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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Perspective Shift

Until The Whole World HearsThe hubbs and I went to a
Casting Crowns concert last night.

One word: Amazing!

Okay, two words: Freaking Amazing!

If you have read ANY of my previous posts (of the 2009 posts) you KNOW that I LOVE Casting Crowns. They are just a great band full of lyrics that speak directly to my heart and are so relevant!

This was Joe's first Christian concert. He had no idea what to expect. The only concerts he had been to before consisted of beer, stage dives, beer, a little head banging and beer (just maybe I took some creative liberties with that description...) His exact words were "I will NOT be raising my hands tonight." He also said the last time he prayed in Mellon Arena was when the Penguins were down by 1 point and there were seconds left in the period.

There was some hand raising (not by us), but he still had a great time.

He will be the first one to tell you that our kids have "ruined him." Meaning that he can't talk about, hear about or see children without tearing up and thinking about our brood. Imagine his reaction when the band showed a video (sponsored by World Vision) of children in Haiti.

Can we say Niagara Falls? No, just kidding...not quite, but he did have to "get something out of his eye" for a few minutes.

He so loved the show (and so did I!!) It was so nice to shift my attention back onto things that are critical to my sanity and to who I am. By that I mean that I spend so much time teaching at my church that I don't usually get to learn. I'm so busy giving and filling others up that I am not refilling. That leads to a whole lot of nothin.'

This blog was born out of my desire to share what I was learning in my Bible study. You can see where that has led...not that it's a bad thing...just that there has to be a happy medium. You know?

Yes, I am a busy stay-at-home mom and a wife, but the thing that I am FIRST is a Child of God. Getting that in priority will let me be all of those other things better.

There. Glad to have that off my chest!

Now, don't run away screaming, afraid that I'm going to start passing out pamphlets or kool-aid. Not quite.

But I will be keepin' it real. Gettin' down with my homeboy Jesus a little more often.

Thanks for listening.

If you get a chance...check out Casting Crowns by clicking the link above. =)

Friday, February 26, 2010

And the award goes to...

ME!

Isn't that freakin awesome?!

Let me just tell you, this has been a banner week for me. Any newbie to the blogging world knows that when things start "picking up" so-to-speak, it's super exciting.

For starters, I now have...count them...25 followers. That's right...25! I also had a personal best of +40 site visits yesterday and today...

Big things are happening!

So big, in fact...that I got a couple of awards!

Here they are:

This awesome award is from my friend Julie at DutchebeingMe. THANK YOU, JULIE!!! Hope you'll all stop by her blog and give her a little comment love...


Next...this is from one of my new BFF's Lori at MommyFriend. (I'm taking it, Lori. That's all there is to it..[little inside humor...])
Soooooo, here's what I am supposed to do now...I am supposed to link to 12 other bloggers. But, I am choosing 9. I am going to try my darndest to pick bloggers that I didn't pick before so as to bring in some fresh talent...

*Pamela at 2MuchTestosterone. Cracks me up!
*Jessica at Adventures of a Wife and Mom. She's NEW!!! Go show her how wonderful this blogging community can be!!! =)
*The Crayon Wrangler at Coloring outside the lines. Always comments. Funny stuff. One of my regular blog stops...
*Mommy drinks because you cry One word. Hysterical.
*Stephanie at Smart Sassy Mom Met her through Ezine Articles and LOVE LOVE LOVE her!
*Mary at Mommyologist She's so funny and I just think she's so cool...
*Tickled Pink Twice Funny, yet serious when necessary, but always cool!
*My niece Lindsey at Life as I know it She's new to the blogosphere...can we go show her some love?
--And--
*Kat at Todays Cliche She is very possibly the sister that I was separated at birth from...such an awesome person and I am her biggesst fan!!!!!

There you have it...Now, please go show these ladies some attention and tell them MandyP from Random Thoughts sent you!! =)

Lotsa 'bout nuttin'

 There she is folks. Ain't she a 'beaut?

Bissell 82H1 Cleanview Helix Bagless Upright Vacuum Cleaner
THIS is what life has come to for me. No longer do I rave about a new handbag (Prada, I love you and I promise we WILL rekindle things one day...)

Joe and I went and bought a new vacuum the other day. Ours was about 6 years old and the brush finally gave up and stopped spinning. It was time.

**BTW, I received NO incentive whatsoever for this post. None of the businesses/sites/products mentioned asked me to or even know that I mentioned them**

I found the above vacuum on this awesome decorating site called Young House Love which is a cool site that I now stalk frequent. I actually even found a new mommyblogger friend from that site (Hello MommyFriend!!!!!)

Anywho...Target has this vacuum for the same price that Amazon does, but we actually bought it at Best Buy-- even though it's priced $10 higher, but *good news* Best Buy price matched!

