Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Random Updates

With only 18 hours left until the kids will have unwrapped all of their presents in less than 2.0 seconds, I realize that it has taken me an entire year to plan, budget, shop and wrap for their gifts. How is it possible to measure the ROI (return on investment) on these items? In squeals, laughs, hugs, grins and countless hours of play with toys following the unwrapping frenzy. Before we get caught up in the craziness of the morning, I want to take a moment to reflect and relish on some events that have popped up in our life recently.

1. I had the flu last week that I thought was a touch of pregnancy. Since I am on medication for my newly diagnosed ADHD, my doctor gave me a pregnancy test; drawing blood is 100% accurate as opposed to peeing on a stick apparently. While I waited, I started getting the happy flutters thinking I might be pregnant. I started telling a couple close friends about it. I even picked out a possible boy's name. I got the call from the nurse and excitedly answered, confident of hearing that I was pregnant. She said, "The result from your test came back negative." Negative. That is how I felt that evening.

2. Since Halloween, I have kicked my sugar habits. Admittedly, I have cheated from time to time. When I have cheated, I have felt the effects of sugar. I get moody, tired, and fuzzies in my brain. Today, I measured my waistline. I have lost 6 inches in my waist line alone! I am trying to do my wiiFit about 3 - 5 nights a week, for about 30 minutes. It still says, "That's obese." I know, so rude, right! But, I have lost over 10 pounds since going on the sugar free diet!

3. One of the first Christmas cards we received in the mail was from my step dad. The card was preprinted and as non-personal as a Holiday Greeting from an insurance company. I haven't talked to my step dad since last Christmas when he treated my daughters and I like thieves when we were looking over my mom's jewelry. You may recall in previous posts that jewelry was the ONLY thing my mom left me, her only child. Yet my elderly step father, with no children of his own did not want me to have anything. I believe in my heart that I have been good to him and that I was entitled to more from my mother's estate. However, he has shown little to zero compassion for me or my children. We left after visiting him last Christmas on not the best terms. I sent him a card with a personal note any how. The day I dropped that in the mail, I received a package from him with a nice note and gifts for my kids. I love Christmas when things like this happen!

4. I am realizing that in grieving my mother and great aunt Midge, I am also having to grieve the friends and family that they were close with. That has made me a little sad, however, I am learning to cope with that by reaching out to them in special ways. There is one family who was very close with her. I sent them a box with some jewelry items and scarves that I thought my mother would have wanted them to have. I also wanted to pass along something special to my cousins from my mother's side. One of the traditions that my mom did for us is that she would buy us the tackiest most obnoxious electronic Christmas decoration. She'd give it to us after Christmas which ALWAYS annoyed me. But, we'd put it in our Christmas decoration storage and save it until November. Then, we'd get to open it when it was time to decorate and we'd ALWAYS giggle. You know the laughs that you get when you just might have tinkled a bit... I miss getting those gifts from her. So, in the spirit of her memory, I am starting a new tradition with my cousin's kids. I sent them some bang bang jingle jingle Fa La La La La blinking blanking, batteries required electronic Christmas decor. I hope they will retaliate and send my girls some obnoxious gifts back! I will keep you posted with photos when I get their gift!

I am really settling in to our new home and enjoying my in-laws. Also, I am loving getting reconnected to old friends through Face Boook! These are a few of my favorite holiday memories I am making right now!

More on random updates soon!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Love Came Down: A Christmas Pageant

Been to a concert lately? Two of my favorite bands are Jars of Clay and Sixpence None the Richer. When I found out they were on tour, a Christmas Pageant, I begged my husband to get us tickets for my birthday present. So, off we went! And, let me tell ya, it was fun!!!

Here is a list of my top 10 favorite things from that night:

1. Remembering how I fell in love with my husband shortly after becoming a born again Christian in college. He would make me tapes from his CD collection and I loved listening to Sixpence! I was impressed that he had chick music along with all of his Christian punk like Five Iron Frenzy and MXPX!

2. Don't tell my husband, but I have a new crush on Dan Haseltine, the lead singer for Jars. He looked so cute in his trademarked black and white striped scarf!

3. When Jars of Clay played Little Drummer Boy and banged on the large white drum, lit with a simple string of lights in the center stage. Drummer Boy is my all time favorite Christmas song.

4. The book, The One The Only Magnificent Me that Dan Haseltine wrote. We bought it for Sienna for Christmas. It is perfect for a kid riddled with sensory issues, in my opinion!

