Wednesday, July 09, 2014

On your 11th Birthday

Dearest Mr. Boy,
Today you turn 11 years old and it's time to write my annual note to tell you how much I love being your mom.  Tonight we watched a TV show and you saw a mom joke about how she sometimes wished that her children belonged to someone else.  You turned to me and asked if I ever felt that way and I responded with "Never."  I want you to know that I mean it, absolutely never ever have I even joked about it. Mr. Boy, I searched around the world for you.  We started our adoption journey by exploring Russia and Ukrainian adoptions, searching for you.   We realized you were not there so we turned to look for you stateside.  Little did we know you were just a few short miles away from us and I still think back fondly to the weeks leading up to your birth.  I cannot tell you enough how much we love your birthmother and how each and every day I give thanks to the woman who made me a mother. 
This year, I am incredibly grateful to see your birthday arrive.   It has been a great year but the last few months have been shadowed by a mysterious illness that has taken your healthy body and turned it into the Tin Man.   You are stiff, sore, weak, sensitive to the sun, and tired all the time.  I have never been more frustrated and would trade places in an instant if it would make you well.   We have seen some of the best doctors in the world and they are stumped.  You have the best attitude about it most of the time, and for that I am thankful.  The doctors told you that if you are the first to have a disease then you get to name it, so we have had fun making up names for whatever is ailing you.  In the mornings when you are stiff, you joke that you are a robot as you shuffle down the hallway or joke that you are an old man.  I want you to know that your Dad and I will go to the ends of the earth to get you the help you need. All of this, has brought us closer, and I find that I cherish each and every moment with you more than ever.   I am so grateful to have you in my life no matter what, I don't care if you walk like a robot or run as fast as lightening.

You make me laugh like no one else on the planet.  I am trying hard to raise you up to be a gentleman, but I am failing in one area.  You lack compassion and it's all my fault.   We've spent hours watching America's Funniest Home Videos and people falling down on the internet, unfortunately it has created quite a funny bone.  So this year when I fell flat on my face, instead of you and AK rushing over to help me up, you were rolling on the ground in fits of uncontrollable laughter.   The other night I bonked my head on your bunk bed and you fell out of your bed laughing.   Part of me is mortified of the monster I've created, but at the same time, I realize I have created someone who is just like me.  I love that our days are filled with laughter and that you have such an amazing sense of humor.  At your Fifth Grade Promotion, I loved that you kept cracking up as you caught my eye in the audience as I was making faces at you. 

One of the best things about this year was attending Outdoor Science Camp with you.  I loved watching you with your friends and I loved that you wanted me there.  In fact this year you have wanted me at most of your events.   I loved that you asked me, "Mom, will you be a Chaperone to Knott's Berry Farm?"   My heart feels a twinge because I know the time is coming when you will NOT want me there. I love hanging out with you and worry that I'm turning into a "S'Mother" .   I can't handle the idea of you not being around me and no joke, I actually sobbed one day realizing that one day you will move out and go to college. 

The year has been full of milestones as you are leaving your elementary school and moving on to Middle School.  I have had much anxiety, while you have been crazy excited.  Your backpack has been packed for two months in preparation and I am terrified.  I know you will thrive, you will thrive anywhere, but as a mother it's my job to worry. I pray that you will have good friends who won't want to do dumb things that puts your life or other people's lives in jeopardy.  Be smart in your choice of friends and in the decisions you make.  I won't always be there nudging you in the right direction. 

 You are eager to get out and travel the world and lament often about our lack of travel.  Be patient Mr. Boy, your time will come very soon.   Your dream trip is to Ireland and Greenland, you dream of snow, and of far off places.   I hope you know that the world is there for you to explore, but the secret is... most of the best stuff is right here.  We live in the most amazing place... you have deer in your backyard!  The beach is just a car ride away, and we do stuff outside all year long.   I know the grass is always greener, but try not to forget to enjoy your own grass before you move to a new pasture. 

I cannot leave out your relationship with your sister AK, she is your biggest fan and your biggest antagonist.  You are both fire and ice, yet I know you can be a team.   The thing about family is that they know all your buttons and how to push them.   It's annoying but it is secretly making you stronger and teaching you to be able to deal with difficult personalities later on in life.   Cut your sister some slack she is younger than you, and most of the time you know better. I know that you love her and have watched you defend her and protect her.   She is lucky to have you and you are lucky to have her.

