Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Out of Commission

I'm having rotator cuff surgery on Monday, so I will be out of the blogsphere for a while. I was able to get all the gifts I have on-hand wrapped, cards out, and decorations up. I'll do a little grocery shopping on Thursday and then I'm ready for the pain. I just hope I can watch my kids enjoy their Christmas morning.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


In addition to the holiday craziness, being a stay at home mom to the twinadoes, and starting a photography business, I was diagnosed with a torn rotator cuff last week. Something has not been right with my shoulder since the Spring, but a shot of cortisone and some PT fixed things up for a while. In the last month, it started hurting again so I had a MRI and it showed a tear. I'm not a fan of surgery, hosptials, doctors, (who is right?), but I just want this surgery to be scheduled so I can be on the road to something.

My only bright side is that this is happening in the winter and not summer, when the kids are I are ALWAYS on the go. Hopefully by then, this will just be a bad memory and I'll be able to properly lift and hug my kids.

So after the surgery consult, I'll have to start thinking of some freezer meals that the kids will eat, wrap the presents so that is done, and do anything else I might need two hands for.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Santa Fear

One of my kids is not into big characters.

Easter bunny. nope
Chick-fil-a cow. not so much.
Santa Claus. no way.

Other than the larger-than-life factor, which would be very scary for a wee kid, the whole talking to strangers thing makes it understandable. I mean, I spend lots of time walking the fine line between scaring the kids about talking to strangers, yet still being social. And then, I do something completely opposite. I take them by the hand and sit them on a strangers lap and tell them it is OK! No wonder there is confusion.

The other twinado doesn't mind at all.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Photo Cards

I know, I know. The turkey isn’t even on the table yet, but my mind is already on Christmas. As a mom of twinadoes, I’ve always got to be two steps ahead of the game!

As I mentioned previously when I asked for some ideas on what to do with my kids while I work out of the house, I have a little photography business that I’m getting off the ground. I take A LOT of pictures. Anywhere between 800-1,500 a MONTH, and those are just my kids. Just kidding, that is family and work combined.

Of course, I send photo cards.

I’ve got several designs in mind, but can’t decide.

Help! I’m liking blacks and reds this year. I already got the address labels printed and that is what they are, so I might as well go with it.

I’ve always used Shutterfly for my picture gifts and cards (I’ve SO far behind in printing actual 4 X6’s for my book though!) They have a nice selection and a fast turnaround. As a couponer, I like their specials as well.

So head on over and check it out. My favorite gifts to make are calendars and mugs. They also have many other photo gifts you can design.

Happy shopping!!!

Friday, November 19, 2010


I took a hiatus from blogging, well I didn't really mean to but life got in the way. My husband has been gone for work 3 out of the last 6 weeks and in my "free" time I have been either taking pictures or editing pictures.

First of all, my hats are off to all single parents that are both Mommy & Daddy to their kids every day. My husband doesn't usually travel so this has been an adjustment for us all. The first week he was gone, the kids reacted badly and there was an actual throw-yourself-on-the-floor meltdown. That has NEVER happened in 3 1/2 years. As quickly as that attitude came in, it went out so I am thankful for that.

The other things that is consuming my time is my job. No, I can't actually call it that, it is a passion. I LOVE to take pictures and I love that other people love the pictures I take of their loved ones. I'm learning a lot as I go. For example, what others see in a picture might not be something I see right off the bat because I don't know the subjects personality. Therefore, I never, ever delete a picture I might not think is perfect because it might have been a great capture.

Speaking of great captures, I was lucky enough to get close enough to catch this morning visitor to our deck the other day:

Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving! Please take a moment to tell those you love exactly how you feel about them!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Couponing 101

From time to time, I have friends ask about my couponing, so here is a one example of what I consider a good shop.

I enjoy couponing. It is a game for me to get free razors, rice, and toliet paper. I normally do a weekly shop at Giant Eagle that I try to keep around $50 for the week (after coupons). That includes Sal's Reagan's blueberries, bananas, and 2-3 gallons of hormone-free milk weekly. Then anything I have great coupons for that will make it free or cheap goes into the cart. If it is something I can get for free that we don't use, I get it and donate it because it still goes towards the fuel perks I WILL use.

 These shops don't include meat since I don't buy that from GE, but shop a local market for that.

