the dogs from going after the opossums that like to hide under the car.  We'll finish the job the little boys have started and tear ALL the wallpaper down in order to paint.  We'll (maybe) have a closet in our bedroom.

But even if I never get any of those things, I'll still love our house and property.

When I read that the theme for this week's Tuesday's 10 is Things We Would Include in Our Ultimate Dream Home, the only thing I could think of was "pick our house and property up and plop it down next door to school".  The commute is wearing me out.

And then I thought, "But this is supposed to be my ULTIMATE dream home"!


1. I want lights that automatically turn on when someone enters a room and turns off when the person leaves.  Sure, I might short it out when I get stuck in one of my enter-a-room-forget-why-I-was-there-exit-the-room-remember-and-return-only-to-forget-again cycles, but it would be worth the call to the service man if it means I don't have to turn lights off all around the house all day long.

2. I want a force field surrounding every single fragile (I'd appreciate it if you pronounce that fra-gee-lay.) thing in my house.  How wonderful would my life be if I didn't have to worry about basketballs, soccer balls, bouncy balls, fuseball balls, and boys'...feet crashing through a window?!?!

3. I want each bathroom to have a door that automatically locks when a child enters the facilities. The door would not unlock to release the child until said child actually flushes the toilet, washes his hands the appropriate length of time and with the appropriate amount of soap, and hangs the hand towel back on the towel bar.

4.  I want a slide.  It would be so much more pleasant for both the kids and me to go "Weeeeee" as we slide down a slide than "OWOWOWOWOW!!" as we slip and bounce down those hard, wooden stairs.

5.  I want a super, jet-engine fan like they have at the end of drive-through car washes in all entrances to our house.  Unlike at the car wash, where the fans dry the cars, our fans would blow off every bit of mud, dirt, bug, twig, poop, and general nastiness from the children.  In an emergency, like running late for church, it could also work to rid the children of milk mustaches, syrup drips, and peanut butter clumped in the hair.

6.  I want a library book tracker that will locate any and all library books checked out in my children's names on the day that I decide to take the books back to the library.  It needs to have an unlimited range for those instances in which a book was left under a bed at Grandma's house in Ohio.

7.  I want sensors in every room that detects when a child is about to leave the room before cleaning up his/her mess.  The sensor would send out a swarm of mechanical gnats to annoy and nip at the child until the child gets back in the room to sets things to rights.

8.  I want a toy magnet.  I could stand in a room, holding the magnet, and every single missing puzzle piece, game piece, marble, playing card, and Lego (aka foot-impaler-in-waiting) would jump from its hiding place and fly to the magnet.

9.  I want an x-ray machine that can scan the many totes stacked in the basement and tell me which tote has clothing that will actually fit the child I have standing with me, thus avoiding said child having to don 100 articles of clothing in order to find the 10 that fit him each and every stinking season.

10. I want a heated walkway and driveway like the car washes have.  I'm afraid this winter is going to be as bad as the last one, and I really, really would like to avoid shoveling the walkway 7 times a day.  I would also like to skip the inevitable get Bryan and other men who can't drive in snow unstuck from the driveway.


OK, so that may not have been what the ladies who host this link-up were thinking when they came up with the prompt, but that's where my brain went.  Feel free to head over to their sites to see what other people dream about.

What would you have in your dream house?

Have a lovely day!

The Golden Spoons

Saturday, November 29, 2014

I'm Too Excited to Come Up with a Clever Title! TToT #76

Happy Week of Thanksgiving!

Thankfully, I started this list on Wednesday before we left for Ohio.  I never would have remembered the things that happened earlier in the week.

I am thankful for...

1.  electricity.  We had some serious wind blow through on Monday night and it took out our (and 7500 other families') power for two and a half hours.  Ya'll, it is DARK when there is no power! Two and a half hours is long enough for the temperature in the house to drop to cold levels and the novelty of the dark to wear off.  We were thrilled to bits when those lights popped back on.  (Well, my family was.  I was at the school, where there was power, since I the boys had basketball practice.)