We came home and I put that beast together in record time (only requires 1 screw!), and then we all watched in amazement as I turned it on and THE WHOLE BOWL FILLED UP with hair and dirt and random other carpet grossness! I had JUST vacuumed the day before and yet it was full!

That could speak to a few different things...
1) This vacuum is AMAZING
2) Our old vacuum was a piece of crap
3)WE WERE LIVING IN FILTH!

It was so exciting that I couldn't WAIT to use it in every room to see how much dirt it would get out...It actually lightened the color of some of our rugs!

And in other news...

Between the insurance agent, the roofer, and mine and Joe's phone calls (some heated) we are now getting a new facia and gutter put on the side of our house (FREE OF CHARGE!) Woo hoo! Here's what we are dealing with right now...(It's too darn cold outside for me to give you a better shot.)

Now, I'm no expert, but isn't the gutter supposed to be a little closer to the roof than that? And, call me crazy, but I don't think it's supposed to be so...crinkly?

The "first nice day" is when the roofer will come and replace the facia and gutter on our house. In the meantime, there is more snow and the temperature drops in this room by 10 degrees everytime we have flurries...

So how is YOUR day going? Anything exciting/stressful/infuriating to report? Go ahead...vent it here. It's a safe place. =)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Blog Commenting Rules?

I mean, what are they?
Since I'm so new to the blogosphere, I'm clueless.

Here's my reason for asking...I've made some new BFF's since entering the blogging world, and I love reading what they have to say. After all, that's why they blog in the first place, right?

Well, when I read and LOVE (which happens so often), I like to let the writer know. (Comments are sunshine to a blogger's soul, right?) So, I do.

The problem comes when I LOVE so many of their posts. I comment so often that I feel like a stalker. So then I STOP commenting so often...and then I worry that they might think I didn't like their post. It's a vicious cycle!!

I have a different issue when it comes to those who comment on MY posts (and just know that I LOVE each and EVERY one of you!!!) What is the protocol for COMMENTING BACK to them? I feel obligated to comment back since they took the time to leave a message...and I love "chatting." But what about that comment that doesn't really require a reply? The comment like, "Great post. Enjoyed it." What if I respond to EVERY OTHER POST except theirs??? Is that insulting??

nEuRoTiC mUcH???

This must be exhausting for you, the reader...imagine being in my head.

I can't wait to hear from some of you seasoned veterens...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

What the Heck Wednesday!


So here's a new thing I'm trying. My new friend Mommyologist started this and I'm going to jump right on the bandwagon...

Joe was off today! Yippee! I had big plans to get all the laundry done...and that equated to about 30 loads (no joke!), but I only ended up doing a grand total of 2 because we had to go buy a new vacuum cleaner...and then spend a friggin $40 on dinner at Chili's. What the heck? Why do we always order the kids their own meals???! When will we learn??! R ate two bites of his, L ate maybe a bite or two of his and then spent the rest of his time crying under the table because he was mad that we didn't buy him some ridiculous toy at Best Buy (and I'll have you know there were no crotch incidents this time--check this post to understand what I'm talking about)...E was so darn busy flirting with every passerby that she spilled her milk--on my seat--and yours truly ended up with a soaked behind...M has become quite the grabber these days. He grabbed Joe's whole plate of food and my mug of Diet Coke...Good times.

Got a call from the roofer today...yes, the roofer I mentioned in this post, and he told us it will be over $800 to replace the gutter that HE ripped off our house...What the heck? What is this world coming to when someone can cause damage to your home and then make you pay for it?! The good news? *insert sarcasm here* There's more snow coming! ...Could this be becuase I laughed when he fell off the roof???

Why is it whenever we're out and want to run some errands the kids are so tired that they can't walk--they either have to be carried or ride in a cart--but as soon as we get home, they WON'T GO TO SLEEP?! They've been in bed for almost an hour, and I swear I've been upstairs thirty different times to threaten them tuck them back in, get them water, etc etc!! What the heck? For crying out loud, I only ask for a few stinkin minutes a day to call my own and as soon as I get them, somebody needs to get a drink, get a book or have their butt wiped. Really?!

At home, at meal time, why is it that I can never make a meal, serve it and eat it all in one fell swoop? I explained to Joe today that my "meal time" now comes after the kids' meal time since, when I eat with the kids (or try to), I have to eat my food in installments because I'm too busy getting seconds (or thirds) for everyone, refilling spilled water glasses, or--like today--saving E's life when she chokes? What the heck? I'd heard the rumors about a mom never eating a hot meal, but now I'm living it. How did all the great TV moms of the past do it...June Cleaver, Carol Brady (oh yeah, she had Alice), and Claire Huxtable? My life is starting to feel a whole lot more like an episode of Roseanne than any of those others...

Lastly...why is it that when I just googled "funny sitcom moms" I ended up on a porn site???!!!! What the heck?! I practically dove for the blinds so the neighbors wouldn't see. I'm actually sweating.

