'Tis the Season

To be busy, busy, busy.

This time of year has always been crazy for me. Not only because of the upcoming holidays, but because of Paige's birthday. A few weeks ago, my baby-who's-not-really-a-baby-anymore turned 12. I'm not sure how that happened. I surely didn't allow it, yet here it is. I officially have a tween.


To say she had a good birthday would be a huge understatement. Not only did she have a great friend party, something we weren't able to pull off last year, but she got some awesome gifts. She may have said one more than one occasion that this was the best birthday ever.

No pressure for future years, right? Sigh...

For the first and probably not the last time, the husband and I caved on one of our big decisions. We refused to get Paige her own phone until she was at least 13. Talking and texting certainly weren't something she needed to survive. And a smart phone? No way! I've seen what happens to the husband's phones and he's a grown man. Giving one to a 12 year old would surely be disastrous!

But we caved.

She involved in one club or another at least 3 days of the week. Combine that with asking to go to the library after school to do homework or to hang out in their teen room and us not having a land line at home and we realized a phone for her was a necessity. The phone she now has is almost the same one I had almost a decade ago - a simple talk and text only flip phone. The only difference is her screen is in color whereas mine was shades of blah.

Paige also got her own Chrome Book, which she is over the moon about. we can just keep it between ourselves that we didn't pay for the Chrome Book. No, I didn't steal it! I won it in a contest. I need more than a Chrome Book can offer for what I do on the computer so I felt it would make a great gift.

And she got new fuzzy boots. For a tween girl, that is just as exciting as new electronics. Let's hope her expectations for Christmas weren't raised by this birthday.

All of her birthday hoopla wasn't the only thing on my plate as of late. I've been busy with PTA stuff, Girl Scout stuff and of course, my online shop, Cuppa Stitches. Earlier this week, I made my very first sale through my shop. And to someone I do NOT know! I was so excited that I almost wrecked the car (I happened to be driving when I heard the cha-ching notification sound on my phone).I have never been so happy to drop something off at the post office. Since then I have been working on some new items for Cuppa Stitches. I don't ever want to focus on one particular theme or holiday in my shop because what do you do with the stuff if it doesn't sell? Storage in this house only goes so far. But I did add a few items, such as a Rudolph coffee cup sleeve...

I always have a few projects in the works, either for my shop or friends and the day-to-day life of having a family always gives me something to do. I might complain about being exhausted and never being able to cross everything off my to-do list, but at the end of the day, I really am happy with what I am able to accomplish. Even if it is a bit at a time.

Until next time...

Superwoman I Am Not

But I'll be damned if that will stop me from trying!

I have a lot of stuff that I'm in charge of. Or at least part of. When we decided that I would be a stay-at-home mom, I put my name on the imaginary line signing myself up it all. I may not have known at the time what exactly I was signing up for, but I was all in.

Along with family and house stuff, I'm involved with the kids' schools, a Girl Scout leader, a publisher to not one but TWO online newsletters (Macaroni Kid South Hills and Mon Valley), and now I'm trying hard to sell whatever I crochet. (I'm tired from just reading that!)

None of it is easy. I never expected any of it to be. Right now my current hang-up is my crochet stuff. Since I first taught myself how a few years back, I have come across so many patterns I want to make. Some of those patterns are for things that no one I know would use or like, but it is too great not to make. That's why I decided a few months ago to open up my own shop on Etsy.

For those who don't know, Etsy is an online market place where people can sign up and create their own virtual shop to sell whatever it is they make.

Some people can open a shop and BOOM! Business. I haven't figured out how they do it, but I do know that is not the case for the majority of shop owners and I am in that majority. Have I sold things? Yes! Have I officially sold anything through my shop? No. And that is incredibly frustrating. Does that mean I should close the virtual doors on my shop? No. It means I need to keep on pushing. I recently started a Facebook page for my shop, Cuppa Stitches. I am always rearranging and rewording things in my shop and trying to add new items.

Just like life, this takes work. 

Just like life, this is a constant learning process.

Just like life, I have to learn to be flexible. 
As my Girl Scout leader always says,
"Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape."

