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

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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,'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!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

I'm 43. Yay Me. TToT Week 75

My birthday was on Friday, so I'm going to go overboard and obnoxious and list 43 things for which I'm thankful.  'Cause it's my birthday and I'll annoy if I want to.

I'm thankful for...

1. my friend's little girl who shares the same birthday as me.  Happy 5th Birthday A!

2. Skip. He's a great, albeit senile, dog of my friend, and his birthday happens to be the day after mine.  Despite his medical problems and oddities, he brings her much joy.

3.  Star's great week.  On Tuesday he played a great game of basketball, and on Wednesday he found out that he scored one of the top scores (Our principal is pretty sure he got the top score.) on the high school placement test.

4.  our school's Moms in Prayer group.  Spending one hour praying for our school, our teachers, the students, and our own kids is a great way to end the week.

5.  the chance to have fun with Turken's first grade class.  Over the years, I have been unable to do much volunteering in the school, but one thing I always do is the Friday reader the first grade teachers do once a month.  I asked to take this week, since it was my birthday.  Much fun and giggling (and Oreos) was had.

6.  chocolate cake.  Bryan bought the best cake in town for my birthday.

7.  a working washing machine.  It even plays a little ditty when it finishes washing a load.

8.  a warm coat and gloves.  It's darn chilly going out to feed those chickens and dogs each morning!

9.  our mud room.  We went more than 7 years without a mud room, and with the cold air, I cannot
appreciate the mud room more.  We have to thaw chicken waterers indoors.  It used to happen in my kitchen, which was beyond gross.  The mud room is a much better option.

10.  a weekend in which no one in the family has to go out of town.  It's the only one we have left until January.

11.  Cuckoo's skin getting back to normal.  He broke out in hives the other day, and while they improved after taking allergy medicine, he was still puffy around the eyes the next day.  Then the hives popped back up that afternoon.  They never itched, and he was perfectly fine, so I didn't really worry about them.  I am glad they are gone, though.

12.  books that are guaranteed to make kids laugh.  I read The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak to the first graders, and they absolutely loved it.  And Saturday morning, the little boys went around making every single person in the house reread it to them.

13.  good meals at new to us restaurants. It was a Mexican restaurant quite close to our house, and we went for my birthday.

14.  Aldi's.  It's the annual food drive at school, and Aldi's is the perfect place for my kids to shop for it.

15.  the chance to watch some of my favorite shows.  I don't get to watch TV very much, but this week I was home and able to watch both The Middle and The Goldbergs.  Those shows do make me laugh.

16.  the healing of my knee.  There are times during the day when I'm walking and my knee doesn't hurt at all.  And I am able to sit Indian style for longer periods of time.

17.  all of the bedding from all 7 beds in the house being clean, blankets included.

18.  sunshine that keeps my car a comfortable temperature when the air outside is frigid.

19.  Bryan's job that doesn't require him to travel.  Besides the fact I would be in a world of hurt without his help with the kids, I wouldn't be able to sleep without his body heat keeping me warm at night.

20.  our dishwasher.  Eight people go through a whole mess of dishes, and I am not a fan of washing them by hand.

21.  clementines.  They are a little bit of deliciousness and so easy to peel and eat when in a hurry.

22.  Lighthouse Catholic Media.  They have hundreds of great CDs covering a wide variety of topics by wonderful speakers.  I just picked up a new batch from church and I'm looking forward to listening while I do my errands around town.

23.  chain party supply stores.  My cousin (who lives in Ohio) and I are in charge of decorations for my grandma's 90th party on Thanksgiving.  She ordered balloon bouquets and sent me a photo of them.  They had the same balloons at the store in Indiana, so I am able to coordinate the table decorations without worrying if they match.

24.  opportunities kids have in high school.  Besides sports, there are over 100 clubs from which to choose.  Buttercup and Phoenix have both joined the Euchre club.  They play every week, but once a month they travel to a nursing home to play with the residents.  I love a fun club that also encourages service.

25.  a dictionary.  It helps me look more intelligent when I'm trying to use big, impressive words.

26.  Facebook.  It's so fun to get pages of birthday wishes from all the people who were reminded that it was my birthday.  Also, it is great to keep up with family and friends far and wide.

