Monday, March 20, 2017

Oh hey there . . . miss me?

Should we just pretend that I didn't take a 5 month break?  I never mean to be away for so long, but like most things that require time and effort, once you stop it's sometimes hard to start again. If I equated it to an exercise routine, then I think you'd get it.

I suppose life has gotten the best of me and blogging gets shoved to the very bottom of the to do list.  House updates, the holidays, Zeus, kids, Netflix, blah, blah, blah . . . I always turn back up though.

I also give up reading blogs because like social media, it turns into a major time suck when I'm already feeling a time crunch . . . just know, my blog friends, that I do occasionally lurk and try to keep up even if I don't comment. 

So what's been going on lately?  Well, lots of things really.  Sit back, relax, and be nosy . . . this is my attempt at catching up so I can just start fresh!

My Ryan is rocking the whole high school freshman thing.  He was invited to join the Beta Club which makes a mama proud.  This week he sits for his Eagle Board of Review (whoa!), and he just earned his 2nd degree black belt in Choi Kwang Do.  Get.  It.  Done.  Son.
Kyle, (snaps fingers at him) over here!
Amanda, you knew we were taking a picture, right?
And yes, I need to diet.
 
That is over 6 years of training, lots of hard work and about a million nights of our life.  Ryan is done with training so while it is a bit sad to close this chapter, it's time.  

Want to know a super weird feeling?  Have your oldest child drive your car while you are helpless in the passenger seat. 
He studied and passed the first time . . . this kid is just awesome.
Perhaps helpless isn't the best word, but as a known control freak, it's hard to sit passively without a break pedal and steering wheel.  I have to say that Ryan really is a good driver.  It makes me giggle that he constantly has to wipe his sweaty palms . . . he told me he thought it would be easier . . . I'm assuming based on his vast knowledge from video games and an assortment of wheeled driving toys throughout his life.
What a fun group of friends!  They said it was the best time ever!
This blue eyed sweetie went to his 8th grade Winter Ball with a bunch of his friends!  He sort of, kind of, but not really had a date . . . just a friend and obviously no pictures were allowed of him and a girl.  
#18 is Kyle . . . it was a yuck day but they won!
Kyle is nearing the end of his middle school years and keeping me on my toes.  He's cruising his way through his second season of lacrosse which is made better by having his 3 best friends playing too!  I cannot believe that sweet boy is going to high school next year . . . someone hold me.  
We had two days off school for an ice storm this year in January, and Amanda was the only one who was committed to playing outside.  Later in January, my Girl Scouts had a weekend in the woods where they worked on a "journey" and stayed in a cabin . . . fun times!  
Y'all, that cotton candy/hat combo was $14.  Ridiculous.
We also went to see the last year of the Ringling Bros. circus . . . we had great seats at the Girl Scout discount!  And honestly, it's time for it to go . . . it's not like I remember from years ago.  And while the animals are fascinating, I'm glad they won't be used in this way anymore.  The remaining animals in this show were horses, camels, tigers and poodles.  And if you want to make a bunch of tween girls happy, take them on a late night Starbuck's run . . .  because duh, Starbucks is life (according to them).
They have mutual love for each other . . . so sweet considering
he's got several pounds on her now!
So in summary, little Miss Amanda is so full of sass, but I still can't get enough of her!  She is all about her Zeus, hanging out with her friends, and organizing her endlessly messy room . . . oh, and being on her phone way too much.
I die of the cuteness . . . the head tilt, the tail tuck, the regal poses . . . love it all!
Speaking of Zeus, isn't he gorgeous?  I mean, like whoa . . . so freaking handsome.  And he for sure loves my children . . . and Getzy, but most of all . . . me!  We basically spend 24/7 together so he doesn't really have a choice.  

Guess who he doesn't love? EVERYONE else.  It's a big, long story that I hope to write about soon, but Zeus will hopefully become a working police K-9 in the near future.  While we love him so, he is too much of a liability to have as a family pet . . . since no one but us can actually pet him anyway. While I know I seem to be making light of this, it has been a huge part of why I have been absent. It's been very stressful and sad, especially since he's my little (well, not really so little) buddy.  

