13 days in, my lucky number!

My grandfather was a very superstitious man, my grandmother was as well and I can remember little things like never changing a calendar before it was time or opening an umbrella inside were just a couple of things they would never imagine doing. I remember hearing my grandfather talk about Friday the 13th a few times. He always thought it was such an unlucky day, which of course as the child that I was, peaked my interest. A lot of any “unlucky” day is attitude and outlook. If you start a particular day feeling like it will be unlucky, then it probably will be! I decided at a young age to oppose all of these theories about the 13th and instead over the years it became my lucky number. I am sure a lot of it was my outlook. I always felt it would be a great day, so I woke up ready for it to be that way!

I am 13 days into “My Year of Yes”! Since my post on January 1st, I have completed the book “Year of Yes”. I also finished another book called “Delivering Happiness”. I decided for that book I would try an audio. Since the 2nd when the gym opened again, I have been at the gym 9 out of the 12 possible days. I spend 30 min and divide it between the treadmill and another piece of equipment like the bike or glider. During this time I have been listening to my Audio Book, as well as school pick ups, waiting at dance, etc. It is amazing how many little chunks of time I had that I can be using for something like this! It took no time to finish “Delivering Happiness”.

Although titled “Delivering…”, I almost felt the book focused a lot on discovering and defining happiness. It led me to ponder more my own life and long term goals of continued happiness and what it means to me. By the end of the book, I understood why the writer choose to name the book “Delivering Happiness” and I was fascinated by the approach the company took to delivering happiness to both their customers and employees! It would be an amazing company to work for! This intrigued me to move onto another similar book that I started a few days ago, again an audio book called “Be Our Guest”. Disney has a unique culture and service unlike any other and so far the book is very interesting! I may end up needing to take a Disney Cruise or Vacation in the near future thanks to this book!

It has been nice to have a little me time each day, but also still enjoy lots of quality time with my kids. We booked another little mini long weekend in February at the same hotel we used during the Christmas break. We had a such a fun time with the other families that we all decided to do it again for Family Day weekend! The Winter is long and this will be a great break away when it comes! Throughout this year we plan to continue to buy less things and instead enjoy more time away as a family and also with other families. This will continue to be our focus and in the meantime it is a lot of fun to spend my free time some evenings finding places to go and things to do! I love creating all of these memories with my children and I am thankful to be surrounded by families that have a similar outlook!

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13 years ago…

Next month, February, Sandy and I will have met 16 years ago! I started working at the Call Center where he was already employed. My first shift out of training, we spoke and that was the first of many conversations for us. I was in an unhealthy relationship at the time and Sandy was in a relationship as well, but was unhappy. We developed a friendship over time by being able to share frustrations and emotions with each other. It was nice to vent to someone who was also struggling in their relationship. My relationship ended and I moved to on the dating world. We remained friends. Sandy was always someone I could speak to no matter what was happening in my life.

One day, a year and a half ish after we became friends Sandy showed up at work with as many of his belongings as he could fit in his vehicle. He was moving out and his relationship was over. I knew he was serious. He wanted both him and his partner to be happy and they were not going to find that with each other. It was during this next month that he needed my friendship the most. During that time we realized that this friendship we had developed, could potentially be a foundation for a relationship. Both of us were nervous to start dating. We had been good friends for a long while and neither of us wanted to harm that. I am so happy that we took that chance! I truly believe the best relationships have many components to them, one of them being friendship. You have to love spending time with your partner, you have to like the person that they are, you have to love the person you are around them and for me Sandy has always built me up, gave me confidence, love and support in ways that I never imagined possible of a relationship!

We dated only 7 months before we were engaged and were married 9 months after that. I believe that you really do know! When you find that person, you really do know! I was never one for a big wedding. I never understood spending so much money on one day, when it was the rest of your life after that day that was most important! Lots of people do it I know and everyone has their own idea of their special day! I wouldn’t take anything away from those people, but for Sandy and I, we needed the two of us, God and someone to marry us!

We were blessed to have a close friend offer us a free cruise for our honeymoon and it would depart from New Orleans, so for me the wedding planning began! It was simple and came together so quickly! We found a beautiful Riverboat on the Mississippi and the wedding including the photographer would be $500! That is it and it was perfect! 13 years ago we had arrived in New Orleans the day before, woke up together on our wedding morning, helped each other get ready and drove to the Mississippi River! It was January and it was roughly 20 degrees! I was so happy! We were so happy! I can’t tell you the name of our witness, I can’t tell you the song I walked down the aisle on the boat to, but I can tell you that it was the best wedding for us and I was so happy! That morning we sailed on a dinner cruise down the Mississippi! Spent the rest of the day exploring New Orleans and the following day departed on a wonderful cruise! When we came back we also were fortunate enough to be able to spend a week in New Orleans, falling in love with that city!

