Sunday, December 30, 2012

You Amaze Me

You're pretty darn incredible.  I know it, but sometimes I think it is just my mother bias"ness" kicking in.  But then something occurs and it confirms that you are just amazing and spectacular and I feel so lucky and unworthy to be your mother.  But you know what, you make me a better person so I can't help but be happy once again that your mine.  Love you, babe.  Daddy and I are so proud. 

P.S.  For all of you who are wondering "what the heck", Bella was one of two fifth graders invited to join their middle school orchestra ensemble.  This group then is asked to play around town for special events, etc...Just this past week they played Christmas music at an area restaurant.  Oh and that is her orchestra teacher next to her.  When did teachers start looking like babes too.  I think I may be aging.  I never thought it would happen.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas, Christmas, Christmas

Christmas Eve was wonderful.  We hosted a family get together.  With 30ish of us total, half being children it was a rowdy but fun get together.  There was no discord or conflict - hoo-ray, some kind of family record I swear.  We had stimulating conversation, food galore (my family can't do it any other way) and the kids remained fairly occupied.  Although on a side note: next year our basement will be finished and I can't wait.  More space, more space!!!  [Can you hear my joyous chant as you read?]

After those festivities of which there are no pics because I was having too much fun, the kids changed to pajamas, left out Santa and reindeer goodies, and then read one another Christmas books.  After they settled for the evening, they opened their one present of matching pajamas and we had a photo op.  The kids headed to bed quickly and due to lots of preparation Travis and I were hot on their tails.

Christmas morning I awoke at 8:14 from a shout of, "It's after eight, can we come out?"  A little salute to our rule that regardless of day, etc...the kids are to remain in bed until we get them or after 8am.  Holla for instilling this good habit early, leaves me well rested and just a touch less crazy, but not much.

We opened presents slowly and tortuously, just the way I like.  Once finished we had cinnamon rolls for breakfast which friends of ours had delivered the night before per their family tradition (love you Stone family).  Dinner was already in the oven.  We ate by 1pm.  We napped and headed to my dad's house where another family get together was hosted.  Lots more fun, no arguing once again, and a little harassment on my part of the local missionaries - the evening was complete.

After all of that we headed to my mom's house.  Usually she stays Christmas Eve to day at our house spending the night and joining the festivities.  Due to the funk of flu season and having returned home after staying with us for over three weeks recovering from back surgery she opted to stay home this year sick.  But since we had presents waiting at our house we made this additional stop.  She loved her gifts and was overwhelmed by someone anonymously covering her oil bill for heating. 

With the late hour we headed home, the kids fell asleep in the car, and Travis and I tumbled into bed relishing the fact that we had a white Christmas, first since 2002 someone told me - Woot woot, and enjoyed the idea that it was supposed to snow again the next day - Today. And it did. Hip hip hooray. The season didn't disappoint nor did all the quality time with friends and family, which will still continue for the next week or so. Hope your Christmas was just as good. Lots of love and happy viewing.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Holidays in Many Ways

Celebrating the holidays comes in many ways.  For Women's Club we had our Annual Holiday Tour of Homes and cookie sale. Both were largely successful and I was thrilled.

Also as resource parents, we had a holiday activity inviting all the families.  Juggler, Chris Ivey performed, breakfast was awesome, and each child received a present.  It was a great kick start to the holiday season. 

At church we had a celebration including the reenactment of Luke 2.  It was adorable!

At school we had gingerbread decorating parties early in the month and holiday parties in all the kids classes right before vacation, including a snowball fight with cotton balls in the Kindergarten classroom.  Suffice to say - having Travis home and celebrating almost daily adds to the seasonal cheer.  I love this time of year!

Merry Christmas Everyone!!!

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Thanksgiving day was a day of awesomeness.  We woke and played Turkey Bowl football with friends from our church like always.  There were four teams.  I was a team captain, picked Travis first.  Some laughed at our lack of height originally, but strategically I knew what I wanted and our team rocked it all the way to be final champions. 

Then we went to a friends for breakfast/brunch.  It was great and fun and filled with laughter.  Last I had prepped so well that lunch was quickly eaten after arriving home.  I am finding that the earlier we eat on holidays the happier I am.  Plenty of afternoon to rest and continue snacking.  Yummos!  Plus then everyone (I mean me) can nap. 