For the holidays, Getzy and the boys went to visit his family in Florida (because we promised the boys they would get to see their cousins) and Amanda and I stayed home with the dogs . . . for the sole reason that it would be too stressful to deal with Zeus away from home.  So Amanda and I spent Thanksgiving with some of our favorite people . . . these folks for lunch.  
And you're welcome . . . Christmas card photo creds to me! 
And for dinner we went ate with my friend Lake and her family.  Amanda is best pals with her daughter, and Lake and I have been Girl Scout co-leaders since our girls were in Kindergarten. Sadly I don't have a picture (remember I wasn't in blog picture taking mode), but I can honestly say I have never seen so much food in all my life . . . and it was delicious!
They will have to see Santa until they move out . . . mom's rule!
Christmas was fabulous, as always.  My decorating was lacking this year because my house was finally being put back together by then, and I couldn't bear to drag out all the holiday decor.  I had 3 and a half trees decorated . . . I simply didn't finish the basement one . . . and not much else out this year.  But Santa still showed up and all was well!
It's not often we dress up fancy!  
We headed home to Virginia for my brother's wedding.  I was super happy for him and his new wife . . . it's a sweet story because they were friends as teenagers and then reconnected all these years later!  
The wedding was lovely and it was amazing to all be together as a family . . . that doesn't happen too often!
I finally got my mama upgraded to an iPhone from the kind where if you want to text someone you have to hit the buttons a certain number of times to get the letter you want.  Yeah, it was time!  Her world was officially rocked when she realized she could connect to the Internet AND play solitaire from her phone.  
My mom's sweet husband kicked cancer's butt last year and is doing great!  We are so thankful he's healthy and on the other side of that nasty disease!  And here is a lovely photo of his dog Molly . . . we call that her "smile" but there really isn't anything nice about her.  She loves him so that's what matters.  She's one mean girl for sure.  Her and Zeus should hang out together.  Ha!
I love a girls trip and my poker mamas did a local Stone Mountain weekend last fall.  We had a blast . . . we shopped, spa'd, snacked, drank, played poker and adventured . . . that's a perfect recipe for a good time.  These ladies make my life so much better . . . I am so thankful for each and every one of them!
I also had a fabulous girls' weekend this past fall with my college friends.  Y'all, these are my people.  I love them to the moon and back.  I am ever so grateful for each of them and our lasting friendships.  We laugh, we cry, we confess . . . and then we drink and eat cheese.  The best. 
And then there are these girls . . . I love them long time too and oh how they make me laugh! We each did a big celebration trip for our 40th birthdays and this was the last of the big 4-0 milestones for us.  We got a great deal on a Royal Caribbean 4 night cruise to Cozumel . . . and a discount on the drink package.  Jokes on them though .  . . they were losing money on us by 10 a.m. because . . . mimosas for breakfast.  
Some of my local friends and I hit up the Fifty Shades Darker movie the day it opened in the "extreme" theater.  So yeah, we basically watched porn together.  Y'all, it was naughty.  And I was fine with it!  I was also fine with my friends bringing me "snacks" to the theater!  

OMG . . . I think that's it.  Well, enough for now anyway.  It's weird to end it on the dirty movie, but I've run out of pictures and stories.  Missed you all.  Mean it!  Let's hope I can get my crap together to show up more often!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Life Lately!

Whoops . . . it's been a hot minute.  I am consumed with house updates over here . . . and my life motto of go big or go home is in full swing.  Normal folks would tackle maybe one room, but I figured after 17 years, the whole main floor needed some love.  The multitude of decisions are killing me . . . I had no idea how many choices every thing would require.  My brain is on overload, thus my absence.  But the house updates are a post for another day . . . when it's finished.  Let's just recap what's been going on since my last post!

Well, a week at the beach was a much needed respite from the day to day hustle and bustle.  I literally sat in the sand with some good music, great friends and a cold drink.  Not even kidding . . . I haven't pressed that much ass since I don't know when.  It was glorious!  Everyone got along swimmingly (see what I did there?) and no major sunburns so I was happy!  Here's a sample of the starring roles . . . I need to do a recap soon because I want to have the memories documented!
Admittedly these are sucky photos . . . it is what it is.
How about my Kyle suited up for his first lacrosse game?  I die of love for this kid trying a new sport in the 8th grade.  He actually loved participating in the game, more so than the routine drills of practice!  
His best bud Trenton has been playing for years!  He was so much fun to watch . . . he has some mad skills!  I had no idea how rough lacrosse was . . . until my baby was out there getting whacked with the stick and pushed to the ground.  
Funny story on the car ride home . . . there were complaints that the refs favored the other team and called too many penalties on our team.  I mentioned that a kid got a penalty for shoving Kyle though the air, and Kyle starts to giggle and says, "I deserved it . . . I was talking a bunch of trash to him."  That kid.   