27.  the time I had to write the post about a scrapbook I made for my nephews and kids 10 years ago.  People seemed to really like it, so much so that Sarah and her family have decided to make one.

28.  the fact that I followed through with the idea and actually finished the books 10 years ago.

29.  great movies.  Ocean's Eleven is on while I type this post.

30.  jeans that fit.  I actually found some on the shopping trip I took with my mom and sister.  For $39.  Good thing, because the one pair I loved got a gigantic hole in the knee when I was crawling on the floor with Littlest Nephew last month.  A hole in the knee is unfortunate in the middle of a deep freeze.

31.  Cuckoo's desire to skip.  Lately, when we're walking hand in hand, he'll look up and ask, "Can I skip?"  I can't say no to that request.  You can't help but be happy when a cute little 5 year old is skipping ahead of you.

32.  the friendship my children have with with each other.  While I am sad to not have a house full of little kids, it is awesome to have a house full of teens who can have real conversations.  I love to just sit back and listen to them.

33. time to get Phoenix to the BMV.  The boy finally, finally! has his temps and can begin learning how to actually drive.  He'll be getting his first lesson on a real road later today.

34.  Bryan.  I thank God every day for the blessing of my husband.

35.  Phoenix's continued improvement in school.  He's doing so, so well since he began taking medicine for his newly diagnosed ADD.  He is happier, more relaxed, and less anxious.  Which makes our entire house less anxious, more relaxed, and a lot more fun.

36.  pretty chickens.  Looks like we have a rooster in the flock.  He can stay as long as he acts like a hen and doesn't start attacking people.  I'm hope he behaves.  Roosters are such pretty birds.

37.  birthday cards.  While I was thrilled to receive so many well wishes and happy birthdays on FB, I was equally excited to find actual cards in my mailbox.  Snail mail is so rare, when it arrives, it's a seriously special treat.

38.  grocery choices.  While I do think it is overkill that we have 6 grocery stores (7 once Wal-Mart opens) on a three mile stretch of road, it certainly keeps prices down and gives us the ability to find anything that we could possibly need or want at a moment's notice.

39.  the opportunity to lead my teens' Confirmation group.  We Catholics take our sacraments seriously, and before a person receives any of them, he/she must go through classes.  I was able to lead Phoenix's group, and I am currently one of the leaders of Buttercup's group.  Helping these teens grow in their relationship with Jesus and become full members of the Catholic church is inspiring.

40.  wonderful, supportive, fun, caring teachers and administrators in all three of the schools my children attend.

41.  the opportunity my children have to know their extended family.

42.  my hair still being its natural color.

43.  every single day of my 43 years.  There have been rough days.  There have been rough years.  There have been far more good days, good moments, than bad.  I've been blessed beyond measure.

Oh my word.  That took forever to write.  And I didn't even have one single photo.  Sorry about that.

If you made it through half of this list, thanks for sticking with me.

So, where have you been blessed this week?  Don't worry, you don't have to come up with 43.

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Sure Hope I Understand Irony, Because I Mention It A Lot in This Post.

We're taking the prompt 7 Quick Takes literally this time...

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

So, Cuckoo broke out in hives yesterday.  When we got in the van to pick the kids up from school, he was fine.  When we got home, he had hives all over his body, including the area around his eyes.  I gave him some Benadryl and we moved on with our day.  I didn't really think too much of it until I took him to school this morning.  The teacher took one look at him and actually gasped.

Me: "Oh, he's fine.  This is much better than it was.  The hives are completely gone everywhere except the bit of puffiness around his eye."
Teacher:"You don't know what caused it?"
Me: "No."

She gave me a weird look as I ushered him into the room.

I've always been a laid-back mom when it comes to things like germs and injuries, but her reaction tells me I might have just set a new record for my level of (cool as a) cucumberness.

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

Turken came downstairs mostly dressed for school the other day complaining that his pants didn't fit.  I jokingly replied, "What?  You just wore them last week without any problem.  Did you eat too much for breakfast?" while I bent down to fasten his pants.  Lo and behold, I couldn't get them buttoned without cutting off all circulation to areas below his bellybutton.  I was baffled until Bryan piped up, "I think it's your new dryer.  My pants are more snug this week, too."


