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What to do for Christmas

Thursday, October 20, 2011
There's a slight chance that I go a little overboard at Christmas time. Brad has even tried to find a nice way to suggest that I'm neurotic about it.

I am choosing to ignore his opinion.

Honestly, I can tell you that I love Christmas so much because I really do love finding ways to surprise and give special gifts to the ones that I love.

So, you can just imagine how I am about my babies.

This year, I am trying... with all my heart... to find ways to give special, memorable gifts. But, with a catch... I want gifts that really do encompass my children's personalities and really capture their imaginations. I want to give the kids some of their Christmas wishes (Jake's Batcave, Bailey's Scooby Doo figures, etc.). BUT... I also want them to be surprised by things that I know they will love and things that I know will have a more lasting impact.  I want things that make them pretend... the really encourage their creativity.

Now, I could easily spend $1,000 on Jake and have everything in the world that encompasses his personality. He is easy. He loves all things superhero and could spend every waking moment playing with his superhero figures and video games. Nothing would make him happier... and nothing could be easier.

However, Bailey is a little tougher. She loves her toys... but she does not play with them the way other kids do. She gets bored easily. She needs constant entertainment. She plays well when she has people to play with. She loves arts and crafts (no clue where she gets that). She loves to perform skits for us.

So... I've spent several hours on Pinterest and online, searching for the best ideas.

And, I'm compiling ideas about what *might* make the cut.

Here are some of my favorites.

An art area, where Bailey (and Jake, but likely to be mainly Bailey) can go to create quickly and easily... without dragging a bazillion things out onto the kitchen table, where momma has to put them all back up.

Photo and design plans compliments of http://ana-white.com/2011/05/lego-art-desk

Photo and design plans compliments of http://ana-white.com/2011/05/lego-art-desk
I'm hoping to use some combination of these ideas:

Compliments of Chasing Cheerios

Compliments of Pinterest

What else? Not another iPod... but definitely some angry birds.

An angry birds game in real life. I think this one might really need to be a *family* gift, because I think Brad and I might just love it as much as they do. :) Thanks for sharing, Cheryl!

Photos and ideas provided by Alpha Mom

A puppet theater/lemonade stand. This one is probably going to get pushed back and probably isn't going to happen until Spring. I want it SO much (notice the I WANT IT - am I living vicariously through them?), but I'm worried that there's not enough time (plus it might be tough to make with the kids at home and then find a spot for it, too)...

Photo compliments of Ana White

However, this one might be able to make the cut at this point.

Compliments of Skip To My Lou
... but if I do puppet theaters then I have to do puppets... hmmm....

The superhero fort kit...
Compliments of Meg + Andy

The homemade tic-tac-toe game.

Compliments of My Little Gems
The colored rice bin.
Compliments of Share & Remember
The indoor hopscotch kit.

Compliments of Tip Junkie 
The homemade checkerboard.
Compliments of Sun Scholars
The magnet board (but I think I'm going to have letters with superheroes to help encourage Jake to care about learning his letters. :))
Compliments of Nic and Kate
Now you might really think I'm crazy. There's no way to do all of these projects, right? :) So, which ones do you think I should eliminate? I just can't decide. I think I'm as excited about some of these as our kids would be!

What are you doing for your favorite kids this year? Share the creativity!

I Raced for the Cure... Winner Announced

Sunday, October 16, 2011
Yesterday morning, I ran in Susan G. Komen's Race for the Cure.

I had not trained like I needed to, but I was determined to go and to get my best time for a 5K. I basically told Dawn that I was going to run my guts out, even if I had to stop and walk, because I did not want to see a time over 30 on a 5K again. Now, this is not to say that I have any negative thoughts toward anyone, including myself, who has a time over 30. AT ALL. Basically, I decided that I wanted to get under 30 because in several of my runs around Masterson Station or at the YMCA, I have run 3 miles at a 9 minute + pace, which theoretically should get me under the 30 minute mark. YET... in my last 5K in November of last year, I still wasn't able to pull that out. Pretty much the same in the half marathon... still not under 30 at the 3 mile mark. So... I decided I was going to do it or die.

I think it meant more to me to do it at the Susan G. Komen race, too, because I wanted to do it in honor of my mom. She pushed me... she always has... to be a better person, to do things that I normally would not be brave enough to do, to try my best at everything. And, she pushed me yesterday morning.

I hit the ground running harder than I usually do, because I was going to run my guts out. :)

When I passed the 1 mile mark, I heard the time caller say "8:50." That was a good sign... except that I knew I was going to have to slow down because I couldn't keep that pace the whole time. I was already breathing hard.

