Back in the Saddle Again

Thanks to an upgrade to a great new laptop we are back in action around here folks! Our desktop computer and our other laptop are so slow that it literally was taking me hours to get a blog post written, especially if there were pictures involved. I also have started a Mary Kay business which will require lots of online ordering, training, etc and I needed something fast. Spending an hour waiting for one document to download is ridiculous! And after the kids were out of school more than they were in school in January due to this crazy winter weather I grew frustrated that I couldn’t get them on any computer programs to work on math, reading, etc on any of the electronic devices in our house except the slow computers that they couldn’t do anything on. So thanks to a President’s Day sale at the Microsoft Store we obtained an HP Envy and I am loving it!! It is so nice to have a fast, reliable computer again. And this one has a touch screen which, let’s face it, just makes it cooler! lol

That means I am looking forward to getting the blog back up and running again. I’m missing sharing the ins and outs of our daily life with you. I’m missing the fun features I was participating in like What I Wore Sunday. I’m looking forward to getting back to Menu Plan Monday (cause I need the motivation soooo bad!!) And I’m excited to bring a new feature in March as we begin a family culinary adventure around the world, one country, one meal at a time (more to come on that later!). So I just wanted to let you know we are still alive and well here in the frozen Ohio Valley (which thankfully is thawing out, just to freeze again next week! Grrrr!!) Hoping you all are doing good as well. See you soon!!

Disappearing Act

Yeah, I’m good at disappearing! I always come back but when life gets crazy the blog is the first thing I let go. So what have we been up to? Well Brianna turned 9. I can’t believe it but it’s true! She had a great day on her birthday with her family, as well as a really fun karaoke party the weekend after with her friends.

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Her hair is a mess but she looked super cute in the new outfit from her grandma. I wish I had gotten a better picture of it!

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Daddy working hard to help get ready for the party.

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving my brother Michael, his boyfriend Scott, mom, Brianna, our friend Manda Lynn and I went to volunteer at the Freestore Foodbank downtown. It was an amazing experience. It was cold, oh my it was cold! But we were working so hard and it felt so good to be providing service to those in need in our community. I think our warm hearts helped keep our bodies warm too!

Those bright green vest are sexy! lol

Those bright green vest are sexy! lol

I was so proud of Brianna! She was a hard worker and didn’t complain all day! We worked for about 4 1/2 hours and she was a trooper! After we were finished she asked when we’d be going back. Success!! They were very impressed with her in the food room where she helped to pack bags with canned and boxed food.  I was very proud of our girl!

brianna foodbankOur Thanksgiving was great! We had a very full house. My brother Christopher and his partner Josh came in from DC. Michael’s boyfriend Scott came in from NYC. Manda Lynn joined us and my dad came over also. We cooked all morning while watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I love Thanksgiving! I love having a day to purposefully stop and give thanks for the things that we have been blessed with all year long. Sure, we should give thanks all year and I feel like I do. To me it’s also so much about being around those that you love and eating some YUMMY food!!

Our Thanksgiving table. It stretched into the dining room this year!

Our Thanksgiving table. It stretched into the living room this year!

This little guy loves pumpkin pie!!

This little guy loves pumpkin pie!! Also, anyone else think he looks drunk!?!? Drunk on pumpkin pie…hmmm!!

The day after Thanksgiving we got word that my great grandmother, whom we called Beebles, passed away. She was 89 years old. She had been in hospice for several weeks by that point. I kept saying “Watch, she’ll die on Thanksgiving.” Well, close enough! We had her funeral on Sunday which I had the privilege of singing at, accompanied by my dad (this was his grandmother). She was a truly remarkable woman. And she will be truly missed by her family.

Beautiful lady!

Beautiful lady!

Our last visit was a few years ago, the day after Christmas. She developed some pretty bad dementia. It's hard on people with dementia to be surrounded by people they can't recognize. And it's hard on young children to understand why grandma or grandpa can't remember who they are. Plus, it's just hard to go on visits with 4 young kids who have lots of energy!!

Our last visit was a few years ago, the day after Christmas. She developed some pretty bad dementia. It’s hard on people with dementia to be surrounded by people they can’t recognize. And it’s hard on young children to understand why grandma or grandpa can’t remember who they are. Plus, it’s just hard to go on visits with 4 young kids who have lots of energy!!

I will always cherish this visit. I wish I had gone more often but life too often got in the way.

