Photo Friday: Closing Time

The song “Closing Time” reminds me a lot of high school, endings, and new beginnings. Well, today we closed on a new (to us) home and, in a way, it will be a new beginning for our family. We’re super excited to have a little more breathing room and a lot more yard. But…we’re also exhausted…

We’re exhausted from a long, drawn-out negotiation prior to closing actually happening. Plus, this week I had a work trip to Houston and San Antonio, Garen had one to Houston today. Tomorrow, we have two basketball games, a Girl Scout Cookie Booth, birthday party, and then we will try to start moving. Sunday I head to Las Vegas until Friday to the World of Concrete!

All of this stuff is awesome! It’s just soooooo much. All at once.

However, I’m working on enjoying every single crazy moment of it. Because I believe my elders when they tell me that these days will be gone in a hurry.

These pictures were the highlights of my day were:

1. Getting the keys!

2. Having a pizza picnic with my favorite people on the floor of our new (to us) dining room.

They say it’s the small things in life!

Happy Photo Friday to you and happy Closing Day to us!

Photo Friday: Longhorn Cavern State Park

Over Christmas break, we made the trip from Hamilton down to Longhorn Cavern State Park.  I’d been there back when Will was still an only child but we didn’t have time to go on the cave tour.  It was one of the Texas Bucket List things that I’d always wanted to check off.  I don’t think anyone else in our family had ever been either so it was a great choice when we wanted to get outside to do something right before Christmas rather than sitting around the house in Hamilton.

It’s located a little north of Marble Falls, TX, so we left in time to go into town and eat at Bluebonnet Cafe, which is definitely a great place to stop if you’re ever driving down Hwy 281.  I thoroughly enjoyed my chicken fried steak and at least half of us got breakfast for lunch.  Don’t skip the pie for dessert.

The cave tour was pretty cool and we learned a little about the history as well as some geology behind formation, etc.  Imagine how cool it would’ve been to grab a drink or a concert down there?!?  Back in the day, they operated a bar, complete with a band to get more visitors because Carlsbad Caverns was so popular with their elevator at the time.  This was obviously before they knew that touching the stalagmites and stalactites stunted their growth permanently.  You science people correct me if I got those wrong….

The state park around the cave is pretty cool itself.  We didn’t explore it too much, with Harper Bear, Clara, and Kate having short legs and attention-spans.  However, we did enjoy climbing up and around the original CCC stone building there.  While the cave pictures sure didn’t turn out, I think that the ones of us hanging out above the cave were pretty cute.  We sure enjoyed our time with the Odom family!

Happy Photo Friday all!

Mommy Review Monday: Decluttering at the Speed of Life: Winning Your Never-Ending Battle with Stuff

Every year I set goals for myself at the beginning of the year.  Original, right???

One of my goals this year (and, honestly, the last probably 10 years) is to declutter.  However, we’re in the process of potentially closing on a new (to us) home.  With that, we will likely be selling the home we’re in.  And, because of that, we must move.

Moving brings stress.  It also brings opportunity.  Lemons to lemonade….

I digress.  The opportunity I speak of is the opportunity to declutter.  REALLY declutter.  Like get rid of stuff I don’t need and/or want.

For those of you who don’t know, I LOVE audio books.  As much as I’m on the road, I use the time to read either for pleasure, education, or self-development.  One of the latest books that popped up as a suggestion to me was called Decluttering at the Speed of Life: Winning Your Never-Ending Battle with Stuff by Dana K. White.  I’m a fan.  Here’s why:

Decluttering at the Speed of Life

  • She reads the book herself and you can tell she’s got a sense of humor.  It stuck a familiar cord with me.  Like we could seriously be friends.
  • It really is “decluttering at the speed of life,” meaning it’s not something you have to plan to have hours blocked out to do.  5 minutes is all it takes to get started.  Mind = blown.  ADHD friends, this book will help you out.  Get out those iphones and start your stop watches!
  • It breaks it down into the areas that matter most- the ones you can’t hide.  Her thoughts are that if you start with those, you’ll get on a roll and the others will come easier.  Kinda.  Just listen and it’ll all make sense.
  • It’s not long and complicated.  No- “do you love these things?” or “show your stuff the respect it deserves” type mumbo-jumbo.  It’s practical.
  • She introduces the container theme- I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this.  Just wait… I’m guessing you will too.  I’m not going to be a book spoiler.  Just read and/or listen to it.

That’s it.  Because….guess what?!? One of my other goals this year is to blog once a week.  That means that my blog posts HAVE to start being short, sweet, and to the point.  So, with that said, Happy Mommy Review Monday and may the decluttering be as addicting for you as it’s become for me!

P.S. I’m not getting compensated to review this book.  I used my Audible credit to purchase it.  All (good and bad) opinions are my own.

Photo Friday: Five Fabulous Years Together

Seriously, folks, has it really been five years that I’ve been married to this wonderful man?!?