As you enter middle school I want you to remember to "Be Yourself!"  Never feel like you have to conform, find your own path and others will follow.  Follow your Arrow, my son, wherever it may point and know that I will love you forever. 

Love, Mom

Monday, July 07, 2014

DIY Crime Scene


9:22 PM:  Kids all tucked in bed, Mr. Man is out for the evening, and I wandered into the bathroom to pick up the wet swimsuits off the floor.   Catch reflection in mirror and notice a plethora of grey hairs have made themselves at home on my head.  Root around in cabinet and find old bottle of hair dye, decide to dye hair on a whim.

9:26PM:  Marvel at how efficient I am being as I start to dye hair.   Will paint toes while dye sets on hair and in less than 30 minutes I will emerge a fresher version of myself.

9:29PM: Hear a sickening crack as I squeeze bottle of hair dye on the remaining 2/3rds of my hair.  The bottle shatters into a million pieces while reddish brown hair dye splatters all over bathroom.   Frantically started cleaning the dye off the walls, cabinets, tile, mirror, and the ceiling.  

 10:29PM: No such luck, cabinets and walls are stained with what looks like dried blood.  It is taking forever to wipe everything down.

10:35 PM:  Mr. Man strolls into bathroom to find his wife wearing a bathrobe with what appears to be a large bloodstain on the chest and dried blood all over the walls.   Spend next five minutes convincing Mr. Man I have not been stabbed or shot. 

10:40 PM:  Realize hair dye has been on 1/3 of my head for one hour longer than intended... scream... and start rinsing hair dye out.   Watch in horror as gobs of hair fall off my head and go down drain.

10:50 PM: Emerge from bathroom with bald patch, color blocked hair, and zero dignity left.  Crack open pint of Ben and Jerry's.  Buy several new hats on internet, vow to never dye hair again on my own and put "repaint bathroom" on weekend to do list. 

11:15 PM: Start to reminisce about other beauty mishaps and laugh hysterically as I remember the time I waxed off one eyebrow just before starting my first job out of college and having to draw on a brow every morning.  Then one day during a meeting I accidentally wiped off my brow and went around half a day with only one eyebrow.  I didn't notice it until I got in the car to drive home.  Surely, I'm not the only one who has had a beauty mishap? Tell me yours! 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

In the midst of the storm

Something is wrong with Mr. Boy and we don't have any solid answers yet. What we do know is that it is something in the Auto Immune Family and that he has arthritis.  Whatever it is, it is taking my active 10 year old and turning him into an old man.   We are spending lots of time with various doctors and specialists and no one has a solid answer, everything is murky.    
 
Every doctor reminds me that these type of illness take a year or more to diagnose and that patience is key. I don't want to have patience, I really want answers.  In the meantime I'm trying really hard to keep things normal for everyone. In the middle of all this, I have found a deep gratitude, because no matter what, we are incredibly lucky.  As I sit in the waiting rooms in the hospitals and doctor's offices, I am very aware that we are surrounded by people who are a lot sicker than we are.  We can handle this and we can learn to manage, I am confident of this.  Plus,  there are good things all around me, like when I looked up one evening to see the hillsides bathed in the golden light of dusk. It's my favorite time of day. 
 
Usually dinner is in the works and there is a basketball game going on.    
There are other good things.  It turns out that the jacuzzi is the best thing for his aching joints.
I was reminded that five years ago, Mr. Man said that he would never ever own a home with a pool.  It would be over his dead body.  Currently, he is alive and well, and we have a pool in our own backyard.   
 
Which makes me believe that nothing is absolute and that gives me hope.    

Monday, April 28, 2014

On building a house

It's no secret I am in love with our home. The beloved chalet has been an amazing home to raise my family in.  I love this home for all the solace it provides.  Each and every night I give thanks for this home before I crawl in bed.   Maybe it's silly or worldly to love a house this much. Remodeling this house was a labor of love and I still miss our crew.  We recently had a small job done and my very favorite Juan and our beloved contractor came back for a day.
During the construction I fretted about my kids well being. I worried they would look back and be traumatized by the constant chaos.   I worried they would be mortified that we were mistaken for being homeless at Carls Jr.   All that worrying was for nothing.  My kids loved it, loved almost everything about it.  Loved the bulldozers, the dust, the endless pile of "props" aka rubbish, and they loved eating out most of the time.
Then this week for Career Day, Mr. Boy decided he wanted to be a contractor /architect so that he can build cool houses for families, just like our contractor did for us.   I couldn't be more proud and I'm pretty certain I did all that worrying for nothing. 