Our old dryer never got hot enough to shrink anything, and that's part of the reason it would take three hours to dry a load of clothing.  (The other reason is that the washer wouldn't spin well enough to actually get the water out of the clothes.)  New dryer gets hot.  New dryer shrinks clothes. We now need to line dry half our clothes instead of putting them in the new dryer.

Irony.  It's not all it's cracked up to be.

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

Speaking of my new dryer and washing machine, I have washed every piece of fabric in my house except for one.
I have a fuzzy, cozy, only-thing-that-keeps-me-warm robe.
My robe is filthy.
I finally have a new washer and dryer that could handle washing said robe.
It is a high of 28 degrees.  Fahrenheit.
If I take my robe off to wash it, I freeze.
If I let kids wash it while I huddle under a mountain of blankets, they will break my new washer and dryer.
'Cause they break everything I hold dear.
It's a pickle of a problem.
A conundrum if you will.

Like I said, irony is a pain in the butt.

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

Have you noticed that there's a whole lot of anger and outrage in the world today?  Over the most ridiculous things.  And also, people are getting angry when they hear a story, not giving any thought to the other side, the context, or the bias of the storyteller.
I've had it up to my eyeballs with people getting mad.  And when I see people getting worked up and outraged (which is my new most hated word) over things they have no reason to be outraged about, I get annoyed and irritated and lots of other synonyms of mad.
So I'm out.  If someone chooses to post things specifically to get people riled or chooses to overreact to little molehills or chooses to pick a fight just to pick a fight, I will unfollow that page faster than I can say, "You have GOT to be kidding me!"

I'm choosing to not be a part of the anger epidemic.

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

I went shopping with my mom and sister last weekend.  It is the one weekend each year I actually shop for clothes for myself, and we didn't go last year. So, I purchased some much needed winter clothing and a few not needed but just wanted clothing.
Each morning I'm excited to get dressed, feeling good about how I look.
And then I pile on the winter outerwear.
Because did I mention it's only going up to 28 degrees today?

Let's recap.
I have a bunch of new clothes I love and am excited to wear.  I finally look less rag-a-muffinnish when I leave the house.
No one knows, because I'm constantly bundled up.
It's how my kids feel on Halloween, except they still get candy.

Irony.  Pretty sure I'm supposed to be learning something from it in order to be a better person, but I don't really care about that right now.

Me and my pride just want people to see me in my pretty clothes.

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

Grandma's 90th birthday with the kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids is being held on Thanksgiving.  Somehow, my cousin and I were put in charge of the decorations.  As anyone who has been to my house knows, decorating is not my strong suit.  We don't have photos hanging on the walls.  We don't have knick-knacks or pretty things making our rooms look put together.  Shoot, we don't even have furniture in some of the rooms.  How I got this job is beyond me.

Well, my relatives will learn their lesson, I can tell you that.

Know what I am using for table runners?  Paper Bingo sheets taped together.

Know what I'm using for centerpieces?  Yeah, I don't either.

I've got 5 days to figure it out.

Five days, People!


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

Well, I've come to find that 43 is the official age at which a person becomes old.
Today is my birthday.  I'm 43.
A mere two hours into my birthday (as in 2:00 in the morning) I woke up with a horrible pain running through my back.
I hobbled through the dark to get myself some ibuprofen and went back to bed.
How am I doing this morning?
Well, I made Bryan try to massage out some knots before he left for work, and now I have a hot pad balancing over my shoulder if that tells you anything.

Yup.  It's official.

When a person gets injured simply by sleeping, that person is old.

But, I have every confidence that I will feel better by this afternoon.  I get to be the Friday Fabulous Reader in Turken's first grade room today.  Spending time with a room full of 6 year olds always helps me forget about any pain I'm in.  Especially when we get to have birthday Oreos to celebrate.

And that's a wrap.  So it wasn't as "literally quick" as it was supposed to be.

I'm pretty sure none of you are surprised.

Have a lovely day!

