Thursday, July 17, 2014

CVS, WTF?

I shop at CVS fairly frequently. It is my pharmacy of choice because it is, literally, right outside of my neighborhood. However, they are about on my last nerve and this is why:



Today I went through the pharmacy drive thru to pick up a prescription and this was the receipt. 

Really, CVS? It was ONE item. 

Uno.

The receipt, however, was as long as my leg. The coupons are useless to me. I don't have allergies. I am currently not suffering from heartburn, and I buy my vitamins elsewhere... where it's cheap without a coupon.

I seriously have an issue with the ridiculous receipts generated by this store. Look, I'm all about some savings, but I'm also about saving some trees. Isn't there a happy medium somewhere? CVS, haven't you heard the WORLD is going paperless? Apparently not.

So I decided it was best to recycle this long a$$ mostrosity in some form. I looked around my house for feasible options.




Barbie needed new evening wear with her hot date, Ken.
















The receipt was just long enough to gift wrap a DVD.



Pedicures are made easy with this new found toe separator!

If you have pets, it is perfect for making them look like Aunt Jemima.
Or for a more formal men's look, the bowtie.

It also doubles when you're trying to paper train your pup.

If you are a lady on the go who needs to blot her lipstick, this receipt is what you need...
Good for that Mom on the go!

BEFORE BLOTTING WITH THE RECEIPT

AFTER
If an emergency arises, it could really come in handy....

And anyone who knows my household of 6 men, knows that "emergency" happens on a regular basis.

While I continue to be annoyed at CVS, I do appreciate the opportunity to channel my creative side in figuring out how we can recycle the waste. Barbie seems to love her new warddrobe, although Oreo, the pup, is not completely sold on the hair bow. 

And I'm a few prescriptions away from being able to wallpaper my half bath.














Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A Virtual Letter in a Bottle

A while back, a post circulated on my Facebook newsfeed with the idea of setting up email addresses for your kids to have access to when they are older for the primary purpose that you, the parent, can send them messages for them to receive at a later date. 

I thought the idea was a great one. Some commented with concern that email may be obsolete when you decide to share it years down the road. I've had an AOL email address since 1996, so I am of the mindset that if AOL isn't obsolete by now, Yahoo should be good to go in another 20 years.
Because I feel so scattered brained at times, I decided this email to my kids was the way to go for me. There are things that happen throughout our lives that make me laugh out loud and things that touch me to the core, that they may not appreciate now, but will one day. And there are family stories to be shared that, let's face it, I'm going to forget unless I write that shit down. Not to overlook the bigger factor; that of losing my father when I was just 20 years old. I feel like he was a vault of information, family stories, life's lessons, and random slap stick humor. I feel gypped as I was too young and immature to absorb a lot of his wisdom. I was still of the "I already know it all" stage of life and I regret not asking more questions, paying more attention, and taking more interest in my family background. It goes without saying that I miss his presence and his wisdom every single day.

So, thanks to some random thing in my Facebook newsfeed months ago, I created email addresses for each of my boys and I began writing them. Some emails are to all 4 of them. Some are individual. Some emails have old digital pictures attached that I worry they may not have access to down the road; baby pictures of them, school pics, and pictures of me when I was skinny. You know, important stuff. I have an external harddrive with those saved just in case. When I get really ambitious, I'm going to scan in pictures from their grandparents families with who is who. While you're all now thinking "BORING!", they may appreciate that information one day if nothing more than when they're debating on cool baby names with their wives. Praying they don't name a girl after their great grandmother though. Ida Mann would not bode well in middle school. 

My messages to them are random. They can be practical, informative, funny or emotional depending on my mood that day. (scary) Just recently I sent a picture of us taken at Disney in an email with a recap of our trip in the hopes that years down the road, the boys will open the email and belly laugh reminiscing about the memories we made on our trip. I've never been a scrapbooking mom. To me, this is the second best thing minus access to the cool scissors. I have shared my own life's lessons, and advice in general, a lot of which I have already told them, but remember they are ages 11 to 20. They still "know it all". The advice my daddy gave me as an 18 year old, I wish I had received again at 30 when I had my feet on the ground and my head out of the clouds.

Email addresses and passwords will remain in an envelope in a place that they will never look; my feminine product drawer. OR behind the cleaning supplies. OR the crisper drawer of the fridge. I can't remember the last time they made themselves a salad. Actually I'm not telling, but those are great ideas for hiding places (from boys) if you so need them. 

