Friday, November 30, 2012


After school today, Cucumber was cracking jokes; one right after the other.

Me: "You are quite the comedian."

Cucumber: Hey! I'm not Canadian!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Black Friday Confession

We had a lovely get-together yesterday at Silly's house.  The food was good and time spent with family is always great.  We drove home in some treacherous weather, so imagine my surprise when my mom greeted us at the door with, "will you take me shopping tonight?"  WHAT??

If you know me at all, you know how against my grain this request was.  I am completely anti-Black Friday shopping, let alone shopping on Thanksgiving Day.  However, it was my mom asking for my assistance, so I agreed to drive her once the kids were in bed.  Do you know what my biggest fear about "door buster" deals was?  It wasn't the crowds.  It wasn't the fear of being trampled to death.  It was the thought that one of the 8 public followers I have on this blog may see me and think I'm a hypocrite.

So here is why I agreed to go shopping with my mom.  She was looking to purchase a big ticket item.  The item she wanted was on sale at 4 AM on Friday.  So here was my choice; 1)  take her at 8 PM to buy the item at $50 more than the Black Friday deal, or 2) drive her at 3 AM on Friday to save $50.  I supported the former.

Upon arriving at the store, I instructed my mom that we would remain calm no matter what.  We would not get upset if we were unable to purchase the intended item.  She told me she would follow my lead.  We arrived at the store at 7:56 PM and this was the line.

There were probably 20-25 people ahead of us.  At 8 PM sharp, the doors opened.  We found the item Mom wanted, we grabbed a tag and stood in line.  In order to get the advertised deal, Mom had to open an account.  Once at the register, we informed the clerk that Mom wanted to open a credit line.  He said, "this is a really bad night to want to do that."  At that, I was ready to storm out exit politely.  However, he added that if we could be patient and allow others to go ahead of us, he would assist us in our request.  So we stood by and waited (and waited, and waited, and waited).  Finally, a different clerk (we later found out that she is the owner of the store) helped us.  Not only did she treat us like we were the only customers in the store, but she honored the Black Friday deal and gave us the ticket item for $50 less than advertised.  We were home by 9:30 PM.

Have my views of Black Friday (or night of Thanksgiving) shopping changed?  Not really, even though I had a fun night with my Mom. I still have no desire to shop this early in the season.  After all, tomorrow is another Thanksgiving celebration for our family.   I can only handle one holiday at a time. For those of you who are die hard shoppers, I hope you had a safe and successful day!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Age Is Only a Number?

The past few days, Honey Bunches has complained about a sore toe. Last night his big toe was about double the size of his other big toe. First thing this morning, I called our doctor with only a slight hope of getting an appointment to see her. It turned out she had a cancelation and could see Honey in the afternoon. I had no choice but to bring all six of the Love Bugs with me. We all crammed into the examination room and thankfully our doctor joined us in a very timely manner. She was excited to see everyone, as she has delivered each of my kids. One by one she asked each child how old he/she is. Afterwards she asked, "do any of you ever forget how old you are sometimes?" In unison the kids shouted, "nooooo." Then Honey Bunches added, "mom sometimes forgets. Ya know she's forty now."

In Thanksgiving

I am posting this a day early since tomorrow I want to stay focused on my family (and uh. . .food).

I have mentioned before that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  A day dedicated to being grateful for all of life's blessings, mixed in with some great food and a little football;  what is there not to love about that?  It saddens me, though, to see our society jump right over this great day and use it as a mere stepping stone to Christmas.  It seems to me that by mid October, Halloween and Christmas are practically "have beens" in the retail world among other places.  So as a family, we choose to live counter-culturally and take our time in celebrating first, Thanksgiving (which for us spans the course of 4 days), and then we humbly enter into the season of Advent.

I keep no secret in that my family and I are abundantly blessed.  If I get to the heart of it, I truly long for nothing.  Sure, there are things I sometimes think would make life a little easier or maybe even more enjoyable, but being a necessity?  Nope.  My life is full and any struggle I encounter just reinforces the faith I have and the love I share.

Reflecting on my own gratitude, there is much I could tell.  Today, however, I decided to reflect on one particular blessing in my life that drives me to my knees in thanksgiving every single day; my marriage to Monkey Toes.

