We left California and Moved to Georgia. Seriously.

This is one of those stories where I could start by saying; “If you’d told me a year ago that I’d be leaving California and would move to Georgia I’d say you were crazy!”

As one of life’s little ironies, I see that my long ago prior post was written just after we’d moved. As the title reveals, we moved again. Though not at all the intent when we bought our second California home just a little over two years ago, many things played into this momentous (and believe me, it was momentous!) decision. I’ll be writing about some of them in upcoming posts.

Here’s a little backstory. Over the course of many years, the hubby and I have done some serious research on many states in an effort to answer the question; “Was there any other area in any other state that we would like as much as the area we lived in, in our home state of California?”  When we thought about it and looked into numerous states the answer always came back “No.”  There were many reasons this was the case; schools, housing, weather, cost of living, crime, trees and lifestyle. When you factor all those things in, it seemed that every state we considered always fell short and a move didn't make sense. If we found a beautiful area with trees and great schools we’d find the cost of living was even higher than where we already lived. If we found a great area for low crime, good schools and a lower cost of living, it would be under a blanket of snow for months. Although there were things we didn’t like in California, (the high cost of living being one of them) we’d always come to the conclusion that there just wasn’t another place we felt we’d be as happy overall. We still continued the search though since without any local (or even within a few hours driving distance) family members on either side for us, we realized there was really nothing holding us in California if we could in fact find some place we liked as well.

Flashback to last summer. I was having a coffee date with one of my favorite mommy friends when we had a discussion about various states in the country and I shared with her the above sentiments. She said; “What about Georgia?” My first thought was pretty much; “I don’t think so.” All the stereotypical things you might think of (particularly if you've never been here) when you think of “the South” were going through my mind and I just couldn’t imagine it. As we talked, she shared with me the aspects of the suburban areas north of Atlanta from having visited family members who moved here (also from CA) who love it. It sounded an awful lot like where we were living. It was really sounding like it had all the things that were important to us and with a lower cost of living, which is the biggest negative of living in any of the nice areas of California. The humidity issue came up, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that we hardly had ideal summer weather where we were either. There were many days of triple digits and frankly, hot and miserable is hot and miserable, the air conditioning cools you the same and you stay in.

I couldn’t wait for the hubby to get home from work that day so I could tell him all about what I’d learned and share with him the homes I’d already looked at online. Within a few weeks, the hubby and I were on a plane to Atlanta, Georgia. The story goes, I knew before the plane hit the ground. As I looked out over the green land below me I was overcome with emotion and absolutely knew it was meant to be home. The time we spent looking around the area, seeing various homes with a realtor and realizing what our life could be like in this state cemented this in my mind.

Our California home hit the market 6 weeks later and the only reason it wasn't sooner was because we had to fix up a few things first. The Real estate process was all the usual drama and stress you’d expect when selling a home. It took a while and we had a few offers and a couple cancellations before finally selling. The months involved in this process allowed us to research even further our decision to make this move. It got to the point that when we rehashed all the reasons regarding both why we wanted to leave California and why we wanted to move to Georgia that when it came down to it, the “test question” was; “Would we still make the move if we were to, say, win the lottery and have all the money in the world to afford a higher cost of living and all the expenses related to remaining in our home state?” The answer was a resounding “Yes.” That coupled with no family to get together with was enough for us to realize there were no longer enough reasons to remain in California and to feel assured that this was absolutely the right decision. And here’s where life is so ironic; when we think about the various matters that led to this decision, (and you could definitely say many were negative), it really turns out in the end that those things were actually “blessings in disguise” because they led us to a decision that we otherwise would not have made. Sometimes the things in life that bring us down; finances, disconnected and disinterested family members and various other circumstances, while certainly negative at the time, can actually be occurring for a greater purpose and one that ultimately brings about very positive changes. Sometimes when we don’t have the things we want, we get the things we never even knew we wanted. This is exactly what we feel happened. And I am both amused and delighted by that irony. 

Now that the Dust has Settled...

So, we moved. After 15 years in the same place we finally up-rooted and bought another home. We experienced all the challenges, calamities and overall trauma assorted with a move that one might expect from such a venture.