"That kid" also had his first band concert of the year and looked so handsome in his formal clothes. Kyle is my kid who would wear work out shorts and t-shirts all the live long day if we let him, which we don't.  So to see him so spiffy, we were all just in amazement!  
Miss Amanda has been overcoming her boredom lately by looking for things to do on Pinterest. The boys are happy to play video games to pass the time, but Amanda needs more hands on activities!  She calls it "making experiments" . . . all I know is I've had to buy lots of cornstarch, flour and cream of tarter lately.  Here's her rainbow of play dough!
And I found this when I went to make some eggs . . . it put a smile on my face for sure.  
It's high school homecoming season so of course I was after Ryan to find out if he was taking a date.  In the end, he decided to just go with friends.  Alrighty then . . . cheaper and easier.  The only thing he requested were some khaki pants so that made shopping easy this year.  I am 100% biased, but he sure did look handsome (notice the braces).
I also can't believe that kid is a freshman in high school and just turned 15 . . . what I wouldn't give to go back to when he was little and hold him one more time.  Without a doubt he is the easiest kid on the planet.  He doesn't like to draw attention to himself and really doesn't ask for much.  I found him a few cool presents that seemed to make him happy, although a gaming computer would have been top on his list.  Uh, nope . . . too expensive when he already has a working laptop.  (Now notice the teeth . . . braces came off recently which is the best 15th birthday present of all!)
Poor kid just walked in the door from Cross Country practice,
 and I jump on him to open his presents!!!
We went out to dinner to celebrate with friends and luckily Granny was here visiting too!  
And my yahoo friends can't help but get in the picture!  Their photo bomb obviously cracked my mom up!
Granny and I coerced Amanda into going antique shopping . . . I promised lunch out since Target is more her style.  I get it though.  My mom dragged me to flea markets all the time when I was a kid, and I'm only now deciding I prefer antiques to the new crap that's not as well made.  My mom doesn't even know what to do with me now that I'm the one taking her to antique stores!
Moving onto my fur babies . . . Zeus completed his training and came home from away camp!  Isn't he so pretty?
He's lucky he's so handsome because he's a lot of work.  Like "who's bright idea was it to get a GSD puppy" work.  He's amazing on a leash . . . he literally goes everywhere with me.  He's been to outdoor restaurants, several stores and lots of training walks.  He even napped while I made some Best Buy purchases!
But he is not a fan of people coming to his house.  Note I said "his" house because he's pretty sure he owns it.  Just ask the contractors I've had around this week.  Let's just say I don't need any other sort of security system.  

He is basically a toddler and Abby would rather not deal with him, but they get along most of the time.  Here's proof!
I guess that sums it up for now . . . wish I had more time to sit down and write . . . these kids and dogs are keeping me on my toes!  

Happy Halloween and hope you have a fun and safe evening!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Friday things . . .

Do you want the good news or the bad news first?  I always answer that question the same . . . give me the bad so I can get it over with and focus on the good.  

I won't be sad to see this week go for so many reasons.  Life can't always be about the peaks . . . sometimes you just have to trudge through the valleys, learn some things in the process and focus on the good things to come.  I would encourage folks to not to compare themselves or their lives to others because as we well know, all that glitters isn't gold.

On top of several trying situations this week, heaven gained a new angel . . . a beautiful soul left this earth much too soon.  As we all know, cancer sucks.  Fall break can't come soon enough.  
It's time to turn the frown upside down and recap a few life happenings of late.  

My son's high school cross country team hosts a 5K fun run as it's annual fundraiser.  Of course our family signs up to support the team, but as my alarm clocks goes off way too early on a Saturday, I always wonder what I was thinking.  But then you get there and the energy and excitement make it all so much fun, and I'm always thankful I signed up!

The team was instructed to just have fun and not run too fast so the folks in the community could qualify for the medals!  Apparently my son 'Facetimes' his cousin during the race, while on the trails, and I get a call later about how funny it was.  That kid . . . he does make us laugh all the time. And as you know, laughter is so good for the soul.  
This picture makes my heart happy for a bunch of reasons.  One, we're all together for a race . . . how cool is that?  Two, Getzy won 2nd place for his age group.  That dude is fast.  He hasn't trained lately but still killed it.  Three, Amanda won for her age group and even did an additional 1K after completing the 5K . . . and her sport is currently dance.  Get it girl.  Four, this is the first picture where I see how fast Kyle is gaining on me and just how much taller Ryan is than me.  They are still sweet little boys in my head though.

