Happy 2013!

My blogging surge hasn’t happened.

But I did get around to making a Happy New Year card which is really just a very belated Christmas card.

I’m fine with that and I kind of like it that way.

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If you have really great eyesight and can actually read the tiny print, please know that the actual card I mailed to friends and family did not say “SB” and “Scary Baby”. Just trying to respect the 13 year old’s privacy regarding internet strangers.

It has been 5 years since I started this blog and 5 years since I sent a holiday card. Probably not a coincidence as I felt everyone could get the Humpfreeze updates on the blog.

And perhaps because we had not taken a decent family photo since Scary Baby was one.

I’m still working on 2012 highlights and getting them on the blog for the sake of our family history. The timeline pressure is all mine and I can go at my own pace knowing that all that I have recorded in the past 20+ years is more than many take the time to do and release some of my guilt over my giant blogging gaps this year.

I’m not ready to stop but I still can’t figure out how to start again.

Thanks for hanging around here and reading when I do post. I love every comment and email I receive.

Happy New Year – may 2013 be the best year yet for you and your loved ones!!

xoxo

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Blog Neglect and a Tribute

I haven’t blogged since mid October.

I had a list of reasons to share about why I had stopped blogging.

I planned it all in my head last week how I would get back in the groove on Monday.

Then Friday’s tragedy happened. I was frozen when Roger Leroy sent me a text asking me if I knew what happened in Connecticut. She shared what she knew.

Without turning on the TV, I walked downstairs and hugged Scary Baby and told her I was so grateful she was home with me.

Then I went back upstairs and called PhilBillPaul and turned on the TV and cried.

My reasons for not blogging are small and irrelevant.

As we’ve prayed and had moments of silence for all the families in Connecticut, it occurred to me today that I need to write and capture the rest of our 2012 stories.

Because the little things are the things that keep us grounded when we can’t fathom what others must endure.

Even if you never watch The Voice, this 2 minute tribute is worth watching.

Click here to see the video if you don’t see it in the blog above.

And maybe tomorrow, I’ll be back to blog about the little things.

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Midwest Trip Highlights

Way back in August when I wrote this sentence…

Later this week, I’ll show you what else we did on our trip…”

I should have said

In six weeks…

Because that’s how long it has taken me to gather myself and beg Scary Baby to create the photo collages of our Midwest trip. I told you last week I’ve been a little crazy busy.

Seems reasonable to me since she was adding to my blog pressure by asking repeatedly when I was going to blog about the rest of our trip.

Without further ado, here is a baker’s dozen of photo collages created by Scary Baby to prove we did more than just eat our way through the Midwest. 😉

Chicago’s Museum of Science & Industry

We’ll always remember how Scary Baby got a turn at the periscope in the submarine exhibit. Our middle school teacher friend handled that for us. Thank you Mrs. Bowman. We were so glad she drove from the Quad Cities to spend the day and one night with us in Chicago.

All the exhibits we saw were interesting but the whispering gallery was Scary Baby’s highlight.

Scary Baby’s bird’s eye view of downtown Chicago from our hotel room on Michigan Avenue.

Navy Pier

At night it looks very cool…

Lake Koshkonong

We spent one night in Wisconsin at my high school friend Terry’s lake cottage. She owns an antique shop and added all her special decorating touches throughout the cottage.

Scary Baby was excited to learn how to kayak on the calm lake.

Windmills of Indiana

Driving home, I was glad Scary Baby got to see the windmills in the day light. We saw them at night on the way down and we agreed that their red lights blinking in the pitch black dark night is scary! Either way, they still feel like a science fiction movie as you drive towards them. She took these awesome pictures in the moving car.

Lynn’s Paradise Cafe

Finally, on our last morning before heading home, our experience in this Louisville, Kentucky restaurant was a highlight. Even though she did not want to participate in all the funky photo ops, she enjoyed the eclectic restaurant and gift shop as much as I did.

The ugly lamp contest is ingenious marketing. Our personal fav – the toilet lamp on wheels.

Did you go anywhere fun for a summer vacation? I know today is October 1st. Don’t judge.

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Once a Month Blogging

After I hit the 500 blog post milestone, it certainly appears that I’m become a once-a-month blogger. Never my intention but…

Life happens.

I can’t really blog about the trivial stuff of our summer and ignore one of the worst tragedies we all woke up to on Friday last week. Sad, sad stuff and my heart goes out to all those families in Colorado.

We are all fine, fine, fine here.