I will always cherish this visit. I wish I had gone more often but life too often got in the way.

Friday and Saturday we started decorating the house for Christmas. This year we made the decision to put the Polar Express train on the dining room table and surround it with Steven’s village that he’s been collecting over the years. It looks sooo cool! And Micah, of course, was so glad to see the Polar Express come back. He LOVES this train! Eli loves it too! The morning after we had put it up I brought him downstairs. As we were coming down he caught sight of the train and started saying “Woo! Woo!” It was too cute! Especially since he’s only recently started saying very much at all!

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Today is the Feast of Saint Nicholas. I’m not gonna lie, I’ve learned to love this feast day since marrying Steven and becoming Catholic. I always loved opening my stocking on Christmas, it was my favorite thing! I love doing their stockings on December 6th. I feel like it gives them some excitement and fun during Advent. Plus, you get to break up the cost a little, which is always nice! lol- I just need to start planning better! Once again Steven was at Walmart last night picking up stuff (and so was my mom! Their stockings are always overflowing! lol)

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Yes, I know the 4 year old has no clothes on! He rarely does! But he got some Monster University footie jammies from Saint Nick. They went on pretty quickly…for a while! Then he was naked again! lol

Today we are bracing for a nasty winter storm. The first part came through overnight in the form of sleet and freezing rain. This afternoon we are expecting anywhere from 3-6 inches of snow to fall on top of the ice. Fun! So of course the kids are off school and I’m fighting to keep my sanity! Teachers may love snow days…parents…not so much! lol I hope wherever you are that you are warm and safe today. I’ll check in again soon!

WIWS-I’m Back!!

Yeah so the last 2 weeks I forgot to have Steven take pictures for What I Wore Sunday. But today, today I remembered! So without further ado here’s my WIWS I’m Back edition!

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From somewhere exotic I hear Tyra Banks screaming “NO!! That is NOT how we take a photo! Honey child you better WORK (snap! snap!) Now once again with some attitude please!”

Sorry Ms. Tyra! Honey, take another one please!

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Jean Jacket- Bitten by Sarah Jessica Parker for Steve And Barry’s
Blouse- Mossimo for Target
Tank (under the shirt cause it’s a little see-through!)- Old Navy
Slacks- Worthington for JC Penny
Tights- Simply Vera by Vera Wang for Kohl’s
Pumps- Predictions for PayLess
Jewelry- Premier Designs

“Much better!”

Thanks Ms. Tyra! (Yes someone watches a little too much America’s Next Top Model! Shhhh…don’t tell!!) 🙂

Here’s a closer up look at the pumps because you can’t really see them in the pictures and  I LOVE these shoes! I’ve had them for ages but they are still in the best condition. That’s what I love about a good shoe.

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brown suede with brown leather trim and brown leather bow

And a closer look at the blouse. I love this top. It’s one of my favorite’s for fall. I love the print and the little feminine touches like the puffy sleeves and just the overall flowy feel.

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Today was just one of those Sundays. We didn’t have Jonah or Micah with us because they spent the night with Steven’s dad. We thought we’d get up early and go to 8:00 Mass before PSR…hahahahahaha!!! Every time we say that we should just throw our heads back and laugh because it NEVER happens! But we had a slow(ish) morning which was nice because I got to enjoy my coffee and even made orange sweet rolls for breakfast. Yum!

My PSR class talked about the Gifts of the Holy Spirit today. We spent a lot of time in the Bible looking up scriptures and just diving in to the Word which was great! The kids made collages by writing the name of each gift on a dove and gluing it on to newsprint paper. They turned out really cute but of course I didn’t take my camera so I don’t have any pictures to share. But next week we are talking about the Fruits of the Spirit and will be doing something similar with fruit die cuts so I’ll try to remember to take a picture of that one!

We attended 11:30 Mass and once again I spent the majority of the time in the vestibule with Eli. He is in the process of cutting 2 teeth and he has just been a nightmare lately! I’m not sure how much more of this I can take. I guess I can’t rate him too harshly since he wasn’t feeling well so I guess a solid C for Mass behavior is still OK. Steven said Brianna did really good during Mass so an A for her today! Yea!!

After Mass we went over to Steven’s dad’s to pick up the boys and have lunch. His stepsisters were in town so we got to spend some time with them which was nice! They are a crazy group of girls and we love ’em! We always have so much fun together! Of course I spent a lot of time down in the man cave with my father in law watching the Bengals game. What an incredible game!! They still lost but wow! That last quarter was awesome! (Note to Andy Dalton- you’re killin’ me man!!!)