You're welcome.

Let's be clear, I STILL plan to be around when they're 30, 40, 50....60 may be pushing it. While I am still of sound mind with many stories to tell, I wanted to do this. I plan to be sharp and witty decades from now, but my plan may vary from God's. In that event, I have something in place to ensure my kids have a piece of me long after I have moved on to hang with the Big Blogger in the Sky. And my presence, although virtual, will be with my kids in some form.

Until they hit Delete which is of high probability.




*Note: with Yahoo mail, the account goes inactive within 90 days unless logged in. So once a month, I log in their accounts to filter out any SPAM mail if needed and to keep it active.




  









Tuesday, July 1, 2014

I Drank the Disney Kool-Aid.....


But then I threw up in my mouth a little.


We just returned from a 5 day family vacation to Orlando Florida where we spent 1 day at Universal and Islands of Adventure, an hour at SeaWorld and 3 days at the Disney parks. While planning this trip, several friends spoke highly of Disney and their experiences. Many went as far to say that they start planning their next Disney trip as soon as they leave Disney. I hadn't been since I was 10 years old so my only experience was that in the eyes of a little girl whose mother got a speeding ticket leaving the park and whose older sister assured her that Space Mountain was a little kids ride and not scary at all. 

The planning for this most amazing vacation started back in April. Upon initial research I kinda knew I was screwed. Which resort to stay in? Meal plan or not? How many days? Park hopper or no? Fast pass decisions?! Reservations to which restaurants and when? "Vacation" to me means pack and go. Yes there is always planning to be done but Disney planning takes it to a whole other level. Weeks of planning. Thanks to a friend's recommendation of a Disney travel agent who seriously talked me off the ledge as I was about a day away from sending Dave and the kids and, personally, heading for the hills. By the way, if anyone tells you that it is not that bad, they are damn liars. It's brutal. The "happiest place on earth" is the suckiest trip to plan.  The countdown to what friends were saying would be the best vacation ever started.

Just a few days leading up to our trip we had a few snafus, because, well, that's how we roll. Dave booked our rental van a day later than we needed and there were no others available. So we scrambled and found one available about 20 minutes from our house in what he said was a questionable area as he voiced concern that our car may not be there when we returned the van - a chance we were willing to take. Crisis one averted. Snafu 2 was the fact would could not find a dog sitter for our puppy. Gracious friends took on the task of taking care of thy-o-high maintenance-one. Crisis 2 averted. Lastly, upon printing the tickets to SeaWorld I realized I had only purchased 7, not 8. Subconsciously I was trying to bail early on, apparently. But I got the eighth ticket purchased and printed and out the door we went.

Day 1: 5am departure from the house with 6 tired, but excited kids in tow. We arrived at our Disney resort around 4:30pm (after a 2 hour stop to watch the USA/Germany game), got checked in, assessed our room, dropped bags and headed over to SeaWorld. But as luck would have it, a storm hit as we were pulling in the parking lot. The entire place was clearing out. But the eight of us pushed our way through the rushing crowd stampeding to their cars. "It'll blow over." By God, we had our tickets and we were going to see Shamu! As we approached the sting ray petting area, it closed down due to inclement weather. All rides were closed and Shamu had taken refuge. We were left with Antartica and the indoor penguin ride. What the hell, we're here. Why not? Unbeknownst to the claustrophobic hubby, they put us in a holding room right before it was our turn to go. The doors to that room closed automatically with no exit. About 45 seconds into it, he made a bee line for one of the doors attempting to pry it open. Fortunately for all of us his timing was impeccable and it was our turn to get on the ride anyway. Fortunately for SeaWorld they avoided a grown man turning real life incredible Hulk ripping open their automatic door. Antartica was a good "break us in" first ride. We got off excited to take on the next ride only to discover thunder, lightning and pouring rain had set in for an unknown amount of time. So we left. 1 ride at SeaWorld, people. One. We headed over to Downtown Disney to discover that everyone and their mother had the same idea. We walked in the pouring rain, whining and miserable. The kids were unhappy too. We had taken all we could take, loaded up the van and headed to McDonalds for a $75 dinner at 9pm. Yes, $75. 
Day 1 assessment: Kids were amazing on 10 hour drive. SeaWorld sucked due to weather. Downtown Disney sucked due to crowds and bad moods. 
SeaWorld Antartica holding room 1 - Dave 0.

