Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas Day in Pictures

Our Christmas Tree with the presents all taken out of the basement where the kids didn't even know they were and placed here, we didn't place anything out until that morning.  Couple of things to mention...first Austin walked out and exclaimed much to my dismay and to Joe's excitement that Santa IS real (though she believes he delivers the presents that her family sends her in the mail...hey it's her story and she's sticking to it).  And I wouldn't let Joe wrap the presents that were shipped nor did I want the boxes opened before hand.  After Christmas and talking with him about this I think I may be the only person that feels this way but, I didn't have Christmas so obviously I never saw a tree with presents under it other than in movies and I also didn't used to get packages in the mail.  Except for one...once a year because my Grandma hated the fact that we didn't celebrate holidays she would send my brother and I a box each with crumpled up one dollar bills in it...usually totaling thirty bucks or so.  Tadd and I would just light up seeing the box, our names were written on it and we didn't know how you would get a package from Grandma's house to ours but we knew she took time and effort to do so.  We would open it and smooth out each dollar bill and count and re-count them all day.  (Those people with little kids reading me, one day your kids will receive this exact same present because I loved it)  So I wanted the girls to feel something like I did, the boxes that were shipped from all over the place with their name(s) on it are such a big deal to me maybe I can pass that down to them.
 Pepper the Cat and Little Miss Tyler Mae sharing her blanket Mr. Stinky.  She waiting patiently...while Joe and I were up well before dawn, we told them that they had to wait until Adam and Heather were awake to open anything.
 The girls stockings, which by the way they still haven't opened. Perhaps we'll do that tonight.
 Why Hello Kuma..tight fit between the table and the couch now a days for that big beast.
 Heather (Adam's girlfriend) got the girls these beautiful necklaces because they are always trying to wear her's which I remind her is a bad idea if she actually likes her necklace.
 Oh my word...these purses were amazing and the girls can't get over how great they are.
 Right up until they opened it and realized that there was lip gloss in it.  Joe HATES anything like this, lip gloss, chap stick, lipstick and at this point in the morning with his girls covered in shinny sparkly stickiness...I have officially become even with the whole Santa is real comment.

Now fast forward to the afternoon when the rest of the family came over.  Here are the boys Joe, Chris and Dane attempting to keep the kids in order without actually sitting with them.
 Papa, Adam and Heather trying to stay out of the way.
 You can't even see several of the kids that are buried in the presents, it was insane.

 Oh Nate...always a good time.  And you can see my very first building in my Christmas Village...oh my goodness I am still so excited.  I have always wanted one, thank you so much Marmee and Poppa.
 Sunni and Brad doing dishes after the feast.
 Uncle Chris reading to the girls about their new Stuffies from Grandma.  Notice the beautiful Christmas outfits from Aunt Ann and Uncle Ernie.
 Miss Heather and baby Hannah...she was our youngest this year.

I saved this picture for last, obviously no one is really looking at me so it's not a great portrait...except the sign in the back "Families Are Forever".  I couldn't agree with this sign more and I also believe that all families look very different.  Take for instance our Christmas this year.

Joe the girls and I.  Adam, who Joe grew up with and now lives with us and his girlfriend Heather.  My Mom and her husband George with his son Dane.  My brother Tadd and his girlfriend (yep Tadd actually uses the "G" word with this one) Carri and her sister Sunni.  George's daughter Amanda with her husband Larry their two daughters Liberty and Karson and his daughter Alexis.  Amanda's first husband Chris, his wife Heather their daughter Hannah and Amanda and Chris' son Morgan along with Heather's brother Brad.  And last but certainly not least Nate who both Adam and Joe grew up with.  Not sure if anyone was keeping count or not but that was 23 guests for Christmas...which goes back to the Families are Forever, I actually don't care if you get a divorce and re-marry...I still want to see everyone and once a year I think we can make that happen.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