How many of you just went and googled "funny sitcom moms"? What the heck?

And on that note, my friends, is where I'm going to leave it for tonight. I feel like I need to go scrub my eyes.

So...jump on the bandwagon...join in on "What the heck Wednesdays" by going to this site and grabbing the button...

Monday, February 22, 2010

"Not Me" Monday



"Not Me" Monday is the brain child of MckMama as a way to air our dirty laundry...to own up to the less-than-flattering things we moms do on occasion. Here's MY list:

I did NOT throw a mini-tantrum the other day because R annoyed me and slam the refrigerator door shut...just a aplit second too late to stop it from slamming his little hand in it... (he's fine!)

I did NOT scarf down 4 fun-size bags of Skittles, 2 fun-size packs of Starbursts, and a few random handfuls of cheese puffs while playing working on the computer the other night...

I did NOT take an enormous nosedive off the Weight Watchers wagon the past two weeks and eat anything and everything I felt "in the mood for."

...and I most certainly did NOT laugh when the roofer--who came to remove the ice and snow build-up from our gutters--fell unceremoniously off the roof and foot-planted in 3 feet of snow a la Kerri Strug in the '96 Olympics.

Never. Not me.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Parents' Hypocritical Oath

As parents, we strive to create for our children a place of welcome, support, encouragement, and love. A place where they are free to explore, question, and make sound decisions based on our insightful parental input.
We teach our kids to treat others as they would like to be treated, to be kind, considerate, and to turn the other cheek.

All of these things help to mold them into the mature, responsible adults of tomorrow.

And it all goes right out the window the moment we step foot in the mall play area.

I swear they need a bouncer at these places. That little "You may not play here if you are taller than this" sign does nothing to stop kids with facial hair from butting in and taking over.

As a mom with little ones all under 5 years old, I worry. I worry about their safety whether by accident or purposeful actions. I worry that the "little" kids won't be able to play because the "big kids" will be hogging all of the equipment.

My husband worries that I am going to fist fight with a child or their mother one day.

Oh the irony. My distinctive two personalities come out when we visit mall play areas.

Our oldest (R) is a timid, quiet little guy. He loves to play and often invites others to join him--stranger or not. L, on the other hand, is not afraid to stand up for himself and his siblings if necessary. He takes no sh%$# guff from anyone. I secretly LOVE this about him. While outwardly I have to teach him to "play nicely" and "don't be mean to other kids even if they're mean to you," I'm inwardly cheering when he tells the little brat kid on the rubber airplane that he's not the boss and anyone can play there if they want to.

Joe, unlike me, does not feel the need to hide his feelings. He calls the boys over to give them pep talks about not letting anyone treat them badly. I can't be sure, but I think I've heard phrases like "upper cut" and "sweep the knee"...

Yesterday, as a treat, we took the kids to the mall and let them play. Usually we avoid this end of the building like the plague. But yesterday, as much as it pained me, we purposely went there.

It was mayhem.
A Saturday at the mall is almost as insane as a rainy holiday at Chuck E Cheese (another post for another day!)

The insanity at these places...one little boy got spit on so his mother dragged him across the room, tore off his shirt and proceeded to antibacterialize his entire upper body. Another boy crowned himself king of the play area and he and his posse of junior thugs wouldn't let other kids play where they were playing.

R tried the political approach and yelled,
"Hey, guy! Let's all play together!" That didn't work. L has no place in his life for politics and went right to yelling and pointing his finger defiantly at the little boy, telling him he's not the boss. Then he patted R on the back and told him not to listen to "those guys." E, if she had not been busy "helping" a little baby play (by running after her, pushing her and then pulling her up by her shirt--I spent a lot of time apologizing to the baby's parents) would have been right up in those boys' faces giving them what-for.

Having two boys and then a little girl, one would think that the boys would protect the girl.
No.
E can hold her own. On occasion, she actually runs interference for the boys.

So what is it that turns me into this evil, hateful, vindictive woman when we are in the play area? What has me wanting to massage R's shoulders and whisper in his ear to "get the kid in his bad leg" while spraying his face with a water bottle? Seriously?!

I take it personally when someone is mean to my kids. I also take it personally when the parents do nothing about it. They sit there, usually, with a beaten look about them. I feel like they're saying, "You take care of it. I give up." Or, one of my favorites, "Jimmy!" (in a sing-songy voice) "Play nicely sweetie!" while Jimmy has a child less than half his size on the floor in a head lock. They are oblivious.

The answer...stay out of these places. I don't think I can trust myself to play nicely with the above mentioned parents, so we will just abstain. Is it unfortunate for my kids? Sorta. I mean, how fun can it really be to "play" there when there are too many kids and the big kids won't let the little ones play with anything? We spend more time kissing boo boos caused by head-on collisions and rogue arms and legs than we do having fun.