My life would look and resemble something very different if it weren't for my marriage to Monkey.  And so as thankful as I am for my children and the life we lead, I have to recognize that it all began with the covenant I entered into with Monkey.  Little did we know 21 years ago when we went on our first date, that our journey would take us to this point in life (11 1/2 years of marriage, 6 kids, 3 job changes, 2 apartments and a house in my hometown).   Tie in each of us losing a parent and my mom moving in with us, and I can honestly say that I can't imagine walking this path with anyone else.

Here are a few reasons why I love this man (no particular order):
~He is a hard worker.
~He has passions.
~He never thought me crazy when I shared with him my dreams of wanting a large family.
~He leads our family in prayer each night.
~He was the one who invited my mom to move in with us.
~He keeps a sense of humor in almost all situations (I sometimes find this inappropriate at times, but all is well in the end).
~He allows me to hog the bed, and when I won't budge, he sleeps on the couch.
~Our home is far from the quiet retreat one may desire after a long, hard day at work, and yet each night he comes home to the kids and I with a smile on his face and a light heart.
~He holds my hand (literally and metaphorically).
~After 11 years of marriage and 6 kids, he still tells me I'm beautiful.
~Every night before bed, he tells me I am a great mom, even if I am extremely undeserving of that title.
~He says, "I love you" everyday.
~He treated his own mom with great respect, love and honor.

When I was single, I prayed that God would lead me to my future husband.  I was specific in my prayer when asking for certain qualities and characteristics. The list I just mentioned contain many of those "specifics".  Is he perfect?  Naw.  After all these years he still can't read my mind.  Life would be so much easier if he could!  Monkey wasn't a dream come true for me, but rather the one chosen for me.  I am blessed beyond measure.

Happy Thanksgiving!  

Our Thanksgiving craft, using rafia, pine cones, wood chips, twigs, and pony beads.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Last post on 40. . .I promise!

As I was looking through pictures on my camera, I discovered a few photos that I took with the intention of writing something about them.  Better late than never. . .

The morning of my birthday, and after Mass, my kids presented me with this lovely package;  a few of my favorite treats.  I very rarely drink soda, but when I do, I enjoy root beer.  The candy bar, which happens to be my favorite, is something I eat 3 times a year;  my birthday, Mother's Day, and only if the kids bring one home from Halloween.

After supper (which my mom prepared), I was treated with a red velvet cake and these lovely flowers.

I was joking with a friend not too long ago, about how Monkey Toes doesn't give me flowers for my birthday, but rather shows his love by gifting me with technology.  He kept tradition with this:

I now have a new phone that I can access my e-mail and internet AND it takes better pictures than my camera.  The problem; I have never been tech savvy, so it is taking me awhile to get accustomed to this machine (???).  Monkey did show me how to take video on this phone so I could record Gummi reading at her class Mass.  I was successful in getting a picture, however, the placement of my thumbs prevented me from recording any sound.  Since then, Monkey has given me an in-service on its use.

All in all, being 40 doesn't feel any different.  Although, a few days ago I was curled up on the sofa, reading a book.  Sweet Pea was putting a puzzle together on the floor and asked me to help her.  As I stood up, my ankle cracked.

Sweet Pea:  Are you o.k. Mommy?
Me:  Yes.  My ankle just does that sometimes.
Sweet Pea:  Because you're falling apart?

I think I need a Butterfinger.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

How about some sensible footwear for the new 40 year old?  Yes, this is a picture of my feet, however these are my mom's SAS shoes.  I wore them for a whole day and I must admit, they are comfy.  Seriously.  I may consider a pair when it is age appropriate.  I borrowed these for a Mystery Tea that I was invited to.  I played the role of a distressed 80 year old maid.  I thought they fit the part nicely.

Since my last post, I received many encouraging messages of how people were inspired to pass along some Random Acts of Kindness throughout their days.  Here is one of the messages I received from my dear friend.  When I asked her if I could post the message to this blog, she replied as long as I gave her a cute nickname.  I've been trying to come up with something befitting of such a beautiful friend.  Two names keep coming to mind:  Nutella and Merlot.  Both are very relevant in my life.  I care to not elaborate much more than that at this point, but lets just say both products are in my home and both have been consumed within the last 24 hours.  Sorry friend.  I promise, I will come up with a fantastic name once my mind is off of chocolate and red wine!