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Comparisons

Name:  Zeena Warrior Princess
Likes: Jalapenos, People (especially AK), Jumping out of the car during school dropoff to chase children, Any and all food.
Favorite Food:  Whatever falls on the ground
Dislikes:  Stupid Rules; such as don't sit on the couch, sleep on the bed, or steal off people's plates
Claim to Fame:  When I dropped and broke a jar of Jalapenos, Zeena ran over and began chowing it down, broken glass and all while I frantically tried to clean it up.   I fretted over the next week about her getting sick, she didn't even flinch. 
Name:   Zoey
Likes:  Sniffing People Inappropriately, Snoring really loud,  Baseboards and trim moldings.
Dislikes:  Most People, Loud Noises, Pool Fences,
Favorite Food:  Hypoallergenic Dog Food.  This dog can't even look at food without breaking into hives, because she is allergic to everything, except the pool fence, she could eat that all day long. 
Claim to Fame:  Being the only dog I've ever met that is allergic to grass and trees.  I've never had a vet tell me "You should really keep your dog inside."

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler #DisneySide

I was thrilled when I was asked if I would host a "Show Your Disney Side"  party.   I consulted my resident Disney fanatic and she said, "Oooo Frozen!"  but then said, "No, Wait!  Princess Tiana!" AK and I worked to turn our house into "Tiana's Place"  restaurant. 
Would you believe it?  Princess Tiana actually helped me cook!  She makes the best biscuits using her great Aunt Verna Pillsbury's recipe.
 
Princess Tiana makes the Best Gumbo using this recipe.  The secret is in the roux, you gotta stir, stir, stir until you turn into an old woman.  
This girl couldn't wait for her friends to come and Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler.  Let the good times roll!
These guys had a blast watching The Princess and The Frog and coming up with their own restaurant names and menus. We love Princess Tiana, who isn't afraid to work hard to make her dreams come true.
  
As for the adults, we swapped stories, shared our favorite Disney tips, and ate great food.
 
 Happy Fat Tuesday Y'all! 

Disclosure: I have received free products courtesy of Disney Parks, MomSelect, American Tourister and HP in order to host the Disney Side@Home Celebration. The opinions expressed here are my own. (You can always count on that!)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Up all night

Last night around 1 am,  I was making the nightly rounds, "buttoning up the house" as we call it.   I locked the doors, turned out the lights, and peeked in on my sleeping children.  It's a habit I've had since their first night at home, ten years later I still check to see if they are breathing.   Imagine my surprise when I opened the door to find AK reading by flashlight.  A stack of books next to her bed, she excitedly announced, "Mom, I just can't stop reading! These books are so good."   I kissed her forehead, set the books off to the side, and encouraged her to go to sleep.    

As I shut the door, I smiled and then cried happy tears.  Sure, there is joy in her new found ability in reading, a skill that has been hard earned.   It's that two months ago, if I found her up at 1am reading, it would have sent the house in a panic, because AK without sleep was a time bomb waiting to go off.

Mr. Boy has asthma as his kryptonite and AK has her own kryptonite.  She has a rare form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, that over the years has become crippling.   Over the past few months, AK had been trying to overthrow her demons.   In a regular day, her anxiety would overwhelm her, but on a day when she had not had a good nights sleep, she would become a wreck.  She would be inconsolable, violent,  and the whole family would walk on eggshells, just trying to get through the day.   It wasn't healthy, and it wasn't for a lack of trying.   Mr. Man and I had spent hours meeting with different therapists and doctors, all of them after a few sessions would tell us, "I am so sorry, I just can't help you."   AK's condition has biological roots, which makes it tough to treat.
 All of that changed in November and December.  While everyone was celebrating the holidays, my family was spending hours in psychiatrist and psychologist offices.   We did family sessions, individual sessions, and worked with a team of doctors who were determined to help us. It was the answer to many prayers and many sleepless nights.  Things got worse before they got better, but progress was being made. AK was learning some coping skills, we were learning coping skills, and we tried a treatment that was a long shot.  To everyone's suprise, it was helping, my daughter was starting to have the inner peace that she deserved.
On Christmas Eve, I couldn't help but post the above photo on Instagram of my family with the caption, "Dear Santa, Thanks for asking, but I already have everything I want."  And I truly meant it, I was watching my daughter thrive.  My whole family had finally exhaled the breath, I didn't even know we had been collectively holding for years. 