Time for bed.


Walking is so hard. 
Day 2: Epcot. We arrived just as the park opened and did what every parents do, embarrassed the kids by asking the Disney photographer to take a picture of us in front of Spaceship Earth. Cheese!! Happy faces all around and we were on our way to Test Track. We did not have a Fast Pass for this one, but the wait was only 30 minutes so we waited it out. And then it happened. We started losing kids because they were already tired of walking. We had been in the park a sum total 20 minutes.

As the day progressed, hubby and I assessed our phobic scales. Both of us are claustrophobic, but under different circumstances. And both of us are afraid of heights. We are just a FUN FILLED DUO at amusement parks, let me tell ya. I was actually fine until we did Soarin'. I was not prepared for my height phobia to catapult me into full freak out status in 0-10 seconds. Thank the good lord above that there were no Disney photo ops happening during that particular ride because it would've captured me white knuckling my seat with my eyes closed through the majority of that terrifying experience. There were 5 1/2 year olds on that ride having the time of their lives. This 40 1/2 year old wanted off and wanted off IMMEDIATELY. But I was a brave little girl and did not pass out or jump off over the Golden Gate bridge. Mission Space was next and after hearing the description of the small capsule you must ride in with my anxiety already elevated, I gracefully bowed out and hit the single rider line back at Test Track.  Eff that. At this rate, I was going to be drinking by 10am if I didn't get my sh*t together. The hubby, of course, was ahead of me in that line as well. We'd both already lost cool points on 2 separate rides and we'd only been in Orlando for 16 hours. 


1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7....Jacob???
We made our way through Epcot, visited the countries, took refuge in America when another late afternoon storm hit and somehow found our way sitting through a show on US History. 4 people in our group fell asleep. I will only name one because it was a trend the entire trip and that would be my oldest son. And when I say he fell asleep, I don't mean "he dozed off". He was completely down for the count.....so much so that he had a red mark on his forehead from the arm rest.....so much so that we were backing up traffic trying to leave the auditorium because 7 of us were trying to wake him. We eventually made our way to China and grabbed a fantastic dinner. For the cost of a dinner for 8, we should have scored a couple of free round trip tickets to Hong Kong, but instead we got good seating for Illuminations. I guess that's just as good. Day 2 assessment: Soarin' 1 - Kristen 0. Nine Dragons Restaurant was awesome. (Top Ramen Noodles for a month when we get home, kids!) The Disney Memory Maker photographer cropped my 16 year old out of our family picture taken in front of the big silver ball. HOW DO YOU MISS A KID THAT IS 6 FOOT 4 INCHES TALL???? And lastly we somehow had a complete lapse in judgment and sat through Captain EO. Um.. WTF Epcot!? I want that 20 minutes of my life back. We are fairly certain Michael Jackson made his doctor sit through Captain EO and that's why he killed him. Overall, Day 2 was a kind of a success.  I'm still angry over that family picture of 7 and Captain EO. 

Day 3: Universal and Islands of Adventure! We splurged for the Express Line Passes and I encourage anyone to do the same if you're only going to be there for just one day. We made our way around massive lines starting with the Minion simulator. So fun! And no freak outs from hubs and me! Wait? I doubt it's brag-worthy to say we made it through the Minion ride, but whatever.... Upon leaving that one, we approached the entrance to the Hollywood Rip Ride Rock It roller coaster that stood above every ride in the park. I pulled the "Hell no" card as did my oldest and my youngest and, of course, my husband. But 4 of our kids decided to brave it including my 11 year old step daughter who doesn't really do roller coasters, but she apparently was wearing her big girl pants that morning. She left me standing there looking like a cotton headed ninny muggins for not going. I could tell her daddy was nervous FOR her as he paced the entire time we waited. It seemed like a lifetime, yet it was probably only 40 minutes and she finally ran up to us with an exhausted look of relief. One minute behind her were the 3 brothers who were doubled over in laughter telling us there was a video that we must see. We made our way to the video kiosk only to watch this 2 minute ride in it's entirety with a birds eye view of my step daughter's terrified and frozen face. The eight of us, including her, were in hysterics laughing. She absolutely looked like she went into shock on the way up the hill and her face froze in terror the rest of the way through the ride. Probably THE funniest thing I have ever seen. The only thing that would've made it funnier would have been if her daddy or I were sitting beside her in terror as well. She is a great sport!! Speaking of great sports, I talked my 11 year old son into braving the Hulk ride with me. I had ridden it years ago, not really recalling how fast that mofo is. Yet I totally assurred him that he would be fine. We got seated next to one another and waited for the initial take off. Once it happened, I immediately felt like Child Services would be waiting for me at the end of the ride. I forgot how damn scary that coaster is. And to be his first upside down roller coaster. The hubs and I were 2 - 0 in our parenting decisions with kids riding rides at Universal. In my defense, at least I was with my kid when he nearly had a heart attack. 
Photography by Dave who knows we have 6 kids.