Giant Eagle
Actual shelf cost: $87.10
Cost after GE card: $77.85
Cost after coupons: $53.85
Cost after rebates: $43.85
Total Savings: $43.25
50% savings! I'll take that!

Since I shop weekly, I scour the sales and stock up as necessary. About the only thing I buy, at retail price, on a weekly basis is milk and fruit. I also try to stay away from processed foods for our family, but sometimes the only thing the kids will eat for lunch is plain pizza.

This week I found a great deal in the clearance cart. Tom's of Maine Natural Toothpaste. Retail price: $2.73. It was on clearance for $1.24. I had a coupon for $1 off. There were two tubes left and I had 2 coupons.

I also like to shop the cheese section carefully. We always put a cheese board out when we entertain, so I like to have a variety on hand. At Giant Eagle, as cheese closes in on its sell by date, they stick a $1 off sticker on it. Cheese is pretty pricey these days, so even that little bit helps. Today I stumbled on small chunks of White Stilton, some with lemon zest, cranberries, or blueberries. Most of these chunks were under $3. The four that I purchased cost $2.55 total, one of them being a whopping nickel! If they don't get consumed this weekend, I'll either freeze them and use them for cooking or just make a sauce with them.

There has been a wine deal going this week as well. Casillero wines are $9.99. If you buy $20 in groceries, the catalina machine spits out a $10 rebate. Free wine. Well, postage cost minus a penny. You can do this deal as many times as you'd like, but it has to be seperate transactions. Meaning you can't buy 3 bottles if you are spending $60. The machine will only generate one, but if you want to break up your shopping or do seperate transactions, the machine will spit one out for each $20 order.

Things I stock up on when I can get them cheaply; rice, pasta, and paper products.

Things I have to keep on hand and stock up on when they are on sale: YoCrunch (only chocolate chip flavor) for Reagan. This week they were on sale 3 packs/$6. I had $1.50 GE catalina coupons and a manufacturer coupon for $.75 (doubled to $1.50), so I got all 3 packs for $3.

I might not be the best couponer out there and I know plenty of people that would have gotten all this stuff for like, $1.34 or something crazy like that, but I was pretty happy with this shopping trip.

*not pictured are thebribes donuts the kids got for being good in the Eagles Nest.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

He's Marvelous, He's Curious George

I took Grammy and the kids to Pittsburgh for an overnight this past week to meet Curious George. They have a special (ends Oct 3) exhibit at the Pittsburgh Children's Musuem (which is a kick a$$ place for kids to explore) and on Wednesday and Saturday, George himself makes an appearance.

Let me tell you.....he was the cutest thing. EVER. The twinadoes ran into his arms and just kept hugging him. Nolan would not let go! They gave him kisses and hugs, high fives, and snuggles. It took everything in me not to run up there and hug him too!

The day before the musuem, we made a stop at the Duquesne Incline. It was Grammy's first time and she was a little nervous. My sweet boy made sure to hold onto her so she wouldn't be afraid.

The kids were   a lot, wound up when we got out of the pool at the hotel and my mom could see that I needed to get away. IKEA was only 10 minutes away and I was running out to pick up dinner so a quick stop for some retail therapy was in order. I got some frames for some of my photography and a few kitchen gadgets, but the hour alone was worth a million dollars. Thanks, Mom!
a little

So that rounded out our summer of adventures and bridged the gap to fall. Stick around and see what kind of mischief we get into in the next few months.

Friday, September 17, 2010


It's been a long time since I've been to the Spillway at Pymatuning Lake. Just to give you an idea, my parents took my friend, Heidi and I, and while we were there we bought matching neon half-shirts that had "Pymatuning Lake" written like paint splatter.

Yes, it was the 80's.

Grammy was on vacation this week, so we decided to do a little road trip. I emptied the freezer of all the old bread I had been saving and loaded up the kids and their potty (can I say it one more time, potty training SUCKS) and off we went.

I have no memory of the spillway (and really only remember the shirt because there is a picture of Heidi and I wearing them), so it was like I was there for the first time too.

The Three Amigos

The twinadoes had a good time throwing their "loads" (Nolan word for "loaf") of bread and were done in about 4 minutes.

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Feeding "loads" of bread

My turn! My turn! My turn!
I decided to follow the compass on the car (mental note, add GPS to Xmas list), and explore a bit. We ended up in a little town called Linesville. Think main street USA on a smaller scale. We had lunch at an awesome little place called Rebecca's and then hit a couple of shops before heading out.

