"Of Mice and 'Manns"

"Of Mice and 'Manns"
Our Magic Moment

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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Perfect Day at Perfect North

Everyone knows that birthday parties in the Mann family are HUGE! My party philosophy has always been, "Go big or go home," and if you have ever been to one of these grand occasions, you know how true that is. Last year, however, we had a very different kind of birthday. Gracie was still recovering from her surgery, so we had to have a really low-key party. But, since she is totally recovered and back to her old adventurous self (praise God,) it was back to Perfect North.

This was Gracie's third party at Perfect North. It is always such a fun party spot for the entire family that we keep going back for more. It's also a pretty easy party to throw. My only job is to make sure the tables, cake, and invites look great, and the fun happens on it's own.



With Gracie settling into her new school, we got a chance to meet some of her new CCA friends. The girls had a ball, and it was nice meeting their parents as well.

We have had both penguin and snowman themed parties at Perfect North in the past, but this year we went with a more sophisticated theme. Snowflakes were the central inspiration. And of course, everything had to compliment her signature aqua/teal/greenish-blue color. Because you know pink is a sin, and blue is sooooo last year!

I know I have already said this, but my favorite thing about having Gracie's party at Perfect North is that it is fun for everyone involved. We actually hardly see the kids at all during the two-hour lift time. The grown-ups can act like big kids, and the kids can act like, well... us. This year, the party was even more spectacular thanks to the weather. It was a whopping 55 degrees when we arrived at the slopes! We usually get to the bottom of the hill and can't feel our noses. This year, we didn't even have to wear snow pants to keep warm. The kids were even complaining about being hot! What a perfect evening.

The kids, and adults, ran crazy for two hours, while working up quite an appetite. Finally, the cold troops trudged inside for cake, ice cream, and presents. As always the party was a gigantic success, and we are already looking forward to next year.





Monday, February 1, 2016

Happy Birthday Punky!




On January 17th, my baby girl became a teenager!! While I am still trying to come to terms with this, I thought I should share the awesome time we had celebrating this momentous occasion. 



If you have followed the Mann family Christmas posts over the years, you know that Rudy, our family's elf of the shelf, is an important member of our family. That's why he returned for one night only to celebrate Gracie's big day. 


Not only did he show up with his own party hat on, but he decorated her room while she was sleeping. Sneaky little guy! There were balloons and streamers in her signature color all over her floor, and a huge banner on her wall. (Don't judge the tree. We tend to leave those up for awhile in the Mann house!) 




On the kids real birthday's we try to do something small and special, with just our immediate family. Now that the kids have started to grow out of the Chuck E Cheese phase, it has become a little more challenging to find fun and unique ways to spend these special days. This year, I stumbled across the "Escape the Room Challenge" website. I knew immediately that this was right up Gracie's alley. Basically you, and a team of 10 friends and family members get locked in a room and are given 60 minutes to solve a murder mystery and find the key to free yourselves. Although our family failed miserably at the challenge, we had an absolute ball trying. It was a real team-building experience too. You have to work together and really communicate to solve the mystery. It was not only a fun experience, but it was a wonderful bonding time as well. 


After taking our LOSER picture at the Escape the Room Challenge, we headed to the Old Spaghetti Factory. (Gracie's choice. You have no idea how hard it was for Mommy and Daddy to be good on our diet. But it's what you do for your kids on their birthday right?) 


We had our traditional Bonnie Lynn cake for dessert. Yes, Mom even cut and served the cake, while partaking of NOTHING! UGH! The beautiful smile on her face was worth it! 




All in all it was a wonderful day. I always love these days so much more than the huge party days. 
They center around family and celebrating the kids, rather than party/friend chaos. In the grand scheme of our daily crazy lives, its days like this that make it all worth it. Our lives may be crazy, but it's ours. And I wouldn't change it for a thing! 

Happy Birthday Baby!







Sunday, January 31, 2016

We Own a Teenager!?


So I have been putting this post off as long as I possibly can, but it's time to face the music. Here it is.... We own a teenager y'all!! How did that happen?! Okay, the truth is my daughter is an overachiever. She has had the attitude, personality, and mindset of a teenager. Her age just finally caught up with the rest of her. So for those of you that are preparing yourself for this huge step in motherhood, allow me to help you by passing on all of the knowledge and wisdom I have gathered by raising my own now-teenage daughter:

1.
2.
3.
..................

Okay, so I got nothing! Nothing! I am learning more and more every day that I am clueless when it comes to understanding the makings of a teenage girl. I cannot tell you how baffled I am considering I at one time, was a teenage girl myself. Did I put my parents through this madness? If so, Mom and Dad, if you're reading this please accept my deepest and sincerest apologies. So, while I embrace my cluelessness, I have decided to start a new list. While this list has nothing to do with knowledge or wisdom (see above list,) I will call it daily discoveries. Here is what I have learned about myself since my beautiful little darling princess has grown into a teenager...

1. I know nothing. Nothing. My daughter will assure you that I have no idea what she is going through, how she is feeling, or what the world is really like. Although we argue about this regularly, I have determined the fact that she may be a little right. I said a LITTLE! Yes, every mother out there was once a teenage girl herself. But, as teenagers we did not have to deal with the ramifications of instant social media. One picture, one post, one 140 character tweet can flip your life upside down! The worst thing I had to worry about as a teenager is a sneaky three-way call where a friend may have fooled me into thinking we were on the phone alone, while a third party listened in. Man! Talk about technology!