TV Commercial

There are a lot of new commercials this time of year, I know the stores are doing their final pushes for the end of the year sales but by far the best new commercial I have seen is this one below.  Perhaps it's because I didn't have Christmas growing up that all I really love about the holiday is the chaos, the food and the family.  Santa still creeps me out but the images of the cousins playing together warm my heart.  Enjoy!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Broken Heart

So I drove to the Safe House yesterday to drop off the toys that we collected from our toy drive, the case worker that I work with got caught up in a crisis and was running late which in turn made me late the rest of the day.  Including but not limited to Austin's Christmas party.  Sigh...I was 7 minutes late.  Guess what the first 7 minutes of Austin's party were...her first ever play.  Yep, missed the whole thing.  Tried...still trying...not to just cry and remind myself that there will be a lot of plays and it wasn't like I didn't try really hard to be there.

Here's the clip (thanks to Joe who was luckily on time) of Austin's acting debut.

Fast forward a bit and you can watch me walk in with Goose. :-(

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


I can't believe how fast December is flying by.  Holy smokes! Christmas is right around the corner and we are hosting this year.  I am super excited as always to be the host and have been creating the menu in my head for some time now.  We will have (if everyone can make it) close to 30 people here for dinner and games.  The boys won the Thanksgiving Trivial Pursuit game so the girls will have to step it up for what ever game we play that night.

 Here's some pictures of our happenings.

Kuma continues to get shock there, since he eats like a little horse.

We have a double front door now so I couldn't resist making two wreaths this year, I think they turned out well.

We had our annual Friends Thanksgiving Toy Drive this weekend.  Wow, what a success!  I lost count at 80 toys and these aren't just simple toys or all the same types of things.  There are all so different and so amazing, I can't wait to bring them to the Safe House on Thursday.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

End of the month

November 26 - Today I am thankful for Joe, I could have dated or married a lot of different types of personalities but at the end of every day when we put the kids down I am so thankful that we like to hang out together.  Moving more into the country I could see how it would lonely very quickly if I didn't have someone to laugh with.  And most of the time he at least pretends to listen to my rants about daily news and happenings. :-)

November 27 - Today I am thankful that I am a light sleeper and can get up and down in the middle of the night without too many negative side effects.  Austin spent the night coughing, so I spent the night getting her water and cough drops and checking on her.  Joe has never taken the night shift but usually takes the morning shift so we work it out nicely, but if I were a deep sleeper I could see how it would be extremely hard to rarely have a full nights sleep.

November 28 - IT'S HERE!!!! My favorite time of year!!!!! I LOVE my family - my Mom and I got into some wine and pretty much fixed the world before Joe so kindly drove me home.  My parents have always taken in the stragglers too, which is probably where I get it Dane brought his new girlfriend, Tadd brought Carri, and of course Nate and we brought Adam and Heather...oh yeah and Kuma. :-)  From a quick count that is a total of at least 8 last names at one dinner table.  A kaleidoscope of family fun.

November 29 - I will do this one day early because I am doing the next one early too - Today I am thankful for Small Business Saturday, we did our yearly tradition and went to Manitou ate at The Keg and shopped to support small businesses.

November 30 - Today I am thankful for our friends helping me with a fantastic surprise birthday gift to Joe.  We took him to an indoor snowboard park and I have not seen him that happy in a long time.

The girls loved the trampolines at the snowboard park.

That blurry figure jumping into the air pit is Papa (George)...someone hasn't told him that he's 62. ;-)

Kelley getting ready to slide down the GIANT hill.

Dave taking his snowboard off the fake snow hill into the pit.

And we have been getting snow, the girls and the dogs love it!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Ooops - Missed a few days...

November 22 - Today I am thankful for a precious Thank You card that I got in the mail from Monica.  Our mailbox was filled with less than good news that day and I was super happy to get her card and remind myself how small and magnificent the world is.

November 23 - Today I am thankful for the hoar frost.  I never really knew what it was until this weekend but holy smokes it might be one of the most beautiful things in the world.  Just a blanket of white everywhere.