I had been putting on a brave face and have been chronically trying to downplay the struggle to the outside world. Growing up, mental illness was kept hush hush.   My father's mental illness was a family secret and somehow I thought keeping quiet about AK's struggles was the right thing to do. I can not describe in words the feeling of desperation when a psychiatrist would say, "I'm sorry, I just don't think I can help you."  When I finally wised up and started asking everyone I knew if they had any mental health professionals they could recommend, I found the crackerjack team my daughter needed. I'm putting this out there to the world via the internet, there is no shame in asking for help, no shame in mental illness.      

While I don't love the idea of AK staying up way past her bedtime reading,  I am no longer filled with anxiety of what the next day will bring and how to help AK cope.  I know that AK might be a bit cranky, but she will be okay and that makes me cry big fat happy tears.  Can you blame me?  

Friday, February 14, 2014

St. Valentine's Day - Junior High School Edition

Happy Valentine's Day!  This is not my favorite holiday, but I have learned to embrace it by sharing my Valentine's Day humiliating stories.  You can read my other Valentines failures here.

In Jr. High, I was in love with a boy named Jamie.   My best friend and I spent hours walking in front of his house in hopes to catch a glimpse of him.  I dreamed about him and knew that if things didn't work out with Bret Michaels from the hair band Poison, that I would marry Jamie and live happily ever after.
For a school fundraiser you could send a rose and a special valentine to anyone for a couple of bucks.   I decided that it was time to make my move and let Jamie know I was interested in him. Even better my BFF had class with Jamie at the same time that the roses would be delivered.  She could be my eyes and ears and let me know his reaction, this was perfect, no... it was destiny!

I carefully wrote out my Valentine and anxiously anticipated what Valentine's Day would bring me.  According to my BFF,  Jamie received  26 roses from admirers, apparently I wasn't the only one in love with him.   As fate would have it, my card was the first that he opened.  He read my card out loud to his friend, "Happy Valentine's Day!  I like you, as more than just friends. Love, Wendy Larter" 

He looked at his friend with a puzzled look on his face and said, "Wendy Larter?  Who's that?"

Then his friend chuckled, "Wendy Larter?  Larter Farter!"  Jamie and his friend burst out in laughter and made spontaneous fart noises while high fiving each other for their poetic brillance.

At that moment I vowed to hate my parents forever for having a last name that rhymes with Farter.  Tell me I'm not the only one who had a hopeless crush who never knew you existed, until they figured out that your last name rhymes with a bodily function.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Cougartown

A peek into the relationship between Mr. Man and I, here is a recent conversation we had.  

Moi:   Have you heard that there have been multiple sightings of a mountain lion behind our house?
Mr. Man:  I read about it in the newspaper, fun stuff.
Moi: It's kind of exciting, I keep peering out the window hoping to catch a glimpse of her. We have a cougar practically in our backyard!
Mr. Man:  How do you know it's a "she"? 
Moi:  I can just sense it, it's like a woman's intuition type of universal connection. I really hope she sticks around. 
Mr. Man:  You know Mountain Lions eat deer, pets, and even children, right?
Moi:  I know, but I sense she will do no harm.   In fact, do you want to know a secret? 
Mr. Man:  Always.
Moi:  I've already picked out what kind of collar I'm going to put on her when we domesticate her and make her our newest pet.
Mr. Man:  Domesticate?  A Mountain Lion?
Moi: I kind of like the idea of black leather, but can't decide if I want studs or diamonds on it.  Diamonds would be pretty glam, but a studded collar kind of sends a message to intruders to stay away.
Mr. Man: Let the record show, I am not in favor of a pet mountain lion.
Moi:  Fine then, you won't mind if I let the deer start sleeping in the house...

