Mawwiage. Mawwiage is what bwings us togever today.

Last night, as a last hurrah before my youngest brother gets married, the five of us siblings went out to dinner. Or dessert. It was late in the evening. Both were acceptable.

I’m sure we are completely annoying to everyone around us, but we think we’re hilarious. Side aches and tears streaming down our face from the laughing. Terrible jokes, FRIENDS references…lines from movies. Insults laced with sarcasm that are only funny, somehow.

I don’t think we talked about anything serious the entire night.

My brother told me that he farted just before our waiter took this picture. Because we’re 12, apparently.

 

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It’s blurry and a little grainy, but this is one of my favorite pictures ever.

I know my parents didn’t have an easy time raising five kids. Ginormous pain in the ass children that we are.

But holy crap, they did a great job.

And damn, are we funny.

Simple Fix: Monthly Fridge Calendar

So when I headed to Target for some organizational tools, I’m not sure that I expected the dry-erase calendar to be such a big hit. As I mentioned, three of us share a family calendar on our iPhones and you would think that this would be sufficient. I mean, I had to consult the electronic version of the family calendar to fill out this new calendar. And even as I’m filling it out for the current month, I kinda wondered if I had lost my ever-loving mind. Why was I doing double work for myself? My husband was skeptical. My children were non-interested. Had I missed my mark?

But then I put it on the fridge. You know, the one area of the house that gets the most visibility. And?

  • My husband noticed that Beezus has the SAT’s in two weeks.
  • Beezus noticed a couple of events The Dude and I have where she needs to be sure and be home on time.
  • Ramona noticed that I didn’t forget about her upcoming events.
  • The girls saw when their dad was going to be out of town and how we would coordinate.

(I’d like to say that my husband will stop teasing me that he doesn’t know when my brother’s wedding is, but we’ll applaud the progress that we’ve made.)

blurred images to protect the guilty
blurred images to protect the insanely busy

We are visual people. We have to see and see it again and again to keep it in the forefront of our very busy brains. The calendar on the iPhones are awesome and SUPER necessary, but we needed to have a global view of what’s going on in our family. A constant, visual reminder of where we need to be, what’s going on, and who it involves. It’s color coded, so everyone has a better idea of how to coordinate busy schedules. We’re not just assuming the other family members knows what’s going on. We are all looking at this same calendar.

I’m not saying we’ve solved world hunger or cured cancer, but this is a big step for us.

And since I knew that I had to change the way I thought about things, I made some changes of my own. On the same day I bought the calendar, I also purchased a notebook cover that has a clip board on the front. Tease me if you want to, but this clip board makes me happy. I’ve created a to-do list that breaks out the different areas of my life and that is always on the top of the clip board. I also include a monthly calendar for reference, some paperwork of various tasks I need to tackle and some scheduling tools that I use for blogging and social media. On the inside cover, there’s a pocket if I need to stuff something in there. And then, of course, the notebook/pad of paper for notes, etc.

I love it.

I’m not going to win any awards for my organization, but it works. Or at least it works for now until I need to adjust and make changes because my life adjusts and makes changes. We all know that my life is constantly moving and growing, so my organization has to be just as flexible as I need to be to keep up with my crazy family. But I love that, for right now, it works. And it works well.

 

mornings with mike…the flat stanley of instagram

I’m not even sure I could explain it. Even if I wanted to.

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Mike…poolside

I mean…it’s a coffee mug.

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the mike of the party

It started off as something fun to post on Instagram.

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Mike and the teenager

And then turned into an reoccurring theme. Like Flat Stanley who takes trips all of the world? Mike stays home, but…he’s just around, you know?

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Mike…poolside. Again.

I’m too old to be amused by this. And yet…it’s become something that makes me laugh. Makes other people laugh. It’s become a thing, dammit.

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Pretty sure I have a problem.

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Pretty sure I probably don’t care.

I think.

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Bucket List Dilemma

updated 10/1/13
updated 10/1/13

 

When I told my family I was making a College Bucket List, some of them were more helpful than others in coming up with ideas. The Dude offered “Trip to New York”.

 “I already have that one,” I said.

“Oh. Well, then I don’t know. I’m going to have to think about it.”

