He’s makin a list…

and checkin it twice!

Hopefully in my absence everyone has become festive and ready for the holiday season. No matter what you celebrate, if anything….this time of year is wonderful! Is chilly outside, the air is crisp, my dogs even get a little bug in their butt when they go outside! Everything is decorated so beautifully, everything smells wonderful and most of us get time off work for something or other!

 

I and my family celebrate Christmas and all its glory. We believe in Santa and reindeer and Christmas magic as well. I do not agree that Santa takes away from Jesus – he’s a completely different entity of Christmas and if you are not secure enough in your faith to celebrate Jesus and believe in Santa then I’m sorry  – you’re missing out!

We don’t even have any small children right now and yet we still write Santa a letter and leave cookies out every year!! We believe in Christmas magic and we love it! The house is covered in decorations and it’s beautiful – well except for the Griswold tree in our living room.

The tree was gorgeous on day 1 and 2 and maybe 3. Then the cat started to climb it, swat it and sleep in it. Then the dog started to remove any ornaments in his reach and eat them. Then the strands of lights slowly started to go out, 1 by 1 until only the bottom portion of the tree is lit. *sigh*  That’s the Griswold life. The half with ornaments is dark and the half without them, is lit.

With the tree thing aside, the house is beautiful and ready, we’re festive and ready, Christmas music plays, we’re all shopped out, we’ve made our lists and delivered them to Santa. We’re ready for the big man to pay us a visit.

I love to give more than to receive. The receiving part is nice but not as nice as the smiles on my loved ones faces as they peel away the paper and see what lies beneath. It’s a blessing that I can provide those smiles on their faces. I know others in our world cannot. I don’t let that go unthought on Christmas. I’m thankful. I had a Christmas wish months ago, unfortunately, Santa cannot fulfill this one for me (unless I move to 34th street by Sunday morning) but I know, with that aside, I will still have a wonderful and perfect Christmas day celebrating with my favorite people in the world!

How about you? Did you make your list, have you been good? When Santa checks, are you naughty or nice?

Being Thankful

This post is a smidge on the late side huh? I guess life swept me up again and carried me away!!

I started this post about being Thankful before Thanksgiving which is the day that EVERYONE in the blog world was posting about being thankful …. soooo to keep up the tradition of being a Griswold and an always Late Laura, here is my Thankful post!

I’m thankful this year for my husband and our second year of marriage. We made it yet another year in this hard hard world. I love you my super cute stinkapotamus!

I’m thankful for my wonderful family. This includes my husbands wonderful family as well. I have so many caring people in my life.

I’m thankful for the fact that I have a job, a car and a house. So many people in our country, state and town don’t have 1 or more of these things. Being that it is after Thanksgiving, I am now thankful for a wonderful family filled Thanksgiving holiday. It was awesome. I love all of you and wish we could have more days like that! Looking forward to Christmas!

I’m thankful that my cousins baby girl was born beautiful and healthy this year.

I’m thankful for the show “How I Met Your Mother” I just recently started watching this show and I LOVE it!

I’m thankful for friends close and far. You are all great and wish that everyone was close to me all the time. Thank you all for everything!

I’m thankful for “The Vampire Diaries” too and Ian Somerhalder – He’s hot!

I’m thankful for delicious dinners and TV shows with my teenager, once in a while she makes me feel young.

I’m thankful for girls days full of snacks and Twilight movies – Including Breaking Dawn which I am so thankful I was able to see it already.

So anyway… what are all of you thankful for this season and this non-thanksgiving Tuesday?

 

Filter or no filter

I met Matt in 2003. At the time, the teenager was a cute chubby little 6yr old ball of fun. Like most children, she had no filter on her conversations. I sure did love that kid though and was quickly falling for her daddy too.

She's actually 9 in this picture..I didn't have a digital camera yet when I met her at 6yr old!

One particular day as we were all sitting around the house, that cute little squishy face asked me “When are you and my daddy gonna get married? “Was this adorable? Yes! Was it awkward as I sat there wide eyed, mouth agape trying to come up with an appropiate answer for a 7yr old? YES!!! I had only known Matt for a mere 4-5 months and I think marriage was the last thing on my mind. (His too considering we didn’t wed for 7 more years!)
I think Matt was appalled that she would even ask this question and for sure thought he would never see me again, what with my running for the hills and all. LOL!
I love kids though and have been around them my entire life and I know their minds and was in no way offended. It was awkward though! 
 
