Thursday, September 10, 2015

New House, New Experiences!

Here we are in September and it's been a whirlwind few months.

Some good things...some bad things...all around, nothing that our family can't survive and grow from.  I'm so glad that the four of us have each other.  What would life be without the core people you are surrounded by that have your back while you have theirs?  I'm definitely grateful.

The biggest life change -- we moved!  Yes, we bought a new house, sold our old one (though not necessarily in that order) and transported nearly everything we own about 1.5 miles across our small town.  And let me tell you something: I am NEVER doing that again!!

Sure, I say NEVER and maybe right now I actually mean NEVER.  Maybe I even mean NOT IN A MILLION YEARS.  But who knows what the future holds.  To be honest, if the future holds another move, it will also hold a day where I throw almost everything I own away just so that I don't have to move it again.

We were diligent about tossing a LOT out as we packed.  I mean, twice we had a junk hauler come and haul piles and piles of STUFF away so that we wouldn't bring it to the new house.  And yet somehow, three months later, we still have a garage FULL of boxes that we can't seem to get unpacked.  I actually hate the sight of boxes now.  I'm having what doctors call "cardboard rejection syndrome."  It involves a lot crying and huddling in the fetal position in a corner when I see more boxes.

Okay, not really.  But it feels like that sometimes!

We're back into the swing of things with school that started way too early.  Charlie is a high schooler now and we are feeling pretty impressed with the high school so far.  More importantly, we're very proud of the efforts he's making to get decent grades and stay on top of his work.  And I was super excited to find out today that he's going to be reading "To Kill a Mockingbird" this year in school.  That was a favorite of mine back in the day and I plan to follow along with him in the book when they start it.  I foresee great conversations in our future about Atticus and Scout and Boo.  We really enjoyed his time reading "The Outsiders" last spring, which was my first time actually reading it, so I have some inkling of what I'm in for.

Noelle is in her second year of middle school and so far having a great year.  I'm a little too thrilled that she is taking Drama and LOVES it.  The theater geek in me wants to see her pursue it in high school, too, so that I can go to all the plays and tell everyone she gets it from me.  Maybe I should bring my best actress award with me in my purse, just in case they don't believe me.

KIDDING!  (About bringing it, not about winning it.)

See?  Theater geek!  But that's where I met my best friend in the world 23 years ago, and we're still best friends to this day.  Check us out -- because why not??

Herb and Rose Zigkowski -- a nice older married couple that love the Cubs.  I very cleverly took my hair out of the grey bun before pictures.  What you can't see is my very sexy crocheted purse that I'm carrying.  And apologies to my mom for turning her very nice, not-old-lady sweater into part of my costume!

Anyway, the point is this -- if Noelle participates in Drama for the next few years, I feel strongly that she'll make lifelong friends and incredible memories.  I know I did.

I guess I should go unpack a few boxes now.


Thursday, May 7, 2015

I had the incredible opportunity today to view the movie I wrote about a few posts ago -- NOBLE.

I knew going in that it was about a real woman who wanted to make a difference in the lives of children in Vietnam, but I didn't realize I would be so powerfully moved by what she herself went through to get to that place.  The movie takes you through the life of Christina Noble, an Irish woman who was presented with challenges through much of her life, beginning at a very young age.

They broke everything but her spirit.  They took everything but her dream.  NOBLE, the award-winning feature film, is the incredible true story of a fearless Irish heroine driven by her daring vision  who escapes the slums of Ireland and risks everything on the streets of Vietnam.

The drive that fills Christina is inspiring -- she never gives up and never loses hope in her efforts to change lives for the better.

NOBLE, in theaters May 8, stars Deirdre O'Kane (Moone Boy, Paths To Freedom), Brendan Coyle (Downton Abbey, The Raven, Ailsa), Sarah Greene (The Guard, The Cripple Of Inishmaan), and Liam Cunningham (Game of Thrones, Hunger, Safe House).

