Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 List, The End

Another year down! 2011 was a crazy one. Lots of tears and laughter and crazy. Pretty typical of my whole life I suppose. Major events seem to be my curse. I mean specialty. Whatever.

This year though, I did actually complete my list. 12 things, 12 months. I think this year is the first that I actually got all of them done out the ten or so years we have been making one so that is a major accomplishment for us. #Winning!

So, here you have it, the 2011 list, complete with links to the posts about each! (Well, except #2 and #8 because lets face it, we had a garage sale but made no money so it would not be a great read anyway and the video for #8 is coming this week. You'll just have to trust me on that one.)

1. Spend some quality time with my mother. Its not going to be easy and it may not be for long but I need to see her without my kids. Since having D, we really haven't spent any time together, just the two of us. So its time to date my mother again. COMPLETED 4/23


2. Have a garage sale and get rid of what we don't sell through donation. Or just donate it. What ever we have to do to declutter. We have so much stuff. It really is ridiculous the amount of just stuff we have stored in the garage and the attic. Its everywhere! So, we need to get rid of it. COMPLETED 9/30 (See above for story..)


3. Take the boys to Stone Mountain Park. If you are local, you know what I am talking about. If not, look here. It may seem hokey but its something that I know they would really enjoy. COMPLETED 11/12


4. Plant (and not kill) some plants or flowers. Yeah, we rent but we are free to do what ever we want to the yard and house and its something I have never done. Even as a kid, we always just let grow what the people before us had planted. PART ONE (4/5), A LITTLE HELP (4/6)


5. Complete the 30 Day No- Spend Challenge. This one is going to be hard for me. I am a self professed shopaholic so the idea of not spending any money except complete necessities is going to be a hard one for me. A good challenge for a good change though. COMPLETED 10/30


6. Take a class, of some sort, to better myself. I'm not getting all ambitious and crap here. Just something like a knitting class or computer class of some sort. Maybe even Zumba! Something fun. COMPLETED 10/4


7. Give up soda (as in: carbonated beverages/ Coke/ Pepsi/ whatever you call it in your neck of the woods) for at least 3 months. I know it is bad for you for so many reasons but sometimes it is what I reach for. I want to see if the sodas I have really have that much of an effect on my health. I started today (1/1/11) let us see how far I get! COMPLETED 11/29!


8.Learn to do the Electric Slide. Corny? Yes. Shut up, its not your list. Still, its something that I can't do and something that will be a challenge for me. I have two left feet and a really crappy memory. Should be interesting. COMPLETED 12/31! (Just under the wire, video coming soon!)


9. Visit my Nana. She only lives about an hour away and for some reason we have the hardest time getting up there to see her. In fact it has been over a year already. She is my only living Grandmother and has hardly met the boys so its time to get serious about getting up there. COMPLETED 11/26


10. Go see a movie or show with my husband. We were talking about it this evening and neither of us can remember the last time we actually went to a theater, without the boys, and saw a grown up movie together. COMPLETED 12/1!


11. Visit Turner Field and watch the Braves play. D will love it and it means a lot to T to share it with his son. COMPLETED 5/23!


12. Hire a professional photographer to take some good pictures of us as a family. Its time for a family portrait of epic proportions. COMPLETED 8/29

All done! Now to take about a 24 hour break before I get to pounding out the 2012 list! Next year is going to be full of more home based challenges. Getting things in order and organized. Something long over do.

 As for now, auld lang syne, my friends. The past year has played an amazing role, good or bad, in shaping us as human beings. As individuals. You can leave the time behind but you can't and shouldn't leave the experiences behind. Heres to the past and the future! Happy New Year!

Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 Review

2011 has been.. interesting? I, for one, can say that I am fairly happy its over. I am ready to move on to next year and get on with living. Not that anything particularly terrible went on this year. It was just a year of blah. A year so full of blah I am ready for next year to start so we can get a fresh start on our outlook.

At any rate, every year I do a review of my year in pictures*. Its become kind of a fun way for me to look back over the year and for you guys to revisit some of my favorite memories. So, without further ado, here is what you may have missed this year around here. My life in a year, in pictures. (Links to the corresponding post in the caption!)

