Sunday, December 13, 2015

In Which the Elf gets Touched and Loses His Magic

The Elf on the Shelf is no joking matter around here.  I mean serious business folks.

The other day, I took the boys to Target and there they were, the Elf on the Shelf dolls on sale for all to see.  My kids just stood there and stared.

Luckily, I had prepared them for this in advance.  Go me.

Sam (10 yr old):  "Mom! Look!  It's the knock offs!"

Me trying not to make a public scene: "Yep, just keep walking kids..."

Nephi (8 yr old):  "Why do they sell fake ones?"

Me: "Remember, I told you, you have to get on a waiting list to get a real one.  Some parents get impatient and just go buy fake one for their kids."

Sam: "So, Mom, let me get this straight... mom and dad's who buy the knock offs take them home, pretend they are real, and at night they move the elf themselves?"

Me: "Yeah, pretty much."

Sam: "That's really sad.  I'm SOOOO glad we got a REAL elf!!"

Nephi: "Me too!"

I'm trying not to bust a gut laughing....

Then everywhere we go, the boys have to tell people that we have a REAL elf!  Not one of the knock-off's at Target.  People are always trying really hard not to laugh, because it's just too stinking funny!

But this Elf business, it's no joke.

On Thursday, my 4 year old was goofing off around the Elf, and bumped him off the table... I try to keep him up and away from the little ones, and I thought he was pretty safe, but I was wrong.  My older boys started FREAKING OUT!!  Yelling at him NOT to touch him, which he did...

You would think someone in the family had just died.

Drama.  Tears. Flying fists of fury.  Jake almost got disinherited from his brothers for ruining Christmas.  It was all very tragic.

Time for mama action.

I had read something on Pintrest about a magic recovery kit and I told the boys I would get online and order one and have it over-nighted.  Finally, they calmed down, but Jake was still in the dog house.

So I searched around and found a super cute idea, but it included glitter.  I hate glitter.  I hate it even more than that stupid Easter basket grass.  There was no way I was going to have it sprinkled around my house.

So I came up with something better.

The magic band-aid.

Because band-aids fix everything, right??



I found the original letter here... and I just changed some of the wording for the band-aid instead of the magic dust.  I also colored the band-aid with a red gel pen with a little sparkle in it.  On the inside of the band-aid, I also colored the white square with a green glitter gel pen to make it look like the patch of magic -- which turned out to be an excellent move because my kids were super observant about that green magic square that was going to save Christmas...

I was pretty happy about how the design all turned out!

We put it in the mailbox that night, and told the boys next morning we thought we heard jiggle bells out by the mailbox in the middle of the night.  They ran out to check!




Doctor Sam took charge and decided to put the band-aid on like a belt... 


He probably should have aimed a little higher... just sayin'...


Since it was Friday, and our Elf takes the weekends off to party at the pole and go to church on Sunday, he left this note under the tree this morning:


And all is well in the world again!

Now, I have had some requests for copies of my Elf of the Shelf Magic Band-Aid Recovery Kit from other parents who are anti-glitter and anti-mess.  So I whipped up a PDF version to pass along!

Elf on the Shelf Magic Band-Aid Recovery Kit.PDF

Enjoy!!!!

-Cat

Credits for the designs used in the making of the kit:
Poem: Over the Big Moon
Snowflake backgrounds: Emma's Trend, Wallpaper Cave
North Pole Stamps: santasofficialnorthpolemail.com, Wacky Jacquis Designs

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Elf on the Shelf and Homeschooling

Last year for Christmas, my mom gave us an elf on the shelf. I think she sent it to us early and told us to open it soon, but in my brilliance I completely forgot. Luckily my kids were paying zero attention to me when I opened it (their little faces glued to their new kindles), so I was able to stash it away for the next year. Well, it's the next year and I almost completely forgot about it, again! But was reminded as I was on Pintrest looking for fun Christmas themed homeschool stuff. I found a great way to incorporate the elf with morning journal writing and other activities.

You can download this journal page here!! (Also, I have them draw a picture on the back of what the elf was doing that morning)

For their first morning of homeschool, they came into "class" with the Elf (who is now named Zippy Lightning) sitting there looking oh so innocent. We read the book and wrote letters to Santa (yes, they still believe... Like hard core believe - and I love it!) And then we moved on. Tonight after they went to bed, Ben and I had a little fun playing Elf...
We thought we were VERY funny.  The boys not so much.  They were really insulted that the Elf would be so rude as to draw on our family pictures.  I believe Sam said, "What a little jerk!"