Where shall I start? Well, many years ago when the hubby and I got married, he sold his home, aka the bachelor pad and moved into the home I already owned since that made the most sense. We of course wanted to be able to buy a home together, but at the time we decided to stay put. We had a baby (nine and a half months after getting married) and then the housing market crashed. We felt lucky to even have a home and not be among those who were “upside down” in it.  After weathering that years long storm, we decided to make some improvements and do some updating. We’d already done quite a bit over the years; you all recall when we added the pantry. We had beautiful hardwood floors put in years prior and we finally painted. Then there was what to do about the kitchen; nothing could change the size, but we quickly figured out that simply painting the cabinets, adding hardware and replacing the appliances pretty much made it look like a new kitchen. With the help of a savvy local real estate agent we priced it at the top of the market, expecting to get that due to its condition and special features (large lot, many upgrades, etc.) We had no trouble finding a buyer; the only trouble we did have was finding another home to buy!

As we looked for the home right for us, our buyer’s wisely hung on (as was the plan since we would only sell if/when we could find a replacement home.) We saw at least 100 homes in the year we looked actively and dozens during the 3 ½ months our home was actually on the market. There were a few we’d considered, one we very nearly bought before my intuition told me to back out (which will forever be known as the one in which we dodged a huge bullet!) Then it hit; right after the New Year, huge price drop, we darted over the next day, made an offer and asked for a response in 24 hrs. It was accepted and a very fast 30 days later we were moving.

The move was all the usual fun you’d expect it to be after a decade+ of stuff is attempted to be shoved into boxes. It took two moving trucks, more than a dozen separate trips with various vehicles and a huge portable storage container (POD-like thing). It also took 3 ½ days. The half day was an unexpected little “surprise” since we ended up with some incredibly unreasonable buyers who, after we’d paid to have our home professionally cleaned for them and left them several items of value (touch up paint, extra roof and counter tiles, gardening items, a garden bench, decorative lights [attached to grapevine arbor] and a good garden hose attached with a hose-mobile) actually had the audacity to tell us to come get them! Basically, every little outside thing that wasn’t nailed down (& a few that were that they yanked up) they decided to call “debris” and insist it be removed. Our realtor attempted to explain that anything they really didn’t want could simply be left curbside and the city would pick it up for free. That was not acceptable to them, so the hubby and the big kid had to drive over after work and school on a Monday and remove all the “offending” items. They ended up donating many good items to our local charity, so I’m sure they were at least delighted to get them! I could go on about my feelings about the buyer’s behavior, but I’ll put a lid on it for now. Thank heavens it’s over and done with.

About the new house; after you’ve seen a hundred+ homes, you get a really good idea of what you do and do not want. We had a few criteria in mind; we were looking for a home in a particular area (not far from our previous town) and in particular neighborhoods. It had to be enough larger than our current home to give us the space we needed and have the features we wanted to make the move worth it. We were specifically looking for a larger kitchen, a bonus room and a pool. We also wanted a large lot and LOTS of trees; a major requirement. Yes, we were picky. Finding all this in a home in our price range that wasn’t in terrible condition (most short sales were) was challenging. When we’d find a home that had the inside we wanted, the outside would be barren of trees (neighbors could look right into the back yard) or be in an area that was not where the best schools were. When we’d find something in the right neighborhood with a great back yard, the house layout would be odd or the kitchen would be as small as the one we already had. We got to the point where we'd pared down our list to what we wanted most and what could go and at one point even considered giving up either the pool or the game room or both.  Once we’d knocked off so many features from the list that it seemed like all we’d be getting was the town we wanted and maybe a couple hundred square feet of space we’d began to wonder if it was really worth it. We were pretty much at the point of resigning ourselves to stay put in our current home when, wouldn’t you know it, this home came up. It had a layout we liked, all the space we wanted, the features we’d wanted and the only thing that was somewhat of a negative was that the front is quite generic, not to the point of being totally ugly, but certainly not pretty either! We decided a less than stunning outside front was nothing compared to getting all the rest of everything else!