It seems a little funny to think our summer is busier this year with one 13 year-old at home and the 3 college kids mostly managing their own lives than when we had all 4 kids at home. Feels weird to me anyway.

More to come because I really don’t want to abandon my neglected little blog. Until then, here are some snippets of the Humpfreeze summer memories.

Reminder/Disclaimer: Food pictures follow even though this is not a food blog which is obvious when you look at the pictures.

Even though we’re working hard to stay away from boxed foods and make homemade things as much as we can, I will confess that many convenience foods were used to make the darling twins birthday dessert requests.

I used The Best Chocolate Cake Ever recipe and cheated with a box of Jello chocolate mousse I didn’t even remember buying that I had in the pantry. Homemade no-bake cheesecake filling and homemade whipped cream. We all thought it was one of the best cakes ever!

Rachel’s dessert request took on a life of its own. Recipe inspiration came from this crazy Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie Oreas ‘n Brownie Bars recipe. It was surprisingly edible. Even at 21, who doesn’t appreciate monkey party hats and plates I brought to as well as the princess napkins? It’s a twin thing to pick a few special things for each twin and I picked things that match their personality.

We delivered their cakes after making them cut them so we could bring 2 pieces home for Scary Baby and took them to dinner.

Forgot to take a picture of Rachel’s monstrosity after we cut it.

I bravely cooked again at 4th of July. The summer heat has us avoiding turning on the oven so I opted for crockpot shredded pork BBQ.

I used two recipes from Monica’s blog, The Yummy Life and we all loved the BBQ. I really liked it because even though “they say” the fat from pork roast adds flavor, I don’t like it and don’t like to strain it all off. Picture of the pork is before I added the Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbeque sauce. Here are links to both recipes:

14 spice dry rub mix
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

We also enjoyed the super sweet variation of strawberry shortcake that my friend Leigh Anne had posted. It’s hard for me to say anything is too sweet but the frosting layers on this cake were very sweet! I loved the butter almond cake but would use a lightly sweetened whipped cream with the lemon curd next time. We shared half the cake with neighbors who raved about it.

Berry Almond Butter Cake with Strawberries

It’s rare that all six of us are all in one place at one time with the 3 college kids’ summer work schedules but whenever we can capture any of them it seems to usually involve bribing them with food.

How are you surviving this summer heat?

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Best Job Ever

We have recovered from the grandmas visiting last week but we’re pretty sure that the grandmas have not.

When it occurred to us that since having kids, we have had the grandmothers together 3 times in 23 years, we decided it would be a perfect time to have a family photo shoot.

Did I mention a surprise family photo shoot?

A few of us who shall remain nameless might not like to have our picture taken.

Nothing like a little last minute fun involving trying to coordinate 3 college kids and their busy schedules. Add dressing the top half of eight people and I will say that I hope to not see the inside of the mall for at least 6 months or so.

In spite of the last minute preparations, the weather cooperated and we were able to pull it off.

It had been 12 years since our last professional family photos were taken. I’m so grateful we made the time to do this.

This weekend I spent time learning some fun new things while creating story boards in Photoshop and sent them to Costco for printing.

So excited to see the finished products and send some copies to the grandmas. We are so glad we got to include Granny and Grandma in some of the photos.

Love.

Love.

Love.

My absolute favorite creation ~ these four kids.

I grumble about them and have been sharing stories about our life for over 4 years here on the blog. I probably don’t say it enough…I am so proud of them.

On the very worst day…

being their mom is still the best job I’ve ever had.

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P.S. My email subscription service is not delivering my blog posts consistently. I say this in case you get Typo Tuesday on Wednesday and think I am losing my mind. I write and schedule those in advance and when the email service doesn’t deliver on time, I look more crazy than usual. I don’t think it even delivered last Monday’s little gem on PhilBillPaul’s job suggestion for me.

The Twenties

One lives in the basement.

Two live away from home.

“All three are in college full-time and have part-time jobs.”

My personal one-liner when I start stressing about any one of them or all three at once.

Yet, parenting does not get easier.

In case you haven’t experienced the twenties thus far…

Yes, we enjoy a quieter house.

We miss them but not their messes.

We worry as they go on spring break to the beach.

In a large group.

We’re glad when they come back safely.

But the cycle of worry starts anew…

When one sends this picture via cell phone…

Side note: She was following this vehicle but wasn’t in it.

And the other one comes home to get this…

This part passed way too fast…

Three years ago I told them, “You’re Gonna Miss This”

I don’t think they do yet.

But I do.

Moms, what age do you miss the most?

