Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Tuesday Ten - Year End Countdown

As has been my tradition for the past couple of years, today I am sharing with you the ten posts from 2013 that have been my favorite.  In 2013, my blog grew by leaps and bounds.  There were some posts I thought would do well that bombed.  There were others, written on the fly without much thought that were big hits.  This year, especially, it has been fun to look back at what has happened, how my writing has changed, and how my blog has matured.

My Ten Favorite Posts from 2013

1.  Letting Then Spread Their Wings - This one was written as I prepared to let my oldest go on her first big trip away without me.
2.  What I Learned on a Fifth Grade Field Trip - Written after accompanying my oldest daughter and her entire 5th grade on an overnight field trip.
3.  Summer Bucket List - A list of all the things we planned to do over the summer.  (Definitely have to do this one again!)
4.  A Belated Father's Day Post for my Hubby - This was a Tuesday Ten in which I asked my daughters to tell me the things they loved most about their daddy.  So sweet!
5.  Ten Favorite Family TV Shows  - I listed my favorite TV shows from when I was a kid.
6.  One Word - This was written as part of Finish The Sentence Friday.  It really seemed to resonate with readers.
7.  Letter to My Daughter Upon Entering Middle School - Just as it says, a letter I wrote to my oldest daughter as she began middle school this year about all the things I wanted her to do and remember.
8.  Things I've Learned from My Kids - A Tuesday Ten list of lessons my kids have taught me.
9.  Godspeed, Sweet Dreams - Another Finish the Sentence Friday where the prompt was "the best part of my day" and I wrote about watching my girls sleep.
10.  Great Lengths - Another FTSF post.  It was fun to walk down memory lane for this one and remember how much trouble we once went to in an effort to find the perfect Halloween costume.

There were three other posts that were very special to me this year ben though they didn't run here on the blog.

1-  In July, I had this post on Scary Mommy about how different date night is after you have kids.  Getting a post accepted by Jill Smokler of Scary Mommy was a HUGE deal for me and I was so excited about it!
2 - Just this month, I had this piece featured on Mamalode.  It was a tough piece to write.  I was nervous about publishing it, but it got so much support and I consider it an honor to be on Mamalode.
3- This one isn't exactly a post, but I had and "essay" PUBLISHED in a Book!!!
Of course, it is awesome to be able to say "I'm published!" but being part of this book was so much more than that.  I met 29 other wonderful bloggers that have become a support network and a sounding board.  I consider each and everyone of them a friend and I look forward to working with them again in the future!

My next Tuesday Ten will be published on January 7th.  It will be a New and improved Tuesday Ten linkup party!!!  I'm going to be co-hosting with Rabia from The Liebers.  Each week, we'll be giving you a topic for the coming week.  For January 7th, the topic is New Year's Resolutions.  We are very excited about this venture and we hope you will consider writing a post and linking up with us! 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Tuesday Ten - A Few of My Favorite Things

For a few years, I have been trying to get my girls to watch The sound of Music with me, but they just were not interested.  At least not until a few weeks ago when the live version with Carrie Underwood came on TV.  Now, I know there has been lots of commentary about the TV version vs. the movie version and the quality of the acting.  I really don't care about any of that.  I'm just thankful that my girls were finally interested enough to watch it.  In fact, it came on too late for them so we DVR'd it and they have watched it over and over since then.  (Maybe, during Christmas vacation, I can convince them to watch the original movie version, too!)  They have also been singing the songs, especially "A Few of my Favorite Things" which is perfect timing since that song is often played as a holiday song, too.

I thought in honor of my girls, I thought I would share a few of my favorite things for today's Tuesday Ten.

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things . . . 

These people right here.  My family.  They are my everything.

I had to include this girl because she is part of our family.

A sad addiction, I know, but I would be completely lost without my iPhone.

Mornings would be much worse without this gizmo.

This big, fuzzy robe was a gift from my hubby and I love getting comfy and snuggly in it in the evenings.