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Mum Project

**A post that I forgot about in my drafts folder from the fall, but it still applies today**
Over the last few months I have been thinking about an experience I had during the summer.  I stopped into "Tony's Deli" for some last minute dinner ingredients and he slipped a note in my bag that said, "You are a good mom."   It was a sweet gesture and I keep thinking back to that experience and how good it made me feel.  I want my friends and family to know that I am one of their biggest cheerleaders.

One day while perusing the nursery for "deer resistant" plants, I came upon these gorgeous fall mums.  Inspiration struck and I knew this would be a great thing to give to some of the great moms I know. 
We put stickers on each plant that said, "Just wanted to let you know that we think you are a great "mum" to your family."  My kids and I came up with the list of moms we wanted to surprise with the mums.  The best part of this project was doing this with my kids, they love nothing more than ding dong ditching and we have perfected our technique over the past year.  At one house, Mr. Boy was startled by a noise and pretty much threw the mum at the front door, it went splat as he jumped into the car.   

This was so easy and so simple, even better it was a great service project for my family.   Motherhood is such a hard job and there isn't a lot of people handing you a ribbon for navigating the latest tantrum.   Who knows maybe you'll get a mum thrown at your door, telling you that you are doing a good job. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

My new BFF

I'm super excited about my new BFF, we talk everyday and she always wants to see me "right away!"  I'm of course referring to the school nurse who has been in touch with me daily for the last week. At first it was asthma for Mr. Boy, then AK had the stomach flu, Mr. Boy had a headache, AK fell and hit her head, and it goes on an on.  The school nurse is lovely, but the guilty mom voice in my head feels like she is calling to tell me, "Mademoiselle, you are not winning the Mother of the Year contest. Didn't you hear that whisper of a wheeze in his chest this morning?" 
This bout of  illness is riding on the coattails of one of those ill fated weeks when everything that can go wrong will.   On the way home from the dentist (two cavities!), a rock shattered my car windshield.   I got a flat tire on the way home from a doctor's appointment.  The water heater quit working, the washing machine started to leak and I sneezed so hard I split my head open on the corner of a chair. 

I've had terrible judgement over the last week in deciding who is sick and who is well. In the mornings, I have about 45 minutes to assess if they are well.  Most of the time, they are groggy and grumpy, so who knows how they are feeling. After AK had been able to keep food down for 48 hours I thought she was more than safe to go to school.  I was wrong as she had an unfortunate incident that "surprised her pants" during afternoon recess.  Poor girl, that is a very BAD day.  

Then yesterday, Mr. Boy was complaining of a stomachache, but I was pretty sure he was faking it. He has faked a lot of stomachaches and asthma attacks over the last few years.   I sent him to school and told him he would be fine. On my way home from taking AK to the doc for a spider bite on her eyelid, I got a phone call that Mr. Boy threw up just outside of the classroom. When I got there, they had set up cones around Mr. Boy and the mess.  Since school had let out, the yard supervisors were directing traffic around him.   Mr. Boy was mortified and was furious that I hadn't believed him and I don't blame him one bit.  He is going to hold that over my head for a long time.   After I got everyone situated in their own "sick bed" on the couch, I sat down and noticed my button down shirt was on inside out and had been the entire day.   Some days, you just can't win, and you can't do anything but laugh.  Mr. Boy isn't going to be nominating me for Mother of the Year this year, and I won't be in any magazine talking about my incredibly edgy style wearing shirts inside out. 
The only good thing that has come out of this week is this.   I'm still not entirely sure what this  picture is, but it's in a cartoon the kids were watching and it makes me laugh every time I see it.  I'm not sure why the tiger always has a rainbow coming out of his bum. I'm totally sticking this picture on my phone as the picture that comes up every time my new BFF, the school nurse, calls me.  At least I'll be smiling when she tells me that I once again I am not going to win the title of Mother of the Year.  

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Modern Day Survival

Somewhere just after Christmas we got hit with "The New Cold."  Apparently, this "new cold" doesn't ever end and we spent 10 days feeling somewhere between mediocre and terrible.  On Day 11, I hauled my family to the doctors office to see if there was something "New" to treat "The New Cold."  The doc prescribed a small arsenal of meds and gave us a healthy dose of "I promise you won't feel like this forever."

