Monday, November 29, 2010

Let me count the ways...

How much do I love Black Friday?? Let me count the ways!

I am actually not being sarcastic this time. I really do love Black Friday! I have only participated for the last two years, and man, I was totally missing out. I don't know why I didn't do this before. I think in order to love Black Friday as much as I do, you have to have a few things:

1. People to share the fun with. Take friends or family members with you. This will come in handy for a few reasons.
a) Someone to hold your spot in line while you go shop and vice versa. Cuts your "standing in line time" in half.

b) Someone to laugh with. Really. There's some pretty funny things that happen, which I will discuss in detail later!

c) Second opinions. If you are as indecisive as I am, you will need help saying "NO!" Just because it's on sale, doesn't mean you need to buy it. EXCEPT the Handy Can Opener from Menards. I really have never been more excited to open a can in my life. And let me tell you, for under $4, it was everything I could have hoped for and MORE! I even talked my mother in law into buying one. I am sure she is just as happy with her purchase.

2. A good attitude. This is a MUST. No one likes a cranky shopper. You have to have a sense of humor, smile on your face, and lots and lots of patience. If you are in a hurry, don't bother shopping on Black Friday.

3. Most Black Friday shoppers would say that you have to have a "plan." I disagree. I think you should have some things in mind but if you go in there with an agenda, you will get let down. Sometimes stores don't have what you need. It's okay. Set your expectations low and you will not be disappointed.

4. Take your camera. And if you are kind of shy like me, take a photographer with you. Enter, my sister in law, Caity. I am not a person who likes to ruffle feathers, and as much as I say I don't, I DO care what people think about me. I don't have the guts to snap photos of the pure awesomeness Black Friday has to offer. Think, only it's right in front of you at EVERY store. Thanks, Caity, for not giving a crap what people think, therefore enhancing my blog!

We woke up at 3:30 am to go shopping. We got to the mall and let me tell you, I was impressed before we even parked. There was a guy sleeping outside of Staples. ONE guy. He had a camping chair and was completely covered by a blanket. Head and all. Wish I had a picture. Totally awesome. I bet he got what he wanted :)

We started at Old Navy. Nothing too crazy there. I got a few deals and was happy about that. The line wasn't terrible and the employee who helped me was friendly.

After we were done there, we stood in line at Gordman's. We wanted to be one of the first 300 people in, so we would get a bag. These bags guaranteed 25% off anything you could put in the bag, except doorbusters. So, we were standing in line at about 4:40 and they opened at 5:00. The line was not terrible, but it sure was cold outside. And then it happened.... I witnessed something else completely ridiculous. I saw a few moms with babies standing in line. Babies! It was so cold. SO COLD. I would never take my babies out in that weather and at that hour to stand in line. I felt bad for them. SO, we finally get in the store and we JUST made the 300 people cut off. I think there were about 7 bags left by the time we got inside. Whew! It was a close one. We head straight for a keyboard my daughter has wanted (and I am aware that I will most likely regret this purchase. If you want to get me something for Christmas, may I suggest earplugs?). So we shop for a bit then decide one of us should stand in line. We take turns shopping and standing in line. I was lucky b/c an employee was handing out chocolates when it was my turn to stand with the cart! It was great snack for 5:30 am. I was standing behind a couple of teenagers who probably could have made it on "16 and Pregnant" only the show would need to be named, "15 with Toddlers." The conversation literally went from a mean teacher at school, to lack of sleep due to the kids (they each had one with them!), to lack of sleep due to boyfriends coming over, to.... I can't even type it... s-e-x stuff. I really wasn't trying to eavesdrop. They were loudly going on about their boyfriends and other private matters. I couldn't help but notice their necks covered in hickeys. It was not a lovely mental picture. Oh, and the toddlers were wide awake. Hearing their mommies talking about this. Ugh. It was MY TURN TO SHOP! Yay. Couldn't wait to get away from those girls! So we finally make it up to check out. I have to say, Gordman's was very organized. My cashier was very friendly and it was a great experience, minus hearing the s-e-x talk.