5. The lead singer for Sixpence None the Richer, Leigh Nash. She looked great and sang even better! She has the most delightful, unusual voice. Every word she said or sang was like chocolate to my ears!

6. Leigh Nash's stage presence. She is about my age and she still looks fantastic. She had on a rocker jacket, tights, boots. Her hair was spunky and funky, just like her bounce while she belts out some of those hard to reach melodies.

7. Leeland's opening performance got us on our feet. They're the up and coming Christian band. Well, they are up and coming for me at least. The lead singer's brother plays the keyboard. He is a riot. You can't take your eyes off of him. They were new and somewhat fascinating.

8. Sara Groves song, Toy Packaging. Very humorous!

9. Learning more about the ongoing mission that the concert was trying to raise awareness and support. It is clled BLOOD:WATER MISSION. They had testimonials threaded throughout the show about this cause.

10. During pre-show, my husband and I sat in our Odyssey, sipping our Starbucks. I told him, I bet there are going to be a lot of young, hip punk kids at the show. He laughed and told me, "Honey, we aren't as young as we used to be." He was right! The crowd was peppered with gray haired fans from the 90s! There were some younger fans, but I think they were the kids or grand kids of the real fans there!

If you are interested in downloading the Christmas music from their Love Came Down tour, check this link out! You can name your price or send it to five friends and download it for free....

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Flu or Pregnancy?

Dear Google:

I am searching for answers on why I am having these symptoms:

leg cramping, nausea, "smell sensitivity," throwing up, headaches, tiredness, irritability, diarrhea, loss of appetite

Could you please tell me if I am pregnant or not even though I just had a period 17 days ago.
While you are at it, could you please help my husband understand my anxiety over this issue?
I would rather have food poisoning or a flu bug. However, I would love to have a new baby. But on the other hand, I am content just how we are now...

More to come...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Will the Real Santa, Please Stand UP!

Mommy, was he the REAL Santa? Or was the Santa at the Christmas tree nursery the REAL Santa? I am confused.

So am I honey. So am I!

Help us solve the Santa mystery. Will the true Santa, please stand up?
Please cast your vote to help us. What do YOU think?

Is the jolly man in red who visited us last night the real St. Nicolas? If you agree, select HOME VISITING SANTA at the poll below.


Is the gentle man with a "real beard," as Sienna claims, the actual historic man behind the magical day of Christmas? If you think this is the real Santa, please select CHRISTMAS TREE SANTA at the poll below.


Have we been fooled by the mystical holiday hysteria all along? Have YOU spotted the true Santa? If you have, please select OTHER at the poll below and then leave a comment with a link to the photo you believe to be the REAL Jolly St. Nick!

Will the true Santa, please stand up? Help pick the true Santa!
Home Visiting Santa
Tree Nursery Santa
Other Santa Spotted by YOU... Please add link to photo on comments! free polls

And again... Blog Contest Fun

Another money saving tip... spend less money.

Only use cash, make a list and stick to a budget.

Try to make arrangements beforehand with family members to make plans for everyone to only buy gifts for immediate family and the children.

These are just a couple of money saving tips that I have thought of during this contest. By the way, in case you have not read the previous posts, I am participating in a contest to win a $500 Walmart gift card. If you are interested, click here >>

I will letcha know if I win one!

Friday, December 12, 2008

More Blog Contest Fun

I really like this gal's blog! Check out Denise's blog to enter in the Walmart gift card for $500 contest. This particular link is refreshing because all she requests is your favorite recipe and to follow her in twitter! Piece of cake!

To find out more on how to participate in hopes to win the Walmart gift card for $500, visit Thecentsiblesawyer Blog

More Christmas Blog Fun

Here is another Christmas cost savings shopping tip!

In particpation with's blog, Amy has joined blog forces with Walmart and Nickelodeon to offer a $500 Walmart gift card and all I have to do is share one of my shopping secrets with you here on my blog!

Here we go! I'll share a money saving tip that I thought was thrifty and nifty! It is from a friend who shared with me how she and her family celebrate Christmas together. She only buys three gifts for her kids because there were only three gifts for Jesus on the night he was born.

That is brilliant isn't it?!

Here I am trying to find deals so that I can fatten the bounty of gifts under the tree and she is wisely spending like a king!

Good idea friend, I wish I would have started that tradition before my kids got so used to the high mound of presents!!!!