We rode pretty much anything and everything including the water rides and wouldn't you know it, I got completely soaked on the rapids ride which resulted in me buying a cute new dress and flip flops for dry attire. Win win! Universal was an exhausting but complete success! Day 3 assessment: The 11 year olds both scored points for taking on the big rides. The 40 somethings secure future therapy appointments for the 11 year olds. And I got a cute dress.

Day 3 cont'd: stopped for a case of beer on our way back to the resort.

Things are looking up.

Day 4: Magic Kingdom: We managed to get a picture of all eight of us on this particular day as the photographer was not on crack. Again the kids were mortified, but I pulled my mother on them by exclaiming "We're on vacation! Shut up and have a good time!"

It was hotter than 3 hells on Day 4 and while the kids complaining of being hot had gotten on my nerves the days prior to, I decided on this day to go with the adage "If you can't beat 'em join 'em." It was f*cking hot. 

We all braved Space Mountain, Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain. All were rides I had ridden as a little girl and I was particularly proud of myself for making it on Space Mountain without my childhood terrifying memory talking me out of it. They were our 3 Fast Passes and once they were done, we were pretty excited about what other options were available. Our next Fast Pass was for the Haunted Mansion. Dave and I were both a bit reluctant as they led us in a room filled with 50 people, shut the door behind us and turned off the lights. However, I found solace in the fact that the 4 and 6 year old little girls in front of me dressed as princesses for the day weren't losing their shit and I shouldn't either. We boarded our cars and off we went into the dark. 3/4ths of the way through the ride, it stopped. "We are sorry for the inconvenience, but this ride has stopped temporarily. We will resume shortly". 

Um, what the eff did you just say???

What seemed like an hour but it was really only 10 minutes, it resumed and we lived to tell about it. Whew. Those princesses are bad asses. I need to make a mental note if I pay a small Disney fortune to get my hair did with glitter and a tiara, I may have a different attitude about these rides. But I digress.

We happily skipped over to the Fast Pass kiosk excited for the next adventure only to discover options were limited. What a buzz kill. I was all hyped from surviving the big bad Haunted Mansion only to realize.....
Mad Tea Party was the only viable option. I pulled the "I really don't want to vomit" card and took pics instead. And, yes, that is my husband and one of our 14 year olds. We rode a few more rides, including Space Mountain 2 more times. As we exited it the last time, the Incredibles were having their dance party.



After my grown ass husband got jiggy to Apache with Mrs Incredible, we headed back to the resort. With the exception of one member of our party being completely torn out of the frame for not getting Disney Character pictures and autographs, it was a successful day. My dear hubby... He must come to terms that his daughter starts middle school and isn't into those "childish" things anymore. 
Day 4 assessment: Kristen and Dave - 1 Haunted Mansion - 0. 
The tides are turning!

Day 5: Hollywood Studios - our last day.

Star Tours, Aerosmith Rockin Roller Coaster, and the Stunt Show were our Fast Passes. With Dave being a huge Star Wars fan, this ride was sure to be a hit, minus the capsule they shoved 20 people in to simulate a space flight scene. Neither of us were fans of that part, but again, there were toddlers in this thing. WTF, man. Deep breaths yet again.

We all LOVED Aerosmith. We loved it so much that of all the days, this is the ride we rode the most. But that first time was a doozy for us all at take off. See for yourself: 



























The rest of our crazy crew right behind us. See? Her face is still frozen!









Somewhere in the middle of all the rides, we had a late lunch reservation at the 50s Prime Time Cafe. While waiting for our names to be called, my narcoleptic son fell asleep again. I don't remember 20 being such an exhausting age???


