Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Operation Christmas Child And Thanksgiving Fun

Let me back up a bit.  I'm trying to post on my non existent posts.
(Insert scream here)

OCC - Operation Christmas Child

I love Operation Christmas Child, sending a box of love across the world to let children know God loves them.

Last year was our first year participating in OCC. I wasn't quite sure what we were supposed to be doing and I had to figure out what exactly could go in a shoebox gift. This took some online research and creativity.  However, last year we managed to pack up 3 boxes (each child packed one and sent a letter).  We gathered things from the dollar stores and filled them up.  The kids absolutely loved packing the boxes.  They prefer, though, to just have a pile of things in the floor so they can choose exactly what to put in their boxes as opposed to me trying to plan them out so I know exactly how many there will be.

This year I prepared ahead of time for our shoeboxes. I had set a goal to put together 10 shoeboxes this year and was able to accomplish it. Mainly because I've been collecting things on sale and clearance since last Christmas. That was the biggest help instead of last minute running.

This year I managed to get legos for 75 cents, socks for 25 cents, crayons for 10 cent and even shoes for 50 cents a pair! I found a lot of great deals!  Cate decided to make a few bracelets to go inside the boxes too.  We also made some of these last year and included beads and string so the child receiving it could make their own.

However, this year we forgot to write letters to go inside our boxes and send a picture but we did buy our labels online this year so we could see where the box went. The kids are still anxious to see what part of the country their box is going.

This is one of the boxes we put together for a girl 5-9. I got the doll for .75 at kmart, glasses for .33 at kmart, activity book for .50, crayons .10, (Walmart both) shoes .50 (dollar general) socks .25 (rite aid), pencil case .25, paddle ball .75 (both Walmart)

These are a few of the other boxes we packed.  Afterwards, I did notice that we somehow packed more "boy" themed boxes than girls and we pretty much stuck with the 5-9 age range.

We will try to add a little more variety next year.  I'd like to pack some for the older kids so I need to start planning what to put in one.  I really wanted to add a baseball glove to this one (and make it baseball themed), but I didn't have time to check back at the store.  Walmart usually has those on clearance around this time.

This was a boys 2-4 box.  A ball is missing in this pic.

Thanksgiving Shenanigans.

Do you like my turkey?  Can you tell it's a turkey?  lol.  I tried and then AJ comes into the kitchen and calls it a reindeer.  He hurt my feelings.  Don't you EAT IT THEN!. Haha!

For Thanksgiving, I initially decided to cook this great big meal.  I bought turkey, ham, stuff for my macaroni, was going to make apple pie, butter beans, everything....  Then, two days before Thanksgiving, I was like "whatever."  I'm tired.  Who else is cooking?  So we went to our parents for Thanksgiving and I still ended up cooking mac n cheese there. lol.

On Thanksgiving Eve, we volunteered for the community "Feed the Boro" program.  We helped debone turkeys and prep meals to deliver around the community for Thanksgiving.  This was our first year doing so as I only seem to find out about it after it's over. 

The kids loved it.  I love the fact that they loved it and hope it helps them realize that everyone is not as fortunate as they think they're not.  So the next time I said "eat your food," you better eat it!  We went back on Thanksgiving morning with the husband and drove around to deliver meals to families in the area.  He didn't make it Thanksgiving Eve because he was working.  It was such a great and humbling experience.  We will definitely be on board next year!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Halloween And The Making Of Queen Elsa

So I know Halloween is gone, but I'm finally finishing this post! 

Trick or treat! 
We didn't do much on the actual day of Halloween but we went to a few local events leading up to it and did a few things at home.

I wanted to carve pumpkins; however, we never did.  We didn't mainly because I wanted to take the kids to a pumpkin patch and let them pick out a pumpkin. This never happened, so instead we bought them each a pumpkin from Walmart to paint.
 Of course, Caleb just went ham on his, Cate was making a masterpiece, and AJ got bored easily and just said he's done. After watching them paint theirs, I wish I would have bought me one to paint. They are currently on display in the hall.

"Let it go!" "Let it go!" Everyone in the world has probably heard this song and been forced against their will to watch the movie countless times. I know we have and I looooved the movie. However, instead of learning the lyrics like the husband and being able to actually sing it, I was busy writing spoofs to the song. You know, because I think I'm largely hysterical and besides God blessed me with sarcasm and a pen. I couldn't just let that go to waste.

Okay, so for halloween I knew Cate was going to want to be Queen Elsa.