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Country Music Bucket List

Many of you, some of you, none of you may be happy to know that my country music bucket list now feels complete.

We are a house divided.

You may remember that PhilBillPaul listens to country music because he married me. Attending country music concerts has never been on his bucket list. The Grunter is on his side.

I’ve enjoyed Nashville with the darling twins several times and they got to mark off their bucket list meeting Taylor Swift.

Months and months ago I put a concert date on my calendar.

Only TWELVE (12) concert dates for the whole year. And one was here in lovely Gwinnett County.

I announced it would be my early Valentine’s Day present and I would go by myself if necessary.

Then I forgot until this week.

At 5:00 pm I was searching Craigslist and eBay for last minute tickets to a sold-out show.

The concert started at 7:30 pm.

Living on the edge, that’s me.

On Friday night, I attended that concert and PhilBillPaul was kind enough to accompany me because he’s nice like that.

He was one singer I had never seen live.

Granny told us years ago, “You know he just stands there and sings and plays his guitar.” which made me laugh.

Everyone can’t be Keith Urban.

I might have a few of his songs on my iTunes.

Granny was right.

George Strait stood there and played his guitar and sang for several hours.

It was awesome!

Martina McBride was also amazing as his opening act.

Even if you don’t love country music, go listen to this one and tell me you can open yourself up to a little twang every once in a while.

The Breath You Take

30 years of hits and I’m so glad I finally got to see him live.

Love.

What singer or group is on your bucket list that you haven’t seen yet?

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Superbowl Traditions & Our Weekend

Traditions can change.

Sometimes by choice.

Other times by circumstances.

We’re at that stage at the Humpfreeze house.

We are old enough to be empty nesters.

Yet, after being a family of six, we find ourselves with an only child.

An only child who has three twenties who come and visit.

The Grunter still lives here and commutes to college downtown and works so we don’t see him very much.

On the rare evening when all four of our lovelies have graced us with their presence on the same night, they are thrilled when I squeal for everyone to stand still so I can quickly try to capture a photo of this fleeting moment.


Obviously, we’re past the stage of wearing color-coordinated or matching {gasp} clothes for a photo shoot.

Boy, oh boy, have my standards changed. Note the gorgeous backdrop of our filthy garage.

Look at the cooperation in their faces when I asked that they stand in birth order.

It’s hard to choose which one to frame and hang in the foyer.

Like I said, traditions change.

Superbowl Sunday

Scary Baby’s only child status can make some of our old family traditions a little bit lonely.

The twenties all had places to be, people to see, so we were home with our new only child.

No squirt cheese in a can for Roger Leroy. Everyone didn’t pick their favorite junk food for mom to make.

Instead, we opted for Chili’s chicken nachos and chips and queso.

But we did have our knox blox in team colors.

I’ve been told some traditions can’t be changed.

That’s why I still put a wrinkled, white sheet on the coffee table so Scary Baby could eat on the floor in the family room. Very traditional.

We sent Roger Leroy back up to college with half of the knox blox and toothpicks and pennants.

She rewarded me with this sad little camera phone picture to confirm the darling twins did carry on the tradition.

Really, we’re all okay here. Scary Baby is every bit as much work, if not more, than the first three darlings we have sent into the world.

We hope we will not be too old and tired to enjoy the bored and quiet when it finally comes.

Saturday Night

Going backwards about our lovely weekend with the twenties…

Roger Leroy came home to work on her motorcycle. No comment.

Wizzy came home because she kindly coaches Scary Baby’s basketball team at church.

I continue to forget to take pictures during the games. Bad mother habits are hard to break.

It was fun to sit with Roger Leroy and while she got to be a spectator watching her little sister play and her twin coach the game. They won.

It was a special treat to take the twenties to dinner while Scary Baby spent the night at a friends. After an hour of bickering about what restaurant we would eat at because…

The Grunter doesn’t eat pasta.

Wizzy doesn’t like Mexican.

Roger Leroy will not go more than 5 miles for food.

We ended up in a smoky bar and watched some very interesting people.

We laughed a lot. The food was decent.

We really wanted to stay for the band but we just couldn’t hang in the smoke-filled bar.

It was a wild Saturday night. Not.

PhilBillPaul and I do our best to seize the moments when they are available and will have a meal with their old parents.

Side note: We know it’s because we’re buying.