K monster in the snow
January: Snowpocalypse

February: I made some promises
March: We were ourselves
April: I actually didn't kill some plants!
May: I announced Monster's big news
Photobucket
June: We spent some time getting wet
July: Our first set of stitches
August: We moved. Twice.
September:  Numbers Two and Four
October: My K gave up an old friend
November: Quality time with Gigi
December: D spread a little cheer
There you have it. Our year in a nutshell. We are planning a lot of changes in 2012 around here. Some big, some not so big at all. Either way, I hope to see you all on the flipside!



*2010's year in pictures

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The 30 Day No Spend Challange

Well, I did it. I went for 30 days and spent no money. Well, except for groceries and gas and such. Of course. Granted it was a few months ago, in October and I just forgot to write about it until now. Still, it was hard. Way harder than I thought it would be. Its crazy how easy it is for us to spend money. Of course, I am one of those crazy bargain people that never pays full price for anything. I use coupons and shop the clearance sections. I am a penny pincher by nature. I was raised that way. To make every last cent count so you can splurge on the important things in life. Like your kids or vacation or that new toy you've been eyeing for yourself.

The only problem with being that kind of shopper means that you pretty much have to buy things as they are available at a certain price. For example, I shop the end of season clearance for next years clothes. If something is on sale at the grocery store I buy enough to last through the next time I know it will be on sale (yes, retailers, you really are that predictable). Its a piece at a time type thing. Crazy? Maybe, but I saved a ton of money so its well worth it. I can feed our family of four, three of which are boys, on about $200 a month. The other thing people usually say is that they don't "have time" to save money. That one always makes me wonder a little...

Anyway, as you can imagine, not spending money for a whole month was almost traumatic for me. First was the big grocery shop at the beginning. I am not used to buying a whole month's worth of food as once. Some of it was full price even! *Gasp*! Seriously, I think I died a little when they gave me the total. We did, however, have enough food to feed us for almost the whole month and it was kind of nice to not have to think about going out to the store every few days. Still, If we were craving something, we were just screwed.

We actually made it the whole month not buying anything outside the necessities. The problem is, by the time we bought a months worth of groceries and such at the beginning, we ended up coming out the end with almost as much as we do normally.

That was a sad realization but kind of good too. It means that we are able to save enough month to month on the day to day household operations to pay for the extras and still put a little away. Doing it the other way, we spent it all on food.

Does that seem backwards to anyone else?

It seems like the point of doing a no spend challenge should be to change your spending habits for the better but it just kind of made me like the way I do things better. My way is at least more fun. Which is usually the point, isn't it? If you can't find the time and money to have fun, then what fun is having the time or money to begin with?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

THQ's uDraw GameTablet #Giveaway!

Looking for a last second gift for the gamer in your life? Good news! With the holidays rapidly approaching, THQ has lowered the price of the uDraw to $49.99. Named as one of this year’s hottest holiday toys by the Toy Insider, the uDraw has an entire line-up of brand new games that provide hours of entertainment the whole family can enjoy all year long. The uDraw is the first of its kind and is now available on all platforms (Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3), providing families with any gaming console endless imaginative and creative gameplay opportunities.


I was immediately please with the size and weight of the GameTablet. It is light enough to not be too much to maneuver one handed but sturdy enough that I felt more than comfortable letting the boys play around with it as well. The touch pad is deft and sensitive to even the slightest pen movements and the cord that attaches the pen to the unit is plenty long enough to reach past the parameters of the unit itself. I was also impressed by the speed with which it kept up with my movements. Sometimes there is a lag with any kind of wireless remote but this kept up with me step for step, swipe for swipe.

The uDraw GameTablet comes with "Instant Artist" which offers countless hours of game play bringing the core functions of the uDraw GameTablet to life on your television. D had a blast exploring all the options in the free play mode which is huge considering he is usually not a big art kind of kid. K liked to color with it too. He used it like a crayon with paper just handing the pen off to me to change the colors. Tommy and I  played with it for a bit too and we had fun exploring the built in tutorials.

