It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year! Or Is It?

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Oh my word … I can’t believe it is October 20. Where did the month go? I am in B-I-G trouble! WHY? Well, to start I don’t have Halloween costumes completely planned. The big ones are the eldest and the middle and they happen to be the 2 not planned. Figures.

However, before Halloween even gets here I have Dee’s 8th birthday, although I am going to have to do her party in November because one of her classmates is having his party ON HER BIRTHDAY! UGH! I know the mom has no idea, but it is still frustrating on my end. Dee could care less (thank the stars), but she isn’t the one who has to re-plan the entire thing.

So are you following? Dee’s birthday, then Halloween, then Dee’s party … and then Thanksgiving and after that is Ry’s birthday. We will do her party in December because I can’t handle 2 November parties …. or maybe I should do a combo? My house isn’t big enough and renting a place is $$$. Hm …. Sorry let me get back on track.

OK, so we get through Ry’s birthday and then it is Christmas and then the 13 year old’s birthday immediately after. Sigh. We get a little reprieve before the next birthday in the middle of January. Zen is my favorite. He is an April baby.

I am exhausted and need a plan. Sooooo …. Anyone want to do all this for me?? Any takers? No? Darn. Well, I tried …

I also need to not  miss the happiness that all of this craziness brings. We are celebrating so much GOODNESS and it is so easy to get lost in the hecticness of it all. My middles are all going to celebrate new milestones (8, 11, and 14)!!!! Halloween is always so fabulous in my neighborhood! Thanksgiving is quiet for us, but it is always nice. Christmas….ah! I love everything about it!

I need to not focus on the heart-squeezing panic I feel at what needs to be done. I need someone to walk behind me flicking me and saying “Are you living in the moment? Be happy!” Pretty sure my friend Jess B is up for that job. Good thing she doesn’t live near me!

Wish me luck and I will keep you posted!

~Andrea

My Top 10 Best Ideas

OK, so I really feel like even after 15 years of parenting, I totally stink at this gig. However, there are moments where I feel I out-shine my biggest expectations. Please note these are the best ideas for MY family! I am absolutely not telling you this is the best way because I am not stupid. I realize every family has to find there own groove. These are my hacks that have made life in the Gardner Household far easier.

Here are my favorite (in no particular order):

10. Teaching my kids to cook at an early age. Now that they are older they can cook dinner without supervision! Can I just tell you how awesome it is to not have to worry about making dinner every night.

9. Split the house into zones. I give them a number and they scurry off and clean that area. When they cooperate the house gets fully clean in under 30 minutes.

8. Use Perfectly Posh Gender Bender to remove stains … including nail polish! Posh makes no claims that the soap is anything more than a nourishing, tallow-free, moisturizing soap, but it worked wonders when a certain daughter spilled nail polish all over my carpet and hid it from me instead of telling. I found it 2 days later but Gender Bender and a little elbow grease got the polish completely out of our carpet!

7. Letting the kids pick their own extracurricular activities instead of imposing my own desires on them. If I had my way they would all be little theater buffs. To date, none of them are in theater. However, when they love what they are doing, they tend to try their best.

6. When shopping with little kids always bring a sharpie marker. Why? Because they can be used on mirrors in fitting room and wipe off easily with a baby wipe.
Why are you in a fitting room with all the kids?
*Baby wanted to breastfeed and you need quiet or they rip your nipple off while looking around and nursing at the same time because stores are exciting for them. So you pop over to the fitting rooms and settle with the baby and let the toddler create art on the mirror. Now if only they would deliver a coffee to the fitting rooms ….
*You have 3 little ones 5 and under and you need to hide while you cry because what the he** were you thinking when you thought that you could take 3 little kids to Target??
*You actually need to try on clothes and you really don’t want your toddler climbing under all the dressing room doors and scaring the sh** out of all the other women also trying on clothes.
*Because it is a great idea.

5. Push Ups. Forget time out. Time out does nothing if you aren’t going to teach your child how to cam themselves by taking slow deep breathes etc. Time outs make them mad at you because it is soooooooo unfair so they retaliate and draw on the walls when you turn your back. How do you punish that? They did it while in punishment! Instead make them do push-ups! Sure they grumble and complain, but they learn how to do proper push ups before the rest of their peers and, I kid you not, it becomes a bragging right. They get stronger and learn that positive physical activity can help them. When they are done we talk about what they did wrong and what they can do different next time. The push ups help them get into a clearer mind faster so the conversation actually sinks into their brains!