Coloring at Rebecca's. One of the few times he is not smiling is when he is concentrating.

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I love this girl with all my heart.

The Main Street USA thing

We took mainly back roads home and ended up in familiar territory which happened to be near the wineries. After a stop at a roadside fruit market, I decided my mom and I deserved a glass of wine. I know Debonne has lots of open space for little ones to burn off energy PLUS they have a brewery so I knew I could bring Daddy home a treat. It was more like dinner since I wasn't home to cook, but I didn't hear him complaining!
The roadside market happened to have a John Deere. Nolan asked the man, "why is your John Deere H He knows all the models) hiding in the corn?"
We got our wine and got comfy outside while the kids put on a tumbling show on the outdoor stage. We were the only people outside, so it was quiet and we could hear the music that was being piped inside. <> 
Ladies & Gentlemen, the Tumbling Twinadoes!

Now, call me kooky (as I'm sure my husband will), but approximately how many songs have there been made from 1944-2000? Millions, right? As my mom and I were sitting there enjoying the lovely fall day and the kids were having a rager, my Dad's favorite song came on. Well, one of his favorites, he had 5 that I know he LOVED.

I don't see this as a coinicidence. 

I like to think that somewhere in the heavens and through fate, that song played for us. I think it was my Dad's way of letting us know he was with us, just like he was when he took me to Pymatuning so many years ago.

<>  <> 
Is that you, Dad?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Peer Influence

In the last couple of weeks my kids were around other kids that were mouthy, didn't listen to their parents, and were just mean-spirited.

Now my kids are exhibiting those behaviors.

The last week has been pretty rough.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Labor Day

Hard to believe it's the wind-down to summer already! We were just getting started. My favorite (and the twinadoes by default) holiday is coming up: Halloween! Our October is packed with fun stuff to do at the Metroparks, libraries, and within the community.

We are having some adventures this weekend, so stay tuned. The crowd pleasure will be the special seats at the airshow. We had these tickets last year and it was better than awesome!!! Can't wait to be up close and personal (with a new camera lens) again this year.

Be safe out there, whatever you do.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Thursday, August 26, 2010

How To Juggle This?

It has become apparent that people other than me (and my family) like the photographs I take. I'll tell you, I love doing it. A couple of weeks ago, I did an informal shoot with two beautiful 8 month olds and after rolling around on the grass for an hour, I got in the car and called my BFF and told her I finally found something work-wise that made me happy.

So, I've decided to pursue this passion and try to make others happy with beautiful, casual images and make a little money at it.

My to juggle this with two three year olds and their ever-growing schedule of activities? Evenings & weekends are not usually a problem because my husband is very good about giving me time. It's the weekday daytimes that I am thinking about. I can't book them in daycare since it would be sporadic. The neighborhood girls are back in school.

How do you parents do it when you work "out of the house" and need time to work when your partner is not available?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Decade

A decade.

Ten years.
1,200 months.
3,652 days.
520 Saturdays.

10 years ago, the day started off wonderful. Our friends, Bev & Chris got married. The reception, an afternoon affair where Bill was the DJ, was a lot of fun. The party then moved to the hotel where all the out of town guests were staying. In between the reception and the after party, I went over to my parents house to see my Dad. He was miserable. His legs were swollen beyond belief. Cancer had overtaken his body and he could no longer fight. My mom told me she was finally ready to contact Hospice for help.

It was time.

He was trying to rest in the spare room bed, but was very uncomfortable. I leaned in and kissed him goodbye and told him I loved him, as I always did. His voice, barely a whisper, replied, “I know you do, kid.” I laughed and said, “Of course of you.”

I went to the after party, but my heart wasn’t in it, so we headed home. Shortly after 11pm, the phone rang and I was out of bed throwing on shoes before I even said hello.

I knew the time had come.

I don’t remember anything about the drive to my parents house. I don’t know if I drove or if Bill did. I don’t know which roads we took. I know when we pulled in the driveway, I jumped out before the car was turned off.

The next couple of hours were a blur. I think my half-sisters, mom, and Aunt Eleanor held hands and said a prayer. A few of my moms friends came over. Bill and I left shortly after the funeral home came and picked him up.

