Category Archives: Love

December 2016 Photo Challenge: Tis The Season

I have to say I enjoyed this one. The holidays come with their emotional baggage, but are usually a good time. Well, onto the pics!

Tis The Season… for hot soup! Our loaded potato soup, specifically. We start with a potato soup base and add cheddar, bacon bits and grilled chicken chunks. So. Insanely. Good. Also featured? My FAVE iced tea.. Strawberry Half & Half. YUM!

December 2016 Photo Challenge: Tis The Season

Tis The Season… for boots! We purchased Mini her boots for winter and guess what? They are a WOMEN’S SIZE 8!!! Yup, we are in adult sizes now. Shoe shopping just got a bit more expensive!

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Tis The Season… for fancy neckware and Christmas-card-worthy pics! The boys are wearing some ties we found at Five Below and the girls are all sporting some scarves we found at AC Moore. Yes, we pretty much deserve a medal for being able to get the dogs to look at us. The secret is to hold a treat right in front of the camera for the dogs to stare at and tell your (wo)mancub to look at the camera and don’t blink! HAHA!

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Tis The Season… to paint ornaments! Mini was a bit bored one day so we dug these out of our craft closet, found some paint and VOILA!

December 2016 Photo Challenge: Tis The Season

Tis The Season… for cozy sweaters! Cheyenne just recently turned 11 and we bought her a sweater for her birthday. She has a lot less hair than the other Pugs, so she gets chilly in the winter time. This is our solution :)

December 2016 Photo Challenge: Tis The Season

 Ok, so there are my five. I have three bonus pics for this challenge.

Tis The Season… for jingle bells! This is Biggie, one of our foster cats. We put the collar on him as a joke. He loved it so much that when I tried to take it off him, he hissed and took a swipe at me until I put it back on. Ok then, kitty. Sorry this pic is a bit blurry. I couldn’t stop laughing as I was taking it!

December 2016 Photo Challenge: Tis The Season

Tis The Season… for cuddling with loved ones, resting up for holiday festivities!

December 2016 Photo Challenge: Tis The Season

Tis The Season… for sales on Build-A-Bear bears and it’s always the season for Star Trek anything! Meet our newest addition, Live Long and ProspBear!

December 2016 Photo Challenge: Tis The Season

I love doing these photo challenges. If you’d like to link up, check out the challenge HERE.

Hope everyone had a great holiday season!

A Necklace With a Message and a Memory

This “getting older” thing sucks!

I feel like every time I turn around, I’m saying good-bye to another older family member. This time it was “Uncle Joe”. One of my favorite things about him was how much he loved his wife. Sure, they bickered like old married couples do, but if you heard the way he talked about her.. there aren’t many words to describe it.

Heart-warming, maybe?

When we were generally discussing cheating, he said he’d never do anything so stupid. “I know what I got”, he drawled in that old Brooklyn accent of his. It was refreshing to hear someone speak of their spouse like that. I almost wish it had been someone closer to my age.

As I was thinking about it all while brushing my hair, a realization hit me: if this had been a year ago, it was Nanny who would have called me. She would have chatted with me about any plans being made and we’d chit-chat about life.

I shed tears for both Nanny (yet again!) and for Uncle Joe, who I will miss dearly.

A few weeks prior, I had ordered one of those “signature” necklaces from an Etsy shop. I was a bit skeptical that they could perfectly recreate a signature, but thought “what the hey?” and gave it a shot.

I didn’t really know what to expect, but what I got exceeded all my expectations!

With shipping times, I wasn’t expecting the necklace for another few days. The universe (and Nanny, I’m guessing) decided I needed the necklace that day.

This is what I sent the shop:

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This is what I received back:

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I’m in awe.

I sent a pic to a few family members and even they couldn’t believe it. It was an exact replica of Nanny’s signature, complete with line at the bottom. It was so beautiful, it moved me to tears.

There it was, in my hands: “Love Always, Nanny”.

It is just gorgeous, breath-taking, amazing, all of that and more. Thank you for your amazing work, CaitlynMinimalist. Words can not express how grateful I am to have this gorgeous piece with me now.

PLEASE check out the CaitlynMinimalist shop on Etsy!

**No, I was not paid for this post, nor did I receive anything for free. I just worked it into another post I was working on.

Worst. Summer. Ever.

I wish I was kidding. I really do.

Summer vacation is supposed to be for fun. Summer camps, sports, outings, day trips, vacations.. All of those things are synonymous with “summer”.

Not our summer. Not this year.

It’s so hard to type through tears, but here goes..

Mini’s birthday was in June. Her and I were so excited to do post after post about all the fun we had for her Star Wars party. Really, it was a blast!

I have mentioned my grandmother, aka “Nanny”, in previous posts and how much I love hanging out with her. By the time school ended within two weeks of Mini’s birthday, Nanny was not doing well.

My beloved Nanny turned 93 on July 2nd. She stayed in her bedroom her whole party. She said she was too tired to come out.