Okay....

So we decided that we'd probably better stick with nice and silly... safe.

This was well received!

The next night we had him Air Assault repealing off the ceiling light.  And they loved it... then Ben and I got this idea that it would be fun to do two parters.  Like have him doing something one night, and then have a part 2 of what he was doing.  It made moving him around super easy!  So after we had him repealing, Ben made him look like he had been trying to get off and got his his foot stuck and the boys found him hanging upside down the next morning.  The boys got a huge kick out of this!

This week, we had him decorate the class with Christmas bows... which would have bothered the boys, but we made sure the elf was paying the consequence of being naughty right off:

 And then I thought it would be fun and easy, to make this into another two parter and had the elf trap the soldiers instead.  Of course, this was received with many giggles.
Now, to make life a little easier on us, we told the boys that the elf goes back to the North Pole on Friday night and hangs out with the other elves on Saturday.  On Sunday he goes to church.  And he will come back on Monday... we needed to have weekends off so we didn't burn out. :)

All and all, it's been great fun for the kids!  And great fun for us.  I know a lot of people are anti-elf, and that's okay.  It's really just what you make it.  I never planned on doing it, but grandma stepped in and then I saw the great writing opportunity and went for it.  It's been a great addition to our Christmas traditions.

Cat

Friday, December 11, 2015

Ginormous Leaps of Faith and Lots of Change

I've always been one of those people who don't like to include others in the choice I make.  I mean, outside of the people involved.  These days decisions made are between my husband, me, and God.  Sometimes we include the kiddos.  But I really don't like to post via social media, because I don't want other's opinions to cloud the answers I am receiving from my own reflection and feelings I feel when I pray.  THEN once I make the choice and act on the choice, I don't mind sharing.  In fact, I really enjoy letting my family and friends know what we are up to, just as much as I love knowing what they are up to as well.

This last month has been a whole new adventure in the Nutshell family.  My husband and I made a huge choice that will change everything.  EVERYTHING.  And it was a HARD choice to make.  One of the hardest of my life.

Let me start at the beginning.

All my long time readers know that my oldest two boys have each come with a unique set of "issues." Sam, 10 years old, has ADHD, some ODD, and a speech/language impairment.  Nephi, 8 years old, also had ADHD (but manifests it in a totally different way!), and some other compulsion issues as well.

We started them out in a charter school in Utah that had some great structure, and they thrived!  In fact, they were a whole school year ahead in reading and math when we moved to Oklahoma.  Enter common core (which OK did away with the summer we moved)... and the nightmare began.  Disclaimer: I am in no way blaming common core for my children's behavior.  I know there are LOTS of kids who do well.  My kids' brains are just wired differently and they couldn't wrap their minds around how they were teaching things.  They stopped doing work.  They couldn't focus. They got bored.  They got fidgety. Slowly, their grades started to suffer.  My once brilliant boys who GOT math and reading and everything else, were now struggling.  I didn't get it.  Sam's ODD got so bad in Oklahoma, there was a point where the police were involved just to keep him from getting expelled.

I didn't get it.  Wasn't I a good mom?  Wasn't I doing everything under the sun to help my boys?  I got them on some mild medication (which helped... a lot), I got them speech therapy, counseling, tutoring, etc.

Then we moved here to Tennessee.  I was looking forward to a fresh start with a new school and teachers.

It was worse!

I thought it couldn't get worse, but it did!  Nephi had to get a 504 to FORCE the school into giving him daily recess and not taking it away as punishment.  I'm not kidding you.  They gave them such a short time to eat lunch that he stopped eating and actually started losing weight.  He started pooping his pants all the time because he was afraid if he went he wouldn't finish his work and his privileges would be revoked. (He did it at home once in a while, but this really escalated the issue).

Sam decided he already knew everything, so he would read his Goosebumps books instead of doing his work.  He was loud and disruptive. He started getting bullied at recess because he is really short, and is a bit socially awkward.  Because of his speech/language issues, he doesn't understand everything people are telling him, and he is a bit more immature socially than the other kids. Except the fact that he REALLY likes girls... and that gets him teased too.