November 24 - Today I am thankful for warm fires, it has been cold and snowy here and we have been enjoying a fire in the living room and one in the garage pretty much every night.

November 25 - Today I am thankful for my washer and dryer, I do a minimum of a load of laundry a day and could not even fathom if I had to do that all by hand.  I have ran three loads today alone and I still have a couple that I would like to do if I get time.

Cute pictures...

The above mentioned hoar frost.  The pictures don't do it justice's just simply amazing.

Kuma and Austin are rarely not hanging out together.
 Here's the troops marching through the snow this afternoon.
 Look who's ears are starting to stand up!

Thursday, November 21, 2013


November 20 - Today I am thankful for beer, things have been stressful around here but after a few beers at least Joe and I can laugh for a bit.

November 21 - Today I am thankful for homemade Play Doh.  I kept Austin out of school today because her cough kept her and I up last night, so I thought it would be best to keep her home especially since it's in the single digits outside and snowing.  The girls have been having a good time playing and what not but I decided to make a batch of homemade Play Doh....AKA bribery.  To get the playroom cleaned up.  Guess what, playroom is clean and the girls had fun with their play doh.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Weekend Thanks

November 17 - Today I am thankful for heavy duty cough drops.  I had a baby shower to go to on Saturday and since the inevitable cold is going around our family currently, I sounded like a jazz singer and it took everything in me to not cough all over everyone.  Oh and did I mention this was not a traditional baby shower, but rather High Tea at the Miramount I was extremely thankful for the extra strength, numb your throat and kill your cough candies I was piling through.

November 18 - Today I am thankful for my Mom.  Like most people I am thankful for her as "just" my Mother but she also wears many hats for us.  Our only real babysitter around here, my confidant (one that I talk to everyday on the phone), accountant, real estate broker and last but certainly not least our tax preparer.  I realized how fortunate we were to have her on our side during the house buying process and could not imagine not having her here for the audit.  So not only am I thankful that she is MY Mom, but I am also thankful that her personality has made her be the jack of all trades that she currently is.  

November 19 - Today I am thankful for my patience.  While I may not be able to hold it together at all times, I have a generally calm personality...perhaps I started off with more craziness and have calmed down over the years.  This my friends is what I wish on my daughters...the ability to grow into calmness.  Currently Austin is in a full global melt down, in fact I think I just heard her puke on herself...didn't slow her down one bit.  Perhaps I was like this as a child, or maybe Joe was (I assure you both of our Mom's would have selective amnesia on this one...hell I don't want to remember it already)...but either way I am hoping that she learns how to harness that energy.

Saturday, November 16, 2013


November 16 -  Today (and everyday) I am thankful that we as a family are honest.  Going through this IRS audit and the numerous inquiries at the state level for our business I am glad to know that I can always look everyone in the eye.  If there is a wrong number it is simply a mistake and not something that was ever covered up or anything like that.  I can't imagine trying to fall asleep each night if I was always scared that I was going to get caught in a lie.

Cute picture for the day...Big Sister Austin "reading" to Goose, BD and of course Kuma. :-D

Friday, November 15, 2013


November 15 - Today I am thankful for laughter...take for instance when logged into Joe's security cameras look what I saw today.  Joe takes Kuma to work about once a week which helps with his socialization skills while he is still little and not scary and truly heals people's hearts while they are in there.  So I asked Joe what he does while he is there...Joe said he lays on the floor and people step over him.  I laughed and he said, no I am serious he just lays there.  I took this snapshot of Joe's shop today to illustrate just that.  Now keep in mind currently inside the shop there are 4 patients, 3 employees and Joe.  Apparently Kuma is less than worried about people being around.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


November 14 -  Today I am thankful for my Sequoia, while I know to most people it is just a car and to some it is a gas guzzling waste of me it is safety.  Today while driving to pick up Austin from school a car was passing another car and happened to be in my lane.  I would never wish for a head on collision but I have to say, if there was anyway to walk away from the wreck the Sequoia gets me one step closer to doing just that.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