By the following day, my aunt had expressed how nervous she was leaving Nan alone, so we were all taking turns watching her so she wasn’t alone all day. Since I’m home during the day, I took the morning shift while my aunt ran her errands. Mini was such a trooper, coming with me every day and behaved amazingly. She would come in when Nanny asked for her and made an emergency call when I needed her to do that too. I was amazed at how grown-up she acted during that time.

Nan was pickier than normal, asking for 3 or 4 different things to drink then asking why there were so many cups and telling me to clean up. She started seeing family and friends that had passed before her. One day, she talked to my grandfather (who passed 40+ years ago) right over my shoulder.

About two weeks after her birthday, I stayed to visit longer than normal. I don’t know why. I talked to Nan before she dozed off. I squeezed her hand and told her I loved her. She said “I love you too”. I stopped in my tracks and wiped away tears as I walked out.

She never says that.

Usually, she responds “me too” or “same here” or “ditto”.

I was talking to my aunt at the table when my father and stepmom walked in. Since we were letting Nan sleep, we sat around the table talking. I had had a rough morning with Nan the day before so I was telling them about it. Eventually, my stepmom said they had somewhere to be. My aunt said she would wake Nan up so we could all visit before we left.

Nan sat up and was looking off into the distance. “My family”, she said. “My family is having dinner and they’re waiting for me.” She pauses and then says, “I feel like I should be with them.”

My father and I look at each other. “What family?” he asks.

“Not you”, Nan gestures to the two of us. “The REST of my family.”

My heart starts to pound. I get my aunt and tell her what Nan said. My father and stepmom leave. My sister comes in. My aunt and I tell her what was said.

My husband texts me that he’s on his way through and asks if we want to grab dinner. We pick up some sandwiches and I tell him what Nan said. My heart is still thumping and I’m on the verge of tears. I’m choked up, but make it home. I wolf down my sandwich and my phone rings.

My heart drops when I see it’s my sister. Since we don’t talk, I knew something was wrong.

“Nanny’s..” she could barely speak. “She’s hemorrhaging. You need to come back here.”

I tell Mini to pack up her sandwich and I throw my food into my purse. I make two phone calls and I’m out the door. I just tell people to pray for a miracle this time.

As I enter Nanny’s room, she is green. Flanked by my sister and aunt, she looks at me when my aunt says “Tina’s here.”

I hold Nanny’s arm as she whispers what sounds like “I’m going” and she looks off into the distance and says what sounds like “I’m coming”. She is struggling, fighting.

“Go. It’s okay, Mom.” my aunt says. My sister echoes.

“Go, Nan. We’ll all be okay.” I said, trying to keep my voice from breaking. “Grandpa’s waiting for you. Your family is waiting for dinner.”

A few more breaths and she’s gone. She moves twice, still fighting. Then..

She’s gone.

The floodgates open and I can’t stop the tears. Neither can anyone else. The family starts pouring in. Looking at her now-peaceful face, it’s still hard to believe. It was like a punch to the gut.

The next few days were a blur. I broke down often. The memorial was set for August 1st. My aunt started going through Nan’s room, letting us all take what we wanted.

The day of the memorial came and I decided I wanted to speak, so I told my aunt. I had all these amazing, fun, hilarious stories I wanted to tell. Well, I blubbered through one story and started babbling so I sat down. I felt like an idiot, but everyone was so nice about it.

A few days ago, I stopped by my aunt’s on the way to Mini’s last softball game. Nan’s room was almost empty. It felt so final. I started crying again.

The loss of nanny was huge. It’s a ripple effect. She was such a huge part of my life. She was the only one who called me to sing “Happy Birthday”. She was my lunch buddy when I wanted to get out of the house. Taking her to doctor appointments broke up the monotony of my days. She was always available to talk to.

If you had asked any of us a year ago, we would have confidently told you Nanny would live to 100. Easily. It was never a question. Things just progressed so fast. So very fast.

it hurts losing her. It hurts more than anything I’ve ever felt. It’s still very hard to believe.

Mending Mini’s Self-Esteem

My lil Mini doesn’t dress like a girly girl. She’s not a fan of girl’s shirts. In her mind, fitted or cinched or not baggy is too tight. She prefers looser-fitting clothes. That’s just what she’s comfortable in.

She is into superheroes and there aren’t many girl shirts with the Avengers or Batman or Spider-Man or Star Wars on them.. well ones that aren’t pink and/or glittery anyway.

She detests leggings and skinny jeans. She’s only worn leggings twice, under dresses and I had to fight to get her into both. In her defense, we have an agreement: she wears dresses twice a year – for her birthday and Christmas pictures. These were for weddings, but it was still a battle.

Girl sweats are usually pink, fitted and/or decorated with ridiculous images or (gasp!) rhinestones. We usually end up in the boy’s department for clothes. I’m not saying we never find anything in the girl’s department. It’s just hard. This is pretty much how Mini has dressed since I let her have a real say in her clothes.

Even when “boyfriends” came into the picture, Mini’s personal style never changed. She thought it was funny if her and her boyfriend were wearing the same pants.

Even in Kindergarten when some Regina George wannabe told her that her Cars 2 lunchbox was for boys and not girls, Mini didn’t change. She kept that lunchbox and still has it.

Last night, Mini said she wanted to pick out her outfits for school from now on. She told her father and I that she wanted to wake up early to pick out her own clothes. It struck us as odd because if there is one thing Mini hates more than leggings or hair bows, it’s waking up early. Just like her Mama, Mini LOVES her sleep.

As she was brushing her teeth, I heard her tell her father that the current boy she is deep in crush with (who she’s known since Kindergarten and defended her lunchbox back then) told her he doesn’t like her clothes.

HOLD ON!

BACK UP THE TRUCK!

I call her into the room I’m in and ask her what this kid said.

She started to cry. That heartbroken 7yo sob cry.

Apparently Mr. Wonderful told her he doesn’t like how she dresses and she should find someone else to like.

Me in my head: Oh no he did NOT!

I held her for a minute as she cried, all the while struggling to keep my composure and thought about what to say. I have always told her if she is happy with who she is, no one else matters. I put my hands on either side of her face and wipe her tears.

“Honey, do YOU like your clothes?”

“Yes.”

“Are you comfortable in your clothes?”

“Yes.”

“Okay. Do you want new clothes?”

“No.”  THAT’S MY GIRL!

I told her that’s all that matters. She should never change anything about herself to please someone else. She should wear what she wants when she wants.

Later, I also mentioned other boys that she is friends with who love her for exactly who she is. They don’t think she should dress differently.

As she got into bed, I said “Nite, Babe. I love you.”

She smiled. “I love you, too, Mommy. Thanks for the advice.”

Well melt my heart and make me cry, why don’t ya??

I guess time will tell if Mini actually takes my advice or not. I hope she doesn’t change. I may be slightly biased, but she really is an amazing kid. She has the biggest heart. She has a confidence that I’m quite frankly jealous of.

Take time to build up your kid’s self-esteem and always fill up their confidence banks. This world is a cruel place. It’s up to us parents to give them the tools that will keep them from falling apart as they get older and the insults get harsher.

I consider this a small victory for me as a mother. I hope I can continue to pull from my own inner strength as Mini grows older.

Baby’s First Planner

Okay. You got me..

Mini’s not a baby. BUT this is her first planner, so it still works!

Since I discovered my love of planners and printables a few years ago, Mini has yet to express an interest in any of them. When we were going over her Christmas list a few months back, she asked for a day planner. I searched a lot of sites and didn’t found one that I thought Mini would love…

THEN I saw this headline in my inbox: “Minecraft T-Shirt Giveaway {and Freebie}”

Intrigued, I clicked the link and it landed me HERE at one of my fave blogger’s sites!

~Confession: Even when I subscribe to updates, I sometimes just skim the emails if I’m in a rush and don’t always pay attention to the bottom part. DO NOT make this mistake!! Any subscriber freebies offered are usually at the bottom part of the emails!~

The “Freebie” was a Minecraft-themed Planner! HUZZAH! Mini has been nuts about this game for months and I knew she would love this.

The best part? I got to break in my new binding machine! I always get excited about my new toys..

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I printed up the pages and put them together..

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The pics are a bit blurry, but the detail and the amazing colors of this planner were (according to Mini) “exactly what they should be”.  If I get permission from the creator of these printables, I will post full photos.

Since Mini loves nothing more than notes, I made sure to print out a “notes” page for each month and a bunch of additional ones for the end of the binder. The end blue page was a piece of cardstock I had that perfectly complemented the blue flecks in the border.

Look how happy my baby is right now!

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Head on over to the Multi Taskin Mom to see what other Minecraft goodies she has!

Marriage Advice From Your Older Sister

Recently, two of my younger siblings got engaged. Being that they are 8 and 12 years younger than me, that pill has been a little hard to swallow. They’re the “little” siblings and it’s hard to believe they’re already old enough to get hitched. This is kind of like an open letter to them. Yes, I will send them the link in the hopes they read it :)

My Dearest Siblings R & R,

You will get a lot of unsolicited and quite frankly ridiculous advice from people when they hear you’re going to tie the knot. Just like having kids, EVERYONE has an opinion.

“Always say ‘I love you’.”

“Never go to bed angry.”

You get the idea..

They all think they know the secret, but.. Surprise! There is no “secret” and every relationship is different, for the most part.

I know what you’re probably thinking: why should I take advice from someone whose marriage crashed and burned? The answer is I can likely help you prevent your relationships from the same fate. That being said, I’m going to dispense a little sisterly advice to you.

There are two people in a relationship. Two. Once you let a third party dictate how your relationship is run, you’re giving control of your relationship over to them. Once that happens, communication goes downhill, which leads me to..

Relationships take work. Lots of it. I hope both you and your future spouse realize that. If one of you isn’t putting in the effort, your relationship will suffer. I’m not telling you to smother each other or to be paranoid, but just understand that there is someone who is directly affected by your actions or lack thereof.

I’m not an expert nor much of an example either, but I hope you both can benefit from my advice and learn from my mistakes.

I love you both and I wish you the best… And if you ever need anything, Big Sis is always here :) <3