4. The girls are terrible at cleaning their room. They can literally take a full day to do a 5 minute job. Ground them, take away dessert, etc and nothing changes. Heck, I have even thrown away their toys! Yes, in the trash, not into a bucket to earn back. Doesn’t matter. They could care less. Do you realize how annoying this is?? I want their rooms clean. It is a safety issue and, to be honest, I hate messes. It overwhelms me and makes me irrational. So how did I finally get them to clean and in a timely manner? I bet them they couldn’t clean their room in the time it took the Mission Impossible theme song to play. I blasted the song and stood at their door and watched (because I didn’t want stuff shoved under beds etc). I have never seen them move so fast. The song is 3 minutes and 28 seconds long. I think this is a new cleaning record. I don’t mind losing this bet.

3. No screen time during the week. Period. I have a basket and phones and tablet go in there unless I give the say so. Bored? Go play a game or ride your bike. Read, write, or be bored. Just stay off electronics. I am watching a terrible trend of disconnect. Humans are losing empathy and I really think it is lack of real human interaction that is the cause. Maybe I am wrong, but I know this isn’t hurting them and may benefit them. If this doesn’t work for you, I totally get it. I promise we do not judge. To each their own, but I promise you this has made our lives more pleasant and far more simple.

2. I took Facebook off my phone. It is still on my tablet and that goes with me everywhere also, but I am more likely to not check it 500 times a day. I also took Snapchat, Twitter Tumblr, etc off my phone … the only thing I kept was Instagram because I do like to post pictures easily. All of these are on my tablet, so I am still connected via social media, but I am on it far less and much happier for it. Bonus, my kids have also noticed I am not on it as much and they are also happier.

1. Everyday I tell myself “You are doing the best you can in the moment. Give yourself a break.” OK, so sometimes I then call myself a liar and tell myself I am terrible at this parenting thing and I may even cry ugly tears, but if I keep telling myself I am doing my best then maybe I will one day believe it and maybe my kids will see I tried and refused to give up on myself. Maybe it will help them to learn to never give up on themselves. If that is the one thing I succeed at, then I did well.

~Andrea

19 Years Later

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1996

Happy Anniversary, Marco! Can you believe it has been 19 years since our wedding? The day was perfect. The temperature was an ideal low 70s and the New England leaves were just starting to turn into their gorgeous fall foliage colors. That morning, as I got ready, I scarfed down Dunkin’ Donuts and prayed I wouldn’t stain my dress. Spoiler alert, I didn’t!

Katie Beth, our flower girl, was so tired. It was nap time and she looked at me before walking down the aisle and said, “Auntie! Hold my hand!” Her dad rushed over and took her hand and walked with her. I love that memory; she was my buddy.

I walked down the aisle to Over The Rhine Rhapsodie … and there you were. My best friend. Oh the butterflies!

5 children, 3 states, medical emergencies, work trips, vacations, major job changes, leaps of faith, fights, laughter, death, and more. I hasn’t been easy. I can’t even put into words our journey because it would be a book. It is all worth it to be with you. I hope you feel the same.

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2017

So, Mr Gardner, here’s to another 50 years. You’re stuck with me. I was wrong on the day of our wedding. I thought I couldn’t love you more than I did in that moment, but I was naive. That was such an innocent love. Now, I love you madly and deeply and so much more than I ever thought was possible. There are still butterflies. No regrets. Happy anniversary, my love.

~Andrea

Something of Value

My husband hung 2 white shelves in my kitchen for me. They are the type of shelf meant for decorations. They look perfect.

The night he hung them we were all in bed and suddenly an enormous crash woke us up. My husband and I went flying down the stairs to see, in utter dismay, one of the shelves fell. The anchors were still in the wall, but the shelf managed to fall and everything on it crashed to the floor. Oddly, the decorative sugar bowl didn’t shatter. Neither did the clay bird my 15 year old made in kindergarten. The mold of the 7 year old’s hand broke a little; the base and one finger. The finger I can glue back on. Everything else shattered.

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The upper shelf fell at 1:30 AM. A part of me wishes I had taken a picture of the epic mess it made. 

Someone mentioned to me how sorry they were that all my stuff broke. What I found interesting was that I wasn’t sorry at all.