After naps we went hiking and played outside in the seasonally mild weather.  No black Friday shopping for me but lots of rest and relaxation.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Going Back

So going way back to finish up early late October and early November...because of Hurricane Sandy canceling tons of flights Travis was able to be home for trick or treating.  My cute kiddos, Pocahontas, Luigi, Mario, and the Red Power Ranger.
With Travis being gone lots, I really have started to fray in certain areas of my life.  The other day I walked in the house and saw this.  Never in the previous 12 years of marriage has my house/counters looked like this.  Don't look to closely because you can't even make rhyme or reason of all the stuff that had accumulated on my counters and table.
Issac's fall party was delayed because of weather and ended up being in November.  I had the kids finger painting in my workout t-shirts to avoid staining their clothes.
And Women's Club of Manheim sponsored an All Pro Dad's event at out elementary school.  This is a program geared for helping dad's to be more active and influential in the life of their kids.  It's an awesome program and I am impressed at all the dad's who bring their kids to school before the school day starts to participate in bonding activities and mini seminars.  I am constantly amazed at the people in my town.
I also helped to chaperon the Wyatt's field trip to the Philadelphia Zoo.  I had this great little group of boys.  So fun, but despite doing way less than I do in a normal day, these field trips leave me feeling exhausted.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

It's Simple

My life is crazy.  I'm behind in my posts.  I'll get caught up, but in the meantime this was too important not to do:

This is my anthem to my hubby - the world's best man!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


It's a party.  Yeah instead of what have become traditional birthday parties at Chuck E' Cheese or roller skating rinks or pottery painting places, etc...all of which we've been to and love, I have opted to start a new tradition with my kids after trying it out several times now.

Instead of those parties, my kids are allowed to opt for a big birthday present or instead they may opt for a small (4-5) sleepover party for their birthday and a small gift.  Their friends come over and we act crazy and play wild, order pizza and eat, play games and drift towards night with a movie and then bed.  The next morning involves a craft which is their take home gift and we call it quits. 

Issac's birthday was on a Saturday and so ideal for the party which went from Friday night to Saturday.  Then on Monday we had breakfast in bed, a big family tradition but due to rudeness while having friends over it was postponed.  Early Monday mornings make for sleepy breakfasts.

On another note: 
Dear Issac,
You are one of the loves of my life.  You are filled with happiness and joy and sweetness and tenderness.  You can be a bit of a whiner and crier, but you remind me so much of myself when I was younger and even now that I can forgive you most anything.  I love your energetic spirit and all that you are.  I hope that this upcoming year brings you as much joy as the years before.  Happy Birthday buddy.  With love, Mom!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

30 Days of Gratitude

Let's Do This:  (all at once)

1.  My hubster - My life has totally changed to a whole new destination since meeting him.
2.  Four beautiful, healthy, happy, mostly obedient children - who are witty and funny as all get out.
3.  Pandora - frivolous yes, but I use it most everyday.
4.  For a sure knowledge of God and his plan - it's the only thing that kept me going through three hours of church today with four very sleepy and whiny children.
5.  Friends (I need 'em, not tons but some good quality ones, ones who make me laugh)
6.  A steady source of income, a business risk that pays off, and that absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder
7.  Indoor plumbing...let's be honest if I didn't have this, I'd be the girl in the woods doing my business not the outhouse - those things are creepy and gross
8.  The chance that it may snow this week
9.  Every parent who has punished their child even though they didn't want to, because they knew it was in the best interest of their child
10.  For teachers, leaders, and those who inspire
11.  Books, ebooks, and journals
12.  Netflix where you can opt in our out each month depending on the weather and need
13.  My shoe collection (oh let's be honest, my clothes aren't shabby either)
14.  The gym - my home away from home, second family, and only thing keeping me alive and sane
15.  Ebet, I miss her tons
16.  Home, it may look like a bachelor pad with its sparse, eclectic, and well worn decorating style but it's all mine
17.  For the book I will one day write
18.  My cell phone
19.  Internet on my phone which helps me look up every little thing that I want to know
20.  Toy Catalogs that come around Christmas time offering me ideas galore
21.  Indoor Heating and A/C
22.  Cars - my foray into driving a buggy was experience enough for me
23.  My Piano, that I know how to play it and that I have one
24.  Water bottles
25.  Grocery Stores, buying in bulk
26.  That November has 30 not 31 days (bottom of the barrel stuff here :)
27.  For holidays, for how people change during them for the better
28.  Freedom - religious and otherwise
29.  Temples and Eternal Families
30.  My King Size Bed and Awesome Down Comforter - peace out, it's sleepy time and I need it.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