November 13 -  Today I am thankful for my doubt.  I believe my ability to questions things has made me a better person.  From when the girls are sick to foreign polices I love to read and question everything that I read.  Which explains why when Austin was first sick I spent a good hour looking up and listening to Croup coughs on the internet. ;-)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


November 12 - Today I am thankful for Pinterest, and while it is probably more appropriate to be thankful for the technology that brings me's easier to say simply one website.  I have long vented about the stresses that I feel having to come up with something to eat for my family every's a hard job and one that I take seriously so having something like a pin board where I can go and just browse pictures really helps me a lot.  Take tonight for instance...I had several ideas as to what meat I would like to use and then I was able to search until I found something that looked good and used what I have on hand.


Mediterranean Langostino Pasta

Monday, November 11, 2013


November 10 - Today I am thankful for being "the Mom" and my girls having a Mom and a Dad.  Both girls are sick and in a somewhat rare occasion they are both sick with two different things, which hopefully won't lead to switching the diseases.  Austin has what sounds like kennel cough and Tyler spent the evening throwing up on me.  I haven't had more than 10 minutes of sleep but nights like last night always make me think about kids around the world who don't have someone to tell them that it's ok when they are sick, now that truly breaks my heart.  And last night it was wonderful to have someone laying in bed that I could wake up and ask to go get the other kid and rescue her from the mess.

November 11 - Today I am thankful for the Veteran's that have served, are serving and will serve.  My life is amazing and I owe a great deal to those that stand ground so I can pursue my dreams.

Saturday, November 9, 2013


November 9 - Today I am thankful for Ty, not only have we been through a lot in our 11 years but he makes me feel safe.  Take for instance today...there is a man on the loose in Black Forest after three home invasions, two people have died and one is injured.  It's a comforting feeling to be able to pull in the dogs, specifically Ty who will lay by my side and will alert me if he hears anything.  While I listen to the police scanner and wait for them to find him.

Friday, November 8, 2013


November 8 - Today I am thankful that it is Friday.  Our society tends to make a big deal out of Fridays whether you like to or not...but for the first time in a long time Fridays mean that we don't have to rush to school and to the store and back to school.  So today I am thankful for a completely non rushed day, one that I think Austin who has been complaining about a headache all day truly needed.  I had forgotten about the impending sicknesses that were sure to happen by sending a kid to school, I suppose here we go...into winter/cold season.

Thursday, November 7, 2013


November 7 - Today I am thankful for Kuma, or perhaps I should say Kuma's breeding line.  I don't believe wholeheartedly in the old saying that there are no bad dogs only bad owners.  I believe that all animals are as susceptible as humans are for varying diseases including mental illness.  I think a dog just like a human can be taught bad traits or that they will learn to defend themselves if need be but also that sometimes there is a chemical imbalance that will cause aggression.  From what I have seen from Kuma, he has one of the most laid back and loving personalities I have ever seen in a puppy and I completely love that.

Here he is sitting with one of his girls just after his bath.  I have given him at least a bath a week since we got him and all he does is stand there in the water in the whining, no nothing.  Just a super good boy.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Hot Showers

November 6 - Today I am thankful for hot showers.  We hosted a poker tournament last night and while I totally won (YAY!) I managed to...hold on to your shorts for this one...stay up a little too late and drink about a beer too many.  So it came as no shock this morning when a two year old showed up at my bed side complaining of being "hungy" that I felt a bit groggy.  One long, hot shower later I am happy to report that I feel much better and am over $100 richer. Yahoo!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Voting & Goose

November 5 - Today I am thankful for the right and privilege to vote along with a two year that is well behaved enough to bring to the polls without worrying about what will happen.  We dropped Austin off at school and went down to vote for two sets of increased taxes.  While I am sure to lose at least one of those increases if not both, I love that I was able to choose Yes/For.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Radiant Heat

November 4 - Today I am thankful for our floors.  It's cold outside and I don't like to wear socks without shoes so I am immensely happy about the warmth of the house including the tile.