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Best Christmas Present I Ever Gave

Back in October, when my nephews were staying with us, somehow the boys and I started talking about the scrapbook we put together 10 years ago.  My nephew jumped in and started quoting things that were written in it.  I was shocked.

Me:  You remember that scrapbook?
Nephew:  Yeah.
Me:  When was the last time you even looked at it?
Nephew:  About a month ago.  It's on the table next to my bed.

This child has moved many times in the last 10 years, including a couple of places during their 3 years in Hawaii.  Just in the last 2 years he has lived in three different places in Kentucky.  I couldn't be more shocked that he still has this book, let alone knows where it is.

I knew it was a good thing when we made it, but I had no idea it would still be looked at 10 years later...

Twelve years ago, my sister and 2 sisters-in-law each delivered their first babies (all boys!) within a few months of the day I gave birth to Giant.  We all lived in different states, and I was sad that none of the kids would know each other very well.  The year the boys were turning 2, I decided to make a book for them to help them all learn both the alphabet and the names of their relatives.  It began as a project for my kids and me to do together, but it quickly turned into an extended family affair.

First I wrote out the alphabet and listed all of the relatives according to the first letters of their names.  The kids helped me come up with adjectives and verbs beginning with each of those letters.  We then had to be patient and wait for a time that my family was all getting together.

It came in November.

My grandma was turning 80 that year, so everyone went to Thanksgiving in Ohio and stayed for an extra day or two to celebrate with her.  We jumped on the opportunity.  We let all the relatives know about the book we were making.  We were going to be asking them to do some crazy things, and they had no choice but to do them.  Not only did the relatives do these things, they even came up with crazier things to add.  We all had so much fun coming up with the ideas for the pages, but executing the ideas was even funnier.

We made my step-mom and brother "run a road race".

We told my dad (Papa to my kids) that we would be taking a photo of him with some pancakes.  He ran with it, and he is quite proud of his acting abilities.

"Papa ponders a pile of pancakes on a purple plate."

We even got my grandma to pose for her photo outside where the neighbors could see her being silly.  Let me say, that was huge.  My grandma is from the generation very big on being proper in front of the neighbors.

"Grandma grudgingly guzzles ginger ale from a green can in her garage."

Once we got the letters which had relatives associated with them, we had to get creative.  No one in the family has a name starting with lots of the letters, including F, H, I, K, and X.  During that Thanksgiving weekend in Ohio and over the next month, we were constantly on the lookout for ideas to go with each letter.  We poured over the dictionary to find words that could work.

For example, since my grandma had just turned 80, she got to do yet another embarrassing photo in her driveway for all the neighbors to see:

"An octogenarian opens orange juice outside in her Oldsmobile."

Coming out of my mother-in-law's house one day, we were thrilled to discover that the neighbor had turned 40.  His family not only let us all know in a public way, but they gave us the perfect idea for our F page:

"A family fist-fights in front of forty flamingoes furiously flapping their feathers."  

We used some family history to make some pages:

"A visit with a veteran, viewing a variety of Vietnam souvenirs."

We made special trips around town to snap specific, more elusive letters.

"Young Yankees yawn next to a yak."

We even got the relatives' pets involved:

"With zeal, Zoe eats a zucchini while watching a zebra."

By far, the favorite photo taken in the entire book was for U.  The laughter that ensued when we managed to get "unknown uncles under an umbrella in their unusual underwear" made the entire project worth the time.


seeing as how the uncles, including Bryan,
 probably don't want their bare bellies and legs out there
 on the internet for the world to see. 
 (They were "unknown" because they used the umbrella to cover their faces.)

Once all of the photos were taken, the kids and I went to a few scrapbook and craft stores to find stickers and paper to coordinate and decorate each letter page.

Finally, I put all four of the books together and handed them out at Christmas.

Well, I handed out 5 books.  My dad enjoyed the project so much, I made one for him, too, minus the paper and sticker decorations.

I can't believe it was 10 years ago.  Since then, lots more kids have been born into the family.  So many people aren't in the scrapbook.  It doesn't matter so much, though, since everyone now lives closer together.  The kids frequently see each other and know each other well.  They don't need a book to remind them of their relatives.