We do have work to do and have done quite a bit already, but everything we’d like to do will take time and money and we figure we’ll just have to do it as we can. For now, we feel lucky to have moved; we’re delighted with our neighborhood and our neighbors and have already been invited to numerous social events. We feel very fortunate to have been able to make this move possible because it sure wasn't easy. It took a lot of creative financing and belt tightening to make it work and thankfully having equity in our prior home and selling for top dollar made it possible. It was one of those “now or never” situations with the market increasing and we felt very sure the time was right as long as the right home came up. We’re very glad it did!

Stay tuned for more home adventures….we’re got lots of home improvement projects I’ll be sharing with you in the blog, as well as on Pinterest. And where there are home improvement projects there's hilarity!


Valentine's Day Gone Awry

I thought I would share with you my comical Valentine's Day mishap.

I’d been planning for some time a special little surprise for my hubby for Valentine’s Day. I had gathered several themed decorations and bought some of his favorite treats with the idea that the day before I would go to his office once he left work and decorate his workspace to the hilt so he would be surprised when he walked into work on Valentine’s Day. I had emailed his office weeks ago to inform them that I would be coming in the day before to decorate his cubicle.
The additional challenge in all this was our recent move. I knew it would be hard to actually find all this stuff in a jungle of boxes in our new home, so I’d cleverly hidden all the décor items in my car and put the treats in a duffel bag that I kept track of during the moving chaos. (More on the move later.)

In order to execute this plan,  after picking up the little guy from school yesterday I had to drive him up to the college, wait for his big brother to get out of class and hand him off so the two boys could head home together and I could be free to work unhindered by the little guy.
Establishing an “alibi” for myself by telling the hubby I would be doing some afternoon shopping with a friend, I waited in my car near his office for him to leave work. Once our family locator map app had shown he had left the office and was across town, I was in the clear and drove over to his office. No visitor parking was available, so I parked in the back forty and got the items out of the back of the car. With big red bag in hand, I headed across the parking lot towards the front door of his office building. Then, off in the distance I saw it….his car! And worse yet, he was sitting in it! In a moment of sheer panic I froze and attempted to hide behind a bush. The next thing I know, my phone rings and it’s the hubby. I tried to act casual and then came the words; “I just saw you walking across my parking lot…..ummm, should I maybe not have seen you?”  As you can imagine, things only went downhill from there. My surprise was blown.

I did however make it known that I wanted “full credit” for this!
I love you Honey! Happy Valentine’s Day! 
*Photo depicts what it would have looked like in his cubicle.

Raw Honesty Complete with a little Bitching

As I was thinking about what to write about after some time of not writing, it hit me. I’ll write about why I haven’t been writing.

For some time I’d been rather disappointed, to put it mildly, that readership was down and that opportunities for reviews and other programs were dwindling to nothing. I’d brought this to the attention of the powers that be and even pointed out that there’d been some review campaigns I was very well qualified for, but yet I never seemed to be chosen to participate. This added to my discouragement and my scaling back on writing. Since I was already disheartened by this, imagine my surprise and dismay to one day be told that my blog’s ad stream participation was being cancelled. Apparently, due to my writing less, BlogHer decided to remove me from the publishing network (with no advance warning.) Though I am technically still a member of BlogHer and display their tune-in bar across my site, I no longer have the ad strip running alongside as I did for years.

So let me explain why this bothers me, beyond the obvious reasons. I’d already been making it known that I’d certainly like more review opportunities and yet was getting less and less. I’d also had my blog posts featured less and less. I’d taken survey opportunities as well as other opportunities to let BlogHer know that I felt that as a network of and for women bloggers (which I think is great, by the way) I’d certainly like to see more help in the area of boosting up the “little bloggers” instead of just focusing on the “big” ones. I’d mentioned that some sort of network effort to point out and promote “The Best Blogs you’re not yet reading” type of campaign would be very helpful to members. Of course, nothing ever came of this and in a “kick me when I’m already down” move, I was taken off the publishing network. Yes, I am complaining. Yes, I’m also aware that BlogHer may simply remove me altogether for doing so, and if that is what they feel they’d like to do I won’t argue. I simply can’t stress about it. But I find it very unfortunate that, similar to other injustices in life, apparently even with this blogging network it is all a popularity contest and if you aren’t one of the biggest, best, most popular you’re simply out of luck. It’s equally unfortunate that the rules are not required to be followed by those who are popular since it’s been noted by many others that some bloggers are allowed to break the rules (such as having comments open on their blogs) simply because they are “popular.” So, it’s ok for a “famous” blogger to deny readers the ability to comment, but for those of us not-so-famous, when we don’t follow the rules or write less we’re taken off the network. Really not cool.