I do remember the drive home. We took Lakeshore Blvd; about a 15 minute drive. It was well after 3am and all the traffic lights were blinking yellow. Just before we got to the intersection to turn onto our street there was a Walgreens drug store driveway with a stop light. As we approached, the light turned red. We stopped. Out of no-where a large bird walked in front of the car. The light turned green. Bill edged forward. The bird would not move. It looked right at me. I can remember the chills. I know I said, “That’s my Dad.” The light turned red again. The bird looked at me again and flew away.

There have now been ten August 19th’s . I dread each one just as much as the previous year. This day is the hardest. It sucks. The memories are close and the pain is as raw as it was ten years ago. Tears come quick.

The kids and I will go to the cemetery with my mom. My son, my sweet boy, who’s middle name is George after his Grandad, will brush the grass and dirt from the grave as he does whenever he visits. It makes my mom cry even more when he does that. Then he will take my mom’s hand when she tells him it is time to say a prayer. He will say the only one he knows aloud…..”Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. May the angels watch me through the night, and keep me in their blessed sight.”

I know my kids have an angel watching over them through the night, every night.

I miss you Dad. There is a huge hole in our family without you.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

We Have A Winner

I wrote a little essay for the library writing contest this summer. It won 2nd place. I can't wait to head to Bremec's Garden Center and spend my winnings!

I also won two photo contests this summer.

One for the Great Lakes Medieval Faire.

The other for the Lake Farmpark.

But the best part is that I have people interested in paying me to take pictures! Woo hoo. Maybe, I will finally get paid for doing something I love so much. I feel like I found what I want to do, now I just have to make it happen.

Nothing boosts your self-esteem like a little positive feedback!!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Gone Campin'

The twinadoes are going to their first ever day-camp at the Farmpark. It should be interesting. The adore the farmpark and can't wait to see their friend, Vicky the cow and her baby, Unity.

The kids have even told me that this time they WILL milk the cow. The last two times we've gone up to do it, they have backed out at the last minute. Not one to let an opportunity go by, I DID milk the cow. A first for me!

I know the day-camp is full, but there is no reason you still can't enjoy the Farmpark. A true gem in the Metroparks system.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Monday, July 19, 2010

Mommy Tip Monday

So, I've taken a little time off from blogging this summer. It has been a busy one. The twinadoes have weekly story times, swim lessons, and various other social dates. Their calendar is more packed than mine!

We took a little road trip and headed to Columbus to visit COSI. There was a special exhibit of John Deere equipment and my boy LOVES all things Deere, so we loaded up and headed South.

The kids love water as much as I do, so we were sure to book a hotel with a pool. When I shop the clearance at the end of the season (or at the dollar store) I always buy a couple of extra sets of water wings, rings, and beach balls and pack them away in our travel bag. The kids couldn't touch bottom in the shallowest part of the hotel pool so the rings were a lifesaver.

Monday, July 12, 2010

I'll Fly Away

Another beautiful summer week is in the books.

Summer is just flying by.

Speaking of flying we headed to the airshow at Lost Nation Airport for the Gathering of Eagles XIV. Bill and I have gone to this event many times. He even took a ride in the Yankee Lady, a B-17 (bucket list) a few years before we were married with lots of other "responsibilities."  We took the kids when they were just over a year old so Daddy and Uncle Sam could introduce them to one of their passions; military aircraft. It is safe to say that we plan to make this a bi-yearly (because it only comes around every other year) tradition.

We arrived at the airshow and were quickly joined by Uncle John, Aunt Jan, Uncle Sam, & Aunt Deb. Again, 6 on 2 is the best ratio for twinado safety at events like this! It also allows me a little time to take pictures, something I can't really think about when I've got to keep one eye on a Whirling Dervish.

I say it all the time, but the twinadoes are SO SO SO SO lucky to have these four people in their lives. They have cared about them since the day we knew they existed when they were just 4 week in utero-even before that really, they have watched them grow from their first breath, and they are the people (besides Mommy, Daddy, & Grandmas) that the kids love most in this world. They know they are safe with them and better yet, I know they are safe with them.

After the airshow, we all retired to our backyard for some lunch, pool time, and margaritas. Lunch eventually turned into dinner and then a feature of Clifford's Really Big Movie.

