The Elf Implementation 2014

Our Elf on the Shelf has been busy in years past…



This year our friend Ellie came in like a wrecking ball!


Before I go on, our elf only poses like this long enough for me to take a photo. She goes right back to the G-rated fun for which she was created. In fact she doesn’t get herself in cutesy predicaments because she’s so exhausted and sometimes forgets to move at all! That’s when our 13 year old son gives us a hand.

And now, more adventures of this little elf gone wild…

Cover your eyes! Ellie made a sex tape!


My coffee has been tasting rather shitty lately.


Do these pancakes taste funny?




Anyone hungry for dachshund adobo?


Those are NOT snowflakes!


Someone’s been dipping!


What the hell?! Not our wedding picture! Not the baby pictures!



The Gratitude Effect

It’s been quite a year for us.

The oldest started junior high. R has had two major surgeries with so many doctor’s appointments in between; he also started college! I went back to teaching part-time. We’ve had the wonderful opportunity to go to several professional sports games for free! I finished my third half marathon (barely).

As overwhelming as all of that and more may be, I wouldn’t change a thing. (Maybe I would update my blog more though.)

Northern California is being hit with the biggest storm in years. While our area has not been affected too much, other areas are faced with flooding and rising river levels that haven’t been that high in a while. There are some people who are complaining about how the supplies they purchased will go to waste but I beg to differ. Keep it just in case! You never know what could happen.

How very fortunate we are to be able to anticipate a natural disaster and yet there will always be people to complain.

Earlier this week I heard a weird noise coming from my car on my way home from work. I pulled off the freeway to discover that I blew out my tire!

And while the situation sucked big time, I counted my blessings. How thankful I was that I was able to get off the freeway in time. How thankful I was that I have a working cell phone with internet so I could look up a local tow truck who fixed my tire within the hour. How thankful I was that I could pay for a tire change.

How thankful I was because some people don’t have any of that.

How thankful I was because it could have ended much worse.

In fact, there was an auto collision about 200 hundred yards that must have just occured. An ambulance arrived soon after I parked.

R had surgery about a month ago to fix a complex hernia. Unfortunately there were a couple of times we had to rush to the ER for infection. R announced he is tired of going to the damn hospital and I don’t blame him. He has been in and out of hospitals all over the country.

Of course me being the optimist I was thankful (in my head because I didn’t want to minimize R’s experiences) that his treatment is covered! I can’t imagine having to pay each time he’s needed to see a doctor! But that’s how most people live.

And for that I am thankful for everything that has happened.

Because Lord knows that it could have ended much worse.

Happy holidays from NWC!



Less is More… At The Happiest Place on Earth!

For the first time in our marriage, I feel like this Christmas is the Christmas I’ve been waiting for forever. R is finally retired, finally home. It doesn’t matter to me that I’m almost a size fluffier than last year. It doesn’t matter to me that we don’t have a lot to give to our families.

This Christmas is OUR Christmas.

R and I have spent many evenings talking about Christmas present planning and how our kids will probably end up with less than previous years. And to be completely honest, I don’t care.

That sounds totally insensitive but hear me out.

Our kids don’t need THINGS. Our kids need OUR TIME.

Our kids need US.

I think our kids get it. They’ve been without Daddy for so long that it puts everything else into perspective. Their wishlists are much shorter. They want to DO STUFF with Daddy, whether it’s baking lemon bars from scratch or having “just Daddy” bring the kid to karate. They want to spend hours with Daddy in front of the TV playing Minecraft. They want Daddy to eat popcorn, drink hot chocolate, and watch their favorite Youtube videos and movies. Simple things that our kids have been denied for so many years are worth far more than anything I could buy.

And yet, here I am updating my blog {that I have sadly neglected} from THE HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH. Trust me, we have scrimped and saved for this trip for a while not to mention the huge military discounts and tickets that have made an otherwise extravagant vacation a lot more affordable.