Part of me wants to do another one, though.  Ten years ago there was a  bit of a letdown once the books were done.  Having a common goal really got us laughing and being creative together.  I don't remember another time when we had such an experience with everyone.  It really was a whole mess of fun.

Makes me think...we are all going to be together for Grandma's 90th birthday party this Thanksgiving...

Have a lovely day!

Friday, November 14, 2014

On Washers, Friends, Critters, and Gross Stuff...and the Weather, Because that's My Thing, TToT #74

Can we all just agree that our first thankful is that we don't live in Minnesota where a foot of snow fell this week?  And we can also be thankful that we don't live in Denver either, where the actual temperature was -23 or some such ridiculous number.

And for any readers who do live in Minnesota or Denver...sorry.  I don't know what you could possibly be thankful for this week.  If I were you, I'd be huddled in my blanket fort, whining and wailing about the unfairness of life.

So, even though I am living in a place that has a dusting of snow on the ground and temperatures which refuse to go above the freezing mark, I can find some things for which to be thankful.  I don't have it as bad as those schmuks in the north or in the mountains.

3.  We did have one gorgeous day on Monday.  We took advantage and played/worked outside as much as possible.

4.  Mrs. G is thrilled to bits about us getting her yard raked.  We're not done yet, but we've made a significant dent in the work.  Last night I was approached by a woman who asked me, "Are you the guardian angel who takes care of Mrs. G's yard?  She calls you "my girl".  She appreciates you and your family so much."  Apparently Mrs. G talks about us a lot.  I've heard the same thing from her hairdresser.  I'm so glad we were paired with her 4 years ago, and that my kids are so willing to help her out each year.

5.  I'm very grateful for our working furnace.  While our house is never toasty warm, it is above the freezing.  With a few layers, I can be warmish.

6.  Giant and Star's coach has been bringing them home after most practices.  It has been a huge help.

7.  Making the move to high school is a big deal, for both the kids and the parents.  When they are in elementary and middle school, they are in a bubble.  A bubble full of people we know.  When they move on to high school, they move into an environment full of strangers.  They talk about people I have never heard of or met.  It's quite an adjustment.  This week, the high school has it's musical, and we had 4 tickets.  All of our older boys had practice, so I took Buttercup and two of her friends.  It was nice to spend time with them and get to know the people she talks so much about.

8.  I have officially used my washer and dryer for the last time.  New ones are being installed this weekend.  It's been two years in the making, and I cannot be more excited.  Don't expect much out of me next week.  I'll be washing all the things!  Stuffed animals!  Blankets!  Curtains!  Clean, clean, clean!!!

9.  As happens every year, with the harvest ending and the cold temperatures moving in, field mice descended on our house.  For a few days, the kids were forever telling me, "I just saw a mouse".  Every time I went in the basement, I caught a glimpse of one running off to hide.  Bryan was out of town, and I can't stand mice, so I needed backup.  I told Phoenix that it was time for him to learn a new skill he would need when he moved out on his own.  He helped me set the 12 snap traps I purchased, and when we caught one, he disposed of it for me.  We caught several more since then, and it's been at least 3 days since I saw any sign of a live mouse running around.  Hopefully we're at the end of the infestation.

10.  With the cold weather, I was forced to do inside chores.  For some reason, I tackled all of the grossest ones first.  Not only did I clean out the drains, but the worst was changing the toilet lids in the two bathrooms the kids use.  You know that phrase, "where the sun doesn't shine"?  I have discovered that there isn't a single place where the pee doesn't "shine". I won't get any more graphic than that, just in case you are eating while you read.

While I am thankful to have the new, clean seats, it is the kids' reactions that I'm really thankful for.

We had to discuss the new lids many times that first day, since each time a child came out of a bathroom he exclaimed, "Hey, you got a new toilet!"

Cuckoo made me cringe and laugh at the same time when he said, "The lid doesn't make a sound no matter how hard I try to close it!"  (I bought the slow-close lids.)

Who knew that a bunch of kids could be so excited about new toilet lids?  I guess my strategy of not buying them anything, ever, is paying off.  :)

This week in my never-ending travels I am off to Kentucky for my annual shopping excursion with my mom and sister.  I am always grateful for the time I get to spend with them, almost as grateful as I am to get a few clothes for myself without having little kids in the dressing room with me.