We headed over to worship at the altar of Target to get our prescriptions filled.  While we waited, we stocked up on supplies, replenishing the cough medicine and the pantry.  We may have even bought some socks and underwear because the laundry wasn't exactly doing itself.  We sauntered over to the food court and ate junky food and called it dinner. While my kids drank their Slushies, I reveled in the wonder that is Target.  Within an hour, I had gotten everything I needed and I thought back to what moms did prior to Target.  They went to the pharmacy and paced the aisles like cavemen with whiny sick children in tow while they waited for medicine.

I thought back to my own mom and remembered one Christmas Vacation where everyone had come down with the flu.  The refrigerator was empty and the task of heading to the grocery store seemed daunting.   My mom in a stroke of genius called the milkman and told him along with our regular milk delivery to bring one of everything he stocked.  The next morning, we opened the front door to find a bounty of groceries along with our milk.   

While I sat there and gave thanks for the one stop shopping mega store, I couldn't help but wonder if it wasn't some flu-ridden mother's idea to make a store where you could get everything.  I love shopping small and local, but when my team is down for the count,  I'm a Big Box believer.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Third Annual "Fauxprah's Favorite Things Giveaway" hosted by Qwendykay.com

 It's here!  The Third Annual "Fauxprah's Favorite Things Giveaway!"
Oh my goodness!  It's Fauxprah's Favorite Things!
There are several things I equate with the Holiday Season, one is flipping through the Neiman Marcus Christmas Catalog and lusting after the lavish "His and Hers" gifts, such as owning your very own set of camels. Another one is that  for most of my adult life I watched Oprah's Favorite Things show.

My absolute favorite part of Oprah's Favorite Thing show was watching the ladies get whipped into a frenzy about everything they were getting.  Then I would call my friend who absolutely hated the show but watched anyway and we would go over the details.  I would tell her all the things I just HAD to have and she would tell me how many ladies fainted clutching their free loot. It was tradition and I loved it.

Now that Oprah is off the air, I am trying to position myself as the next media mogul, building my "Faux-prah" empire.  Which, lucky for you, includes my annual "Faux-prah's Favorite Things" giveaway.  I pick a handful of my favorite things and you get to win them! Hooray! You can see what was on last years list here, and details on how Faux-Prah got started plus the first years list.

My favorite things of 2013:  
 Chalkboard Labels - I put these everywhere and love them!  I might be addicted to labels. (Is there a 12 step program for that?)  I put these on my Crockpot and now my family knows what sort of meal they have to look forward to or dread.  Also, these are handy to label dishes when I entertain.
Sharpie Ultra Fine Point - I don't know if this is because I had to label everything to send my son off to camp, but this pen has become my go to pen for everything.  I buy these in bulk and love the fine tip that gives me the precision I need to label everything that comes in and out of our house.


Starbucks Reusable Cups - My kids are little media moguls in the making and love to walk into school with their Starbucks cups and chat about who just signed a big movie deal.  Or maybe they are just hooked on having Hot Chocolate in the morning.  I love these Starbucks Reusable Cups because unlike other reusable tumblers, they stack neatly in my cabinet. If you win, you'll get two of these reusable cups to stack in your cabinet.

A Kindle! Here is a dirty little secret of mine: I'm terrible at using the library.  Terrible!  I am not good with remembering to return the books on time and with two different library systems in our area, I've returned the books to the wrong library.  We have spent a fortune on buying books and library fines.  Enter the Kindle!  This has been one of my very favorite things ever!  I have an iPad that I started using the Kindle App, but it was bulky to take everywhere with me, yet my phone was too small to read on.  The Kindle is the perfect size and since I'm a huge fan of Amazon Prime, with a Kindle, you can download thousands of books for free from the Kindle Lending Library.  There are no late fees with the Lending Library!  Also, many of the Kindle Books are cheaper than the paperback versions.  Two of my favorite books this year were Half Broke Horses and The Glass Castle.  (Both by Jeanette Wells) 

To enter the contest:  All you have to do is leave a comment in this post.  You can tell me your favorite thing, something you are addicted to, or just say, "I love winning."  To receive an additional entry, you can share this giveaway on Facebook, just leave me a comment below that says you shared it on Facebook.  Also, if you don't have a Blogger account, leave your email address!