In general (not just in blogging), I’m not one to be “popular” and I’m ok with that. I’ve made my peace with it now. In high school I didn’t smoke cigarettes or pot and so I wasn’t “popular”. In my first real job, I didn’t hang out with the “in” crowd or have the latest fashions…so I was not popular. In fact, when it came time for a promotion which I was well qualified for, I was passed over and guess who it went to? The popular girl. I’ve always been a non-conformist and definitely march to the beat of my own drum. I’ve never been one to go along with the masses and I believe in speaking up for what I believe in (qualities that made me a great Mormon…not!) It does irritate me that so many things in life come down to a popularity contest; whoever has the most money or the loudest voice or is just plain popular. I guess the “little blogger” in me feels like I need to stand up for all the little guys and little gals in life. I just wish more people would look beyond the popularity.

the “little blogger” who could

From Speech Delay to Hilarious YouTube Video

Hello people, it’s been a while. I promise you’ll find it worth the wait when you get a look at what I have for you today.

So, this summer the Teenager has been keeping himself entertained with various YouTube videos when he’s not working one of two jobs or hanging out with friends. The little guy stumbled upon his brother watching this amusingly goofy video of a popular YouTube sensation, Danny, who creates numerous videos on his show the "Gradual Report”. When little guy began imitating him, copying the entire video nearly word for word and capturing his dead-on tone and mannerisms we did what anyone would do; grabbed the video camera and started filming. It was so hilarious we’ve been cracking up ever since he started this a couple months ago. As readers of SAHM: Surviving Assorted Home Mayhem are already aware, little guy was once considered severely speech delayed and in speech therapy from age 17 mos. to nearly age 4 when he entered mainstream Kindergarten which he recently completed.

The original video is entitled “The History of the the Whoopie Cushion” and as if the whoopie cushion itself wasn’t already funny, the delivery and story behind it, as told by Danny, is hilarious. You need to watch his video first and then watch little guy’s own version below it. Enjoy!

Well, isn’t that Special?

Yeah, that was a pretty misleading title for those of you who’ve followed my series of “Special Reader” posts. Because this post is not about my very Special Reader who I know has been wondering why on earth she’s not seen a post from me in so long! Did I stop blogging, become incapacitated or maybe even kick the bucket? No, I’m still around!  So onto the topic of this post….

A few months ago, after over a year of chugging along quite pathetically, my laptop died. Completely dead, wouldn’t turn on, dead as a doornail. I feared some of my documents that hadn’t recently been backed up were gone. The hubby decided to enlist the help of a computer nerd friend who was able to retrieve the data off the fried hard drive and transfer it to an external hard drive, so at least I still had all my files.
Then I began using a borrowed, teeny tiny little toy-like computer. I’m pretty sure it was made by Fisher Price. For one thing it was super slow, apparently due to the fact that it was only a single something or other instead of a dual something or other. The keyboard was so small it was not conducive to typing at all. The screen was so small that in order to see anything on the Internet I’d had to do some little mouse over hover maneuver to get to the bar and scroll, essentially only seeing part of the image at one time. That is when I was actually successful at the awkward mouse over maneuver which was quite a trick; sometimes the elusive scroll bar would appear, sometimes it wouldn’t and even when it did, you had to be fast and hit it just right. Those were some fun times. But again, it was pretty much a toy.

So back to my laptop. The hubby decided that since his friend told him the hard drive was dead that he’d just buy a new hard drive, install it and resurrect my poor old laptop. It was a  good idea in theory, but  completely ignored the fact that the other persistent problems I’ve been having with this thing for years had nothing to do with the hard drive. I have some special issue with my keyboard that causes my text to suddenly just shoot up and over a couple lines. So writing is ridiculous. In addition, since my computer has been brought back from the dead it’s developed a couple new, extra-special features. Email will suddenly shut down with no notice. And now the Internet, no matter what browser I use, will decide to seize up and stop working right in the middle of something. So now my computer is “alive” and I can use it as long as I don’t have to email, look at the Internet or type anything.