Tomorrow M turns 12 years old. It wasn’t too long ago that R and I were talking about his future retirement date, the year when that tiny baby born in Georgia twelve years ago would be in sixth grade. That seemed like so far off in the future. Who could imagine that a tiny seven pound, four ounce baby would grow so quickly?

We didn’t.

This year will be the last year our kids are on the same academic schedule. He goes into junior high and there will be at least three months during the year when he will be at school while the girls are off.

This trip is giving us a little more time with him, with us as a family.

During our six hour trek, we got a flat tire on the Grapevine, a mountainous section of Highway 5. For some reason, I didn’t feel like driving like I usually do. And maybe this is why.

Maybe I would have reacted foolishly or would have been driving too fast. I can feel my anxiety spike just thinking about it. Stuck on the most dangerous part of the freeway. I can’t even tell you how many times I held my breath for fear that a huge 18-wheeler would slam into us or the kind tow truck driver whilst he put the spare on our vehicle. Had R tried to do it himself, we wouldn’t have known that the spare needed air or even that we were missing some parts to even change the tire! Add to that that the flat was on the left side of the car? Uh, yeah. I was pretty adamant that we leave this sort of thing to a professional. I almost lost R three years ago; I was not about to ponder that again.

Luckily a passing CHP officer called a tow truck for us and we were on our way. We took it easy driving through the mountains, even stopping to play in the snow. I later found out that the entire freeway was closed the day before because of the weather!








Needless to say, we were exhausted by the time we reached the hotel. R had an extremely difficult time getting out of the car and needed to use his cane yet when I suggested we just use valet instead of self-parking and a bell hop instead of carrying everything ourselves, he refused. And as his wife and BFF, I can’t make him do or admit anything. Only be there if he needs something or changes his mind, something I am still learning. We ordered Domino’s pizza and enjoyed this evening’s fireworks show from our room.

We have all the time in the world.





The Presence of Presents

Did you get everything you wanted for Christmas this year? Funny question to ask since all month I’ve been trying to emphasize His Presence over their presents.

20121230-170154.jpg A and a friend bringing in the Advent chain right before mass procession

Needless to say, like many families there was a blur of wrapping paper on Christmas morning. Not only did the kids get awesome stuff from Santa (who not surprisingly, gives our kids one thing they wanted on their Christmas list plus a bunch little things like candy and books in their stocking)…

Santa found a REALLY good deal on a drum set for A




What a coincidence that Santa get M the very video game he was saving up for!


And Santa gave L the castle she’s been wanting for the last two years! L asked me to open the box and wasn’t heard from again for the next several hours!


…two days later R took the kids out to spend their Christmas money from their grandparents. OMG! I guess you’re never too young to enjoy Christmas money and gift cards!




Christmas toys mean they will be able to part with gently used books and toys so others less fortunate can enjoy them. Mommy will be doing the same with her gently used books and clothes-that-I-have-to-part-with-already!

With the influx of new toys and clothes, will you be donating stuff you no longer use also?


Merry Christmas!

This year my husband and I found ourselves wrapping less this year, comfortable is knowing that less is more and any insecurities about not buying enough for others only exists in our heads.

What a wonderful feeling!

You know how right before Christmas people are kinder and cognizant of others? Here’s to remembering and feeling that spirit all year round.

Merry Christmas!

Finally Home

Last night we got a special delivery. My husband is finally home.

R couldn’t come home earlier. Two weeks earlier he had surgery to reroute some veins in his pelvis. The surgery was only supposed to be a couple of hours but it turned into an all-day event. Doctors did not anticipate all of the scarring and removed it when they could. He ended up having a tummy tuck!

So naturally I said, “I thought I was going to be the first one to get the tummy tuck in this marriage!”

Sadly I will not be posting a pic of his incision site.

R took one look in the fridge and said, “We need groceries!”

I will be the first to admit that frozen salmon and ground turkey can get old. Still in pain from his surgery, we went to get groceries and he made a delicious dinner.

Short ribs, using a marinade that includes soy sauce, garlic, brown sugar, and Sprite.