After we left Steven’s dad’s we came home and Steven went to studying more for his series 7 qualification exam and the kids pretty much scattered. A little light cleaning for me (you know, a mom’s work doesn’t even get the Sabbath off!!) but it was an overall quiet afternoon/evening. We had a simple dinner of vegetable beef soup and sweet potato muffins. And then it was clean up toy time, brush teeth, jammies and off to bed. I’m sitting here listening to a perfectly quiet house and I have to say it is lovely!

Well, that was our Sunday! I hope yours was wonderful and that you have a very blessed week!

Check out more WIWS fashion posts over at Fine Linen and PurpleWh.

Halloween 2013

Halloween 2013 has come and gone. We had a great Halloween season this year. I like to call it a season because we celebrate not only Halloween but All Saint’s Day and All Soul’s Day so it feels like a season in and of itself!

We kicked it off on October 24th with trick or treating at our Alma Mater. They started doing this when Brianna was a baby and we’ve gone almost every year since. The college students get an absolute kick out of all the kids coming through the dorms and getting to hand out candy to them. We love it because the kids get another use of their Halloween costumes. The kids love it because it means more candy! It’s a win-win!! It seems to get bigger and bigger every year! I don’t think I’ve ever seen as many people as we saw this year, which is great! But it also meant the halls were a little crowded!

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Saint Paul

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Saint Barbara

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Saint George the Dragon Slayer

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Saint Joseph

The kids really enjoyed it and they got to see their cousin, Shane which was a lot of fun!

Silly Shane!

Silly Shane!

Happy kids!

Happy kids!

October 27th when the PSR program sponsored the first ever Saints Alive event at our parish. Since Steven runs the PSR and I teach 6th grade we kind of had to be involved 🙂 It was a good turnout for the first year and I think everyone had a great time! There all kinds of games like Musical Saints

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Pin the Halo on the Saint

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Fishing with the Saints

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And even Canonize the Saints!

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We also had a Saints Parade right before the Costume Contest was judged by Father.DSCF6623

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We even had some adults who got in on the dressing up fun!

Yes, that is my husband in the skirt!! He was St. Michael, I was St. Cecilia.

Yes, that is my husband in the skirt!! He was St. Michael, I was St. Cecilia.

We felt like it was a successful first year and really allowed us to iron out all the kinks and prepare better for next year. I think next year’s party will be even more fun!

I don’t have any actual pictures from Halloween. My sister in law brought her camera which takes AMAZING pictures so I left the picture taking up to her. And I don’t have any pictures yet. But our Halloween was really cloudy and windy. It was perfect Halloween weather, until the rain moved in about an hour in to Trick-or-Treating. Did that stop our crew though?? Well, it did stop Jonah and Eli but Brianna and Micah kept right on going and stayed out the entire 2 hours (with Steven and other adults that is!!) We have more candy than they can eat before Easter but that’s what it’s all about right??

We attended Mass on All Saint’s Day (Friday, November 1) although I spent the entire hour in the back of the church. Oh well! At least I was there and got to take Communion. Sometimes that’s all you can ask for!

Saturday, November 2nd we celebrated All Soul’s Day. I had told Steven’s grandma that I would make a new Fall headstone saddle for Steven’s Uncle Keith’s headstone. I had never made one before but the one on his stone was so worn and faded and I enjoy trying to learn how to do new crafty things. So I headed out to the Dollar Tree and to Big Lots where I found some silk fall flowers, cattails, berries and leaves. My mom, who had worked at a florist in high school showed me how to put it all together. I was so happy with how it turned out!

Front

Front

Back

Back

I learned the hardest thing about creating a saddle is getting started. Once you decide where you are going to start you have to make some symmetry around the saddle so that it looks balanced. Once you have it started it goes pretty quickly. I also learned that choosing your flowers and fillers is very important. You need flowers of various sizes and lots of coordinating colors.

After dinner we took the saddle over to show Grandma and Grandpa and then Grandma went with us to the cemetery to put it on Keith’s grave. We also prayer the 23rd Psalm and a Hail Mary. It was a short little ceremony but it was nice.

So that’s what we did for Halloween, er All Saint’s Day, um All Soul’s Day. What a busy week it was, but it was great at the same time!

