Monday, December 30, 2013

Well Hey There

Honestly, I never meant to take a two week blogging hiatus.  It just kind of.....happened.  Evan was in China and it was all I could do to keep my head above water most days.  Then he came back and suddenly it was Christmas, like....NOW.  So we were gone for a few days and then we came back.  Oh, and while away for the Christmas holiday my husband and I went to go see The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, so now all I want to do is watch my Extended Edition Blu-Rays of The Lord of the Rings and read about the adventures of Middle Earth.

And sleep.
And eat.
And play Downton Abbey reruns on my iPad.

I think I'm in some sort of holiday hangover.

Lots to look forward to in 2014.  I want to do so much more of some things and significantly less of others.  I would love to get more sleep, but that doesn't really play into my plans to do more of other things.

Aren't super-vague blog posts fantastic?

Sam and Frodo just broke off from the Fellowship and started wandering toward Mordor.  Time for bed.

Happy New Year,

Monday, December 16, 2013

Stormy Seas

I must be a glutton for punishment to have put myself through such harrowing experiences yesterday.  My emotions were in turmoil, my gut churning with uncertainty like the waves on a raging sea, the surges of joy followed closely by the crashing and sinking of despair and angst.

Of course, I'm talking about watching the Packer game and the episode of Downton Abbey from Season 3 that left everyone unsure whether to riot or see their doctor for an emergency prescription of anti-depressents.

First of all, I must apologize to everyone who follows me on Twitter because I know I become somewhat of a maniac during Packer games.  During normal games, I tweet pretty often and I like to follow along with the banter being tossed around by those far more knowledgeable and witty than myself, but I was an absolute tweeting lunatic yesterday.  The first half felt like I was watching a pee-wee football game and tempers were flaring on Twitter like nothing I have ever seen because the Packers were playing what can only be described as some of the worse football in the history of EVER.  When fortunes turned around after halftime, I couldn't refresh my feed fast enough and the boys and I were going absolutely wild in our living room.  Isaiah sat next to me asking so many questions that made me very proud and also annoyed the living crap out of me:

Was that a touchdown?
What's an interception?
Where is Aaron Rodgers?
Why are the Packers getting a fumble?

And the very best one - Why did they say that wasn't an interception, Mommy?

Well, I couldn't very well tell him the truth and say that the refs were idiots, so I tried to sugar-coat it and said that the officials "made a mistake."  Then when the most epic comeback I have ever witnessed started to unfold, all three boys were as wrapped up in the action as I was.

After the Packers scored the touchdown that put them ahead late in the fourth quarter, I jumped up and down in celebration.  Isaiah and Micah also jumped up and down.  Thomas jumped down from the couch and tried to run around to show his excitement, but got a bit ahead of himself.  He biffed it and face planted into the floor, splitting his lip open.  So I sat there on the floor, holding a screaming toddler and a bloody Kleenex while I prayed for the defense get their ever-loving act together just long enough to get a stop.

And then the elation.  The triumph! The jubilation when booth reviewed the idiotic ruling on the field that Williams' interception was an incomplete pass and the victory was in hand.  We high-fived, we yelled, we kissed fat lips all better.

See what I mean?  Emotionally harrowing, I tell you!!!

After the kids went to bed, I wrapped a few Christmas presents and then sat down to write a letter of recommendation for a young lady's college admission - both of which were completed while I watched the masterpiece that is Downton Abbey on PBS.  They were re-playing a few of the episodes from season 3 and it made the perfect background for what I was doing.

I held my warm cup of pumpkin spice chai tea latte with fat free Redi-Whip in my hand, snuggled in my new fluffy blanket from Target, enjoyed the glow of the flames in my fireplace, and sobbed my bloody eyes out once again as it happened.  I'm not going to write any spoilers here because I'm pretty sure my sister-in-law would drive over to my house and smother me in my sleep if I did, but all Downton fans will know what I'm talking about.  It was THE episode.  Not the last one, but the OTHER one.  The one that made us all come undone.  The one that took us all by surprise and left us screaming, "No no no no!!!!" at our TVs and cursing those horrible Brits for making us love these characters so much. 

Even though I knew it was coming, I still wanted to shake Lord Grantham like an Etch-a-Sketch.

Such highs and lows for one day.  Elation and devastation.  Just another Sunday for this Business Trip Widow.  

Thursday, December 12, 2013

On Not Wearing Real Pants....or a Bra.

Micah goes to a private Christian preschool and I dropped him off this morning without wearing a bra or Real Pants. 

Let's just all take a moment, shall we?

Ok, now that I have lost about half of my readers and the other slightly neurotic half is still around (love you!), allow me to explain.  It's not that I didn't wear pants at all, just that I didn't wear Real Pants.  As any mother of small children can explain to you in no uncertain terms, Real Pants can be defined as any pants that require fastening or zipping of some sort.  The exception to this definition is maternity pants that are pulled up and stretched out over that baby belly because I give mad props to any and all preggers who are even attempting to wear something that even resembles Real Pants.  And if you're one of those pregnant women who is able to wear Real Pants, as in with zippers and buttons and all, for the whole duration of your can I put this gently?  You are a glorious freak of nature.  I love you, you're beautiful, but genetically speaking you are quite the anomaly.  The rest of us ditch the Real Pants after the first time we have to jump up and down and/or lie down flat on the bed while cursing at the stupid zipper that refuses to budge because clearly it is the zipper's fault that the Real Pants are no longer working even though the stick only turned pink two weeks ago. 

No, I'm not pregnant.  But I do have a friend out there having a baby as I write this, so I kind of have baby on the brain.  You are not expected to wear Real Pants for a very long time, girlfriend.  