If you read this post about how I met my husband, then you know we just celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary.  This was my gift. :-)

Last December, my hubby and I went to Paris and I feel in love - with the city (I was already in love with him!)  I would love to go back!

I'm not particularly talented musically, but I love it.  Music sets the mood - any mood - and can be so incredibly meaningful, especially this time of year.

My husband works from home and had just outgrown the small home office we have.  So, a couple weeks ago, we converted our guest room into an bigger office for him.  That meant I got to move my "office" from the dining room table to an actual home office.  I love having this space for myself and my blogging.

Last week, I shared my ten favorite ornaments.  This time of year, they are certainly some of my favorite things!

And a Bonus #11 . . . 


Over this past year, my blog has grown so much.  That is, of course, because of you - my readers.  I am so grateful for your loyalty and support.  This blog is truly a labor of love for me and your comments, encouragement, and love mean so much to me!!  I hope all of you get to enjoy some of your favorite things this season.  

I'm going to be taking a blogging break for about week so I can enjoy spending the holiday with my family, but I will be back soon and I look forward to what 2014 holds!

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 

And, of course, I have to leave you with this . . . .

(A Carrie vs. Julie neutral Kelly Clarkson version!)

Saturday, December 21, 2013

I'm on the Move!

I am very honored to be featured today on Triad Moms On Main as a Mom on the Move!  Please come check it out and read about some other fabulous women as well!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Sometimes Motherhood Is Hard

Motherhood is hard.  When you are a mother, you are "on call" 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.  There are no holidays, no extra pay for overtime, and you cannot simply take a "mental health" day when you need a break.  Like any other "job," there are good days when everything goes smoothly, everyone works together, and you feel successful.  Also like any other job, there are days that are just plain hard; days when nothing goes your way, when everyone is fighting, and when everything seems to fall apart.

I wrote a post on one of those days several months ago.  When I wrote this particular post, my hubby had been traveling for work the better part of three weeks, the days had been hectic, and everything had been a struggle.   I finally got the kids to bed, sat down with my computer, and just let the words flow.  I hesitated to publish it then because I don't ever want readers to think that I take for granted how blessed I am to have my three beautiful daughters.  I love them dearly and I love being a mom.  Sometimes, though, it is hard and I just need a reprieve. 

With some encouraging words from another lovely blogger, I finally decided to submit this post and I am happy to say it is being featured today on Mamalode.  I'm still a little nervous about it and I would appreciate it so much if you would take a minute to click over and read it.  

I've been published in Mamalode

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Just ONE Thing Linkup

Today's the Day!!!

Two weeks ago, I ask readers to do just ONE thing - something simple - to spread hope, peace joy and love during this busy holiday time.  You can read that post  Here. This has been great exercise for me.  Over the past two weeks, I have been more cognizant of opportunities to show kindness and spread a little hope.  I have also been on the lookout for what others are doing.  It has been heartwarming and I cannot wait to hear your stories!!

I'll start by sharing some things my family has done:

1)  When I first wrote the post, I asked my daughters to help me come up with some ideas.  Out of that brainstorming session, we decided to take hot chocolate to the teachers at their elementary school who were standing out in the cold to supervise carpool drop-off in the mornings.  The girls were so excited about doing this.  They thought about which teachers would be out side, which girl would give a cup to which teacher, and what they would say.  The teachers were so happy to get the hot chocolate!  They told the girls how nice it was and thanked them over and over.  My youngest said, "She gave me a big hug and and said thank you, thank you, thank you!"  Not only did it bring joy to the teachers, it brought joy to my girls.  So much, in fact, that we have done a couple more times!  

Sorry for the blurry iPhone pics!

2) I do a bible study with a group of wonderful women from or church.  Recently, the pastor who leads our group was made aware of a single mom who has three children, one with special needs.  Sadly, they had been living without electricity and, therefore, without heat for three weeks.  I won't go into detail, but suffice to say there were domestic issues involved and this mother, who does work, was struggling to get by.  Another church member had asked if there was any way the church could help.  those in my study group who were able gave whatever donations we could and, with the help of discretionary funds from the church, this family has heat and electricity again.