Interested in reading more blogger tips on how to save moula over the holidays? Visit Amy's blog here >>>

Christmas Blog Fun

I have my fingers crossed to win $500 from this blog: Win a $500 Walmart Gift Card from Nickelodeon!

This is the first attempt I am giving in trying to participate in free giveaways. The rules of this giveaway is to share on my blog here one of my money saving tips I exercise during Christmas.

So, here is one of my secrets... I don't show off with the gifts I give people. I am tempted at times, but I refuse to try to one up friends and family with expensive gifts.

To participate in this contest or to read other blogger's comments on money saving tips, visit

Vote for Santa Today! Ho Ho Ho

You better watch out, you better not cry, Santa Claus is in town! Reportedly staying with a friend in a nearby neighborhood in the midwest, he stopped by with only two weeks before the big Christmas day to remind Sienna and Sarah to be on their best behavior. He also made a special request to the children to "leave a nice glass of milk and a chocolate chip cookie on Christmas Eve."

When asked how he will enter the girls' home, sans a chimney to drop through, he replied that there are many special ways that Santa has up his red furry sleeve to bring toys for special boys and girls!

Later that evening, Sienna was supposed to be brushing her teeth for bed time when she was caught staring off into space trying to solve the age old dilemma. She asks:

Mommy, was he the REAL Santa? Or was the Santa at the Christmas tree nursery the REAL Santa? I am confused.

So am I honey. So am I!

Help us solve the Santa mystery. Will the true Santa, please stand up?
Please cast your vote to help us. What do YOU think?

Is the jolly man in red who visited us last night the real St. Nicolas? If you agree, select HOME VISITING SANTA at the poll below.


Is the gentle man with a "real beard," as Sienna claims, the actual historic man behind the magical day of Christmas? If you think this is the real Santa, please select CHRISTMAS TREE SANTA at the poll below.


Have we been fooled by the mystical holiday hysteria all along? Have YOU spotted the true Santa? If you have, please select OTHER at the poll below and then leave a comment with a link to the photo you believe to be the REAL Jolly St. Nick!

Will the true Santa, please stand up? Help pick the true Santa!
Home Visiting Santa
Tree Nursery Santa
Other Santa Spotted by YOU... Please add link to photo on comments! free polls

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I support Autism Twitter Day! Will you?

Autism Twitter Day Parenting two children on the spectrum, I have felt like a klutz since my first push during labor! Since spawning my first kiddo over seven years ago, I have been on a journey of motherhood unlike any other.

Although there are no manuals that can teach any mom how to parent their special child, caring for a child with special needs - specifically, a child on the autism spectrum can be especially surreal. Every day, the needs change. From the time my children were babies I have tried to figure it all out.

Now, after endless hours of research covering a variety of syndromes and disorders, I have feared the possibility along with the reality while parsing the relative information from stacks and stacks of professional recommendations and diagnoses covering Parenting, Strong-Willed Children, Autism, Fragile X, Asperger's, PDD-NOS, ADHD, Bi-Polar Spectrum, Gifted, Sensory Integration, Sensory Disorder, etc. My husband and I have had to change our career paths and life styles and have had to learn to budget our time and money so that we won't go into debt and/or divorce over the countless recommended interventions and therapies from brushing, diets, balls, vests, blankets, swings, social games and groups, squeezy thingies, bouncy doo higgies and artsy fartsy fun. Some of these items have applied for our needs at some of the times, but all of this has been overwhelming, border line new-age-voo-doo to us to say the least!

Then, there are the teachers, family and friends and foes who tell us that there is nothing wrong with our children and that we need to just be better parents. At times, I am tricked and confused by their comments. For whatever their personal reasonings, I have had to learn to desperately grip on to that teeny tiny motherly instinct that has not yet faded away and I think I am the only one who truly knows my daughters and their core needs!

I have earned infinite invisible degrees and badges of honor as a mom to a seven- and two year old on the spectrum and God still has much more to teach me. I love my kids. And I want to help them as best as I can by understanding their needs and educating others in our family and community. I look forward to joining in on the discussions that will be shared on the inaugural Autism Twitter Day!

Can you join us?
Autism Twitter Day, Tuesday, December 16, three times throughout the day, 9:00 a.m., noon, and 8:00 p.m. PST. Prizes for young adults with autism or asperger syndrome will be given away during these twitter sessions!

Whether your immediate family has been impacted by autism or if you know someone who has, you are welcome to participate. There is never a day off for the mothers, fathers, siblings and friends who support a person with autism. Here is a chance to gain support, understanding and resources that can help you navigate your life!

