Thursday, January 30, 2014

Turning Twelve

Dominic I cannot believe that you are 12 now. The years are flying by! You are growing up to be a handsome, smart, fun, enthusiastic young man.

To celebrate your big day, we invited our friends and family to the local bowling alley. It was a big hit with everyone from the age of 2 on up.

First up was a game of bowling and munching on popcorn. I am pretty sure that we never even finished an entire game between the 15 kids and few adults playing. But it was fun and energy was released by all! So, it was a good thing. 

After an hour of bowling, it was time to eat pizza and sing happy birthday! The kids enjoyed their pizza and cake. I made a bowling ball cake and a bowling pin cake this year. They turned out pretty good!

Soon it was time to open presents and bowl until it was time to go. Dominic loved all his gifts and he is saving for some pretty big ticket items! (I am proud that he can now save money, he used to spend it as soon as he got it, heh)

Thank you to all of our family and friends who ventured out in the cruddy snowy weather to celebrate with us. We appreciate it and love you all!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Getting in the groove of 2014

2014 is in full swing, already a week into the new year!

What we have been up to:
*I made a meal plan for 2 months, shopping lists and our to-do list for projects around the house. I still need to make a plan for organizing our closet better in the hallway and our kitchen cabinets.
*I figured out the kids fall preschool schedule but was a bit bummed when it came to transportation help.
*Dom has his first basketball game this Saturday, he is so excited!
*Trying to plan Dom's birthday party. Trying to decide on spending a few hundred dollars bowling or having 2 parties here that are laid back.
*Fixed our 5 year plan (which we were a year into but it is still only 4 more years) for the better. Now we are trying to decide on building on here in 3 years or buying new in 4 years. (why can't these decisions just be easy?!)
*All of last year I had a case of the sadness, loneliness, helplessness and feelings of why things have to be so hard for our family all the time. This year I am trying to be completely positive about everything. (I am sure there will be days where positivity is just not there) Seeing things on paper helps, hence my complete life of spreadsheets and organization, keeps me in tune with everything.
*Gary and I like to give back. We have been not living up to our potential in that area in the last few years, aside from donating $, toys etc. It was something about having 2 more kids, buying a house and remodeling the heck out of it, Gary taking on 2 new positions in his company...that kept us from having the energy and drive to give back to those we adore. He came up with the idea of having some of our friends drop their kids off here and letting them go on a date night with their spouse! And so we are doing just that.
*I purchased the first few prizes for my sister's wedding shower. This weekend we are doing some of the planning. This is getting very real!
*We have planned a week off in March to finish our bathroom remodel & finish Charlie's big girl room.
*We planned our vacation and will be booking the hotels soonish. We are going to a new beach again in New Jersey. Drive out early Monday morning and stay there till Friday morning. Drive to Sesame Place Friday and go there Fri/Sat. Drive home Saturday afternoon/evening. The kids are so excited. Charlie is a true beach babe and asks constantly to go to the beach. Her and Logan also ask if we are going to see Elmo again a lot!
*We organized, donated a ton of toys and re-did both kids rooms, including closets. They are spotless and it is wonderful. Now I wish my kids liked organization and cleanliness as much as Gary and I do!

We have been busy in the first few days of 2014! 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

New Years Rockin Eve Party

For the past several years, we have spent New Years Eve with our friends. It started out as a very low key get together of just us and Amber's family. We used to switch off and on for hosting. Some times we would even fall asleep for a little bit before midnight, heh. As the years went by, more and more friends started to join in on the fun.

Last year we started wearing pajamas either to the party or changed after we arrived. There is always a lot of food (walking tacos, pizza roll ups, chips, cookies) and great company. Gary and I did not end up leaving until 2:30am!

Check out this group.... Photo taken by Stef and a tripod!
We were missing a few people and hopefully they can all attend next year. The tradition of hanging out with the friends is the best. They are who get us through the bad times, push us to good times and enjoy our company along the way!

Welcome 2014, you are going to be a Great Year!

Friday, January 3, 2014

New Year Goals

New Year New You
New Year New Goals
New Year New Challenges
New Year New Everything?!

If you have been around this blog for awhile, you know that I am not much on making resolutions. I think that means that you were doing something wrong and you need to right it. I am just not okay with that! I believe in goals. 

Goals for 2014
* Get more one on one time with child
* More time for just Gary and I
* More time for just ME
* Finding new ways to save $
* Opening another account for savings
* Finish the bathroom
* Finish up C's room
* Get our house re-appraised 
* Finalize plans for re-doing the hard wood and remodeling the kitchen
* 401 accounts being updated
* Walk more, then start the couch to 5k (again)
* Continue to get rid of all things un-needed
* Lay boards down in the attic and move all storage up there
* Get even more organized 

What are your goals for the new year?

Let's Get Organized

I am an organizational freak. So is my husband. We really do make the perfect pair of nut balls!

I thought it would be nice to share some of the things that keep us organized. I know that a lot of people have resolutions or goals to become more organized this year and if I can help just one hard working Mom get things in order in their house, then my goal of being helpful is achieved!