Then, there's the whole escapee issue. These places typically don't have doors or gates, so any child, at any time, can run out. That's a scary prospect.

75 children + a busy mall x parents who don't care/pay attention = a lot of time I spend chasing wayward children, righting wrongs, and refereeing fights. It all adds up to zero fun!

Yet I still do it. Because my kids love it.

Maybe next weekend we'll all get root canals. That's got to be better than the mall on a Saturday.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Do I have a what?

Alright, I think I am finally ready to come to grips with what everyone else already thinks...we have a lot of kids.

There, I said it.

The reason I'm coming clean?

An odd series of events led us to have an insurance adjuster come to our house to look at water damage caused by the build-up of ice and snow in our gutters. The gutters leaked into the top of our windows and into our house causing plaster and carpet damage, so we needed to have it repaired.

The adjuster took pictures of the damage (and consequently the room just happens to be the kids' playroom.) and submitted them to our insurance agent. Luckily, we know our agent pretty well, so when he called me today to ask IF WE HAVE A DAYCARE in our house, I thought it was a joke referring to how many children we have.

No.

He was making sure we didn't (because based on the pictures and the adjusters questioning, it looks to them like we DO have a daycare) Apparently, you need a special type of insurance for having a daycare in our home--which we do not have.

For some reason I'm oddly insulted.

I always poo-poo'd it when someone would see us out shopping and do the whole, "Wow!" (mouth open, completely stops whatever they are doing) "You have got YOUR hands full!"

Maybe because it's all we know. No shopping trip would be complete without kids dangling off the sides of the cart, pulling things off the shelves, or getting run over by the wheels of the shopping cart. (To clarify, it was only R's shoe that got ripped off when his foot went under the wheel. He's fine. I'm not sure what was worse-that I ran him over-or that I was laughing so hard I couldn't help him put his shoe back on.)

But anyway...I seriously don't look at us as having "a lot of kids." I'm no Michelle Duggar.
So, maybe I should feel complimented that our playroom looks so fun and full of activity and that's why the guy thought it was a daycare.

Or maybe I should be glad I wasn't in any of the pictures considering I wasn't expecting him and I was sporting cropped sweats, a dirty sweatshirt and calf high teal hospital socks that day. That's right...Let that visual fully develop before moving on...

I wonder what they would have thought had they ventured upstairs and saw the sleeping arrangements. We are a family of 6 in a 3 bedroom home. There are beds everywhere. We probably would have been reported as being a hotel.

Or what about the upstairs hall closet where the diaper pail is. They might have thought we were a sewage treatment plant...well, after they regained consciousness, that is. (It's amazing how potent baby poo is!)

So there it is.

I officially acknowledge we have a big family.

What do you think? Does this look like a daycare to you?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Let Me Hold You Longer

I hardly set out to be a book review maven with this blog, but I can't help but share when I find a book I really love.

Let Me Hold You LongerKaren Kingsbury's book Let Me Hold You Longer is just such a book!

I will warn you, though, that I have never...NEVER...in the five years that we have owned this book...EVER read it out loud all the way through without crying. Um, make that sobbing.

I have also NEVER...not even once...made it through without Joe rolling his eyes at me like I'm a lunatic. We have the same conversation every time we read the book...

Me: *snotting ridiculously and voice quivering* "I can't make it through this book."

Joe and all the kids are looking at me, waiting.

Me: (Trying unsuccessfully to read the next page) "I'm sorry, I just can't help it."

Joe buries his head in his arms and checks his watch for the fourth time in 5 minutes.

I gather the kids closer and rub their little heads while tears stream down my face.

Me: "Doesn't this book make you sad?!"

Joe: "Yep" as he rips the book out of my hands and then proceeds to tear through the rest of the pages in record speed and ushers the kids off to bed.

It's not  that the book is sad...it's just so precious because she talks about capturing the "lasts"...the last time you tuck them in, the last time they crawl to you with their blankie, their last at-bat in little league, the last time they...Hold on. *sniff* I have to pull it together...

See what I mean??? It's beautiful. It's making sure we take the time to see the lasts instead of wishing that time away.

It's really beautiful. And, yes, I am an emotional mess most of the time, but this book just gets me.

But it's "good" crying, if you know what I mean. It's sweet and precious. Not gut-wrenching eleven o'clock news kind of crying.

I have received no compensation whatsoever for this review...it's just something I wanted to share becaue I so love this book! I hope you'll buy it (click on the picture above) or get it at the library so you can see what I mean.

If you do read it...let me know...and have a kleenex handy. It's a "two-hanky" read for sure!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Where's my grass???

Okay.

I have officially had enough.

It's almost March, for crying out loud, and here we sit under 30+ inches of snow.