Of course there are a myriad of family friendly games to choose from, this console add on is sure to be a hit with the whole family. From Marvel Super Hero Squad: Comic Combat to Disney Princess Enchanting Storybooks to Pictionary Ultimate Edition, there is a game for everyone and more are coming!

You can purchase the uDraw GameTablet at most retailers that sell gaming systems and their games. With a price of only $49.99, this is the perfect gift for yourself or the gamer (young or old) in your life.

Want to win it instead? I have a uDraw GameTablet for PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 to give to one of you! Here's how to enter (It may take the widget a moment to load!):


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Disney’s Phineas & Ferb: The Best LIVE Tour Ever!

Ready for a an adventure? Disney's Phineas & Ferb: The Best LIVE Tour Ever! is coming to Atlanta's Philips Arena for two days only!  At performances on Saturday, December 17, 2011 at 4:00pm and 7:00pm the beloved characters from Disney Channel’s animated series embark on a bold escape from the television screen to a live action adventure – right in Atlanta!




Produced by Feld Entertainment, Disney’s Phineas and Ferb: The Best LIVE Tour Ever! brings Phineas, Ferb, Candace, Isabella, Baljeet, Buford and friends to the stage as they make the most of the last day of summer by building an invention bigger, better and more amazing than ever. And, before you can wonder, “Hey, Where’s Perry?” the beloved pet platypus shifts to his secret double life as Agent P to foil another one of Dr. Doofenshmirtz’s evil plans. Musical madness abounds in an escapade so awesome that even Candace can’t help but join the hilarious hijinks. It’s the ultimate end to summer vacation, so seize the day ‘cause Phineas and Ferb are gonna do it all.




Show Date & Times at Philips Arena:
Saturday, December 17 - 4:00pm, 7:00pm
Sunday, December 18 - 12:30pm, 3:30pm, 6:30pm

Ready to get your tickets? Tickets are reasonably priced at $70.00, $55.00, $35.00, $25.00 and $15.00 (plus applicable fees) depending on where in the arena you prefer to sit. You can buy them online at Ticketmaster.com or by calling the Philips Arena Box office at: (800)745-3000. Hurry! They won't last long!

Want to WIN your tickets?? I have a family 4 pack of tickets to the December 17th, 7pm show to give to one lucky reader! Here's how to enter (it may take a moment for the widget to appear!):




Want more chances to win? Check out this giveaway on these other blogs!

Conversations With My Toddler

K has always been a vocal kind of kid. Always one to know how to get your attention even before he could talk. In fact, he said his first connected word at 6 months (Bruba) and hasn't stopped learning new words since. He was loud when he was a baby and is loud now. At least he can tell me what he needs and we can skip (for the most part) the "trying to figure out what he wants" tantrum and move right on into the "but I want now" tantrums. Hulk baby to the core after all.

Then there are the ones that just crack me up. As you can imagine, combining a talkative 2 year old with that toddler logic, makes for some interesting conversations.

Me: Monster where is your underwear? You have to at least wear underwear man.
K: Noooo! I don't want it! Is bitchy, mama.
Me: Bitchy? You mean its itchy?
K: Yes, mama, is titchy underwears.
Me: *finds and looks at K's underwear* K, why is your underwear full if glitter??
K: *comes running and looks in his glittery undies* Oh mama! Is so pretty underwears!.. and bitchy!
* Repeat times in


K: I wanna watch McQueen, Mama. I wanna watch McQueen, Mama. I wanna watch McQueen, Mama. I wanna watch McQueen, Mama. I wanna watch McQueen. IwannawatchMcQueenIwannawatchMcQueenIwannawatchMcQueen.
Me: Later.
K: Ok... I wanna watch Bues Cues, mama. I wanna watch Bues Cues, Mama. (Repeat times at least a billion)

K: *following me around the house whining* I want a cookie, Mama!
Me: Not right now, you just had one.
K: Cooooookie!!
Me: *looks at K* You have a cookie in your HAND monster.
K: *looks at hand with cookie in it* Thanks Mama!