I can’t wait to take our children there! Knowing them, I just know they will love the city as much as we do! We have been through a lot in 13 years! All of our lives have our ups and downs, ours has not been any different,  but I know that our relationship has continued to grow stronger each year! I am so thankful for our love! Happy Anniversary Sandy!

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My Year of Yes

Since my son was born a little more than 7 years ago, I honestly have to say that my life has become everything I wanted it to be. After my maternity leave was over I did not return to the Jr Operations Manager position that I had occupied before that. I had been employed by the same Call Center for 9 years! I had moved up into a number of different positions gaining lots of experience along the way. I worked with a great group of people and made so many friendships along the way. It is also how I met Sandy. I had a longing though, I wanted to be home with my children! Sandy and I were fortunate that while he was in University I could have my shifts be later so that at least one of us was home with the girls almost all of the time. I hated missing out though and so I was lucky enough to stay home once Noah was born.

Not only did I get to stay home, I was then able to surround myself by children and their growth. Another love of mine. And for the last 7 plus years I have been blessed and thankful to have children grow up in my home, with my own children and I haven’t missed  out! Well mostly…

During these 7 years Sandy has worked mainly from home as well. I never imagined spending so much time with someone and falling more and more in love with them. I love that we truly do not get tired of each other and instead grow with each other. I have watched Sandy change positions and take leaps in the last 7 years and have been so happy for him! Meanwhile, I have become comfortable! Comfortable with my routine, my family, my great group of friends, my childcare families, my church family and my responsibilities. I cannot complain, I wouldn’t complain, I truly love my life and the people in it! And I would not change the last 7 years, they have made us who we are today!

In the past month or so, I have been thinking a lot about my comfort. I have decided there is more that I want in this life! More for myself and my family! More for my relationship with God and the direction he has in store for me. I have come to realize that I hide in the comfort. I often do not try new things or do things for myself. I devote most of my time to those around me, but I have realized that in that, I am not growing the way that I want to!

I decided it was time for change! I am a balancer, a scheduler, an organizer, so I know that there is always a way to work things in and still have a happy balance! My first step for me was to enroll in an online course. I love my family, friends and adventures and the kids love looking back at pictures and the blogs Sandy writes about our family. I want to be able to create that for them as well. Especially focusing on our trips. I want to do it confidently, so I decided to take a WordPress Training Course. And guess what? I started it a few weeks ago and completed it during the Christmas break! For me! It was nice to be able to have a glimpse into Sandy’s world and going forward I am excited about my blog and what I can do with it! Most importantly though, I did something for me and I didn’t lose time with my kids!

While we were in the city during Christmas we went to Chapters and while I was in the store, I decided the next thing I wanted to do for me was read a book! I know to some of you, it may seem like an odd thing to want to do for myself. I have “never had time” to read in more years than I can count! I have read tons and tons of children’s books, but nothing for me! I had heard about a Shonda Rhimes book that I thought I may like. “Year of Yes”. I love her tv shows, I watch them all, so I knew she would be a good writer, but I had no idea how much this book would speak to me! I have been making time to read and still spending time with my family.

Another thing that I did, I bought Sandy and I memberships to the gym. The Winter is always hard for me. I fill our lives with as much fun as I can squeeze in just to be able to make it to Spring. It may sound crazy, but the cold dark days really do wreck me! The hardest part for me though is not being able to exercise. I am not a big runner or into classes or anything like that, but I love to be able to get out for a walk each day to de-stress my muscles. The Winter sucks that out of me. This year I decided that wasn’t happening. I was making time to go to the gym each day and walk it out! Tomorrow is my first day and I am excited that this Winter will be different! It may not be fresh air and beautiful scenery, but I would get my exercise and feel better about my body!

I am not one to make New Year’s resolutions. I believe that you can commit to any kind of change any time of year. My changes began in late November, early December and it will carry me through 2017. I have decided that I will now learn to say Yes to challenging myself, learning new things, pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I will now learn Yes to saying No. I stretch myself so thin sometimes trying to help anyone and everyone I can. Sometimes, the situation needs to be No. This is something I need to learn for myself and my family! I will also say Yes to God and digging into the Bible this year with my kids. They have an excitement to learn and so do I, so this is something we will be saying Yes to and the direction he wants to take our family this year!