Another wonderful time with little squishy face, involved her bringing up the dreaded “ex”. Oh yes my friends, this little ball of joy brought up the ex in such a manner that it was awkward for all involved. She simply wanted to know if her daddy remembered the time they did this with “her” and it caused complete silence to ensue. I’m no silly jealous girl though and wasn’t bothered by it all. I wasn’t silly enough to think Matt had no ex’s and that this little cutie had never had another woman in her life. 
 

Me and the Teen years ago. (She made us get matching shirts!)

 
What is it about kids that cause them to say the worst things at the worst moment? We think they have no idea, but is this actually true. It seems more like they DO know exactly what they are doing and just like to see adults squirm!
All these years later that little squishy kid has grown into a beautiful teenager and guess what?? Still no filter! I cringe sometimes when we are conversing with strangers.
 
I sure do love her though with all my heart and soul, filter or no filter.
 
So tell me, do you kids have a filter? If so, how did you install it? If not, tell me about an awkward moment in time.
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Joys and Woes of aging

Over the past few months, much of our lives have revolved around age related things.

We started off with the teenagers birthday. Not much changed as she went from 14 to 15. She still the same wonderful teenager she was at 14. She has a little more knowledge and a little more maturity than she did this time last year. The year made a bit of difference but not a lot.

She's so beautiful!

We also celebrated my …. ahem…25th birthday. I sure love being in my 20’s! Ok, so I’m lying. I’m now 31. I think 30 is the actual age that you start to forget how old you are and you have to really THINK about it. I just did. I knew I wasn’t in my 20’s but how old am I? Oh riiighhttt…. ugh…31! I don’t usually feel 31 though so that’s a good thing – right?

Can anyone name the show this is from?

My baby cousin gave birth to her first child at the age of 20. She then turned 21. She was just a baby in my arms the other day and now I’m holding her daughter in my arms, 21 years later. This is actually the first time I held the baby of a baby I used to cuddle with years before. It’s surreal actually.

My grandmother passed away recently as well. It’s not the same rejoicing moment as a birthday or giving birth, but it does bring up age and aging. She was in her 80’s and to many, that’s a great long life. I have talked with older people before that feel 80 is quite an accomplishment. Her 90’s or even 100 would have been better. We would have had her with us that much longer. I miss her. In reality, I would not have even seen my grandmother in months. She doesn’t live near me and I only saw her once a year when she was here for her visit. But somehow, knowing you will never see someone again makes you miss them more, no matter what.

Love and Miss her!

My mommy turned 50 this month! The big five-oh! She took an awesome trip with my dad to California and got to do a lot of amazing things that she has always wanted to do. They went to “The Price is Right”, The Tonight Show, some great restaurants and saw some Hollywood sites. I’m glad she got to go and have an awesome time for her birthday! Happy Birthday Mommy and Thanks for the awesome gifts!

My mommy years ago.

My mommy and daddy just 1 year ago.

 I don’t feel 31, I don’t think my mom feels 50, my husband doesn’t even know how old he is, my much younger baby cousin is having babies and the teenager is aging with rapid pace and soon to be off to college leaving us behind. So how much does age affect us on a daily basis? When exactly do you start to feel old? Or feel your age? I know I feel older than I did 10 years ago but in reality, not that much. So how much does age matter once you reach a certain point? This is a thought that changes with age. How ironic.
 
As a child you think age does matter and you want to be older so you can do all the cool stuff and stay up late.
As a teenager, it is much of the same thoughts with thoughts of boys mixed in and how the age difference shouldn’t matter.
Ages start to become less important in your 20’s and you don’t think age is such a big deal anymore.
Once you have children age plays a part in your life once again. Your babies are growing up and aging quickly, and with boys the age difference matters big time, when it comes to your teenager!
I haven’t figured out when it changes again. When does your thought process on aging change in life once again?
 
What do all of you think about age? Do you feel it? Does it matter to you? I rambled a lot in this post but that was the thought process in my head this morning. So – tell me what you think!
 
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Can you love even family before meeting them?

Yes!! I believe you can. What do you think?

I am an only child, and in my early childhood years I was the only grandchild and niece as well. I was loved and spoiled.

When I was 8, my Aunt had her first baby and then at 10, she had her second. I was all of a sudden, not the only kid around. I had to share my stuff with the babies and of course the babies got more attention than I did too. It was a huge adjustment for me as a kid.

Ohhhh, but I sure did LOVE those babies. In the summer I would go to my Aunt’s during the day. I would watch Disney movies and read books and play with Mikki (she was 3 and 4) and I would get to play with and feed and change my baby cousin. She was perfect. I loved it. My 2 baby cousins and I had some great summer days.