And a cute picture to throw in to - I love what happens when children go up with animals I believe that both sides learn so much from each other.  Like here's Tyler teaching Kuma how to write. :-D

Sunday, November 3, 2013


November 3 - Today I am thankful for my brother, some how or another we have both become "foodies" so when he hit me up yesterday to invite us over to share in a 9 pound prime rib we jumped on it and will bring along scalloped potatoes and a salted caramel pumpkin cake.  I think the only people more excited than Tadd and I are the girls, they LOVE going over to Uncle Wells' house of course it doesn't hurt that he has a swing set. ;-)

Saturday, November 2, 2013

November - Thanks

Wow, did the year fly by.  It's already November and I just remembered so I can start my 30 days of Thanks!  As I have always said, Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday so any way that I can showcase that, I am all in.

November 1 - Today I am thankful that I picked someone to have children with that wants to be an active Dad in their lives.  I know this is not true for many of my friends and I couldn't be happier with the way things are going with our family.  Look at this amazing father and his two daughters in the tent that he set up in their playroom.

November 2 - Today I am thankful that I did all of those years of volunteering at TESSA before becoming a Mom.  I posted the video below on my Facebook because I think a lot of parents forget how much we mean to our children even with our shortcomings.  I was very fortunate to meet a young lady that taught me all of this before I had kids of my own.  We were talking about things that scare us and an 8 year old little girl stated that the dark scared her.  I agreed that the dark scares me too and she went into a story that I will never forget.  Her mother was a drug addict who would prostitute for money, when her clients would come by the hotel room where they lived her Mom would always make her sit in the cupboard in the bathroom with the lights off until everything was done and then she would come and get her.  Here's the truly amazing part about children though, she didn't judge her mother or think less of her...she looked at her like a super hero, one that always showed up to turn the lights on and take her away from the scariness of the world.  That day I realized that no matter what I did, my kids would love me and through my weaknesses and faults all I had to do was be their light.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Austin's First School Party

Here's pictures from Austin's first school party.  Too cute!

They went door to door throughout the district building (which is connected to the preschool) and everyone gave out fun little prizes.
 Then Goose and her shared their snacks or should I say Princess Anna and Princess Sofia.

 There was craft time making pumpkins and ghosts, or like my children think...playing with glue time.
 A little bit of Goose being a goose.

Playing Catch Up

It seems that all I do is play catch up these days.  Austin's school is a 25 minute drive one way from our home and when I first thought about it, it didn't seem that bad.  But now that we are almost through week two I can say that some days I am at a dead sprint all day and never catch up.  I am trying to harness my inner super powers and not get frustrated but it sure is hard.  I have raised the girls since birth at home without much of a schedule and have worked from home for over 7 years with the same flexibility, but now twice a day I have to be somewhere early waiting outside the door...a very different world indeed.  Austin sure does love it though which brings the sane part of my brain back off the ledge.

The cats managed to catch this specimen and leave it for us on the garage stairs, of course as fate would have it they didn't kill it so Joe got to walk it around the house and let the girls play with it.  I ran in sheer terror and begged Joe not to throw it at me, who then exasperatedly stated again and again that he wouldn't "throw" it at me.

We went to our friend's Halloween party this last weekend, we have managed to never miss one of their parties even though we leave much earlier now with the girls.  Here's a snap of some of the people at the party and the girls in their witch costumes.

We bought pumpkins for carving over a week ago but as stated previously have run out of time.  I finally sat down last night and carved all four so they didn't go to waste while Joe had to work late.  Aren't those "Hello Meow's" cute?  And as it turns out, carving your name in a pumpkin is much harder than I had anticipated.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Proud moment...