What's shining moments have you had this week?

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful

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Monday, November 10, 2014

I Don't Hate Fall. Really!

I do not like pumpkin.

I will not eat it in a pie.  I will not try it in the sky.  I would not, could not in a latte.  I could not, would not...

Did you know that orange is not the only word that doesn't have a rhyme.  According to RhymeZone, three words rhyme with latte, but those three words don't have any known definitions.  So...

I would not, could not in a latte.  I could not, would not in a muffin.

I do not like it here or there.  I do not like it in a cake.

I do not like it in my tea.  But that could be because tea is gross.

You know what else I don't like?

Fall.  If Fall was a full season like summer, I'd be happy.  True Fall means pretty leaves and perfect temperatures.  However, here in Indiana, True Fall lasts all of about a week.

Fall is not fun when it only lasts a week.  Know why?  Because winter comes after fall.  I really, really hate winter.


But, I'm not one to dwell on the things I hate.  Today, we're going to focus on the good things about fall besides the leaves.  Hate is just a waste of time.

1.  In the fall, I am relaxed.  I don't have to worry 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, that the next time I walk out the door I will find either an escaped or dead pig in my yard.

2.  In the fall, I get to wear clothes I haven't seen for months and months.  It's almost like I went shopping for a bunch of holey, stained clothes that I get to start wearing instead of the holey, stained shorts I've been wearing all summer.

3.  In the fall, grass stops growing.  I no longer have to explain to everyone who stops by why my yard is splotchy and some of those splotches are a foot high.

4.  In the fall, my kids don't play soccer.  Instead of sitting on the sidelines, outside, during unpredictable weather, I get to sit in warm, dry gyms with predictably hard bleachers.

5.  In the fall, I only wear closed-toe shoes.  My toenails can go au naturale.

6.  In the fall, so can my legs.  I already have a good start on my "winter coat".

7.  In the fall, perspective changes.  Normally, in July, 55 degrees is worthy of warm PJs and a day inside.  But come late October, on a 55 degree day, we're out in shorts, celebrating the gift of a gorgeous day.

8.  In the fall, there is no sun past 5:30 pm.  Sure, it's depressing, but kids fall asleep so much faster when it is pitch black dark at bedtime.  And, AND, they sleep in a bit longer, since the sun doesn't feel it is necessary to make an appearance before 7:00.  Even if the kids do wake up early, because, you know, that blasted time change messed everyone up, you can send them back to bed with a "you can get up when the sun does!"

9.  In the fall, one shower per day is more than enough.  Shivering under three blankets doesn't burn many calories, let alone make a person sweat.

10.  In the fall, each day is an adventure.  In the morning it's possible to leave the house wearing a light jacket, but by the drive home from school, a full-on coat, mittens, hats, and boots are necessary to survive the walk from the van to the house, seeing as how a blizzard blew in from Canada.  Adventure is fun!

See?  Fall isn't so bad.

No need to be a hater.

This post was inspired by my irritation with the weather and the Tuesday Ten linkup, where the theme today is "Things We Love About Fall".  Love might be a strong word.

Have a lovely day!

The Golden Spoons

Friday, November 7, 2014

I'm Not Going Anywhere This Week! TToT Week 73

I'm home!  I'm home!  I actually get to be home for 12 days straight!  (And by home, I mean staying here overnight.  By no means do I mean I get to stay in my PJs all day long, relaxing in my actual home.  More like in my van, taxiing children hither and yon.)  And then I'll be gone again every single weekend except for one all the way through the rest of the year.

Ya'll, this is nuts.  Fun, but nuts.

And I apologize now for turning this into a travel blog.  When 2014 started, it most certainly wasn't my intention to simply take lots of trips and catalog them here.  I have never, ever traveled this much in one year!

Enough of that.  On to the thankfuls...

1.  I am so glad I got to meet Jen and her wonderful family.  Surprisingly, it wasn't the least bit awkward to stay for four nights with a family we had never laid eyes on.  (I wrote about the trip Cuckoo and I took here.)