Real Pants also do NOT, I repeat......DO NOT include leggings or tights.  Because tights are not Pants.  No matter how many fashion bloggers wear them and post adorable photos of themselves rocking their leggings and ankle boots juxtaposed against a serene winter woods, they are still not Real Pants.  If there is any question about this issue, I would refer you to this helpful flow chart

I'm so glad we cleared that up.

Real Pants are not yoga pants, workout pants, pajama pants, or any pants with a cartoon character printed on them or writing on the butt.  I'm looking at you 14 year old girl who goes to school wearing skin tight fabric with the word "Juicy" proudly displayed across your derriere.  Seriously?  Not. Real. Pants. And anything with Tweety bird, the Tazmanian Devil, Hello Kitty, or Tinkerbell....not Real Pants.

Am I saying that it's unacceptable to wear anything other than Real Pants out into public?  Heck to the no.  If you've been paying attention, you will recall that I was rocking some definitely not-Real Pants this morning to school drop-off. 

Sometimes we just need to let it go, friends.  When we see the tired mama with the bags under her eyes and her pajama pants shoved roughly into her knock-off Ugg boots shuffling her children across the parking lot as the -10 wind chill swirls around her, let's agree she deserves a fist bump, a high five, perhaps even a kind word of encouragement.  Because I can promise you that that mom would much rather be wearing Real Pants, but on this particular day it just was not worth it. 

The having to get out of bed a few minutes earlier to pick out Real Pants and the Real Shirt to go with it.
The sucking in of the muffin top required to zip the Real Pants and the subsequent admonition to "really start working out again."
The spilling the blessed first sip of coffee on the Real Pants, prompting a stifled curse word and then a rush to find another pair of clean Real Pants that will also go with the Real Shirt you've already strategically chosen to hid the previously mentioned muffin top yet still keep you warm in this frigid excuse for weather we are currently enduring.
The minutes we are now running late, the coffee left un-enjoyed, the tempers now that much shorter.

Not.  Worth.  It.

So I wore the same pants I slept in, drawstring and all.  They billowed atop my grungy brown boots.  I tossed on a sweatshirt, zipped up my coat, blamed my hair on the wind and kissed my boy as he went off to school.  If I never took the coat off, who cares if I wasn't wearing a bra?

I promise to put on Real Pants for work tonight.  I might even shower, do my hair, and wear a bra. 

Cuz I'm fancy like that.

Over-tired Blogging Isn't a Great Idea

There are still two baskets full of unfolded laundry piled on top of one another sitting next to our dining table.  The Elf on the Shelf was perches on top of them this morning, holding two stacks of neatly sorted undies so a certain six year old would quit his high pitched squealing about not having any undies in the morning.

I'm kind of holding out hope that my mother will fold that laundry while I'm at work tomorrow night because she's the type who can't leave that sort of thing alone.  If it were left up to me, we'd be digging wrinkled clothes out of those basket every day until Evan came hold to fold them.

Because he's the folder.  He folds.

I've already had to shovel the sidewalks on our corner lot - TWICE, so I think I've done pretty well in pulling his share of the weight too.

Nah, that's not true. 

The truth is that I've stayed up until at least midnight every night since he's been gone.  I've tried to blog, but haven't felt my usual creative spark.  So many posts have been started, edited, and then deleted.  My ideas just sound so disjointed and bland, kind of like how I feel when he's gone.  I'm sure being over-tired has something to do with it as well. 

My apologies to those of you who clicked over hoping for a hilarious post.  I just don't have it in me this time.  My eyelids weigh about 200 pounds right now and I just can't hold them open a second longer. 

By the way, apparently Isaiah told our babysitter about a dream he had the other night where he came into the hallway and the Elf on the Shelf was running around naked.  He said that in the dream he ran in to get me and that we were both screaming because we were scared of the elf.  He insisted that this really happened and that he and Micah's minds melded to form some sort of dream partnership because Micah was in his dream and vice versa.

People have been warning me for a couple years now and it turns out they're right.  The elf really is a little creepy.  :)

Moment of humor achieved.  Good night now. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Sprinkles and Flour-Licking

As much as I just want to curl up under a comfy blanket and live in my yoga pants for the entire time Evan is gone, my budget is forcing me to do things like go to work.  In order to go to work I have to put on real pants and mascara. 

But there are two nights each week that I do not, WILL NOT work.  And I used one of those nights this week to make a high holy mess all over the kitchen and dining room with my kids. 

Believe it or not, this is first time we have made Christmas cookies and apart from the two Time Outs I had to give during the process and the epic disaster that occurred when I attempted to get Thomas to just stir the green food coloring into the frosting and not just spoon it into his mouth, it was FANTASTIC. 

Well, there was that one thing.

Yup, you betcha.  He held out until the cookies were cooled, frosted, and decorated before presenting me with a little Christmas present of his own.  Thanks so much, sweetie.

After the boys had each picked out a cookie to devour mere minutes before going to bed, I somehow managed to get them into pajamas and scrub the sugar off their teeth. Once they were tucked safely under their covers, I was faced with the daunting task of cleaning up the aftermath of our evening.

How did this even happen?

But look how proud they are of their creations!

They loved every minute of it - except the minutes Micah spent in Time Out for continuing to try to lick the flour off the table despite me telling him not to and then lying to me about it when I caught him.  For the record, he officially got the Time Out for the lying, not the flour-licking. 

I'm sure if I put my kid in Time Out merely for flour-licking I would get nasty comments from my old pal Anonymous.

I wonder if I'll get any hits stemming from a Google search for "flour licking."

Doubt it.

Aren't they beautiful?

At the end of the evening, the disgusting kitchen table, the floor coated in flour and sprinkles, the sink full of dishes with a load already running in the dishwasher was totally worth it. 

On a completely unrelated side note, I am out of wine, beer, and the coffee is running low.  This does not bode well for the rest of this business trip.  Plus, I'm getting sick on top of it all, so that should be interesting.

