Ready? Reset!

And here we go – Monday. Everyone gearing up? We are too, with plenty of coffee in hand.

To be quite honest, I’m looking forward to a fresh week. I kind of lost my bearings late last week, some things didn’t get finished, groceries weren’t bought. Well, some groceries were bought. They just didn’t last very long. And all of the sudden, Costco is still calling my name, and I really don’t want to go on a holiday. So maybe, I just won’t.

We’ve been at the school gig for two weeks now. We’re a bit sleepy. We’re grateful for Labor Day. My kiddos and I will honor previous unionists & dedicated American workers, while sleeping in and staying in our pajamas all day long. And yes, I fully understand the layered ironies here.

The kiddo starts art classes this week. We found a new location, and I’m eager for her to get started with some actual art instructors. We had her signed up last year, and she came home brimming with eagerness, new ideas, and the desire to decorate her room with amazing pieces.

And then they moved. We were sad. Very, very sad.

The old place moved across town, and as much as she loves art, I couldn’t justify an hour & half drive for 45 min of instruction. Then, I used the good ole internet, and found a new place close to her school.

Perfection!

I’m sure we’ll have photos of her amazing work.

The toddler continues on in his crazy antics. Bonkers, this kid, bonkers. I have yet to meet a more tactile, extroverted kid. He’s a lover, that’s for sure. He’s still bonkers. He still clears my kitchen cabinets out, my pantry out, flushes the toilets nine times a day [for no reason, other than he can], opens the dishwasher [for no reason, other than he can], and is just in general, chaotic nonsense.

But then …

IMG_2030

I mean … come on. This. Kid. Meltin’ hearts, daily.

What’s going on in your lovely weeks? Vacation time? Work time? Everything in between? Leave a comment below!

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family visits & family love

“A happy family is but an earlier heaven.”

– George Bernard Shaw

It has been busy, busy in the Mighty Milner household. Between Fort Sumter, school performances, stomach bugs, teething & the Holiday of Lights display, these last two weeks have been an utter blur.

Dr. M landed safely & securely from Denver. He had a heck of a time at his latest conference, hanging out with old and new colleagues. He was super tired once he landed [he doesn’t remember most of our conversation on our way home from the airport], and crashed hard once home. He pulled himself together, though, and got back to grindstone the very next day for work.

Sophia had that Monday off due to a teacher work day, so she helped me clean the house. Grandma and PopPop were headed this way! Yea, yea, yea! She was super excited to realize that not only were the grandparents coming in all their glory, but staying for TEN WHOLE DAYS! She was psyched, I was psyched, everyone was psyched. Even Gabe was excited; he didn’t do his whole “I-seemingly-hate-men-with-beards” thing and scream when they walked in the door. So, that was nice.

We had a full ten days in good ole CHS. We celebrated Halloween [Sophia was IronMan – not IronWoman, by the way. Get it right, other parents. Yeesh.] Mom & Dad saw her school, they took us to Savannah for a day-trip [super fun, by the way, and we’ll definitely be headed back again], Dad & Dr. M went to Fort Sumter and came back gushing with all sorts of new facts about the Civil War, and we walked all over town and ate way too many delicious, over-filling meals. They also watched my kids, took Sophia to the movies, did my dishes, and blessed me in so, so many ways.

I texted Dr M this brochure - he was all the more excited to head to Savannah the next time around!

I texted Dr M this brochure – he was all the more excited to head to Savannah the next time around!

We headed to the famed Leopold's Ice Cream shop. Delicious doesn't even begin to describe [this is Honey Almond Cream, in their waffle cone] Oh my!

We headed to the famed Leopold’s Ice Cream shop. Delicious doesn’t even begin to describe [this is Honey Almond Cream, in their waffle cone] Oh my!

Grandparents. Are. Awesome.

I got a huge break Friday morning, when my parents shoved me out the door, gave me some cash, and said “Don’t come back until school is over.”

Yeah, you don’t have to tell me twice.

I went to a bookstore. I ordered coffee; I browsed, slowly and thoroughly, and found titles that desperately wanted to read. I went to clothing stores; I browsed, slowly and thoroughly, and found clothes that filled out my wardrobe for both now and the summer. I shopped for Christmas; I browsed, slowly and thoroughly, and found the perfect paper, the perfect ribbon, the perfect gifts.

A book I knew I wanted to buy, and was excited to see on the shelves of the local B&N. I read it in a day, and will definitely reread it as I continue on my faith. It's amazing.