I have my lazy days. Admit it, so do you. But most days I am busy doing something. It isn't always rewarding, but you know what? I'm ok with that because I am doing what I love. But sometimes, when I get frustrated and, despite having a brand new Keurig, there's not enough coffee in the world to keep me going, I need to remind myself it's ok to take a break.

When one of the kids throws a fit, take a break before trying to resolve the issue.

When a fundraising idea for school doesn't pan out, take a break before thinking of ideas for next time.

When I can't think of anything to write for one of the newsletters, take a break. Inspiration strikes at the least expected moments.

When something in my shop isn't going as planned, take a break and regroup. The motivational gears will turn once again.

What do you do to keep yourself going?

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Until next time...

What a Shock

Thank goodness no one was actually shocked, but things were a little hairy for a bit. We had some electrical issues within the 4 walls we call our house. An outlet next to our bed was acting all kinds of crazy. Maybe that's why I haven't been able to sleep??

This outlet didn't like to be bothered. Try to use it or even just bump into it, sparks would fly and power to part of the house would go out. Let me tell you how fun it was to watch my shows last night in the dark. We're not a movie theater. I like my lights on please!

This morning I gave the landlord a call and he sent someone right out. Well, if you consider an hour later "right out", than it's all good. Lucky for me (him?), it gave me just enough time to throw real clothes on and look somewhat decent. We just won't discuss the state of our bedroom.

The first thing the electrical guy asks after I explain the problem is if we have a flashlight because he couldn't find the app on his iPhone. Not being a fan of iAnything, I was of no help and off he went to get some light. He returned with a spotlight and proceeded to plug it into the outlet in the bathroom. This is where I had to step in and explain that that outlet doesn't work either due to a separate issue. He turned around, walked back into the bathroom and pushed the little red reset button and BAM! He had light!

I would just like to take a moment to explain that this outlet hasn't worked since we had to get the sink repaired in the bathroom over a year ago. I have pushed that little red reset button more times than I can count!

Five minutes later he was done swapping out the outlet. I might have been panicking a bit thinking it would take all day because that's what happens when you have a full schedule.

Long story short, we have power, we can safely sleep and I don't have to watch Grey's Anatomy in the dark.

Until next time...

My One Regret

It's no secret that I love to crochet. A fact that may be a little less known about me is that I try not to have any regrets. Yes, there are things in my past that I wish I would have done differently, but that doesn't mean I regret doing those things. Many of them, if they never happened I wouldn't be where I am today, married to a great man with two of the best kids ever. But today I realized there is one thing I regret.

It is no secret that I have an Etsy shop. I love to crochet things for friends and family, but often times I come across patterns that are so adorable I just have to make them and I have no one to gift it to. One of those more recent items is a crochet cowboy hat.

A friend posted a picture of one on my Facebook timeline a while ago. I took that picture as a challenge. you think it's cute. I think it's cute. Dammit, I'm going to find a way to make it. I searched the interwebs for days. Maybe weeks. And then I finally caved and bought a pattern. After many failed attempts, I think it's safe to say I have mastered this teeny hat. Through my large collection of patterns, I have also made itty bitty cowboy boots and a matching diaper cover.

This is where my regret comes in to play.

If I learned how to crochet much earlier than I had, our kids would have had the cutest newborn pictures. Ever.

Stuff like this would have exponentially increased the chances of our kids having newborn pictures.

I plead the fifth on if they actually do have professional newborn pictures or not.

To see more in my shop, please visit: www.CuppaStitches.etsy.com

Until next time...


So this happened...

Yes, those are the ever so famous First Day of School pictures. We take them every year, but this year was different.

In years past, the First Day picture was the two of them together right before we walked to the school. This year is different because they need to be at school at different times. Why? Because this year GG is a big ole middle school kid.

How that happened? I have no idea!

But she looks happy. And she was. She was nervous about being late for class or not being able to open her locker, but she was ready. Last night my attempt to let me walk her up our hill to meet her friends at the top were met with a brush of the hand. I guess being a middle schooler she was too old for her mom to walk her anywhere. Sheesh!

Thirty seconds before leaving, she changed her mind. In other words i walked her up our hill in my yoga pants, hair unbrushed and coffee cup in hand. I was a hot mess but if it made GG feel a little less nervous, I was willing to make the sacrifice.