Surrounded by Sprinkles,

Monday, December 9, 2013

All Before 8 AM on Sunday Morning

I can't make this stuff up.

Right before he left for the airport, he gave me a cup of fresh coffee and kissed me goodbye.  I took a few sips and prepared myself for Day 1 of this particular installment of the China Business Trip Saga.  The weather report was calling for about 5 inches of snow and the snow-blower had refused to start the night before, so I knew I had that to look forward to later on.  I dragged myself out of the cozy warmth of my covers and got to work.

The dog gave me his "I need to go" growl.

About 2 hours later, I called Evan and begged him to switch places with me.

Thomas woke up soaked in pee, so he was less than thrilled about life in general for quite some time.  I quickly stripped the crib sheets and threw them in the washing machine, along with his PJs and other random laundry I found in the boys' rooms.  For good measure, I stole his beloved Blankee quick like a ninja and slipped it into the laundry pile because it was getting naaaaaasty.  

The dog growled at me.

In the meantime, Isaiah was already getting dressed for church while his brother rolled around in bed, moaning like a bear with a toothache.  When I was finally successful in getting him to climb out of bed, all he wanted to do was talk about the Star Wars Lego set he wants for Christmas (the one with the ogre, the Rancor monster and Luke Skywalker and can we go to Target after church and buy it?) and put his hands in his pants.

The dog growled at me.

Starting to fall behind schedule, I declared it a cereal morning for breakfast and started pouring out two bowls of Honey Nut Cheerios and one bowl of regular Cheerios.  Chaos and bedlam soon followed when the second bowl of sugar coated Cheerios was likened to day old gruel and there was stomping of feet and gnashing of teeth.  In the name of preserving my temper, I caved and made toast with peanut butter and apples.

The dog growled at me.

I quickly downed a few more swallows of my coffee and popped into the bathroom to brush my teeth while the kids ate their breakfast only to realize I hadn't actually started that load of pee laundry.  In the midst of pouring in the fabric softener, the chorus of "Mommy!! All done!!" and "Mommyy???? I spilled!!!" and "Mess! Mess! Mess!" reached my ears.

The dog growled at me.

Tossing a dish towel over the growing puddle of milk, I opened the door for the dog (FINALLY!!!) and began the oh-so-beloved process of acquiring shoes, hats, coats, and mittens for three boys.  One got distracted momentarily by a stale piece of macaroni and cheese he found under the couch that turned out to be a crunchy disappointment, but we worked through it and managed to get everyone correctly shod and bundled up in a reasonable amount of time.

Where the heck is the dog?

I looked in the backyard to see what was taking the dog such an ever-loving long time to do his business in the arctic chill and I could feel the pall spread across my face when I saw him struggling to "finish the job," so to speak.  Upon my whistle, he gave up the effort and trotted toward the house, stopping for a moment to rub his hindquarters across my back patio, leaving a delightful streak I'm going to call a "skid mark."  Sometimes you just gotta call a spade a spade, am I right?

We should have left the house 4 minutes ago.  But there is no way on God's earth I am walking out that door and leaving my dog unsupervised when there is that much of a....situation stuck underneath his tail.  Busting out our dog grooming kit that has admittedly been underused as of late, I grabbed the scissors and coaxed the dog into the bathroom with me.  As my two year old looked on and repeated, "Doing? Doing?" I gently put my knee atop my pup's side to hold him down and try to snip away the offensive matter.  I quickly realized this was likely going to make me vomit, but we had a schedule to keep. When he turned and snapped his jaws down on my hand when I got a little too aggressive for his liking, I conceded my defeat.  I'd probably try to bite someone too if they were poking around like I had been.

I threw some grubby old towels on the couch, closed the bedroom door, said a little prayer and begged the dog to just nap on the hardwood the whole time we were gone, and shooed the kids into the van.  Everyone was safely buckled and we were going to only be a few minutes late.

The fuel light was on.

As the gas pumped into my dented minivan, I called my husband and related the tale of our morning.  My beloved responded to my laments with this statement:

"I'd take a poopy dog butt over a fourteen hour flight any day."

I realized I had never actually gotten to brush my teeth.   


Friday, December 6, 2013

While He's Away

We are gearing up for another business trip around here.  In a nutshell, that means that I get to fill the squares in my planner like a crazy person with color coded markings of who is going to be watching the kids on which nights and where I have to be on which days overlapping the many many days highlighted in yellow when Evan will be on the other side of the planet.  As far as I know, I have the whole childcare situation arranged, but there is always the possibility that I blew it somehow and I'll end up having to take all three kids to work with me.  Then I'll get fired and we'll have a really fun story to tell Daddy upon his return!

China trips mean Skype dates over breakfast, apologies after angry outbursts (my bad), late nights flipping channels alone, and a lot of whining.  Mostly, from the children. 

Anyway, preparations are underway.  What makes this trip unique is that Evan will be gone in the couple weeks leading up to Christmas which stinks on a number of levels.  Mostly, it means that I will have to hide piles of unwrapped presents in my closet because he is the guy who does all the gift wrapping in our house.  When he gets home, it will be something along the lines of, "Hey honey! Welcome home! Here's the scissors, Scotch tape, and the wrapping paper.  Arrange them neatly under the tree when you're done.  I'll be taking a bubble bath."

I just about died laughing when I read this post by Beth Woolsey about what happens in her house when her husband is away because it was so similar to what we go through! Get out of my head, Beth!!  So, inspired by one of my favorite bloggers, I'm going to do my own list of what happens "While Dad's Away."

1.  He sends me pictures like this.

My man is so thoughtful. He know that it gets stressful for me to be left back at home to care for all the kids and do all the things, so he sends me photos like this to remind me of how much his trip to China is so very much NOT a vacation.  Suddenly, my pee smelling bathroom isn't sounding so bad.