Back track 4 years ago, I would have been so upset had this happened. I love elephants and one off the items that shattered was my little black elephant statue. The teapot my mom sent also shattered, as did the heart I made in Bible Study. I would emotionally attach myself to objects all the time. Why? Why did I have this attachment? I think it was a learned behavior. We are taught to put extra value on items that can reference any memory, emotion, or family history. However, none of these objects, aside from the heart, really had a meaningful story behind it. The story behind the heart is one I can simply pass down to my children, no object needed.

So what changed in the last 4 years? Why am I suddenly able to emotionally separate myself from objects I was once attached to? I think it was an evolution really. Over the last 4 years I dealt with so many unknowns, inconsistencies, changes, and more. I learned nothing is permanent or reliable no matter how hard you try to keep things “as is.” It took 4 years to learn this lesson and the comment from one person to realize I learned it.

So what does it mean? Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Frankly, I don’t think it is falls into either category. I think it is great to have sentimental attachments, but to a degree. We can’t attach ourselves to every little thing in our lives. We become obsessed.

I also think it is unhealthy to have zero attachment anything at all. We are humans and we are made to have feelings. That is one of the major distinctions between us and animals; and even then some species are closing that gap. But I digress …

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Some things help you remember moments more clearly; helping to to treasure the important aspects of life. 

Back to my shelf … Bummer the teapot, elephant, and heart broke, but it is OK. They are just stuff. However, had the hand or bird been shattered, I know there would have been tears. Why? Because, God forbid anything to happen to one of my children, these precious pieces of art that they hand made transport me to the time they made them. Their joy at showing me their amazing creations. Knowing their hands carefully crafted the items. I can see the pudgy kindergarten hands of my now 15 year old. I can see the sparkle of excitement in the eyes of the 7 year old. I remember odd things, like what they were wearing, and these objects help my brain to keep those memories fresh and focused. Sometimes we NEED the physical reminder so we don’t forget.

I understand this post is mostly babble to you and that is OK. I am realizing what things really matter in life because not everything can hold value, but I am also learning it is OK to have attachment to some things.

~Andrea

May Day

It is May first! I always love the first of the month! It brings the promise of new adventures! Have you noticed I am in the process of changing the blog? I need it to better describe *ME* and so my husband and several besties all agreed “sunshine and daisies” is definitely how they describe me.  I am really excited for these changes! I have several things I am looking forward to in May…

1. More outside time
2. Finishing up the 2016-2017 school year
3. Working my Perfectly Posh business and the start of Monthly Posh Boxes!
4. Our annual volunteering of placing flags on veterans graves for Memorial Day

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What are you looking forward to this May?

~Andrea

Picture Challenge 1/5 & 1/6

My picture from 1/5 is something delicious. I picked my mug of peppermint tea. It is warm and delicious, but it also reminds me of the countless tea parties I had with my mom while I was growing up. I am also reminded of the tea parties I had with my 2 eldest nieces. I still have tea parties with my children. Sometimes I will even pull out the fancy teapot and china cups with saucers.  It is a tradition of sorts.

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1/6 is a self portrait. I wasn’t looking forward to this one because I had no idea what to do. Then life unfolded very quickly on my computer. I was horrified as I streamed the news live. There is an active shooting at Fort Lauderdale airport…or there was when this picture was taken. People were killed. People are injured.
This was about the same time I learned a friend from long ago is very sick and in critical health. She is too young to be called away from this earth. Life isn’t always pretty. Sometimes it ages us. The worry, heartache, fear…..
However, I am putting my trust and hope in God and offering prayers of peace and comfort to those being impacted by the shooting and for those who also know the beautiful lady who is fighting for her life.
So this is me in real life.

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~Andrea

Picture Challenge 1/3 & 1/4

I promise I took my picture yesterday! I just didn’t get it posted because I blew a tire on the highway. It was epic. It was also dark and I was by myself. A beautiful friend was on the same highway and knew what happened so she pulled up behind me and stayed until my husband could get to me. She is awesome. My knight in shining armor arrived and changed my tire and showed me my very literally destroyed tire. I opted to go home after that and crash on the couch.

