Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The To-Do List!

This week I have a "to-do" list that's a mile long...the one pictured above is my list just for today. Don't you love that notepad...the "To Don't" list?!?! My fab friend Amy got it for me, because we are kindred spirits...you'll never see us without at least one list! It has columns for things to avoid, to sabotage, to delay, and to pawn off. I love using it!!

Anywho...I began my day with a plan. Noah was at childcare, but Kendall is on Christmas break, so I let her invite a friend over to play. I figured this would keep her occupied so that I could get some work done. And no, I don't feel guilty. I've spent PLENTY of time with her in the past week!!

Turns out that apparently I am a really fun playmate...because these girls would not leave me alone! Finally I just had to put it out there and tell them to go play because I simply HAD to get some of this stuff done! After that they were much better, and went outside to play in the snow for a bit before coming in to play the new Wii games. Or maybe they were setting a fire or cutting all the hair off the baby dolls...who knows? All I know for sure is that they left me alone long enough to accomplish almost everything on my list. And for that, I am forever grateful.


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Merry Christmas to you and yours...

Hope you all had a fun, relaxing, and very Merry Christmas and are looking forward to the promise of a new year! Santa was so good to us, and we were good to each other, so our many Christmas celebrations were absolutely fabulous and I feel renewed and refreshed! Time to get back into my purging. I can't believe how much I still have to get rid of. It's INSANE!!!! Of course, now there's even more...

Anywho...here are a few pics from Christmas. I was planning a big Christmas rundown, but I've been without internet all day until now (OMG!!!) and now I have to get cookin' some dinner and take Kendall to piano lessons. So...enjoy the photos and I'll work on getting some additional posts up this week. I'm so behind!! :)Lots of WOW faces there...isn't my family cute??? I know...I'm definitely biased!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Visit with Santa

Kendall and I had eye doctor appointments, and since hers was in the afternoon, there was really no reason for her to go back to school. By the time I would have gotten her back and headed home, I would've had to turn right around and go pick her up...so I decided to just keep her out and we did some fun holiday errands. On our list was a couple of returns, a visit to Santa, and (if they were good), a trip to Cheryl's Cookies and Krispy Kreme (all in one day? OMG!) to get Kendall's report card rewards. At Cheryl's, the kids get a free cookie for every A, and it's the same with doughnuts at Krispy Kreme!! And the best part is that Kendall is always happy to share with the rest of us!

So we headed to the optometrist, the kids fully briefed on how to behave in order to get to do the "fun" things on our list. Noah was fully prepared, carrying his Leapster, so he wouldn't get bored and antsy during our eye appointments. He did great...and Kendall and I are both rockin' the house with 20/20 vision. WAHOOO!!

After we left the optometrist, I again briefed the munchkins on how to behave in the mall...plus, Santa was soooo close...did they want him to see them misbehaving? The returns went as smooth as silk...Noah's only slip-up was when he saw Auntie Annie's Pretzels, and couldn't pull himself away. But hey, can you blame the kid? They ARE darn good...and the smell is divine!

Once we got his attention and reminded him that we were walking down to the other end of the mall to see Santa, he was on board. I pointed out all of the spectacular decorations as the kids ooooohed and aaaaaahhed. We were holding hands and skipping through the mall, singing "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." I'm sure people were getting quite a kick out of that, but I didn't care. The kids were having a ball, and so was I. Let 'em laugh!! I mean, have you ever watched "ELF"? 'The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!" Take a lesson from Buddy, peeps! LOL!

Finally, Santa was in sight. Lo and behold, there was only one little girl in line...and she was kind of scared of the Big Man. Noah was in awe. It was hysterical. His eyes were as big as saucers, mouth half open, body frozen. And then, when the cute little girl in all her Christmas finery was finished, Noah's trance was broken. He went sprinting up to Santa, asking him a million questions:

"Hi Santa! I'm Noah! Where are your elves? Where are your reindeer? Has Tinker Bing-a-Ling been telling you I've been good? Have you been to my house before? Did you know we have a chimney? What kind of cookies do you like? Do you miss Buddy? Is there enough Christmas spirit this year for your sleigh to fly? What time will you come to my house? Can I touch your beard?
Why were you so mean to Rudolph before the fog came?...and on and on.

Bless that Santa, for he did his best to answer each and every question. I guess he figured he had the time...no one was in line behind us! And then it was time to get down to business...

"Noah, have you been a good boy this year?"

"YES Santa, I've been really, really good!"

"Have you been nice to your sister?"

"Ummmmm....a little bit. I've picked up all my toys!"
( The boy has learned the art of distraction well.)

"Have you been good at school?"