I'm ALL for it on Christmas Eve...a beautiful blanket of pristine white snow while we sip hot cocoa and sing Christmas carols by the fire...but Christmas is long past. It's almost Easter for Pete's sake. I've already started thinking about what I want to plant in our landscaping this year and when we'll lay the mulch. I can't wait to get out the grill and fire it up... *sigh*

(By the way, my husband is wondering who the heck I've been spending Christmas with since we don't do any of that stuff!)

We are all burning up with cabin fever. I'm beginning to wonder if God planned it this way since we just received our tax refund. The weather has been so bad that I'm afraid to drive; Ergo-the money doesn't get spent! Crafty guy, that God. It just goes to show that God DOES answer prayers. Namely, Joe's prayers of "Please don't let her spend all the money. Please don't let her spend all the money."

As I type, there's an almost hypnotizing drip, drip, drip sound behind me. I've been hearing it for days, but only JUST figured out it's the sound of the melting ice in our gutter working its way through the seal at the top of our window and running down the glass, into the wall, and onto the carpet. There's a lovely odor that accompanies it. Poor E...I kept smelling her diaper the other night SURE that she had a load, but come to find out--it's the smell of days old melted ice in the carpet. THAT will definitely be attractive to a prospective buyer.

You'd think with all this indoors time the house would be immaculate.
You'd be wrong.
It's actually harder to clean when the kids are so bored because they move from one pile of crap activity to another and leave a mess in their wake.

The garbage situation is a little hairy right now too. We aren't quite sure exactly where the garbage cans are at the moment since they're buried under a few feet of snow, but neither of us is brave enough to trek through the thigh-deep white stuff to look for them because-- at any moment-- the five-foot long icicles that are hanging precariously off the gutters could fall and stab us to death.

You think I'm embellishing? I assure you, I'm not.

It's madness I tell you. I'm losing it.

The worst part...I, *ahem* I mean---the kids just ate the last Wal Mart frosted sugar cookie.

Things could start getting ugly.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

I'd like to thank the Academy

One of my new blogging friends--Natalie at Mommy on Fire-- bestowed up on me this AWESOME award!!!!

SUCH AN HONOR!!!!!! Thank you Natalie!!!!!! YOU are one of my FAVES!!!

Now I have to choose 12 fellow bloggers and pass on the award. I will do my very best...but this may be tough as I am so new to the blogging community. Here are the rest of the directions I must follow...

1) Put the logo within my blog or on my post


2) Pass the award onto 12 fellow bloggers

3) Link the nominees within my post

4) Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blog

5) Share the love and link to the person whom you received this award from

And the nominees are.......

* My friend Roxanne of Oh Happy Day! who is also a mommy blogger...she also makes really cute headbands, so get some while you can!! =)

* A new blogging acquaintance I made in a blogging forum...See What We Did Today

* Another mommy blogger I met in the Mom Bloggers Club--It's Always Something Around Here

* This blog is HILARIOUS!! Always has me laughing...Mrs. Furious

*One of my absolute favorite blogs is Mommyfriend.com. EVERY TIME I read...I laugh! =)

* Tyne at The White House is a woman after my own heart. We could be mirror images of one another as we both have 4 little ones under 5. Good times.

Okay, so I only had 6. But they are a terrific 6! Please check out their sites. Well worth reading!!! =)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Dear DSW Shoe Warehouse...

First of all, thank you to the employees for your kindness and patience as our family shopped for shoes at your store yesterday. Thanks for smiling and winking while three of our four children treated your establishment as if it were a stage from WWE. Not only were you gracious enough to turn a blind eye while they rolled around and wrestled on the floor (in addition to picking many and various boxes of shoes off the shelves)... and made over-all nuisances of themselves...but you also told us they were "precious" when we're pretty sure you wanted to drop kick all of us out of your store.
To the man shopping for shoes in the clearance section...thank you for being so sweet while my 2-year-old daughter flirted shamelessly with you and then yelled "Goodbye, Poopy!" for all the world to hear when you left.

To the unfortunate employee or customer who finds E's half-empty bottle of milk...our sincerest apologies that it was left behind..and even more heartfelt apologies if it isn't found right away and leaks all over the place as it will inevitably smell like poop after a day or two.

To the wonderful guy at Best Buy who answered all of my "tech" questions with patience and a smile...even after my daughter sucker punched you in the crotch. *sigh*

To the staff of TJ Maxx...our sincerest thanks for your patience when we started checking out only to realize we had left our (full) shopping cart somewhere in the store..and had to go search for it while holding up the line.

To those dining at the restaurant yesterday afternoon...we beseech your forgiveness for our 4 year-old son's announcement during lunch--loudly and with panic--that he "NEEDED TO POOP!"

To the shoppers at Target...we beg for leniency for our second son's similar outburst after his trip to the restroom when he proclaimed (from several aisles away), "MOMMY, I POOPED!"  In addition, I further apologize on behalf of my husband for adding "Babe, you should have SEEN IT!"