October to Christmas in the Blink of an Eye

October is done.  I don't have many memories of it.  Life is cruising by me but in the most blissfully happy way mostly, so I can't complain.  I have to look at my camera to remember what I have done.  Good thing I am a picture junkie.

In retrospect...
 halloween party with friends - theme reality tv stars (Bret Michael and superfulous ho)
 school halloween parties with wyatt (above) and kody (below)
 surprising Issac's teacher for her birthday (The Big 4-0)
Farm Show
 School field trip to Farm Show
Wood Carver lighting the bench on fire to get fur coloring
 Our once a year Fundraiser - Race for Education
 A visit to Dutch Wonderland with the family
 Fun Run - all schools in the district compete to boast highest number of runners participating
 OMEGA field trip with Bella
Downtown Lancaster dates with the two younger boys
while Wyatt is in Karate and Bella at Fulton for acting class

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sandy - 3 days

So Hurricane Sandy has come and gone  School was cancelled for the past two days even before the rain begun.  Shocking yes.  But each day I feel a little more like I am living Atlas Shrugged - if you haven't read the book READ IT.  Surrounded by people who live in a world of emotion instead of logic, and whose actions are dictated by the avoidance of accountability. 

Am I happy to have my kids home.  Yes, love these guys and miss them now that they are all in school.  So what have we been filling our time with...DAY 1 we...
  • went to church where they cancelled trunk or treat
  • made homemade bread
  • ate a very late dinner
  • planned to stay up late
  • got haircuts
  • had a dance party
  • made smoothies
  • watched movies
  • played in the dark hide and go seek
  • and reclaimed the flashlights from the kids (wouldn't want them wearing out the batteries in case we need them)
And some people have accused me of not taking this Hurricane seriously, for shame!  DAY 2 we...
  • slept in late
  • ordered a trial month of Netflix
  • ran errands including picked up our generator
  • drove around to examine why we weren't in school (no founded evidence)
  • had tickle wars and constant dog piles
  • made homemade french onion soup
  • ate even later
  • read over 5 chapter books among Wyatt, Bella, and me
  • read over 6 books between Kody and Issac
  • handled about a dozen calls to check how we were
  • parent naps, no naps for kids
  • watched late night movie
DAY 3 we....
  • slept in even later
  • worked on the basement
  • took no naps
  • played tons of games
  • drove around again checking for damage (no major damage found)
  • made Halloween cookies
  • rearranged calendar for rest of week
  • prepped for school again
  • worked on WCM stuff and Room mom stuff
  • put kids to bed early
  • parents watched another movie
The moral of the story - fear mongering works, if you are prepared you shall not fear, and sometimes cancelling school days before a storm hits really is a dumb idea because it is much harder to uncancel when no hurricane like weather actually comes than to cancel it when it does.  Note to decision makers within schools - parents who are uncomfortable with sending their kids in stormy weather actually do have the option to keep them at home.  It's crazy how parents are the first and last say on this and can be responsible for making decisions that are best for their family.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