Little Dude has been ready for weeks. He has said more times than we can count that he was ready to see his friends again and learn new stuff. Being a little nervous as well, he asked me to walk him into school. I haven't received any phone calls from the school so I assume all went well.

Now if only I could get used to having the house to myself for a few hours. I love it, but, good gravy, is it oddly quiet!

Until next time...

New items are being added! I would love it if you gave my shop a visit!


Toys and Noise

Too many and too loud. That pretty much describes all the kids stuff in this house of ours. I'm not one to buy my kids a toy every time we go to the store, but in this case I had no choice.

About a month ago I came across myjobchart.com. It's a free site where parents can set up chores for their kids. Kids earn point for each job they do and they can redeem those points for rewards. The website loves to tell you that each point is worth one penny and when enough points are earned, they can be redeemed for toys from Amazon. I know points won't magically get my kids toys. Only a credit card does that. We're trying to watch what we spend, but we let each of the kids pick a few inexpensive retail rewards.

One truck that the Dude picked out happened to be the same one his Pap brought back for him from the beach. Because of that, we let the Dude choose another toy. He picked a dump truck. The first thing I noticed about this dump truck were the buttons. Like many of his other construction vehicles, I knew those little red buttons made noise. Loud noise! I've learned to tune those sounds out so I let him mark that truck as a reward.

On a recent trip to Target I let the kids browse through the toy section. We always browse, but I rarely purchase them something. Don't you know that same truck was at Target. And it was $10 cheaper than the Amazon price. I said I would buy it for him and deduct points from his account when we got home.

Stupidest thing I have ever done!!!

Not only did pushing the buttons on this truck make it beep and vroom, but bumping into it caused it to make noise! We were quite the sight as I precariously carried this truck through the store having it make noise the entire time even though no one was touching the actual truck. Just the box. The noise coming from this thing were so obnoxious that even the Dude asked me to take the batteries out after I opened it!

Once home, it was quite a production trying to get the thing out of the box. Most toys seem to be be secured pretty well in their precious boxes and it was a noisy process trying to cut the truck out! When I finally got the truck out, I did something I never expected to do after opening a noisy toy.

I danced.

A lot.

On the bottom of this truck was a teeny black switch. Do you know what this switch does?





Until next time...

New items are being added! I would love it if you gave my shop a visit!


A Cup, a Hook, Some Yarn, and a Business

Busy, busy, busy. That's how my summer has been. Trying to keep the kids entertained with day trips while attempting to maintain a somewhat clean house and publishing Macaroni Kid South Hills.

No different than last summer, except for one not so little thing. My Etsy shop!

I've been crocheting for a few years now and quite frankly, I can only make so many things for the family and our house. Gifts for holidays and birthdays are great, but what about the rest of the year?

I've had an Etsy account for a while. I even had a shop name and a few items in it at one point. And I let ig fall tot he wayside. A few months ago, with the encouragement of friends, I decided to give it another go.

Don't get me wrong, I still have lots of crochet stuff in the house. But since I can now call it "inventory", I don't see it as taking up unnecessary space.

Is there a them to my shop? Of course! Crochet! :-)

I have never been one to stick with making just one thing. I've always considered myself a bit ADD when it comes to crafts. Right now I have items for babies, kids, adults and even for the house. Lately I have started making Fall and Christmas items. I hate to rush those seasons, but I do love crocheting things for that time of year.

I would love for you to check out my shop. If there is something you are looking for and I don't have, don't be afraid to contact me on Etsy or shoot me an email (eumbel@gmail.com). I'm always on the look out for new things to make!

Until next time...

Ask and You Shall Receive

Every couch that we have ever owned eats things. Even the last one that was barely an inch above the ground. Like a washing machine to socks. I don't understand how it happens, but things disappear.

It's no surprise that when one of the kids can't seem to find the match to one of their six zillion pairs of shoes, the first place they look is under the couch. We do have a nifty shoe rack right by the front door, but why would they ever think to look there first?!

Tennis shoes, flip flops, super awesome new sandals - I know where all of those are. But, no! The Dude (formally Little Dude, who is not so little anymore) wanted to wear his Steeler Crocs that are now duct taped together a la the husband.