After Gordman's we hit Gap Outlet. That was fun. I found a few great deals for ME. I wish I could say I crossed a bunch of people off of my list. I did buy my husband a "don't-be-mad-at-me-for-spending-so-much-money" gift. And it was on sale :) The line was not long and again, the employees were friendly.

Then it was time for some Starbuck's (you guessed it... hot chocolate!). Starbuck's is great, but it was very hard to drink. Not because it was too hot or not sweet enough, it was because my mother in law was driving a stick shift. Now, if you haven't been in the car with my mother in law driving a stick shift, let me give you some advice... DO NOT try to drink HOT CHOCOLATE. It will hurt.

After Starbuck's and some minor burns, we headed to Menards. Yes, Menards. My mother in law had some things she wanted to get there. I thought, how bad could it be? Who goes to Menards? Men don't shop on Black Friday?? OH... MY... GOSH. I was so wrong. It was the busiest store we'd been in all day. Literally. And that's when I decided it was time to whip out the camera. Pictures are supposed to be worth a thousand words... but I am telling you, this was just something you had to see in person.

It was really busy in there. Absolutely no carts available. I saw people pushing around garbage cans, but this was my personal favorite. Really. This really happened.

This is a sled if you can't tell. Nice.

It's a cage on wheels! Why not throw the kids on the cart? P.S. Caity this lady looks like she could kill you. Just sayin'

Black Friday is not just for us sinners! Maybe the Nuns wanted a Handy Can Opener?

I must give the Menards crew credit. They were really selling their items. I mean, walking around the store selling them. And people bought it. They were going through the lines and people were just throwing more and more on their cart. Genius. And it takes guts to scream, "Sausage for sale" in the middle of a crowded store. With a nametag on. Any bets that's not his real name?

"Who wants to cuddle?" were his exact words...

After our eventful Menard's trip we went to our last stop.... Target. Keep in mind it's about 10:30 and I am getting a little sleepy! There wasn't anything too outrageous.... a comforter sitting outside the door that someone left from "camping out" the night before. It was still busy, but very easy to tell who had been shopping since midnight and who slept in! (We were probably in the tired looking group!) I was after a Taylor Swift doll for my daughter. She is a little more than obsessed. They were out. I wasn't too surprised. So I am still on the hunt.
Maybe they bought a new comforter on sale?

All in all I had a great time. If you haven't tried it, you should! But remember the 4 things I suggested. Thanks to Nate for taking care of my kiddos. Also, a special thanks to my photographer, Caity Todd, and to my mother in law for driving us around in her dangermobile. I was a little scared for my life a few times, have minor whiplash, and still can't feel my tongue, but man, was it fun!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving? Maybe...

Maybe I should try to turn off my Christmas Brain and focus on Thanksgiving? So, there's the age old question, "What are you thankful for...." The answer: "Everything." I am. There are a million blogs out there this week about what people are thankful for. Part of me didn't want to do the cliche blog... A picture is worth a thousand words, so here is what I am thankful for....

I am SO thankful for my children. They are my entire world. My life would really be pretty meaningless without them. Callie, as sassy as she can be, is so smart, and SUCH a great big sister. Callie has taught me so much about what's really important in my life. She's taught me to be patient, she's taught me to laugh, and not sweat the small stuff, which is a work in progress. She is such a cuddle bear :)  There's nothing better in the world than hearing, "Mommy, I love you!"  Tanner has the biggest smile I have ever seen and the most amazing big, blue eyes. He smiles with his soul. Something just pours out of that little guy when he smiles. It literally brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it. I love my children more than I could ever have imagined loving another person. It's unexplainable.