Throwback Thursday- Brianna 3 Months

Brianna was a joy as a baby! She had the most infectious little giggle- and she has kept it to this day. Her laugh can get anybody laughing! Her three month pictures are some of my favorites of her. I loved the outfit that she was wearing..I called it her little Anne Geddes outfit because it reminds me of clothes you would see in pictures the amazing photographer takes. So for today’s Throwback Thursday my favorite picture from her 3 month photo shoot. Oh how I loved those chubby cheeks!!!

Brianna three mos 1

Just 12 more days until she turns 9…I still can’t believe it!!

Throwback Thursday- Brianna Michelle

In a couple of weeks the girl who made me a mama will turn 9. Sometimes I can’t believe it! I can’t believe that I’m old enough to have a 9 year old! I can’t believe it’s been 9 years since this ball of energy with a personality that’s bigger than her came screaming into our lives! Our world forever changed the day she entered this world. Brianna is a very strong willed child. She knows what she wants and what she doesn’t. She is very independent. She was born a diva! She is so smart- too smart for her own good sometimes! And even though we butt heads a lot I wouldn’t change her for anything! That strong willed, independent personality is going to serve her well in this life, as long as we can teach her to channel it when and where appropriate! I’m grateful for her infectious laugh and the way she loves her brothers. She is definitely the princess in our home. (That doesn’t mean she gets when she wants all the time though, much to her dismay!!) I love this girl so much!

I thought for the next few Throwback Thursdays I would share with you a few of my favorite pictures of Bri. She has always been so photogenic and taking pictures of her is always so fun.

First up, her first official photo: her hospital picture.

Brianna birth

Her Stats:

Weight 7 lbs. 6.5 oz

Length 20 1/2 inches

Born November 19, 2004 at 3:24 am

Labor about 13 hours, delivered with the assistance of forceps after about 2 hours of pushing.

Head full of black hair

Looked just like mommy as a newborn (has since started looking more and more like her daddy)

Instantly had everyone who met her wrapped around her finger.

I knew immediately our lives would never be the same!

We love you Brianna Michelle!

Our Anniversary Celebration and Some Goals

October 18th was our 10th Anniversary. We went back and forth for weeks what we wanted to do to celebrate. Initially Steven wanted to fly to New York for the weekend, but the flight times didn’t give us much time on the ground and they were sooo expensive. We looked at going to Lexington to see Les Miserables, We looked at going to one of the resorts at local casinos, eating in the restaurants and maybe taking a few pulls of the slot machine. In the end we decided it would be really cool to just stay in town and do some of the things that we haven’t done in years, or have never done together.

We got a room at the Marriott Rivercenter in Covington with a view of downtown Cincinnati. I have to say that it was the best experience! All the employees at the hotel were wonderful and so professional. When we checked in we were greeted so warmly and they congratulated us on our anniversary. They gave us a voucher for 2 free breakfast buffets in the restaurant 10 West the next morning. When we got up to our room there were a few surprises waiting for us:

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The chocolate covered strawberries and sparkling wine were from the hotel staff. And it just goes to say whenever you are celebrating a special occasion be sure to tell them what you are celebrating. Businesses often look for ways to go above and beyond for their customers and make you feel important. We saw this again at dinner but I’ll share that in a minute.  The chocolate covered strawberries were especially delicious and a very nice treat before we headed off for dinner.

The flowers were a present from Steven. 10 sunflowers, 1 for each year of marriage; 4 red roses, 1 for each child and 1 white rose for our angel baby. I’m not kidding ya’ll, I almost broke down in tears right then and there! It was awesome!

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Another wonderful thing about our hotel: the view! We decided on a king size room with a balcony and a view of Cincinnati. I know I might be a little biased but I believe Cincinnati has one of the most beautiful skylines in the world. Especially at night. And it lived up to the expectations.

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We made reservations that night at Ruth’s Chris on The Banks downtown. The Banks is a project that has been a long time in the making in Cincinnati. They have been trying to build the banks of the Ohio River up with restaurants, upscale apartments and nice parks. The transformations being made there are awesome and we enjoyed our stroll across the suspension bridge (in the right side of the above picture) and taking in the energy of The Banks before time for our reservation.

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It was a first experience for both of us at Ruth’s Chris. And it was amazing! From the red rose petals sprinkled on our table because it was our anniversary, to the steaks (ermergherd!!!), to the picture souvenir we got before we left the meal was magical! It’s definitely not a place we can eat at often but we really enjoyed the experience.

