"Of Mice and 'Manns"

"Of Mice and 'Manns"
Our Magic Moment

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Sunday, March 5, 2017

Happy Birthday Punky!

She hates it when I call her pet names. But, I've been referring to her as Punky since she was a baby, and since I know she doesn't check Mommy's blog often, I can still do so here in my safe place.

Wow! Just like that I she's 14. I know I ramble on and on every birthday about how my babies just won't stop growing up. My in-laws have been telling me for 14 years now that I will "Miss these days!" For years, I rolled my eyes and told them that I would just take their word for it, but everyday it becomes even more clear. I DO miss those days! I miss having her run in the room in the morning and snuggle with me. I miss her wanting to tag along EVERYWHERE with me rather than begging me, "Can I just stay here? I'll wait in the car! Can I stay with (insert ANY friend's name?)

The teenage years are hard on a mommy. They want to talk less, where there earbuds more, and pay far more attention to their devices that you. It's frustrating at times, but watching her grow into a young woman is exciting to see too. Lately, I have watched the Tomboy tendencies slowly diminish as she begins to experiment daily with makeup, and actually embrace girlie clothes (every once in a while.) Taking her shopping for Grandma and Grandpa's anniversary party was one of the best days we have had together in such a long time. I was in heaven watching her try on dozens of dresses, getting her opinions on my choices, and taking pictures of each other in our favorites. Theres nothing more fun than playing dress up with your daughter, even when it happens in a dressing room of a department store!

This year's birthday party was quite different than what I am used to. Rather than me spending hours preparing decorations, games, snacks, and so on, she begged me, "Mom, please don't buy things and try to make it pretty." What? This took a lot of control on my part. Kevin had to hold me back at times. To top it all off, instead of getting a pretty fancy cake she wanted her birthday theme to be the Walking Dead!! Really? I spent a ton of money on a cake that was sprinkled with severed ears, and covered in blood. It was so gory I didn't even want to eat it (but let's face it, it's cake, so I took one for the team.) She is all about the zombie's these days, thanks to her Daddy, so we had her party at the Web Extreme to take advantage of the "Locked in a Room with  Zombie" attraction. I was the lucky one who got to spend 60 minutes locked in a room with a zombie and 12 screaming teenage girls! Lucky me!!

The party continued that night, as I had 11 teenagers partying the night away at my house. The sleepover was crazy, but the girls all enjoyed themselves and it was everything Gracie wanted for her 14th birthday. I now have two more years to brace myself before we are driving. I've already started praying for the strength!

Pie Face? I don't think my friends and I would have been as excited about this game as the kiddo's are these days.

After staying awake til almost 4am, the scene was rough in the morning! 
I thought I was never going to be able to wake them up. But, as soon as I said the words biscuits and gravy it was a stampede down the stairs. Kevin has never been so happy to accommodate. He loves making breakfast for the kids!  

Friday, November 25, 2016

Thanksgiving Traditions

One of my favorite things to do on Thanksgiving is to watch Kev and his mom cook together. Kevin takes his turkey dinner very seriously. He impresses me more and more every year. And when you get a chance to see he and his mom in the kitchen together you instantly know where he gets if from. Since I am seriously out of place and out of my comfort zone in the kitchen, I just stand around and wait for directions (and snap pictures with my phone of course.) This is one of my favorite Thanksgiving sites: watching mom pass on her expertise to her son, so that we have amazingly wonderful meals for many many years to come, and so that there will be SOMEONE in the family that can teach our children to cook later.  

Of course we correct the children when they try to feed the dogs some turkey, but mommy waits until no one is peeking to make sure that her fur-babies are well taken care of. SHHH, They had their fair share of the bird, as evidenced by their food comas after dinner.

It is a long-time tradition that after dinner, we write letters to Santa. I treasure these letters. They are always so precious, and I love to look back over the years to see how the kids' Christmas wishes have changed over time, and how their writing skills have progressed. After writing our letters, we take pictures, and "mail them" in our stockings. You'll notice in the letters below that there is a rule in the Mann house that you cannot just start off with "I WANT." You have to write at least 1-2 sentences before a request. That's what you get when you have a writing teacher as a mom!