We have things color coded. We have spreadsheets. We have bins and baskets and drawers of where things should be. We want things to be easy to find and accessible because we work a lot and hard. The last thing that I want to have on my mind all the time is where is ______ ? Or what should we do for dinner? Or the worst thing, we need ______ but we already spent our entire budget! (Disclaimer that it does happen, even when you are organized. Things come up! So please do not think that I am wonder woman of organizing things and that nothing bad ever happens because MAN it does.)

Here is an example of a spreadsheet that we use to know how much debt we have and when it will be paid off. (loans, credit cards) (disclaimer this is not our actual bills, I made up the debt!)
The first column is where the money is coming from. The second one is the bill. The third is the amount owed. The fourth is the date of pay off. The fifth is what was being paid on monthly prior to paying it off. The sixth is the amount of money a month that is now extra income. The seventh is the total amount of debt owed when the spreadsheet was made.

Here is an example of a monthly bill spreadsheet (again, did not use our actual bills or our actual income!)

After you get your bills all squared away, you can then start to organize your menu's/shopping lists.
I make a calendar for each month and write down what we are having. I usually try to do one left over night and one breakfast for dinner night a week to keep costs lower. I also try to keep meals that lap over fresh veggies in the same 2 week span so that we do not waste. A whole sale store is a great way to save money and to stock up on things that are needed for an entire month (toilet paper etc) You can also research Amazon to see if having these items shipped to your house on subscribe and save might be the way to go.
After making the monthly menu, I would write out shopping lists for every week/every other week. (depending on how you do your shopping) I also have a list of items that we always have to buy (tp, napkins, paper towel, juices, milk, water etc) I combine the two lists into one but separate them out into the stores that we purchase them at. You do not need to know the prices, however, I know a lot of what we buy because my kids like the eat the same things. (cheese sticks for lunch etc)

So there you have it.....these are my go to things to keep me organized. If you have anything that helps you, please comment and leave a link to your site. I would love to get some new ideas that would help our family!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Elf on the Shelf - Garland's last weeks

Garland has gone back the north pole and the kids were pretty sad about that. Let's see what he was up to before he headed back, shall we?!

Just hanging out on the mantle with a note to be good
Hung out in the tree
Made snow angels in the flour we used to make cookies
Got thirsty and drank some syrup
Got tired and took a nap in the Kleenex box
Lifted weights on the tv stand
Was a bit cold so put on some gloves in the tree
Made some new friends and read them a book
Had to go to the elf hospital since Charlie touched him

His last day with us, Christmas Eve, he left a treat and a gift for the kids!

I am excited for Garland to come back in December!

Naughty or Nice - Here comes the man in the red suit!

We had an AMAZING Christmas this year! Usually something happens and a kid is getting yelled at or someone melts down in a puddle of crabbiness on the floor. This year was simply wonderful!

We give our kids Christmas Pjs to open on Christmas Eve. Every. Single. Year. It is a tradition that I LOVE! And I think my kids love it too.

These 3 are the best.

We started out on Christmas Eve at my Aunt's house. We have always spent this night with my Dad's side of the family. Although we were missing a few family members, we had a great time catching up with people we only see a couple times a year.

The next generation of cousins

We did not get home until after 1 am! The little ones had fallen asleep in the car and we sent Dom to the bathroom and bed as soon as we arrived home so that Santa could make his appearance!
The kids had their trying periods this past year but they did receive their wish lists!

The boys were the first to wake up at a little before 8am. They came in and woke us up and had to wake up Charlie. This smile tells it all!  They were so excited to see that Santa had come! They were sad when they realized that Garland had gone back to the North Pole, though.

Santa and Garland had left a little reminder for each of them to behave. Reindeer poop in a baggie!

Dominic is now at the age of wanting mostly clothes and shoes and no real toys were asked for. *sob* He is growing up!

Even our furry family member gets presents / stocking!

After the kids finished opening all of their gifts, we got ready to head to my Moms for lunch and gifts from her and my brother/sister/brother in law. My kids are truly loved and it shows!

Don't you love all of her lipstick all over her face?!

This is the BEST picture. She loves Bella.

The only gift that Dom did not get from Santa that he asked for was beats headphones but uncle Sam made his day!

My Mom bought Dom a pellet riffle and his face was pure surprise and joy!
 When we were done opening gifts, the rest of my Mom's family arrived. We had an awesome Christmas dinner and opened gifts again. The kids love playing with their cousin Ethan.

Soon it was time to pack up the car and head home to unload/let the dog out. We actually had to leave almost a whole SUV worth of stuff behind for the next day because we could not fit everything. The Barbie Dream House that my Mom got Charlie was huge!

Then it was time to head over to Gary's aunt and uncles house for dessert and gifts with his side of the family. It was nice catching up with out of state family that we only get to see once every year or two! The kids enjoyed playing with cousins and we had a crazy funny game done by Mimi and Granddad.

It was the perfect day and I could not have asked for anything better!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday. Merry Christmas from my family to yours!