A book I knew I wanted to buy, and was excited to see on the shelves of the local B&N. I read it in a day, and will definitely reread it as I continue on my faith. It’s amazing.

Never once did I say “Sit down”; “Get back in the cart!”; “And just where do you think you’re going?”; “Oh, okay, we’ll find a bathroom ASAP”; “I know you’re tired, just five more minutes”.

It was heaven. Seriously – heaven.

*All moms of small children, you know you’re nodding with me*

They left on Saturday, after a send-off breakfast. Those good-byes are always so sad; so full of thank yous, I love yous, of almost tears [that later morph into real ones]. The kicker this time around is we have no definite date as to when we will see each other again. We’re not going to Kansas City for Christmas, so the next guaranteed time is summer. That’s a long, long way away. Sigh.

Sophia was definitely sad. We swapped stories about how sad we were, and about how when I was a kid, I used to be sad when I had to say good-bye to my Grandma Dee. She’s smoothed out now, and is focused on Atlanta and Thanksgiving and the next round of family she gets to see.

No sooner had my folks left than I got sick. It was/is no good. I thought I had indigestion, because let’s be real – I ate like I haven’t in a long, long time. We had a Thanksgiving dinner on Friday and I ate a funnel cake at the Holiday of Lights [awesome, by the way – the lights, I mean]. So, I chalked it up to bad food and tried to get through my day. But I didn’t get better. It’s now Day Six, and I’m mostly better. I tried to do too much on Wednesday, and paid for it yesterday. I slept all day long, which means Gabe had free reign of the iPad, because it meant he would actually sit still for more than five minutes. We snuggled on the loveseat after the school run, and when he went to bed, I went back to bed myself.

apparently I have the stomach of an 80 year old woman. and I didn't even finish it. yeesh.

apparently I have the stomach of an 80 year old woman. and I didn’t even finish it. yeesh.

I’m 90% sure I’m on the mend now; I woke up this morning feeling much better, and wanting to do things that normal humans do. Like, eat real food and drink coffee. Y’all know I’m sick when I can’t handle coffee, and I absolutely could not handle it for the last five days.

But, there’s always something to balance the good, right? Gabe is teething [I’m pretty sure it’s all four of his #4s – oh. my. god. He is a crabby mess]; Dr. M came home yesterday, worn out and sick with a head cold. I’m crossing my fingers that he’s not totally, super, stuck in bed sick. We’ll see. Sophia is fine; she had her own fair share of illness last month, and I’m hoping we all get it out of our systems before the holidays. We’ll leave it on a positive note. How do you see this smile, and not feel happy? Try it, I double-dog dare you.

see? she's peachy-keen and loving herself some Cheetos.

see? she’s peachy-keen and loving herself some Cheetos.

I am a grown-up, I am a grown-up, I am a grown-up [Repeat until you believe it]

“Some people regard discipline as a chore. For me, it is a kind of order that sets me free to fly.”

-Julie Andrews

And now, all I want to do is watch “The Sound of Music”. Anyone else? So, speaking of discipline, I hit a wall with our budget. It was an ugly, brick wall, where I got a nasty black eye and then I punched it because I was mad, but broke my hand, because, you know … it’s a brick wall. Silly me.

After some serious wailing & gnashing of teeth, I think I’ve figured it out[ish]. Dave Ramsey & I are now best buds, and what I previously thought were well-constructed budgets were not, and I’ve mostly fixed it them. All my researching and typing and [poor] math over the last week has been a good thing, and forced us to realize some ugly truths in our spending habits [because let’s say it right now, Dr. M is not the problem in the money world here. He spends nothing. Ever.] The big issue I found in our money is food, pure and simple. I tallied what we spent on groceries and eating out last month, and oh-my-god-it-was-horrifying. Like, go hide under a bed and never show anyone that number. To anyone. Ever.

Part of the trouble was I hated [or, more accurately, still hate] cooking. I’m not that great at it [ask my family]; I have to do it every day [ugh – dishes]; and overall, I’d rather be reading than standing over a freakin’ hot stove in the subtropical climate that is CHS. I admitted as much to Dr. M, and got a wonderful stare down that made me realize how foolish I’ve been. Yes, I hate it. So, make it better and find a solution so that we’re not spending $30 every other night on pizza. [That stare was mighty powerful, right?]

So that’s my new goal. To not eat out [except for when it really, really is important & it’s budgeted for] and feed my family. Streamline the dinner process, make it simple and realize that I will always be making dinner forever and ever, and get over it.