Conversations with little guy: Easter edition

During a discussion about The Easter bunny and what he might bring little guy in his Easter basket the following took place;

LG: I can't wait to see what stuff the Easter Bunny will bring me!

Me: Yeah, I bet he'll bring you some good stuff!

LG: Well, I hope he doesn't bring me something shooty.

Fearing LG might have heard some unfortunate language & somehow have come up with his own rendition of a popular naughty word I asked....

Me: What do you mean by shooty?

LG: You know, like guns...things that shoot.

After the amusement wore off, I was pretty proud of him for this!

Also, the next time something bad happens, I think I may just have to say; "That's pretty shooty!"

Mischief, Mayhem and March

It’s getting frightfully close to Spring.  I say frightful because the list of projects we’ve got going on around here is daunting and I’d hoped to be further along. Spring always seems to sneak up on me and catch me unprepared. Speaking of which, I’m still plugging along with my weight loss and can happily report that after being the Queen of “down a pound- up a pound” I’ve steadily lost for a month now. Even though I will not quite hit my big birthday goal of “144 by 44” (that’s 144 lbs by age 44, not my hip measurements or anything) I will hit it this year…and I’ll be 44 all year, so that still counts, right?

And now for a little dose of the mayhem…behold the latest in my series of;
"Don't Get Mad, Get the Camera!"

Note the long string of dental floss strewn across the counter and …what’s that? Is it actually stuck to the wall by a bar of soap? Why yes, it is. Now either little guy, aka; “I didn’t do it” is having some trouble owning up to his misdeeds or his brother is actually setting the scene to frame him. Frankly, either is likely.

Kids say the darndest things

It’s always entertaining to hear what kind of comment your kid is going to come out with. We even get entertaining quips from the Teenager as well. Here for your amusement are a few of the latest comments.

Little Guy, thinking Valentine's day is similar to Christmas and Easter asks; "Will Cupid leave a present for me when I wake up in the morning?"

During December:
As if the hubby wasn't already feeling old, Little guy asked him if he remembered when Jesus was born.

Quote from a Kindergartner:
"Hopscotch is a very dangerous game if you're a worm"

Not being able to recall the actual names of a couple of stores his parents love, little guy just came up with an amusing 'combo' name; "Crate and Barn"
Little guy counting in Spanish;  
"uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco, squash"

While preparing to give little guy a haircut, he gives me these instructions;
"Just a little off the sides and don't make me look older."

The college kid realized that with an early morning class it might be a good idea to drink a cup of coffee on the way to school. After his first day doing this his comment to me was:  

"Wow, the coffee really helped! I stayed awake for the whole class!"

What I'm doing differently this year

So, it’s a new year. Already. I have a very positive feeling about this year and honestly think some pretty great things are going to occur. I feel like various steps I took in 2011 (otherwise known as one of the crappiest years ever in my world) are paving the way to a more positive 2012. I’ve definitely got some goals for this year. I wouldn’t so much call them resolutions, though I guess it’s roughly the same thing…I think I just like “goals” better.

Since getting in enough exercise is always a goal, here’s an update about that running thing that I keep threatening to actually do (more than once in a blue moon). Taking advantage of the Teenager’s time off between semesters he and I went out running this morning during little guy’s school day. We did a new route I’d previously mapped out for walking and though I intended to do walking with spurts of running the Teenager, quite the drill sergeant, insisted I run the whole thing. This particular route is nearly 3.6 miles which is more than I’ve run on a regular, non-race run, so I am pretty happy about it. Of course I had a hard time keeping up with my 19 year old son and would have had a better chance with little guy (well, maybe) but nevertheless I ran it and am glad I did.

