Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas, Eyes Forward...

I could post...but what more can I say than what Marxwell's House already said about our present and future...Read on People!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

Life changing...that's what my communications were yesterday with a realtor and lender. We've been working so hard to recover from our 15 years of raising 5 children, on our own, without outside help (or even help from the girls' bio-mom), at most times on one income (a small one at that), putting each other through college, moving...and now I have a wonderful job, with co-workers that I adore, that comes with an income that makes life and credit building do-able. We've been monitoring our credit for the past few months, watching those magical numbers rise up, ever so slightly. Rumors are swirling that a promotion is in my (very near) future...and Mark has begun his job search, adding to our income.
I've been reading a blog...Cold Antler Farm...the blog of a young woman, realizing her dream of becoming a farmer. She makes you believe that your dreams can become a reality too...When you have a moment - check her year in pictures:
It was after watching that video that I couldn't wait any longer...I had to find out just how close we were. I looked online and found a realtor (a husband and wife team) who specializes in helping people find small farms in the counties that we are looking at. They guided me to a wonderful lender, who also specializes in credit counseling and helps you understand which debts you need to focus on. Our lender put together a game plan for us and everything looks like we'll be good to go once we get our income taxes back and take the first couple of months of 2011 to work on paying off and paying on time etc. SO we are going to watch the home for sale - work on the plan and HOPEFULLY try and get something going around March. The goal is still to move at the end of the kids' school year -but if we could get a home sooner than that...WOOT!
So here I sit, watching It's a Wonderful Life...and thinking about how it truly is. Our five children are in their beds with visions of sugar plums dancing over their heads. I've got my favorite guy on the couch next to me. My trusty dog is "her chair". A cat sleeping under the tree and other scurrying around here and there. A coating of snow blankets our front lawn.
NORAD says that Santa is heading toward Charleston, I better be off to bed now.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Nutcracker Suite

15 years ago, on December 17th, 1995, Mark and I went on an amazing date. We had only been dating for around three months. It started with getting all dressed up, having Tiffany take a picture of us in front of our Christmas tree and away we went.
We had a great dinner inside the trolley at the Spaghetti Warehouse, watched our first showing ever of the Dayton Ballet's Nutcracker and ended the night (so I thought) with walk around Lincoln Park, a park in our town that goes crazy with Christmas Lights. They remove their water from the fountains and put lit trees throughout. As we were walking through the trees...holding hands and stopping for the occasional kiss...Mark started with "the talk"...the good talk...the I'm everything he has ever imagine in a partner talk...OH! I thought - this is it! He's going to ask me to marry him! He reaches in his pocket for what I thought could be that little box filled with a band of gold and maybe a diamond that says he wants to be with me forever. But WAIT! It's a long box! Oh crap...I think I'm just getting my early Christmas present...a necklace? a pen set? :-) What could it be? It's a Nutcracker. He wanted me to always remember this night and think about this moment each time I looked at this sweet little Nutcracker, holding a tool box, with a hammer and a beautiful diamond ring! He didn't go for the single diamond either. I was marrying him...but I was also marrying his daughters too and he gave me a beautiful ring with a larger diamond in the center and a smaller one on each side (this was before the past/present/future bands came around and he had to have my ring specially created for me). He got down on one knee and asked me the most wonderful question I've ever been asked (by the most wonderful man I've ever known)...and of course I answered YES!
Last night, we were able to recreate that date with a couple of tag-alongs. Tiff, Kait, Gage, Drake and Cora - all seven of us were able to have a great Spaghetti Warehouse dinner and watch the 7:30 showing of the Nutcracker (the kids all stayed awake, loved the mice and the sheep and toe shoes and truly enjoyed the ballet) and because it was tremendously cold we drove (rather than walk) through Lincoln Park to see the lights. It was incredible to experience that night again with all of our kids.
It has been a crazy 15 years, lots of ups and of course some downs, five kids, a handful of moves - we are working on our biggest venture yet. One of the kids asked me if I still would have said "yes" and as I looked around at all those faces, thinking about how I'm the luckiest woman ever my answer was "Absolutely" and then I was asked if I would have done anything different...looking at those same sweet faces and hearing all of our laughter my answer was "Never"'s some pics for your enjoyment.

Mark and Shelby - December 1995

Mark and Shelby - December 2010 (my how we've changed!)

In our seats, waiting for the show to start!

Princess dress...combat boots - Oh Yeah!

Look what we made! Five amazing people!!! These kids are going to do incredible things when they grow up.
I'm so excited to see what their futures hold.

The WHOLE crew!