A little side story – I did tell my cousin this story a few years back but I have never really told anyone else…. so to my family,…if you are reading this, it was 20 years ago and I was a child. Please do not get upset! 

Anyway, when it was nap time on some of those days I would lay in bed with Mikki and read books while my other cousin was asleep in her crib. My Aunt would go out and cut the grass and I just couldn’t stand it, I wanted that baby to wake up and play so bad. So what I would do was sneak in her room and start trying to wake her up. I would move her all around, a little nudge and maybe a little hair tug. (Sorry Cuz) Then when she started to stir I would run away and wait for her to cry to be taken out of the crib. I loved going in there and getting her out of that crib when she woke up from her nap! I loved it!

So here we are 20 years later and that beautiful baby I loved so much has grown up and she has now had her own beautiful baby. And I love her already! I haven’t met her yet, but I sure do love her!

Yes, she’s wearing a robe! I just about died when I saw this picture. I have never seen a robe for infants. I am pretty sure I have never seen anything more cute. I like the robe better than a frilly little dress. I really do!

Are you as close with your family as I am? Do you have 2nd cousins? Do you think you can love someone before meeting them? What if it’s family?

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What do you think about on 9/11?

I guess the common answer these days to that questions would be: The World Trade Center attacks, a loved one lost, America, New York and maybe even fears of a repeat attack of some kind.

My answer is a bit different. While I do think of most of those things on that day, I think mostly about my own lost loved one. She didn’t die on 9/11 but was born on 9/11. I think of her so much on this day. How old she would be, what would she have looked like, who would she have grown to be, how close would we be and how would my family and myself be different if she were still with us?

I have been thinking of her on this day for 23 years. Although my thoughts changed 19yrs ago when my first thought was that she would be 5 today. NOw, in 2011, she would be 23 years old. A grown woman in the world, my family and my friend. I miss her still, her hugs, her smiles, her little voice singing a song.

I was 12 years old when she died, I was an awkward kid trying to get through my days. My life was about school, friends, boys and hanging out. Death was a slap in the face, especially when it was such a tiny little person so close to my heart. It was hard for my 12yr old brain to grasp.

I remember very clearly coming home from school and seeing my mothers car in the driveway. (this was weird because she worked and didn’t get home until 7ish, was home after school with my dad) Both of my parents were in the bedroom talking in hushed tones so I filled a bowl with puffy Cheetos and sat at the table for my after school snack. I remember taking a bite of one of those Cheetos as my parents walked out to tell me about the car accident my Aunt was in with the babies on board. It was explained to me that my Aunt was very hurt as was my cousin. She was in a coma with no brain activity. I don’t remember the words or phrases they used, I only remember that cheeto still in my mouth and I had no idea what to do with it as it turned to mush.

The following days are still a blur. I only remember bits and pieces. I remember the wake and the open casket (I never should have looked) and I remember staring for so long that I thought she was breathing, I remember rumors flew at school in my absence that I slit my wrists, I remember how small my other cousins were and how much less they understood than I , I remember a Thanksgiving right after where my grandfathers voice cracked in saying the prayer (I had never seen or heard him cry before) and I remember how I changed as person.

These are all things I think about during the year but I think of everything on September 11th, the day of her birth. It’s still hard and I tear up every 9/11 but for different reasons than most of America.

We miss you and we love you Mikki!

Beautiful Girl!

What do you think of on 9/11? What does this day mean to you?

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Thoughts of a step-child

I am a step-daughter, a step-grand daughter, a step niece and a step cousin. Yeah I guess that’s the title some would use when referring to what I am.

I did not know my bio-logical father or his family. They all disappeared from my life when I was 3 and my tiny little person mind has no recollection of these people.

My mother remarried when I was 7 and thus marked me as a step. But what does this mean really? Nothing much in my mind or my world. I was never once made to feel as if I was not a regular member of my new fathers family. For as long as I can remember, my dad is my dad and my gram is my gram and my cousins are my cousins and my aunts and uncles are just that….aunts and uncles. I refer to them all as such and none of them ever have the prefix of “step”. They are all my family and I love them just like the family on my mother’s side that I have known since birth.

In my adult life I also became a step mother. The teenager is not biologically mine, however, she might as well be. I love her as if she were my own, I protect her as if she were my own and would give my life for her as if she were my own. I don’t see where there is much of a difference in a step family and a biological family besides the shared blood line, and I have seen those that share blood be more cruel and hateful to each other than any of my so-called “step” family.

