Living with One Teenager vs. Three

It wasn’t so long ago that we had three teenagers in our house.

When I started this blog over 5 years ago, I had a 17 year-old son and the 15 year-old darling twin daughters. And a whole lot of blog material.

I entered the blogging world with no expectations other than to share our real life stories and to write as my personal therapy. I saw how many “mommy blogs” were out there and the number has probably tripled since I started. I also watched as a number of these bloggers stopped blogging as their children reached middle school. Stories became less funny and their kids’ privacy was more important than their blog readership.

Because my three teens were in high school when I started blogging, I kept it simple by letting the teenagers preview any blog post about them. We’re all pretty transparent here at the Humpfreeze abode so for the most part they allowed me to share freely.

You, my blog readers, let me know how much you appreciated a glimpse into our real life and the life lessons we racked up on a weekly basis. The connections to other parents, friends and family is one of the benefits of blogging our stories. Finding the funny is really the gift. Laughing has kept me from another breakdown.

Still, the blog is the sanitized version of our life. I’m saving the more vivid details for the book.

Round 1 with three teenagers flew by with our fair share of struggles. Nothing huge. No giant crisis. Just the mental exhaustion that comes with trying to keep up in a battle of wits while living with the darlings who know they are much smarter than their nerdy, ridiculous parents.

You might think the wisdom of our experience would make round 2 with one teenager a breeze.

You would be wrong.

Our one teenager celebrated the beginning of her 14th year last Monday.

Happy Birthday Scary Baby

2013-04 Scary Baby 14

She is beautiful and we love her dearly.

She continues to test our parenting skills on every level.

The stories are still here. Most of them in my head. I’m trying to sanitize a few so I can still be authentic without embarrassing her.

Or I could review the remaining episodes of Dancing With The Stars.

Stay tuned.

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Mother-Daughter Boot Haul

This post requested by Scary Baby.

Well really, she wanted to post a YouTube video.

Not happening but I told her I would blog about it.

I know I would feel guilty about my boot obsession and passing it on to my youngest, if it weren’t for my bargain shopping obsession.

So glad she’s excited enough to want to share the bargains on the blog.

Somehow she ended up with 4 pairs of boots and 2 pairs of flats when I only got 3 pairs of boots.

Scary Baby boot shoe haul

Okay, maybe that’s because my boots were a little pricier than her $8.00 and $10.00 pairs. And her feet are still growing so she really did need new shoes. I might have told her she is not allowed to ask for a pair of new shoes for at least one year and her feet better stop growing.

lucky and lauren boots

Nonetheless, it was our best boot haul ever!

Yes, bargain shopping does take extra time and we did hunt down the best buys at 3 different stores. Keep in mind that while I’m admitting to boot obsession, I really do not enjoy shopping and strategically plan my shopping around several best times of the year for when incredible markdowns are happening. This time in February after President’s day weekend is one of those times.

PhilBillPaul accompanied us on Friday night but begged off for our Saturday expedition. He still likes to ask what I do with all the money I “save”.

Did I mention he got 2 new Geoffrey Beene sweaters that were $65.00 each for $8.59 when I did a little online shopping last weekend?

See, I bargain shop for everybody!

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the extraordinary service I received from the shoe sales associate, Susan at Belk in Gainesville, Georgia. She literally brought out every pair of leather boots in my size that she could find while I tried them all on right up until closing time.

belk boot receipt
Receipt #1 on right: Susan was also quick to point out that I saved $668.86 while spending just $199.17 for 5 pairs. That translates to less than the retail price of one pair of my boots. Yee haw! You gotta love a fellow shoe enthusiast who backs me up to PhilBillPaul on our massive savings. Receipt #2 on left was from another store on Saturday.

Do you shop the clearance racks or do you shop full retail because bargain shopping takes too much time?

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This is NOT a Christmas Tree Decorating Tutorial

While I have control issues over some many things, decorating for Christmas is not one of them.

For years I let Roger Leroy be in charge of holiday decor. She loved to go into the attic and bring all the boxes down. She was a master at assembling the artificial tree we had for at least a decade. The Grunter and Wizzy might hang an ornament or two but they quickly lost interest. Roger Leroy went above and beyond what I would have done.

She conned her dad into multiple trips to the store for more lights and would string lights on the front porch and in her room and anywhere she could think of. I was grateful for all her help and truly appreciated all her hard work.

Then she got older and left for college.

Our decorating elf had abandoned us.

PhilBillPaul and I do not work well together in tasks like decorating.

Thankfully, we got 2 out of 4 kids who find joy in decorating.

Scary Baby has become our new decorating elf!

Dad and Granny picked up a gorgeous tree at Costco on Thanksgiving weekend and Scary Baby couldn’t wait to get all the boxes down and start trimming the tree.

She really did a beautiful job.

2012 Christmas tree

Every day I came downstairs and said things like “This year’s tree just makes me happy!” and “I think this is the best live tree yet!”