2. School STINKS!! That from a teacher! Yes, school was stressful for us. I mean, we studied, we worked hard, we did our part everyday, but school is a different place. There are times when my daughter has to study for 6 tests in one week. Six tests!! I didn't have to do that in college and I have 3 degrees. As a teacher I am whole heartedly on my daughter's side with this one. I teach first grade everyday, and I struggle to teach six-year-olds concepts that I was not expected to tackle until I was in the fourth or fifth grade. Why are our demands on students so high!? I mean are these demands really making our society smarter. Will my daughter's knowledge of predicate nominatives truly impact her future success? Give me a break! I challenge you to count the grammatical mistakes I've made in this post alone, and I am doing just fine for myself (for the most part anyway.)

3. Hormones are MEANER than ever! I know you are rolling your eyes right about now. Yes, we have all, and still are, dealing with our own woman troubles. (And if you aren't you are probably living with someone who does, or did for most of her life.) But, I promise you the joys of womanhood are far more vicious than ever EVER before. I have a friend (Hello Danyell,) who acts as my personal nutritionist, who has been telling me for years that the food we put in our bodies is poisoning us from the inside out. Our little girls have been eating garbage for most of their lives, and when their teenage hormones start to show their ugly teeth, they are sharper than ever before. I don't believe that my hormonal temper tantrums have ever been this vicious. God bless them, and their future husbands!

As this list of Teenage Discoveries continues to grow, I can assure you that even with the woes and heartaches that owning a teenage daughter brings, I wouldn't change a thing. I look at this mysterious stranger on a daily basis and thank God for bringing her into my life. She amazes me as much as she baffles me. There are at least a dozen times a day that I have to take deep breaths, count to ten, and walk away from the chaos and frustration that our relationship brings. But when my blood pressure returns to a normal rate, I remember that she is one of the most amazing things that has ever happened to me. So, I will continue to praise Him for this beautiful blessing, and continue to learn and grow from her everyday. I love you Punky. More and more everyday.



Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Cavalcade of Customs


Over the past several years Dad and I have taken the kids to the Cavalcade of Customs in Cincy each January. I remember going to the car show as a kid to see the celebrities that were there and count the Mustangs dreamily. Now it is far more fun to take the kids with Dad. The kids make it a point to crawl into ANY car that is open to touch. 


Gracie looks WAY to natural behind that wheel. It made it that much more real that in just three short years she will find herself behind the wheel legally! As for right now, she is convinced that since she can reach the pedals and wheel she should just be gifted with a license. 


My favorite part of the car show every year is watching Dad impart wisdom to Jax in the art of mechanics. The pistons, the carberator (did I spell that right?), the alternator, all are pointed out in these lessons. And Jackson soaks every bit of it up. Hopefully with Papaw's guidance he will be able to take care of Mommy's car someday. He is already planning on custom making his own cars. Those plans started several years ago. I have no doubt in my mind that he will make that happen. In the meantime, he is just content to sit in as many as he can and continue to take lessons from Papaw. 


As an added dose of fun this year, Jax decided to take his chances at riding a mechanical bull at the event. Let's just say he probably doesn't have the title of Cowboy in his future, but it was sure fun to watch!! Take a look....



Tuesday, January 19, 2016



If there is one thing that our little family blog space seems to always lack, it is more pics of Daddy. Kevin often doesn't make it into many of our family shots. It is usually because he is either behind the camera or working. So, when I randomly ran across these little selfies while catching up, I couldn't help but post them. He and the kids took off without me to see Star Wars over the Christmas Break (Darn I missed it! :-) ) And I loved that they thought to capture the moment. 


And then Jax and Daddy were playing around with these rare funny face selfies. 
I'm so glad that we have a few pics of Daddy fooling around the house. 
He doesn't get nearly enough time to play!! 



And finally, it's Mommy's turn for a selfie with Dad. 
He and I couldn't resist ourselves while going to the UK game this year. 
With that much joy on our faces, it's only safe to assume we are at Rupp Arena. 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Christmas Memories Continued


For Christmas this year, we got Kevin's mom and sister a very special gift. We made reservations at the "Cheers to Art" studio in Madeira. Mom loves to paint and used to do so regularly when she lived in Florida. We also don't get to spend nearly enough time together as I'd like, so I thought it would be a great present, just to enjoy one another's company. Our dear friend Amanda took Gracie to the studio just a few months ago, and she LOVED it, so I decided then and there to make it their Christmas gift. 


Our class took us through painting the piece, "Winter Solstice." It was right up my alley, since it would allow me to add to my ever-growing Christmas decor collection. I loved how different the pieces all turned out even though we were following the same instructions. We had a spectacular time. I think it is precious than we all have the same piece of art hanging in our homes that we created ourselves. It was an evening I'll cherish always!! I love you guys! 



Sunday, January 17, 2016

Christmas Memories


Okay, I've lost track of what "Part" I was on, as it relates to the whole "Christmas Catch-up" series. 
I just know that I am still trying to find a way to catch up with all the Christmas events and happenings that are stuck on my phone. I came across these treasures from right before Christmas that I had to share. Jax begged me for weeks to let him make a gingerbread house. This, like baking Christmas cookies, is simply not one of my favorite holiday traditions, but I couldn't resist his puppy-dog eyes, and I felt like every kid should experience this strange tradition at one time or another, so I ran out and got a kit. Daddy and Gracie took off to see the latest Hunger Games movie (something Mommy totally doesn't get into,) so Jax and I took the opportunity to enjoy some "just us" time and put together the kit. He did a great job! It turned out pretty impressive. He was a little bummed when he found out that it wasn't really anything that you would want to eat when you were finished. He decided, after taking one bite, that he would simply leave it for Rudy to enjoy in the morning. I can see him wanting to do it again though, maybe it will become a new Mommy/Jax Christmas tradition. 
It was a fun night for both of us.