I totally forgot to post about the proud moment that we had as parents.  So Austin was officially accepted into school on Monday with a start day of Tuesday, didn't give us much time but Joe and I wanted to make it extra special for her.  We were planning a fancy lunch out and then a shopping trip.  Well I got paged from my new team (I'll get into that in a minute) so I had to head home with the girls but we agreed to go back out for the shopping trip.  You know, new clothes, back pack...the whole nine.  When we told Austin about this idea, she looked at us like we were from outer space.  Shrugged her shoulders and said "Well I already have clothes, so why would I need more?"  And then Joe followed up with, yeah but let's get you a back pack and stuff?  She shrugged again and said I have a couple back packs in the playroom, I can just use one of those.  She ran off playing with her sister and didn't think a second mind to it.  Joe and I both agreed this is exactly what we would have wanted to teach her and if we pushed it this time we would end up being the parents that have to throw the elaborate sweet sixteen parties in the future.  It made us pretty proud in the midst of the turmoil that was yesterday.

My new team - We got reorganized at work, which happens a lot.  I was originally moved from one director to another but kept the same boss.  And then was moved again last week from my boss, who I have worked with/trained for seven years.  She knows pretty much nothing of what I do but can assign anything to me and I get it done.  She was there when I was pregnant, knows that I work from home (though I am not "supposed" to), knows that I have two little girls at home with me at all times.  And completely leaves me alone other than the yearly review where she praises me for being amazing.  That's my kind of boss.  Well I got transferred to a guy that I used to work with years ago and in the first day I was involved in several calls that lasted hours while I threatened the girls, dogs and fish to be quiet.  When we went to get off the phone his last words were, Crystal we are super excited to work with you again and look forward to hearing your voice everyday.  Blink...blink...blink.  You guys talk on the phone everyday?!?!?!  Hmmm, a little different than my old boss that I NEVER spoke to.  My world became slightly more stressful.  And then three days into working for said team, I was approached about upcoming layoffs and asked if I wanted to volunteer or roll the dice to see if I get picked.  I have never been exempt from layoffs, but I also knew that my boss had my back...which is why I was safe for so long.  It was the first time that I actually debated on taking the layoff package and just being done with it, but instead with a giant smile I told them no thank you.  Now when I moved teams, like I said my boss knows nothing of what I do...which is kept her servers, databases and websites up and what did I do?  I took ownership of all of those items to my new team and am now getting the...and lets not sugar coat this, because I was transferred to a team of people that do exactly what I do...shit jobs from the new team too.  My work load will be at least double, I haven't left the house since I was transferred without being paged asking where I am and if I can hurry back, my pay stays the same and last but certainly not least I am now the low man on the totem pole to be laid off.  Again...sigh.

We had a tropical vacation in the planning stages for just after Thanksgiving and then of course Indiana for Christmas.  All of which have been canceled since I may or may not be job hunting. :-(  What a bummer.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Austin's First day of Preschool

So we got a call from the school district late last week that stated that there was a spot open in one of their preschools.  Unfortunately it is not the preschool that is one mile up the road but rather a 25 minute drive one way.  Blah.  For someone that works from home, taking two hours off everyday to drive back and forth really stinks, luckily and hopefully Joe will be able to pitch in and help out with picking her up on some days.

With a very sour attitude (just ask Joe, he's been in trouble for days now...for absolutely nothing), I dropped her off today at Preschool.  She will go Monday through Thursday, 12:15 to 3:15...which means we moved lunch to 11 and moved up Little Goose's nap to fit in between those times.  Goose and I dropped her off and both cried the whole way home (luckily she couldn't see me thanks to my sunglasses) and then we both continued to cry while Tyler was trying to take a nap and I was trying to repair a web server.

Just the thought of someone else teaching her and exploring with her is heart wrenching.  I suppose this is one of the side effects of being an at home mom.  Sigh.  This too shall pass.  But for now I remain excited though it is fake and Austin is ecstatic.