As far as I know, he’s still thinking.

Beezus had a couple of ideas. But they were mostly things that I had already put on the list, too.

Except for one thing.

My daughter wants to go on a shopping spree with me. For me. Because I don’t shop for myself. And I’m terrible at shopping. Not because I don’t like new things…but because I hate rifling through clearance racks and sale items. I would much rather have my shopping done for me. And since I can’t afford that style of shopping, I go without. Or avoid shopping all together. The idea of Bargain Shopping stresses me out, and so I don’t do it.

And my daughter wishes that I did. She wishes that I would go shopping with her.

It’s kinda adorable, really. Adorable and sweet and generous and cute. She’s all of those things…and it made me all verklempt that she wanted to add this shopping trip to our Bucket List. And not because she wanted it all for HER…she wanted to do this for ME. And then of course, “get a couple of things while we’re out and about.”

I mean, of course.

But as adorable as she is and this is, I felt guilty. I avoid this shopping stuff because it’s not a comfortable experience for me. It stresses ME out. So I avoid it. I don’t love my body shape. So I avoid it. I can’t afford to shop in the way that’s most comfortable for me. So I avoid it. (And, for the record, I hated shopping when I was practically a stick figure kind of skinny. I was a gangly teenager. Who wants to show THAT off?) (OMG I WOULD SO TOTALLY SHOW THAT OFF RIGHT NOW.)

My point in all this is that I need to find a way to be comfortable with myself if I’m going to teach my daughters how it’s done. If I can’t be an example of being comfortable in my own skin, why would expect them to be?

I don’t have an answers and I’m not really asking for them, either. I’m just trying to figure my shit out. Because you have no idea how important it is to me to cross these things off the Bucket List.

I mean, after I actually add that one onto the list, of course.

you saved me

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I had visited your family the day I found out and had said nothing. I’m pretty sure we watched Bed of Roses so it was easy to keep quiet. Your mom knew something was up. I wasn’t myself. But I couldn’t say the words. Not yet. My parents had just found out earlier that day and I didn’t think I could handle telling you, too. I’m sure that I couldn’t have.

The next day, events as they were, I knew I needed to talk to you. I needed you to know from me. And you were one of the few people I told myself in those first days.

I have often wondered what you thought. I think I asked if you could come over after church. We ended up sitting on my parents’ bed. Probably so that my younger siblings wouldn’t bug us. I have no recollection of the words that I used, but somehow I told you that I was pregnant.

We were eighteen. And our two closest friends were away at school two states away. It occurs to me now that you stood in for both of them that day. You were my three closest friends in the whole world right there in that moment. And you were everything I needed my friends to be. You saved me. And you loved me…just as you always had.

But you saved me.

There was no judgment. No pity or anger or disappointment. And in a time where that’s all I seemed to get, you were the part of my memories that I held on to when my world kept crashing down over and over again.

Beezus shares your middle name because it’s the only name it could ever be. And she knows how her name came to hers. I honestly think it makes her proud.

And even though you knew that part of the story, and I know you know how much I love you, I wonder if you really know what you did for me all those years ago.

I don’t know why it took me so long to tell this part of my story. Maybe it just wasn’t the right time. Maybe I just had to tell the other stories first. I don’t know.

But you saved me.

I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address

I’m trying to reorganize my life. That sounds a tad overdramatic, but it’s actually kind true. My life is busy and crazy, but it also changes quite a bit. Whatever system we try to use to keep us on track may not work after a few months because someone’s schedule changes or we have a new things added to the to-do list. And sometimes, we just need to press the reset button and figure our shit out.

Beezus, The Dude and I all use a shared (iCloud) calendar to try and organize some of the crazy. But there’s always something that can’t be tracked on that sort of device. I mean, I know it doesn’t make sense, but some tasks and reoccurring appointments that are easier to track on a visible calendar or white board where the entire family can see it.

After weeks like last week and this weekend, I faced today knowing that we needed to reassess our plan of attack. Our current system just isn’t working for our life right now. And while life may settle down in a few months (yeah right) we need a way to keep things more on track.

I also am still waiting for someone to figure out how to get more hours in a day. I still need sleep. But I need more time to accomplish all this.