Now, I obviously understand that he is not on vacation.  I get that.  Nobody gets on a 14 hour flight only to drive in a van for a few hours only to get on a ferry for a couple more hours only to crash into an uncomfortable bed for a restless night of sleep before touring a factory with dirt floors and calls it a vacation.  Obviously. 

2.  The outside work goes completely to pot.

Back at our old house, I distinctly remember wanting to put a sign out in our front lawn that read "Husband in China. I promise we aren't really this lazy" because our grass was starting to resemble that field that Padme and Anakin run through in that ridiculous scene in Episode II: Attack of the Clones, but I was too scared of getting robbed.  It just so happened that we got some crazy rain in the days following Evan's departure and by the time he got back, I was considering putting some busted down old cars in the yard just to complete the look.  

What's really going to be fun this time around is that the Weather People are predicting about 5-6" of snow to fall on the exact. day. he. leaves.

Looks like I'm going to need to learn how to use the snowblower or try to convince the kids to help me shovel the driveway and pay 'em in hot chocolate with extra marshmallows.

3.  The boys will NOT be having pancakes with Peanut Butter M&Ms for dinner.

So sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

4.  My anxiety level is about to go through the roof.

If you happen to be driving by my house any time soon, just slow down a bit and toss some individually wrapped chocolates, semi-dry white wine, and a bag of whole bean coffee on my front lawn and I'll come out and pick it up at my earliest convenience.  Thanks so much.

5.  We will all be wearing wrinkled clothes.

As previously discussed, Evan is the laundry folder of the family.  I collect, wash, and put away.  He folds.  While he is away, every morning before school will include a wail coming down the hallway from my oldest son as he laments, "Mommmmmyyyy!!! I don't have any clean unnnndiiiiessss!!!"  I will tell him to come get some from the laundry basket and my boy will race down the hall, naked as the day he was born, and start digging through the pile to find the boxer briefs, NOT the regular briefs before prancing back to his room to finish coordinating his outfit.  He will then discover he has no jeans in his drawer.  Rinse and repeat.

6.  I'm going to be sleeping in my warmest jammies with socks on.

Cuz it's going to be cold.  And my bed warmer will be in China.

Here's to hoping this trip goes really fast.  :)


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Stitch Fix Review - Fix Regret Be Gone!

With every new Stitch Fix box that lands on my doorstep, I have more and more fun sorting through the unexpected items my stylist sends me.  Sure, I requested a fall coat in my last fix (and the one they sent didn't work out), but I honestly didn't expect another one to come this time.  And burgundy skinny jeans?  For me, this was a very adventurous box! 

(P.S.  If you're reading this and wondering what the heck this whole Stitch Fix thing is that I'm talking about, I invite you to check out my previous reviews for the more detailed run-down.)

Super Quick Recap of Stitch Fix:
  • Sign up and get on the Waiting List (this usually moves pretty quickly)
  • Fill out your detailed Style Profile
  • Schedule your first "Fix" and work yourself up into a frenzy as your stylist chooses some great clothes for you to try on
  • Pay your $20 styling fee and wait for the goodies to arrive on your doorstep
  • Receive a box full of items hand-picked by a personal stylist, just for you, based on your profile
  • Try everything on, keep what you want, send back what you don't. (The $20 styling fee comes off the price of anything you choose to keep and if you buy all 5 items, you get a 25% discount!)
First Impressions:  Ummmm...where is all the COLOR?  I love it when I open a box and discover a variety of saturated hues - blues, greens, etc.  This one was very monochromatic so I was a little worried at first.  I also had a new stylist trying her hand at selecting items for me, so that always makes for an exciting experience.  Lizzy wrote a very detailed note of introduction about why she chose each item for me, including referencing my Pinterest board and my feedback on previous Fixes

I wish you could touch this sweater.  It is so soft and flowy.  Just looking at it, I knew it would be super-comfy!  My concern was that it would make me look frumpy.

I took my cue from the styling card and I wore it with a v-neck white t-shirt and jeans.  I tried putting a scarf with it, but it seemed like too much fabric around the neck for me.  I tossed on my favorite colorful earrings and a pair of black flats (I'm still too shy to try this whole ankle boot trend).

Basically, I never wanted to take this sweater off.

After sending back a really cute yellow color-block sweater in my very first Fix, I've been hoping to have another shot at one.  I've regretted not keeping that sweater so many times!  I hate it when I get a bad case of Fix Regret.

While this top didn't quite fill the hole in my closet that the elusive yellow sweater left behind, it did a pretty decent job.  It was a lighter knit than I was expecting and it did cling to my trouble zone a bit more than I would usually be comfortable with.  BUT.  I loved the red on top and I thought the button detail was darling.  I could definitely see myself wearing this top a lot, as long as I remembered to squeeze into my SPANX first.

See my little helper there holding the belt up?  What a cupcake.  Can I just say how stoked I get when one of my items comes with an included belt?  Free accessory, people!!  Nice.  The feminine details on this tunic top jumped out at me right away and I was excited to try it on.

Couple of things.  First, I wish I would have worn this with my leopard print flats.  Whew, I feel better already now that I have that off my chest.  Second, my leg is not broken, despite the freakish and unnatural angle I am holding it at in this photo.  I really don't know what on earth I'm doing.  Third, I dig this top.  The length is great and covers my bum and it's loose enough that I don't have to worry about sucking it in all the time.

I asked for a fall jacket in my last Fix and the one my stylist picked for me was sent back because it was too small and just not quite right for my style.  This one was spot on.  I loved the color, the casual feel, but the best part was how the drawstring created a cinched waist.

I tried it on and loved it.  I immediately wanted to hang it in the closet, but the $100 price tag had me a little gun shy.  I put this one in the "maybe" pile because I needed to see what the fifth item in the box held in store for me.  There was that 25% discount I needed to think about.....

Burgundy. Skinny.  Pants.

