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Reliving Game of Thrones: No Thanks

(For those of you dwelling in caves: spoilers ahead!)

Like millions of people around the world, Jim and I are anxiously awaiting the return of Game of Thrones for it’s final (and shortest) season. We already have plans with friends to get together every week to see if Jon Snow (aka Aegon Targaryen) is actually Azor Ahai.

(I would also like to point out here that Aegon, Targaryen, Azor, and Ahai are all accepted words in Google Docs, and Google knew that I actually meant “Jon” and not “John” as I originally typed. So creepy.)

In preparation, Jim has decided to re-watch all seven existing seasons. This is where I bow out.

Don’t get me wrong, I love GOT. But I also can’t stand it. Even when I know something is coming (because I looked it up online ahead of time to appease my anxiety) I still can barely stand to watch it. We were one season late coming to the party, so I had already heard that Ned Stark, the apparent hero of season 1, gets beheaded during the penultimate episode.  That didn’t get to me. The first actual warning I got that GOT may be too much for my sensibilities was when Cersei Lannister sent soldiers to Littlefinger’s brothel to stab bastard Baratheon babies. That sword sliced through a pretend baby and I was like, “Nope, I’m outa here!”

I was so intrigued by the story, however, that I came back. Every time the show passed my emotional limit, I still came back. The Red Wedding, the killing of direwolves, the burning of Shireen Baratheon, and even the death of Hodor ripped me apart. And yet, I came back.

What I won’t do, however, is watch it all again. I will not submit myself to four seasons of King Joffrey or Ramsey Bolton again. I will not watch half of my favorite characters die again. As satisfying as it would be to watch Daenerys (also in the autocorrect, btw) walk through fire not once, but twice, I think I’ll just look those scenes up on YouTube.

More power to Jim if he can spend two days, 15 hours, and 30 minutes watching the whole thing again. I’ll be there for the season premiere in April, watching through my fingers with a nice glass of wine. Until then, no thank you.

I Made A Cake!

I am usually pretty lazy when it comes to cake-baking. Often, I give 12yo the task because she enjoys it and then I don’t have to do it. Lately, however, I’ve been watching the Great British Bake-Off. So, when my mother asked me to make the cake for my grandmother’s 85th birthday party, I was inspired to try something new.

I have almost no knowledge of how to decorate cakes, and I am definitely missing some essential tools (off-set scraper, turn table, etc.). I DO have YouTube, so I watched a few videos and gave it a try. It didn’t quite turn out how I would have liked it in my head, but it was not bad for a first decorated cake. It looked pretty AND tasted quite good, so everyone was happy.

We haven’t travelled for a while, so I’ve been missing a creative outlet since I don’t have any videos to edit. This was the perfect task to give my creativity a boost, and it has inspired me to try it again.

Happy Birthday, Gram!


It’s only Wednesday!?

Some weeks are hard. This week has been hard for me. I’ve cried a couple times already and it’s only Wednesday. I’ll be fine, my family will be fine, but some weeks just sit on your shoulders and heart. This is one of those weeks.

To pick myself up, I googled “cute puppies.”  Try it, it helps.

Our New Truck!

Jim and I are so excited to share our new truck with you! We brought our new 2018 F250 home with us yesterday!


We are especially excited because, although we have needed a new truck for quite some time, we wanted to pay off our car first. By the time we managed to do that last month, Jim had already picked out the truck he wanted. Now, we can’t wait to use it to pull the camper!

No, YOU Pick It UP!!!

Yesterday, I discovered a parenting hack that worked so well I thought I would share it. You may have already done this yourself, but I had never thought of it, so I’m sure there is someone else out there who could find this to be useful.

We have a big, finished room in our basement where our two younger kids keep many of their toys. This room is often anxiety-inducing, as my littles have the typical childhood habit of leaving all their toys on the floor. Fortunately, the mess is hidden in the basement most of the time. The difficulty comes when I decide it is finally time for them to clean it up.

If I send them downstairs with the command to put away their toys, one or more of the following ALWAYS happens:

  • After some time passes, they come upstairs and tell me everything is put away. What has actually happened is they have put away a handful of things and the rest of the toys have miraculously become invisible to only the two of them. After giving them a few more chances, one of us eventually comes downstairs and has to tell them specifically what items do not belong on the floor.
  • They go downstairs to clean, forget immediately they are supposed to be cleaning, and begin to play with their toys instead. The room is now messier than before.
  • After 3 minutes, one of them comes upstairs to claim that the other one “isn’t cleaning ANYTHING!” after which, the other one yells, “I am TOO cleaning!” Truthfully, neither one of them is cleaning.
  • Shouts of “That’s not mine!” and “I didn’t get that out!” echo from the basement. No one picks up anything because nothing belongs to anyone.