3) When a new student arrived in my daughter's class this week, she noticed he didn't have any school supplies.  She asked if she could take him some pencils and three-ring binder we had sitting on a shelf.  She told me yesterday that she has also been sharing a snack with him each day because he doesn't bring one.  I'll be putting an extra snack in her bag from now on.  She requested these items and has shared her snack simply out of the goodness of her heart with no promoting from anyone else.  That makes my heart so very proud and happy.

You may have also seen this video as it has been circulating the internet.  If not, watch it.  You will smile, I'm sure.

There is so much more we could do.  In fact, there is always something we can do.  Even if it's just a giving a smile to the person you pass in the parking lot or saying "Have a great day!" to the cashier at the store.  Big or small, it all make a difference to someone!

So, what have you done??  If you are a blogger and have a post (new or old) with a story, link it up below!  If you are not a blogger or haven't had time to write up your story, just leave it in a comment below.  There is also a thread on my Facebook page where you can share a comment.  It would also be great if you shared this post using #justdoONEthing, so others can come offer their stories as well.  (My original goal was to have 50 stories in linkups, comments, and on Facebook combined.  Think we can do it????)


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Tuesday Ten - My Favorite Ornaments

When I was growing up, we always got a real Christmas tree.  David's family did the same thing, so we now carry on the tradition within our family.  Our tree is never a designer tree like the ones you see in magazines.  It's not full of ribbons and delicate glass ornaments.  Instead, it's full of homemade ornaments and memories.  It sparkles with history and every ornament has a story.  For today's Tuesday Ten, I'm sharing ten of my favorite ornaments from our tree.

Since David and I got married in December, we got several Christmas ornaments as gifts.  This one came from a distant relative of mine who actually made this hand-blown glass ornament.  When we first received it, we honestly thought it was a bit tacky.  (It's kind of big and rather heavy.)  However, it has graced our tree for 15 years now.  I have come to love it because it is so unique.  It has traveled with us through several moves and it is truly part of our history.

I just bought this one this year.  I just liked the colors and the swirls.  It is the first ornament I have actually bought for our tree in a very long time.

This is my sweet Megan.  She made this ornament in her Pre-K class.  It is so perfectly her - sparkly, chaotic, and beautiful.

That's a picture of me and my little Emily when she was three.  She looks like such baby.  I'm rarely in pictures, so I love that her preschool teacher captured this one.

When I was taking these pictures, I realized that my Rachel didn't put any of the ornaments with her pictures on the tree this year.  It's a "tween" thing I suppose.  However, this is an ornament she gave me a few years ago.  Their elementary school does a little shop every year where kids can buy very inexpensive gifts for their parents and relatives.  Rachel took such pride in choosing gifts for everyone.

Like most little girls in the 80's, I loved Cabbage Patch Kids and I has several of them.  This is one of two Cabbage Patch Kid ornaments I had as a child.  Now, I hang them both on my tree every year.  They remind me of my childhood and I love them.

There are many snowflake ornaments on our tree.  I love the sparkle they add.  They remind me of the beauty in nature and I always like to see them on the tree.

This ornament was a gift from David's brother and his wife a couple years ago.  It's just pretty and, of course, the "W" represents our family.

This one was another wedding gift.  David and I are not terribly "mushy" romantics, but these little bears are cute and I love the idea that they represent us, sitting atop that heart.

That's me when I was about three years old.  I'm sure I made it in preschool or Sunday School.  I was always on our tree when I was growing up.  My mom has passed it along to me.  My girls like to see me as a "baby" and, again, it reminds me of my childhood and home.


This is the top of our tree which is adorned with an assortment of adorable tree-toppers.  The one with the picture was made by Emily when she was two and that is her little angel face.  The angel with the silver wings was made by Rachel and the one with gold wings was made by Emily.  They both had the same preschool teacher when they were four, so they both made one of these.  The "Christmas Tree" on the very top was made by Megan during her pre-k year.  They may not be the typical, quintessential star tree-topper, but they are just exactly perfect for our tree!