Mark and Shelby milestones:
Sept. 1995 - We met
Oct. 1995 - We moved in together
Dec. 1995 - We got engaged
July 1996 - We got married in Lincoln Park, the same place we got engaged so the girls could be a part of our special day
Dec. 1996 - We had our wedding ceremony with the rest of the family (yes, we celebrate both anniversaries)
Nov. 1997 - We got pregnant with Gage!
Aug. 1998 - We had Gage...on August 8th, 1998...he was 10 pounds 1.2 ounces
Dec. 1998 - We got custody of Tiff
June 1999 - We got custody of Kait
Oct. 2000 - We moved to Fox Hunt Apartments
Nov. 2000 - We had Drake...on Nov. 10, 2000...he was born nearly 4 weeks early and was still 7 pounds 7 ounces
Fall 2001 - Shelby started back to college
Fall 2003 - Mark started back to college
Oct. 2003 - We had Cora...on Oct. 24th, 2003...born two weeks early and was 8 pounds 8 ounces 2005 - Moved back to our house on Culver
Early 2005 - Tiffany moved out
June 2006 - Shelby graduated from Wright State University
June 2006 - We moved to Florida, Shelby started working for Truefire.
Fall 2006 - Mark started University of South Florida
Oct. 2006 - Kait moved out
2007 - Mark worked at Great Explorations
Fall 2008 - Moved back to Ohio
Nov. 2008 - We moved into our current apartment
Dec. 2008 - Shelby started working for Ecos
Jan. 2009 - Mark started back at Wright State to finish his degree
June 2009 - Kait moved back in with us :-)
June 2010 - Mark graduated from college
Dec. 2010 - Tiff moved back in and the whole family is back together.
Dec. 18th 2010 - Recreated our engagement night with the whole family.
....and for the's hoping that in June of 2011 we will be buying our farm and establishing our homestead.
Happy Sunday all...five more days until Christmas Eve!!!!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010


We are working on adjusting to all seven of us being under one roof again. I thought there was supposed to be a honeymoon period where everyone is on their best behavior for a bit before all hell breaks loose! :-) Ok...well all hell hasn't broken loose (yet) - but my house is definitely a bit chaotic right now. We have a daughter that moved home...she has been on her own for the past 4 years. She has moved from apartment to apartment, roommate to roommate...No real responsibility to anyone other than herself and certainly not having to answer to her parents. Not that we micro manage our children nor do we have these tremendous expectations - we just have and expect respect. Meaning - if we aren't going to be home, we will tell you our plan - so you don't worry and we expect the same from her. I'm not sure she totally gets that. She is also used to being able to make a mess and clean it when it is convenient to her - however, when you live in a tiny place with a family of seven, even the smallest mess can seem like a mountain of clutter. She and her sister work different shifts and there is this constant flux of people getting ready for work or coming home from work - figuring out who is going to be where/when. There is a wild mix of personalities too - and too many Alphas if you get my point. (*wink)
I'm hoping this works - I love having her here we all just need to...adjust.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

My Apartment is Like a Clown Car

So I don't know if I've mentioned...but the place we live in is TINY. When I picked it out, I was thinking it was just going to be me and the three little ones. Mark was planning on going back to Florida temporarily to get his degree and this was meant to be VERY temporary. So I signed the lease...and Mark decided to stay (YAY!...Best...Decision...Ever) - but the apartment got ever so slightly smaller. And then Kait graduated from high school and decided she didn't want to live with/around her bio-mom any longer (Best Decision Ever) - but the apartment got ever so slightly smaller. Did I mention that she brought her cat along with her? To add to the other three cats we already have, and the dog, and the rat :-)
...So then tonight I received a phone call. "Hi, um...I need to I know this is going to be a shock..." In my head, while I'm talking to my 23 year old daughter, I'm thinking I'm going to become a grandmother...but the conversation turned to..."and well, can I move back home?" (Best Decision Ever) and our apartment is getting ready to get ever so slightly smaller...Did I mention she asked if she could bring her cat? I drew a hazy line in the sand and said "Please try and find a home for the cat".
Looks like fate might be pointing us in a new direction soon. Where's my farm house?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

It's Snowing and snowing and snowing....

Last night we took our kids to the spot that we got engaged and married...Lincoln Park in Kettering. They celebrated their annual tree lighting and we couldn't have timed the night more perfect. When we got there, we immediately got in line for the horse-drawn carriage time passed and we got closer to the front of the line - it also got closer to the time to light the tree. We walked up the steps and were finally next in line and the town's mayor came up to the stage and lit the tree, along with all the other trees and poles and everything in the entire park. It was beautiful. The kids' faces lit up...they were so excited about all the lights. Right after the park was lit, we were escorted onto the carriage and took a ride around the entire park. It was breathtaking. We came home and grabbed a bite to eat, watched the Polar Express and enjoyed the pudding that Drake made (SO GOOD).
This morning we woke a dusting of big deal, I thought, we can still go through with our plans of watching the horse-drawn carriage parade tonight, I thought. But then it started to snow again...and it just keeps's not horrible - only about an inch and 1/2...but I don't really see an end in sight. It might be a night for hot cocoa and blankets on the couch.