I really could go on and on for days. But if you have a positive impact on my kids' lives, I AM THANKFUL FOR YOU!!!! We love you. I am so thankful that my children have you in their lives. THANK YOU!!!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Christmas Brain

Is it just me? This year I can't get Christmas out of my head. I think about it constantly. (You can tell  by all of my Christmas/Snow blogs!) And I don't mean that I am stressing about it. I am just thinking about it. Thinking about decorating, baking with my neighbor and her adorable daughter (my neighbor doesn't bake, I invited her over to bake with me) and Callie- I even got Callie this cute little Santa apron from Target!

 I'm thinking about wrapping presents, giving presents, putting up lights..... it never ends. I am watching "Elf" and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and I am even turning Christmas music on. Which is really strange because working at Hy-Vee all of the years that I have, I had grown to hate Christmas music because it's all I heard from November to basically January. I have taken out some decorations. My wreath, a miniature nativity set, and I even hung up our "How many days 'til Christmas" Tree... but I can't start crossing days off because the numbers don't go up that high. Could that be a sign that I should have waited?

Maybe I am "jumping the gun" a bit, but I can't help it. It's keeping me up at night. I lay in bed thinking about what we will do, and remembering what we have done in the past. Callie (and now Tanner!) makes our Christmas season so special. Having kids totally does change your life in so many ways. Here's a look through "Christmas Past" or at least since we had Callie :)

Christmas 2007 with our chunky monkey!! Isn't she a adorable?? Of course she is!

Christmas 2008 with our "big girl." She didn't quite know what was going on but I think she liked it!!

Christmas 2009 with a very pregnant mommy and a beautiful little Callie. I was seven and a half months pregnant with our little Tanner Nanner!!

Christmas 2010 will be awesome. I know it will. I cannot wait (obviously!). So until then, you can bet that I'm daydreaming about it. And I bet I'm not the only one!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Really?? A mini-rant

I am a generally happy person, but there are a few things that get under my skin....

At my daughter's last Dr.'s appointment, I noticed a very odd sign during a trip to the ladies room. It said "Please Remember To Flush Toilet" and it had a picture of a person flushing the toilet. Really? Is it that bad that we need a sign to help remind us. It really kind of annoyed me. Instead of taking the time to print a sign, why not just flush the toilet? I don't get it. Maybe it's just me. Another bathroom sign I find a tad annoying is the "Please Wash Hands" sign. People that don't wash their hands are a) disgusting and b) NOT going to change their minds about it because the department of health told them to. We've all seen these people. They go to the bathroom then rush out. Some of them do a fake little 2 second "rinse," I think to avoid embarrassment. Lady, I noticed you didn't use soap. You aren't fooling anyone.

I love how Subway has signs that say, "Please end your conversation before approaching" or "no cellphones." There is nothing more annoying than listening to one end of another person's cellphone conversation. I am with you, Subway! I work part time, very, very part time, at a local store and I cannot stand when people are on their phones while you are trying to help them. To me, it's a pretty selfish thing. And some of the converstations I'm hearing are outrageous. I was in the store with my daughter the other day and this guy was using the WORST language while he was blabbing away on his cellphone. I mean, really. I honestly thought about tapping him on the shoulder and telling him to clean up his language. This isn't a bar, it's a grocery store! 

I am not really an animal person. I don't have pets, don't really intend to. So why is there always dog poo in my yard???? Is it MY job to clean up your dog's poop? My house backs up to a walking trail, and I know I need to get a fence, but my lack of fence doesn't mean that I should clean up your dog's poo. I want to thank all of you who walk your dogs with a little doggie doo doo bag and pick up your dog's lovelies. Thank you. And to those of you who let your dog poop in my yard, watch out. I might just drop my son's dirty diapers off in your backyard. If your dogs are like your children, as most people with pets believe, do you let your children poop in other people's yards? Come on now...

Something that really gets me, and it's a small thing, but I can't help it.... when a cashier hands you back your bills with a pile of change on top. Then you try to use your bills as a funnel to get your change in your zippered wallet. That's tough. Almost always drop change on the ground. But, if you get the change first, then the bills........... life is easier.