Caleb was Spiderman and you mustn't ever call him Caleb while he's in costume or he might unleash his spidey powers on you. He was also certain that I wasn't fixing his mask right. It kept digging in his eyes so we finally got annoyed with it and took it off.  He was also very certain that Spiderman doesn't use a car seat. Tough luck kid.  Tough luck.   Aj, who initially wasn't going to dress up (He's too cool now.), decided to be the Scream thing again this year.  I heard some older men questioning him about Scream.  I think they were trying to see if he had seen it.  He hasn't. 

Dear Lord, thank you for my sarcastic and sometimes sick sense of humor. We have so much fun. Lol.  I kept nudging him to just glare out the window at people and even stare the cop down next to us at the red light. I really wanted to put him in the trunk when we got home to scare his daddy but he was sleepy by the time we arrived.  Doggit!

So onwards, shall we.  Everybody in the house knew Cate would want to be Queen Elsa, like almost every little girl in the county.  When we first looked at the Queen Elsa costume in the store, I didn't like it that much. It was pretty, but I just didn't like it that much. This is what's wrong with creative people. We always think we can do something. So we headed right over to the fabric department of Walmart and checked out some fabric.

Initially, this is what I came up with. Now keep in mind, that I have basic basic sewing knowledge and I operate on a "I'll figure it out" mentality. I had this idea in my head, but I just didn't know how it was going to actually manifest into a dress.

So I only had two days to pull this together because there was this school Halloween dance.  However, the whole first day I literally just sat on the sofa looking at that fabric on the floor...thinking.  On day 2, I really didn't have a choice but to get on the ball and I knew there was a good chance that I wasn't going to finish. 

I honestly had very little clue how I was going to pull it off. I found a cape tutorial online that looked simple. I didn't have butcher paper so I had to tape printer paper together! I do think I picked just the write fabric for the cape. What do you think?

The actual dress is what almost sent me to hell. When that bobbin start getting tangled up and acting foolish....Except for one side of this skirt, the entire dress was sewn by hand. If I had started earlier, it wouldn't have been so bad. However, I was under pressure.  So here are my very basic basics.

For the sleeves, I literally wrapped the fabric around her arms, pinned, cut and sew. Tada! The shimmery part initially was hard to figure out. I folded a piece of fabric less than half and I used a bowl to trace halfway for the head hole. I believe I sew the arms on next. Initially, the bodice was going to be the same light blue color but then all the pics I looked at on the internet there was a darker bodice. So I went back to Walmart and bought a darker shade of fabric to go with it.  Then, just like you'd drape a sheet around you and play princess, that's exactly how I made this piece and cut. I then didn't know how the child was supposed to get in and out of the dress. Would she been Queen Elsa forever? So of the clearish and bodice part, I just cut straight up the middle of her back. This probably isn't making much sense.  Next, I sew the clearish piece to blue bodice and sew that to the skirt. Follow? I'm sure you didn't. If you sew, regularly, you're probably wondering what the world did she do? Lol.

Here's what happened next. Sort of.  I took a knee length skirt she had and laid it on top of the butcher paper and just finished drawing it out like a cone for back. I measured her from waist down and did same thing for front, this time drawing out like a triangle.

After I finished, I just had to stand back and watch my creation like I was on Project Runway.  I was completely baffled by the fact that I had actually made the thing and it was recognized as the Queen Elsa costume.  Now had I knew what I was doing, this probably could have been a bit better. I actually tied the cape around her neck because someone stepped on it at school and tore the Velcro off and I forgot to sew it on this time.  I didn't sew it on the first time because I ran out of time and was hoping it would stay put. 

Getting snow cones at the frat houses at GSU.

Buy you know what, this costume got me the title of "Best Mom Ever!"  Whoop! Whoop!  However after she said that, she corrected herself and said well actually you're my only mom ever.  I'm going with the first one.  It also won 2nd place in the school costume contest! Alright Project Runway, I think I'm ready! 

Hope all the kiddos had a great Halloween.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Peek A Boo

I've been hiding lately...a lot.  Mostly, I haven't figured out how to manage my time since school started and the fact that I was keeping two other little boys (not at same time) in house. (I'm still keeping one.) I felt like I was working again, a real 9 to 5. I was passed out sleep on the sofa every night! That exhaustion brought back all those old memories from teaching preschool. Lol. Caleb has been enjoying it though. He's had someone to play with on a regular basis besides me and the ducks.