I have been fortunate to have 10 days off during this Christmas Break! That doesn’t happen for me usually. It is hard because I do not receive vacation pay, so when I am not working I do not get paid. Part of it was unexpected time off, but overall I believe this stretch happened for a reason. I needed these 10 days. It gave us so much family time without our daily schedules. We had fun, played games, watched movies, enjoyed treats and time with friends. And for me, I was able to have some me time to help sort out what new challenges I want for myself in 2017. Every year I take down the tree on January 1st. We always ring in the New Year surrounded by family and friends, so I like to have it up for that, but I am always ready to say goodbye to it the next day. This year I wasn’t ready. I wanted another day! So tonight I sat by the Christmas lights to read my book, loving every minute of it and enjoying the smell of the tree for one last evening! Knowing that the next time I sit by our lit Christmas Tree I will have been through my Year of Yes and I am truly excited for what that means!

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Our First Getaway Gift

For Christmas this year, we decided to give a few different types of gifts. The girls and I are excited that we will be heading to see the Total Package Tour (NKOTB) in July and Noah & Sandy will be going to see the Harlem Globetrotters in April. We also decided on a little getaway that would be right after Christmas with two other families. We booked a Suite right in Dartmouth Crossing, so the kids could go shopping as well with their Christmas money.

We arrived at check in time and the kids were able to get a sneak peak of the pool with the large water slide! We quickly went up and changed and headed for a swim. The other two families, the Fisher’s and the Merrill’s met us at the pool. The kids were excited to meet up with everyone and they had a blast! Looking through the pictures, I can’t help but smile seeing the laughter and smiles on their faces!

After the pool we ordered some pizza and met in the common area to eat. We decided we needed a little dessert, so while our Hubby’s were off getting the ice cream, Candice and I decided to take the kids for a walk to look at the Christmas lights. We ended up finding a great playground. The kids were very entertaining playing on everything.

After eating ice cream sundaes by the fireplace we headed up to play games. The kids had brought their own games to play with each other and us adults had Ticket to Ride to keep us entertained. This is one of my favorite games and recently the Fisher’s had bought an expansion pack for it, so I was excited to try it out. The evening was awesome. I just love that all of us get along so well together and our children as well!

After an awesome breakfast, the kids went for another swim and we had time before checkout to play another game! None of us wanted to leave, it was a such a great stay! We headed out shopping for the kids and us grown ups as well. Sandy and I each picked out a book and a new board game for us all to try on New Years with our Christmas money from his Mom.

Lastly we decided we would go to the Lindt Outlet store. We only recently found out about it and it is all of our favorite chocolate. I love using their bars for fudge and fondue and with a huge sale advertised we decided it was a great time to check it out! The kids were so excited to be greeted at the door with free chocolate. We wondered the store for about 10 minutes or so when we decided what we were getting. We each had our own treats to bring home!

The getaway went quickly and was so much fun! The kids loved the idea of giving up gifts for time away and want to do it again! It would be so much fun to give up more gifts next year and plan a trip a little further for a little longer! Luckily we have some time to think about it. In the meantime I am once again more thankful than I was before I left yesterday. I love our family and our friends. We all have the best time together and that is worth so much!

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The Best Christmas …

I know it seems like a lot of years I have said it was our best Christmas, but this year I really felt as though it was the best for as long as I can remember! I decided to take away a lot of the pressure of cooking on Christmas. We still had our traditional turkey dinner for Mom’s Birthday / Christmas and our Enchiladas lunch with the Merrill’s, but I decided to try to do as much prep work the day before as possible! Sandy and the kids were a great help with this! It made today run so smoothly!

The kids slept in as they often do and woke up just past 7am. We opened gifts with Matt, Mom & Dad watching the kids. It is definitely my favorite part of Christmas, watching their excitement and thankfulness! After presents we headed to our Christmas Service. It was a great casual service and then we were back home for lunch with the Merrill’s. After lunch Alex came and opened her gifts. And then this evening we had Mom’s Birthday supper/ Christmas Dinner.

The day moved at a nice slow pace and the kids were able to open and enjoy their presents without any rushing! I was most excited to give the girls our NKOTB Total Package Tour Tickets! I did a bit of a trivia with them to open them, took a video but it cut off half way. I was disappointed because their reactions were awesome! Made  me so thankful that I surprised them! I am so excited to share this experience with two of my favorites! Something that I have dreamed about since I was a kid and they are so excited to share it with me! And to top it all off we will get to have a Hampton Beach weekend while we are there since they will be performing in my favorite city, Boston! Our summer is going to be truly amazing, between this and our trip out West! I can hardly wait!