It was an unexpected day of awesomeness. Sitting around with friends, a margarita in hand, watching planes fly over our house while the kids bopped around in the pool. No deck work, no housework, no errands.

A mini vacation in our own backyard.

We should do that more often!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Gathering of Eagles Air Show

If you are in Lake County this weekend, you need to head over to Lost Nation airport for the airshow. We went in 2008 and the twinadoes didn't really get it, but their Daddy and Uncle Sam had fun showing them around the planes.

Just something fun to put on your calendar for the weekend.

Check out the details.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Monday, June 28, 2010

Mommy Had A Mexican Break

It was over in the blink of an eye.

I am SO glad to have finally gotten a break from life as a stay-at-home mom. Arriving around 4pm on Day 1 and leaving for the airport at 8:15a on day 4, only leaves 48 to decompress, ramp up for some beverages, relax, shop for mexican wrestling masks, eat, drink, eat, drink, swim, eat, drink, drink, ride a bull, drink, and, well, drink. After losing yourself in infertility, pregnancy, infancy, formula, diapers, toddlerhood, and potty training for 5 years I was on the fast track to making every second count though!

I had the best sister-in-crime in Jan. We've never been together longer than an afternoon/evening and never really been just the two for us for any length of time. That did not matter. I haven't talked, listened, and laughed so much as I did in those 4 days. I think we traveled well together and just went with the flow (well, except for when we got stuck in the elevator on the morning of our last day. I went into panic mode and pushed every button 16 times, picked up the non-working phone 3 times, and held the alarm for what seemed like an hour before I pried open the doors and saw that we were only about 6 inches down from where we started!)

We took drunken cab rides into town (twice) to buy Mexican wrestling masks for our hubbies, we hung out in the water despite the red flags being up, we swayed in hammocks, we made friends with a bartender named Elder- but by the 2nd drink he was "Papi" to us, we rode a mechanical bull, we were told we were "the best wives" by several guys who wanted the wrestling masks, and we drank an awful lot of pina colada with bacardi anejo floaters.

We decided the only way the trip would have been better is if the hubbies and twinadoes were there (on the other side of resort hanging at the kiddie pool, but that way we could still see them :)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Contest Winners

Sorry, I didn't close the contest on the 20th, but things got crazy around here with my Grandpa's funeral.

The winners are Dave W and Coleen R.

Please let me know the best way for me to get your prize to you and I'll work it out when I return from vacation.


Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Reservation at the Heavenly Inn

We laid my Grandpa to rest on Monday. It was a very nice send off and I think he would have been happy with it.

My Mom & Uncle Bob gave eulogies and I've been thinking about my Uncle Bob's every since.

My Grandpa loved to eat. He would sneak away from my Grandma at family outings and shove as much food in as he could. She would realize he was gone and would yell, "Harry, where are you and what are you eating?!" He'd always come around the corner, mouth half-full mumbling "Nothing" and have three or four cookies sticking out of his pocket. It was very hard to see him waste away to nothing since he developed esophagus pouches several years ago and could not swallow, but I digress.

In Uncle Bob's eulogy, he said he'd like to imagine that the first thing Grandpa did when he got to heaven was to make a reservation at the finest restaurant, the Heavenly Inn, for 27 people; himself and everyone in his family that has gone before him. He named names and recounted a little fact about each person and why they were important enough to be at that table.

What a mental image that is. All those people gathering around one table again. Happy to see one another and talking about what has happened on earth since they left! The food is plentiful, the drink flowing, and the laughs continuous.

It has me thinking about who would be at my table when it is my turn to make that reservation, but that is another post for another day.

Who will be at your table?

Friday, June 18, 2010


Sorry I haven't posted this week.

My Grandpa passed away on Monday and the week seems to have gotten away from me.

We've have been debating how to handle the wake/funeral with the kids. We read a bunch of sites and I talked to the kids the other morning about it since they asked me why Grammy was sad. We talked about how Papa is not breathing anymore and his heart is not beating and that he is up in heaven and we can't see him anymore. Nolan asked if Papa was holding Chandler, our cat who left us in December.

I've been very careful to not tell them his is sleeping or resting. I don't need them to worry about going to bed at night. Reagan is already showing a fear of the dark and needed to go to bed with a flashlight the other night.

I asked them if they wanted to see Papa one last time and say a final goodbye. They both said yes, so we will see how that goes.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010