    I'm happy to tell you that, beginning in January, I'm going to be teaming up with Rabia from The Liebers to turn Tuesday Ten into a link up party!!  Each week, we'll be giving you a topic for the coming week.  We hope you will consider writing a post and linking up with us! 
There are just a one day left for you to find a way to spread some hope, peace, joy, and love!! Come back tomorrow, December 18, and link up a post sharing what you did or leave a comment on my post.  I can't wait to read your stories!  Read more HERE.


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sunday Supper - Easy Appetizer Meatballs

When I first heard of this recipe, I thought there was no way this strange combination of ingredients could be tasty.  However, after hearing it many times and finally tasting it, I was convinced.

These are so easy, so yummy, and they only require three ingredients.  They make a wonderful party appetizer and the recipe can easily be doubled if you have a large crowd.  I may have even fed them to my family as a dinner entree before!!

I know the ingredients seem to be an odd combination, but I promise you will not be disappointed!

Easy Appetizer Meatballs
24-32 oz. bag of frozen meatballs
12 oz jar of chili sauce
10 oz grape jelly (the jar pictured is a 20 oz jar)

Put the meatballs in a small crock pot.  Stir together the jelly and the chili sauce.  Pour sauce over the meatballs and cook on low for 4 hours.


Variation 1: Some recipes call for a can of jellied cranberry sauce rather than the grape jelly.
Variation 2:  These can also be made on the stovetop.  Pour chili sauce and the jelly (or cranberry sauce) into a saucepan.  Cook over medium heat until they become smooth.  Add the meatballs, stir, and cover.  Continue cooking for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Holiday Traditions

Dictionary.com defines tradition as "the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc., from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or by practice."  While that is a perfectly apt definition, I don't think it does traditions justice.  For me, traditions are so much more than that.  After all, traditions only become traditions if they are special enough to be done repeatedly, right?

They are special to us (or at least to me) because they connect us to the past and to each other.  They are something the participants all do together; something that others have down before and that, hopefully, some will continue to do in the future.  

I tend to be rather nostalgic, so I love traditions.  I find them comforting and reassuring.  They remind me of loved ones and make me feel like I am giving my girls a foundation they can carry on to their families some day.

Here are two of my favorite family traditions.

When I was younger, we (my mom, dad, brother, and me) always went to my MamMaw's house for Thanksgiving lunch.  Other family was there as well.  For as long as I can remember,  my grandmother had these little paper turkeys.  Each one had a scripture verse or a line from a hymn on it about being thankful.  Before the meal, everyone took a turkey and we went around reading our verses.  This is what we did in lieu of a formal prayer.  Although my Mammaw passed away several years ago, we still carry on this tradition now when we have Thanksgiving lunch with my parents.  The poor paper turkeys were looking a little rough, so my mom has re-written the verses on some beautiful cards.  The past couple of years have been extra special because even our youngest children are now old enough to read and fully participate.  I love the meaning behind the verses and the reminder they give us to be thankful for our blessings.  As everyone reads, I am transported back to my grandmother's house.  I can see her face and smell her house.  At that moment, I am certain she is there with us.

The second one is a Christmas tradition.  I remember my parents doing this with us and, I do it with my children.  Every December 24th, we attend the Christmas Eve service at our church.  When we get home, we slip into our pajamas.  Of course, the children are super excited.  They put out milk and cookies for Santa.  They are unusually eager for bedtime.  Before we tuck them in, however, we pull out our gigantic family Bible - the one that David and I got as a wedding gift.  We sit on the couch by the light of the Christmas tree.  Snuggling together, I turn to Luke: 2 and read the story of Jesus' birth.  I remember as a child climbing up on my dad's lap by the tree when I was growing up and hearing the story.  I remember my mom's steady voice reading those verses.  As we approach the end of the craziness of holiday shopping and parties and baking, we take that moment to re-center and re-focus on the reason for the season.  There's just something about he ambiance of the Christmas lights, the beauty of the story, and the rare calm in those few moments that just fills my heart.  I hope it does the same for my girls and that they will, someday, do the same thing with their children.