She writes:

Being inspired by you as I always am, I decided to do a few random acts of kindness in your honor.  Here they are...
When at Target and I have a pharmacy rewards card (5% off entire shopping day) I find a person coming in and give it to them.  Only one man has said no so far.
Today at one of my schools the social worker was going through the HUGE pile of lost and found stuff from the beginning of the year.  There was some really nice stuff in there (like a North Face jacket, LL Bean...).  She was donating some items to a family at this school who does not have much.  I asked her if I could take the rest to one of my schools in North MPLS where the kids are not so fortunate.  I have a large box and bag of winter stuff to bring there and give to kids in need.
I also decided that I would donate 5 turkeys to families at my school in N. MPLS as well and contacted the Social Worker about that.
I WILL clean out my closet this weekend and donate it to my friend's non-profit.
I will sponsor a family again for Christmas this year from my friend's non-profit.

Today is give to the max day and I will be donating to Paws for Learning.  They bring therapy dogs to my school and work with kids with emotional disorders.  They are amazing!

I hope this brightened your day!  It did mine~~~!!!

Monday, November 12, 2012

40 for 40

First off, I want to thank all of the men and women who have served and continue to serve our country in the armed forces.  In addition, thank you to the families who love them and support them.  I am forever grateful for all of the sacrifices that have been made, allowing us to live in this great country.  May God bless you all.  Happy Veteran's Day!

One week ago today, I sent out a message to the women (and children) in my family.  In preparation for turning 40 years old, I asked them to help me complete at least 40 Random Acts of Kindness over the course of a week.  Not only were they willing to help, but their kindness and generosity surpassed anything I could have imagined.  Tonight as I write this, my heart is overflowing and I am greatly humbled.  Here are their stories, in their own words.

My beautiful "Canadian" niece (and Goddaughter)

I think it was so cool of you to set a challenge for yourself to help out others and make them feel special for YOUR special day! I was really inspired by this, and wanted to help. The random acts of kindness I did this week included:
1. When at Tim Hortons drive through, I paid for the cars order that was behind me.
2. I'm really bad at returning my cart to the cart return at the store, so everytime I was at the store this week I returned my cart, along with others that were near me not returned.
3. I have a bad cold, so I went and purchased a kettle at the store (plug in ones). Before returning home with it, I ran into a friend at another store. She told me that her son was admitted into the hospital the previous night for a high fever. She was picking up supplies for their stay at the hospital. She wasn't sure how to go about getting/making coffee in their hospital room. I gave her my kettle I just purchased with instant coffee so they would be able to make coffee. I really needed that kettle for myself, but knew that they were in a worse situation.
4. I donated art supplies to the church that were needed for their religious Ed classes.
5. My daycare was going to be closed Friday (yesterday) for the holiday. One family had to still work regardless, and had no where to bring their son for the day. So I opened for the day for them.

My beautiful, "college-student" niece
After I read this last Sunday I went to Church that night and the sermon was on love and how we need more agape love; more unconditioned love for others. This was a sign that in participating in this 40 Random Acts of Kindness was perfect. So last week I was able to think of ways to help and love others throughout my days. 1.  It started off as my roommate caught a bug on Sunday and was laid up all week. I was able to be there for her. My days consisted of going to the store and stocking up on cold aides and remedies. Cleaning constantly to make sure that our house was disinfected at all times. Lastly making her feel comfortable so she was able to get plenty of rest.  2. On Tuesday, I helped out my neighbor with studying for his test. He has a learning disability so helping him to memorize and help him with many different learning techniques.   3. Also, on Tuesday my other roommate's (Not the sick one) mom was having mastectomy in treatment of her breast cancer. I was able to sit and pray a Rosary for her and her family as they are going through a hard time. 

My "public high school teacher" sister #1

1.  I payed for the person behind me at Caribou.

2.  I picked up trash in the hallway after school.
3.  I paid for a student's food order on a field trip who had forgotten her wallet at home.
4.  I donated Bert's Bees products to "Operation Nice", which supports our troops.

My "RN" sister #2

Happy Birthday!! Wow - 40 years old!!  

Doing 10 Random Acts of Kindness is really difficult!

1.  Bought lunch for my favorite sisters and mom.

2.  Mailed a donation to New Beginnings in honor of my sister on her 40th birthday.

3.  Sent a card to a dear friend who is recovering from cancer surgery.

4.  Baked cookies and delivered them to a friend recovering from surgery.

5.  Kept my nose to the ground and picked up everything from paper to someone's wet gum off the floor (whenever and wherever I saw litter).

6.  Volunteered to go with the head Election Judge to the court house after the election to deliver the ballots at 9:30 PM.  No one else volunteered to go.  When we got there, we realized we had mis-counted by one signature and then ended up recounting over and over 700 signatures until things matched up.  I got home at 11 PM and had to be up 5 AM for work.