Between both boys issues, I was getting calls from teachers at least twice a week.  I was taking them out a couple times a month for doctor appointments.  And I was meeting with teachers and school councilors at least twice a month.  So here I am, super pregnant, with a one year old and a 4 year old, trying to balance everything without completely losing my mind!  They fought me at home too.  It was a challenge every day to get them out of bed and out to school.  Then I had to fight them at night to do their homework.  We were constantly fighting, and the feeling of contention saturated our home.

A month ago we had parent teacher conference.  I left crying.

I don't blame the teachers.  They are very sweet women and they tried really hard to help my boys in the way they could.  But with their hands tied with the set common core curriculum and lots of other kids who need their help and attention, they just couldn't do for my boys what needed to be done.

Over these last months I have completely exhausted all ideas on how to help them and I felt like the biggest failure of a mom EVER!

What was I doing wrong?

God had given me 4 beautiful boys and I had flunked motherhood.  I had somewhere along the road missed something and now my boys were failing out of school.  I didn't get it.

I came home from the meetings just devastated.  So I did what I always do when I don't know what else to do.  I knelt by my bed and I prayed.  I poured my heart out to the Lord.  I told him I had done everything I could think of to help them and I was failing.  As I said Amen, I literally felt warm arms around me and a feeling of great peace fell over me.  Then a voice as clear as day said in my ear. Homeschool.

NOOOOOOOOO!

If you read my post last fall about back to school you will remember how I feel about this...

That was the ONE answer I REALLY didn't want!

I sobbed now.  I felt comfort and peace as I cried.  But cried, none the less.

Did God not understand all I would give up if I homeschooled?  I'm not a selfish person, for the most part, but I LOVED my alone time.  I LOVE having the older kids out of the house so I can do what I want to do.... mostly household chores... but I get to do my crochet and watch whatever I want on Netflix.  I get to nap while the other boys do as well.  I would be giving up all of that to homeschool.  Because I knew that if I choose to do that, I would go at it full force and my kids would get the best education I could give.  And that would take away my alone me time.

And what if my kids turn out weird??  Face it, we all know someone who was homeschooled that turned out less than normal and blame it on the homeschooling factor.  (Never mind that we know a million weirdos that went to public school as well).

I thought about it all day.  When Ben came home that night I told him what I felt.  And he said that was exactly what I needed to do then.  He then told me that he knew I could do it, and that he felt that everything would work out.

So I started researching it.  I started looking into all the curriculum people suggested for kids with ADHD.  After two weeks of research I had a complete plan worked out for the rest of this school year.  Everything seemed to just come so easily to me.... I know the Lord was guiding me, no doubt about that!

The boys were actually pretty excited about it.  They were looking forward to the new adventure as much as I was terrified.

I called their teachers and talked to them.  I let them know how much I appreciated all they did for my boys.  I wanted them to know that the choice was all about what the boys needed and I wanted to part amicably.  And we did.  They were so sweet and encouraging about it. The only one who gave me a bit of a hard time was the school secretary when we went in to withdraw them... and only because I know she loves me and will miss seeing me there every other day.  It was a very positive, yet scary experience.

Today, we have been homeschooling for 2 weeks.

Let me tell you:  Best decision we have ever made for our boys.  They are HAPPY.  I mean REALLY happy!  They get an extra hour of sleep, which makes a huge difference.  They love that I have all their work all ready in a daily folder so they can track their own daily progress.  They know when we start, when we have lunch, and when we end.  We are still flexible, there are errands to run and doctor appointments to attend, but they have these little clipboards and they bring their work with them.  We have a school room, just for school... used to be Ben's office and gym.  They know where all their things are, they have weekly schedules to look at, and I try to make things fun.

As for me?  I actually have MORE time to do things.  My house is actually cleaner because my kids are happily helping me!  Emphasis on happily.  I tend to the other boys while the big ones are doing worksheets, and I don't seem as tired and need naps because I'm not fighting the boys every 5 minutes.  Not having the homework factor and morning drama has made me SO LESS stressed.  I am happier too!

Many homeschooling families would disagree with my methods.  But with my boys special needs, this is the best way for us.  And my boys LOVE it.  In two weeks, they have gotten back on track in math.  Where they were once struggling, they are now succeeding.  And all they really needed was more attention and a learning method that worked for their little brains.  And I think, above all, they needed me... and if I am honest with myself, I needed them.  I think I have learned more about my boys in the last two weeks, then I have in the last year.  I thought I knew them, but they have other sides to them I didn't know, and I am really enjoying getting to know those sides.