The food was fabulous, the drinks were on point and gave me enough liquid courage to go on the Tower of Terror with 3 of the boys and my super brave stepdaughter.


Followed by more walking, more overpriced snacks, more complaining about the heat, being hungry, being tired, being sweaty, having to poop, we wrapped up our day standing in a 70 minute line for Toy Story. At least it was an air conditioned wait...and everybody loves a good Woody.

What?

We had one more photo taken as we were leaving the park our last day...... and for proof that Jacob was with us every day. 



First full day of our fabulous Disney vacation:


Last full day of our fabulous Disney vacation:


In conclusion some discoveries were made. 

  • Florida may have Hell beat in the way of extreme temperatures.
  • Backpacks are the way to go for carrying items into the park and if you are into back sweat.
  • You may walk around a park an entire day in light khaki shorts with a stain on your butt and NONE of your children will tell you it's there.
  • If you plan to eat anything at all, it will be triple the price of food from your home town. Unless you're from New York City. Then Disney's probably a tad cheaper.
  • Dave and I are the only people who can walk 20,000 steps/9+ miles a day and STILL gain wait. Thanks a lot, Fitbit.
  • Despite the heat and the exhaustion, we were thankful for our situation of not having a Bjorn strapped to our chest, a stroller to push or a toddler on our shoulders. 
  • There are a lot of angry dads at Disney. One of my favorite lines of frustration I witnessed: "You have to go to the bathroom AGAIN?? We just spent a *explicitive* hour in there!"
  • There are a lot of tired moms at Disney. One mom threatened her son as he swung his light saber "If you don't put that thing away....I'm gonna tell your dad."
  • You may look refreshed and happy as you enter the park in the mornings yet prepare to look as if you spent an entire afternoon in a caged UFC fight when you return to your resort.
  • Prepare to FEEL like you have been in a caged UFC fight. Every. Single. Night. you are there.
  • Consider entering a caged UFC fight instead of planning a Disney vacation. It won't be as hot, you may actually break even money wise and the pain won't last as long.

In the end, we made some great memories, shared lots of laughs, and will always cherish the fun times of this Disney vacation. I'm glad we did it; heat, crowds, expense, smelly kids, claustrophobia and all.

Thanks for the memories, Walt!



***If you are currently planning your Disney vacation, don't let my sarcasm scare you into cancelling your trip! But take this advice:

1. Go off-season if you can. We have 5 kids who play sports year round. Summer was our only option. And with Fast Passes, wait times were manageable. 

2. Splurge for the Memory Maker package. It was the best $150 we spent. (minus the one pic cutting out a kid - make sure everyone is accounted for!) We only took pictures at Universal. Disney photographers were all over the Disney parks. They uploaded the pictures within an hour after taking them. We ended up with about 100 pics total.

3. Take a pool day like many advised us to do. We only had a set amount of days to go to Disney so an extra day wasn't an option. We packed A LOT in 4 1/2 days. It would've made a huge difference to have one day of R & R at the resort smack in the middle of our trip to regroup.

4. Buy Disney giftcards in advance. I bought one every other week on my pay day until our trip. CVS, Walmart, etc all sell them. If you take preteens and teenagers like we did, it's easier to manage their spending with giving them giftcards to use. It's especially nice when they're older and break away to do their own thing. They can be used in all the parks for food, drinks, snacks, and souvenirs. Beware: Most Downtown Disney stores do not take Disney GC's, but many let you scan your MagicBand to pay for things. (We did not let the kids know that was an option for fear we'd have a $3,000 credit card bill at the end of our stay)

5. Have fun. Take it all in. While I jokingly talked about the complaining, Dave and I counted our blessings MANY times while we were there. Thankful for happy, healthy kids. Thankful we could walk around the parks with no assistance. Thankful that, while things were ridiculously pricey, we could afford to splurge this once for our family. Thankful to be together. 

:) - Kristen




























Friday, June 13, 2014

I Have A New Blog Idol......

...and you will too. Trust me.

If you read nothing else ever again, PLEASE read this article, written by Marc Chernoff at Marc and Angel Hack Life:

20 Hard Things You Need to Do to Be Happy
I don't care if you're 16, 25, 42, 60, or 80, this piece will resonate with you in some way. And if it doesn't, you're a cold hearted alien sent to earth to destroy mankind. 

Dear Marc:
I think you're brilliant.

Here is his list. It's amazeballs. My personal comments follow.