To my family-- even though we are such a hot mess and there are countless hours a day that I just want to pull out my hair (or yours), I say, thank you. For being mine. Don't ever change. I love you all fiercely.

While I don't relish the numerous trips to the bathroom (or the rehashing of it later to the general public)...or the countless tantrums and fights that erupt at the drop of a hat...or the dirty looks from strangers who obviously don't have kids...I wouldn't trade a moment of this time. I know it will be gone too soon.

Even though these are the moments that most make me want to crawl in a hole and hide. They are also the moments that make me laugh the hardest later.

*And* Even though I constantly crave time alone-time to think a single thought from beginning to end-and even 30 seconds  to myself in the bathroom without questions, tattling or criticism ("Ew! That's gross! What's that smell?!") I treasure every moment we have together.

And I love you all more than I could ever say.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Update for Cards4Cancer

We are fully in the swing of things here getting the word out about Cards4Cancer. We've made some big strides...

We officially named our Team "Stacy's Story" after Joe's first wife who passed in 1998 from Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.

We have acquired a huge supporter: Atria's Restaurant has graciously offered to be a drop-off location for cards. There are several locations around the Pittsburgh area. CLICK HERE to access Atria's website for locations.


In addition...
Joe and I are offering a $25 Wal-Mart gift card for the person(s) who donate the most cards. There are some guidelines to be eligible for this prize:

1. Only people donating 5 or more cards will be eligible (If you collect others' cards to drop off/mail, YOU will receive credit for all of the cards. For someone else to receive credit, they must drop off/mail their own cards.)
2. All cards MUST be dropped off at an Atria's location or received at the address below* BY April 8, 2010.
3. All card writing guidelines** must be followed.
4. Your name and email or phone number must be visible and affixed (yet removable, such as with a paper clip, rubber band or binder clip) to all of the cards you submit.
5. If there is a tie, whomever's cards are received first will be chosen.
6. Any batch of cards with multiple names will have to determine (among their own group) how to divide the $25 gift card.

Won't you join us? This is such a great cause. These people will be so appreciative. It's not really the cards that matter, but the time and effort that went into giving them the cards.

*Address to Mail Cards:

ATTN: Joe P.
103 Federal Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15212


**Card Writing Guidelines
-Cards should NOT be gender or age specific
-Please avoid phrases like "Get well soon" as; unfortunately, many will not get better.
-Inspirational messages such as "Thinking of You" or inspirational quotes are good.
-Cards without words are okay too-sometimes a drawing can raise someone's spirits.

CLICK HERE for the Cards4Cancer blog to find out more details.

Email for questions:
MandyPMommyof4@yahoo.com




Monday, February 8, 2010

Things I just don't understand

So maybe this is just a clever way of adding to my list of things that annoy me, but these are things I think about and, for the life of me, can't get. I got some great feedback from others of things that annoy them after the last post, so it has created a snowball affect for me. Here are some additional head scratchers...

*Why people have to back into their parking spaces
I know, I know...you don't want to have to back up into traffic when you leave, but... really? You're going to have to be backing out either way, so why hold up traffic while you back s-l-o-w-l-y into your spot?

*Why people take liberties with pregnant women's bellies
If you wouldn't have touched her belly before there was a person inside...probably shouldn't do it now. At least not without asking. Furthermore, commenting on the size of a pregnant woman's belly is also off-limits. As is asking "haven't you had that baby yet?!" These things all add to making an already uncomfortable woman feel like she's huge. Please don't follow in the footsteps of my neighbor who yelled across the street to me, "Looks like you got two in there!" when I was eight months pregnant. Yes, ladies...he's single. Go figure.

*Why people say "ex-specially"
Last  time I looked, there wasn't an 'x' in the word. That goes for "axing" someone a question too...

*Why people feel free to offer advice about how many children someone has or should have.
If you aren't helping support the family, probably better keep your opinion to yourself. Likewise, asking if someone "is done" having children. As another mom on her blog said, "None of your beeswax." The question just infers a certain intimacy. I'll keep that between God, myself and my husband, thank you very much.

*Why people feel it's an invitation to debate when someone else posts something "controversial" on their facebook/myspace/twitter page.
Yeah, yeah...you're puttin' it out there, but still...do you stop every person on the street if they wear a t-shirt or hat that says something you don't agree with?

*Similar to the above...why people choose youtube as a platform to debate issues.
Really? I just logged on to watch my fave video, now I get sucked into a heated discussion started by someone who was obviously looking for a fight...why were they on that page in the first place if they hate the video/band/group so much??

*Why people park in the "Expectant Mother" Parking spots when they are not expectant (men...this means YOU!)