It’s been suggested that perhaps running is just not my thing, and while I agree that could be possible, I am not ready to come to that conclusion just yet. You see, I know I’ve not been pushing myself. I tend to shy away from difficult things and that’s something I want to change. I think in my late thirties until now I decided that I’d dealt with enough difficult crap to fill a lifetime and instead have chosen to take the “easy path”. Whether that be in exercise, eating, house up-keep or even relationships, I’ve just taken the easy way even if it wasn’t good for me or fair to me. Well, I’m done with that now. I’m kicking it into high gear as far as things in life that are difficult but worth it. That means doing things like running a little harder, making the extra effort to cook a little better, and even removing myself from relationships that aren't healthy and positive and making and nurturing ones that are. (Disclaimer: just so readers don't read into that last statement anything regarding marriage, all is well on that front so that is not a statement to suggest any changes in that area!)

Speaking of exercise, I’ve been doing Yoga now along with other cardio and strength videos. The other day when the Hubby and I did our workout (& he did the yoga video for the first time) I was amazed at the things I could do. It was even better when a complicated move would come up and I’d hear the Hubby say; “You’ve got to be kidding me!”

Yep, it’s going to be a great year.

OLD Home Movies & Ghosts of Christmas Past

For many years I’ve been delaying doing something I really wanted to do; transferring my very old, well okay, archaic, 8mm movies to DVD. I recall first looking into the transferring process back when it would have been put on VHS. It was very expensive, especially when you have reels upon reels of the stuff. So, it was one of those things that had to be put on a backburner because I could never justify the cost. It’s gone down some over the years, but last time I checked several years back it still seemed like for the amount of film I had it would just be too steep and after all, we did still have an old movie projector that worked. Even though it was more than a pain to operate, we’d haul it out every so many years and show some movies. 

When my mom was here over Thanksgiving we attempted to fire up the old projector and show some of these priceless films only to discover the old projector had given up. The hubby convinced me to check into transferring again making the point that some of the films were already forty *cough* years old! Over time the film degrades and once it’s gone, it’s gone, so being something so irreplaceable I decided to just get it done. To my delight, it actually was not nearly as costly as I’d feared. 

The first batch came back and the DVD was filled with Christmases, birthdays and other events of me beginning at around age 2. I teared up when I saw long, lost relatives; my maternal grandparents, aunts and uncles, and even my father, all gone now but there they were on the screen. It was really awesome.
So I’d like to share a little clip with you.

Of course there was no sound back then (something that seems so odd to us today!) but I am so thankful to even have just the video. Those happy family moments are very much cherished. As I continue to make my own happy moments now within my family, I realize just how precious they are. I could write a lengthy and rather sobering post about issues regarding family members who don’t bother to keep in touch or put a priority on getting together or who are just plain unkind. But I won’t go into that because it’s not worth it. As both the hubby and I have learned, particularly with regard to family, you cannot change the way people choose to act towards you, you can only choose how you react to it. As much as it’s painful when some family behave as though they simply “don’t care”, just as with any negative in life, whether it’s a habit, a situation, or even a relationship, you simply have to remove yourself from it. Life is far too short for negativity regardless of where or who it’s coming from.

So as I see these old home movies, I remember the joy and cherish the memories with fondness. And I choose to keep that joy within me and share it with all those who are close to me and who truly have my heart.

Enjoy the Holidays MORE by doing LESS

It would be great to see people just enjoying the holidays instead of actually being stressed and worried about them. At Christmas, as well as other times, we get too caught up in having it all and doing it all, not to mention buying it all.

As a Professional Organizer, I've encouraged people to use simplification, organization and economy as the rule of thumb as opposed to the excess, complication and expense that is so often encouraged today.

A general rule: "if it’s stressful instead of joyful, either find a way to simplify it or eliminate it."

Instead of spending all your spare time baking, decorating and shopping, pare things down to the point you are comfortable with.


Take notice of any decorations you find you don’t use this year & haven’t used in the past; maybe they are too much trouble to put up or you simply have enough other decorations, but whatever the reason, consider getting rid of them and simplifying your holiday decor.

Then, put everything away in an organized manner after the holidays this year, & make things easier next year.  Use cord wraps to store lights, use divided ornament boxes to house all your ornaments safely, and store all your wrap and bows in a wrap box.