Come and join in on the discussions. A variety of topics will be shared on how to best handle those curve balls that the spectrum disorder tosses in to your daily life ranging from:
family dynamics,
from the bus to the classroom,
variety of therapies,
special diets,
social skills,
independent living,
self care and hygiene.
books, toys, etc. that have helped your family.

This includes sharing links to your sites and blog posts.

Hope to see your avatar there! Sweet Tweeting! Visit Autism Family Adventures to learn more about the event and to RSVP today!

Autism Family Adventures: RSVP for Autism Twitter Day

Monday, December 8, 2008

"God Made Dat"

winter Pictures, Images and Photos
Snuggling with my toddler Sarah, I try to close my eyes but keep peeking so I can catch glimpses of her bundled up in her cozy bed, chubby little hand set on my shoulder. We lay, face to face and keep peaking at one another. A motherhood love story to be relished in my heart forever! I try to keep a straight face so that this quiet moment will soon turn to slumber for her.

We listen to her nighty night CD player where we have an instrumental Winterlude from a Starbucks CD that a colleague gave me many Christmas moons ago. The song we are listening to at this particular time is from Johann Sebastian Bach. I know that from the liberal arts education I received from a Big Ten university watching Little Einsteins with Sarah every morning!

She whispers in a sing songy voice, "God made dat."

Responding in a mommy whisper, "God made what, honey?"

And, like a straight A student, eager, as if she'd been waiting forever to tell me this, she promptly held her head up got about one inch from my nose and says, "God made dat song. And God will wake up da sun and we can have cereal." Then, head turned away and lay lie lied layed set I never quite understood this verb darnit! lie down, eyes closed, slumber instigated.

And sure enough, several hours later, God certainly woke up the sun, Sarah ate three bowls of Wheaties, and, I would agree with her that God also made the classic glorious music that enchants our souls, delights our senses and transports our imaginations to a place more pleasant than the present moment each time we listen. Although, in that precious moment on that December evening, I wished it would have lingered eternally!

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Fortune Telling Map

What will the future hold?

Let's find out. This is a true story.
map puzzle box

The first thing I learned is that I do not know my US geography like I should! You would think that watching endless hours of CNN polling and election results, I should know more. This puzzle boasts that it is for children 3 and up. Whew! I fit in to that category. And the findings are....


A. There will be a loss for the auto industry.
My tot is enjoying putting in the state icon pieces in their correct destinations, such as a palm tree in Florida, the Alamo in Texas, uh oh... seriously, there is NO car for Detroit! Either it didn't come in the box or we lost it. Could it be a sign of our future? Maybe I should call Congress and ask them to send me another one for free.

B. With the help from emerging innovation, there will be new discovery and solutions for the energy crisis.
Here my tot is trying to find new ways for energy. Innovation is the answer. Not long pipes under the ground up to Alaska. "Wind and Sun," spouts my toddler.

C. One pretty step for woman, one leap for humankind
Don't my toes look purty? Even if the bottoms are like Flinstone feet! I haven't given myself a pedi since summertime. I had a dream the other night that my toes were painted a cheerful red so in the morning, I got up and painted them. Self care is important or I wouldn't be able to report on these amazing prophesies readers! Red toes are the secret key to my success! And, there are additional topics to discuss on why and how my toes can look so pretty on the top, but be cracked and calloused on the bottom. Typical of motherhood, eh?

D. What will happen to Florida?
I have had a scar on my index finger since I was seven years old. I got it making Christmas candy. It is in the shape of the United States without Florida. I love Florida. I used to live there. I have vacationed there since my youth. But, I can only report on my findings and here is what I see! Take a look for yourself.
my Prophesy Scar

And that's all I can find for now. This is Crazy Jug reporting. And, now, back to you.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Winters Tale: Sunday Scribbling

"Do you know how to grow Zinnias?" the stranger asked me as she handed me a box of dead flowers that she had collected last fall. It was early spring, might have even been late winter. You know those tense days in between that you are ready for the cold to go away and excited to see the crocus and other colorful life pop out from the muddy slushy ground.

A lady stopped by my garage sale and was enthusiastic to share her garden tips along with the variety of seeds she had collected. I was honored that she was so willing to share with me. I had decided to have a garage sale to earn some money so that I could go to the nursery and purchase some gardening materials. I would have never bought Zinnias. I didn't know a thing about them really.

