Saturday, April 27, 2013


I had an acquaintance tell me once that she would never put her younger son in her older son's outgrown clothes. She only wanted him to wear new clothes.  I was so astounded at the time by what she said, you could have knocked me over with a feather.  I love hand-me-downs and I have never turned them down from anybody!!! The picture below is my grandmother holding Lauren.  She is wearing a dress that belonged to me.

I have hung on to that dress and I'm hoping that when Lauren gets married and has children, that she has a daughter who will be able to wear it :) When Lauren was little, I bought her a really cute pink denim jacket, that I'm pretty sure cost $1.00.  I lost track of how many compliments I got on that jacket!! Yard sales and consignment stores are also great places to find hand-me-down clothes. When Lauren did competitive gymnastics I was a "regular" at my local consignment store.  Anybody who has kids in that sport knows how expensive those leotards can be!!  I love the consignment store for myself. I have found some nice formal dresses in there. My best friend used to give me the best hand-me-downs for Lauren from her daughter as you can see from the picture below. 

When we go to visit my friend, she still gives us hand-me-downs, which I think is super cool, considering our "girls" are now teenagers!  Dominic's godmother gave him a bunch of her son's outgrown clothes.  He was able to wear them up until very recently.  I am keeping a small bag of Lauren and Dominic's favorite clothes, but I have moved 95% of their outgrown clothes along to others. How about you? are you a fan of hand-me-downs?? 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Learning at the Feet of the "Master"

Anybody with a teenage girl getting ready to go to the prom knows how expensive dresses can be. Lauren went out this past Saturday to look for a long prom dress. After an hour or so, she found one that she really liked. I had her put it on hold and on Sunday, I went to the store to take a look, give it my final inspection and pay for it.  I had a coupon for 25% off that I was able to use. The dress was originally $108.00, marked down to $79.99, so it brought the cost of the dress down to $59.99, so I was already happy :) When I pulled out my store credit card to pay for the dress, since it had been so long since I had used that particular card it was no longer valid.  The clerk said, "hey, do you want to reopen the account and get an additional 20% off?"  I was like, "sure!"  Who doesn't like to save money?? The dress ended up costing only $47.99.  Lauren was telling me that she was going to go to school, show her friends a picture of the dress and have them guess how much it cost.  The dress is beautiful and easily looks like it cost triple what I ended up paying for it.

I then told Lauren, "you can tell all your friends your mom is a bargain hunter!"  She then remarked back, "well, I did pick a dress that was already on sale!"  I said, "I have taught you well, you have learned at the feet of the master!" Lauren was also telling me that when she was out looking for the dress that she wanted to find one that didn't look too "prom like" so she could wear it again for a special event sometime in the future. Lauren has known for a long time that I will not pay for a dress unless she will be able to wear it a minimum of two times. She now needs to find a pair of shoes to match the dress.  The first words out of my mouth were, "I have coupons for Kohl's, JC Penney and Payless!"

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Dominic and Potty Training

Mention potty training to a parent who has been through it or is currently in the midst of it and I'm sure you will hear many stories and opinions. My mom told me once she had to hand me over to a neighbor to be trained. Guess I was a little stubborn, huh??  While Dominic has made progress in a lot of areas, the potty training has proved to be much, much slower than we anticipated.  There seemed for years to be a disconnect between him knowing where to do the #1 and #2 and actually having him doing it.  I would ask him "why" he didn't want to do it, but he really couldn't fully verbalize his reasons. Anytime we even attempted to train him in the past, he was super anxious and stressed, so we kept putting it off.  Believe me, I have read just about every book ever published about potty training, both for typically developing children and ones with special needs.  There was no physical reason why he couldn't do it, so it made it all the more frustrating. With most typically developing children, when they reach the age of about 2 1/2 or 3, if they are wearing a wet or soiled diaper, it would most likely bother them enough to speed up the potty training.  Dominic is hypo-sensitive.  He has been perfectly content to wear a diaper for years and not really care when he got changed. It finally reached a turning point last October with Dominic when he had his annual IEP (Individualized Education Program) and we were told that him not being trained was holding him back.  Dominic's teacher spent a lot of time coming up with a plan on how to approach the potty training. He even made a book about the #1 with plenty of pictures.  Since Dominic is such a visual learner, it worked great.  When he went back to school after the holiday break, we started with the #1. Dominic is a pretty stubborn guy, so there was lots of resistance on his part, both at home and at school.  He had some accidents at school and some at home, but after a little while he got the hang of the #1. The #2 has proved to be a bit harder to master.  His teacher made a book about the #2 and just this past week, he had success at home and at school!!  I have to give a lot of credit to everyone at his school who spent tons of time getting him trained.  I can't say enough about them.  They are and continue to be amazing :)  We are so proud of Dominic, we knew he could do it and now he knows he can too!!!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Just Five or Ten Minutes