The big lesson I’ve learned over the last week is one of discipline. Saying, planning, and talking are all nice things – and you know me; I love a good list and organized calendar. But the bigger point is to actually do what you’ve planned. Make dinner for pennies at home, and then be able to put money in savings. Don’t buy junk food at Chik-Fil-A and McDonalds, and feel healthier AND have money in the bank. Amazing, I know. I just have been defaulting to what’s easy.

And easy has been killing us. Here’s to better health, eh?

 

it’s springtime!

hello spring! I am so grateful you’ve decided to abstain from the allergies this year. I’ve seen a few who have to suffer, and I am not envious.

I’ve fallen off the wagon a bit here. to be honest, I’m not totally sure if I’ll continue the blog. given all the other ways we can stay in contact with friends and family, I’m not sure if this is the best way to get out there. but, I did decide to write a few more posts for this month to see how it goes.

onwards & upwards then!

S had their majorly big deal spring concert a week or so ago. Christmas was a big deal, too. this, though, involved homemade costume making, two months worth of memorization, and a 35 minute video of production.

wowzer.

she did awesome! they all memorized an intro poem, an outro song, and two or three basic phrases for the major song. the only thing they would have to do alone was their “special fact” concerning the animal they were dressed as. for six weeks, I would randomly hear, “Butterflies taste with their feet.” “Mom, did you know, butterflies taste with their feet?” “Butterflies taste with their feet!”

it was sweet. you know, the first couple of times.

anyway, let’s just say it was adorable as all get out. R couldn’t make it due to a work conflict, so I recorded this li’l memory while simultaneously shoving puffs into G’s face so he’d be [relatively] silent throughout the performance.

we do what we can, mommas, we do what we can.

anyway … here’s a few shots of the awesome-sauce.

IMG_1836

oh my word – it took so long to get this done! I’m out of practice with art projects. the first set ripped. I bought another, and tried to use markers for it. they were dry. so, I had to buy paint. that spilled on the floor. [yea … for our rental!] it got done with 12 hours to spare, but she looked great!

she loved it! she was very careful throughout the performance [though they have since been destructed upon]. loved being that li'l butterfly!

she loved it! she was very careful throughout the performance [though they have since been destructed upon]. loved being that li’l butterfly!

post-performance! she was thrilled at how well she and her class did [as were all the parents - it was impressive to see 20 four-year-olds do a memorized action for 30 minutes!] and we liked our butterfly dots, too

post-performance! she was thrilled at how well she and her class did [as were all the parents – it was impressive to see 20 four-year-olds do a memorized action for 30 minutes!] and we liked our butterfly dots, too

and what's a performance without a cheesy photo? done.

and what’s a performance without a cheesy photo? done.

I’ll do what I can to get the video online, too. it was a sweet day, and I know we only have more to come!

home is where your food is [or something like that]

happy Thursday! happy Anna Howard Shaw day! [if you got that, well done] I’m actually trying to stay up on all the things I promised either myself or others to accomplish this next week. even the things I really want to get done seem to get swept under the rug, in the name of exhaustion or distraction. no more!

the big news, both for myself and the entire family, was that our tax return posted. when we filed, we were floored at how much we would receive. but, being the working poor for a year with two children apparently came in handy. we had two options: 1.) put the funds towards a down payment or 2.) pay down a ton of debt. we got into talks with a mortgage broker to see where we stand. our house in KC had to be sold as a short sale, which dinged us. our actual numbers aren’t so bad; it’s just that mortgage rules say you have to be free and clear for three years before anyone will give you another mortgage.

that was a bit frustrating, to be honest. it wasn’t our fault that we had to short sale it; we tried to sell it three times before we went down that path. we refused to let it go into foreclosure, and the banks told us the only way we could short sale was to not make payments. I was certainly wrestling with frustration and anger at a situation that I didn’t create but had to live out.

there were a lot of positives in those conversations though. we can’t buy a house, so we paid down debt. and it was AWESOME! for those of you who have paid off all your debt, or are in the process, I know you can relate. it felt like an incredible, massive weight had been lifted off my back. I totally see what Dave Ramsey and all the folks who give testimonials on his site are talking about. I physically feel better. isn’t that amazing? we are in such a better place now, with back up funds and debt paid down and a plan to have the rest paid off shortly. R is doing a ton of extra work this year, which is funding our travel. he’s headed to London, we’re headed back to KC in the summer and winter, and we’ll have both of those paid off no problem.

we feel like grown-ups now, having our finances in order and what not. the next step is to save for a mortgage as well, and I think we have a few options that will help us get into a house right when the ban is lifted. in the meantime, we’re looking for a cheaper rental with 3 bedrooms. we love our current place, but with only 1 bedroom for the kids, it’s getting tight. we’re asking a lot, though – we don’t want to move off this island, we don’t want to be too far away from work and school, we don’t want to have to drive that far to the beach, and we want something cheaper. [throws head back, and cackles] yeah, that’ll totally happen.

right.