"Yep! Except when Josh hits me. Then I get mad and use my outside voice!"

"Have you listened to your parents?"

"Ummmmmm.....ummmmmmm....I think so. A little bit. Sometimes. I've been pretty good, though, Santa."

"Well, what would you like Santa to bring you this year?"

"I really want a remote controlled WALL-E, and a combine with 2 heads, and some gears!! Do you think I've been good enough for all that? I try REALLY hard!!" (Hmmmmm.....questionable!)

"I think we can arrange that. It sounds like you've been giving your best effort this year, and I'm proud of you! Keep up the good work, Noah."

At this point, Noah's little face lit up and he got so excited, he came running toward me, totally forgetting the sucker they had for him, and the fact that he still had to have his picture taken. It was really too cute. Then it was Kendall's turn. Funny how my totally outgoing girl suddenly gets shy and backward when she's standing in front of Santa Claus himself. What was going on? She wouldn't look him in the eye, kept looking at her feet, spoke softly (softly???? I didn't even know she had a "soft" mode!), and had to be coaxed to sit on his lap. But she finally did, and explained how she's done her best all year long to do well in school and has tried(oh Lord, has she tried) to not get annoyed with Noah...

"But it's hard!!And sometimes it's best not to keep all your feelings inside you, or you just might burst!Sometimes when he's really annoying,I have to go to my room and scream and punch my pillow, 'cause I can't punch him, or I'll get in trouble...you know? I love him...he's my baby brother, but he can be SO ANNOYING SOMETIMES!!!"
(She was unloading...talking so fast that I though she might pass out! I think she was actually sweating when she was finished!)

And to this Santa replied, "Oh yes, I do know all about that. I surely do! I have 3 younger brothers and a younger sister. I know how annoying they can be. You just keep up the good work, and keep trying so hard. That's all you can do. It will get easier! Now, what is the number one thing you would like my elves to make for you?"

I could see the relief in her face. Her worst fears were laid to rest. Santa understood what she was dealing with, and there would be presents under the tree for her on Christmas morning. Apparently, she had been just a tad bit stressed out about it, but now things were all good. After the pictures were taken, we headed down to Cheryl's, where she treated Noah and I both to cookies of our choice...orange citrus for me, and lemon for him. She chose a frosted cutout cookie with red & green sprinkles for herself. We sat and ate our cookies and contemplated the things Santa had said. It was a good day...a very good day indeed!

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Sometimes life just has a way of getting so insanely busy that you spend all of your time planning, executing, cleaning up, and planning some more. When you add to that all of things that you do out of feeling the need to contribute, or things that you let yourself be guilted into...well, life spins out of control. You know what I mean?

Over the past 9 months or so, it seems that life around here is moving at earth-shattering speed. In addition to Kendall's school schedule and her few extra-curriculars, we have Noah's school schedule and swimming lessons...as well as my work schedule and Barry's (of course). There are volunteer days every week, along with all my other "mom" duties, such as cleaning, cooking, laundry, and just the general managing of the house and everyone's schedules. Oh yeah, and to top it all off, Barry switched jobs. Two weeks before Christmas!! I've found myself running constantly, always feeling like I'm behind the 8-ball, and never feeling like I can just sit for a minute. And in case you're wondering...YES, I know this is the life of a mother!!! But, Barry and I have decided we MUST find a way to simplify, because this is no good. So after much discussion and listing of pros and cons, we have decided that the best way to do just that is to close my office. The last day of my lease is December 31, and my last official day of work in my office is next Tuesday...EEEEK!!!

I must admit that I'm a little sad about letting my office go, but here's the dealio, peeps...I need to be home more. That's just the reality. My kids need me, my husband needs me, and Lord KNOWS my house needs me...LOL!!! With things being so slow at work, it just isn't worth it for me to keep the office open. I am planning to keep my corporate work, and only do that on Tuesdays...and we will keep Noah in childcare just that one day per week. It's good for him, and it's good for me, too. Some of my faithful clients have asked (in only a slightly panicky voice) if I will come to their houses...and the answer is yes. My schedule will just be much less flexible. But on the whole, I must say that all of my clients have been overwhelmingly supportive!!! I've been seeing some of them for 10 years, so I know this was a little of a shock. But hey, I really do have wonderful people for clients. I've known that for years!

The way we see it, this is just a break. If I decide to come back in a year or so, I can. I'm keeping my skills fresh with the corporate work and a few good clients on the side. Or, maybe I'll decide there's a new path for me...a new passion. Who knows? But for right now, it's FAMILY FIRST in 2010. That's where my focus needs to be.