The first place he looks to find the missing match? You guessed it. Under the couch. I feared what he would find because I knew it wouldn't be a shoe. At least not right away. Don't you know, the little punk pulls a $20 bill out from under the couch.

A twenty dollar bill!


He later used that precious bill to purchase a brand spanking new fire truck. Complete with siren sounds. And no volume button. Opening that stupid truck is a post in itself!

Just this morning before being forced asked to clean his room in this lovely swampy Burgh weather, he decided to play with said annoying as hell truck. In the process he happens to look under his bookshelf. What does he find under there? More money! Eleven dollars to be exact.

Where's my money?

Foolishly I asked the Dude this very question.

He runs to his room and returns with this.

Forty-three cents.

Lesson learned.

Be careful what you ask for!

Until next time...

My kids have taught me...

Having kids has taught me many things. Patience is still a lesson I'm working on  -some days are better than others. But one thing I have learned to do is pick my battles wisely.

Two of the many things I want for my children is for them to feel comfortable with who they are and for them to learn on their own from their mistakes. Like most things in life, we have rules, but we can't dictate every inch of their lives.

GG has been playing around with clothing trying to find what styles she likes and what colors suit her best. She knows that shorts no bigger than a pair of underwear are not allowed, but if I pick out her clothes every day, how is she going to figure out how to express herself?

Little Dude and his hair seem to be a big issue for most people, but not so much for me. His hair is now a few inches past his shoulder. He refuses to get it cut and with the husband having the longest hair in the house, how can I argue with the kid? Part of it, I'm sure, is due to the fact that this kid is more stubborn than any mule out there, but it's hair.

Do I get frustrated when people call him a girl even though most of his clothing consists of trucks, monsters and other boy things/colors? Of course. Sometimes I let it go, sometimes I speak up. We were recently at a carnival and an employee tried to get us "ladies" to play his game. I ignored him because I didn't want to waste money on games we would never win, but he called out to us ladies every time we walked past his booth. Finally I told him we weren't playing his game because he kept calling my son a girl. There is no handbook stating all boys have to have short hair and if you're not sure, don't assume.

Learning from mistakes - I am always there to help, but if I swoop in every time to try and fix a problem, my kids will never learn how to do it on their own. Sometimes I think people look at me as the mom who doesn't care or doesn't have rules. Do I get lazy? Of course I do. We all have those days. But spending who knows how long arguing with my son over his wanting to wear snow boots on a walk to a local yogurt place on a 80+ degree day is not worth my time. We would never get out the door! And I'm pretty sure by the time we got to the yogurt shop, Little Dude realize his choice of footwear was not a wise one.

I know I am not the perfect parent and I will never claim to be, but I hope my children learn that it's ok to express who they are, within reason of course, and that's it's also ok to fall down 7 times as long as they get back up 8.

Until next time...

Excited for what's to Come. At Least for Now.

It's June! How did that even happen?! I'm so glad it's behind us, but it feels like only yesterday we were shoveling snow.

Not only is it June, but the school year is almost over. It's always a little sad at the end of the school year. The kids don't see as many of their friends over the summer, I worry about the kids taking over not being able to keep the kids busy enough, and I don't always see as many of my friends.

The ending of this school is especially bittersweet. It is GG's last year in elementary school. I'm sure come August I'll be writing a post about how scary middle school will be, but for now, let's take this one small step at a time.

Our school has a 5th grade committee and every year they plan something awesome for the graduating fifth graders. this year was a little different as both schools couldn't have a combined picnic at the park due to the construction. But that doesn't mean our school didn't have a fantabulous time.

Different games were set up on the playground and we also had a DJ.

The plan was to only have so many students at each station, but due to the 90 degree weather, they all ended up gravitating towards the water games. It was too hot for any of the adults to care and the kids were having fun anyway.

After the picnic, everyone came inside for a special lunch and then we worked our way up to the middle/high school for a graduation ceremony. 

GG received her diploma along with the President's Award. This is awarded to students who maintain a 3.5 GPA in fourth grade and the first semester of fifth grade and also score in the advanced range in math and/or reading of the PSSA's. We are incredibly proud of GG!!

I wish I was able to get a better picture of her receiving her papers
but the kids seems to make getting to the stage and back to their seats a race!

I was able to catch her attention long enough to pose for this picture.
Still proud!!