He Knows He's Loved

Wyatt had a bit of a freak out tonight.  As a result he was spanked.  Something I haven't had to do in ages, thankfully.  The thing with Wyatt is that he tends to be mellow 99% of the time.  But that other 1% he goes from totally normal to raving lunatic rather quickly.  Anyway he was sent to bed eventually before everyone else and feeling quite bad.  I hate disciplining my kids and I worry that he knows I love him even if he is acting a bit wonky in the head.  So I saddle up into his top bunk to have a little tete a tete.  At first he stiff arms my attempts at reconciliation.  But he acquiesces to wanting to hear a story about when he was a baby.  A bolt of revelation hits me and I do him one better.  I run down to my book shelf and claim the journal that covers the years of his conception, birth and ensuing two years.  I lay with him and read him stories of when we found out we were pregnant with him, finding out his gender, picking his name, his actual birth, my sleepless nights, his first major sickness, his early interactions with Bella, and numerous stories of how our life was changed and our home was and is filled with more love because of his birth and presence in our life.  He ended up feeling happier and more loved than ever.  And I can't help but be grateful for the revelation given by a loving Heavenly Father.  "My daily journal, kept over all these years, has helped provide some specifics which I most likely would not otherwise be able to recount" and so I am thankful for 3 Nephi 23:13. 

What I found I most loved were the small bits of seemingly innocuous updates on each of the family members.  And so today's post will pay homage to that format:

Travis: is doing good.  He is constantly shuttling back and forth between Pennsylvania and Wyoming where he opened his own company drilling Uranium.  He is the most devoted husband and father constantly aware of the needs of the kids and I despite the 2000+ miles and 2 hour time difference.  He participates actively within our church whether here or there and works his brains out.  I feel more grateful and appreciative of him with every passing day.  And although I'm not such a fan of the saying "Absence makes the heart grow fonder"  there is some truth to it, because all of the annoying traits of daily living are easily forgotten at the happy reunion of the two people most in love.

Me:  I hate writing and talking about myself.  Mainly because I worry that the way I see myself is not how others see me, and I come off as self delusional.  But here goes.  I am doing good single parenting four kids most of the time.  Some days I look haggard and tired due to the increased demands on my time and energy but mainly I am more than ever in love with my hubby and kids.  This year with all four kids in school I am still crazy busy with PTO, Women's Club of Manheim, and church but I am often fitting in lunch with friends too and social visits which are awesome.  Life is good.

Isabella:  Bella is growing so big (not only physically - ahh I can't even think about the boobs that are starting to grow on that girl but also emotionally) and it freaks me out.  She is loving middle school and a lot of the freedoms she is gaining there, namely more choices with lunch, lockers, picking seats and social networking.  She attended her first after school activity - Fall Fest, where she admitted to hoping I wouldn't be a chaperone.  That was a shocking and slightly funny first.  She is doing great academically and spiritually and overall fun to have in our house.  She is super silly and nothing is funnier than watching her get in a hysterical tizzy which includes snorting and almost hyperventilating from laughing so hard.  Love this girl.

Wyatt:  Wyatt is this little man frustratingly waiting for his body to catch up to his mind.  He has taken notice of his growing muscles and loves to flex them given an opportunity.  He sleeps shirtless and is sometimes too big or cool for the younger boys, but mainly the best big brother in the world including them in his playing with his friends.  He is brilliant in school and great at getting along with everyone.  He can be frantic in his attention at times becoming so focused on something that all else will disappear around him.  Each week that something is different.  This weekend he read four books in three days.  He is my little softy and still loves to cuddle on the couch to watch movies or sleep in my bed when dad is gone as a reward.  I could not love this kid more.

Issac:  This boy is so funny.  He is a ball of energy and enthusiasm and without trying to be funny makes everyone laugh and smile because his natural personality is filled with such happiness that you can't help but smile and laugh when you are with him.  He loves anything boy oriented including the opposite sex already.  He touts a "lady friend" almost weekly based on who chases him around the most at school.  He loves to play and often has the dirtiest and most hole filled clothing at the end of any given day.  He has become too cool for my kisses and avoids them at the bus stop in the mornings.  But after chasing him down one day and giving him a kiss admits to loving this game more than actually wanting me to not kiss him, if that makes sense.  He is my little light and I love it.

Dakota:  Kody is my baby although each day I try to take strides to make him less babyish.  He is in Kindergarten and loving it.  He has worked for and met many goals and as I told my hubster today, if anyone would have told me a year ago what he would be like today I wouldn't have believed them, and if three years ago they would have described him today I would have vehemently argued against them.  Kody has grown so much.  He is funny although a lot of times his is such a calculated funny - try to get a reaction funny.  He is quirky and spirited, but still sweet, sensitive and cuddly.  He is the first to give up something of his he loves if he thinks it will make someone happy, but they have to be truly sad, because he is so acutely aware of other's emotions, the real ones not feigned.  He is intuitive and clever.  He is filled with such childhood goodness still.  I love his guts.