Pare it down: instead of baking several kinds of cookies, bake your very favorite 2-3.

TIP: Put all your favorite holiday recipes in one place, separate from the rest, so you can easily get them out each year without having to rummage through several cookbooks or recipe boxes


Avoid the holiday rush, stress and crowds by taking advantage of buying gifts on-line. Shop throughout the year when you see things that catch your eye as the perfect gift for someone on your list, and combined with on-line shopping you can be done before most people even start their holiday shopping.

TIP:  Make lists of not only those you buy gifts for, but what you think they might want or the item you intend to get for them. This will help you keep track as you shop.


Consider giving useful, & unique gifts to be used and enjoyed rather than giving “things”.

For example, Gift Certificates for:
  • special services (massage, pedicure, etc.)
  • restaurants or coffee houses 
These are always enjoyed and appreciated, where a knick-knack or trinket you pick up at a gift store may not only not be someone’s taste, but end up adding to their accumulation of clutter.

Homemade gifts:
  • various food items
  • a certificate for a free night of babysitting or a car wash
  • an audio or video recording of a parent, grandparent or any family member reminiscing about the past or telling funny stories 
When you simplify some of the more hectic & stressful aspects of the holidays you can concentrate on enjoying your favorite parts and maybe you’ll find you actually have the time to leisurely wrap your gifts by the fire while sipping eggnog when you aren’t running around at the last second shopping, baking and putting up an abundance of decorations.


November is a busy month for us crammed with lots of events.

First off, we have our anniversary. The hubby and I took a little trip to Wine country and enjoyed a nice dinner out. It was one of the best Italian meals I’ve had in a while complete with dessert. The hubby had Crème Brule and I had Tiramisu.

photoNormally, we’d get something and share it, however their desserts looked too delicious not to each have our own.  The hubby also pointed out that apparently I am not very good about sharing dessert. As he so bluntly puts it; “Even when you say you’ll share dessert.”  Okay, maybe he’s right.


The middle of month is Teenager’s birthday. He’s 19 this year, so I guess it’s officially his last teenage year. That’s so hard to believe.


He chose to have a gathering with all of his friends that entailed them bringing over their computers, one of them bringing his entire desktop set up, hooking them all up to a network and playing computer games. Yeah, I don’t understand it either. At first I thought he was kidding me. No, this is what he wanted to do, he told us. So we ordered pizza for them and a got a good photo of this geek fest before getting out of the way. It was like an episode of “The Big Bang Theory” right in our family room.


Lastly, of course, is Thanksgiving and my parents were here to celebrate with us. It was nice to all get together and have a family holiday. Thanksgiving is always over too soon for me and as much as I love Christmas I wish I could just string out the Fall season with all the Fall décor a little longer before turning it over to Christmas. I’ve held onto my Fairytale pumpkins though, figuring they are more “Christmassy” than the standard orange ones that the hubby says have to go.

As is our family tradition, we head up the hill to cut our Christmas tree after Thanksgiving. DSC06650


This year it was so sunny that I couldn’t get a good shot of us all; the looks on the kid’s faces because of the sun cracks me up!


Now begins the whirlwind of Christmas decorating, parties, etc. In the middle of all the holiday chaos I am trying to focus on just enjoying my family and friends and being happy and content with life. Good things to do and remember this time of year and all year through. I have the perfect picture to end this post as it’s great symbolism for the simple, happy things in life.


Another YouTube Sensation

When you have a kid like little guy, the entertainment pretty much never stops. We knew at a very young age he was musically inclined as he was very receptive to his music therapy.  We’ve recently discovered he can also bust out some impressive dance moves! We find it hilarious that he adds his own personal flair to his routines and his specialty move appears to be the “bum wiggle”. When you combine all that with wearing jammies, the incorporation of his brother’s skateboard and then put it all together with a popular song, it makes for one entertaining video.  So here you go.

Teenage Wit and Wisdom

Parents of teenagers are all too familiar with how difficult they are to get up in the morning. Especially boys who don’t have a lengthy “getting ready” routine to complete before leaving the house.

This morning, after several mornings in a row of not hearing Teenager’s alarm go off, I headed into his room and hollered at him that it was way past time to get up.