Yesterday was a snow day with lots of sleet, so we were stuck inside. Again, I told them to go pick up their toys, and more than one of the above scenarios began to play out. I was preoccupied with an organizing task of my own and I didn’t want to stop to go supervise their cleaning.

Suddenly, inspiration hit and I had an idea. I gave these instructions:

“James, you pick ONE thing that Harper has to put away. Then, Harper, you get to pick one thing James has to put away. It can be ANY toy that isn’t where it belongs and you can’t argue. Just put it away.”

And it worked. In less time than normal, all the toys were off the floor and no one was fighting.


This was successful for a few reasons:

  1. They got to boss each other around and take turn being in charge, which they LOVE.
  2. It narrowed the task down to just one item at-a-time.
  3. They took turns, so there was no argument about who was doing more.
  4. It took away the idea of “yours” and “mine” so they didn’t waste time arguing about whose fault it was that the item was on the floor in the first place.

Before, I would have stood in the room and done the exact same thing: “Harper, put away that princess doll. James, put away this nerf gun.” This simple adaptation kept their cleaning task the same, but allowed me to step out of the equation. It also broke down the steps of having to 1) identify the misplaced object and 2) put it wear it belongs. Instead, they only had to do half of the process at once, so they never got overwhelmed.

It may not work for everyone, but I will definitely be using this method in the future. I may even look for ways to use it to accomplish other difficult parenting tasks.

Do you have a useful tip for cleaning with your kids? If so, share it in the comments!

The Polar Vortex

My facebook feed is rife with screenshots of everyone’s weather apps showing it is -5 degrees here in PA. With the wind chill, it will get down to -30 in some areas. Chicago transit is setting their train tracks on fire to keep them from breaking. Schools are closed all over the country. People who don’t understand science are posting, “what about global warming?”


Our family is doing just fine on this cold day off, snuggled under blankets, watching YouTube. Because spending a day at home without accomplishing something causes me intense anxiety, I am sure I will organize something today. Otherwise, I will read, spend time with the kids, spend time avoiding the kids, and maybe change from my current set of pajamas to another set of pajamas.

That being said, it is not lost on me that there are people out there suffering through this cold: people who are housing-insecure with little to no shelter, children who are food-insecure and will not eat because they are not in school, and people who will lose pay because their workplaces are closed. If you know anyone in those situations, reach out to them. If you are in one of those situations, reach out to us. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, for food, for shelter. If you lose your power and cannot stay warm, come share our warmth. There is room for you here.


My 19 for 2019

I’m a latecomer to the world of Gretchen Rubin. I discovered her last summer when I was looking for podcasts to listen to that would lift my spirit and help me develop a positive mindset. I simply typed “happiness” into my podcast app’s search bar and the top podcast was entitled: “Happier, with Gretchen Rubin.” I had no idea who she was or that she had a best-selling self-help book, The Happiness Project (and several others), I just liked the title and I appreciated the simplicity of her advice.

Image result for 19 for 2019 happier gretchen rubin

One of her projects last year was “18 for 2018,” a personalized list of tasks one would like to tackle throughout the year. Because I started listening mid-year, I was too late to take on that one, but decided to give it a try this year and do “19 for 2019.” The best thing about the list is that it is low-pressure. The tasks aren’t resolutions and they don’t have to be life-changing. They can be as mundane as finding a new shampoo or they can be as monumental as quitting smoking. At the end of the year, there are no expectations that you will have completed all 19. Instead, you can enjoy the satisfaction found in the ones you did accomplish.

For accountability, I’ve decided to post my 19 for 2019 here on my blog. As the year goes one I’ll come back to revisit the ones I complete.

My 19 for 2019 (in no particular order):

  • Watch ALL the Avengers movies in chronological order before seeing Avengers:Endgame.
  • Run in 6 local 5ks
  • Spend one entire day playing Zelda on the wii
  • Finish reading every book club book (1 each month)
  • Organize our important paperwork
  • Fix our printer
  • Organize our address book before Christmas card time
  • Get our passports renewed
  • Learn to play my dulcimer
  • Lose 15 pounds
  • Keep a calendar of time spent with friends so I can make sure I’m not neglecting any friendships.
  • Visit Valley Forge with the kids.
  • Visit every covered bridge in Columbia County, PA.
  • Update our wall photography.
  • Write at least one blog post per week.
  • Get my hair colored.
  • Get a professional family photo taken.
  • Do three service projects with the kids.
  • Get grass to grow in the muddy spots our yard.