The list could go on and on...Feel free to add more of your own. It's very cathartic sometimes just to air these things.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Ahhh, yes THIS is why I moved away from Ohio...

I had forgotten how bad the winters are in Ohio since I moved away over 10 years ago. They suck. Pardon my language.

I had forgotten, that is, until this crazy blizzard hit our little neighborhood in PA. Parking is bad enough on our street....add to that 4-foot- high piles of snow EVERYWHERE and it's a disaster.

Our Super Bowl party for tonight got cancelled. That really stinks. But, there's nowhere for anyone to park. (Joe asked me what if the Steelers were in the Super Bowl...we agreed that no amount of snow would have mattered. We would have cars driven up drifts and teetering off mountains of snow if the Steelers were playing. Die hard here, baby. This is Steeler Country)

Our sweet periwinkle minivan was wedged in the driveway since the snow started on Friday. Joe dug it out yesterday, but it wasn't until this morning that we finally got it out of the driveway. We rocked that b#@*% back and forth, shoved cardboard under the tires, and muscled it until it was free. While I manned the wheel, Joe stood in front of the van telling me to "come forward a little more."

Our driveway slants downhill. My front tires were both resting on sheets of ice. Hmmmm, not sure why, but I was thinking that maybe wasn't the greatest of ideas.

But we did it. And our marriage survived it! Hallelujah! Now we're free to leave if we need to. Where we'll go, I'm not quite sure since there are trees and power lines down everywhere. The governor said we need to conserve water. Whoops, wish I would have known that before I started a load of laundry! Besides, I figure we can just go fill up a pan with some of the 24 inches of snow we got yesterday and boil if need be...

So here we are...Day 3 of being trapped in these four walls...with these 4 kids...What started out as an unexpected romantic "long weekend" with excited giggles and flirty winks has both Joe and me looking forward to when we can "be nice to each other again" as per this post.

I feel like Laura Ingalls out on the prairie. Everyone has taken to walking everywhere...and in the middle of the street since the sidewalks are nowhere to be found. It seems surreal. Where's Joe, you ask? He's at the gym. He risked life and limb to go pump some iron. I guess the three hours of snow shoveling yesterday and the hour today wasn't enough. Ha! Love that guy!
So, tonight it's the Colts, the Saints and the snow. We're still making some yummy nachos and chicken and will watch the game (Joe for the sportsmanship and me for the commercials and Carrie Underwood.)

Hope everyone else is staying safe and keeping warm.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Snow Day Today!

What a surprise when we woke up this morning.Snowmageddon 2010 they are calling it!

The weather was SO bad that Joe's boss called him bright and early at 7:30 AM to tell him that the restaurant would not be opening....

WHAT?! THAT NEVER HAPPENS!!!

That would have been the perfect time to tip toe back to bed and cozy back under the covers for a couple more hours of shut eye, but the kids had other ideas. L wakes up every morning between 5:30 and 6:30 AM. The moment his little peepers pop open, we're done. He's up. And he's not the kid who plays quietly in his room. His voice has one volume...broken on level 10. When L's up, we're all up.

So, we all got up and enjoyed a lazy, leisurely day of puttzing about. Then, Joe spent a couple of hours outside shoveling the front walk (notice the picture). I kept worrying about the mailman having to track through the 40 feet of snow to our front door if we didn't get the walk shoveled, but I needn't have worried...I guess the United States Postal Service rolled out of bed this morning, took a gander out the window and said, "Mmmmm, I don't think so...." Can't say I blame them.

We are lucky, though, because we still have our power. I hear there are some communities without power and it could be days before it's back on. Our governor actually declared a state of emergency for PA. This is serious stuff.

It was nice having an extra day with Joe today. That's something that has NEVER happened since we've been together--the restaurant not opening, I mean.

We had Burger King for dinner...I don't normally like Burger King, but it was the ONLY place open (Giant Eagle even closed!) They were so over-run with people that they ran out of cheese for the burgers! Stop the madness! It really is a state of emergency.

We are just going to hunker down and relish this time we have unexpectedly been given. Funny how the Lord answers prayers, isn't it? We wanted more time with Joe, and we got it!

Friday, February 5, 2010

This Little Prayer of MIne

This Little Prayer of MineFound a new book I love.

It's called This Little Prayer of Mine by Anthony DeStefano.

It's a hardback children's book that teaches kids how to pray. I've read it to my kids the past two nights and they love the pictures (it's illustrated by Mark Elliott.) It's really easy to read and has a nice sing-songy rhythm. My kids are mad, though that I won't let them hold it or "read" it in bed...I don't want the pages wrinkled!

R. surprised me when he asked me to go back to a page we'd already read. He said the "path" page. There's a page that talks about asking God for help with choosing the right path. R. knew which path the little boy in the story should choose. I was amazed at how he knew an abstract concept like choosing school over choosing the playground.

sniff

My little boy is growing up.