My 1/3 picture is of an animal. I could have gotten creative here, but instead I opted to take a picture of Sunny Day. Sunny is a chocolate lab who thinks we starve her. She is a 4 year old ball of energy and so loved. Her favorite thing to do is try to trick us into more food. She will try to convince the people who hadn’t fed her that she never ate. She will walk around with her bowl in her mouth and give us sad, sad eyes. She has managed a second breakfast once or twice. Sneaky pooch.
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My 1/4 picture is a favorite thing. That would be my coffee pot. I feel this needs no explanation, ha!

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How are y’all doing on your resolutions, goals, positive life changes? Let me know!
~Andrea

Circle

Today my task was to take a picture of a circle. The obvious choice being my wedding ring. Of course I picked that, but I also picked my grandmother’s ring. Her ring has the letter A on it. I am her only grandchild to share the same first initial so I got the ring and I cherish it. My grandmother and I were close. I called her ever Sunday. When she would go to Florida in the winter I would drive to see her (Florida is closer to me than where my family is from). This woman was amazing. She told me stories, gave me advice, would share some of her heartache. Through it all she was a tough as nails woman with grace and charm who took the tough times and learned from them. She was devoted and loving. I pray I am half as amazing as she was. I miss her terribly every single day of my life.

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My wedding ring….18 years. It seems like yesterday and forever ago all at the same time. We have had amazing highs and devastating lows and through it all we have held to each other and our wedding rings symbolize that commitment. Marco is my best friend. He knows my worst secrets and my best attributes and he still loves me. He is a pretty amazing person. He is my comfort and my life.

~Andrea

Purple

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Purple. My favorite color is purple. Today Zen has been playing with his Play-Doh he got for Christmas. He has been creating and mixing all afternoon. It is so beautiful to watch him and participate in his imaginative play. I have “eaten” more ice cream today than I can count. He always gives me purple because “It your favorite, Mama!”
Thank goodness it isn’t real! His passion for play is beautiful and the fact he can be occupied for long periods is a blessing.

Deliberate

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My new planner, stickers, and an inspiration journal, which actually goes with a different planner, but I loved the layout.

I am challenging myself in 2017. I have a word that will define my year; deliberate. I have 3 verses from the Bible to focus on (they go together and also go with my word); Proverbs 16:9 “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” and Proverbs 16:3 “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” and Psalm 20:4 “May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.”

I have a new top-secret life plan (it is currently between Marco, God, & me), I have a new planner, a new journal, a new determination.

Back to deliberate…
I have always been a picture-taking Momma. I am also a person who throws useless junk away, but I tend to do it in moments of anger because there are messes and stuff just laying around. I want to be more organized about it; more deliberate.

I am also going to be deliberate in my memory-catching. Each day I want to take a picture with a theme. There is a catch though. Each picture has to also have a story. Whether personal to me directly or one of my kids, my husband, my brothers, parents, etc. It simply can’t just be a random picture. It will be interesting how I make some things more than just a random picture. I got the picture list from a Google search (get it HERE). It is not my list. I do not credit myself with it. Do not give me credit in the creation of the list. I do not own it.

I also want to be more deliberate with my purging. Currently I toss stuff that simply angers me because it is in my way in that moment. I want a method to my purging madness. It will not be everyday; just a few per month. The point is I want to be deliberate.

I am going to test run this challenge in January and take it month by month and tweak it as needed. I am not sure if I will post daily or weekly. That is why January is my test run. Here is my January schedule.

January 1 — photograph favorite color & purge clothing, shoes, hats, scarves, etc
January 2 — photograph a circle
January 3 — photograph an animal
January 4 — photograph a favorite item
January 5 — photograph something delicious
January 6 — photograph myself
January 7 — photograph inside fridge
January 8 — photograph a wall
January 9 — photograph a bag
January 10 — photograph 2 things
January 11 — photograph time
January 12 — photograph a leaf
January 13 — photograph people
January 14 — photograph a path
January 15 — photograph where I sleep & purge in side toys
January 16 — photograph music
January 17 — photograph mail
January 18 — photograph today
January 19 — photograph a shape
January 20 — photograph something white
January 21 — photograph growth
January 22 — photograph in my town & purge DVDs
January 23 — photograph this is mine
January 24 — photograph what I do
January 25 — photograph in the backyard
January 26 — photograph yum
January 27 — photograph I can’t live without
January 28 — photograph a sign
January 29 — photograph shadow & purge old bikes, scooters, skates, etc
January 30 — photograph hello
January 31 — photograph something colorful

I will leave you with my favorite saying that I made into a picture.

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~Andrea