I had someone (whose opinion I greatly respect), tell me recently a good way to relax.  She told me to close my eyes and clear my mind of any "clutter" for just five or ten minutes every day.  As moms, we are always trying to stay one step ahead of everything.  We're thinking of what to make for dinner, which kid needs to get to which activity, does each child have a clean outfit to wear to school tomorrow, etc.  Moms are really good at multitasking - we can be talking on the phone and making dinner at the same time. Trying to find just five or ten minutes to fully 100% relax in a jam-packed day can sometimes be difficult.  I have written before about my husband doing yoga for a long time, like for close to 40 years. He does it every morning to help him prepare for his day ahead.  I have tried to do yoga in the past and found that I couldn't settle my mind down long enough to fully relax. Exercise is a good way to relax and I have gotten back into my walking regimen again, but even when I walk, I'm thinking about everything I need to do when I get back home - I make a list in my head of what I need to accomplish for the day.  I'm going to work hard on getting some of that "clutter" out of my head. I really think I need to because for about the past three weeks, I have woke up at 4 a.m. most mornings, because even when I'm sleeping, I must not be completely relaxing!!  How about you? do you find time in your day to clear your mind for just five or ten minutes??

Monday, April 15, 2013

Suggestion Box

Since I am the Chief "Officer" in charge of making our household run smoothly, I was thinking about installing a "suggestion box" for my family. Late last week, my hubby was telling me there were a couple of lights burnt out in the house. I told him the maintenance staff hadn't had a chance to replace them yet, but would get around to it soon.  On Saturday, I decided since Dominic had no clean pants it was time to do the laundry.  My husband said, "well, it is kind of getting high!!"  That was a comment for the laundry staff to handle.  On Sunday afternoon, as I was getting Dominic ready to go to his class at church, the hubby was asking, "hey, why don't you buy ice cream bars and sandwiches any more?"  That would be a good question for the kitchen staff.  At about that same time, Lauren was asking me where I put some Skittles I just bought.  The both of them had impeccable timing, I literally was hustling Dominic out the door so we wouldn't be late.  If I had the suggestion box, they could put those questions in the box and I could pull them out after I got back from dropping Dominic off.  A suggestion box would also be great if a certain family member didn't like what I made for dinner.  Their comment could be put in the box anonymously.  Just this morning, I was asking the kids if they had any "requests" since I was going to the grocery store.  Dominic said he wanted doughnuts and Lauren wanted candy.  See, that's why I need a suggestion box!! If it works for a business, why wouldn't it work for a household?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Dinner Out with the Family