The contest runs until Sunday, December 22nd, 2013 at 11:59pm. The winner will receive all four of the items listed above.   Winner will be picked via Random.org and will have 48 hours to respond. The winner will be announced Monday, December 23rd, 2013.

*Disclaimer: I received zero compensation for this post or any of the items in the giveaway.  All opinions are my own, and this giveaway is not affiliated with any of the companies listed above or Oprah herself.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Nutty Family Week: Kicked to the curb

It's Nutty Family Week here on my blog where I encourage everyone to share your nutty family story.  As we gather around the table with our families this season, I hope we can all embrace the nuttiness of our families and realize we aren't alone in having to sit next to "Aunt Cray Cray".


I am totally biased, but I'm pretty sure I live in the best neighborhood. We have the best neighbors and we have deer, what more could you want in a community? 

My sweet neighbors, The Neighbor-steins, told me about their best/worst Thanksgiving involving Cousin Betty.   Prior to Thanksgiving Cousin Betty called to ask what she could bring to Thanksgiving dinner and appeared to be a gracious guest.  It was suggested that she bring a corn dish, and it should have been a warning that things were about to go south when she showed up with a snack size can of Corn Niblets as her dish to share.

Over the course of dinner, Cousin Betty succeeded in offending nearly everyone at the table with one of her stories or remarks.  Finally, Mr. Neighbor-stein had enough of her antics  and stood up and boomed, "OUT!"  while pointing to the door.  Cousin Betty made her way out the door with a huff, muttering "Well... I Never!" sprinkled with obscenities under her breath the whole way.   After an awkward silence dinner resumed and without Aunt Betty stirring the pot, everyone relaxed and enjoyed themselves.

Fifteen minutes later there was a meek knock at the door and when the Neighbor-stein's opened up the door, they found Cousin Betty standing there.  She whispered in a small voice, "Can you move your car? You're blocking me in."  

I love this story because I love that big grand gestures were made and yet the wind was taken out of Cousin Betty's sails when she was humbled to find that she couldn't drive off in a huff. 

Nutty Family Week: Top Ten Signs you grew up in a dysfunctional home

Today my very favorite faux sister Mary will be posting today's nutty family tidbit.  Mary and I met years ago and quickly realized we had freakish similar experiences and would think the exact same thing.  We joke that we share the same brain, so if I ever appear to be a bit unintelligent, it's because Mary is using the brain that day.

TOP TEN SIGNS YOU GREW UP IN A DYSFUNCTIONAL HOME
1. When you mention your mother in passing one day, your five year old laughs in astonishment and says, “You don’t have a mom!”.

2. Your happiest childhood memories are from sibling Pig Out Parties (everyone pools their cash, goes to the store and buys $50 of ice cream, donuts, chips, and  candy.  Then sits in a bedroom and eats until they yearn for death.  Literally, we would it eat ALL in one sitting.).

3. Your mom tells you that God thinks pants that zipper in the front are evil and you are forbidden to wear them.   Only elastic waisted polyester slacks are worthy of the Celestial Kingdom.  You are saddened that your high school-aged sisters will probably go to hell because they wear Levi’s shrink-to-fit jeans.

4. You have one entire wall in your family room filled with nothing but pictures of Jesus.  Probably at least 50 pictures, arranged in chronological order from Bethlehem to the resurrection. Some are trimmed with lace, for some reason.

5. Your favorite memory of your father is when he  rage-crushed a plastic water gun under his bare foot and then limped away while pretending that his foot didn’t hurt real, real bad.

To read the rest of the list visit Mary at Quite Contrary

Monday, November 25, 2013

Nutty Family Week: The Worst Thanksgiving

It's Nutty Family Week here on my blog where I encourage everyone to share your nutty family story.  As we gather around the table with our families this season, I hope we can all embrace the nuttiness of our families and realize we aren't alone in having to sit next to "Aunt Cray Cray".

Today,. it's my turn to tell "The Worst Thanksgiving".