Mile 2, I missed the time caller. I had no idea how much I had slowed down, so I just kept going. I thought about walking, because I really was getting tired. Ugh. I should have trained more. Tired at 2 miles. That sucks. But, I thought about mom... and all those radiation treatments and I saw a little girl with a blood red face, who looked like she was about 8 and she was running. OK... who cares if I get a personal best? I just need to enjoy this. It's a beautiful fall day and I can finish 3 miles, no matter what.

Some random guy starts running beside of me... and he's breathing like he's dying. I can hear him over my Jason Aldean rocking in my ears. Really? Stop running beside me. I slow down a bit... he slows down. I speed up. He speeds up. Great. He's pacing off of me. Is that something I should be flattered by or annoyed by? Hmm. Ignore him... ignore him... :)

Mile 3... time caller says "28:10." HOLY CRAP! I can sprint the last .10 miles. I so have this. I can see the clock. Get under 29... get under 29... there's the finish line... just a few more steps... OMG. I think I'm going to puke. Gag. Definitely going to puke. Gag again. Please don't puke on the finish line... there is a photographer. Gag... OMG. What a horrible idea to sprint .10 miles. Find a trashcan... sewer grate... that will work... PUKE. Oh... my time was 29:05 on the clock. Now, I just feel stupid. Who pukes after running 3 miles to come in like 33rd place in my age group? Hahaha.

But... I got under 30. I actually officially got under 29. The results posted this morning... and I ran it in 28:57. I came in 33rd place in my age group. I came in 330 place out of 652 overall... 156 of all women. I'm pretty psyched about that. Not psyched about puking. But, I did literally run my guts out. lol.

Note to self: Never eat raisin bread before running. Ever.


There are four very special people that I need to thank for making a donation to the Race for the Cure on my behalf. These four people helped me contribute $200 to Susan G. Komen, helping me make a dent in my list goal to raise $5,000 for breast cancer research. I have no timeframe on this list item, but will keep track of how much I raise over the years! If you would like to make a donation, you can still donate here. However, four generous people were entered in to win a $25 Visa Gift Card for their donation. I used random.org to make the selection yesterday after the race and my Anonymous donor was the winner. Now, I assure you that Anonymous is a real person and that she even tried to get me to give the card to someone else. But, you see, I just didn't think that would be fair. She is always so giving, so thoughtful, and just good people. She also posted a link of my page for several others to see and raised money for cancer research a few months ago. So, she will get the card this week! Thank you, Anonymous! :) You know how much I just love you.

The other three donors that gave all deserve a special thank you, too. Jon, one of mine and Brad's dearest friends (and a soldier fighting for our country to boot), brought me to tears with his donation. I was so surprised and so elated when I woke up the morning after I signed up for the Race to see that he had already made a significant contribution. It's funny how certain friends always remain so special to you... they are always there, even when you go years without seeing each other... they are always there with some of the best memories (Jon... I'm sparing you and Brad some serious embarassment, as I totally found a video on my old computer of the two of you playing guitar and singing at our house on New Years' Eve). I know you remember it. :) Thank you, Jon... for everything you do for our country, but more for always being the same fun-loving guy who makes me smile every time I hear from you.

The other two donors are both such special people to me, because they gave despite the fact that they aren't that close to me, but they are to my family and friends. June and I really met a few years ago when my middle brother was getting married and she supplied SO MANY decorations for their household shower. I mean, this woman has a mini-Hobby Lobby going on. :) She helped us so much then and is constantly giving of her time and attention to my family. I'm not sure we could ever repay her for all the kindness she has shown.

Then, Rita and Joe... well, come to find out, they are family. My grandma used to tell me about her cousin who would send her holiday cards each year. Their last name was Pigg... and my grandma's cousin would sign the card "Josie and the three little Piggs." Joe was one of those "little Piggs." Imagine my surprise when I discovered this information. Here I had been spending time with Dawn and Brandon Pigg... and we were cousins (very distant cousins, but still). Rita and Joe have been at many of the same birthday parties and get togethers that we have shared with Dawn and Brandon over the past couple of years and they are both just wonderfully sweet people.

Thank you, Anonymous, Jon, June, Rita and Joe for being so generous and kind and supporting the cause!

Hope you are all having a fabulous fall weekend!

This and That...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Today is a day to celebrate... I have tomorrow off and the kids are out of school for a short fall break. We have been running around like crazy and tomorrow is supposed to be a rainy day. We might not leave the house.

Haha... yeah right.