Well, folks, sorry to cut and run, but lunch is over and my kids are bugging me to start math.  Imagine that!

-Cat

Monday, November 2, 2015

Car Accidents, Pregnancy Problems, and Halloween!

I can't believe it's been a few months since I posted.  Well, actually I can.  Life has been giving us some big mama sized lemons and we are having a hard time making the proverbial lemonade.

Aside from almost all of our electronics blowing out... you probably read that post a couple months ago about losing our computers and phones.  I miss my laptop so much I can't even think about it without crying!!  And since then we have lost our TV and another phone... and well, our van.

Three weeks ago, my husband and I were on our way home from a doctor appointment when a lady came cruising out of a Walmart parking lot cutting us off (after cutting off the semi to our right) and we t-boned her.  Air bags deployed and everything.  Ben and I were fine, just shaken up and a little burned and bruised from the seat-belts and the airbags. The other lady hurt her back and neck, but she's fine too.

But our van... our dear beloved van... wasn't worth the cost of replacing the airbags and seat-belts so the insurance company had it totaled.  We've been driving around in a rental (which my 4 year scraped up with the handlebars of his bike) the last 3 weeks, trying to get everything worked out, but after 3 moves since we got the van, the title has been lost and it's been a huge deal just to get another one.  So this week, I get to look forward to having no vehicle.  Yay.

Then there is the issues with the un-born babe.

At my 20 week ultrasound they determined that the baby was in the 11th percentile and since all my others were beefcakes, it was a cause for concern.

So off we go to a perinatal specialist.  Longest ultrasounds ever.

At 26 weeks, the baby was in the 10th percentile, and now at 29 weeks he is in the 8th.  He is still growing, but slowly and he's a tiny little man.  So I have to go in every week for monitoring and measurements.  But the doctors are hopeful that I will carry to full term.

Then there are the on-going ADHD issues with my two oldest.  My 8 year old is struggling really badly controlling impulses and focusing.  He also has some behavioral issues, like not taking personal responsibility for his choices among other things.

Along with other trials, I won't talk about on-line, I feel like I'm being attacked with crap from all sides.  It's been a ROUGH few months.  It seems like no matter how hard we try, we just can't catch a break.  But I'm hanging in there and trying to keep my crying to a minimum and keeping my head up as best as I can.  I think being hormonal makes everything worse, but whatever.  I can do this. WE can do this.

But I didn't let all the bad stuff get to me this Halloween.  We had a blast!  My husband and boys are really into the theme thing -- or at least I am and they are cool enough to go along with my shenanigans.

This year's theme was Harry Potter:

AND it was little guy's 1st Birthday!

Also, while I was on bed rest for 6 weeks, as depressing as it was, I got a lot of crochet projects done:




Only, I had to stop because it gave me a bad case of pregnancy carpal tunnel... BOO!  Which is much better since I got some super sexy arm braces to sleep in.  But whatever.

But that's life.  It's a roller coaster.  And ALL of us go through things we would rather not have to go through.  Even though many of our trials AREN'T our fault, we ALWAYS have a choice on how we choose to face them and how we are going to come out of them.  Yeah, things are pretty sucky right now, but know what?  It's going to get better.  I KNOW it.  Sometimes trials are so big, it's hard to see the Lord's small tender mercies hidden within.  Yeah, we lost our beloved van - BUT we found a great one for the perfect price to replace it as soon as we get the money.  It was really depressing when Jake "keyed" the side of the rental van, but my brilliant husband was able to treat and buffer out the scratches so they were hardly noticeable and he even fessed up with the rental company about it and because he was honest and he did a great job they didn't charge us a penny. Yes, the baby is tiny, I hurt all the time, and it's been the hardest pregnancy by far!  But the baby still healthy and he is cruising along and this pregnancy will be over soon.  Yes, Nephi's ADHD is really out of control, but our doctor's and teachers are working hard with us to figure things out.  And not having a good TV was pretty stressful at times (especially being on bed rest, and now being on partial bed rest), but then our neighbor sold us theirs for a reasonable price and saved us!

I am sure all the other trials will work out too if we just keep faith and hope and do our very best to make good choices, be patient, and work hard to get things done.  We got this!