We bought a giant pumpkin pie for five dollars, the same price had he made it himself. Sometimes we’re “homemade” snobs but man, this was delicious with ube macapuno ice cream. Macapuno means coconut and ube is a sweet yam. Looks weird and disgusting but trust me, we have found a new Christmas tradition!


That’s what I feel Christmas is lacking, authentic traditions that don’t involve the stress of spending money. Perhaps all of the events in the past month were necessary for me to be reminded that even in my most exhausted, sad, sleepless state, I don’t need to do anything to be present.

I just need to BE.

Everything else will fall into place.


Green Means SLOW DOWN

There are no words to even comprehend what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School last week. The message that resonates whenever tragedy occurs is to cherish each day, love everyone, and love yourself.

This is a message that we need to practice and remember every day.

This blog helps me remember and allows me to share. Thank you for visiting and commenting. Sending virtual hugs to all of you around the world!

M just got his green belt this month.






A wanted to make Christmas trees: sugar cones, frosting with green food coloring, sprinkles, leftover Halloween candy. She invested so much time in making them and making them pretty because she thought they were gifts for someone else. Imagine the expression on her face when I said the Christmas trees for her!







Random Acts of Kindness

My daughter had an assignment over Christmas break. Her class was finishing up a unit on kindness and she had to choose one of the following:

– volunteer for church
– write a letter to a soldier
– bake treats for your neighbor

It turns out that we do all of these things anyway. We made Muddy Buddies over the weekend and the kids made Christmas cards for our neighbors.

[BTW, that recipe is delicious and I didn’t even make it right! I totally forgot to add the vanilla but I’m still inhaling those darn Muddy Buddies by the handful!]

I think that really is the spirit of the season. Doing things for others for no underlying reason.

There’s something about the Advent season that makes people slow down, kinder to one another. (Save for the craziness of the day after Thanksgiving sales.) People are more patient, making the effort to talk to complete strangers even if it’s to just say “happy holidays”.

I only wish it lasted throughout the year.

And it can.

Why can’t we do random acts of kindness throughout the year? After all, the phrase is RANDOM acts of kindness, not CHRISTMAS acts of kindness.

I know our family will try to remember this throughout the year. Volunteering with our church and school is becoming second nature with our family and I couldn’t be prouder.







Happy Holidays from NWC

I made this sign out of leftover cardboard from toy packaging and Dollar Tree tinsel. I like hanging stuff with clothespins on our blinds. It changes the feel of the room easily and quickly. Most of the clothespins are decorated with ribbon using nothing more than a hot glue gun.


Our church is putting together a parish directory and we got a free 8×10 just for getting our picture taken.




We been baking a lot also. I only make my special chocolate chip cookies once a year for a reason, the reason being I would seriously eat them all.



They are that good. I don’t tell ANYONE in my family how I make my cookies but I’ll tell you. You can find the link here and instead of two teaspoons of vanilla, you should add two tablespoons. Enjoy and come back and tell me that those cookies you just baked were the best ever!

Celebrating the Days of Advent: 12/02/12

Last year the kids made a paper chain to keep track of the days of Advent. I don’t mind the chocolate Advent calendars as they were tradition in our house but I wanted them to attach more meaning to the Advent season and the paper chain was a wonderful way to remind them that Christmas was more than a daily chocolate and presents from Santa.

We didn’t make it to church this weekend because of Buddy and weren’t able to get this week’s chain so I went over to Catholic Mom and found the printable Advent chain here.

The site suggests printing out the strips of paper on colored paper but we aren’t that fancy. The kids just colored the strips and put the chain together themselves.

12/2: Light the first candle of your Advent wreath

This was a wreath M made in catechism class last year. It is a paper plate decorated with foam leaves and candle flames and candles made out of wood blocks.


I bought this wreath from the craft fair a few weeks ago. It was a plain gold ring with gold candle holders. A wanted to make paper leaves but ended up going with the red tinsel. I think it’s perfect.