Superbowl recap:

  • We were all rooting for the Giants so it was a great game.
  • Except for Madonna at halftime. Enough said.
  • I was all ready to vote for Clint Eastwood for President…until I realized his moving words were part of a Chrysler commercial.
  • Still love those monkeys in the careerbuilder.com ad.
  • Second favorite commercial – Jerry Seinfeld for Acura was much better than the vampire party for Audi or the ridiculous Fiat commercial which is why we muted commercials for so many years and the Humpfreeze children only watched PBS

Tradition I miss the most…

Keeping them all in my bubble.

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A Few of My Favorite Things

I’m pretty sure I blinked and December was over.

It was certainly not my intent to blog just one puny time in December.

We’re all fine, fine, fine here in Georgia.

When I don’t blog it does not necessarily mean that bad things are happening at the Humpfreeze house or I have taken extra medication to get through the holidays.

In fact, December was medication-free and it was a very good month! It just went by entirely too fast.

I’d like to tell you it is because I’m busier than the rest of the universe. Especially in December.

But that would start my new year off with a big lie.

Instead, I decided to share a few of my favorite things from our Humpfreeze holidays where all six of us gathered in our house together for almost the whole month and we have all lived to tell about it.

For those of you who might not remember, that means 2 adults, 3 semi-adults (the “twenties” people) and one tween all lived under one roof.

At. The. Same. Time.

We squeezed in the baking frenzy for the teachers and grandmas. PhilBillPaul made 3 kinds of fudge, pecans and pretzels. Then I got busy with bread and cookies. Scary Baby helped wrap and organize her 5 teacher gifts.

Guess we forgot to take pictures of the cute packaging and gift tags this year.

Plus random photo of small Charlie Brown-like blue Christmas tree in Scary Baby bedroom. She loves it.

And one darling twin and a friend (hi Rowe!) helped with the packaging until 2:00 a.m.

Perhaps she helped (for the first time ever) because she wanted to send a giant care package to a soldier friend in Afghanistan.

That’s a pretty good ulterior motive in my book and I appreciated their help!

I traveled at the beginning of the month and when I came home, Scary Baby had done a superb job of trimming the tree that she and PhilBillPaul picked out at Costco from the Marines selling trees there this year.

It’s not Christmas until we take at least a few of the kids to Waffle House. We like to reminisce about the year we drove to Illinois for Christmas and Waffle House was the only place open so we had to eat there 3 times in 24 hours with three toddlers in tow. Super fun!

On Christmas Eve we stuck to our regular traditions…

A special thank you to Mr. Humpfreeze who took it upon himself to get almost everything ready for fondue. I only had to make the breakfast casserole and cheesy potatoes for the next morning.

Never happened before. Very nice. Think it should be a new tradition!

Opening one gift on Christmas Eve

Please take note of how dressed up my darling children get for Christmas Eve. It appears some of them are in pajamas opening pajamas.

They are always *shocked* that the gift is new pajamas. Correction – it is fuzzy sleep pants and t-shirts that don’t match because wearing a matching set of pajamas is very uncool.

We played a few games.

Then another darling twin actually helped me wrap. And announced,

“I’m tired of wrapping.”

To which I replied,

“Imagine that I’ve been doing this all by myself for the 4 of you for 20+ years.”

I liked the help. Another new tradition to add for next year.

Christmas Morning

Bad cell phone picture of sweet daughters keeping warm and sleeping a little more with their daddy while trying to convince Everett to get up.

This almost became our first Christmas where we weren’t all together on Christmas morning because Everett had to work at 7:00 a.m. Luckily, his shift changed at the last minute so he came down in his uniform and opened his gifts.

Our pumpkin has worked on Christmas day for the last six years. Remember to thank those people who go to work so you can see a movie or get gas on Christmas day.

My favorite Christmas gift…

My favorite Christmas gift I gave Scary Baby…

I ordered this print after seeing it many months ago online and being on a wait list for the next printing. I think it should follow her all the way to her college dorm room to remind her how much we love her. 😉

During the holiday break, the darling twins took their darling little sister ice skating. Tiny cell phone picture not available.

PhilBillPaul and I also took Scary Baby and a friend to a movie.

War Horse ~ worth seeing but…the horses are quite large when you are sitting in the SECOND ROW of a very crowded, small theater.

This picture taken with my cell phone really doesn’t do justice to the view. No extra charge for neck strain. Or the bonus 4 year-old who joins your family to watch the movie with you talk to you during the movie. Repeatedly. His family didn’t seem to mind him walking down the row as he hopped from seat to seat.

This future blog topic on movie etiquette will be followed by a discussion on why I’ve become a recluse and no longer engage in public outings in small places and why people bring young children to 2-1/2 hour movies they are not suited for.