As I was struggling with this decision, I called my friend Beth, who called me right out by saying..."Hey, what is the name of that blog you write again? A SIMPLER LIFE???? Get on it, girl...get back to that simpler life!!"

She couldn't have been more right. I'd lost my way for a little while, but I'm back for 2010!!!! Let's just hope I haven't forgotten how to write! :)

Bring on the New Year! I'm ready...are you?!?!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Buddy and Tinker Bing-a-ling

We have 2 elves that come to our house the weekend after Thanksgiving each year to keep an eye on the kids for Santa. Their names are Buddy and Tinker Bing-a-Ling. Buddy is Kendall's elf, and Tinker Bing-a-Ling is Noah's. Every night, the elves report the kids' behavior back to Santa Claus and then head back to our house to be mischievous and play. The kids so enjoy getting up every morning to see what their elves have been up to through the night, and they sure do watch their behavior, because nobody wants a bad report to Santa! Here are some of their recent shenanigans...
They have also been found playing in my mixer bowl, head-down in cereal boxes, hanging from light fixtures, and climbing the Christmas tree. Those silly elves! Too bad I didn't always have my camera handy! We sure will miss them when they head back to the North Pole on Christmas Eve!

Do you have elves that visit your house?

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Thanksgiving Rundown

I know this post is late folks, but Blogger has not been friendly to me this week! For some unknown reason, none of my pictures would upload. Finally, it worked today...so here ya go!

So Thanksgiving is probably crazier for us than Christmas. You see, we have 3 Thanksgiving dinners in 30 hours when it comes to this food-filled holiday.

The kids and I headed out on Wednesday, late afternoon, to get to my Mom's. We got settled in, ordered a Celina Wine Store pizza (my absolute FAVE!), and my friend Shelly came over to visit. Barry and Luke were busy cutting up the deer, so they didn't come home until Thursday morning. On Thursday, we got up and ready to go and headed to my dad's for Thanksgiving "lunch" with he and Taffy. We had a wild turkey that my dad shot and cooked himself. It was very different from your average Thanksgiving turkey, as he made it in a Dutch oven with sausage, but still very yummy! I ate my fill, but was careful not to eat too much, as we had dinner with the Kucks at 5:30 that evening. My kids ate some turkey, potatoes, and veggies, but really went to town on the pie...especially since my dad loaded it up with whipped cream for them! Noah wasn't cooperating so well at first, but my dad told him that if he ate all of his turkey and veggies, he had a surprise for him. This completely intrigued my boy...so he ate every last bite. What was his surprise, you ask? Turkey feathers and the beard from that ol' Tom Turkey we had just eaten! Noah was in 7th heaven...
He kept holding the beard up to his chin, so we took a picture, and then that became a lot of fun when Jessie decided to use the beard as a moustache...

And then Noah had to make Uncle Luke have a moustache too...I think we were having too much fun with the turkey beard, don't you think??

After we sat around and visited for a while, it was time to head to have dinner with the Kucks. The kids are always so excited to see their cousins...they played hard and both fell asleep on the way back to my mom's. Sorry...no pics of that dinner. I forgot to take my camera in, and was having too much fun socializing to take pics. :)

On Friday, we had dinner with my Mom & Joe. Joe made his turkey on the grill, and it was tasty too...wow...turkey 3 times! How did we get so lucky? The food was really yummy and I stuffed myself with 2 helpings of mashed potatoes. Remind me again why I don't make those more often??? I wandered around, taking random photos...And then it was time to head back home.

It was getting late, and we wanted to be up early to go get our tree.

Neither of my kids fell asleep on the 90 minute drive home...go figure. But rest assured, we had no problem getting them to bed. They were T.I.R.E.D.! Another successful Thanksgiving, and many blessings to be thankful for. Hope yours was wonderful too!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Deer Hunting...and all that goes with it!

Every year, Barry takes advantage of hunting season to the fullest extent that he can. Sometimes all he can work out is sitting in his stand in the evenings after work, or heading out at "oh-dark-hundred" on weekend mornings. But occasionally, we'll have a free weekend where he can meet my dad and brother up at "the cabin"...a huge amount of property with a little cabin that has been designated for hunting of all types...and for family only. It was by pure luck that we happened to have 2 free weekends for Barry and Luke to go up and hunt...so of course, they did! They both took Monday off and took full advantage of the great weather and good hunting.

Now, while the boys are gone, the kiddos and I go about our normal schedule...just at a little more relaxed pace. We make big breakfasts, sometimes go out for lunch (or skip it altogether), play games, watch movies, stay up late reading, or go visit friends. Why not? The world is our oyster!