-Cat


Monday, August 17, 2015

Transitioning from Military to Civilian Life: 10 Tips for Families (Guest Post)

Written by Sara Furlong
Maybe you’re ready to make the transition from military life to family. Maybe your separation is already scheduled. Maybe you’re worried about drawdown and how you would get by if it happened to your family.
Making the transition from military to civilian life can be daunting – and exciting! – for the whole family. Below are a few tips to help you get on the right foot for a successful transition.
  1. Start early!
Don’t wait until the week before separation to start planning your new life. According to a leading veteran employment firm, you should begin preparing one year before your transition to ensure you have time to discover the best options for your family, keep transition costs to a minimum, and use your military benefits to the fullest.
  1. Cultivate options.
As you embark on this new chapter, you’re going to want to explore as many options as possible to ensure your family finds its best possible situation. Luckily, there are lots of cost-free services available to help military families transitioning to civilian life.

Be sure to check out military job boards, placement firms, job fairs, and the military Transition Assistance Program (TAP) and Army Career and Alumni Program. It’s also important to reach out and make connections with veterans in the career world. Try your VFW and military associations and be sure to contact every former military person you know to let them know you’re looking for a new career.

Oh – and once you find yourself loaded with options, be sure to investigate them all thoroughly!

  1. Make the most of your military move.

So many families use their military move to head straight for their home town. While this is certainly understandable, it’s not always the best choice. There may be significantly better opportunities available to you in other places and not having to pay to move for your new job would be a great thing.

Plus, many companies pay for employees’ relocation. Having a military move that could save a company your moving expenses could give you an advantage over your competition and tip the scales in your favor. It could also be a nice bargaining chip when negotiating salary and benefits.
  1. Sign up for gap insurance.
If it takes some time after separation for you or your spouse to find a job, there could be a period of time when your family isn’t covered by insurance. Military health insurance coverage usually ends on the day the service member is discharged. By signing up for gap insurance, you can make sure your family is covered throughout your transition.

  1. Get your papers in order.
Now is the time to start getting your and/or your spouse’s resume in order.
Be sure to include any special awards, honors, training, leadership roles, and responsibilities you’ve earned during service or past employment. Haven’t been working for a while? (Or even a long while!) Don’t worry. Make a list of every organization you’ve been involved with, any volunteering you’ve done, and any experiences you’ve had that might add to your value as an employee but that might be unusual for civilians. (For example, you might be able to say foreign travel in the military has made you comfortable interacting with diverse groups of people.)
Brainstorm any skills that you might have displayed or acquired through the items on your list. Include them in a well-crafted cover letter when you apply to jobs, explaining whenever possible how those skills will help you perform that job well.  
Helping your spouse to prepare their resume? Remember to remove as much military lingo as possible. Most civilian employers probably won’t understand it. Also, help your spouse to keep from being too modest. The military mentality stresses the team over the individual, so service members can sometimes be reluctant to talk up their accomplishments. Make sure they highlight their achievements, knowledge, and experience and explain how they make them an exceptional job candidate.
  1. Clean up your internet persona.

It’s a fact of life that job recruiters, hiring managers, and employers now check out their candidates on social media to weed out any candidates whose personal lives raise red flags.
Get ahead of the curve by logging into every one of your social media accounts and removing anything even slightly questionable. While you’re at it, share a few links to articles about recent developments in your industry of choice. This will show the person reviewing your profiles that you will be truly interested and engaged in the job. Applying to jobs in numerous industries? Make posts highlighting any volunteer work you’re involved with or share links to articles that demonstrate good character.

Once you’ve cleaned up your accounts, sit down with your spouse and help them to do the same.

  1. Take advantage of military education benefits.

College is a great way to ease the transition from military to civilian life and to prepare active duty service members and their spouses for new careers. And the best part? There are tons of military education benefits available to help make it super affordable.

The G.I. Bill offers significant tuition assistance, whether your spouse is still serving or already discharged. If your goal is to prepare your family for a future transition, you might want to take advantage of the Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts (MyCAA) program which will afford you with funding for many great educational and job training opportunities.   
The first step is to find out what benefits you qualify for and how many college credits your spouse has earned through their experience and training in the military. (Yes, military service often earns you college credits!)
Once you’ve requested this information, start searching for military scholarships and programs that may interest you at military-friendly colleges. What’s a military-friendly college? These schools will not only honor your education benefits – they’ll also provide important services that will ensure you get the most out of your experience. Even more important, many of them offer reduced tuition for military veterans, service members, and their families.
For instance, Pace University is widely ranked as one of the most military-friendly schools. They offer impressive military discounts, host special military admissions events that speed up the process, and you can even estimate your college costs with Pace’s handy online tool.