New Year’s Eve

Ours was wild.

Or not.

The darling twins went up to North Georgia for their own party. Everett and 3 friends came to hang out after a movie.

We went to the store because I declared “no more cooking!”

Frozen cream puffs for Scary Baby – her personal favorite. Store bought cookies and cupcakes. Leftover candy and fudge. Paper plates and plastic silverware. Frozen pigs in a blanket. Tablecloth? Nah, we were washing the sheet we had used at Christmas. Don’t judge.

Potato chips, dip, cheese, crackers – super fancy.

Scary Baby couldn’t wait to open the sparkling grape juice.

She washed a champagne flute she found that I had purchased at Target years ago. Clearance price tag on it said .62¢

We squeezed in a game of Bananagrams.

And toasted in the new year…

Happy New Year!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and spent it with your favorite people…

More fun stuff to share but first, I have to try to figure out a manageable blog schedule for 2012.

Until then, please do tell how you spent the holidays and what you’re looking forward to in the new year!

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Back From North Carolina

I’d like to tell you we were gone for two weeks without internet since that’s how long it’s been since I’ve blogged.

But that would be a lie.

I guess it took me a week to prepare to go to North Carolina.

Or not.

Mostly, November has flown by in a blur.

Granny flew in from Texas the week before Thanksgiving and we headed to a cabin on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.

Here’s a pictorial from our week in Murphy, North Carolina…

Though not very high up in the mountains, the cabin was off the beaten path and lovely.

We were in a small cabin “neighborhood” of 17 cabins or chalets. Some people refer to them as luxury cabins or homes. I guess this is because some people’s definition of a cabin is a cement floor and an outhouse down the mountain by the creek where you draw some ice cold water to bathe in.

We have personally grown fond of a few more amenities and I’m not too proud to admit that. I’m all about running water, electricity and leather furniture. 😉

We arrived in shifts on different days since the college kids still had classes and two of them had to work. I heard too late that the basement bedroom had the best bed.

The Grunter and I arrived on Sunday and Scary Baby immediately challenged us to a game of pool. She and Granny and PhilBillPaul had already been shopping in town which is where she scored the sock monkey hat that she did not take off during the entire week. (Except to shower – I confirmed this.)

The dog boys were very excited to accompany us on vacation and enjoyed many walks up and down some rolling hills. It was excellent physical therapy for Dudley.

The darling twins arrived next and the dogs are always excited to see them.

The dogs haven’t had this much attention in a very long time.

We also ventured out for some scenic driving and Scary Baby was excited to see wildlife a chicken from our car.

It got more exciting when she squealed, “Are those cows loose in the road up there?”

Yes. The cows were obviously loose as I jumped out to snap photos just like city slickers do when they see cows in the road.

The Grunter said he didn’t want to go on a 4 hour scenic car ride. This is what he and his sister were doing just before the cow sighting.

Luckily, they were not asleep when we drove to Blue Ridge, Georgia in search of this cupcake shop.

Minutes before they closed, we snagged some of their very last cupcakes to bring back to the cabin. Four chocolate lava fudge (one might be missing), one apple caramel and one pecan pie cupcake. The Sweet Shoppe lived up to its name.

Of course we played euchre every single day. PhilBillPaul gets a little obsessed with it.

Sabu was there to help him. Not that he needs it because he is the Euchre King.

Dudley was not left out.

Side note: Notice Wizzy’s cell phone. It was almost a technology-free holiday. NO internet but if they stood in certain places they could still text and sometimes make calls.

Rachel bought a puzzle and introduced Scary Baby to her new obsession which is gluing the puzzle together after they complete it.

All in all, it was a good week away and in spite of some very loud bickering and competitive game playing, I do love when we are all together and I see the college kids becoming semi-adults.

When we are not fighting and talking ugly to one another, we laugh a lot.

I choose to remember the laughing.

Black Friday at Walmart which was really at 10:00 pm on Thursday was another adventure for the memory book. Sorry, no photos and my bruise is almost gone from some really aggressive pillow grabbing for Elizabeth while she scored a king-sized memory foam mattress top for us.

My favorite photo from the week…

Look, she took the sock monkey hat off in this one unstaged photo that PhilBillPaul captured.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving together. Thanks Granny, for enduring the Georgia Humpfreeze clan and spending time with us!

How did you spend your Thanksgiving? I hope you all spent time with the ones you love…

P.S. Should you ever want to explore Murphy, North Carolina, we’ve got the beat on a very affordable cabin and Granny gets a referral so just ask me for the info!

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