"Just pull off the dead petals from these and you will see the seeds. Sprinkle them all around your flower bed. As they start to grow, you will need to pull out the weak sprouts so that the stronger plants will thrive."

And so, as spring time arrived and summer was peaking just around the corner, I cared for the Zinnias, just as the sage woman advised. Plucking the weaker sprouts and watching them grow thicker and taller each week was amazing to witness. My daughters would watch with some bewilderment. "Those aren't weeds are they mom? Why are you pulling them?" I could hear them in the background while I continued to look for the weaker pieces.

Amazed at the Zinnias in the center of summer time, I noticed that there was another patch of Zinnias that I didn't not "pluck." I forgot that I sprinkled seeds in the corner over there too. That patch did grow, however the flowers were tiny, petite. The bed where the sprouts were nurtured and plucked on a daily or weekly basis however grew tall and mighty. My children and guests would 'ooo' and 'awe' over them. They were a delight to the eyes.

I recall the summer memories of the Zinnia's today as we walk through the evergreen nursery in search of our family Christmas tree. It's cold and I am glad I wore gloves and a scarf. I wish I would have worn better shoes though. Slip-on shoes in the slushy mud only makes for muddy socks and miserable feet. As I realize my failed shoe selection, I glance over at the baby Evergreen trees. I see rows and rows of baby trees. Cute and sweet, almost playful. A patch of crop tucked away here in the mass of natural Evergreen woods to the north and west, and seeded and toiled rows of matured trees suited for crop growing and thriving just east and south. My eye is drawn to the lonely, brown, twig-like tree in the row I am walking along.

And I wonder. Will the tree farmers come by soon to pluck this tree so the other baby trees may grow and thrive? Is it just part of nature that this process takes place? Must there be trees that have to die in order that others must live and grow stronger?

At this phase of my life, I am like the Zinnia and Evergreen. This year, I have grown, matured, thrived. The loss of my own mother and my great aunt has actually strengthened me at the core. From the depths of my heart and soul, I have become inspired, growing and filling out into the role that I have been created to be. Would I be at this place in my life without the passing of previous matriarchs in my life?

I do not believe so. The frustration, fear and guilt - all removed from my roots, the core of my being. The damage can now be plucked, pruned. A new day is here. It is Christmas and I love this time of year. I no longer wait to disappoint and feel shame and regret. For the passing of those lives lived have allowed me to open up, bloom and blossom today.

I am no longer bound by the shadow of their being.

Photobucket Photobucket

More than turkey this Thanksgiving

Hello Crazy Jug friends!

First off, I wanted to announce that I had a fantastariffic Thanksgiving. I am boasting because I have learned to manage my holidays so that I am not downtroddened with disappointment. Not to be prideful, but it is a huge personal transformation for me and a leap of maturity, finally in my late 30s! It is not like I really have had anything to be sad from all past holidays, it must have been in my make-up or "jeans" (a.k.a. genetics.) Don't know why. Maybe because my mom was always depressed during holidays. Anywho. It was a great weekend!

Here's how it went down...

Thanksgiving Eve:
We invited some friends over and set the table old school, with name tag settings, linens that I ironed before guests arrived, grandmother's china and candlelight. (no plastic sippy cups either!) It was great. Photos please...

(What? I like to show off! So sue me!)

Thanksgiving Day
We slept in, took it easy. Then, we headed out "Over the river and through the woods, to Grandmother's house we go..." It was relaxing and fun to watch the kids run and play at my mother-in-law's house. We brought some side dishes but she made most of the stuff. She was in a great mood. It was so nice to see her happy. I can tell she is proud to be Nanna. She's finally 'coming in to her own.'

Day after Thanksgiving
My father-in-law wanted all the kids and their kids to drive out to a Christmas tree nursery to cut down our own trees, just like he has done for many years. Since I am a sucker for tradition, you know I loved every second of it. So, we all bundled up and drove out to the country's country. We packed a Thermos will hot chocolate and made a day out of it. Here are some photos of the fun times that day...
(That is NOT me in the red, that is my husband with the Mrs. Claus along with my daughter!)

Day after Thanksgiving
I decided to make reservations at a local restaurant. I asked for the private room and a table for 20! It is such a blessing that I am in a large family where we can request a table for 20. The ages in the family members range from 2 - 79! Photo please...

And, on the way home, I learned how to take photos with night lights. Kind of a cool effect...

And that my friends, is a good, happy holiday! Hurray!