I think we’ve found the church we want to stay with. I may have mentioned it before, but it’s a local Episcopal church. it has a nice mix of old and new, thoughtfulness and emotion. everyone is really friendly, and the kids really enjoy the nursery set-up. I’ve already been invited to their Bible studies, and am going to make that a priority this next week. as long as the kids are healthy [which they were not this last week], I have no excuse as they offer child care. it’s a win all the way around.

speaking of health – I think we’re all spiraling towards colds. there is one that’s going around S’s school at the moment, and she’s come home with a stuffy nose these past few days. it’s clearly not the flu, as we’re still functioning and not crowding the bathroom. it’s just a nice, slow-moving cold that is lingering. I’d say we’d just rest this weekend, but we’ve invited friends over for dinner and cousins are coming into town this weekend. maybe Monday? S doesn’t have school, so maybe we just crash? done.

R & I found a new burger place that we really liked. as great of a food town as Charleston is, they don’t have the greatest burgers. and that’s fine – their forte is seafood of all kinds, specifically shrimp and grits, not Angus beef. I had a real craving for a burger, though, a couple of nights ago. thank goodness for Google, eh? we found a place called the Sloppy Cow, which came recommended from some other transplants and online reviews. they stuff their burgers, add a couple things on top and they were DELICIOUS! I got the ‘smoking cow’, with bacon, gouda, and grilled onions. R got the ‘spicy cow’, with jack cheese, peppers and chipotle mayo. they’re not five minutes from us, so if we can’t eat in [which we could not have done that night], pick-up only took a few minutes. if we had decided to go for lunch, the kids could totally go.

isn’t it funny, what it takes for a place to feel like home? finding our own go-to places totally makes for me. I’m starting to use my map function less often for basic errands; we’ve frequented the mall a few times now for clothes and shoes; church, the beach, and school are all basics now; we have a pizza place, a burger place, a barbeque place [yes, it’s a mustard sauce, but given their geographic location, I’ll forgive them]. we do still need a Chinese food place – the first one we checked out was awful.

I feel like I’m in such a better place now. we’re not quite as stressed out about money as we were; G is sleeping through the night again, so I look like a normal person in the morning; we’ve made some wonderful friends, and know we can afford to go back to Kansas City when we want to. and, the Father was so patient with me when I was feeling down, alone, and tired. [oh, so, so tired!] I’m sure if I looked back through my previous posts, ones specifically about me, it wouldn’t look too pretty. I tried not to whine too much about it, because we were all sad about the move and I didn’t want to make the folks back home even more sad. I’m sure, though, some of it crept through.

as I told R, though, when we first moved out here – I’m thankful for jobs. and airplanes. I still am, but also for grace and peace.

li’l G – well, he’s not so li’l anymore …

fabulous readers! I’ve decided to break this months posts down into specifics of each family member. and honestly, let’s just start with the littlest and cutest member of the family. [see all photos below for proof] I also decided to post them chronologically – it just seemed easier, given the sheer amount of photos I wished to publish. hope you enjoy!

flying back to Charleston from KC - to say we were sleepy would be the understatement of the week

flying back to Charleston from KC – to say we were sleepy would be the understatement of the week

need I say more? he certainly was tired. and I will stop typing now as to save future embarrassment from comments I had wanted to make.

need I say more? this was taken on our first full day back home.  he certainly was tired. and I will stop typing now as to save future embarrassment from comments I had wanted to make.

this isn’t necessarily the greatest shot ever taken [and thousands of photographers all nodded their heads simultaneously], but it does highlight his new adventures.

this isn't necessarily the greatest shot ever taken [and thousands of photographers all nodded their heads simultaneously], but it does highlight his new adventures. cords, cords, cords galore! we didn't think we had that many thinks out that he could east. he proved us wrong in about three minutes.

cords, cords, cords galore! we didn’t think we had that many thinks out that he could eat. he proved us wrong in about three minutes.