So, what are some of your favorite holiday traditions??

This post was written as part of Finish The Sentence Friday.  FTSF is hosted by some wonderful blogging ladies.  Please give them a visit and check out all the other blogs that participate as well!

Stephanie at Mommy, for Real
Kristi at Finding Ninee
Janine's Confessions of A Mommyaholic


Don't forget to come back on Dec. 18th and share what you have done to share hope, peace, joy, and love!!  For ideas and how it works, click HERE.


How I Met my Husband

It was September 1996.  I was 19 and had just started my sophomore year in college.  At that time, the thing to do on a Friday night was to go Cosmic Bowling.  What is Cosmic Bowling you ask?? Well, basically, the bowling alley turns off the regular lights and turns on laser lights, a disco ball, and cranks up the music.  It was a night club atmosphere in the midst of a bowling alley.

Happy to be back on campus after the summer, some girlfriends and I decided to go out and give it a try.

The cosmic stuff didn't start until 11:00 I think.  We arrived at the bowling alley, put on our lovely bowling shoes, and took our place on the lane to which we had been assigned.  A little bit later, a group of guys laid claim to the lane right beside us.  They were obviously a little older than us - probably mid-twenties.  Also obvious was the fact that they had had "a few" beers already.

Eventually, the laser lights went on, the music got loud, and the guys started making conversation.  Now, I'm not a proficient bowler, but apparently I was having a good night and I had bowled a couple strikes.  My "talent" caught the eye of one of the guys in the other lane.  He was not bowling very well himself (maybe too many beers??) and he finally said that he wanted me to bowl for him when his turn came around again.  I reluctantly agreed.  Then, when his turn came, I bowled the most perfectly beautiful gutter ball you ever did see.

Of course, I was embarrassed, but "that guy" seized the opportunity and said that I owed him a date because of my faux pas.  Well, I was not about to go out with an older, less than sober guy so I brushed it off.  We continued to laugh about it while we finished our rounds of bowling.  Then, my girlfriends and I left.

I thought that was the end of it.  After all, I hadn't given him my number or anything more than my first name.

On Saturday, the phone in my dorm room rang.  It was him.  As it turned out, unbeknownst to me, some of my friends had given him my number and he was intrigued enough to call and formally ask me out.

We went out to lunch the next day, Sunday, and then headed to a local park for a walk.  As the old saying goes, the rest is history.  We dated for a year and a half before he proposed.  Then, about 7 months later, we got married.  That was 15 years ago today.

If anyone in that bowling alley had told me I would end up marrying the guy in the next lane, I would have surely laughed hysterically.  I didn't even want to give him my number!  I still remember going back to my dorm after our first date that Sunday and the first thing the girls wanted to know was how old he was.  He was 25 and they proclaimed, "Wow!  He's old!"  I guess, compared to 19, he was old, but that just seems so funny now - to think that 25 was "old."

He quickly became my best friend.  Since I was younger, he often had to choose between bar hopping with his buddies or hanging out with me.  Fortunately, most of the time he chose me.  I'm sure he took some ribbing from the guys for it, but just look at us now.

Somehow we went from this:

to this:

to this:

and this:

The past 15+ years have been full of challenges and joys, tears and smiles.  He is still my best friend. He reminds me to laugh and he makes me feel beautiful in spite of myself.

I love you David!!  Thanks for 15 wonderful years!  I'm looking forward to spending many, many more with you! 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tuesday Ten and Happy Birthday Megan!

Yesterday, my Megan turned 9!!!  She’s a pretty special little lady, so today’s Tuesday Ten is dedicated to her.  Here are ten things that make Megan very uniquely MEGAN!!