After speaking to GG's teacher earlier in the day, we are both looking forward to middle school (again, this could change come August). GG was given a special math test a few weeks ago. She thought she failed and was surprised when I told her she did not. Passing this test means she gets to skip sixth grade math and take seventh grade math instead. Per her teacher's recommendation, we are also having her tested for the gifted program. As if graduating with the President's Award doesn't make us proud enough, this tidbit of news put us all over the moon.

We're sad to see the year end and look forward to the summer, but I can't wait to see what middle school brings. At least as far as academics go.

Until next time...

Make the Best with What You Have

It's no secret that I don't like our house. Since we're not quite in a position to up and move, we make the best of what we have. Our latest project is something that I have wanted to do for years.

Our mailbox stands in a 4 x 5 ft. space that was not attractive in the slightest.

I'm sure the family who lived here before had it looking all kind of spiffy. That black plastic sticking out was covered with dirt and rocks at one point. There were green border pieces left behind that just sat there for years.

One day I was scrolling through Pinterest and came across an ideas for making a garden. One pin in particular used cinder blocks as a border. Flowers were planted in the holes of the blocks and the height of the blocks meant more dirt could be added to the space between. I showed this pin to Little Dude, who loves yard work (he's an odd child). He wanted to run to the store that very minute. But we had some work to do first.

Little Dude and I spent an afternoon clearing out our little future garden. We raked out as many rocks as we could. I thought about pulling up that black plastic but ended up taking the lazy route. The dirt below is mostly clay, which I had no desire to dig into, and the plastic could help keep weeds at bay. We talked about what plants to get and what kind of border we wanted. Knowing my mom had a white fence border hiding in her shed, we decided against the cinder blocks.

Even though it was a bit chilly outside last weekend, it looked gorgeous. Little Dude and I took that opportunity to make our purchases and start digging in. When we returned from the store, GG was excited about our garden plans and decided to jump in and help.

I cut open each of the 5 bags of soil and the kids spread it out. Little Dude insisted on keeping the mysterious yellow volunteer flowers so I had to help them spread the dirt around those without burying them.

We each took a turn digging holes and plopping in tiny plants. While the kids made sure we did a good job with each plant, I tied our hanging basket pole to the porch (it's old and tends to lean from the weight of a plant). Little Dude decided which basket would go where - one for the back yard and one for our garden.

We stepped back and took a look at our new garden.

The kids are excited to hopefully have fresh tomatoes and green peppers this summer. As much as I am looking forward to that as well, I think I am more excited at how much better this little space in our yard looks.

Until next time....

The End is Near. Or is It?

Memorial Day means no school and if having the kids home all day is any indication of how summer vacation will go, I will definitely need earplugs. And maybe some Xanax. Bless you people who have more kids than I do. Your tolerance level must be much higher than mine.

Just because I was ready to pull my hair more than once during the kids' day off didn't mean we didn't have fun. Little Dude helped my trim some bushes in the front yard (fun for him, not so much for me!) and after the husband came home from work. I took the kids to the park. Our park was in desperate need of a mass overhaul and recently they finally broke ground on the construction. Checking the progress was our first order of business...

Wonder what this means for football season next year?

After that we headed over to the play equipment. The kids ran and climbed to their hearts content, but somehow did not manage to wear themselves out. I really need to find a way to bottle a fraction of that energy!

After a while I decided to play with my camera settings. If I didn't know any better, I would have thought the world was about to end.

It appears the "solarize" setting does not mean pictures will come out sunnier, but they do make things look like you're on the set of The Walking Dead.

Until next time...

A Crotchety Mother's Day

I love my kids to the moon and back. I can't imagine my life without them, but there are definitely those days where they drive me up a wall. They have such a strong bond, but sometimes they are so close that they butt heads more than anything else. Just as I am ready to blow my top, they pull one of the greatest Mother's Day ever.

Saturday night before going to bed Little Dude asked if I would be sleeping in on Mother's Day. That was my plan and I let him know that. I think he was plotting how his morning would go.