And speaking of sweet fellows, I was so proud of our friends for also earning medals in their age group!  Winning medals sure makes for a more fun race experience!
Up next, my Amanda has complained to me a few times in recent weeks that she's having a hard time seeing the board at school.  Like the good mother that I am, I ignore it the first couple of times thinking maybe it's a fluke.  In my head I just took her to the eye doctor.  So I tell her that I'll call, but if she's been seen in the last year, we weren't going.  Yeah, it was September 2013.  Mom game is strong here.
Isn't that air puff the worst?
So I promptly make an appointment for her, and I'm sure you can guess that she does, in fact, need glasses.  Apparently she has a very common condition called Latent Hyperopia where her eyes constantly go in and out of focus.  This also explains why she doesn't enjoy reading as much as she used to . . . it wears her brain out to try and focus on the page.  

Her prescription is light so the doctor recommended she try 1.25+ reading glasses to see if they helped.  They do so we will get child size glasses made, but she does look pretty cute in her specs . . . as seen in the picture below!  
This picture makes me happy and sad . . . this was the morning Zeus left for K-9 Academy.  Some folks are wondering about this . . . why we chose this route for him.

We knew if we welcomed a German Shepherd into our family that he was going to get formal training.  Sure, I can teach him to sit and down and other basic commands, but I want more for him than just the basics.  I want him to have the best life possible so making sure he is well trained ensures that.  I want him to be able to go where we go and join us on family outings without fear of his behavior.  

Let's face it . . . there is a stigma associated with big dogs, GSDs specifically.  I didn't quite realize how scared some people were of them until I had one of my own.  I'm way more scared of a Dachshund than a GSD, just saying.  

So he is at "away camp," as we like to call it, for immersion training . . . then he comes home.  We are trained to be his handlers, and we will be tested twice with him before he receives his certificate and can move on to Advanced and Elite training.  He is learning voice and hand commands, which is pretty cool.  And no, this is not protection training . . . that's a whole different level.  

I miss him terribly and cannot wait for him to be done . . . he has a Flickr page that I stalk every hour.  I also have called several times to check in on him.  There are approximately 10 shepherds there this week so he is in good company and having a blast!  

A because I can't stop, won't stop . . . here are a few cute pics of my handsome boy!!! 
I love you Abby!  Do you love me?
I love you too mom!  Am I too close?
Fine . . . I'll sit over here.
Keeping an eye his boy Kyle . . . look at how the color of his coat is changing?
That last one makes me giggle because there is my Kyle playing lacrosse . . . he's the kid right between his ears with the bight blue shorts!  

It kills me I don't have a better lacrosse picture . . . next practice!  I'm so proud of Kyle for trying a new skill . . . that's not easy when you're almost in high school.  I predict he will go back to running, but we shall see!

My handsome boy did get some new hardware this week . . . braces . . . the teenage rite of passage. Here's his before and after smiles!
I just love this kid's freckles!
I know they've been hurting him, but he's powering through!  Hopefully they will only be on for about 18 months . . . not too bad!

At our last Girl Scout meeting, we were working on a badge but I needed to fill some extra time.  I thought it would be a good idea to make sure each girl knew how to cook an egg . . . learning life skills is important.  
Egg-celent job!
We had several activities going so one by one I called each girl over and taught them how to make a scrambled or fried egg, their choice.  The coolest part is that every day since, Amanda has not only made herself an egg for breakfast, she's offered to make them for the rest of us.  As I told my Girl Scouts . . . eggs are cheap, and you'll never go hungry if you know how to cook an egg!

Well, that's it for this Friday . . . I sure hope you have a good one . . . I've never been so happy to say cheers to the freaking weekend!

Linking up with Amanda, Karli, Andrea, Liz, and Tif!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Fall Goals . . . Let's Do This

Let's give it up for lists of things to accomplishment . . . they make me feel so organized and centered!  I'm setting some fall goals to hold myself accountable and to focus my efforts on things that are important to me.  
Life According to Steph
Here we go . . . 

1.  Have a fire pit night or two!  What the heck do I mean by this?  Well, we have a fire pit, fire wood and a back yard . . . why do we not sit out there and chillax with friends, s'mores and a beverage?  Beats me . . . it's on for fall!

2.  Visit a pumpkin patch and/or apple orchard!  My kids are pretty much too old for this "stuff," but I love it!  Plus, this is where memories are made so we are going somewhere in the next few weeks!