1. You need to take small chances every day. 

I don't do this enough. I was born a chicken...the "bock bock" kind. I like my confort zone. I don't get disappointed. I don't appear foolish. I can't fail. Yet in my comfort zone, I don't succeed at anything except complacency.

2. You need to worry less about what other people think of you.

I got this..... But it took me 35 years! Divorce in a small town will cure you of that concern fairly quickly. Not only did I learn that it was ok to be me, but no matter what you do, people will talk. And when they do, it's the voice of their insecurity. So tell 'em "go on with your judgey judge selves. I'll just be over here moving on with my life."

3. You need to ignore what everyone else is doing and achieving.

Marc writes: "Plan to outdo your past, not other people." 
Preach!!

4. You need to invest in youself even when no one else is.

Imperative. "Invest in education, health and happiness every single day", he says. I don't feel I do this consistently enough, but I know that IF I did, it would make a positive impact on my life. So what's holding me back??? ME.

5. You need to walk the talk.

Simply put: If you want something, go after it. 


6. You need to put your heart into your work.

This could mean your job, your parenting, your relationships, your hobbies. Whatever it is, put your heart in it. I am passionate about my writing. It's out there. Like or not. It's 100% me. I am passionate about my kids and being a mom. When I'm old and gray I may look back wishing I'd done some things differently, but the one thing I can never say is I didn't leave my heart out there.

7. You need to deliver results even when excuses is easier. "No excuses, no quick fixes, no blaming others. No I'll Do It Tomorrows. No more excuses"

Genius!!  #7 also applies to our kids and that fight against entitlement we have as parents. I need to print this list out solely to highlight #7 and chant it in my boys' ears as they're sleeping at night. Subliminal message much?? :)

8. You need to make mistakes and look like a fool sometimes.

Me = Nailed it. Many times. Thank god, none of which were caught on Vine or YouTube. But Marc means, it's ok to fall, metaphorically, not literally. Been there done that as well. Looking like a fool, humbles us. Failure makes us stronger. Both really suck a lot in the moment, but give us the stepping stone needed to strive for greater things.

9. You need to let go of yesterday's struggles.

That's another doozy for me. Why is it we can forgive others much easier than we can forgive ourselves? One of my favorite quotes from his blog:
"The story of your life has many chapters. One bad chapter doesn't mean it's the end. So stop re-reading the bad one already and turn the page". 

10. You need to refrain from feeling sorry for yourself.

Hey, no one likes a pity party as much as yours truly, but I'm married to a man who gives me one swift kick in the arse and motivates me to move past whatever it is that has me down in the dumps. While it annoys me to NO END in the moment, I'm greatly appreciative. Get up, brush yourself off, and move on.

11. You need to toughen up.

Life's experiences help tremendously with toughening up. It doesn't mean I have no heart or feelings. It means I can endure whatever difficult situation I am in because I realize there is an end in sight that leads to better things.

12. You need to fight hard for what your believe in.

Whatever it is, fight for it! A product of divorce is a massive reality check and prioritizing what is important. I have learned to fight for what I believe in even if it may seem like a hopeless cause at the time. In the end, I never regret standing up for something that is close to my heart.

13. You need to be patient

Weeeeellllll...  I completely suck at this. But I'll do better. I swear. 

14. You need to take control of your thoughts before they take control over you.

I won't let negative thoughts win me over. It only sets me up for failure. And when weakness prevails, it's time for me to focus on #15.

15. You need to be positive. 

I steer clear of Negative Nellies. And I try to look for the good in every situation even when my initial instict may be "Oh sh$#!"

16. You need to spend more time with the right people.

Truer words have never been spoken. I recently wrote a blog about Toxic Relationships. There comes a time when you realize the people that are healthy for you and those that are toxic. And it's time to clean house.

17. You need to stand up for yourself.

If you don't take up for yourself, no one else will.

18. You need to forgive everyone who has wronged you.

Trust me, this should be #1 on anyone's How to live a fulfilling, happy life list. I once posted a quote on Facebook "Holding on to anger (bitterness) is liking drinking the poison but waiting on the other person to die". I could write a book on this one thing alone. I was this person. I hated the constant feeling of anger until one day I made the decision to forgive and release myself of the bitterness demon that had held me hostage for so long. IT IS NOT WORTH IT. To this day, I still see people walking around in their bitter cloud and I pity them. They are sad, miserable people. One day they'll learn they are only imprisoning themselves.