While not all of us are going to be led to move to another country and take on such a major endeavor, hopefully each of us who sees NOBLE will feel the desire to make changes in our own lives that will positively affect others around us.  Even the simplest of gestures that bring a smile to someones face are worth it, and I know that I myself feel inspired to see how I can do more of my part and teach my children to do the same.

Be sure to see NOBLE, which arrives in theaters May 8th.  You won't be sorry, and if you're like me, you'll be wishing you could give that lady a hug by the end!

The website is chock full of information:

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Spring Break and a Broker

Spring has sprung, and spring break is upon us.  The kids are jumping for joy at not having alarm clocks or homework for a week.  Meanwhile, I still have kids that I babysit being dropped off at the crack of dawn, meals to prepare and a house to keep in order.  Some break!

The biggest chaos in our lives at the moment is that we have our home on the market.  Actually, we sold it a week ago, but we're "contingent."  I didn't understand how big the word "contingent" would be in my life until recently.  For those of you living contentedly in your homes and not obsessing every second about realty, this basically means that we will really and truly only sell if we're able to buy another house.  In our case, within 10 days.  And wouldn't you know it -- in the last ten days every house we were interested in was snatched up by another buyer.  So here we sit, praying that an amazing house pops up on the market and we edge everyone else out before the deadline.

Naturally, there are a bunch of houses out there for sale that are similar in price to the one we're selling.  But we happen to be looking at the next level up for our next home, where the pickings are slim.  Apparently we're not the only ones out there trying to upgrade from a three bedroom to a four, or from a one story to a two.  And to make things worse, if we don't find another house and we pass our deadline and fall out of contract, we're right back where we started.  Not the end of the world, but I admit I was a bit pleased at the prospect of not having to live in a "show ready" house every minute of the day.  Because these guys and their hair make that difficult.

There are highlights to having gotten the house show ready, though.  Like finding out there's such a thing as chemical cleaning for your carpets, which makes them so clean that you no longer see the "clean" spots under area rugs.  And the fresh paint on top of the fresh drywall means I don't have to hide holes that made their way into our lives over time.

A downside?  The garage has become the drop off point for anything we don't want showing, making it the most embarrassing place in the world for people to see.  I actually feel like apologizing to anyone who sees it, and then explaining that it's not my fault -- we were forced into it.  But of course anyone who has ever sold a house knows, the garage is your relocation space.  "If you don't use it every day, it goes in the garage."  That was good advice from my kick ass realtor, who by the way spent an entire day tackling our yards to make them better.  He even took out a bush that I'd always hated AND brought new rock over to cover up the older stuff.  We've since gone a step further and did this where the bush used to be.

Definitely an improvement.

And that's my life.  The usual routine with the fun addition of obsessing about house sales.  I guess it wouldn't be me if I wasn't obsessing about something!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

She is Noble -- Enter to Win Contest!

What does it mean to be a noble woman?

It's living fearlessly and loving recklessly!

She is Noble is inspired by the life of Christina Noble, an Irish woman who traveled to Vietnam after experiencing an unforgettable dream.  As a result of her journey, she rescued millions of abused and homeless children.  Her story is told in the new movie NOBLE, coming to theaters Spring 2015.  The She is Noble campaign is designed to honor and celebrate inspirational women who change the world around them.

Who is that woman in your world?  In your neighborhood or school or church?  Whoever she is, we want you to have the opportunity to tell her story.

Find the time and nominate a noble woman at  Include a brief description, your name and email.  Done!  A team of storytellers -- from writers to videographers -- will take it from there, ready to take your nomination and tell her story.

But that's not all!  

Not ONLY could you win a trip to Ireland for you and $10,000 for her work, but if any of MY readers gets their submission published on the She is Noble website, they will receive a $25 Amazon gift card!  (To be disbursed in early May.)

When you enter, use my unique referral code of sleeplessmornings (all one word) so that you can tie your submission back to me and hopefully win the gift card too!  It's that simple!