Really?  I have started letting my stylists know that it is ok to send me something a little wild and outside the box to surprise me a little bit.  This certainly qualifies because I was scratching my head a bit trying to think about how on earth I was going to wear these.  But then I touched them.  Oh mylanta, were these pants soft.

They were several inches too long, so I had no choice but to wear them with my brown boots.  If I kept them, there would be a serious hem job sometime in my future, so that was definitely a concern.  I struggled a bit to find something cute to go with these pants and for once the style card didn't help me very much because my closet didn't really reflect well the suggestions pictured.  I ended up going with this green striped sweater simply because I got fed up and said, "To heck with it! This will be fine!!"  And let me tell you, these pants are crazy comfortable.  I never thought I would say that a pair of skinnies could actually be comfy, but these are really amazing.  The fabric is super soft and they fit great.


I went back over all the options in my box and I really felt stuck this time.  See, after I sent back a few items in my last Fix, I suffered from a serious case of Fix Regret.  Looking back, I wish I would have kept the blue blouse.  *Sigh*  Anyway, I didn't want that to happen this time.  I was determined to think it over carefully and not wind up parting with something I would later lament over losing.

Before I reveal what I decided to keep, let me remind you of one of the fabulous features of Stitch Fix.  If you keep all FIVE items in your box, you get a 25% discount right off the top of everything

Don't forget about the 25% discount!  Sometimes the math works out so that keeping four out of the five items in your box will actually cost you MORE than if you kept all five.  Consider your options carefully and really do the math if you are on the fence about one or two items.  That discount makes a big difference!


I was determined to have no regrets this time around and the math was favorable.  (Yes, I can do math when it applies to how many clothes I can keep.)  So.....I kept everything.  Anyone know a good seamstress who can hem my new pants?


Ready to give Stitch Fix a try?  I have really enjoyed using this styling service as a way to mix things up in the wardrobe department.  It's so fun to see what my stylist has chosen!  My favorite part is that it is NOT a subscription service where you are charged every month.  You can get one Fix and be done or not get another one for several months if you choose. can choose to get a box of goodies every month.  It's your call!  CLICK HERE to get started for free!

Disclosure:  I was not paid by Stitch Fix to write this or any of my other reviews and all opinions are my own.  I do use a referral link so I get a credit to my Stitch Fix account when new folks get their Fix on!  Thank you for supporting this blog (and for helping keep my clothing budget under control)! 

Linking up once again over at The Pleated Poppy for some amazing fashion inspiration!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

George is No Mas

The first thing Thomas wanted to do this morning was watch Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas for the 438th time since our Elf on the Shelf brought it with him on December 1st.  In fact, our initial conversation this morning went something like this:

Me: Good morning sweet boy! 

Thomas: George 'Mas?  George 'Mas??

I don't have the heart to tell him that he's only saying "more George" in Spanish, but I suppose the end result is the same, so he probably wouldn't care.  Either way, he was going to get to watch his favorite monkey again because I'm a ginormous pushover who is susceptible to the incredibly cute manipulations of my youngest son.

Upon retrieving the requested DVD from our basket of Christmas movies, I was horror stricken to open it up and find the entire disc covered in something sticky.  As in, someone who shall remain nameless had used their grubby, grimy, pudgy little boy fingers to manhandle that movie to the point of no return.  I tried to use the sleeve of my sweatshirt to buff out the damage, but it was too far gone.  I may as well have tried to put a peanut butter sandwich directly into the DVD player.  In a desperate attempt, I tried playing the movie.  I'm surprised the disc wasn't actually vomited back out at me after the terrible noises I was hearing.

Try explaining to the George obsessed two-year old that you can't play the George movie.  No mas George, baby.  No mas.

Yeah, that did not go well.  The crocodile tears came flooding out as quickly as someone busting open the fire hydrant and I am not even joking when I tell you that this child dropped to his knees in despair.  Homeboy loves his Curious George.

Freak out or no freak out, I had to get the van loaded up to get Mr. Micah to school.  I left the screaming toddler to his own devices for a couple moments while I went to the laundry room to fetch coats and hats.  Apparently that twelve seconds was enough time for Thomas to scale to the kitchen counter, grab my husband's old iPhone, and start cooking up some broccoli for the monsters of Toca Boca fame as his sobbing abated.

For a split second, I thought of taking the phone away.  Then I realized I didn't really have a death wish on this particular morning.

Coat donned, evil iPhone in hand, we loaded up the minivan and drove off in relative bliss.

Halfway to school, the battery on the phone gave out and I realized I had forgotten to bring Micah's lunch.

Is it Christmas break yet?

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Most Random Holiday Blog Post Ever

There are 126 unread blog posts in my Bloglovin' feed.  At one point this weekend, my iPhone showed 89 new emails.  If you posted something fantastic on Instagram over the last 48 hours, please accept my apology.  I didn't see it.

Between this...

and this....

 (as in - a LOT of driving back and forth in the car)

...Thanksgiving was wonderful, but strenuous.  And no, I'm not going to talk about the Packers.  Or the Badgers.  I'm just not ready. 

Twelve hour shifts on both Friday and Saturday left me feeling like a character on The Walking Dead and the trudge in my step probably had me sounding like one too.

Oh, and can we please just collectively agree that the mid-season finale on Sunday night was enough to just leave us all WRECKED??  Honestly, I had to flip over to PBS where they were doing a fundraiser and a teaser program for the upcoming new season of Downton Abbey in order to get my head on straight.

As it turns out, Maggie Smith can help heal a broken heart.  Who knew?

Our Elf on the Shelf is back, but I was a terrible parent who forgot about it until midnight on November 30th, so he made his grand appearance sitting on his butt.  On a shelf.

Be sure to check out my Pinterest board for more fantastic ideas on how to position your creepy stuffed Behavior Manipulation Elf.

For example -

Happy Monday.  