After a trip to Target, I feel like I’ve made a good start. (Office supplies, FTW!) I’ve picked up a couple of supplies to (hopefully) help. I need to revisit daily tasks that need to be done as well as those tasks that need to be done weekly. (And a way to track/remind myself what needs to be done.) I need to figure out meal planning because we are only home in the evening one night a week right now. (I KNOW.) Life is super overwhelming right now because just keeping everything straight is next to impossible.

Last week I posted something on Facebook that I kinda felt bad about afterwards.

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Not everyone makes the same choices as me. I get that. And sometimes I have a hard time when people say that I should do things this way or that. (Ok, I often have a hard time with that.) When your priorities and choices are different, your life will not make sense to anyone else. It just better make sense to you. All this craziness needs to be worth it in some way, shape or form. And life balance? Sometimes just doesn’t exist.

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I spent pretty much the entire weekend watching my kid play softball. The same kid who also had homecoming Saturday night. And whose team made it to the championship game Sunday evening. She’s busy. And our weekend was busy supporting her. But I have no regrets that I was there and didn’t miss it.

Even if that means that today I’m faced with EVERYTHING that needs to be done.

So here’s to a little reorganization. It seems like a perfect time to re-think how we do things. Fall just feels like a natural time to make some changes, even if this is probably something I should’ve done a long time ago.

Now is as good of time as any.

finding our laughing place

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Not that you had any doubt, but we obviously had a great trip. Disneyland never fails to make me wish lived there. I do know how ridiculous that sounds by the way. It’s just…well, we just have so much fun when we are there. We all act like kids. And while I do realize that two of us still ARE kids, well…the four of us acting like big kids is so much fun.

I mean…YMCA on Splash Mountain? But of course:

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I have several things that I want to share with you. Like how much fun we had on the Halloween Haunts Tour. (And spent some time with other awesome bloggers along the way.)

 

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These are some pretty rad people

Or the new light up Mickey Ears that are programed to change and light up with the fireworks and shows. They even turn OFF during specific events. It’s like technology and magic had a baby and that baby is light up Mickey Ears. THEY ARE COOL.

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This is my kid and her ears watching the AWESOME fireworks

The Halloween decorations? AWESOME. AMAZING. SUPER RAD. I may or may not want to decorate every inch of my house for Halloween now. (My husband thanks you, Disneyland.) I also didn’t expect to love Halloween at Disneyland as much as I love Christmas at Disneyland. (Foolish girl that I am.) Spoiler Alert: OMG I LOVE HALLOWEEN AT DISNEYLAND.

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I want one outside my house now

But one of my favorite things was watching my kids. Ramona is my little dare-devil all of a sudden. She now rides all the rides. And somehow it was up to me to ride Tower of Terror over and over with her. Turns out it DOES get easier and I don’t need quite as much recover time after the falling is all over after the 5th time on it. (She also shares my love for California Screamin. So there’s THAT.)

Tower of Terror. Again. (See? I look less frightened.)
Tower of Terror. Again. (See? I look less frightened.)

Even Beezus, who will NEVER ride Tower of Terror…and still has nightmares about the time I kinda forced her onto CA Screamin’ had an absolute blast. She loves the other roller coasters that DON’T go upside down or start like you’re being shot out of a cannon. (My favorite part.) None of that really matters, though, as I see this JOY on her face. This sixteen year old, junior in high school who is GIDDY about Cars Land and finally getting to ride Radiator Springs Racers. (We weren’t able to ride it the last time we were there.) I was expecting to cross off one thing off the College Bucket List after this weekend, but ended up crossing off TWO. And maybe it sounds weird to be so excited about this, but my kid let loose and danced her way down Route 66 this weekend. MULTIPLE TIMES. After trying for years to get her to let go and just dance, all we needed was some oldies music, some rad fluorescent lightening and a little Disneyland magic. (Yeah…I said magic. Again.)

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I giggled and laughed and let-loose right along with her. We all did.

So yeah…so much more Disneyland updates coming your way. But first? First I’m going to be excited about crossing two things off our College Bucket List.

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And thanking Disneyland for making it all happen.