I look forward to reading everyone's published submissions.  My hope is that it will inspire people, including myself, to go forth and do more wherever we can.  I don't think there's a higher calling than that!

To check out the movie website, go to

The contest will close at 11:59PM EST on Monday, April 27th. The winners will be notified on or about April 28, 2015, via email, phone or mail.

Good luck!!

I will receive the same $25 gift card for all referred published submissions on  All opinions are my own.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas... with a throwback to June!

The tree is decorated.

The presents are wrapped.  (Not sitting under the tree, of course.  We live in fear of the Husky peeing on them down there, so they are wrapped and sitting on an ottoman.  Makes sense, right?)

The kids are on vacation.  (Which means I'm on break, too!)

And the Christmas cards are in the mail.  The fun part about the card is coming up with just the right pictures to include.  Because as we parents all know, you have to make sure there are an even number of pictures of each kid, or there will be hell to pay.  Just as I had suspected, the first time each child saw our card they started counting.  Noelle felt a little cheated because one picture barely shows her.

I guess she's right.  Clearly we don't love her.

Never mind the preciousness of the un-staged photo.  *sigh*

I also wanted to show my wedding dress off because....well isn't it obvious?  I was the bride and I loved my dress!  Plus I love this shot of Charlie.

And if there's one full shot of Charlie, there has to be one of Noelle, right??

Not that I minded.  Isn't she lovely?

Now we're just kicking back and finishing all the final details that go into hosting Christmas at our house this year.  On the agenda for Christmas eve we have cookie making, dinner cooking, chocolate fondue fountain flowing and a relaxing end of the day with "It's a Wonderful Life" on the television.  If we can cram it all in, I'll be impressed.

What's that?  You'd like to see another wedding picture?  Well okay, if you insist!

Yes, I am tall.  And I might have picked the perfect combination of tall and uncomfortable in my wedding shoes.  They lasted until about 20 minutes after the ceremony.  Then I was barefoot and perfectly happy about it!

I loved having my girl as my maid of honor.  She was the perfect choice.

This next fantastic pic is our reactions right after Charlie said, "Russ...there are only two words you need to know to be happy in this marriage.  Yes, and Dear."

And so it goes.  We're attempting the living happily ever after scenario.  What the fairy tales never mention is how that ever after is chock full of life and craziness and drama and homework and a husky that pees on your Christmas tree name it.  But that's life, right?  The best part is that the happily is there... and I can't ask for more than that.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Schooling at Home

Happy New Year!

That's right, it's been THAT long.

It's gotten to the point that my dad is asking if I'm ever going to blog again.

Personally, I blame the company I work for.  Shortly after I started they put a block up on blogger, making it impossible for me to write at lunchtime.  Because I swear, that was the only time of day I would ever post during the workday.  I swear. 

Please disregard the tic in my right eye.

That meant that blogging could only take place during the evenings or my sleepless nights, and I'm happy to say I haven't been having those.  (Sleepless nights, not evenings.)  Evenings are typically taken up with cooking, cleaning up and homework.  By the time Russ and I get to crash on the couch for some Game of Thrones or Silicon Valley, I'm falling asleep and missing everything. 

To blog or not to blog?  *snore*

Another new time taker is that I'm officially a Home school mom.  Yes, I finally (what took me so long??) pulled Charlie out of that horrible situation at school and started him on the home school program.  It took him some time to start recovering from the damage that the bullying caused, but little by little he's coming out of that emotional wreckage and enjoying life a lot more.  I still haven't quite figured out what action I'm going to take in the advancement of anti-bullying, but I know it's going to be more than just the ridiculous repeating of "Always remember to just be nice" by the principal on the loudspeaker every morning.  I don't want to be another one of the adults at that school, claiming I don't tolerate bullying, and then not doing jack squat about it.

I could really continue on with this, but I think I'll save that for another post.

So how am I finding the time now?  Well, we're actually all sitting here at the dining room table as a family, doing home work or helping with homework, etc.  Russ is Noelle's math tutor and I'm letting Charlie work on his science.  Nothing like the Musculoskeletal System to keep someone busy!  The dogs are here, too.  A mutt and a chewed up Husky.  (Again, another post to come.)