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Thanksgiving History Lesson

You thought you knew the story of the first Thanksgiving?  You thought wrong, my friend.  Allow me to enlighten you.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Wishing you many blessings, safe travels, and delicious turkey! 

Anyone traveling from Iowa to South Dakota for the holiday?  Make sure you take some Dramamine so you don't get sea-sick on the boat. 

P.S.  I just realized I spelled "Campbells" wrong, but I'm way too lazy to go back and edit the video and start this whole thing over.  We're just going to have to deal with it. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

My Kid is a Genius

Maybe it's that whole Third Child thing or maybe it's just him regurgitating all the chatter he hears his brothers spouting off during the day, but I am telling you that this kid is a sponge.  Once he started tossing words out, it was a flood of them and now he's obsessed with knocking his mama flat by his genius with the alphabet.

Alright, I may be exaggerating slightly, but you will definitely concede to his uber-cuteness if nothing else.

While I was at work, Evan was getting the boys ready for bed and after getting their PJs on, he had them go and clean up their toys.  He walked in on the clean up in progress in Thomas' room and this is what he found:

He just turned two in September. I feel like Doogie Howser's mother.

After he put all the alphabet blocks away, he got one more run through with Daddy for good measure.

I may not be able to do a whole heck of a lot else right, but I can make cute little humans, can't I?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Monday Morning

The coffee maker beeped to let me know my pot was fresh and ready and as I took my first few sips, I surveyed the status of things.  After a quick glance in the mirror, I realized my option to "sleep just a little longer" had resulted in a gnarly case of bed-head.  Looks like I won't be walking Isaiah out the door to the bus stop today!

Bus  Doggonit.  I forgot to pack Isaiah a lunch again.  "You're having school lunch again today, buddy!"


I love that he didn't want to hurt my feelings so he kept his disappointment under wraps.  Love that kid.

Once my big boy is safely on the bus, it's just me and the littles.  One of those littles is still in his dinosaur footie PJs and is carrying around an Elmo sandwich cutter.

The other has already asked me for two snacks.

The toothpaste is sitting out on the counter with the cap off and the hand soap dispenser is askew.

There is pee sitting in the toilet.

The hampers are overflowing and I suddenly realize I really need a shower because I don't think that's the laundry I smell.

I pour myself another cup of coffee, careful to ration a bit because my coffee grinder broke last night so I can't make more until I go buy one and I most certainly will not be showering immediately and putting on real pants to go to the store when the wind is howling and it looks like this:

So instead, I savor that half cup of coffee and snuggle a bit with that little boy in the dinosaur PJs and look at the fireplace that my husband says I decorated too early.

My middle boy races around the living room, smashing into the couch as he experiments with his "creature powers," making the little pre-lit tree behind the couch shake just a bit.  The snowman ornament I chose for this year fits right in with the others I have started collecting for that special little tree that welcomes us home as we turn the corner and see its gentle lights sparkling in the window.

So maybe I am a little stinky.

But it's snowing outside and cozy in here.  There's still some coffee left and there are Christmas cards to address.

It's going to be a good day.   

Friday, November 22, 2013

Blog Your Heart - November Edition

Hi there.  Remember when I used to write these posts more often?  Yup, me too.  It's probably been so long that many of you will have never read a Blog Your Heart post or even know what the heck I'm talking about.  For a little recap, I'm going to borrow the words of Stephanie Howell, the host of this little party.

1. blog whatever is authentic. whatever is truly on your mind and in your heart.
2. It can be serious, silly, short, long. NOTE:no one said it has to be serious. But it should be authentic.
3. No judging allowed no snarky comments, no making fun, no passive agressive digs. Nothing here is whining, though I can't help it if you perceive it that way. It's me honestly sharing my feelings. if you feel that it's whining, then you don't have to read. :)

Ok, so that's the scoop.  Basically, it's our chance as bloggers to write whatever the heck we want to write about whatever the heck we want to write about and to join up with others doing the same thing.  If you want to see what others are pounding out on their keyboards, click on the image above to join the party, but remember the rules!

And away we go.

1.  I have blogger envy.  Like, BAD blogger envy.  I recently started working with a pretty big blogger (which I really enjoy, by the way) and I've also started trying to dip my toe in the whole "Ads and PR" pool and unfortunately I have come out feeling more jealous than ever.  While we are struggling to scrape up enough money for my husband to go buy a pair of pants without a hole in the crotch, I see bloggers all around me who are getting free washers & dryers, photo printers, iPhones, and taking vacations every other week.  To be clear, there is nothing wrong with any of that.  In fact, I really don't even want to be a "big" blogger.  I don't want every other post to be sponsored or to feel pigeon-holed in what I write.  I want to be able to write what I want to write when I want to write it, but I'm really struggling with not getting fixated on the swag.  I pour so many hours into this blog that if I were really being honest, I'd admit that it would be nice to get something out of it.

2.  The "soap" flavor of Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans is absolutely horrifying.  Both Evan and I were so disgusted by it, that we chickened out and couldn't bring ourselves to try the "vomit" or "earwax" beans.  If you've never read Harry Potter and therefore have no idea what I'm talking about, I feel bad for you.  Go to the library, for the love of Butterbeer!!!

3.  I want to write a book. felt good just writing that and putting it out there.

Maybe this is part of that blogger envy coming out because it seems like every blogger I love recently has announced their book deal, but I've had this desire in my heart for a long time.  My husband's late grandmother wrote a book about their family life after the death of her husband and I can't fully describe the immense pride his family has about that book.  Everyone talks about it and everyone cherishes that book like a priceless treasure.  From the moment I entered this family, there has been talk about when someone else in the family would be the next to write a book and I desperately want to be that person.  I find myself fantasizing about what the cover would look like and doodling possible titles in my planner.  But, just as quickly I slam the door of my heart on that dream and convince myself that it isn't possible.  What on earth would I write? My creative writing skills are pathetic and the material that I write about on the blog has really already been turned into a book by about two thousand other authors.  I feel like I don't have anything authentic to offer and even if I did wake up at 3:00 am with a brilliant idea, I wouldn't even know how to go about turning it into a book. 