K: Dis chicken is soooo goooooooood Mama!
Me: Good baby! I'm glad you like it!
K: Soooooooooo GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

When Christmas Come to Town

Just had to share. This little guy melts my heart...



Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas on Peachtree



Christmas on Peachtree is the largest indoor Christmas festival in the Southeast. Located at 200 Peachtree Street (the former Macy’s building) in downtown Atlanta,Christmas on Peachtree is a 70,000 square foot mix of family-friendly festivities, food and shopping.

Christmas on Peachtree provides a place for kids and their families to share in the wonder of the holiday season and the magic of Santa Claus. The attractions and activities provide plenty for kids to do and see, while providing parents and grandparents with a nostalgic reminder of the holidays of their own youth — with a few modern twists!

Come see the stunning Symphony of Lights™ music and light show, let the kids play in the Cartoon Network Children's Adventure Area™ (which includes a life size toy train!), enjoy a meal in the North Pole Café and shop in our retail village. Get your child's photo made with Santa with a number of affordable packages available for purchase.

Perhaps the most distinct attraction at Christmas on Peachtree is the giant, 8-foot snow globe positioned right out front! This working snow globe features the Christmas on Peachtree logo and serves as an attention-grabber among passers-by, as well as an example of what can be found inside. 

Don't forget to check ou tthe decorated windows along Peachtree Street too! Reminiscent of the days when Department Store Holiday Windows graced Peachtree Street Downtown, Christmas on Peachtree's Holiday Windows feature nostalgic themes and settings, as well as some new holiday traditions. Local designers and volunteers have transformed these windows into magical settings from movies such as "It's a Wonderful Life," "Auntie Mame," and the upcoming holiday release, "We Bought a Zoo."

We were invited to check out Christmas on Peachtree and were super excited to be able to go and celebrate the beginning of a new Atlanta tradition. The boys had a blast playing all the games in the Cartoon Network section and getting their picture taken with Santa. They rode the train at least ten times, they did some crafts and enjoyed the light show. From their perspective, this event was a great find!

I do have to be honest with you though, my mother and I were left a little lackluster. There just wasn't much going on. I think I expected the shopping area to be bigger and more homemade crafty type stuff. There were only a very few carts of items available and while they were all very cool, it wasn't the shopping extravaganza I feel like they had advertised. With tickets at $12 for adults and $8 for children (3-12), it did seem pricey for what they had available but this IS the first year so I am assuming once it gathers steam it will be much bigger in terms of things to do and such. Plus, a portion of every ticket sold benefits Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. It has a ton of potential, they just need to go there with it instead of holding back.

Overall, I would still recommend this event to people with young children. Like I said before, my boys had a blast so it was still worth the trip.

Tickets can be purchased HERE or at the door and are $12 for adults and $8 for children (3-12). 

Snow Mountain at Stone Mountain Park


Remember a few weeks ago when we went down to Stone Mountain Park for the Stone Mountain Christmas event? Well, this weekend, we went back to Stone Mountain park to check out Snow Mountain. You see, for the last several years during the winter months, Atlanta’s Stone Mountain Park transforms into a winter wonderland with Snow Mountain, Atlanta's only snow park. Sometimes, its Atlanta's only snow. Last year we were lucky enough to enjoy a "white" Christmas but that was the first one since the 80s. So, yeah, snow here is rare.

Snow Mountain has us all set up though. Based on Stone Mountain Park’s famous Laser Lawn, Snow Mountain kept our entire family busy for hours. The 400 foot tubing hill was of course Tommy and D's favorite. With the two Mountain SnoLifts taking them up the tubing hill, it made it super easy for them to go again and again! Which they did. D first, and then he would wait patiently at the bottom while T came slipping and sliding down the 400' of slippery snow.



The snow fort area was filled with pint sized snow activities and was where shorty K and I spent our time. We had a blast making a pint sized snowman and then K had fun knocking him over while screaming like a dinosaur (before I could a picture of the poor thing). They even had some mini tubing slopes set up for the miniature crowd and K went down those over and over again until he now longer felt the need to hold on with white knuckles. He was determined to conquer his fear!