In 2011, my father had been widowed for nine months, and in that short span engaged three times.  He was a man on the prowl with one goal in site, "Find a wife." I was still heavily grieving the loss of my mom and did not welcome the idea that my Dad was dating.
On Thanksgiving of that year we had invited a few friends and family over to join us for Thanksgiving Dinner.  My Dad, age 78, showed up just in time for dinner and was disappointed by the lack of activity on the online dating site that morning.  He was in a bit of a foul mood until we sat down for dinner.   From across the table he spied my long time bestie, LJP who was telling everyone about how she had just completed the local Turkey Trot.

I could see the wheels spinning in my Dad's head as he was asking LJP questions.  He was mentally checking off the things he required in a new spouse.   "She's fit, she's personable, she is already friends with my daughter, no need to worry about her getting along with my kids."

I sat there mortified, how did I get here?  How does this happen?  My father, age 78 was hitting on my friend who was 30 plus years his younger during Thanksgiving! I was mortified.  My father was beaming and piling on the charm.  In between the meal and dessert my dad pulled me into the kitchen, "Wendy, tell me all about your friend LJP." he said with a twinkle in his eye.   I just looked at him and said, "No, gross!!  She is off limits, you can date everyone but my friends."  He looked disappointed and muttered that I was being unreasonable. 

I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to keep my Dad away from LJP with no luck.My friend LJP is no fool, she could tell what was happening.  LJP loves me, but she also loves to watch me squirm.  As she turned to leave she whispered in my ear, "Oh darling daughter, you can call me Mom or Mommy, either one is just fine by me." Then she cackled heartily as she walked out the door.

The good news is that my Dad remarried and it wasn't to one of my best friends.  Now I can invite him to Thanksgiving without worrying who he will hit on next.  

 I want to hear your nutty family stories!  Post in the comments,  those moments when you realized you were related to nutters.  Tell me that I'm not the only one with a nutty family!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween 2013

Gone are the days of the sweet costumes, the ones with fake muscles, or the adorable matching hats.  We have entered the dark and gory days of Halloween Costumes.  

Currently, we have a Zombie Football Player...
And a vampire haunting our home.   
For weeks, I've heard them perfecting their zombie walk or their vampire accent.
As for me... I chose something a little more ironic. Wendy from Wendy's Hamburgers.   I have endured YEARS of Wendy's Hamburger jokes, so this costume seemed perfect.  I've always believed that people named Wendy should get free Frosty's for life for enduring the endless jokes about... "You must get free hamburgers... heh heh."
I enjoyed this Halloween Season, it was the first year the kids carved pumpkins without a ton of help.
 I love this picture of my mom and brother and set it out every Halloween.   It's weird to look at a picture of your parents and think, "Wow, they were just kids once."  
 Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Witches Tea

I love my family, I love Mr. Man, but I need some girl time every once in a while with my lady friends.   My life is just too busy to have meaningful conversations with my friends.  We might have a quick chat at school pick up or carpool, but it's not the same.
My friend Hillary told me about an idea she saw on Pinterest for a "Witches Tea" which sounded like a perfect girls night in. I rounded up all my Witches and had them over for a ladies night.  I had the best time prepping for the party.
I really am beginning to wonder how people planned for parties before the internet and specifically Pinterest.  I stole borrowed so many ideas from Pinterest, such as these floating witches hats which hung above my table.
I made Cranberry Spritzers which were Sprite with a syringe of Cranberry Juice.   They looked spooky and kind of like drugs, which meant it was a hit for my wild witchy friends.
I was running a little bit behind because AK's ballet rehearsal went long, but that's okay, my friends joined in with some of the prep.
In fact they enjoyed my demonstration of how easy it is to make caramel using Werthers Baking Caramels. #gotitfree  They also enjoyed watching me overcook the caramel and learned the proper technique to get it splattered all over the microwave.  Just a tip, melt it slow, a little bit at a time. 
I asked everyone to wear black and don your best witches hat and they all did.  Everyone looked great.
All these ladies are my "witches", they totally have my back.
I'm pretty sure this is going to be an annual event.  It was a lot of fun, and I needed this time to cast spells with my friends.
Of course, Pinterest provided me with the perfect party favor, "Witches Warts" and "Ghost Poop" which made me look like a rock star and gave my kids a project to help with while I prepped for the party.  

It's events like these that make me so grateful for the life I have.  We only moved here three years ago and it is humbling to look around my full house and kitchen and see that we have such an amazing circle of friends.  I am one lucky witch.