19. You need to reach out and help people.

Nothing fulfills the soul as much as helping others. I challenge anyone to go on a shopping spree for themselves vs. volunteer their time/pay it forward for another. Which experience will be lasting in your heart? While those adorable new shoes will get compliments for a season or two, whoever you helped in your selfless journey will remember what you did for a lifetime. 

20. You need to be present enough to enjoy your journey.

Thank you for the reminder, Marc. You're right. Presence is KEY. And I've gotten better with this. It is a harsh reality check into today fast paced, technologically advanced world. Step away from the device and live. We are only in this life once.

Live it. And live it filled with positivity, no regrets, happiness, forgiveness and love.

And when in doubt, read Marc's Blog again.




Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Bittersweet MOMents......

My youngest son graduated from elementary school. I took the day off of work fully prepared to hit the closest bar immediately following the ceremony, not out of celebration, but complete and utter depression. You see, I walked my oldest son in that school in August of 1999. His brother followed in 2003. Then another in 2005. And lastly, the "little guy" in 2008. For fifteen years I've walked the halls of that school. I've eaten many a lunch there. I've dropped off screaming kids. I've picked up vomiting kids. I've loved each and every one of their teachers for giving them their foundation for learning. The memories of that school are vivid and abundant.

 As I made my way through the hallways, I savored the smell one last time. A smell that, not only hasn't changed in 15 years, but one that takes me back to my own childhood, as I was a student there many (MANY) years ago. I have my own amazing memories there, minus the one time I puked peaches in the cafeteria. And the yearly "lice check" where we stood in line with our little combs waiting to be combed and prodded. Aside from that, great memories for me. Fast forward years later to 1999 and kindergarten orientation for my oldest. I walked in the door and the first thing I noticed was the same smell. I can't really describe it in words. It isn't a stinky smell. It isn't necessarily a flavorful, yummy smell. It's a scent that is distinct to that school. It represents innocence, liveliness, fun, nuture, comfort, and love. That scent was the one thing that nearly put me over the edge as I realized it was the last day I'd walk those halls with one of my boys.


Big brother #1 prints


The 5th grade graduation ceremony went by in a blink in the gymnasium where 2 of his older brothers handprints reside on the walls. I held myself together until the very end, shed a couple tears, gathered my composure and hugged my son extra tight. 





Big Brother #2 prints

That sweet boy is the exclamation mark to our family. Every milestone moving forward for him, is the "last" milestone in a sense for me as a Mommy and that's a tough pill to swallow. But I made a promise to myself that I will do my best to handle these last milestones with grace, even though I wanted to fall in the floor and throw a complete Mommy temper tantrum before leaving. I didn't. Instead I gave myself an attitude adjustment. My change in perspective was made easy by the company of other 5th grade moms who were also celebrating their last child in that school, as well as others who have younger kids to follow. A day of depression did, indeed, turn into a day of celebration as we sat outside watching our kids run and play on the grounds of the school that has given them, not only a great foundation in education, but also memories that will last them a lifetime.

And that wafting hallway scent that greeted them each and every morning for 6 years, may it one day bring back the memories of being a 5 year old kid again.

EM Yoder Elementary, thanks for the memories.



Happy kid!



Happier Moms!











Friday, May 30, 2014

The Dog Ate His Homework, My A$$.

If you read my last blog,

FORGET EVERYTHING I SAID.

Summer isn't going to be smooth sailing in my household for one of my children.



My youngest son has been struggling from the lazy gene his last year of elementary school. Along with it, the "Oh, I forgot" gene decided to join in on the fun. Neither of which are conducive to the behavior and grades in which we, as parents, expect from him.  The final straw was today while I was at work. You know it's not a good sign if you recognize a random cell phone number as your 10 year old's teacher. The last time she called me he "forgot" to turn in his permission slip for the boys and puberty video. This time he "forgot" his social studies homework and all grades from teachers are due today at 3pm. Which means, he's about to get a big ole goose egg in Social Studies.

As my head was about to spin around, I called his dad to share the good news, and inform him that he was now being sent on a wild goose chase to find the said "forgotten" homework in which the 10 year old claimed was left on his dresser at his dad's house. 30 minutes later, NO homework to be found (shocker), but the discovery of the MOST IMPORTANT extra credit worksheet that had to be turned in today in which he left behind. Needless to say, a few explicitives were dropped and I think his dad may have said one too.