After a few hours of fun, it was time to take it down a notch and have a snack.  We checked out SnoFire Point to warm our toes, roast marshmallows and make everyone’s favorite winter treat—S’mores! K kept trying to throw his mittens in the fire pit though so we had to move on before I was ready. Lucky for us, we got to check out the Stone Mountain Christmas activities again before we headed home and it was just as fun, if not more so, the second time around!

Snow Mountain is certainly Atlanta’s not-to-be-missed winter attraction. If you are thinking about checking out this attraction this winter, don’t worry about bringing snow equipment, all you will need for your tubing fun is included in the price of admission (For the safety of all of Snow Mountain’s guests, only park-provided equipment is allowed).

Please note specific height/weight requirements for tubing below:

Minimum height for Avalanche Alley: 36 inches
Minimum height for Tube Runners: 42 inches

Maximum weight for Avalanche Alley: (max of 5 riders)
Maximum weight for Tube Runners: 300 lbs

Looking for the best deal on tickets to Snow Mountain? On select days through January 1, you can play in snow and enjoy the Christmas spirit with Stone Mountain Park’s special combo ticket offer. Your ticket includes:



For the best value - Save 30% on Tickets with the Combo Family Value Pass. Includes everything above plus a meal at one of four restaurants at the park (Granite Café, Marketplace, Honeybaked Ham, Showtime Snacks), plus unlimited hot chocolate. Minimum purchase of four tickets required. More information here.

If you are visiting between January 2 and February 20, you can play in the snow and enjoy three great attractions with the 3 Attractions and Snow Mountain Combo Family Value Pass. Includes admission to Snow Mountain, daytime access to Summit Skyride, The YOGI BEAR 4-D Adventure and Discovering Stone Mountain Museum, plus a meal the Marketplace Restaurant. More information here.

If you are a Mountain Member, you can enjoy FREE entry to Stone Mountain Christmas and $10 off Snow Mountain tickets. Become a Mountain Member today and start saving. Current Mountain Members click here to purchase your Snow Mountain tickets.

Want to enjoy unlimited FREE admission to Snow Mountain? Get the best value with the all-new Mountain Membership PLUS Annual Pass. Includes all of the benefits of a Mountain Membership PLUS added exclusive benefits including free annual parking, unlimited free admission to Ride the Ducks and more. More information here. Current Mountain Member PLUS holders click here to reserve your Snow Mountain tickets.



Thursday, December 1, 2011

How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Musical!


Last night, Tommy and I completed yet another 2011 List item. We got all dressed up and went downtown, back to the Fox Theatre, to watch a Christmas spectacular unfold. We went to opening night of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”. I have to admit, I was skeptical. I am an old school Grinch fan through and through. The movi version from a few year back just doesn't work for me. So, I was a little worried I wouldn't like the musical, broadway version.

Good news! I was wrong! I loved it! Granted it took a few minutes to really get started but after the first 5 minutes, T and I were laughing out loud and having an amazing time. We were dancing in our seats and singing out loud with the classic songs we knew all the words to. Songs like “Fah Who Doraze” and of course "You're A Mean One Mr. Grinch" by Albert Hague and Dr. Seuss himself. The songs we didn't know were still just as fun to dance to.


The actor playing the role of the Grinch, Stefan Karl, hit the role dead on. He was energetic and hilarious but at the same time as evil and dastardly as you would expect of his Grinchiness. He was great at getting the audience to participate and have fun, something that can be hard to do in a live theatre setting. He had us all laughing and yelling and having a really good time.

The little girl playing Cindy Loo was a great little actress too. She has a beautiful singing voice and I am quite certain we will be seeing her for a long time to come.

If you are thinking about checking this out you most definitely should try to make it out. The show is only in Atlanta until Saturday as part of the 2011- 2012 Fifth Third Bank Broadway in Atlanta season.

Ticket prices start at $23. Tickets are on sale now at Ticketmaster outlets, online at www.ticketmaster.com, or by phone at 1-800-982-2787. Orders for groups of 10 or more may be placed by calling 404-881-2000.


*I received two tickets to last night's performance as part of this review but all opinions are definitely my own. 

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