I know there are bigger problems in the world. So will I ever REALLY confront anyone on these little annoyances, probably not. But once again, I can pretend :)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dance, Dance!

Tonight was "Parents Watch" night at my 3 year old daughter's dance class. So we are getting ready, and I am getting Callie and her friend, Leah, ready for dance. They are about all dressed and I say, "Leah, you have your leotard?" She says yes. I say, "Callie, do you have your leotard?" and Leah says, "No, I have a LEAH-Tard, Callie has a Callie-tard." haha omg I almost died laughing. What a clever girl! So off we go to dance! I wasn't sure what to expect for Parents Watch night, since this is my first child and our first dance class. It was about what I expected, glad I brought my camera b/c everyone there had that and/or video recording! It was so much fun. We had a great time watching her and all of the little 3 year olds show off their moves!!

Isn't she just precious :) I know she is! She loved being in the spotlight and I can't wait for her first recital! After dance, we decided to go to Burger King to eat and so Callie could play. ::Don't judge me for letting her eat BK, she orders mac n cheese w/ apple fries and milk. Not the worst thing on the menu. And P.S. San Francisco, she doesn't even really know a toy comes with the meal. SO if everyone follows your lead and doesn't give a toy in an unhealthy happy meal, we won't be too sad about it :) We always give her the toy way later in the day, if we give it to her at all. The last thing I need is one more toy to store. Afterwards, of course we had to visit the playland!!! And by we I didn't mean Callie and Tanner.... take a guess...
My big kid husband, Craig. Is it sad that every time we go to one of these places, I fear us getting kicked out? There are serious "cons" about your husband acting like child, but there are also several benefits. Especially for our kids!! 
Listen, I know these places are gross and full of germs. But if I have to pump a few drops of hand sanitizer in her tiny little palms to see this huge smile on her face... bring on the germs!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Do you want to read my blog?

I actually just told my husband that I have a blog. He's a little "behind the times" or should we say, socially unavailable. He doesn't do facebook, he did make a page but there were "too many buttons" and he didn't know what to do (Keep in mind he's not even 30 yet), so he has only logged on once. Today I said, "So honey, I started a blog." (A few minutes of silence... waiting for him to make fun of me) "Honey, did you hear me? I started a blog, do you know what that is?" Craig then said, "I guess. It's when you put stuff on the internet." Uhm.. yeah okay. "Do you want to read my blog?" Craig said, "I mean, I will if you want me to." Not exactly the answer I was expecting... but okay. He'll ask to read it soon, right? I cozy up to him the next time he's on the laptop. Nothing. Waiting, waiting, still nothing. He's looking at That's probably a lot more funny, I'll give him that. Finally the suspense was killing me and I said, "Craig are you excited? I am going to show you my blog!!" He def was not excited. But he played along. He read... no smiles or even a little chuckle. I don't claim to be really funny, but come on! I was sitting right there. So, I asked him, "Is my blog boring?" and he finally smirked. "Kind of," he said. And then I can't help but wonder... if he had a blog, what would it be like? I imagine it would start something like this:

"My name is Craig. I have a wife and 2 kids. They are Callie and Tanner. She's three and he's, um, 10 months. Yup 10 months. I work at Hy-Vee."

Nothing funny. He's a share-only-the-facts kind of guy. And what gives him the right to "knock" my blog? It's like voting, if you don't vote you can't complain. If you don't blog, you can't criticize!

I told my mom I was writing a blog, she's excited. My sister Darci, a little underwhelmed, not gonna lie. I told Callie about it (my 3 year old) and she was confused. Which is fine. She compared it to texting, which I thought was pretty accurate.  I thought about telling my dad, but he doesn't even have voicemail set up on his phone yet. He can't text. He does know what facebook is though, surprisingly enough! But I am pretty confident he isn't familiar with the blogosphere. So I guess for now the only one excited about my blog is me and my mom and a handful of friends. I guess there's nowhere to go but up!