We are all speeched out. I am fairly certain the last time he had access to his iPod was when the iPod 2 was released in stores. For months he's been banned from Xbox and all game stations, he's been benched from his favorite sport of soccer, I have threatened, and I have prayed. I have done everything in my power as a parent to figure out what I can do to exorcise this lazy demon.

I AM AT MY WITS END!!

I jokingly posted on Facebook this afternoon "Boot Camp for 10 3/4 year olds? Yes, please." hoping some humor would get me out of this parental funk I am in. No such luck. 

Listen, I'm not seriously thinking of sending him to a boot camp. He isn't hiding out in his room with a black light, smoking a bong, cursing like his mother, and sacrificing squirrels in the backyard.

Yet.

BUT I'd seriously consider it if they offered something relatively useful for this stage we are in right now.I would pay big bucks this summer for the following boot camps if available:

How Not to Forget Sh*t, Boot Camp 

How to Give a Sh*t, Boot Camp

Taking Some Initiative/Oh I Think I Better Start Working on _________ (homework, chores, showering), Boot Camp 

Accountability, How To Admit You Did Something Wrong, Boot Camp

If Homework Assignments Are On The Board, I Should Probably Write Them In My Planner Verbatim So I Won't Forget What I Had For Homework By The Time I Get In the Car, Boot Camp.

My Mother Is Trying Really Hard Not to Raise Little A-Holes and I Should Probably Try Really Hard Not to Be One, Boot Camp.

And Boot Camp by DMX - Mom's About to Lose Her Mind Up in Hur, Up in Hur, Boot Camp

I Googled, but there were none available in our area.

Just when I think I have this parenting thing down pat, the inevitable happens:

Puberty.












Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Summer Planning = Hoping for the Best/Preparing for the Worst

Don Henley once sang "Boys of Summer" and Kristen added "are lazy mofos and it's all my fault." (Country genre, of course)

I ran across a blog that made me long for the days of excitedly looking forward to relaxing summer days, well planned schedules, nap times, family reading circles and skipping happily through the yard, playing organized games of Badminton. Then I remembered those days never existed. Sadly I never get to plan our summer days together because I have always worked full time outside of the home and now that my kids are older and Pinterest exists, I am living the harsh reality that, yes, I continue to suck as a parent. 

I am completely and totally envious of this mom. Check out her fabulous idea! 

Printable Summer Schedules


http://www.icanteachmychild.com/



I'm serious. I think this is amaze-balls, but there's one problem...well two, actually:

1) I'm not home during the day to keep my kids on a fixed schedule.

and

2) My kids are older, therefore their list would be SLIGHTLY different. 








Here is where my kids' summer schedule deviates from the list above:
Click image below to enlarge.


www.bloodsweatcheers13.blogspot.com

In their defense, chores DO get done. Maybe not in the time frame I'd prefer, but done. And per their "done" standards, maybe not mine. But kinda-done, nonetheless.

The eating/snacking is no exaggeration. I may embellish for the sake of a good laugh on occasion, but when it comes to our grocery bill, I don't joke. They are pigs. I-am-so-starving-I-may-fall-out-from-exhaustion-even-though-I-slept-til-noon, PIGS.

They do go outside on occasion. It's usually when I turn off wifi or hide the controllers/games/power cord to Xbox in the trunk of my car, but they do see sunlight from time to time.

I absolutely would give anything to be home with them so I could manage their days, junk food intake and screen time, but that isn't my reality. Instead, I will do what I've always done as a working mom during summer months: 

- Leave them in the bed sleeping peacefully - happy to have my own reprieve from the school-morning-grumps.

- Write out their daily chore list - knowing that they understand the wrath if it's not done by 5pm.

-Have healthy snacks on hand - hopeful that they'll make good decisions. 
HAHAHAHA-snort-HAHAHAHA

- Hope for the best, plan for the worst.

Look, if I survive the teen years in one piece, it'll be a miracle in of itself. I have bigger battles to fight than "Who ate all the Oreos?"

Working moms of teens unite!



Warning: If you aren't fluent in sarcasm, you may not comprehend this blog. My kids aren't really complete unheathly lazy slugs. Just some of the time. On occasion. Only when I really really really need them to get sh*t done and we're all out of fruit.