 

 

 

My family and I were given tickets to Mickey’s Halloween Party and Disney park. All opinions are my own.

 

we can’t help ourselves

For the past week or so, I’ve secretly announced to Beezus (or The Dude) how many sleeps we have until Disneyland.

Four more sleeps!

Two more sleeps!

For some reason, Beezus thinks that I sound British when I’m saying this. I find this hilarious and, without fail, launch into the best British accent I can muster for the remainder of the conversation.

Yeah…I completely deserve all the eye rolling.

One more sleep, though. One. More. Sleep.

photo credit: disney
photo credit: disney

Fall-ing

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such a pretty Fall cupcake

I made a Fall To Do list today. Which immediately inspired me to have Thanksgiving conversations with some of my family. I’m really sorry to have to admit that to you. I mean…I know that it’s only September…and I didn’t mean for it to happen, but I didn’t stop it either. I should be ashamed of myself.

But here’s the thing…there are a lot of us on my side of the family. Planning and scheduling holidays and events can get really difficult. Some of my siblings do one year at the in-laws, the next year with our side of the family. (One of my siblings lives too far away. Boo.) I don’t necessarily do that anymore. I used to try and cram SO. MUCH. THANKSGIVING. into one day, that it ended up being pretty gosh darn stressful. My family has taken to planning a separate Thanksgiving so that we can still all get together. Somehow, though, the on/off schedule has gotten a little out of sync. So somehow, my sister in law and I just declared Thanksgiving 2015 the year we all are together on the actual Day of Thanks. That gives everyone plenty of time to get squared away with their respective families.

What I realized after we had made such Thanksgiving declarations, is that I will have a college student coming home for the holidays that year. My head kinda exploded with that realization.

I will have you know that I only JOKED about sobbing hysterically. I didn’t actually do it. (PROGRESS.) (This won’t last.)

The fun thing about this year’s holiday celebrations is that we are (officially) welcoming in a new family member. My youngest brother (the youngest of all the siblings) gets married next month. I can’t even remember if I have mentioned that here, and I’m too lazy to go back and check, so yeah…my brother is getting married mid-October. I’m pretty much over-the-moon over my newest sister in-law. Both of my brothers have somehow convinced some pretty amazing ladies to marry them. I’m not sure how they did it, but I’m sure they have me and my sisters to thank for it. Just a hunch.

Once we get back from Disneyland, it will be less than three weeks until the wedding. Crazy. I should probably find something to wear that isn’t work clothes or yoga pants.

But now that the thought of shopping for a dress has sufficiently stressed me out, I’m going to go back to thinking about Disneyland. However, if I show up to the wedding in jeans and a Mickey Mouse t-shirt, I may not have to worry about Thanksgiving plans since I will probably be uninvited.

I should re-think this plan. Probably.

Beezus and Ramona

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photo: sarah maren photographers

Years before my children were ever born, Beverly Cleary wrote a book (well, books) about my children. I mean, it isn’t EXACTLY about my children. But the similarities between Beezus and Ramona and my own children are pretty hilarious. And the very reason that I call them by those names on this here blog.

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In fact, it was after seeing the movie about the same characters that this realization hit me over the head. And by “hit me over the head” I mean, sitting in a dark theater completely gobsmacked and cousin Lucy leaning over to whisper, “OMG your kids. Those are your kids.”

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I don’t even know how that happens. I mean…is Beverly Cleary psychic? Did she change the actual events of our lives in her books so we wouldn’t sue her?

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photo: sarah maren photographers

I knew long ago that my girls would be ridiculously different for each other. Even the pregnancies were amazingly different. And yet, somehow I still find myself surprised when their differences lead to hefty battles. Or getting whiplash from the change of pace that the two of them set.

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photo: sarah maren photographers

Sometimes I think I am completely ill-equipped to parents such polar opposite children. What works for one will NEVER work for the other. And yet, somehow here we are…so many years later…kinda sorta hanging in there doing okay. Sometimes we’re just surviving to survive. But for the most part? I think we’ve done just fine.

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But at the end of the day, I am just so amazed that they are mine. These…PEOPLE…these amazing daughters with all these opinions and talents and personality.

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They really are the coolest kids ever. I should probably thank Beverly Cleary.

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