We also geared up and did our annual back to school supply drive and free clothes giveaway. I'm a big believer that we should be helping one another and promoting growth and success. We all are. We even started a non profit to get this show on the road, Open Heart Outreach, Inc. This great project has been another factor of my non existence posts. We have so many ideas and projects that we can't wait to start working on! I would have linked the fb page, but I'm on my phone on the sofa under a blanket and...ummm...well...I'm just too lazy to go get on the computer. (Hey, atleast I'm honest right?)

So at night before I fall asleep on the sofa (the hubby and I are usually exhausted and fall out on the sofa), I'm on pinterest looking up everything from fundraising ideas to budget proposals to grant writing. Oh yeah and clothes, home organization, and every and anything. You know how it goes.  I'm sure you've been on pinterest.  If you haven't, don't go.  It's a trap.

The kids have been enjoying school so far. Well, Cate has. Miss Thang is pulling in straight A's, nothing less than a 95! Awesome!! She has also made up her mind to do gymnastics again.  She wakes up in the morning doing handstands and goes to sleep doing them.  I think she'll likely stick with it this time.  You can just see the light in her eyes when she watches gymnastics on tv.  I think there is a dream in the making.  She's also joined the school chorus and is very excited about performing.  I think she's making fourth grade her year to go "boom!"

Aj is adapting to middle school okay though he's trying to get slack on his work. He made all As and Bs and a 78.  We don't do C's at all in this house.  In fact he has never made one, neither of them. It's one thing to do your absolute best and make a C vs. not doing your best and making a C.  So we both know he wasn't performing his best and I have no desire to "handicap" my child by making him feel like that was good enough. He did good though, but I know he can do better.  I know, you may be thinking that's not that bad, but for him it is.  This is a child that excels in every area of standardized testing (which I hate by the way) and has always made mostly A's.  He is teetering into that "I need to be cool" stage. God give me strength to get through that so I don't jack him up.  He knows I'm not about that. Items have already been confiscated and priveledges revoked.

This was also his first year playing football, which I assume is part of the problem (time management wise). We didn't let him play last year to see how he adjusted to middle school and he was soooo excited about it this year.  It was like the best thing ever for him.  However, as always with our family, disaster strikes.

Apparently in his weight lifting class, he couldn't lift the bar anymore while doing bench.  Instead of easing the bar down, he just gave out fracturing his sternum.  There is nothing scarier than getting a call from the school nurse saying your child is having trouble breathing.  It's been about 8 weeks and as of now, and he's healing well.  Most of his restrictions have been lifted. However, he can't play any kind of contact sports which really sucks for him.  He couldn't even jog for the first three weeks. Not to mention that I couldn't stop yelling at the child for the first whole month: "Be Still!"  "Put that down!"  "You know you're not supposed to be doing that!" You know, I was half afraid the child was just going to break. So glad he's doing so much better!

So that's a few of the happenings that have been going on, mostly chaos.  Mostly not organized chaos.  I feel there are some huge things about to happen and I'm excited.  You know when you're not quite sure what it is, but you know God is about to do something.  Yeah.  And it was only confirmation, when a guest Pastor came to church and his wife told me that my worse days are behind me.  Hello! Can I get a AMEN!  Then she proceeded to say that I was about to come into a position of power and authority like I have never seen before.  What?  I was like wow.  I wonder what's about to happen.

Then the next day, I was like wait a minute.  That mean busy, don't it? 

Haha! Lord give me strength... and rest!

Monday, August 4, 2014

The "We Need To Take The Kids Somewhere Because School Starts Friday" Trip

Last Friday,  August 1 school started for us. It had rolled around incredibly fast. So fast that we realized summer was about over for us. Yet, we hadn't really taken the kids anywhere for the summer. Partly due to that early injury from the car accident that couldn't have come at a worse time, the day before the last day of school. The other parts come from Andre working a lot and from church schedules.

So for the last two weekends prior to the start of school, we decided to forgo everything and take the kids off. I admit skipping church made me feel very guilty. However, we usually do everything asked of us so I said God might forgive us. Might.

The first weekend we took the kids to the beach. This was actually our first trip to the beach the whole summer and it's only like an hour away!  I don't think anyone was more excited than Caitlyn.  She was ready to whip and whirl in the waves.

It was a perfect day to go to the beach.  You know most of the time it's just tooooo hot.  The weather that day was just right- not too hot and not too cool.  We could have stayed there all day. Not to mention, I've been watching way to many house hunters episodes with couples searching for homes on the beach.  Oh, how I would love to do that! Soon.  I keep telling myself.  However, the house won't be on a beach.