I love that Jackson decided to illustrate his wish this year. He wanted to make sure that Santa was not confused when he put his presents together. Ive also noticed that the lists get shorter every year. As they grow up and develop more expensive tastes, they have gotten kind enough to give Santa a break. Great kids! 

Gracie has remained a great sport when it comes to Christmas traditions. She knows how important they are to Mommy, so she still puts her all into things like Santa letters, Elf on the Shelf shows, baking cookies for Santa and so on. I love that she loves me enough to give me this. It's funny that when your kids get to a certain age, Santa becomes something that the kids give their parents for Christmas rather than the other way around. Maybe we will eventually get to a point where Kev and I can go to bed early, and they will get up in the middle of the night to put out presents?? No, I don't think I can ever turn over those reigns. 

This Thanksgiving, as I am faced with the fact that my Santa days are numbered, it was the first Christmas that I did not need to visit the doll section of the toy store, and I could have finished all of my shopping without stepping foot into Toys R Us, I am finding myself the most thankful for the time I have left with my kids before they completely grow out of that giddy-child-like Christmas joy phase. Of course, I still haven't grown out of that phase, so I will continue to hold out.

It's been a long and trying year for me. There were times that I needed to just let go, and let Him hold me. I needed to focus hard on His will and His purpose for me, rather than my own plans and expectations for my life. It has been a long journey, and I am still very much at the beginning of the road. I am still working hard to put first things first, let things go, and give Him the reigns. However, I have discovered that, through Him, I am much stronger than I could have imagined at this time last year.  I have never felt closer to Him before. I am closer to my God, more grateful for the many blessings he has bestowed upon me, and have learned to embrace my family more than ever before. This Thanksgiving I am the most thankful for the rain. I know that blessings come to us through raindrops, and through the rain, I have become a better me, a better wife and mother, and closer to Him than ever before. Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

November 1st = Shay Day!

You all know it by now, November 1st is my special day. Many of my friends have actually started referring to it as Shay Day. What an honor to have a day named after you!! It is actually my Grandma Melton's birthday, which is what makes me even more happy. To celebrate this joyous occasion, our house gets a Christmas overhaul. A lot of these pictures stay the same every year. But as I take my friends and family through the house for an annual tour, I take joy in pointing out subtle differences and new additions to the Christmas house, and Northern Kentucky "North Pole." If you haven't seen the house in person, you are cordially invited. But in the meantime, here's the annual Christmas tour...


Happy Veterans Day!

This past Veterans' Day, Gracie worked tirelessly on a special project for her history class. She researched, she crafted, she even borrowed uniform parts and artifacts from her big cousin, and special treasures and medals from her Grandpa. She also performed at the Veterans' Day celebration. What made it even more special though is that she got to share it with her Papaw. Dad went to the celebration to cheer her on, and to be honored himself. It meant more to her to have him there than anything. Kevin and I, and both sets of grandparents, have drilled it into our children's heads that freedom doesn't come free. We have taught them NOT to take their liberties as an American for granted. Our children make us so proud when they walk up to a service man in public (sometimes even leave the table in a crowded restaurant,) without asking or being prompted to simply say thank you for their service. They know about the ultimate sacrifice our service men, police officers, firefighters, and other local heroes make everyday to serve our county, keep us safe, and protect our freedom. It's one of those things that Kevin and I are confident that we have done right as parents. 
I am so proud of my children for appreciating the hero's in our lives.  

Future Politician???

As I have shared before, Jackson is quite the political enthusiast. He doesn't just watch the news. He studies it with intensity. He has deep discussions with his father regularly about what is going on in the world. A couple of days before the election, he refused to stop watching Fox News long enough to brush his teeth in the morning. He insisted on pausing the TV so that he wouldn't miss the latest poll results. Needless to say election day was a huge deal for him. He took the "Kids Vote," seriously. He already feels the obligation to make his voice heard. He couldn't wait to get to the precinct to cast his vote. I don't think I have to tell you how excited he was when I woke him up the next morning to tell him that his guy won. Hopefully our president elect doesn't let him down. I would love for him to say that his first presidential pick made him proud. Only time will tell.