2. the power going out AFTER I finished dinner.  Some boys were in the middle of setting the table and I was pulling the corn bread out of the oven when it went dark.  We were able to eat by the light of the many, many candles I have received from students over the years.

3.  the fact that I have received many candles and that some weren't scented.  I imagine pumpkin spice/sugar cookie/peppermint stick/pine tree/lavender scent might have been a bit overpowering.

4.  Phoenix and Star's hard noggins.  They both took nasty hits to the backs of their heads/necks at their practices on Monday (during the power outage (Phoenix when someone served (badly) and hit Phoenix, and Star when they were having a basketball scrimmage and someone illegally blocked a shot), but only had some soreness by Tuesday morning.

5.  Gordon Food Servie (GFS).  It is a foodservice distributor that has smaller stores where the public can shop.  I was supposed to bring dressing to the 8th grade Thanksgiving feast on Tuesday morning, and I found some already made in the refrigerator section of GFS.  I just had to put it in a pan and heat it up.

6. the respite from the cold we had early in the week.  It actually got up to 50 degrees.  Sure, it rained the entire time, but it gave me the time I needed to wash my filthy fuzzy robe.  I didn't freeze to death while it was in the washing machine and dryer.

7.  my guy.  Well, my three guys.  I always wanted a guy who I could call to fix things around the house.  (Bryan is many things, but a handyman he is not.)  I finally found my dream guys.  It's a father/son/son's best friend team.  They do electric, plumbing, drywalling, painting, roof repairs, and just about anything I can come up with.  They fixed not only the kids' bathroom, but they managed to get the front porch light changed.  It's 30 feet in the air!  We thought we were going to have to rent a cherry picker, but no!  They did it.  And, AND they are the nicest people.  The one guy said he was running out to get a sandwich and asked if I needed anything while I was out.  And, AND, they only charge $35/hour, regardless of what repairs they are doing.  Really, this could count as thankfuls 1-43.

8.  Giant's great hunting abilities.  We have had to buy our fair share of library books that couldn't be found (until the day after we pay for the book).  This time, I wasn't going to pay.  We had one book that had been due June 8.  JUNE!  We had renewed it as many times as we were allowed. I told the kids they didn't have a choice but to find that book.  All the kids were searching the house; under beds, in the mud room cubbies, in backpacks, under couches.  After 30 minutes, Giant found it.  In the basement.  aka the dungeon.  How?  How does a library book make it to the basement???

9. high school friends with whom I still keep in contact.  Two friends from high school and I even went on to room together when we got to college.  I haven't seen either of them for several years, but this Thanksgiving, we were all back in our hometown.  We and our families had a great time catching up again.

10.  the marvelous time we had celebrating both Thanksgiving and my grandma's 90th birthday.  One highlight of the day was the family question/answer/bingo time.  Each Thanksgiving, my grandma brings a bunch of $1 bills and a bingo game.  She plays with all of the grand kids, and the winner of each game wins a dollar.  This year we added a twist.  The winner received a dollar, but also got to ask Grandma a question.  It was a huge hit.  We all got a better idea of what a rebel Grandma was in her younger days.

One of two Bingo tables.  Thanks to my kickin' table decorations, we could play real Bingo with paper cards and daubers.

11.  a compassionate family.  At one point during the festivities, an elderly homeless man walked into the hall.  (Our family has many people.  We can't fit in a person's home anymore, so we rent the FOP hall, which isn't in the wealthiest of areas in town.) Not only did my family welcome him in for a meal, but they gave him some cash and a ride to where he was going.

12. our delay in leaving town today.  We did a few chores around my mother-in-law's house before leaving while she was at work.  She unexpectedly came home for lunch when we were on our way out to the car to leave for good.  Instead of leaving, we took her to lunch.  While at the restaurant, my dad texted me to tell me my sister was in the hospital in labor with her first baby.  I didn't get to stay for the entire labor, so didn't get to meet my new niece, but I did get to run up to my sister's room and give her a few minutes of moral support.

Say a few prayers for my sister and the baby. She just texted me (10 hours later!) and is at 9cm.  So close!

UPDATE:  Baby girl was finally born at 2:30am!  Everyone is happy and healthy.