Trident University International is a military-friendly college that provides military education grants that decrease the cost of tuition up to 36% for veterans, service members, and their dependents. Trident also has a Military Assistance Center that is knowledgeable about all aspects of education during and after the military. They’ll help you identify and take advantage of all available opportunities and lower your costs as much as possible. (Sometimes as much as 100%!)

Below is a list of military-friendly colleges that may be helpful as you begin your research:
  1. Ask for help when you need it.
There are so many services available to help service members and their families with everything from finding jobs, getting into good schools, or coping with the complex emotions that can sometimes accompany switching over to civilian life. Seeking help and overcoming issues before they get too big is always the best approach. So don’t hesitate! Contact your Veterans Affairs office (VA) if you find yourself struggling.

  1. Look into joining the reserves.
This is a great option if your spouse is having a hard time wrapping their brain around not serving and wearing that uniform. And it’s simple. They can transfer to the reserves without making a commitment that will conflict with any job they may take in the future. However, the money they could make by committing for a certain number of years could also make your family more secure as you pursue employment options and get settled into your new life. Either way, joining the reserves can ease the mental shift required when one goes from military to civilian life.

  1. Stay positive!
Embarking on any new life situation can be daunting. Just remember that it is perfectly normal to be nervous, but that you and your family will be just fine. There are so many companies out there that are clamoring to hire veterans and loads of educational opportunities available for military families. So, while you may be apprehensive, you should get excited, too! Now is the time for your family to pursue your dreams, move any place you want, and spend lots of quality time together. Do your best to stay positive and focus on all of the ways this change will be great for your family.

Did you and your family make the transition from military to civilian life? Leave your tips and stories in the comments below!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

In Which I Let the Man Cut My Hair

Oh, yes I did.

For a couple months I have been wanting to cut my long locks.  I just couldn't take it anymore.  Long hair isn't all that it's cracked up to be... seriously.

1.  It takes FOREVER to blow dry.

2.  It takes FOREVER to style.

3.  It gets to a point where it's too long to do ANY of the cute styles for so-called "long hair" and you just end up looking stupid.  Prime example:

4.  It gets caught in the seat belt.  All. The. Time.

5.  It's hard to fasten my bra without catching hair in it.

6.  I have to braid it every night or my husband gets tangled in and it ends up in his mouth or drooled on.  Sometimes he even rolls in it and I get stuck.  This particularly sucks if I have to pee.

7.  It gets stuck in my armpits.  It gets stuck in other people's arm pits too.... please don't even think of hugging me... I know you mean well, but my hair... just don't.

8. It falls in my food.

9.  The baby loves to pull it.  Baby loves to eat it.

10.  It gets zipped up, tied up, and shut up in doors.

11.  Lipstick, gloss, and chapstick are a nightmare... all it takes is a little breeze....  People standing around me shouldn't wear it either... Just sayin'

12.  The snarls and tangles... oh, let's not go there...

13.  We actually have to budget in shampoo and conditioner.

14.  It's just too hot!

15. We find long blond hair EVERYWHERE!  It clogs the bathtub drain.  It sticks on the shower walls.  It gets caught in the vacuum.  It's like an invasion!

16.  And my favorite:  Changing poopy diapers is a new level of nasty when your hair is taking a dip.  Shuttering at the memories....

Now you have to understand something about me.  My mom is a hairdresser.  I was raised watching her cut, color, perm, etc.  I spent many MANY hours in a salon helping out and watching.  Now, even, my dad is a retired cop and went to barber school and they work together... so cutting hair is in my blood.

And I am SUPER picky about who I want to touch it.  I even fought my mom on many occasions... she still tells the stories of how I would refuse to let her cut or trim certain sections of my hair.

But she's in Utah, and I'm far far away in Tennessee.  So I started looking around for someone to cut my hair.  Checking out websites, Facebook pages, asking around for referrals, etc.  And nothing felt RIGHT to me.  AND I am super cheap.  With forking out the big bucks for back to school, (y'all know how I feel about THAT) I couldn't justify a $35 haircut for myself.

So, a couple nights ago, I had this brilliant plan.  I could have Ben (who has zero experience) cut my hair and I would guide him through it.