such a sweet baby. and a sweet smile.

such a sweet baby. and a sweet smile.

this is a mite fuzzy - I apologize for the suckiness of my photography skills. and, to be honest, this one was probably taken at 4 am. because he is a punk. sometimes. regardless, this was chosen to highlight the enormous size of his head. it's incredible.

this is a mite fuzzy – I apologize for the suckiness of my photography skills. and, to be honest, this one was probably taken at 4 am. because he is a punk. [sometimes.] regardless, this was chosen to highlight the enormous size of his head. it’s incredible.

adorable and sweet, this kid is. and definitely willing to smile for the camera post-meals. full bellies equals happy babies!

adorable and sweet, this kid is. and definitely willing to smile for the camera post-meals. full bellies equals happy babies!

the time stamp on this photo is 5 am. gross. and notice, he may be full but he's not quite as happy. I think he's learned his lesson with early mornings.

the time stamp on this photo is 5 am. gross. and notice, he may be full but he’s not quite as happy. I think he’s learned his lesson with early mornings.

last photo! as always, happy, happy, happy. also, we're learning how to use a cup. he's pretty much mastered getting food into his mouth [his pincer-like grasp of small objects is hysterical]. transferring to an item that also gives food or drink does not seem to be a big deal to him at all. as long as he gets fed, eh?

last photo! as always, happy, happy, happy. also, we’re learning how to use a cup. he’s pretty much mastered getting food into his mouth [his pincer-like grasp of small objects is hysterical]. transferring to an item that also gives food or drink does not seem to be a big deal to him at all. as long as he gets fed, eh?

I hope by the end of this week to get some photos of the other li’l one. this weekend has been a full one! [read: no time for blogging. or reading. or anything else I wanted to do in particular]. I took the GRE on Saturday [we’ll keep you posted on how I did], we made it to church [ah-ma-zing! and on time, too!], and I did about ten extra loads of laundry because apparently my children thought that peeing on everything was extremely entertaining. I, as you might imagine, did not.

regardless, I hope you enjoyed the lovely, li’l G. he’s got a doctors appointment later this month, so I can report his official weight. if it’s no 20 lbs, I’ll be floored. because my triceps are informing me it has to be that much.

anyway…happy superbowl sunday! look for a posting by Thursday or so!

faithfulness

I’m free! well, for the moment anyway. thank the Lord for my beautiful husband who recognized the crazy look that was developing in my eye the last week or so. it was the look of a crazed, desperate woman who needed an escape, and quick.

he identified it, came in like Superman, told me that under no circumstances should I stay inside any longer, and made me leave the house.

awesome.

so, at this very moment, I’m in a cute, quirky coffee shop with a delicious mocha. I’ve got Andrew Bird in my ear bud, with the chance to catch my breath.

I’ve been sad since I got home. I loved, loved, loved being in KC for Christmas. we were surrounded by love like I hadn’t felt in a while. dear family, wonderful friends, and tons of laughs, memories, and celebrations for two weeks – it was water for a very thirsty soul. once we were back in Charleston, the withdraw symptoms were intense. everyone had daily living to rush back to, but it was not easy for me. I was a tired, sad mess.

we have wonderful friends here in Charleston, and we quickly met back up with them. that was nice, a little salve on an opened wound. and we all agreed – going back home is tough. you love it, but then the crash back is awful. unfortunately, this is coming from families who have lived here for five years or more. apparently, it doesn’t get easier as time goes on.

we decided to make church a priority this month, and really intentionally look for a church we could call home. we went to a local Episcopal church, not five minutes away from our apartment.

it. was. awesome.

I feel like some might read that, and wonder how “Episcopal” and “awesome” go together, but they did. it was like a light was lit in my soul; I felt at home. I haven’t felt at home in a church for a while – it was nice to feel that again. we really liked the mix of traditional practices, and contemporary worship and honest reflection on our walks with the Father. we met some wonderful people who run the nursery, and I immediately had an invite to the ladies Bible study. we get to take traditional communion, and make the sign of the cross. they have a lovely reverend, who seems like a nice Southern grandpa, with the love of the Father all over him.

we won’t make any official decisions quite yet, but we were both fans.

all of that was to say, the Father provides. He provided for me emotionally that morning, when I was still sad and hurting and feeling lonely. I’m still up and down, especially the kids are being particularly difficult. but, He’s given me an amazing husband who has made this transition as smooth as possible, and both have been faithful up til now. I can’t imagine either failing me anytime soon.