Ok, only two thankfuls over.  It could have been worse.  You could have had to read 43 thankfuls.

You're welcome.

So, for what did you give thanks this week?

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts

Join the Ten Things of Thankful Facebook Group

Monday, November 24, 2014

Procrastinate Really Should Be My Middle Name

This is one odd morning.

Things are happening that haven't happened in years.

Or ever.

I hardly recognize myself.

First, I had to get to work on decorations for my grandma's 90th birthday party. With Thanksgiving being only 3 days away, I really can't put it off any longer.

My relatives are going to rue the day they put me in charge of them.  

But besides that, why didn't I just buy some centerpiece flowers and be done with it?

Because I like to make things complicated, apparently.  

Instead of simple, I decided to get all crafty.

FYI, I am not crafty.

I'm making tissue paper flowers, People.  

I actually watched a video

on YouTube

showing me how to make a flower

out of tissue paper.


Oh, and I'm making table runners out of Bingo paper, because my grandma went to Bingo at least 3 nights a week for years.  Grandpa was the caller of the numbers.  They helped put me through high school by putting Bingo packets together.  (Oh, the hours we would spend counting and stapling Bingo cards!)  

I bought daubers, too, so we could play some real Bingo at her party.

Mason jars were used because she hates canning.  She and her sisters would help their mom can hundreds and hundreds of jars each year, but her mom gave them no credit when she would say, "I canned 400 jars this year".  It annoyed Grandma to no end.  Actually, Grandma balked when I said I was doing some canning of my own.

And the cards inside the Mason jars are a nod to our family's obsession with playing card games, specifically Euchre, but we also like to throw in some Rummy and Pinochle every once in a while.  

Lastly, there are cards sticking out of the larger jars.  I wrote to all grandkids who are college age and younger, asking them to write down a memory of Grandma.  I even sent self-addressed, stamped envelopes.  

I've  gotten one back so far.

My family, while I adore them, stinks.  (I was thinking of using a stronger word, but...it's Thanksgiving.)

So, there are cards with my kids' and my one cousin's kids memories sticking out of the jars.

I've made less than half the flowers I'm going to need.

What in the world was I thinking?

Making tissue paper flowers is fun the first one or five times, but by the sixth one, it's just plain boring.  So, in order to procrastinate the flower-making, I came up with a new, unnecessary chore:

Ya'll, I made oatmeal for the chickens.  I even added raisins that no one in my family will eat because they are gigantic raisins which were not made my Sunmaid and 50 cent raspberries that no one will eat because they are "squishy".


I'm beginning to think The Backyard Chicken Lady is sending me subliminal messages.  Or perhaps the "girls" have sent word to Zoe, and she's been putting ideas in my head while I sleep.  Who knows.  But I am not the sort of person who normally makes special meals for my chickens.

Also, I'm not the sort of person who likes to clean bathrooms.  I really needed to do that, since the kids' bathroom is getting fixed tomorrow.  

Pretty sure I made oatmeal to procrastinate scrubbing the shower grout.

Lucky for you, I did not take a photo of the shower grout.

"What was Cuckoo doing all this time?" you ask.

It is See How Close I Can Get to Cutting My Fingers Off Day.  Once I finished cutting up the tissue paper for the flowers, he got to slicing up every piece of paper he could find.

Those gigantic scissors at his elbow...He was using those to cut up...I have no idea.  I only know he was NOT running with them.

Skipping perhaps, but not running.

Currently, he is using crimping scissors to cut all of the sliced pieces into teeny tinier pieces.

FYI He's the sixth kid.  First kids never get to have fun days like this.

I'll be getting in the shower next, 'cause I'm really not in the mood to try to vacuum up all of those teeny tiny pieces.

And honestly, the shower is the only normal thing I'm doing today, albeit 7 hours later than normal.

Oh, except for writing this post.  Some people may say that blogging is synonymous with procrastinating.  Some people may be on to something.

So, are you doing anything out of the ordinary today?

Have a lovely day!

And in case I don't see you, HAVE A WONDERFUL THANKSGIVING!