These two tough guys decided to take themselves further out in the water and got "had" by a huge wave.

When it was time to go, of course the kids didn't want to leave.  Then all the "I wish we lived by the beach." songs started.  I joined in.  I'm like, "I know.  I know."  That would just be so nice!

Not sure when we'll make it back down that way, but hopefully it's soon.

We then decided to drive to Atlanta the next weekend. School shopping was one of our major goals for the trip. We were hoping to score some great deals at the outlet and we did. Aj needed an entire wardrobe because he's outgrown everything. The kid is a giant.   He literally survived summer in basketball shorts that his dad had outgrown. He swears he is taller than me but I'm just going to rebuke that. LOL!

Suprisingly, I didn't buy anything for myself once we got there.  Although, I really wanted this skirt.  I thought it was sooo cute...until I turned around and saw that those flowers were really in full bloom!  LOL.  Yeah,  we're back on this weight train again, primarily because I just decided to chill during the fall.  You know- on again off again every now and then workouts.

What is it about hotel beds?

We only stayed for a night in Atlanta.  We left home Saturday afternoon (because we're slowful) and came back home a little around midnight Monday morning.

Yall this booger is so spoiled I can barely tell you.  That sly grin comes after 15 minutes of crying because he wanted to stay up and wait for me to get in the bed.  He refused to lay down without me and as you can tell from the camera angle, I did.

Our first trip on that Sunday was a stop at Zoo Atlanta.  We bought an annual pass when we went for spring break because it was only like 20 dollars more.  That's for 2 adults and 4 children. 
The kids got feeding sticks for the birds.  I tell you that little area is kind of scary especially when all the birds silently decide to just swoop right over your heads.  The kids enjoyed the park and I actually think I may have lost 2lbs trying to walk all over it.  I was leaving Mr. Evans in the dust.

Our next stop was to our very first Braves game.  Aj and Cate actually didn't want to go at all.  I mean they would have to sit down and be still.  What was going to be fun about that?   They actually did enjoy the game, mostly the cotton candy and playing subway surfers on daddy's phone. 
We were going to let the kids run the bases after the game until we learned that the line was like two cities long.  Ummm....no mam.  It was already late and we don't live up there.   We had a drive so we passed.  It was a nice trip.  We plan on going to another game one day soon. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Backaches, Birthdays And Cookouts

Well it's been a long time coming, but a post is up.

I'm very happy to say that my back pain has been getting a whole lot better. I have been bumped from seeing the chiropractor from three times a week to twice a week. 

I still notice that standing too long and bending too much irritate it. I also don't think I'll ever get over the fact that just standing and folding clothes now gives me a backache in a couple of minutes.  I may need to play this to my advantage with Andre.  LOL.  ....but honey, my back hurts too much to do laundry!  LOL!!

Well over the past two weeks, we've had birthdays. Yes. We. Andre and I have birthdays that are 3 days apart, June 29 and mine July 2. Normally, we really don't do much of anything for our birthdays simply because there's always so much going on around this time. There was no exception this time. Lol.  Andre had to work the Saturday before his birthday and Sunday was our Youth Sunday program at church. That meant the kids were also practicing half the day Saturday.  (Look up Rocky Ford Baptist Church on youtube to see some of our dances and songs.  I haven't been posting a lot simply because it takes a long time to load up and I've been busy.)

 I did force him to take a picture through.  Happy 33 years!

And then came rolling around was my birthday.  Dirty 30.  This picture was taken on the last day in my 20s.  I decided to trade my sweatpants in for the day.  I always have to have pictures when I have on actual clothes as proof that I don't always look a mess and covered in finger paint or other unidentified kid fun.

Hey!  Dirty 30 pic! 
You know how people get all antsy and depressed about turning 30 and where they should be in life?  Welp...ain't nobody got time for that!  I was like, "Hey 30.  How you doing?"  As I said earlier, we didn't do anything special for our birthdays.  Andre actually left to go to Kentucky the night before my birthday, but we swore we were going on a weekend trip or at least out to dinner.  To this day, we have done neither.  lol.  It'll happen one day.  There's just so much life going on.