3.  Accomplish at least one house update!  Alas, we are not moving.  It seems like a great idea to start over in a new house but really, it's just more work so we are going to begin tackling our home update list.  Honestly I think the hardest part is just making phone calls to get quotes . . . time to get on it.  

4.  Figure out my decorating style!  This seems odd, but I feel like I need a style direction for our main floor as we start to make updates.  I don't have the gift of interior design . . . anyone want to offer their opinions?  I'm perusing websites like Pinterest and Houzz . . . it's all so overwhelming.

5.  Organize the storage room!  Eeewww.  This has to be done because I need to get to my fall decorations.  I know this task is worse in my head than actually doing it.  

6.  Reduce the 2nd digit by one in my 3 digit weight!  This is self explanatory (or did I make that confusing?) . . . and not easy as we enter the season of eating, but I'm going to try!

7.  Make the Pioneer Woman cinnamon rolls to give away to friends!  I love to bake, and I love the smell of cinnamon!  These are so easy and delicious and the recipe makes a ton of them, thus the need to give them away.  I did this a few years ago and still chuckle at my Columbian friend Natalia's text to me about them . . . something along the lines of "there is excitement in the house . . . we've never had these before . . . how do we eat them?"  So funny!  Who needs some?  I even deliver!

8.  Start my oldest son's Scout scrapbook!  He will (fingers crossed) hopefully make Eagle Scout soon, and I want to have a scrapbook on display at his Eagle Court of Honor.  I suspect this will take way more time and effort than I want so it's best to get started now.  Anyone have pictures to send me of him from scouting trips and activities?!?  Help a sister out!

9.  Finish Christmas shopping by November 30th!  I don't want to be running around last minute and buy things just to check the box.  I've already started because I like to spread the expense over several months as well. 

10.  Get updated family pictures!  Last time we had them done was June 2014.  I need new ones that are better than school photos.  

11.  Find our wedding video and get it converted from VHS!  Yes, I am that old.  Getzy just randomly asked me where is was and suggested we get it converted so now I get to find it!  I'm sure it's somewhere safe and sound.  

12.  Test out as a handler with my Zeus!  My sweet little baby is leaving on Sunday for K-9 academy.  He will learn his stuff, and we have to learn his stuff.  And then we have to pass two tests as his handler before he can advance.  More to come on this in a later post.  

Whoa, that felt good.  I didn't really have much in mind, but then the juices started flowing and I decided a dozen was enough.  I'll check back on how I did when it's time to post winter goals. What are your fall goals?  Do share . . . because I'm nosey and like to know things! 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

9/11 - Helping my kids understand

I'd venture to say all of us know exactly where we were and what we were doing when the attacks on 9/11 happened.  
I remember that it was a beautiful sunny day and business as usual at work.  Then my phone rang and Getzy told me to go watch the news.  I'm not much of a news watcher because I feel like so much of it is negative and manipulated. Getzy and I have an agreement that he will let me know when something important is happening.  

At the time I was working for a media company in Dunwoody, Georgia.  I went into my boss's office to watch the coverage just after the first plane hit the World Trade Center.  Originally we thought it was just a terrible accident . . . then the second plane hit.   I think it was then we began to realize that life as we know it would never be the same.

I was pregnant with my oldest son, Ryan.  Oddly enough, I remember I was wearing a black maternity maxi dress with tiny red roses all over it.  I still have the dress . . . I couldn't part with it when I let go of my maternity clothes because it had such significance to me.  And I remember thinking what kind of world am I bringing a child into . . . thoughts I hadn't really had before then.

I suppose until you live through something, it doesn't have as much meaning to you.  It wasn't until I visited Pearl Harbor and toured the Dachau concentration camp in Germany that I truly felt like I could understand the magnitude of those events.   
A motley crew for sure . . . we fed the high schoolers right after
cross country practice and told them to get in the car . . .
you never know what the day holds in our house!
To help our children understand, my friend Michelle and I took them to a nearby battlefield where every five years they display 2,977 American flags to represent the lives of each person lost in the 9/11 tragedy.  Until we can make it to the actual sight in New York, this local memorial helps our kids get a sense of the significance of what happened that day. 

To say the flag display was moving is an understatement.  From the minute I saw them, the tears flowed.  To see the volume of flags and to know what each represents was overwhelming. I think the visual made it much more real to all of us.  

It's hard to believe that it's been 15 years.  A lot has changed since 9/11, but I'm choosing to look on the bright side.  So much good in humanity came from the tragedy . . . so much patriotism. America is the land of the free . . . and the home of the brave.  That was never more true than after 9/11.