The picture on the last page always makes me tear up-it's a mom and dad tucking in their little girl. =)

If you want to check out the book, you can click on the picture above or CLICK HERE.

This book and its author are highly praised within the Christian community including by The National Day of Prayer

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Cards for Cancer

On Saturday April 10, 2010, Spirit Jump and team leaders from all around the world will be taking bags of cards to local cancer treatment facilities and giving them to those battling cancer. Wouldn't that be an amazing way to tell them you're pulling for them, praying for them? You can ask everyone you know...cards can be handmade or bought, but all should have a positive message in them.

It's a good thing I'm typing this message and not trying to speak it to you. I get so emotional looking at the pictures of the beautiful little children suffering from this hateful disease. As a mom, I just can't imagine what that would be like; to watch your baby suffer and know there is nothing you can do to stop it.

Some who know me and Joe may know that Joe lost his first wife to cancer when she was only 31 and he was 29. I didn't know him then, and I can't even begin to wrap my mind around what that experience was like. What I do know is that those in the "cancer community" (those who were battling it or their friends and family) were amazing to him. From support to donations, he was loved and cared for during and after Stacy's passing. We will be participating in her memory and others' who have lost this courageous battle.

Please CLICK HERE to check out this link. This is an opportunity to give to those who suffer with cancer. An opportunity to bring some brightness into their day.

Are you a teacher? Why not have your class make cards? Children would love to receive cards from other children.

This is such an easy way to spread some love and positivity. Won't you join me? If you are interested in collecting cards, please click HERE to find out details.

If you would like to send me any cards, please comment below and leave your email address or email me at mandypmommyof4@yahoo.com

Also, feel free to honor someone by sharing their name in the comment section below.

Thank you.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The "T" Word (Taxes)

It's that time again. Tax Season.

This is the time of year when I stalk the mailman every day to see if he brought any of the necessary stuff we need to do our taxes. For someone who hated math in school, I certainly relish crunching numbers when it comes time to file our taxes.

Luckily, we usually end up getting a refund instead of owing...which probably explains why I enjoy filing so much.

We have filed using several different methods over the years...the first couple of years we used trusty H&R Block...and then got sticker shock when we were all done and had to pay them a decent chunk of our refund.

Then, a couple of years ago, I saw an ad for TaxAct that said it was free to use and decided to give it a try. I'm really glad I did.

It's super easy to use...I just logged on to TaxAct.com and went through the interviewing process that asks me questions and tells me where to look on my tax documents (like w2's, 1099's etc) for the correct answer and then...voila! Done. The great part...it's actually free.

This year, for some reason, I decided to try out some new talent. I logged on to TurboTax.com (which also claims to be free) and ran through the same scenario. After I answered some questions, I was informed that the basic (aka "free") version was not for me. Therefore: I had to 'upgrade' (read: PAY). That stinks.

Okay, so I swallowed my irritation about that and went on anyway. TurboTax 'guarantees' you the largest refund so I chalked it up to paying a little more to get a little more...

When I was almost completely finished, I accidentally 'upgraded' again, and after about a half hour of frustration and mindless searching for a way to 'downgrade' I glanced over at the 'online community' FAQ's to see that someone else had done the same thing. The answer...tough luck. I was stuck. I either had to suck it up and pay or I had to start over from scratch and create a whole new profile as well as re-renter all of our tax info.

Okay, this wouldn't have been so bad if I didn't have a splitting headache and four kids running around, screaming, fighting and demanding to be fed. So, after taking a break to referee, right the world and feed the children, I was back at it. I re-entered all of my info and did not click on the 'upgrade now' tab that is placed just a little too confusingly close to the 'no thanks' tab at the bottom of the screen, and finally made it to the end! I felt like I should be wearing a crown of leaves and a gold medal.

...And then, I chose to e-file the federal return and wait on the state. You have the option of 'un-clicking' the 'e-file state return now' button (which I did) but when I got to the part where the fees are outlined, the fee for filing state was still there. I went back twice and 'un-clicked' the option, but it kept adding it in.

The grand total for FREE federal e-filing? +$81!

Say what?

I don't know what I was more mad about...that it was charging me for my FREE federal return, that there was an unexpected $26.95 "processing fee," (which waas never mentioned before) that the state return wouldn't 'un-click' or that I SPENT ALL FREAKIN DAY DOING THIS just to have to DO IT ONE MORE TIME!

sigh

Sooooooooooooo, back  to TaxAct I went...sorry I had ever cheated on the old girl in the first place.

I filed (actually FOR FREE this time) and submitted (only the federal) and--get this--THE REFUND WAS ACTUALLY BIGGER!!!!

It was so worth it. Now I can go and file our state return on the PA site FOR FREE.

What about you? What services do you use? Online or purchased? What is your experience? I'd love to hear...
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