I posted this pic to Facebook and Instagram along with this message (@mirame17  Yes I have discovered Instagram and obsessed with pictures):

The last 10 years - teen mom, caretaker of parents, went to college, defied the stereotype, nominated international honor society, had a second beautiful baby girl, spoiled her, worked odd jobs, hated odd jobs, thankful for odd jobs, created jobs, got hit by a tornado, had a miscarriage, quit college 4 months before graduation, sat out a year, finally married my husband - been together since '98, went back to school, pissed missed cum laude by some tenths of a point, decided I wasn't going to walk, decided I was crazy, graduated during the worse recession in 30 years, forced to be a stay at home mom, it was great except for being broke, taught preschool, met great people, love those people, start planning for baby number three, was already pregnant with baby number three, likely miscarried a twin, wanted to work, God had another plan, husband started a company, decided to stay home, met more wonderful people, I laughed, I cried, I prayed...a Lot, I grew, I changed, I tried, I failed, I made mistakes, I learned.  I lived.  I purposely focused on the not so good parts of life in this post.  Life happens.  It's up to you to decide how you're going to respond to it.  Goodbye 20s.  Hello 30s.  Can't wait to get to know you."

Trials and tribulations much?

 For the Fourth of July, my dad's side of the family was having a reunion and Andre's side of the family was having one.  This year we decided to go to Andre's side.  It was a lot of fun and very hot!! They had plenty of stuff set up for the kids...bouncy houses, water slides, kiddie pools and a bigger pool.  The kids had a blast.  We usually go to the park for the fireworks show but the road was blocked off early.  We decided to go get ice creams and met up with some of the family in the Kmart parking lot, along with a good crowd of folks, to watch the fireworks show from there.  Aj was so tired he fell asleep on the back of the truck.  They were all asleep by the time we got home.

Cate, Gracie and Caleb
You can see AJ covering his face in the back.  That child hates taking pictures.

This was the second day of the reunion and the majority of us somehow unknowingly agreed to wear our shirts today.  This is Andre and his cousin; however, they act more like brothers.  He is actually the one responsible for getting Andre and I together way back when.  They had the nerve to tell me I was photographing celebrities.....ummmm...yeah.  Okay. 

More pics from the reunion.  Cousins at the top.  The aunties at bottom left.  Me and cousin Kassandra bottom right.  If you want to laugh,  this is the one you hang with.  Love her! 

We had a great time getting together with the family.  There was a lot of love, laughter, sarcasm and food.  Some of my favorite things!  Can't wait to do it again!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Fathe's Day 2014

I hope everyone had a great father's day weekend!

Andre wasn't home at the start of Father's Day. He went to a softball tournament that Saturday and came back Sunday early afternoon. We would have went but I thought the kids had choir practice (they didn't).  So we waited anxiously for him to get home.

Originally, we had planned to go out and eat and head to the water park, but then decided to stay home instead.  I honestly wasn't sure about all the long hours bending, lifting, standing and running behind a toddler. 

So when he finally got home, the kids proceeded to swarm him with all of their Father's Day cards and pictures that they had made for him.  Then it was on to my favorite part of the day - pictures.  Of course, I forced  asked  told everyone to get together so I could take a picture for Father's Day.  Did I mention I'm a wanna be photographer? There is usually an excess of 1200-2000 pictures on my phone (500 at the moment- I just put in a new card 2weeks ago)This is part of the reason, it doesn't always work like it should. Then, Christmas came and I needed a real camera, a month later I needed a tripod, now I need a spare room....

It was about 90 degrees outside. So despite those smiles, they were like "hurrrry uuuup."

Thanks for making our days so bright daddy! (Hence the shades) Yeah, I think I'm all creative.  They're lucky I waited too last minute to get my softball MVP picture idea together.

"Come on AJ!  Take our picture!"  You know since moms take all the pictures of everyone, we are hardly ever in any of the pictures.  Sadly, no one else in the house shares my love for photography..... among all my other strange addictions.

Afterwards, the kids decided to help me fix daddy a meal.  I'm not sure if Caleb was prepping dinner or trying to be dinner. I think he associated the flour with some of our sensory play activities.

Then while I cooked, they all took off to go fishing. Of course, this didn't actually mean daddy would get to do any fishing. Lol. He was just supervising the kids.


(I guess if we are going to hand down toys and such from Cate to Caleb, we could at least spray paint them. Then again, it's not like he cares. lol)

So we ended our little Father's Day night watching the game or better yet yelling at the tv and eating. Cate and Caleb had built a fort in the living room and fell asleep on the floor.  I decided to let them stay there.  Overall, I think it was a pretty great day or at least the kids had fun.