The last weekend, Kendall had piano on Saturday afternoon and Noah had a birthday party to attend on Saturday evening, which meant we didn't get home until late...so we just read a few books when we got home and called it a day. Then on Sunday, we decided to hit Wildlights at The Columbus Zoo. Wildlights is fantastic! How could it not be, coming from the #1 zoo in the nation?!? It was a really nice night, clear and chilly, but not too cold. The zoo has gone to 100% LED lights this year, and it was really amazing. The lights around "the watering hole" were all timed to music, and it was quite a show! The kids and I had a fabulous time, but were bummed that Barry had to miss it (and so was he, when we told him about it). No worries, though. We're already planning a return trip! And trust me when I tell you that the pictures do not do any of it justice...you just have to see it. Trust me on this!

Now while we were off having fun, the boys were busy doing their thing...sittin' in tree stands, keepin' the fire going, drinkin' whiskey and talkin' guns. Sound like fun? Well, let me remind you that there is no running water...you have to use the outhouse. And the shower is smack dab in the middle of the kitchen, powered by a cistern. So just keep that in mind! ANYWAY...Barry got his buck on Sunday morning...WA-HOOO!!! He was a big son of a gun...8 pts and thick around the neck. Barry was quite proud, and so was Noah...Of course, since the weather was so warm, we couldn't let that big ol' buck hang for a few days, which is what you like to do...it stretches out the meat. But like I said, it was too warm to do that, so the boys had to get to work after just a day or two.

***WARNING...the following pictures are not for the weak-stomached folks. Stop now if you get grossed out by raw meat!**

As you can see, my daughter is not at all grossed out. She is always right there, checking out everything and asking a million questions. She has decided she wants to learn to hunt. We'll see.It went much more quickly than usual, being that we had two guys cutting. I ran the food saver the first night, but they were on their own the next night, since I wasn't home. And let me tell you this...that bad boy had a lot of meat on him. My freezer is full all the way to the top! And Luke hasn't even hit his yet. Well, technically he did, but after much tracking, the men still couldn't find it...so it was a loss. You never want to see that happen, as it's a complete waste of a deer. If you're gonna kill it, you'd better eat it...or there's no reason at all to kill it.

Here, Luke is removing the connective tissue from the outside of the tenderloin...
Look at the size of that tenderloin! Holy cow!
Man oh man, that is the best part right there....sliced and sauteed with garlic, butter, and onions...HEAVEN!! I'm getting hungry right now just thinking about it! And to my Party in the Pantry readers...yes, I will be posting some venison recipes. If you've only ever had venison ground up in chili or Sloppy Doe, be prepared to have your eyes opened to a whole new world. Venison is lean, tasty, and very good for you. No hormones or antibiotics here, folks.

I'm off to enjoy a day with family...have a great weekend, peeps!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Santa Baby...

Santa Baby,

I've been really, really, extra-special good this year.

I've cooked, cleaned, done mounds of laundry, played trains and Polly Pockets, wiped noses and butts, kissed ouchies, helped with homework, planned vacations & summer schedules, volunteered in classrooms, taken good care of my clients, and I most especially have done everything my sweet hubby has asked of me. Well, almost. :)

And I'm happy to do it, because this is what my life is all about! But I must admit that I do still feel like a kid around this time of year, and feel that I should be rewarded for all my good behavior!!! HAHAHAHAAAA!!! So, here is the "Wish List" of my dreams...(and no, I don't expect to get most of these, for Pete's sake! And I've been wanting to know, just who the heck is Pete, anyway?!)

Peace on Earth, of course...first and foremost.

An OSU "Block O" hat...every good fan needs one! Except I think I might like the tradional black one better...hmmmm.
And speaking of OSU fan gear, why am I the only person in my house who doesn't have a jersey? What's up with that? So Santa, I am officially asking for a ladies jersey, please. It would look really awesome with my string of buckeyes and my Block O earrings...

What else? Hmmmm....oh yeah! A new 50 mm lens for my camera...so I can take some really nice food pictures for Party in the Pantry...

And to go along with it, a set of books by Scott Kelby on digital photography. I really, really want to become a better photographer!
And just one other thing to go along with my photography theme...a book on using Photoshop Elements! Photo editing is a must anymore! And Photoshop is complicated. I need instruction!!
I would also love a brightly colored Dutch oven...doesn't have to be Le Creuset...I'm not that picky! The Lodge line is perfectly fine with me! Now to decide.
Red?Or blue?
And how about this? Just what every woman needs...A HOUSECLEANER!!!Yeah, that would be so nice!! And while she's doing all of my housework, I could relax for a bit and watch my new ...
Oh, the joy!! And maybe I could be sitting there, watching Season 5 of The Office, watching the housecleaner doing her thing, and enjoying some ice cream from Jeni's or Graeters (which I, of course, purchased with my new GIFT CARDS!!!)Thank you Santa...I love you. And I still believe!! Because if you don't believe in the spirit of Christmas, there isn't a child left inside of you, is there? Have a safe trip, Santa! I'll have the cookies waiting...