The reason for this post I guess is because I wanted to get some things down and out of my head. My Gram died this weekend and even though she was my step-grandmother, I know my heart feels as if I lost a grandmother and in my reality, I did. I lost my grandmother, my actual grandmother. I haven’t seen her since early this year and I missed her before but I really miss her a lot now, it’s a different type of miss. It’s funny how that works, you have no idea how much you miss someone until you know you will never see them again.

I didn’t spend as much time with her when she was here as I should have or would have liked to. We learn lessons in life and even tell ourselves that life is short and we never know what can happen and that we should be with loved ones and live life to its fullest and of course follow my husband’s blueberry muffin theory on life and I know I try, and I am sure everyone tries but the daily grind of life sometimes makes it difficult as we fool ourselves into thinking that we are too busy or that we will make time for sure this weekend.

So to my grandmother, the one who loved me regardless of our bloodline and never treated me differently than her other grandchildren – I am sorry we were not as close the past few years.  I thank you for being so wonderful over the years and for all the love and kindness you gave me. I never felt like anything other than another one of the grandkids. I miss you and I love you.

Do any of you have step family? Are they as wonderful as mine? Any words of wisdom? Please share with us.

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50 Years of Love

That’s a picture of my grandparents on their wedding day. They recently celebrated 50 years of marriage! 50 years!

That seems like such a huge number when you think about it in terms of marriage. It seems like the value of a marriage has gone down as time goes by.

You hear of divorce more frequently now than ever before and it’s looked at much differently as well. It used to be shamful if you were divorced or getting divorced. Some people and places even shunned those who were divorced. Today, we have divorce or freedom parties!

What a difference time makes.

I like to think that I try my hardest to model my relationship after my grandparents who have been together all this time. I’m sure they have hit a bumpy road or 12 but I never heard about it or saw any evidence of it. I only see love and admiration.

Don’t get me wrong, I do believe in divorce in certain instances of course but I feel like so many people just give up. Marriage is a full time job and you are usually required to work pretty hard at it. People change so much and so many times throughout their lives and I’m sure some of those changes can cause strain on a relationship but giving up should never be an option.

My beautiful grandparents stil look at each other with the same love in their eyes as they did 50 years ago.

I’m quite proud to say that my grandparents celebrated a 50th wedding anniversary. I’m proud of them and amazed by their love. We love you Granny and Gramps and congratulations again on a wonderful and happy marriage! Here’s to many more years of love!

How long have you been married? Are you divorced? What is the longest marriage of someone you know?

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Zaira’s Ball

Somewhat stemming of our “Are we running a Zoo” post, I’ll introduce Zaira. She’s another of our wonderful dogs. Zaira is 3 1/2 and we have had her for a little over 3 years.

Zaira was never quite as bad as Crash when she was a puppy BUT, she was bad!

When Zaira was little she liked to go out back and play ball. She LOVED it! So when the days were short, I found a ball that glows in the dark so we could go out even after dark and play.

She became attached to that ball like a toddler to a security blanket. Here we are years later and she is still toting that ball around everywhere she goes. Now, Zaira was an is a chewer and destroyer SOOO she burned through the first ball and chewed a big hole in it. We had to buy another one.

The second ball was green and at first she shunned it as not “her” ball, but soon after jumped on board and it was as if it had always been “the one”.

We had to buy another one – it was pink like the first and she jumped right in with that ball too.

We still have ball number 3 but are prepared for the worst with other balls.

I’m not sure her life would be the same without that ball.

She eats with it.

She sleeps with it.

She gets held with it.

She met Crash with it.

She gets hugs with it.

She plays with other toys with it.

And she relaxes with it.

Does your dog have a favorite toy? What is it?

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Happy 4th of July

The 4th of July is a big deal at our house. It’s not just America’s birthday. We celebrate family too. The Armstrongs have always had a large 4th of July and Matt and I continue the tradition. This year was great just like all the others. Besides the fact that the family babies were not always pleased with our show of lights, it was a very non-griswoldesk kind of year. Somehow, not one thing went wrong! It’s an AMAZING feat to acomplish and we pulled it off this year! We’re proud!

We spend the day having fun, eating, playing ball, and jumping around!

As the night sets in we like to sit around watching the fireworks. We do our own, at home, in the driveway.

Sometimes we take pictures and video of the really good ones.

During and after the show of lights, we like to be goofy, have fun, have some drinks and hang out with friends and family.

There is nothing quite like the smell of the 4th of July. It’s smoke, bug spray, charcoal and hot dogs. I’m sure it’s not a great marketing idea for a candle but it smells great on the 4th. It’s the smell of summer, family gatherings, delicious foods and simple fun.

How was your 4th? Tell us about it!

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