If I accomplish even half of these, I will consider it a pretty successful year.

Do you have a 19 for 2019 list?

Moving Memories

Recently, my grandmother was at our house to celebrate our December birthdays with us. She was walking through the kitchen and stopped for a moment to look at our cabinets. I walk through that room so often that I don’t even see them anymore. Watching her look at them reminded me how special they are.

My grandparents built their house on the family farm in the 1950s, starting small and adding on whenever possible. They raised 4 boys and 1 girl in that house. I spent every afternoon there as a toddler while my parents’ work shifts overlapped. Our extended family celebrated countless Easters, Christmases, and birthdays within those walls. In my mind, I can still walk through the house and feel the textures and smell the familiar smells.

My family gathering for the holidays.

My grandmother holding our first baby in her living room.

The house was demolished in 2008 after it was decided that repairs to keep it habitable would be too costly. My grandfather had passed away ten years earlier and my grandmother was living on her own in a house that was too much work to maintain. It was decided that a new house would be built in its place and demolition began that summer.

Demolition on the house

Before the old house was demolished, Jim was able to salvage the kitchen cabinets. They were already fifteen years old, having been replaced by my grandfather a few years before he passed. They were excellent quality and far better than the 1970s stock cabinets we currently had in our kitchen. He carefully removed them with the help of a friend and they sat in our garage while we slowly remodeled our kitchen. The two kitchens were different designs, so the cabinets had to be assembled like puzzle pieces. Jim worked methodically. In the end, we had a beautiful new kitchen.

Jim, piecing together the salvaged cabinets

The original house has been gone for over a decade and our kitchen no longer feels new. It was lovely to be reminded of how special it is that we were able to use a part of our family’s history to create new memories with our own children. One day, Jim and I will leave this house and it will be hard to leave those cabinets behind. For now, I can appreciate how special they are to our family.

Our kitchen now

When you share a birthday….

March must be the golden month for our marriage, because two of our three children were born in December. Not only that, but their birthdays are only 1 day apart. On top of that, Jim’s birthday is also the same week! Add to that two of my grandparents and one brother-in-law and our entire December is filled with birthdays. Oh, yeah, and also Christmas.

For now, both littles are happy with sharing a birthday party, as long as cake, presents, and all their favorite friends and family are involved. To individualize their celebrations just a little, each of them also gets to choose a restaurant in our area to go to on their actual birthday.

This year, 4yo (in all her fanciness) chose Wendy’s.

7yo decided to go slightly higher-end and selected a local restaurant that he thought sounded fancy because it had the word “hotel” in its name. Unfortunately, they weren’t open for lunch, so instead he chose a local brewery that he knows we go to for trivia. He’s never been to either place before, but he wanted to go somewhere that felt “grown-up.”

In a few years, I imagine their birthdays will look more like their older sister’s: sleep-overs, going to the movie with friends, and disappearing to the basement to avoid adult interaction. For now, we we are still enjoying getting to spend every moment of their birthday celebrations with them.


Expanding our Thanksgiving Eve Tradition

Years ago, we used to have to travel for Thanksgiving weekend to visit Jim’s family. We would be gone all weekend and, when we got back, that last thing we felt like doing was decorate the house for Christmas. So, one year, I decided we would decorate on the evening before Thanksgiving. It was the perfect time because I always get out of work early that day and we don’t have to prepare Thanksgiving dinner at our house, so the evening if free.


Even though we no longer have to travel, we have hung on to this tradition. Last year, Jim’s mom and dad stopped by while we were decorating and they had such a good time they decided we should turn it into a decorating party this year. I was a little apprehensive about trying to throw a party AND get my house decorated – especially since it wasn’t my idea, but it turned out to be a really fun family evening. We were joined by Jim’s parents, my parents, and my aunt and uncle. We kept things very simple – just a pot of meatballs on the stove for people to make meatball subs and some snacks. My MIL brought some dips and my mom brought a dessert.


Because there was so much help, we managed to get the house decorated in no time and we even put up two trees this year! It was a great way to start the holiday season and spend time with family.