Fur-babies. It's a term used by dog lovers everywhere. I never understood it actually, until Rupp came into our lives. He instantly became my fur-baby. He has been such an important member of our family now for eight years now. He is, and has always been, the most wonderful dog on the planet. Even friends and family, that have their own fur-babies, all seem to agree: there's no other dog like him. Even neighbors flock to him and play with him even when we aren't home. 
Everybody loves Rupp. And now he has a friend. 

Meet Ulis. He has had a plethora of names, and that is the one we landed on. (Well it's the one I landed on.) I promised Kev, who DID NOT WANT THE DOG, and STILL DOES NOT WANT THE DOG, that he could name him. I thought for sure that if I let him name the dog, he would fall in love with it. Well, the old rule stays true. You can't force love. It didn't work. The dog went from Felix, to Elvis, to Fugly (my husband's pick, which is still his personal name for the dog,) to Samford, to Tyson, back to Elvis, and finally to Ulis, all in a matter of three days!! The dog was so confused he just started answering to everything, including just Dog, which I thought may actually be his name for a day or two. 

Ulis has had a terribly rough transition into the Mann family. His only friend seems to be Mommy. The kids have quickly lost their love for the puppy who has eaten shoes, legos, bags of candy, teddy bears, and literally homework! Mommy understands that he is just an ordinary puppy. I have more patience for the kiddo than anyone else. So he will only respond to me now. He is truly Mom's dog, and is now only referred to as "THAT dog," "YOUR dog," or "Fugly" by everyone else in the family. Mommy is the only one that calls him by his name, which is why I don't feel bad about taking naming privileges away from Kevin or the kids.

Unfortunately, Rupp hasn't fallen in love with his little brother yet either. He is still kind of annoyed with him still. He is an old man stuck in his ways, and very territorial, so I understand. I can see him slowly getting used to him, and I am sure that he will be the next member of the family to embrace him. They sure do look good together though, don't you think! 

Just look at this precious face! Not sure how anyone can resist falling in love!
I am sure that Ulis will become just as much a member of his family than this guy. It will just take time and maturity. I, for one, am so happy to have added to our family. As the kids get older, it has added a little bit of excitement and life to our house.


End of Season "Photo Dump"

Gracie's first band season really did seem to fly by! It was so much fun watching my little girl fall in love with what was my biggest joy throughout high school and college. I am so grateful that she has found her happy place. I remember so vividly dropping her off on her first day of band camp. She had tears in her eyes, and she begged me not to leave her. She insisted that she was too scared, she wouldn't like it, and that she changed her mind. I had to play the mean cop that day. I actually locked the door so that she couldn't get back into the car. Yes, I felt horrible when she marched tearfully into the door, but it was worth the smiling face that I saw the entire season. She is truly a second generation band geek. Her daddy and I couldn't be more proud. We look forward to four more years of band fun! (Maybe more if I can talk her into carrying her love for band to college like her parents!) 

Personally one of my favorite parts of any band season is embarrassing my little girl. Makes her so mad, but I've told her over and over that it is my responsibility as a good mom to do so. 

One of my favorite pics of the season. I know I've posted this picture before,
but I am certain that for the next four years, it will continue to be a favorite. 

As part of the district's first ever Hero Day, the band was invited to play the anthem. Gracie was a nervous wreck because it wasn't a required event, so she was the ONLY sax there. I told her to hold her head up and just ask her director to play with her. She did and I have to say she was amazing. I was not only proud of her abilities, but her courage. 

Pre-game warm-ups and quiet concentration.

The grand finale of the show this year was the death of the band. You heard me right. At the end of the show, unfortunately, the dragon prevails. The guard pulls a giant red sheet, the dragon's fiery fury, across the entire band. After the sheet passes over the band, it reveals a path of death and destruction in it's wake. It. Was. Awesome. 

No survivors! 

An entire family of band geeks on the bus. 

 My date for Grand Nationals was the coolest!

Sadly, we did not make finals at Nationals, but to us, the season couldn't have been more of a success. It introduced my daughter to her new greatest love. The trophy above pales in comparison to what the band has truly given my little girl. It brought her family together in an amazing way, it gave her a new happy and safe place, and it gave her a new family that will support her and love her unconditionally throughout the next four years.