Monday, November 15, 2010

'Tis the Season

'Tis the season for shopping and hot chocolate (from Starbuck's if you want the best!) Check! Check! I did almost all of my shopping yesterday. It's a good feeling to be almost done. I never really know how much is "too much" for the kids; I really don't want to raise spoiled children, but I get so excited about buying them gifts! When I buy something, I can already see the look in Callie's eyes as she opens it. She gets so excited and just can't wait for me to get it out of the box so she can play with it. And all of us parents know, getting a toy out of the box is easier said than done. What's the point of 55 twisties securing a 1 pound Barbie to a cardboard box? I don't get it...

'Tis the season for baking! Haven't started that yet (come on, it's not even Thanksgiving!) But I can't wait to make goodies to take to my neighbors and friends. Callie loves to "bake" with me and we have so much fun. Can't wait for Tanner to be able to help next year! And then I hope I am teaching her to give by trotting around in the snow handing out plates to neighbors. And that we don't have to buy our neighbors fancy presents, we can make them, and it's the thought that counts.

'Tis the season for decorating. Also a favorite of mine and Callie's. Craig thinks it's a waste of money. I think he's a grinch. :)  We will TRY to wait to put up the tree until after Thanksgiving. TRY. But my sister put her tree up and now Callie is asking to put up ours. And truth be told, I can't wait!

'Tis the season for helping. Or so I thought. But I am not sure people know how to accept help anymore. For example, I was grocery shopping yesterday (while enjoying my huge hot chocolate from... you guessed it, Starbucks!) and a little girl fell and banged her head very hard on the grocery cart. She immediately started crying and I noticed a huge red mark on her poor little nose. She got really worked up and starting vomitting. I went up to the mother and I asked if I could go get an ice pack for the little girl. She looked at me like I was bothering her. Everyone else was just walking by staring. She said, "no she's getting sick we just need to go." I offered my help again, "well is there anything i can do to help you get to the check out or make her smile?" and I got "no I think we are just going to leave." I would have held this poor baby so her mom could get out, a little puke doesn't scare me. And I have encountered this type of thing before when I have tried to help people. I have just gotten, "No we're fine." And I have been in a situation a time or two with my children in a store where a helpful hand would have been... welll... helpful. Maybe it's annoying to people? Maybe the mother thinks I am judging when I try to help? I don't know. But if I am in the same situation, I hope someone would be there to help me!!

'Tis the season for family! (And free babysitters!) I am so thankful that I was able to get almost all of my shopping done with just me and my husband. Thanks to his sister Caity for babysitting. My sister Darci babysits for me a lot as well. And we babysit for them. And not just for the free babysitting, but for being a real part of my children's lives. My husband and I both aren't super duper close with our aunts and uncles. But I know that with most of the kids' they are forming an unbreakable bond. They are so involved in Callie and Tanner's lives. Almost on a daily basis. They come to Christmas programs, dance recitals (soon!), and Halloween, and all of the holidays. I know that these children can never fail. They have so many people around them helping them, loving them, guiding them. They are so incredibly lucky. And so are we, as their parents. I know if anything ever happened to us, my children would be loved no matter what. That's a great feeling!!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Let it SNOW!

Maybe I am crazy. Some would say, "Maybe?" especially my husband. And probably my sister. Anyway, I love the snow and I am so happy to see my neighborhood covered in the white stuff! Callie, my three old, has already noticed that our first snow of the season is melting. She cries, "mommy, make it stop! I want the snow to stay! Is it going to come back?" "Yes, dear, it will be back!"