One big happy family.  And I love it.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Friends & Family 2013

I feel like doing a blog catch up, and I feel like doing it with pictures.

So here's some insight into our lives these last few months.  Enjoy!

In August we celebrated Charlie's 12th with friends, food and video games.  They were happy.

In September we celebrated Noelle's 10th with a swim party at my cousin's house.  My cousin is wonderful -- she even disappeared with her husband for hours so we could have the run of the place.  Not too shabby.

In October Noelle and I escaped for a girls getaway weekend.  We scrapbooked, slept in a little cabin-like room and took walks to see redwood trees and deer.  We loved it so much that we're going back in April!

A few weeks later, Russ and I headed to his home state of Wisconsin to see family, his old digs and most importantly -- the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field!!  That was a dream come true.

Naturally we brought home goodies for the kids.  They weren't too excited.  ;o)

And then of course there's Halloween...

In November I turned 38 and managed to have the 3rd annual birthday celebration with my cousin, who is one year and a few weeks younger than me.  We've been close since we were kids and I love that we still spend time together when we can.  Aren't we cute?

Another favorite gathering that month was meeting up with my best friends since high school and their son for a day at the aquarium.  You'd think I would have taken pictures of the sea life, but instead I got a lot of pictures of the hugs that were happily doled out.  I love this about our little "family."

November is also the month of giving thanks, which as you know we happily did in Monterey on Cannery Row.  The food was pretty good, but the company was better.  After our delicious filling meal we went back to our home town and saw "Catching Fire."  It was a perfect day.

Don't be misled by Russes unhappy face in our picture.  What you can't tell is that he's thrilled to have me next to him, and not in fact grossed out.  I swear.

And now here we are in December and we're NOWHERE on pictures.  My company party took place this last weekend, and after Russ and I got all dolled up, we took zero pics.  Genius.  Our plan for this weekend is take a family photo near a Christmas tree so that I can attempt to get a Christmas card out in the mail before Christmas is actually over.  We also hope to get decorations up and a tree in the house before New Years. 

I know, I set the bar high.

Merry Christmas!!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Giving Thanks for the Week Ahead

Thanksgiving is approaching, and there is so much going on in our lives right now!

Currently, even literally as I type this, my wonderful fiancĂ© is packing up his life's belongings to make the final move over to my house full time.  It's been an easy transition, doing a little at a time, but now we're in the final week and it's getting busy.  With a four day weekend approaching, it just made good sense to us to use that time to complete the transition and get him settled in.  Hence, we pick up a big moving truck later this week and will be trekking back and forth from his town to mine.  That part will be exhausting but worth it, and I look forward to having the satisfaction of a job well done.

Of course, this throws a wrench into Turkey day with the family.  My folks were wonderful about it when it finally dawned on me that trying to host the family and cook a big meal right in the middle of this move would have been CUH-RAZY.  I would have lost my mind, and in that scenario nobody wins.  In the end, my folks understood (thanks Mom and Dad!) and are spending the holiday eating out with some friends, instead.

That left us with the dilemma of "what should we eat and where?" when Thursday arrives.  I couldn't see skipping the holiday altogether, but I knew there was no way we'd be cooking anything, either.  So I did a little research and found a few places that are serving meals as usual, or that are doing a fancier buffet.  It didn't take long to lean towards the buffet for multiple reasons.

1. I loved going to the Officers Club on Thanksgiving when I was growing up -- they always had an incredible dinner and dessert buffet that was delicious and totally satisfying.

2. Charlie's not a lover of restaurants, at which you have to do a lot of waiting.  While he has improved and we do eat out a little more often with him, I know that being able to walk in and grab a plate will be appealing to him.  To be honest, it's appealing to me, too -- after moving furniture and boxes most of the day, I'll be famished and ready to EAT.