4.  I come up with excuses to avoid admitting how important something is to me so I won't be as disappointed.  Have you picked up on this?

5.  The other day, I took my two youngest sons with me to the bookstore in our church so I could pick up the book to go with my upcoming Bible study series and they had a great sale on Veggie Tales DVD - $5 each and it was Buy 2, Get 1 Free.  Pretty nice, huh?  We picked out three DVDs and Micah immediately asked to watch one when we got home.  With ninja-like precision, I hid the other two in my closet so they could end up in Christmas stockings, but he was just fixated on watching this particular DVD right away.  We got in the door and he raced right to the living room to bust it open.  I cautioned, "Micah please wait for Mommy to help you!" but he paid me no mind and tried to yank that DVD out of the case with such force that it snapped.  The best part?  The title of the DVD was "Larry Learns to Listen."  Nice, kiddo. 

The tantrum that followed as I threw the movie in the trash was EPIC.

6.  As it turns out, I love speaking in front of large groups.  This week, I had the opportunity to clip on a microphone and stand on a small stage to speak to the large group of women in my mother's ministry that meets every other Wednesday morning.  I can't really share yet what I spoke about, but I will tell you that it felt AMAZING.  I think my dream job would be to write books and speak to women, offering encouragement and bringing laughter.  Basically, I want to be Angie Smith, Jennie Allen or Beth Moore - complete with gorgeous hair and small waistlines. (Again, let's talk about that envy issue.)

7.  Negative comments cut right to my gut.  I got one icky comment on my last post and I immediately went on the defensive and wrote a reply, defending my position.  It bothered me for hours.  I really need to develop a thicker skin.

8. I have stopped exercising and that is not ok.  When I read this one on Stephanie's BYH, I practically yelled "Preach it!" because her sentiments echoed mine.  It's not so much about the number on the scale, but I can just feel it.  I was happier when I was running and lifting and I had more energy.  If there were some magical way for me to fine 30 hours in each day instead of 24, this problem would be solved.  Thoughts?

9.  Money stresses me out.  Big time.  I keep trying to find more and more ways to add more avenues of income to my plate, including some work from home stuff, but it still never seems to be able to cover everything and we've had several unexpected BIG expenses coming up lately that have left our finances feeling even more unstable than ever.  Even though I'm already working about as hard as I can, I keep pushing myself to do just a little bit more.  I just wonder how much harder I can push before it's too far.

10.  My kids watch way too much TV.  Ask me how much I care.

Thanks for reading!! 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sitters Drive Servers Nuts - and Here's Why

Have you ever gone out to eat with an old friend (or two or three) and found yourselves talking like not a day had passed?  Before you know it, your dinner is long gone and dessert a memory, but you still have so much you want to say to one another.  What to do?

Let's take a little survey, shall we?

If you are seated in the dining room and have completed your meal, but have no interest in ordering any further food or drink, should you and your guests:

A:  Stay put.  Ask your server for more water and keep putting off paying for the check.
B:  Pay the check and move to the bar to continue your conversation.
C:  Pay the check and stay at the table, understanding that the server won't likely be returning to attend to your needs.
D:  Ask the server for their input.

I've made no secret of the fact that I've been a server for roughly twelve years and I have seen all of the above in my experience.  I can say for a fact that there is little worse than having three of the four tables in your section being taken up by "sitters," people who have stopped ordering and are just talking, many times having already paid the check.  In fact, I had a table last night who had paid their check more than an hour and a half ago, but continued to sit despite the fact that the dining room was full and we had several people waiting to be seated in the lobby.  At the two hour mark, they stopped me and asked for more water and then stuck around for nearly another hour.  When all was said and done, they left their 13% tip and went on their way.....three hours after they first sat down.

Now, I've got nothing against marathon diners and I have had several meals in restaurants with friends where we have talked and talked and talked like crazy, but I have to give the server's perspective on this issue....mostly because it's my blog.  And I can.  :)

**And for the record, this little discussion only applies to folks who are DONE ordering food and drink and are literally just SITTING for a LONG TIME and not spending.  They do not require any more of my attention as a server, none, nada, zilch.  Got it?  Good.  If you want to sit in my section and order a seven course meal followed by desserts, coffee, and after dinner cocktails and then tip me the likely 20 or 30 percent I've earned by attending to every one of your table's needs for the last three my guest.  I'm all about it.  But that's not what this post is about.  I take no issue whatsoever with the folk who want to hang out for a while when their dinner is done and chat a bit.  Doesn't bug me.  This post is about the guests who linger for an extraordinary length of time after their meal is complete - somewhere in the range of 45 minutes, an hour, or more

Option A - Stay put and put off paying for the check.
This is probably the worst choice of all of the above.  I understand the motivation behind it, really I do.  If you haven't paid the check, you guarantee that the server will be stopping back periodically to check so you know they will be available to refill your waters or maybe bring you another cocktail if you suddenly feel the urge.  But here's the problem.  By hanging on to that check and that table, you are taking up real estate in the dining room that could be used by "fresh blood," so to speak.  If a server can't turn a table, they can't make any money and if they can't make any money, they can't pay their mortgage or buy groceries.  It would be like someone placing an order with your company, receiving their purchase, and then just sitting on top of your desk without paying for their goods, leaving you stuck in your office with a desk-sitting, money-kidnapping, hostage-holding client.  Sounds fun, right?  Exactly.