1. She is extremely energetic. - Since she was a baby, Megan has always been busy, busy, busy.  She runs at full speed ahead all the time and does not sit still unless she is sick or asleep.  If I had even half as much energy as she does, I could get so much more done!
2. She’s moody. - I think that perhaps those raging hormones are beginning to rear their ugly heads.  Although Megan is usually happy and cheery, her mood can change in the blink of an eye.  Sometimes, the slightest thing can turn her into a grumpy grump and then, just as quickly, she returns to her sunshine-y self! 
3. She doesn’t mind the mess. - Someitmes, this makes me crazy, because I like to keep things neat and tidy.  Megan’s room is almost always a disaster and she tends to leave a trail behind herself - food wrappers, clothes, papers, whatever.  Her constant messes are my nemesis.  
4. She is willing to try new things. -  She is the least picky eater in my crew.  She is not afraid to play a new game or go somewhere different.
5. She is good at math. -  She obviously gets this trait from her dad. :-) Math is her favorite subject and it comes easily for her.
6. Conversely, she does’t like to read. - She is picky about which books she will read and getting her to do it can be like pulling teeth.  But, she gets very excited when she finishes a book.
7. She is great at puzzles. - Maybe it goes along with the math skills, but this is one of her unique skills.  She’s is great at doing jigsaw puzzles, word searches, and mazes.
8. She has her own style.- That style centers around jeans.  She wears skinny jeans, black jeans, pink jeans, purple jeans - it’s pretty much the only kind of pants in her “wardrobe.”
9. She cares about others.- She thinks about other people and takes pride in doing nice things for others.  The world could use a lot more kindness like hers.
10. She is not afraid to be herself. - She is unique and quirky and she owns it!  She does what make her happy and doesn’t care what other people think.  (At least for now!)

Happy Happy Birthday Megan!!  You are unique and wonderful!! I love you so much and hope you have a million more happy birthdays!!!


I'm happy to tell you that, coming in January, I'm going to be teaming up with Rabia from The Liebers to turn Tuesday Ten into a blog hop!!  Each week, we'll be giving you a topic for the coming week.  We hope you will consider writing a post and linking up with us! 


There's about one week left to for you to find a way to spread some hope, peace, joy, and love!!  I'm asking folks to do just ONE thing and then come back and tell me about it on December 18th!!  Read more HERE.


Thursday, December 5, 2013

When Memories Come Full Circle

I have had a couple of weeks to mull over this week's Finish the Sentence Friday prompt:

One of my favorite childhood memories is . . . . . 

At first, I thought this one would be easy.  I had a great childhood that was full of great memories.  I remember cooking with my mom, playing basketball and baseball with my dad.  I remember family TV nights and family vacations every summer.  I remember get-togethers with extended family and sledding through our neighborhood on snow days.  As you can see, my trouble became figuring out just which memory should be my focus.

Earlier this week, I pulled out a photo album  my mom had put together for me.  She filled it with pictures of me throughout my childhood.  They start with me as a baby and go all the way through high school. This is my favorite picture of me as a child:

I was looking for some inspiration to choose a particular memory about which to write.  However, I found something a little different.  As I was looking through these pictures of me, I saw reflections of my own children in the photos.

It was almost uncanny, really.  Have  a look:

Rachel is 11 now, too.  She and Sophie have a special bond.

I remembered dressing as a clown one year and even told Megan about it.  I hadn't remembered it was when I was eight years old as well!

I remembered playing with dolls a lot, but had almost forgotten how many stuffed animals I had. This is how my little Emily sleeps every night - and that's only about half of her "friends". :-)

This last was the proverbial icing on the cake:

Perhaps the best thing about my childhood memories is watching them come back around full circle now as I watch my girls grow.  I hope and pray that, when they eventually look back and recall their  own childhood memories, they can say theirs are and wonderful as mine!  

What are some of your favorite childhood memories? (I want ask you to pick just one!) 

This post was written as part of Finish The Sentence Friday  and the prompt was "One Halloween I..."   FTSF is hosted by some wonderful blogging ladies.  Please give them a visit and check out all the other blogs that participate as well!

Stephanie at Mommy, for Real
Kristi at Finding Ninee
Janine's Confessions of A Mommyaholic


Don't forget to come back on Dec. 18th and share what you have done to share hope, peace, joy, and love!!  For ideas and how it works, click HERE.


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