Wow, what a Christmas list! I guess I'm looking forward to Christmas much more than I thought!! What's on your Christmas list this year? Go on, get crazy...be a kid for once! What's the biggest, most awesome thing you can comprehend waking up to on Christmas morning?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Hey, Everyone!

Well, it looks like a good 2 weeks have somehow managed to slip by since my last post. I don't know how that happens...the time goes so fast, and I have so many things to say! (Just ask my family...I never shut up!)

I know it seems like my blog has taken a backseat to other things, but I assure you that is not my intention. Somehow life got crazy this summer and it hasn't slowed down yet...will it ever? Maybe I should start scheduling time in my day to blog...you know, like making time to work out. Oh wait, I don't make time for that either, hahaha...!!! First thing in the morning might work well. Hmmmm, maybe I'll give that a try! Might not wanna hold your breath, though... :)

So, what have we been up to? Well, getting things wrapped up and put to bed for the end of fall. Winter is on it's way, there's no denying it...so we've been cleaning up the yard, the flower beds, the garden, getting the chicken coop all set up with its timed lights and extra roosts and even (hopefully) some additional nesting boxes. We have 19 chickens now!!! Holy crackamoly! Sheri and I have been cooking up a storm for lots of yummy posts on Party in the Pantry...so if you still haven't checked it out, get over there! What are you waiting for??? I am making the butternut squash polenta tonight with a wild hog roast...I can hardly wait. The polenta is my new favorite dish. So easy, and such a great comfort food!!
Barry has been trying to get in as much hunting time as possible, so that means I've been having lots of evenings at home with the kids. Let's hope he and Luke each get a deer or two this year. That would really fill up our freezer and significantly reduce our grocery bill! Check him out in his gear...he really disappears in that camo, doesn't he? I'm also proud to say that since we've been burning wood in our new stove, I have become quite competent at building and maintaining a good, hot fire. Pretty proud of myself there, so I'm gonna toot my horn a little, ok? And besides the benefit of the really warm, dry, heat...there is also the smell of a woodburning fire all day...and that is what I really love! Winter is going to especially toasty this year!I'm working on Christmas ideas for the kids, since everyone's been asking...and one for myself too. Why is mine always the hardest? I don't really need anything, and most of the things I want are too expensive to ask anyone for. What I could really use is some help...help cleaning, help with flowerbeds, help babysitting...you know, just some assistance with all the things I have to get done. That would be the best thing I could ask for. And especially in this year of purging, I certainly don't need more stuff to clutter up my house. But, I'm sure I'll come up with a couple of things that I really have thought I might like throughout the year...look for that post coming soon!

I'm gearing up for some kind of holiday promotion for my office. I really need to get moving on that one...Thanksgiving is this week, and I don't even have my idea rock solid yet! But it will probably be something like last year's "Buy a 90 minute massage for yourself, and get a half hour Gift Certificate to give away!" kind of thing. Or maybe a 90 minute hot stone massage for the price of an hour... not sure yet, but like I said, I'd better get if figured out, and QUICK!

I've also been doing some online Christmas shopping, and I'm happy to say that I am very close to being finished!! My goal is to be completely done by December 1. I think I can do it! And then I would like to have the Christmas cards addressed and ready to go by Dec. 7. That is my plan! Cross your fingers for me, peeps!

There are, of course, other things I have to share...but for now, this is enough. I hope you are all doing well and getting geared up for the holiday season! It's a week to reflect on the things we are thankful for, so today I am thankful for Reggie, who gave me a kick in the pants this morning to get on here and GET BLOGGING!!! Thanks, Reg! :)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

We've been invaded!

Do you get these nasty little beetles every fall where you live??? We sure do, and this year has been especially bad. These little suckers are all over our house, inside AND out! I have to get out my shop vac every other day to go around sucking them up, and let me just tell you that they STINK! ICK!On the flip side of that is the fact that the kids have been plenty entertained with them. They spend hours hunting them, having "races" with them, and (of course) killing them, or transporting them to "ladybug heaven", i.e. the garden. That was until I told them that I didn't want those nasty beetles laying eggs in my garden...now they just get smushed. Or smashed. Or stomped on. Noah's favorite way to kill them is with a plastic hammer...he really gets a kick out of that. Must be a boy thing...
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