532It’s both flown by and seemed like longer than 5 years.  In some ways, I feel like it was just yesterday we were walking down the isle (and I was about 25 lbs lighter).  In other ways, it seems like we’ve been a married couple for ages.  Maybe that’s because so much has happened in our lives in the past five years.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Married April 26, 2014
  • Will started “real school”
  • We found out we were expecting
  • Then found out we were expecting TWINS!
  • We sold our house in The Colony
  • We moved to our current house in Arlington
  • We  added Clara and Kate to the family
  • Anna started “real school”
  • I left Texas Health Resources to work at Spec Rents
  • Garen got two promotions along the way (he’s now VP of Masonry Sales for Texas at Oldcastle)
  • Clara and Kate started pre-school
  • We’ve been to hundreds of kids events- sporting, scouts, etc. and loved (almost) ever minute of it

Now, here we are- celebrating five years of wedded bliss!  I am so thankful that I married this guy.  As I tell people about our story- Garen was our sales guy for mortar and grout when I worked at P and S Masonry.  He was such a great saleman, that I married him.

This man is so wonderful.  When we started dating, he took a huge risk getting into a  long-distance relationship with a girl that had already had one failed marriage and two young kids.  He jumped right in from the minute he met Will and Anna that first time we went to Fossil Rim together.  Although, they may not be his children by blood, he’s treated them as they are from the beginning and that says so much about what type of person he is.  When we added Clara and Kate to the mix, he knew how nervous I was about having two more human beings to care for and he has been the best baby-daddy ever.  In fact, so much so that the girls prefer him over me and for good reason!

On the flip side, being a great dad isn’t the only thing that makes him a great life partner.  He’s also just fun.  Anyone that’s been around him for a short period of time, knows that he’s hilarious (despite the terrible dad jokes) and kind.  He’s such a people person and could strike up a conversation with anyone and he’s intelligent on so many levels that it makes our discussions so interesting.  We always have fun together- whether its cleaning up the kitchen or going on a hike.

I feel so fortunate that I get to spend the rest of my days with him.  Here’s to many, many more!

Crafting with Will: Origami Hat/Boat/Snapper

Will woke up this morning and immediately started making Origami. He is super crafty like that….especially when grounded from electronics. Funny how that works. I asked asked him if he wanted to make a video to show others how to do his current favorite project and he was all about it!

I think he did a great job in front of the camera for his first time!

Now for a fun day of Cub Scouts Blue and Gold Banquet and two basketball games. Wish us luck with no naps in the schedule.

Enjoy Will’s first DIY video!

Photo Friday: Creepy Crawlers

We kinda like bugs, worms, and all things crawling around here.  Ok, maybe not all things.  Anna and Kate pretty much freak out at the sight of any spiders, while Will and Clara are overly quick to smash the insides out of anything they can.

Obviously, these smaller creep crawlers pictured below were taken by Garen without our herd around to either run from or kill.

By the way, there is no great back story as to why I decided to post these.  I honestly couldn’t come up with a good Photo Friday story off the top of my head.  I’ve been on the road for the past two days, so as I got back tonight, I realized if I didn’t find some photos fast, I was going to miss another Photo Friday.  So…. I went back and looked at some of Garen’s photos, and this chubby green worm and the black spider jumped out at me.

Thanks goodness they didn’t really jump out at me.  Kate and Anna tend to be more like me.  I like to handle most creepy crawlers from a distance and a large stick…. except fishing worms, which somehow I can handle.  That, and the creepy crawlers we used to make as a kid with an oven.  Am I the only one that loved making these things (for those of us who fall conveniently between Gen X and Millennials)?

Creepy Crawlers

If you really love it, I found one for you online at Etsy for the bargain price of…..

 

$119.99!

Yes, you read that correctly.  Here’s the link in case you’re totally reminiscing:

Vintage Creepy Crawlers Workshop Complete with Molds Molding Oven

You can also find one on Amazon for $199.99.

We recently had our own terrible experience with the mess of the Easy Bake oven.  So, I now totally understand the cringe I saw come over my Mom’s face when I told her I wanted to make creepy crawlies as a child.  I also can imagine how she felt when we ran out of the glue or whatever it was that made them.  I feel the same way when the mix ran out on Anna’s Easy Bake oven.  Whew!!!  And, no, I’m not buying another .2 oz bag of cookie or cake mix for $10.

There you go.  Another rambling post, but at least you know where these photos come from.  Credit to my very talented hubby, www.GarenGraves.com.  The website hasn’t been updated in a while.  Don’t judge.  It’s a labor of love!

What about you?  Do you love or hate creepy crawlers – real or fake?

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My Funny Valentine

Wow, guys…..

What. A. Week.

It’s been one for the record books. There were Valentine’s Day school parties, Garen on the road two days, getting ready for helping with decorations for the school dance, and more “real work” than I can shake a stick at. And then the weekend full of laundry, washing and putting party stuff away, basketball…

The good thing….we survived. It’s Sunday and all is right in the world after a lazy morning.

How did I survive the week?

This guy.

This amazing, wonderful man keeps me sane. He is my rock. Best dad, best friend, best husband, best everything pretty much.