2.  I got to take Cuckoo trick-or-treating in Florida.  It was a beautiful night and warm enough for me to wear shorts. According to Bryan, trick-or-treating in Indiana was miserable. "It's slushing.  Not raining.  Not snowing.  Slushing.  Which wouldn't be so bad if the wind wasn't blowing hard enough to blow the slush horizontal, thus making umbrellas useless."  I'm thinking we should spend every Halloween in Florida from now on.

3.  While we were gone, Bryan and the kids didn't have much at all on the calendar.  I had mentioned to Bryan that Saturday would be a great day to have the kids get some cleaning done.  He took the hint, and Hot Dog did they deliver!

Photographic evidence sent to me by Bryan:

In case you're new here, this is a joke.  He has never, ever yelled at anyone for having a messy room.

4.  Most of my boys have a hard time pronouncing the letter R.  Star had a bit of speech therapy in 5th grade to correct it.  The speech therapist who comes to our school each week is fantastic.  Good thing, because Turken is going to be seeing her.  Not only does he have trouble with his R sound, but he has a (for lack of a better word) lazy way of talking.  The therapist will chat with him to see what is going on, then let me know what she recommends.

5.  While I was gone, Bryan managed to get the chicken fence fixed.  But of course the chickens were too afraid to step one foot outside.  Today the boys and I managed to get all 25 out into the yard, then locked them out for an hour.  Hopefully when we open the door tomorrow, they will be more willing to go outside and find some goodies to eat.

6. I am thrilled to bits to see the choices my kids are making in regards to their friends.  This week, Giant's friends were really on top of things.  A boy in their grade was having a really hard day, and when Giant and his friends found out about it during lunch, two of the boys shared their snacks with him to help him feel better.  This was all the encouragement Giant needed to take things one step further.  The next day, even the teachers were crying when they saw what Giant had done to help this boy.  It is overwhelming to see a group of children show such compassion and kindness.  There are a whole bunch of wonderful teens and preteens in this world, and we must remember that when we hear about the awful things a few teens do.

7.  For some reason, raspberries were on sale for 50 cents/container.  Only two of my kids like raspberries, but they really, really like them.  These berries are normally about $3/container, so I bought several.

8.  Buttercup had me laughing this week. Let's just say Buttercup is coming into her own, is enjoying high school immensely, and is way more street smart than anyone gives her credit for.

9.  Star started a load of laundry before school one day.  All on his own.  Without anyone telling him to do so.  Because he needed school clothes for the next day.  Finally!!  He has been paying attention these last 13 years!

10.  We will finally have time tomorrow (Saturday) to rake Mrs. G's yard.  We haven't been out there once yet this year thanks to all my trips to Ohio and Florida.  I know she will be happy to see us out there.

Alright People, it's your turn.  What happened this week for which you should say "Thanks!"

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Thank Heavens She Wasn't a Serial Killer or a Mom With Horribly Obnoxious Kids, or I Finally Met Jen!

If one were to ask Cuckoo how he liked his special trip, one would probably hear all about the fun, wonderful things we did.

If one were to ask the family with whom we stayed how the trip went, one would hear an entirely different story.

For example, Cuckoo would say we had a great afternoon at the beach, jumping waves and playing in the sand and collecting shells.

Host Family might say it was a ridiculous day to go to the beach, seeing as how it was the coldest day of the year.

Another example...

Cuckoo would say he had so much fun, he wanted to stay at their house forever.

Host 10 year old might say, "I thought they were supposed to stay in a hotel for two nights, but then I had to sleep on the cold, hard floor for FOUR nights!"

And another example...

Cuckoo would say the fort we explored (next to the beach) was lots of fun, made only more fun by the super-strong winds that were blowing.  (He's skipping, because "I have to skip so I don't forget how to do it.")

Just to give you an idea of how strong the wind was, palm trees usually have palms on both sides of the trunk...

The following photo pretty much sums up what Host Family thought of our fort exploration.

Host Mom:  Her smile is trying to say, "We're having fun," but her eyes are giving away that she's really thinking, "What in the name of all that is holy are we doing here?!!?!?!"

Host Baby:  Her hat says, "I'm an Ingall." Her face says...who knows?  No one saw it the whole time we were at the fort.