At breakfast I decided I needed to get to the bottom of why he hasn’t been getting up on time and using his alarm so I asked sarcastically if it wasn’t working. He responded that he has in fact been using his alarm and it works quite well. Every morning, he says, my “alarm” marches into my room and hollers at me that it’s time to get up. He then went on to state that he could either; A) set an alarm that may or may not go off in the morning or B) rely on one that always does.

Yes, he’ll have to learn to get up on his own one day, but wow, it’s hard to argue with that logic! I have no doubt that he’s going to do great things in life.

Home Made Fragrant Foaming Hand Soap

One of our favorite money saving strategies combined with our desire to use products that are as natural as possible is making our own foaming hand soap. My recipe for this has evolved over time as I’ve played around with it. I’ve now come up with what I think is a pretty awesome strategy that is very adaptable.

 Little guy walked by and insisted on being in the photo. So I had him do the "Vanna White" thing.

First, you simply need to have a foaming soap pump. I’ve collected several of these over the years and always aim for getting the nicest looking ones (since what’s inside doesn’t matter much when I’m going to be making my own).  I’ve found some great ones in colors and styles that I like and that go with our rooms and décor as well as some cute ones for kids. I avoid the “cheap-y” looking ones with the wrap around plastic label and aim for those with a color and a label I can remove. If you want a basic clear one, the Method brand is nice looking and a good shape.

I use a non-scented, pure castile soap from Dr. Bronner’s. This is the “baby mild” version as it has no scent. We buy a gallon of this stuff at a time for the best price and this is the same soap we’ve used as baby bath for the little guy over the years. I’ve also found an unscented version from Seattle Organics which I discovered at my local Grocery outlet for about 1/3 the regular price. Either of these work well.

The soap is easily and naturally scented by using essential oils. Although your initial investment in a few of these oils may seem like a lot, you’ll use them for a very long time and for various uses. When we started doing this, we already had a good sized collection of essential oils so we never had to actually buy any for this purpose. I’ve used lavender, grapefruit and peppermint the most. One of my favorite scents, which I generally have in the guest bathroom is Vanilla Mint, accomplished by using a few drops of peppermint and a few drops of vanilla extract. It smells wonderful!

You’ll need to play around a bit with the quantities as it will depend on the size of your soap container and strength of the liquid soap, but generally speaking you want to squirt about an inch or so of soap in the bottom of the container, then add a few drops or more of the essential oil and fill the rest with water. It’s as easy as that! You’ll know if you’ve not used enough soap because it will simply not feel very “soapy” and instead will feel too thin to clean, even though it's foamy. You’ll know if you used too much soap if it is difficult to pump out of the dispenser. 

As I was setting up the items to photograph the hubby came by and asked what I was doing. I said I was writing a blog post about how we make our own hand soap. His response; “We make our own hand soap?”

Let me know if you try this and how you like it. Happy soap making!

My Unique “Dear Photograph”

Little Guy has one of those motorized vehicles, a yellow Jeep, that he received several months ago and loves driving it around the back yard. Ironically, the Teenager, back when he was Little Guy’s age actually had the same Jeep in red. It occurred to me that I had a photo of Teenager driving his Jeep in the backyard circa 1998. I thought it would be a fun to take a photo of LG in his Jeep in a similar position as the old photo of a then young Teenager in his in the very same backyard. Not to mention the irony in the fact that back when Teenager rode around in his red Jeep he gave his Winnie the Pooh a ride; the very same Pooh that I kept and passed on to LG.

As I was forming this idea in my mind, I heard about the new website Dear Photograph where you take a picture of the present at the same time as holding a picture from the past. I thought my idea would be a unique take on this and pretty special considering my situation of having two sons, nearly fourteen years apart with one now in college and the other in Kindergarten. It makes it even more nostalgic when you add in the very same backyard and the same stuffed bear and the kid from the past in the present photo all grown up. Surprisingly, the folks at Dear Photograph have not yet posted my photo. I don’t know if they just haven’t gotten to it yet but they are clearly missing out on a great photo to post to their site. I don’t want my readers to miss it, so I’m going to share it here with all of you.