He’s so great that he even played along with my “fishing” dance on Friday at the school dance. You know…the one that you cast the line and “catch” your dance partner and reel them in. Not only did he play along, he totally rocked it, hook in the cheek and all. Such a funny guy.

On top of that, he barely blinked an eye when I brought two truckloads of Valentines decorations, party stuff, and serving dishes back into the house he’d just picked up yesterday morning!

Worlds most patient man ever, right here. And he’s mine! I’m the luckiest girl in the world.

Happy late Valentines Day, Garen, my funny Valentine. I love that we get to laugh our way through this crazy life of ours! Thanks for being you!

Chalkboard Quotes: Be the Reason Someone Smiles Today

A few years back, right after we moved into this house, my sweet mother-in-law gave us this frame. It was another color and didn’t have anything behind it. We debated between using it to hang wreaths or other stuff in it or get a large picture printed for it. But I had wanted a big chalkboard for a while, so Garen cut a piece of plywood to the right size and I painted it with chalkboard paint. I painted the frame black so it would be versatile. I finished this project right before Clara and Kate’s first birthday. Here’s the first chalkboard crafting I did:

As you can see, I did a combo of pictures hanging with pom pom string and mini clothespins. I used chalkboard paint markers on this project. Although it turned out nicely, it forever stained my chalkboard. I’m probably the only one that really looks closeup enough to see that it still says “Happy Halloween” but it still drives me a little crazy. Short drive there but still…

The slight stain doesn’t bother me enough to take it apart and repaint it. I’ve learned now that using plain ol’ chalk is easiest for writing and erasing. Plus, you can buy a box with color and white from Dollar Tree for only a dollar. Score!

On Wednesday afternoon last week I redid it for Valentines a whole day before Valentines Day. Great planning, right? However, I went ahead and changed it because I used it for decoration at the Wood Elementary Family Sweetheart Dance we had on Friday night.

It’s not my best work and you can tell that it got smeared a bit by people running into it. It is what it is…

Today, I decided to redo the message again since it got messed up in transport back to the house. I thought I’d share since I really loved the message. It’s perfect right now since we’re between seasons. St. Patty’s Day (also Anna Banana’s birthday) is next and a little far off for doing that. I happened to see this post by How Does She? On Pinterest that had 21 Great Chalkboard Quotes. I found this quote from there and changed up how it was drawn a bit to fit my style. There were 20 other great quotes to check out as well.

I love this quote: “Be the reason someone smiles today.” I feel like if we all just tried to make at least one person smile a day we’d have a much better world. And one of the best ways to do that is just by smiling yourself. After all smiling is contagious.

Happy Smiling Sunday!

Mommy Review Monday: My Little Bro

Today’s Mommy Review Monday is a little different.  It’s a review of my little brother, Alexander Van Odom, who happens to turn 30 today.

How did that happen???

Like I always say, time flies when you’re having fun.  And we’ve had lots of it over the years.

Things I LOVE about my brother:

  • He’s one of the most caring, thoughtful people I know.  Seriously, y’all.  He’d always very conscious about how something may make others feel.  In a time of verbal (and textual) vomit all over the place, this man actually thinks about what he says and thinks before he says or writes it.  And, better yet, he actually cares about how it will make you feel.  This is something I, personally, could do better at.
  • He’s soooo creative.  This guy…. He can make, craft, draw pretty much anything.  More than that though, he’s creative enough to come up with his own designs vs. just copying a great idea of someone else.  Maybe that’s why he’s an amazing architect???
  • He made me Aunt Liz to Harper Bear.  And Ottie too.  They’re both pretty great and I love lovin’ on them both when I get to see them!
  • He married Kelsey, who is pretty much the coolest and most stylish sister-in-law EVER.
  • He’s super photogenic.  Ok, so this doesn’t really matter all that much to me but it does tie in the many photos below….

What I wish I could have more of from my brother:

  • I wish he lived closer and we could spend more time together.
  • I wish for our kids to get to spend lots of fun cousin time in the coming years.
  • I wish he’d give me some more of his creativity.
  • I wish I would’ve been nicer at times when we were growing up.  Sorry about being a bossy-pants, older sister.  At least he was able to learn from my mistakes…
  • Most of all, I wish I could give him a big Birthday hug!

If you’re reading this, Alexander, AKA, Uncle Al, I love you and can’t wait to see what the next 30 years holds for you and your little family!

To the rest of you, check out how handsome this dude is….

Photo Credit to Garen Graves and Kelsey Odom.

Photo Friday: Willy P, Basketball Star

Will started playing basketball. He’s having a blast. He’s got a great coach and assistant coach and I think he enjoys playing with his teammates even though none of them go to his school.

We signed up through the YMCA and I have to say that I’m been pretty impressed with the organization and how the refs are out there to help the kids learn the ins and outs of the game as well. They have practices on Tuesday nights and Saturday games at a nearby Junior High, which is plenty for a 4th grader.

I am so glad Will likes it. Garen caught a few of these from one of his games. He looks like a baller, right?!? Just call him Willy P!

Happy Photo Friday!