Your server will likely be stalking your table until you pay that check which gets uncomfortable for you and for them.  There's a good chance you are what is keeping them from running their reports, closing out for the night, and going home to their family.  Yes, your server has a family too.  (We also have feelings, in case you were wondering.)  By holding that check hostage, you are keeping us from doing our job, earning our living, and getting our butts home at a reasonable hour.  Please, I beg of you....don't do Option A.

Option B - Pay the check and move to the bar to continue your conversation.
I understand this is likely going to sound like I'm pawning you off on our bartender, but hear me out.  This really is a decent option, but preferably if you're open to ordering just one more drink.  Obviously, our bartender wouldn't be super-thrilled to have water drinking sitters either, but allow me to explain why the moving to the bar option really is pretty great.

First, you're out of the dining room which means the server won't be stalking you anymore.  You won't see me hovering over your table to check if you would like another drink are you interested in dessert how about a cup of coffee have you tried our espresso mousse did you see all the great after dinner drinks we offer? Basically, you'll get me off your back and I can move on to annoying another table.  Win-Win.

Second, the bar is better equipped to meet the needs of folks wanting to engage in lengthy conversation because they aren't looking to "turn the tables" like we need to in the dining room.

Third, you'll feel like you've entered an episode of Cheers and who doesn't dig that?

Finally, the bartenders make FOUR TIMES the hourly wage that I do.  Yup, you got it.  The folks who sit and order nothing earn me no more than my hourly wage which hovers just about $2.00 per hour.  I think we can agree that this fact alone helps my case.

C:  Pay the check and stay at the table, understanding that the server won't likely be returning to attend to your needs.
Option C is only slightly better than Option A only because at least the server can then cut their losses and go home if the table is still sticking around long after the rest of their tables have vacated the premises.  If it's still the middle of the dinner hour and your server isn't going to be going home any time soon, both Option A and C are just plain mean.  Sorry, but it's true.
D:  Ask the server for their input.
Ding ding ding!!!  Winner winner chicken dinner, folks!!  I know it sounds strange to ask your server about this, but I promise you this is the way to go.  Your question could go something like this.

You: We are having such a good time chatting and your service has been great, but we'd really like to stick around and continue our conversation a while.  What would you suggest?

Odds are, your server will suggest the "move to the bar" option and if you're cool with that, go for it.  If not, honestly ask your server if they are currently on a wait.  If there are people waiting for a table, please take that into consideration.  Have an honest dialogue with your server and it's likely you'll find a solution that works well for both of you.  By asking your server, you can ascertain more accurately what's happening around you.  It could be that your server can say with 100% honestly that it's totally fine if you and your guest sit and chat for another half an hour since they were just cut and still have another table waiting for their dinner and has all their side work left to do.  By all means, sit away!  Chat to your heart's content!

Seriously....ask your server.

Bottom Line - Before you become "a sitter," please just take a moment to be aware of your surroundings and be considerate to your server and the other guests around you who may be waiting to sit down and enjoy a meal as well.  Believe me, your experience will improve because of it!

For the record, every word of this post is my opinion and mine alone.  Nothing I have written reflects the in any way on the opinion of my employer or my co-workers.  

Monday, November 18, 2013

Thanks Baby

Thomas and I have this special little thing and I'm already dreading the day when it goes away.  I get to put him down for his nap on most days, but usually I only get to put him to bed for the night twice a week at most because of my work schedule.  Needless to say, I really cherish those moments I get with him before he goes to sleep.

We're really blessed to have a kid who usually doesn't fight bedtime very much.  In fact, he has recently extended his "I do it" philosophy to this routine and will go find Blankee and George and march himself to his room.  He climbs on top of his obnoxious toy train (that we never replaced the batteries in so we won't have to listen to its mind-numbing sounds ever again) and turns off the light.  He proclaims, "Did it!" and then closes the door.

And I just sit in our chair and watch.

I watch him take control of something so simple as going to bed and take an enormous amount of pride in it.  I watch his eyes light up when he realizes he is finally big enough to scale to a height tall enough to flip that light switch.  I watch as he puts on a show and relishes in my praise of his accomplishments. 

Then he runs to me.

It's the best part.  He toddles over to me and reaches his arms out to their full extent.  I hand over his loveys and he smashes them into his face.  That Blankee is seriously gross despite my best efforts to steal it from him and wash it on the sly a couple times a week, but he loves it like a member of the family.  He wraps his arms around George and pulls him tight before he gives in to the moment and lays back against me.

He buries the top of his head under my chin, where it fit perfectly in the curve of my neck.  We pray together and rock the chair slowly back and forth as his breathing slows.  Usually he has me give George a kiss goodnight.  I breathe in the soft scent that lingers in the tendrils atop his head and his clumsy little hand often push mine off of his arms or legs because I was squeezing him too tight. 

We just rock back and forth for a couple minutes, quietly. 

Then I tell him it's time for bed and I say to him, "I love you Thomas!"  His face turns toward mine and he whispers, "Toooo." 

"You love me too, Thomas?"
"Oh, thank you."
"Thank you Mommy." 

Thank you for the stolen moments in the dark, just the two of us.  Thank you for sleeping happily in your crib because I'm just not ready for the Big Boy Bed yet.  Thank you for coming to me to make it feel better when your brother body-slams you and for laughing when I tickle your bare toes as you eat your breakfast.  Thank you for forgiving me when I lose my patience or when my agenda trumps your independent streak.  Thank you for insisting on kissing it better when I stub my toe on the coffee table.  Thank you for your willingness to play and to learn.

Thank you for being my baby for just a little while longer. 

For you, I'll watch the Curious George Halloween special for the seventy-fifth time.  For you, I'll hold out my hand so you can give me the peels from the apple you're eating.  For you, I'll try really hard to be ok with being a couple minutes late so you can climb into your carseat all by yourself. Don't tell your brothers, but you have me wrapped around your finger a little bit.

"I do it," you say.

Yes you certainly do, baby.  You do it. 

(Love you, kiddo.)

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