Me: "Hey, want to cut my hair?"

Ben: "Okay."

So we decided that we would do it today.  I wanted an A-line cut -- shorter and stacked a bit in the back, and long on the sides.  I prayed. Then we did it.  I'll let the pictures tell the story....

Before:



The cut:



After:



It looks a little asymmetrical... but it isn't.  I just have more hair on one side due to some breakage from always wearing it in a braid.  Oops.  But hey, It looks GREAT to me!  I'm really happy with it and I think Ben did a really great job. What a studly hubby I have.

And I'm feeling lovely today... I needed that.

-Cat

PS - My boys are really creeped out about the braid.  They think it's a little freaky.... which makes it HILARIOUS to me!!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Unexpected Adventures

It all started with a desperate need for a pressure washer.

This last year since we bought the house, we have plotted and planned to weatherize our wooden fence and deck out back.  We knew that in order to save money we would have to do it ourselves, but getting the equipment together was going to be a little pricey even if we rented it.  So all year, Ben and I have been looking for and waiting for sales on paint sprayers, weatherizing stain stuff, and pressure washers.  We found a really good deal on the paint sprayers, working on getting the stain stuff still... got the paper and tape to cover the house when we do the deck, we just couldn't seem to get our hot little hands on a reasonably priced pressure washer.

Now, it couldn't be just any pressure washer.  Ben said it HAD to be 3000 PSI -- those babies are around $400-500.  He has standards you know...

And I have been pinching and saving the best I can, especially with the whole back to school thing going on.  (Y'all know how I feel about THAT.)  Anyway, I felt this strong urge that we really needed to get the fence done soon.  I have learned never to question my 6th sense... so I actually prayed about it.  Yes, I really did ask the Lord to help us find a pressure washer we could afford.  I told Him that if we REALLY needed to get the fence done, I really needed his help.

Seriously, only a few minutes later I felt like I needed to check Craig's List.

Which I ignored at first.  Craig's list creeps me out a little.  You know all the horror stories.... But after thinking for a minute that people usually aren't targeted over things like pressure washers, I got on and took a look.

And there it was....

EXACTLY what we wanted and needed!!  A $400 pressure washer for $175.  In almost perfect condition.  Apparently, the carburetor needed to be replaced and the owner bought one but didn't want to deal with putting it in.  He just wanted to buy a whole new one.  And since Ben is Mr. Fix-It it was a great deal for us.

But since I was too scared to call anyone on Craig's List, I got Ben to call.  (Who was WAY more than willing to because he was so thrilled we found one we could afford, it was like Christmas).

After talking to him, Ben felt like it was legit, so this morning we headed out to meet the guy.  He lives south of Nashville so it was a little over an hour drive.  We put his address into the GPS, and off we went.  I told Ben if his house was in a shifty neighborhood and he was selling it out of the back of a condemned trailer, we were going to get out of Dodge quick!

But as we drove through Nashville and hit the other side, the area was lovely.  After we got off the freeway, the houses started to get bigger and bigger and BIGGER.  We weren't quite sure we got the right place when we pulled up to a huge mansion.

Ben went up and knocked on the door and the guy was super friendly and had us drive around back to his garage(s).  When he opened them up, they we saw several classic cars in there... it was pretty cool.  He invited us in, and it was like he made up the whole basement and garage area into a museum that looked like an old English town.  It was SO cool.  And what impressed me the most was that the kids actually behaved very respectfully and didn't touch anything.  He even let them hold and play with a few things and take some pictures.

He let the boys try out this boxing stuff in his gym:
 And he will forever be known as the guy with the sword... forget everything else...
 Nephi was more impressed with his collection of miniature cars and planes and WWII paraphernalia.
 Here the boys are in front of his award winning car:
Apparently, the owner is a big time music producer in Nashville.  And he was super nice and extremely patient with my boys.  I think he really enjoyed showing off his cool stuff to people who were genuinely interested. 

We had such a good time.  And we got to explore a part of Tennessee we would normally not have been able too. 

... Oh, and the baby's favorite part was going to Panera after and eating part of Nephi's grilled cheese sandwich.  Seriously, I give up on trying to give this kid age appropriate food... he is grabby and fast and wants it all.


Good times!   All and all, an excellent adventure!

-Cat


PS -- In case you were wondering, Ben got the Pressure washer up and going pretty quickly and we look forward to playing around with it.