As soon as my alarm went off I heard their feet go. Naturally they were anything but quiet, but I let it slide. Fist up the stairs was GG with a cup of hot tea.  She was so worried she screwed it up and I wouldn't like it. I asked her how she made the tea.  Shed put a cup of water in the microwave. When it came out she put a tea bag in and dunked it a few times. It wasn't how I made tea (I add sugar) but it was the best cup of tea I have had in a long time.

She disappeared and a few minutes later Little Dude and GG were standing at my bedside with my breakfast in bed, served atop a cutting board. Obviously a cutting board is the most logical thing to use as a serving tray, right? My breakfast consisted of 2 waffles with butter and syrup, half a banana, and a cup of vanilla yogurt with blueberries and banana slices mixed in. Healthy and tasty - I was impressed. Of course serving me chocolate chip cookies for breakfast in bed would have impressed me as well.

After breakfast they delivered me my presents. Both had written poems and Little Dude had colored a "Best Mom" certificate. I'll have to thank their teachers for helping with all of that. Both poems were sweet and full of "I love mom", "she has the best hugs" and "she is fun", but I think Little Dude's poem had the best line ever.

I really hope he meant "crochet"!

Until next time...

When you give a mouse a house

It's been a l-o-o-o-ng time since I've blogged and I'm trying to get back into it (again).  Where have I been? The title of this post might give you a hint.....

If you give a mouse a house, it takes over.  It also brings friends, keeps you up at night, and cause you to clean.  A lot!

Let me start at the beginning.  Last Spring.

We discovered we had a mouse in the house.  We heard it, found evidence, so off I went to buy traps.  Being a lover of most animals, I couldn't bring myself to buy poison or your basic trap.  I bought ones that looked like a box.  Mouse goes in, trap closes, dead mouse.  Throw the boxy trap away and you never have to see what's inside.

Weeks went by.  We moved the traps to different areas of the house a few times.  Finally, the husband discovered we caught the mouse.  Judging by the weight of the trap with a dead mouse inside, the husband declared it to be a ROUS.

Bonus points if you know what that means ;-)

Fast forward.... December... Another mouse.

This one wasn't seen.  Evidence couldn't be found, at least not out in the open.  But I could hear it.  Chewing boxes, trying to get food.  Back to the store I went to buy more traps. I bought different, but similar in style traps.  I didn't want to touch a dead mouse!  Don't get me wrong, I actually like mice.  In a cage.  Bought on purpose.  As a pet.  Not as uninvited guests.

This situation was the same as in the Spring.  Move traps around.  Wait.  Finally, it's caught.  Into the garbage mouse and trap go.  I proudly told the husband I not only caught but disposed of the mouse.  We could go back to life as usual.

Or so I thought.

Next morning, I woke up to mouse droppings on our stove.  Back to square one we go.  The 2 previous traps we purchased could no longer be found at any store I went to.  I ended up with ones that looked like chip clips.  It was either those or poison.  At this point I was still against poison bait with the kids around and in my kitchen.  I set and tucked the trap behind a pile of mail.  That night I heard noises.  The husband was stuck at work due to a bad snow storm and I was on edge because of that.  I thought GG was moving around in her bed because she was only half asleep a few minutes prior.  Ten minutes later I hear the noise again.  Surely GG was asleep by now and it couldn't be the mouse.  Mice don't make that much noise!  Laying in bed not sure what to do, I waited and listened.  Sure enough I hear the noise again a few minutes later.  I grab my phone (because that will keep my safe if I run into an intruder, right?!) and I head downstairs.

I had caught mouse #3 and this one was smart.  Sort of.  It tried to swipe at the peanut butter in the trap with it's paw and the trap closed on it's tiny paw.  This mouse was trying to scurry back under the stove burner with a mouse trap in tow.

It's after midnight, I'm in my pajamas, and here I am grabbing the biggest pot I could find and chucking a live mouse connected to a trap into it.  I raced out the back door, squeezed open the trap, praying the mouse wouldn't bite me in the process, and chucked it out into the snow.

All of this was done in front of a watching neighbor who decided to step outside at that very moment to have a smoke.  I'm still not sure what the proper conversation to have is after someone catches you throwing mice around with a pot.

Since then we have caught 2 more mice.  I am not a cat person.  Cats do not fall under the lover of most animals that I am category.  But I am starting to reconsider.

Anyone have a cat I can borrow?

Until next time...