3. Who wouldn't want to have their Thanksgiving dinner on Cannery Row in Monterey??  Nobody, that's who.

I'll miss our usual turkey dinner with my grandmother's stuffing, but the consolation is that I'll get to enjoy it at Christmas when my brother is flying in from Hawaii and we can all be together again for the first time in a year.  I've missed having him close by after a lifetime of never being more than an hour from him.  I think it will feel like old times, which all of us needs right now.

In case you don't hear from me, have a Happy Thanksgiving with your loved ones!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Hunger Games -- Catching Fire GIVEAWAY!

As you may already know, we're fans of The Hunger Games at our house.

I've even blogged about the books and first movie here.

So when I was asked to participate in a Hunger Games: Catching Fire giveaway, it was easy to say YES!

If you're living under a rock and not familiar already with Catching Fire, check out the trailer here:

I don't know about you, but I'M EXCITED!  We're all planning to be there the weekend it comes out to see more of the beautiful Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdean.

On to the giveaway...

I have one Catching Fire prize pack for you, which includes

- One (1) movie poster
- One (1) official movie T-shirt with Mockingjay logo
- Two (2) wristbands 
- One (1) iPhone cleaner
- One (1) iPhone dot

To enter, leave me a comment with your email address, and if you feel like mentioning why you love the Hunger Games, go right ahead.  One entry per person, please.
 --> Contest ends November 20, 2013 at midnight PT. You must include your email address or your entry will not be counted.  Winner will be contacted and have 24 hours to claim their prize or another winner will be chosen.

Good luck!
The giveaway is open only to U.S. and Canada residents, ages 18+.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Halloween and What Not

We're coming up on Halloween, and the new company I'm working for --

 -- what's that?

A job?  Why yes, I do have a job!  Thanks for asking! 

Okay, okay, I haven't exactly been on top of the "big news in my life" category recently.  But can you blame me?  112 followers, and not one word or comment of "congrats!" when I note that I'm actually ENGAGED.  To be married.  In a wedding.  You know, "I Do?" 

Anyway, the other news of late to share is that I have started a fabulous new job at a fabulous new company that is actually closer to my home town than any job I've ever had.  Less commute time makes this girl happy.  I've also discovered that, like the other construction type company I've worked for in the past, they like to enjoy the holidays.  I think it has something to do with being an older company run by a lot of the same people, and sticking to old values and traditions.

One tradition that I'm enjoying is the upcoming Halloween celebration this week.  There is a whole hoopla of events scheduled, and people can participate in multiple ways.  Our group is fantastically doing a fun theme that will include decorations, costumes and even a dance.  That's right!  It's going to be interesting.  I will hold off on sharing additional input for now, but rest assured there will be pictures coming.

The kids have had fun putting costumes together this year.  Charlie was a little unsure of the direction he was going to go until he found a bright green hoodie sweatshirt that goes ever so perfectly with a Minecraft creeper mask that he'd had his eye on.  There was some drama surrounding getting our hands on one after they sold out at our Target, but it didn't take me long to track one down elsewhere.  Mom's are good that way.  Unfortunately his first experience wearing it, to the junior high dance, ended badly when the bullies we've been dealing with were right there at the entrance and couldn't wait to start taking shots at him.  He left immediately and wouldn't go back.  Can you blame him?  Some of these kids have been knocking him to the ground and yet there they are at the dance with no consequence at a social function of any kind.  No, I'm not happy.  Yes, I am taking steps to escalate this above and beyond the principal.  This mama bear has had ENOUGH.

Noelle's costume is a bit more unique -- she has fun finding bits and pieces here and there to come up with something completely different than everyone else, which I totally dig about her.  I always call her my little Carrie Bradshaw.  Her taste in clothes is wild and eclectic, and even when she puts things together that I would never even consider, she pulls it off and looks amazing.  She definitely does not get that from me!

What's everyone else's plans for Halloween?  Are you dressing up?  Do you have a family theme or decoration you love?  Share or link to your blog and I'll check it out!