Instead, I'm planning a big day with the kids. A big, but cheap, day with the kids. Because, today, I not only got a new laptop (semi-planned for), my phone also decided to stop working. Entirely. I have to go and get a new phone now.

Swell. I was gunning for a new smartphone with all the bells and whistles. But, not gonna happen. I'm still getting a decent phone, but it's not the one I have been eyeballing for a while. Instead, I'm going with the almost free one.  

I'm not going to focus on how bad 2011 has been on the bank account. Just refusing to think about it. It kind of makes me look forward to the New Year even more.

Anyway... I have no idea what the plan is for our fall break. Of course, it's not completely without schedule... there's still soccer on Saturday and the Race for the Cure. Remember that if you donate to support the Race through my page, you'll be registered to win a $25 Visa gift card! So, DONATE!! And, if my voice isn't convincing enough, maybe you should read here and here to learn about my mom's battle with breast cancer.

I'm also hoping that our break involves some time cuddling up little man Steffen at some point. I hear that he's growing up like crazy these days. :) Maybe I'll get some blog posting done (now that I have a laptop from this decade) and maybe get a solid outline of which projects I am actually going to attempt for Christmas. I'm craving some pumpkin pie (and just because I'm craving something doesn't mean I'm pregnant or anything), so there's going to be a pumpkin pie at some point. :) I am hoping to get catch some good movies, too. You know, I'm thinking about catching Cars 2 at the Dollar Theater, as well as possibly The Smurfs. I know you are all jealous. There's also a good chance that Brad and I might spend some time watching Horrible Bosses at some point... and of course, Walking Dead, since it comes back on this Sunday (woot!). I know my life is so incredibly exciting these days. :)

Actually, it has been pretty exciting. Or busy. Or excitingly busy. Last week, we had some great fun... Jake got to spend all day on Thursday for his fall break with Brad at home. Jake and I joined Bailey's class on Friday at a local apple orchard and pumpkin patch. It was so fun to see Bailey with her friends and to see how sweet they all are. I love how so many of the kids are friends with my girl, but I think it's even more adorable how much she loves her brother and how much all of her friends come running up to say hi to him. He thinks he's totally going to join her class when he starts elementary school. It's adorable. I have many cute pictures from that day... on MY DEAD PHONE. Yes. I'm not happy. Ignoring it and hoping that I can find some kind of battery to use to get the stuff off of it. UGH. Ignoring it... ignoring it... :) Friday night, Jake had soccer practice and Bailey and I made a run to the fabric store. We had lots to do for Saturday. Because, honestly, I think Saturday might have been the busiest day of my life... second to my wedding day. :) Okay. Yes, I'm exaggerating.

It was crazy though. At 10 a.m., I had to have Bailey at a Girl Scout Fairy Ball. The girls were all dressed up as fairies. They had tea and snacks and just looked perfect. It would have been perfect, but my baby girl fell down and got a huge bruise on her hip and scratch on her face. She was all beat up. She was happy at the end, though, because she won the grand prize Fairy Sleeping bag. Yes, that will come in very handy when we have our first overnight camping trip with the Girl Scouts later this month (no tents... just camping... shew... thankfully). :) Anyway, we sprinted out the door at noon to get across town for Jake's game that started at 12:15. We watched his little team, a group of four-year olds playing against a mixed batch of 4 and 5s. They rocked! They have improved so much (and Brad and DW have done a great job helping them along the way). I'm so proud of Jake AND Brad. It has been fun watching them. Jake is actually going after the ball and is learning to be more aggressive on the field. He loses interest after the first half, it seems, but the improvement is still significant, so I can't say a word. After Jake's game (approximately 1:15), we rushed away to have a quick lunch before we had to come back for Bailey's 2 p.m. game.

Bailey's team also played well. Bailey seems so timid on the field and it drives us crazy. She's having fun, but she is so not aggressive with other teams. With her own teammates in practice, she is much more likely to steal the ball away or at least make a solid attempt. But, in a game, her hands are constantly wringing her shirt and she's hesitant. We have hope that she'll gain the confidence to go after the ball... until then, she's having fun.

At 3 p.m., we were off to the orchard for a birthday party for Warren, one of the superheroes that Jake plays soccer with. The kids had a great time and were completely worn out after the full day.