7.  Made my Sweetie and son a venison dinner and waited on them like a restaurant.  I served them and then I watched them eat.  I chose to fast from this meal.

8.  Went to daily Mass to hear my God-daughter read for her Class Mass.

9.  Volunteered to head up or help at a few Council of Catholic Women events.

10.  Donated a centerpiece for our Healing Mass and will give it to one of the volunteers for their Thanksgiving table after the event.

**This is one of the hardest things I have ever done.  Thank you!!!

My Beautiful Mom

1.  Delivered a meal to someone who is sick.

2.  Helped prepare a meal for a family who has a loved one in Hospice.

My lovely Sister-in-law

Here are my random acts of kindness:

1.  I was in line to use the microwave and I let someone else, who was also waiting go before me.

2.  I was in line to get a fountain drink and I let two other people go before me.

3.  I was in the store at work and there was a young lady purchasing some things and was going to use her debit card; which the store does not take.  She didn’t have cash so I paid for it.  I was then immediately blessed as the owner gave me my York Mint Patti J

4.  I made and brought my husband a cup of coffee each morning (I do this every morning).

5.  Hubby and I have been car-pooling so I drove home each night; which allowed Hubby to take a little nap (I also do this every time we car pool).

6.  Last Friday we went out to eat at TGIFridays and had a 15% off coupon.  We gave it to the couple sitting across from us.

That’s about it.

My Household

1.  Delivered food to the Food Shelf.

2.  The kids made Veteran's Day cards and sent them to Veterans in our community.

3.  Gummi refilled everyone's water bottles and placed them in the refrigerator.

4.  Gummi wrote a letter to her Grandpa.

5.  I went out for a drink with my sister and a friend and Monkey Toes snuck over to the bar and paid our tab.

6.  Cucumber let Pumpkin write in her journal and taught her how to draw a candy cane.

7.  I paid for the car behind us in the drive-thru at McDonalds.  I had the cashier give them this note.

8.  I sent an encouraging/supportive letter to our Bishop, thanking him for his vocation and service to our diocese.

9.  Gummi was invited to a birthday party for a classmate where all the gifts would be donated to the Children's Hospital.  We bought extra gifts to donate.

10.  We sent a letter to our sponsored child in Honduras.

11.  I baked cookies for our Council of Catholic Women meeting.

12.  Gummi helped the two youngest get ready in the morning, without being asked.

13.  I volunteered to help prepare a meal for the Blood Mobile workers.

14.  Sent a card to a friend.

15.  Painted and donated gourds to our local nursing home/assisted living apartments.

16.  Donated diapers to Birthright.

18.  Sweet Potato is making the effort to befriend a child at school who is struggling to be there this year.


I have very little "want" in my life.  Everything I need, I truly believe I already have. 

~a roof over our heads
~warm beds to sleep in
~food on our table
~shoes on our feet
~running water
~the kids have health insurance
~a vehicle to get us from point A to point B each day
~we have our health
~we have our faith
~we have love

These Random Acts of Kindness were not to show everyone how good we are, but rather to use the gifts we have been blessed with to touch the lives of others.  No matter how small or seemingly insignificant the action, no matter what walk of life a person is on, everyone can spread a little kindness.  I try my very best, each and every day, to live my life for Christ.  Many days I fall short of the goal, but I will never give up in trying to bring the love of Jesus and His light to those around me.

"I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me."                                Matthew 25:35-36

 My 40th year is off to a pretty great start.  Thank you to my mom, my sisters, my in-laws, my nieces, my children, and my husband for all of your love and for your willingness to celebrate my birthday by sharing your hearts with others.  I love you all!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Mommy Brain

I have found myself in a few situations recently that I believe qualify me for "Mommy Brain."  It's the scattered thoughts, forgetfulness, not being able to connect all the dots in my life.  I am someone who tries to stay on-top of things and keep organized, but lately it has been an up-hill battle.

A few weeks ago, I was grocery shopping in the neighboring town.  It was in the evening and I was by myself.  I purchased my groceries, bagged them, loaded them, and returned the cart.  I drove home and as I walked through the door, Monkey Toes greeted me with, "the store just called and someone found your purse in a cart in the parking lot."  I have two things to say about that:  1.  Thank God for good Samaritans, and 2.  Thank God we live in a small town where we know one another.

Second incident:  This is a picture of my coat and Pumpkin's coat.