Well hopefully in a couple of years I will look back and love this post the way I did the journal entries with Wyatt earlier this evening.  Stay safe and love your little ones.  They really are among my greatest gifts. 

Monday, October 15, 2012


Many of you have seen the pictures and I'm still being asked about my one night event with him.  So here's the story.  After this I'm not telling it anymore, because although it very well could have been the funniest night of my life...I can only tell this story so many times. 

Location:  The Jukebox (Lancaster County's most "love to hate" club)
With:  3 Fellow gym rats (Malin: beautiful, tall and skinny, blond Swedish girl - aka guy bait, Jess: fellow prohibitionist and hands down crazy good all night stamina dancer,
Courtney: my partner in crime, shameless, without fear or reservation bestie,
and myself - I like to think my role is finding the absurd for the night's laughs and ensuring everything for the evening is free (it's a talent) - aka DD and handler (when needed).
Time:  a nameless Friday night
Setting:  Pulling into the club we spot a Amish cart and buggy coming in behind us.

My girls and I are debating about whether this buggy is for real coming to the club.  After sitting in the place, me eating my for real disgustingly fantastic cheesy french fries and the girls starting with a round of drinks, scoping the place for any random cute guys.  I spot him, not so Amish looking, Amish boy.  I point him out to the girls and they are skeptical.  He looks normal minus the mused bowl cut.   My curiosity is making me crazy and so Jess walks over to ask if he came in the buggy.  He wondered how we knew and told her how he had been building his courage to come talk to us.  Alas introductions were made and the night began.  Courtney and I begin our inquisition to Ben, aka Sledge (he is a Mason by profession). 

I start by asking him the most important question of the night and that is if we can acquire a ride in his buggy.  He is flabbergasted that we really want to go.  I assure him we do, I also arrange to take the rides sooner rather than later as I figure drinking and driving applies to buggies as well.  We all get our hand stamped, pile out to the parking lot, and embark on our buggy rides, two at a time with Ben.  Court and I go first, taking non-stop pictures, almost taking out a mailbox, and dig around his buggy to find the most pimped out stereo system with satellite radio we have seen.  Next Malin and Jess go, while they are out and about security comes out to see what is going on and take pictures of us to put on their facebook page.  I use this opportunity to turn the photo tables on him and capture the picture Court had wanted to get earlier in the evening with this guy. 

On arrival back we head into the club.  Court in true fearless fashion asks Ben a million questions, preposterous, personal, and downright hilarious rapid fire for over an hour.  Most are Amish lifestyle related and many cause this poor Amish boy, a mere 21, to blush ferociously.  In case you ever wanted to know I learned that STD's exist in the Amish community, underwear is not stipulated like the outer clothing, a buggy can be pulled over for a DUI and Ben has a big black truck that is in the shop creating the dilemma of having to take the family buggy out tonight.

Long story short, Ben drank too too much.  Stumbling out of the place, barely able to walk, we put the kibosh on his attempt at driving home.  Problem - what to do with a horse and buggy while I drive him home.  Solution - Malin somewhere in her Swedish upbringing and past has driven a buggy.  She designated drove his buggy home found via his license.  I follow in the car.  And despite a brisk and abrupt start, and a drifting back occurrence at a steep hilled intersection with a stop sign we all arrived to Ben's house in one piece, where we helped him unhitch the horse and buggy and gear down for the night.  Then we piled into my car and laughed ourselves home.

Monday, October 8, 2012


Well the rest of September was packed with good times...
Going to the cabin and watching hang gliders,
 Wyatt catching butterflies and teaching the others to do it too,
Travis amazing us with one handed pull ups, 
snuggle time, 
going to the drive-in theater,
playing on the trampoline in the rain, 
riding the Strasburg railroad, 
visiting Cherry Crest Adventure Farms, 
Wyatt participating in the Raingutter Regata, 
and a middle of the night ER trip for Croup.
More pictures of all these awesome events on Facebook.