We also surprised Noah and Sandy with tickets to see the Globetrotters in April. Noah will love this and this is something that Sandy has always wanted to see as well, so it is awesome that they will get to do this together and share this experience! The kids were also excited about heading up to the city in just 2 sleeps to stay in a Suite and have the company of the Fisher’s and Merrill’s! The water slide looks amazing and they have Christmas money to shop with so they are excited!

I loved changing Christmas up a bit this year! Between the slower pace, down time between everything, types of gifts this year and the appreciation of these kiddos, it made for an amazing day! To end the day we played a game of Pie in the Face with the kids, my Mom and brother Matt! Talk about fun! The kids loved having Nannie participate as well! Great way to end a great Christmas!

There have been changes in my 2016 that have made me a better person today than I was last Christmas and I am looking forward to more changes in 2017! I have definitely learned this quote over the course of my life, but it is becoming more and more real to me lately! “Someday you will be extremely grateful that some things didn’t work out the way you once wanted them to…” Life happens and lots of things you do not have much control over, but in the end when you look at the big picture and allow God’s to put his plan first, it is amazing how much happier and at peace you and those around you can be!

So thankful for everyone in my life! Merry Christmas to you all!

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Winter Marks an Amazing Woman’s Birthday

A “Nannie” or “Grammie” or “Grandma”, the list goes on and on means something different to every one of us. Each of us have different memories of these people and their roles in our lives. Some of us know our grandparents well and others may not as well as they would have liked.

When I was born my parents lived in a home similar to mine now. Our family lived on the top level and my grandparents lived in an apartment below us. I saw them every day for the first 3-4 years of my life. My Mom went back to work when I was 6 weeks old, since that was the Maternity leave back then and my Nannie took care of me 5 days a week. Most of my memories under the age of 5 are with her and my Pop. And even after we moved to a different home, they still lived fairly close by and I spent many weekends with them and overnights even after my grandfather had passed away.

My Nannie was one of the most giving people I have met! There isn’t anything she wouldn’t have done for me, even sometimes when she shouldn’t have. She loved to listen and was so kind and soft-hearted. She loved spending time with me and I am truly blessed to have had her in my life.

When we settled in the Valley, my parents and my Nannie moved up here as well. I was blessed to have her meet my girls. Nannie always felt like I needed a boy. Anyone who knew me for each of my pregnancies knew I was very content having all girls. My Nannie on my Father’s side had all boys and my Nannie who I grew up close to (My Mom’s side) had only my Mom and 4 boys. I have a brother and no sisters, so I desperately wanted girls! Nannie was excited that I had 3 girls, but told me many times she wanted me to have a boy, that everyone needed to have one of each at least!

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Working Toward a Different Kind of Christmas

Christmas is definitely my favorite season! I love all of the extra family time we have together, the giving, crafts, treats, shopping dates, visits and fun. Our church has some wonderful traditions as well that we get to be a part of to focus on the real reason for the season! If we could have summer temperatures in December it would be absolutely perfect lol!

This month we continued our tradition of our random acts of kindness family advent. Some of these things that we did involved giving to others and other things were focused on family time together. In the past few years we had each thing scheduled on a calendar, but this year we decided to do it a little differently. We made a list of 24 things that we wanted to do and even added some as we went and each day we would pick one to do. We tried a few new ones this year. The kids really enjoyed taping money to a vending machine! We also did a few more family evenings like eating supper around the Christmas Tree. I just love the excitement the kids have for all of it!

This year Sandy and I started rethinking Christmas gifts. Our kids do not get a lot of things throughout the year, so Christmas is there time to ask for bigger things that we normally would not buy. But like a lot of families, they also end up with a lot of smaller things that they often do not use past Christmas day. We wanted to try to eliminate that part of it this year. Our children love doing things and going places more than they love things, so that had us plan out some different gifts. We decided instead of buying a lot of the little things that just won’t last, we would plan some fun together and with other families. During Christmas break we decided to head to the city for a night away in a nice hotel with an awesome water slide with two other families. This will be one of the surprises for the kids. We also have two other big events to surprise them with and I know how excited they will be, which makes me excited to finally be able to share it with them!

In the future I would love to move more and more in this direction. I would love for us to give up gifts entirely one of these years and enjoy a family trip away during the Christmas break. Our children grow up too quickly and making these wonderful memories with them are so important to me.