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And yes, we’re matching! Don’t hold it against us! lol- It’s just something we do!

After dinner we strolled back to our hotel and snuggled up in our king size bed (ahhhh….) to watch a movie. It’s not often we get to watch a movie uninterrupted and Steven said one thing he really wanted to do that weekend was just veg. So we did! I packed the laptop, grabbed a couple of movies that we hadn’t seen out of the $5 bin at Walmart and grabbed some of the dollar boxes of movie theater style candies. We decided to watch Little Red Riding Hood with Amanda Seyfried and Billy Burke. I’m not gonna lie, it was a little weird. And I was way tired so I kept drifting off. But it was good and nice to just lay there snuggled up with my man.

We slept in the next morning (ha! Yeah right! He slept in! I woke up at 6:30, 7:30, and 8:30. After that I just gave up!! lol) We got dressed and went down to breakfast at 10 West. They have a wonderful buffet breakfast with lots of options. I had french toast, bacon, fresh fruit, scrambled eggs, coffee and orange juice. It was a rainy, cold fall Saturday morning but it was nice to sit in the restaurant and watch the rain fall on the river.

After breakfast we went back up to the room and decided to work on a project I had come up with for us to do. You may have heard of the 101 in 1001 Project where people come up with 101 goals to accomplish in 1001 days. I thought it might be cool for us to come up with 180 goals to accomplish in 1825 days or by our 15th Anniversary. These goals can be anything from travel goals, marriage goals, family goals, financial goals, or just for fun goals. I’m not gonna lie, it’s been hard to come up with 180 goals! But we’re chugging along and I’m adding more each day. It might take us a year to just get 180 goals thought up though! lol

What’s on our list? (Hello List It Tuesday readers…I bet you were wondering when a list was going to appear in this post weren’t you?? lol) Well, so far we have things like

1. Go camping without the kids.

2. Pray a decade of the Rosary every day as a family.

3. Have Bible study and prayer time each evening as a couple.

4. Write a love note to each other once a week.

5. Have a weekly date night.

6. Have a monthly date with each kid.

7. Start Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover.

8. Take the kids to Disney World.

9. Take ballroom dance lessons.

10. Spend our 15th Anniversary in Italy.

11. Get our marriage blessed by the Pope.

12. Learn some conversational Italian for our trip.

13. Install crown molding on our kitchen cabinets.

14. Install crown molding in the master bedroom and bathroom.

15. Build steps off of the sliding door into the back yard.

16. Have family time at least once a week.

17. Stovetop travel the world by cooking a meal from a different country every week (ala Global Table Adventure)

18. Hold dinners with extended family at least once a month.

19. Go away for the weekend alone at least twice a year.

20. Take the kids to a new Kentucky State Park each summer and camp.

This obviously is just a portion of some of the goals we came up with. I look forward to coming up with more goals and reaching them together.

Since it was raining we had to scrap some of our initial plans for the day and decided to spend the day at The Cincinnati Art Museum. It’s been years since I’ve been to the Art Museum. I forgot how much I liked it! We strolled through the museum for hours, holding hands and actually taking the time to stop and read plaques and study pieces of art. It was glorious! And something we hadn’t done in years! (one of the last museums we went to just us was the Contemporary Art Museum in Chicago when we got engaged and it’s just not up our alley! lol) You know the best part about a lot of art museums..they are free because of the generous benefactors that donate to them. And we have one of the best in the country right here. We need to take advantage of it more often, especially their family programs.

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One of Steven’s favorite sculptures. Marble is amazing!

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Two of my favorite sculptures by Degass. They made me think about Brianna!

We ate lunch at the little cafe called Terrace. It was cozy and delicious. Afterwards we went to the second floor and continued our leisurely stroll through the museum. It was a wonderful day and I enjoyed spending it with my love. We went home after that to just Brianna and Eli. Steven’s mom decided to keep the boys another night. We decided to take Brianna out to dinner at Panda Express (Brianna’s choice) and then went home and watched the 2nd movie that I had bought for the weekend, Soul Surfer. It was so good! I think we all sat here and cried. Brianna loved it and I think she found an inspiration in the main character.

All in all it was a perfect wedding anniversary celebration. I’m looking forward to many more celebrations to come.

Linking up to List It Tuesday at Many Little Blessings and Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers.