Monday, January 30, 2012

13 Again

It has finally happened folks.

I am now the official mother of TWO teenagers!

My middle daughter is now the big 13.

We celebrated her birthday before we left home. She decided to have a slumber party, and she invited lots of giggly girls over to help her celebrate.

We ate homemade ice cream cake at her request.

She had a blast playing "Just Dance 3" with her friends.

Howie was his usual flirty self.

So thankful my daughter has such great friends!

On her actual birthday, we celebrated by eating Chifa (Chinese food from Peru) with my cousins, and feasting on Coldstone ice cream cake, which was declared the BEST CAKE EVER by my girls.

We watched American Idol, and made fun of all the people who THINK they can sing. I have no idea why some of these people think that they are going to be "the next American Idol. The judges cracked me up when they asked one particularly horrible sounding contestant if he had ever recorded himself, and then listened to it. He said no, and they told him that he should, because then he would hear what THEY had to hear! Ha!

Happy 13 Birthday, Kare Bear! Daddy and I love you so very much, and are proud of the young lady that you are becoming ♥

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Miraculous Hodgepodge

1. A new Miss America was crowned on Saturday night-did you watch? If you were a contestant what would your talent be?

No, I did not watch. When I was a little girl, I never missed watching a pageant. Now that I'm an adult, I will watch it if I remember it is on, but if I miss it, that's OK too. To be honest, watching the pageants just makes me feel bad about myself. All of those girls are so young and beautiful, and they don't have an ounce of fat on them. Of course, they probably haven't had a decent meal or a single dessert in months in order to look like that.

If I was a contestant, for the talent portion, I would sing.

2. Do you have houseplants? Real or fake?

I do have a few real houseplants. However, I would not say that I have a "green thumb". I can keep them alive OK, but they definitely don't thrive like they do at my Mom's house. I have given her several of my plants that I thought were past the point of no return, in hopes that she could convince them to live. She revived them, and they are now growing in leaps and bounds! She really doesn't do anything different than I do. They just seem to like her better...

3. When you were in school did you speak up or were you more of the hide your face, avoid eye contact, and pray the teacher didn't call on you type of student?

That would totally depend on what class I was in. If it was Math or Science, I would hide and pray that I wasn't called on. If it was any of the other classes, I would raise my hand, as long as I knew the answer.

4. Next Monday marks the Chinese New Year...what do you order when someone suggests Chinese food?

I love beef with broccoli. I never order anything else!

5. How would you define a miracle? What would it take for you to consider something a miracle?

A miracle to me is something that happens that seems to be impossible.

Something along the lines of this story.

Right now, I am praying for a miracle for my friend's mother who has stage 4 lung cancer. Would you please join me in praying for a miracle for this dear lady? Thanks so much!

6. What's your favorite Disney song? If you're stuck you'll find a list here.

7. I should have _____________ yesterday.

eaten more vegetables

8. Insert your own random thought here.

If I ever start to feel like I am bit strange for some of the things I do, I just need to watch an old episode of "Wife Swap". Have you seen some of these shows? Just where do they find all of these weirdos? The girls and I were watching a Wife Swap marathon last night, and there was a lady on there who communed with Mother Earth by dressing up like a fairy, smearing dirt all over herself, and talking to the plants in the forest. She told them that they were equal to her in every way. She even went so far as to regularly eat dirt, so she could TRULY become "one" with the Earth.

Kind of makes my little idiosyncrasies seem minor in comparison.

ABC has brought back Wife Swap, but this time, with celebrities switching places. Since we all know that celebrities tend to lead some pretty strange lives, it should make for some entertaining TV.....

The Experience

Before we left for our trip to Chicago, we purchased a family pass to a local museum for about $60. We did this, because we would then be able to get into reciprocal museums for free, or at a reduced cost. If you have visited a museum lately, you know how expensive that can be for a family.

By showing our family pass, we were able to get into The Field Museum for free!

Normally, for us to purchase tickets to this museum, it would have cost our family close to $100. That is quite the savings!

We also knew that there was at least one reciprocal museum that we could go to while we were in FL. So, we decided to go yesterday, which was the last day that "The Festival of Chocolate" would be featured.

When we arrived at the museum, the parking lot was packed out, and they were actually directing traffic. THAT is how busy it was. You had to stop to be let in the parking lot, and a man explained to us that we wanted to be sure to pick up a gold token for parking when we were through with our

Our experience? Just what exactly did he mean by that? Sounds very....mysterious. Before he said that, I just assumed that my "experience" would consist of eating lots of chocolate, and learning all about how it was made. Now? I began to wonder. Would we be hypnotized and put into a chocolate trance, so that whenever someone said the word "chocolate" we would cluck like a chicken or bark like a dog?

We approached the line, and began to wait our turn to purchase tickets for this so-called experience.

Since we had a family pass, we knew that this pass would only let us get into the museum part, and not the festival of chocolate. That would require some extra cash. We were prepared to pay about $10 extra per person, since that is what it had said on the site. Or so we thought....

When it was our turn, we talked to the lady, and told her about our pass. She mentioned that this was one of the "black out dates", and we could not use it on this day. It reminded me of those funny commercials that talk about the frequent flyer miles, and how you could only use them on select dates.

She mentioned that, since our pass couldn't be used, we would have to purchase tickets to get into the museum, which also included entrance to the festival. So, instead of the $10 each we were planning on paying, it would actually be $20.95 for everyone over the age of twelve, and $17.95 for everyone else. There are three of us that qualify as over twelve (two of us are WAY over twelve) and two of us that are twelve or under.

We would then be required to buy golden tokens for $1.00 each to turn in for every "sample" of chocolate we wanted. When there are five people in your family, that can add up very quickly, especially when you have a bunch of chocolate lovin' girls on your hands!

Unless this experience included a free sample of a chocolate diamond, we weren't buying it.

Since my cousins were with us, and they felt the same way we did about how much it would cost, we decided to have a chocolate experience at Dairy Queen, and play miniature golf instead.

We will go back to the museum on a date that is NOT blocked out, where the total cost for us will be.....FREE! We like that price :)

I guess we'll never know what untold secrets the chocolate experience held. Maybe later on, I will walk around town saying the word chocolate over and over again.

I just might hear someone clucking like a chicken.....
P.S. If you aren't a member of the Blizzard Fan Club through Dairy Queen, you should be! They will send you a buy one get one free blizzard coupon just for joining.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The New People

We visited a church here for the first time today. How did we decide which church to attend?

We researched churches on the internet, of course!

In the past, while we have been in Florida, we have gone to "mega" churches. The worship was awesome, they had phenomenal kids programs, coffee shops, and even several restaurants. At the one church, they handed us a map, so we could find our way around the converted shopping center, that had been turned into a church.

And while the people were friendly enough, there were just so MANY of them, it was all a bit overwhelming, and we felt like tiny guppies in the middle of the ocean.

This year, my oldest daughter asked if we could attend a smaller church. She felt that it would be easier to get to know people better there than at the mega churches.

So, we looked. And looked. And looked some more. There are SO many to choose from!

Finally, we narrowed it down to two. I told Hubs to just choose one, and we would go.

And so....we went.

The church was smaller, but there were a lot of young people congregated outside. It's always a good sign when you see lots of young people at church!

As we entered the building, we noticed something.

No coffee shops.

No restaurants.

No one handed us a map to help us find our way around.


As soon as we entered the children's area, we were warmly greeted by the director. She proceeded to talk to us, and made us feel very welcome. She told us all about the kids programs, and actually talked to our girls, instead of over them, and asked them questions. She was incredibly friendly and kind.

She then walked us over to meet the associate pastor. He was also very friendly, and seemed genuinely pleased to meet us. He led us into the sanctuary, and told us that he looked forward to talking more to us after the service.

For a small church, we were pleasantly surprised to find that there was a full worship band, including drums, and they sang modern songs that we knew.

We were very glad that as the new people, we were not required to stand up so everyone could clap for us. I do not like to stand out, and whenever we have been to churches that require this, I am always embarrassed.

Why do churches think that this is a good idea anyway? OK, so we're the new people. No need to put us on display.

At this church, we simply filled out a comment card that stated that we were new to the church. That's it! Much nicer.

The pastor was a very interesting speaker, and even had a sense of humor, which is always a plus in my book. He talked about relationships; our relationships with people, and our relationship with God. He said that all relationships come with a cost, but one that we are willing to pay. He mentioned that just like us, the disciples were ordinary people, with ordinary lives.....until they met Jesus.

Many people are scared to come to Jesus because of what it might cost them. They think that Christianity is just a bunch of rules and regulations. And for some people, that's all it ever is.

A big set of rules that must be followed.

But, it is so much more than that. It is a relationship. And if we let him, Jesus will change us, but for the good. Slowly. He never forces or manipulates us, but he waits for US to be ready.

Just like the disciples, he can give us a whole new purpose.

And like Peter....a new name.

After the service, we met the youth director, and the pastor. They were both very friendly and talkative, and they encouraged our children to get involved for the time that we are going to be here.

On our way back to the car, the children's director told us that she hoped she would see us again next Sunday.

My youngest daughter loved the kids program, and met several girls her own age, and my older girls are looking forward to going to youth group.

We will definitely be going back next Sunday.

It seems that although this church is smaller than the ones we have been to in the past, it has the potential to impact us in a much larger way.

And that is much better than any coffee shop or restaurant.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday Findings


Back home, the kids are all enjoying a fun-filled snow day. Here, we are experiencing temps in the low 60's, so no snow day for my girls. School continues on. I'm such a mean mother ;)

I thought I would tell you a few things I have noticed about this new place that I am calling "home" for the next two months.

* At home, I live in a very quiet neighborhood. Here, I live in a packed subdivision, with neighbors all around. I thought that I would constantly be hearing the neighbors, since they are so close, but I am pleasantly surprised to find that I can't hear anything, unless they are talking outside on the porch area. The walls here must be pretty thick!

* People with dogs are required to pick up their dog's "presents" or they risk being fined. They even provide nice little green baggies to make it easy for you. Do you think that stops people from leaving their dog's droppings on the ground for others to possibly step in? Nah.

* My favorite store (Goodwill) is literally within walking distance from me. If you haven't been to a GW lately, you should go! They not only have clothes and household accessories there, but they also have books. I don't know about the GW here, but at the store in my town, books are 4 for $1.00! There is a treasure trove of books just waiting there to be discovered.

* There is also a really nice shopping mall within a mile or so from our house. Since we live in a small town, we have to drive almost an hour to get to a mall where we live. Here? It's just down the road a bit.

* In order to get to the mall, you have to turn left, on a busy street, where there is NO stoplight. I mean, the stoplights are there....they just don't work. Yet. They are apparently new, and currently, not operating.

* We only live about 15-20 mins. from my cousins, so we will get to spend lots of time with them! This is the closest we have lived to them in the 3 years we have been coming to Florida.

* There are all sorts of fun things to do here! Tomorrow, Hubs is going to take the older girls to a concert, and Monday, we are going to the Museum of Science and Industry. They are featuring a "Festival of Chocolate", where they will be passing out samples of all different kinds of goodies. YUM!

* It is wonderful to see plants again. In Florida, they have so many different types of plants that we just can't grow in our state, because of how cold it gets.

* This pleasant little pond is within walking distance. Palm trees!

* We are all enjoying the nice weather, and being able to take walks again.

* Just because we are in a new place does not mean that my girls fight less...... or listen more.

Hope you all enjoy your holiday weekend :)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Arriving At Destination....On Left

We have arrived!

Other than the tire blowing out on the tow dolly, we had a pretty good trip.

Looking at the big picture, this actually was a blessing in disguise.

Since we had to get up at the crack of dawn, we really didn't get very much sleep.

Normally, I will help drive on trips, at least a little, so Hubs can get a break. But, with my current health conditions (mainly my blood pressure not staying up high enough, which makes me feel rather dizzy ) it is not possible for me to drive long distances.

Waiting an hour and a half for the guy to come and replace the tire (they don't provide you with a spare on these) allowed Hubs to get a much needed nap.

Pretty sure Fix-A-Flat wouldn't have worked on this tire.

The girls all got along relatively well, which definitely makes the long trip more pleasant. Hubs and I agreed that having electronics on hand certainly helps keep the peace in the car!

We arrived at our rental place, that we had only seen pictures of on the internet. Let me tell you, it is very scary to pay for a place sight unseen! You really have to trust that the person is being honest, and will not rip you off.

It is a nice, clean place, with plenty of room for our family.


Apparently, the people who rented it last, decided to help themselves to quite a few things. For example, they took all the trash cans. There wasn't a single trash can in the whole house! Except for the trash can that you haul to the curb that is.

The guy we rented from had sent us a detailed list of everything that was in the house. Since there were quite a few things missing that had been promised to us, he ordered us a bunch of things that we had to pick up at Wal-Mart.

Missing from the house were the phone, remote, TV console, lamps, most of the dishes and silverware, and trash cans.

Have you ever tried to change the channel on a modern TV without a remote?


Our place we rented last year was actually a place that the owners used, so it was stocked with all the comforts of home. This place is not like that. There wasn't even toilet paper here! A house full of girls, and NO toilet paper after a long trip?! Good times...

We immediately had to make a trip to the store to pick up some things.

While this IS a nice place, it was NOT designed with a family in mind.

You don't realize all of the things that you have at home until you come somewhere that has very little. No measuring cups, no mixing bowls, no baking pans, and no pitcher for drinks. I guess I just assume that EVERYONE has those things. Not so.

Thankfully, I learned my lesson from the first year, and brought a 9x13 pan, cookie sheet, and some pitchers along with me.

All is now right in our little world, and this place is starting to feel more like a home.

Should you come to visit, you can even use the bathroom.

We now have plenty of toilet paper....

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Year's Hodgepodge

1. What are three words you would use to describe your 2011?


2. Do you like shrimp? What's your favorite way to have it prepared?

I do not like shrimp at all. Therefore, there isn't a favorite way I like it prepared. Ha!

3. Is your house de-Christmased? If so when did you tackle that job? If not, when will the decorations come down?

Sort of. Our tree is down, and most of the decorations. We still have our Christmas cards hanging up, my snowman collection is out, and a few odds and ends that haven't gotten put away yet. We took the tree and most of the stuff down a few days before the new year.

4. Do you like to watch scary movies?

NO. Once I watch a scary movie, I cannot get it out of my mind. I prefer to watch comedies.

5. Ice skating~sledding~skiing~snowboarding~of the four listed which wintertime activity do you most enjoy?

Sledding. Although, I don't really go all that much anymore. The last time I went sledding, I cracked my tail bone on the ground and suffered for weeks! It stinks getting older...

6. Did you have a childhood hideout? Describe it.

We had a circle table in the hallway that had a tablecloth on it. I remember going under there when I just needed to get away from it all. I would read books and write in my diary. Since I shared a room with my sister, it was the perfect spot to go to when I needed some time alone.

7. What's a place or space that motivates you?

It's not really a place or a space, but whenever I watch shows like "Hoarders" or "Clean House", it makes me want to clean and throw stuff away!

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Here are some pictures of my girls having fun in the snow.

Happy New Year, everyone!