 There's something about Winter that I love. It's probably a combination of Christmas, family, baking (well, a form of it anyway), presents, shopping, Holiday music, Holiday movies (Elf, anyone?), and Santa! I love driving and seeing snowmen in front yards, Christmas lights, kids sledding down the hill in our backyard, and I have to admit, as mean as it is, it's kind of funny to watch cars get stuck on my street. Don't worry, our car is almost always, wait, always one of those. It's not the stuck cars so much as it is the people coming to help. I love to see strangers (neighbors, they shouldn't be strangers, but.... some of them are) helping one another. I see people come out of their garages with snow shovels. Multiple people. And then I holler to my husband, "Craig, someone needs help!" and he's not quite as happy to help sometimes, but I always talk him into it. We've been stuck. People helped. People come out and helped within minutes. I love that. I wish we were more like that year round. I love getting all bundled up, taking Callie out to play, sledding, and coming in and warming up on the couch after. I have so many great memories of snow on the farm I grew up on. Besides all of the times I drove off the road into the ditch. And I mean, some deep ditches. But I remember my dad tying a sled to the back of the truck (sounds dangerous but he was very careful) and pulling us around in the fields. It was so much fun. SO MUCH FUN!  We had a three-wheeler and we rode that around, with or without sleds. We would dig tunnels in the ditches, and my dad would push snow into a huge pile and that would be the BEST. A very huge pile. We'd slide down it, tackle each other, and play King of the Mountain. Ahh... the memories... :)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Where do I begin...

I started this blog a few days ago. Meaning, I created, but never had time to "blog." What does that tell you about my life?
I love writing. I wrote for the High School Newspaper (The Knight Writer)... geeky, I know. But I loved it. I think my journalism teacher loved it too. I remember being called to the office (which was kind of a big deal) about my articles being "too much" as my principal put it. But my journalism teacher never made me edit out anything. I think he liked the attention.  A few people sent me letters either in support or, well, opposition of what I wrote. I wrote some commercials (for class) in college and loved that as well. I really just don't have time, or an audience to write for. Which is what brings me here. Takes less time to type than to write, and even though I probably don't really have an audience.... I can pretend. I am good at that :)
I took my dad (well, step dad technically but totally my dad in every way that counts) to the broadway musical, "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas" the other night. It was so fun. I can't remember ever spending that much one on one time with him. I loved every minute of it. Well, except the part where I almost ran a j-walking, dark clothes wearing family over. That was kinda scary. BUT I didn't. Thanks to my dad! I looked both ways, I swear I did. They really came out of nowhere. I still feel bad about it. They must have crapped their pants. Back to the show, I highly recommend it. Great music, costumes, and the sets were also very impressive. I had such a great night and I know I will always remember it.

Another, off topic thing that I cannot get out of my head... the Westboro Baptist Church. Just hearing the name makes me enraged. How they are allowed to protest at funerals... I don't get how that's not some form of terrorism or something. I really am not a hateful person at all. But something about that group makes me want to punch them in the face. And you know what, that's probably exactly what they want. They want to be hated, because then they are being talked and thought about. I really can't stand them. They make me sick to my stomach. And now they are going after teachers. First soldiers. Now teachers. It's disgusting. My daughter is only three years old. I am planning on talking to her a lot when she's older about standing up for what's right. I heard a quote, "Stand up for what's right, even if you are standing alone." I really believe this. I really want my daughter (and son!) to have the confidence to say "NO," and to state their opinions, which has never really been a problem for me. I want my children to know that the world is not fair, but we can treat people fairly. I want my children to know that bullying is wrong. I want my children to have the courage to stand up to bullies. The courage to get an adult involved, or get involved themselves. And I know that this courage I speak of doesn't just "magically appear." I have to "grow" it inside their hearts. It's my job to lead by example. It's my job to stand up for what's right and show them that it's okay to "go against the grain" if it's something you truly believe in. I want my children to have respect for everyone, and themselves. If I can do that, if I can show them the way as a parent, then I would be so proud. Proud of them, proud of myself, proud of the "village" that surrounds my littles ones with love and support. What do you want for your children?