Host 4 year old:  Her cowering says, "This isn't any fun, so I'll make sure we leave earlier than they'd like".  A short time later, she vomited all over the inside of the fort.  And many, many more times before the night was over.

And yet another example...

Cuckoo would say it was an uneventful but pretty one hour drive to the beach.

Host Mom would say it was a disaster that ruined her family's car trips forever.

I would have to give a rebuttal and say, "If you have a 16-year family tradition of lying to your kids about what an "Exit Only" sign means in order to delay stops for trips to the bathroom, you darn well better let the adults in the van with you know of such things."  Aaaaand that fiasco doesn't take away from the views we had driving to the beach.

Last example, I promise...

Cuckoo would say he had a blast trick-or-treating three different times in the first two days of the trip.

Host Mom might say, "What am I supposed to do with all of this candy?!?!?!!?"

She has three kids who collected the same amount of candy as Cuckoo...

In truth, I'm pretty sure Jen and her family had fun while we were there.  Or at least didn't mind us too much.  They were nothing but gracious and welcoming, which is a huge feat when you consider we had never met in person before.

Jen and I stayed up way too late each night talking and laughing and getting to know each other in real life.  Her kids were polite and funny and helpful and everything you want in your own children.  They even spoke to me, having real conversations and all!   And that baby...oh she is a sweet one.  She barely cried the whole time I was there.  The 4 year old (She'll turn 5 on our shared birthday later this month.) and Cuckoo got along beautifully, and the 3rd grader was a great leader of the fun for the two little kids.

We spent some time at one of the best playgrounds I've ever seen.

We saw alligators and TONS of gigantic birds at an alligator reserve.

I didn't take my real camera, so the photos of the animals are terrible.  Just know that 1 is a crane, I think, under the bridge.  2 is a baby alligator, and 3 is a group of kids happy to be standing on top of a crane.  (I think.)

Taken from the pier while looking for alligators.  Those trees are filled with birds.

From the very beginning it felt like we had known each other our whole lives.  We have similar ways of raising children, and we had no problem at all falling right in with the organizing and corralling of everyone.  It was remarkable really.

But, as I've heard it told, house guests are like fish.  After three days they start to go bad.  On Sunday Cuckoo and I ventured out on our own while our friends had a normal day at home.

When I heard about Legoland, I thought it was a gigantic museum-type thing with Lego structures and lots of places for kids to build things. When I looked it up, I was shocked to find out it is an amusement park for kids 12 and under.  Of course that was immediately added to Cuckoo's list of things to do.

While there was a gigantic area in which several replicas of US cities were made from Legos,

We spent a lot of time in this area, since each city had lots of buttons to push, making different parts of the structures move.

there were plenty of rides and fun things for kid to do.

At the end of his first of two roller coaster rides that day.

"Driver's School" turned into Nascar when Cuckoo took the wheel.  Every time the boy in the red car tried to pass him, Cuckoo swerved to prevent it from happening.

The morning of the day we were to leave, the Host 4-year old was still not feeling well, so Cuckoo and I said our goodbyes and went to Sea World before our flight.

There were sea animals, of course.

While Cuckoo thoroughly enjoyed the Shamu show, his favorite thing in the park was the gigantic play structure.  I told him that I couldn't go in it with him, seeing as how my knee isn't completely healed yet.  He had no trouble getting right on up there on his own.

That's him.  He's about 35 feet in the air.
As you can probably predict, he came to a section he could not traverse alone.  He asked some passing adults for help, then came down to tell me he needed me to go up there with him.  There were "squishy" rope places that he couldn't do alone.  I couldn't say no.

I should have.

From Sea World we headed straight for the airport, where he once again had the people around us giggling.  The boy gets really excited, and he talks loudly when he's excited.  His questions, including"Are we in the air yet?" when we hadn't even left the terminal, and his panicked requests for gum because, "My ears aren't working!" carried to the passengers all around us.

By the number of stories Cuckoo has shared with his siblings and dad, I'm going to have to say it was a successful first "special trip".  I have to agree, and I can't wait to see Jen and her family again.

Now, which blog friend will I get to meet next...

Have a lovely day!