But did that stop us? Uh... no. Still more to go. We left at 5 from the orchard, stopped at the house to let the kids have a bath, and then headed 2 hours down the road to Brad's mom's house. It was her birthday and we were going to hang out for the night and enjoy some down time. We had a blast... and despite their tiredness, the kids spent a few hours playing spotlight with their cousin, Rianna. James, Kathy's significant other, decided (after some prompting from us) to hide behind a bush and scare the kids while they were playing. They had been scaring each other all night. So, he hides behind this bush and shakes it and snorts when they get near it. Bailey and Jake have never run so fast in their lives. Jake was sobbing by the time he got to us (I know... we are evil). He was telling us that a raccoon was trying to attack him... and the raccoon had white shoes! LOL. He has such a good sense of humor though... when we told him it was James, he was cracking up. He just kept laughing at himself.

For any of you who have made it this far... :) Have I worn you out? You can imagine how tired we were when we got home. Sunday, we spent some time at my cousin's little girl's first birthday party. The kids had such a good time playing with their cousins... something that I wish happened more than just on birthdays and holidays. 

Then, we headed back home. Only to start another busy day on Monday. After school, we went to a Girl Scout roller skating party... and, on Tuesday, we had Bailey's soccer practice.

Oh... Wednesday... I have loved you. We have had nothing tonight... and it has been wonderful.

We have been going so much that a weekend at home with no schedule sounds great. Bring on the fall break! :)


What I've Been Doing Instead of Blogging

Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Since there is a very good chance that I will never feel "caught up" on my blog... I figured that it would be a good starting point for me to blog "the reasons I haven't been blogging" or "what I've been doing instead of blogging." :)  
  • Soccer practices and games. Tuesday night practices for Bailey; Friday night practices for Jake. Two games every Saturday. 
  • UK Home Football Games. Tailgating and games (we won't go into detail about the frustrating level of these games). But, will go into detail about how much we LOVED tailgating with our precious friends. Photos by Dawn Pigg.

  • Church on Wednesday nights and Sundays. 
  • Girl Scouts. I'm still the leader, but thankfully with more and more help this year. 
  • Tennis lessons for Bailey (after school on Thursdays). 
  • Homework. Hours and hours of homework. Not for me, but for my special little intelligent, sponge of a daughter.
  • Shopping trips and play dates.  
  • Visits from awesome friends and our loving families... near and far. 
  • An out-of-country trip for Brad to Mexico for a week. 
  • Attempts at a new running schedule... hindered by a frustrating medical issue... not a big one, but one to keep me off of a regular running schedule, just as I was getting back into it. AGAIN. But it didn't stop me from committing to a race in support of breast cancer research. See post here. :)  
  • New ideas for the house... a painting project for Jake's room, a revamping of Bailey's room, moving some plants in the yard, etc. etc. etc. Now, will these get done? :) I sure hope so!
  • Regular, boring stuff, like work, cleaning, and laundry. Lots of laundry.  
  • And some irregular, non-boring things, like sewing projects. Here are a couple of my most recent favorites.

My little Pocahontas
Despite the fact that I haven't posted on here regularly for quite some time, I still think about my blog all the time. I'm constantly writing blog posts in my head, but rarely getting them out in their entirety... sometimes not even getting anything more than a sentence describing my thoughts onto the beginnings of a post. I joke often that I have adult onset ADD, but I'm seriously thinking that it might be true these days. :) 

I know that I'm most certainly not alone in the world... I talk to many and most of you about the challenge of juggling so many things and still feeling like a sane person. I wonder how we might survive the holidays. 

Yet, we honestly are enjoying each and every activity. We are busy. We are frantically scrounging items together on some days. My car looks like a trash can sometimes. The laundry is honestly always overflowing. And, well, the dishes might just be piled up in the sink at any given point. 

And... we are happy. We are making memories with the kids. We are spending time together as a family. We have Family Night every Sunday, often playing video games, sometimes playing board games, and usually always finding a way to incorporate some kind of dessert. We talk about everything under the sun... and with Bailey, that really does mean everything. We are enjoying the little things in life: watching our kids put on skits at home with Bailey's pink keyboard; Jake in his Captain America costume; Bailey taking our dinner order at odd times during the day, with her pretend high heels and her clipboard; and Jake forcing me to play with girl toys while he plays Batman (all girls must be damsels in distress in Jake's world - ugh).




I don't mean to paint a perfect picture here, because it isn't perfect. I yell at the kids daily... begging Jake to stop whining about needing to play his video games for another 30 minutes or telling Bailey to please stop talking. I get frustrated with Brad when he doesn't jump up with excitement to fold clothes. :) Life is not perfect... it is perfectly imperfect. 

I'm missing my blogging, but I'm certainly missing it for the right reasons. :) But, maybe tonight is me turning over a new leaf... maybe I'll be back at it. No promises, but maybe!