A few days ago, the two youngest and I had a few errands to run.  I took my coat off the hook and put it on Pumpkin.  She yelled, "this is not my coat!"  Her words did not register with me.  I kept attempting to put the coat on and zip it up.  As I looked at the sleeves dragging on the floor, it hit me that this definitely was not my three year old daughter's coat.

Incident Number Three:  This morning before leaving for church, I was cleaning out my purse.  I realized that my bank card was missing.  I emptied all the contents out and still no card.  I started my family on a hunt.  They were looking in cushions of furniture, searching through the garage, tearing apart the van.  Still no trace of the card.  I retraced my steps from yesterday.  The last place I used it was at our local gas station.  On our way to church I stopped in to inquire.  They hadn't seen it.  The kids and I prayed all the way to church, calling upon Jesus, Mother Mary, and St. Anthony - all the big guns of lost things.  We came home after Mass and I remembered going to Walmart (after the gas station) to pick up pictures from the photo center.  My photos, however, had not yet been ready, and so I never used my card.  But I called anyway and sure enough, they had my card.  I drove back to Walmart and went to Customer Service.  I knew the woman working behind the desk.  She just chuckled and shook her head when she saw me and said, "it doesn't get any easier the older you get!"

A dear friend of my mom once told me that this mindlessness shouldn't seem unusual.  Many days I am thinking for 7 and sometimes 8 other people.  So I'm going to go with that.  I'm not losing my mind, I'm just loaning it out!

Thursday, November 1, 2012


I don't get overly-excited about Halloween.  I think I've been that way my entire life.  As a kid, my parents NEVER spent money on a costume, and my mom didn't spend time or energy on making me an outfit.  So if I wanted to go Trick-or-Treating, it was usually in whatever I could piece together from around the house.  I do have a few good memories of Halloween from my youth.  Growing up in the country, I depended on my parents to drive me from home to home to gather candy.  So one year, I was able to meet up with my cousin who lived in Minneapolis.  I think I was about 7 years old.  Her mom gave us pillow cases to use as our treat receptacles.  After walking around the block, we could hardly lug the things around anymore.  I remember staying up late with my cousin, sneaking those sugary snacks throughout the night.  My cousin woke up with a chocolate "ring" around her mouth.    The last few years, we have met up with Silly and her family.  We've begun the evening with supper and then walking around their neighborhood.  It has been fun to do that with Peanut Butter.

This year, Sweet Potato and Honey Bunches announced that they did not want to go Trick-or-Treating.  In response, I suggested we all stay home, dress in costumes, and have our own little celebration.  Thankfully, the kids were all on board with this idea.

Two days before Halloween, Grandma & I painted gourds with the little ones.

The next day, everyone carved their pumpkins.  Not to be a Halloween Scrooge, but I dreaded this task.  Mostly because my kids are still pretty young to be maneuvering knives.  But with a little patience and a couple of small carving tools, this activity went very well (dare I say I actually had fun).

The morning of the 31st, the school aged kids dressed in black and orange (a uniform free day).

After dropping them off at school, I came home and whipped up these adorable little treats.

Rice Krispies shaped into candy corn.
Our after-school snack was hot apple cider, roasted pumpkin seeds and our candy corn treats.

For supper, we had Jack-O-Lantern pizza.

Then it was time to put on costumes.

Sweet Pea as Belle, Pumpkin as a Lady Bug, and Cucumber as Jasmine.

Honey Bunches as a Football Player, Gummi as a witch, and Sweet Potato as a Cowboy.
Then we waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Until finally the doorbell rang and our first customer was at the door.  Oh yeah.  I don't have any pictures of my children handing out candy, because I was trying to maintain order.  Each time the doorbell rang, all six kids would race towards the door, grab a handful of candy (dropping much of it as they made their way) and then kind of shoot it into the Trick-or-Treater's bag.  It was chaotic.  I tried to encourage a more disciplined way, but I failed.  So basically I held the door open in order that my children would not run through it in trying to pass out candy.

In between business, we attempted to watch two of our favorite movies.

"All I have is a bag full of rocks!"  Classic.  I love that movie.

This morning I asked my children if they had fun last night, even though we didn't go out.  They said they did, but all agreed that they wish we would have had more people stop by our home.  I loved our night together.  We didn't have to bundle up to go out.  We stayed in the comfort of our home, all nice and cozy.  And here's proof that we didn't miss out on anything. . . . . . .

What the kids brought home from school and a little left over from our  "passing out" bucket.

There's plenty of treats to go around (and around and around).