We rarely go out for dinner during the week.  Tonight was an exception because the hubby had a coupon to get a free deep dish pizza at a local restaurant that expired at midnight. I should have had an inkling that the dinner might not go well, because even though we had a reservation, we still had to wait a bit to be seated. As the hostess was taking us to our table, she asked my husband how many kid's menus we wanted.  Since Lauren is almost 17, I don't think she was too pleased that the hostess was asking us that question :(  Anyways, after we sat down, the hubby was telling me there were free appetizers if you ordered a "drink."  He seemed to think that applied to any kind of drink (alcoholic or not). After clarifying with the waiter that the "drink" had to be a beer, only the hubby was entitled to the free appetizers, since Lauren was drinking a pop and Dominic and I were drinking water. We didn't have to wait a long time before our pizza came out.  The waiter put it in the middle of the table and left.  As my husband was in the process of trying to move his appetizer plate out of the way to put his pizza plate down, he dumped the entire contents of his appetizer plate all over the front of his pants.  After a few minutes of trying to clean himself up, he decided it was best to go to the restroom and do a more thorough job of cleaning his pants. As I started cutting up a piece of pizza for Dominic, I noticed his slice had a piece of meat in it.  Since we ordered a cheese pizza, I figured a piece had accidentally slipped in somehow. No big deal, I just pushed the piece of meat to the side. Just as I was finishing cutting up Dominic's slice of pizza, the waiter appeared.  He said, "I gave you the wrong pizza!"  I was like, "I was kind of wondering since I found some meat in it."  He proceeded to tell me that our cheese pizza was in the window ready to be brought out.  He carted away the wrong pizza and in a few minutes brought back the correct one.  A few minutes after that my husband returned from the restroom.  When he sat down, I told him we ordered another pizza.  He looked at me like I had three heads. We then explained what had happened.  When my husband was reaching for a piece of our "new" pizza, he accidentally flipped the piece over and it landed upside down on his plate.  He said, "maybe I just need to go home and go to bed!"  I did the same exact thing with one of the pieces of pizza I ate too.  Lauren then hit her glass of pop by accident and said, "I almost knocked over my drink!"  We finished up our meal, put on our coats and started heading towards the front door to leave.  As we started opening the door we heard a voice say, "sir, did you forget this?"  It turns out we had left our "doggie bag" on the table.  It was quite a dining adventure with the family.  Yikes, I think maybe we need to think twice before we go out again during the week for dinner.  Actually, after tonight's events, the next time has to be an improvement!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Bad Behavior

Is anyone else sickened by the way the Rutgers head basketball coach treated his players in practices??  If you haven't heard about it yet, a tape surfaced earlier this week showing the head coach throwing basketballs, using bad language and pushing the players around. He had evidently exhibited that type of behavior for a few years.  Top officials found out about it four months ago, but didn't discipline the coach very much at the time.  What I found disturbing is, what if this tape never surfaced? How long would this coach have been able to get away with this type of behavior? In my opinion, this coach was a bully!  On Wednesday, he was fired. Today, the athletic director resigned.  I was asking my husband if he ever had a coach that acted similar to the coach at Rutgers.  He was telling me when he played baseball, he had a coach that would use the "f" word at practices. My hubby was only about 11 or 12 at the time.  He said he never told his parents about it.   How in the world is using foul language around a bunch of preteen boys supposed to motivate them to play better???  My husband said that the coach didn't use bad language at the games.  I guess if he did, it probably wouldn't have sat too well with the parents.  In all my years of playing sports, I don't remember any coaches that ever came close to the type of bad behavior the Rutgers coach exhibited. I feel sorry for the basketball players that had to put up with that type of abuse from their coach.  My hubby was saying that most of the players were probably there on scholarship.  If they would have complained or quit the team, they ran the risk of not being able to attend college.  They probably felt they were in a no-win situation.  Coaches are there to help their players be good athletes and set a good example for their team.  Respect from players is not something that magically appears, it has to be earned. Did you ever quit a sports team when you were growing up because of a bad coach? Have your kids? 

Monday, April 1, 2013

A "Staycation"

Last year, our family went away for an entire week for spring break.  This year, we decided to stay home. During the school week, I sometimes feel like our family is going in different directions and we really don't interact except at the dinner table.  After dinner, Lauren usually heads up to her room to do homework, my hubby does a few more hours of work, Dominic is doing his homework or playing with his toys and I'm cleaning up from dinner or doing some other chores.  This winter seemed very long and very cold. This past weekend, it was warm enough to actually sit outside and not need a winter coat and gloves.  On Saturday, Lauren made this cake in preparation for Easter -

On Sunday, Lauren and I hid some plastic eggs outside and let Dominic find them.  We dug out the basketballs and soccer balls and hung outside for a good portion of the afternoon.  It was so warm, I almost fell asleep in one of the chairs outside!  For me, it's just nice to get a "break" from getting up early, having to make lunches, get the kids to school and the hubby out the door to work.  Dominic has been rediscovering toys in the basement that he hasn't played with in a while.  Lauren asked me to take her to the library because she has no books to read for pleasure. I caught my hubby reading a book outside.  He has so little free time, it was nice to see him decompress a little.  My stepson wasn't able to be with us this Easter, but we did get to talk to him on the phone.  This week, I'm planning on testing out some new recipes and read a book or two. Going somewhere for spring break week is always nice, but it's also great to have a "staycation" and reconnect with the family!!

Welcome to "Holland"

Have you ever heard of the "Welcome to Holland" story? I had heard of it, but never read it until about a week ago. It is wr...