PhilBillPaul asked her to water it every day. And every night he checked the tree and watered it because she forgot. It was the least we could do since she did all the hard work.

Now cut to two weekends later and it’s our annual baking frenzy. To be documented next week.

It is Sunday afternoon. I’m baking in the kitchen. PhilBillPaul is watching football and folding clothes in the family room. We both hear a very loud noise.

Me: “What was that?”

PBP: “Well I’ll be ________! Come in here”

tree toppled 5

A fallen tree with ornaments and lights creates an enormous mess.

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Tree and stand had toppled over. Water everywhere. Ornaments. Strands of lights. Tree needles.

Roger Leroy was home that Sunday. She had taken Scary Baby to the mall when said tree fell over.

Roger Leroy had also arrived with a tiny dog she was “dog sitting” for her darling twin sister. To be documented next week.

zoey 1

Since she left the dog with us, PhilBillPaul thought it would be funny if I sent her a text with photo showing our mess…

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Me: “Need help here”

RL: “Um how did that happen”

Me: “Damn dog. Please hurry up”

RL:”That 3 lb dog knocked over an entire tree?”

ME: “She’s very naughty and no longer welcomed here”

RL: “Whatever I don’t believe you”

Luckily for us, The Grunter was home and helped PhilBillPaul get the tree upright and swept up the needles and wiped up the water all with a joyful Christmas spirit. Not.

I was thankful that Scary Baby had decided not to put all the kids’ special ornaments on the tree this year. So many would have broken.

On Monday morning, I could only laugh when I turned on my computer to read my good friend Leigh Anne’s blog as she shared her Christmas tree decorating tutorial.

how-to-decorate-a-christmas-tree-2

Photo used with permission

That is her actual tree in her house. Not a store display.

Are you kidding me? One person is not suppose to be good at everything.

Another example of polar opposites being friends. One tree puts me over the edge and she decorates up to FIVE. And has themed vignettes throughout her house on every open surface.

I shared her blog post with Scary Baby. She was less than impressed with any tips.

The joy of decorating the Christmas tree comes but once a year…

Not twice as evidenced by my cranky decorating elf who was less than thrilled with my request that she re-trim the tree.

Alas, the tree is now re-trimmed.

Not because our precious decorating elves worked together. They were elves with bad attitudes. Roger Leroy did the lights and left. It took Scary Baby a week but she finally put all the ornaments back on. There may have been a few threats.

Keepsake Decorations

We also found some extra special decorations while doing some attic cleaning.

I believe I made this lovely candle holder in the 2nd grade. When my mom downsized and moved to a condo, she kindly gave us some of our beautiful keepsakes. It’s hard to believe that she didn’t want to hang on to this and proudly display it in her living room. Thanks mom.

candle craft 1

Perhaps the attic was not the best place to store this gem. Or at least the green candle? that is now melted and stuck in the hair spray lid.

candle craft 2

Fond memories of that candle holder that sits in a gold foil wrapped peanut butter lid. I clearly remember the excitement of making it in elementary school. I think you can see I was bitten by the crafting bug very early.

What’s your favorite Christmas decoration? How many trees do you have?

Please say one…

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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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Food Trip Across the Midwest

Scary Baby and I took a semi-spontaneous eight day road trip at the end of July. I drove (and she rode) over 2,000 miles.

Driving from one city to the next anticipating our next meal was the only way we survived the car trip. Meals that we ate from recommendations on urbanspoon.com and roadfood.com were almost always the best. A little computer research was worth the time.

Besides eating, we attempted to mix in some education. So much to learn on a car trip together…

Map reading, navigation skills, budgeting, history, communication and conflict resolution were our main topics throughout the trip.

Here are some food highlights of our trip to the great Midwest.

Pancake Pantry – Nashville, TN

One of our most favorite meals. And not just because we drove around in circles in Nashville for 40 minutes and it was way past lunch time. Scary Baby talked about her silver dollar pancakes for days. Said they “might” be better than the Humpfreeze pancakes which means they have to be fabulous.

Adding pecans to pancakes wherever you go is highly recommended. You might not be able to see it with our stellar photography skills but Pancake Pantry puts pecans in the syrup!

I had to send my eggs back – over medium eggs seem to be difficult to get right depending on where you eat. I love them and that means a runny yolk with a solid white. I can’t do jiggly, runny whites. Eww. In spite of that mistake which was corrected, the food is really delish.

Gigi’s Cupcakes – Nashville, TN

Love their packaging.

They looked great in the bakery case. Though they didn’t travel well in the backseat.

White Midnight Magic and Raspberry Buckle were our picks. Scary Baby only ate half of hers. Claims it would have been better the day of purchase. Unfortunately we ate them the next morning in our hotel room. Cupcakes for breakfast are absolutely acceptable on road trips!

Garrett’s Popcorn – Chicago, IL

Scary Baby’s personal food highlight. No line, right downtown on a 100 degree day. Warm popcorn. She picked cheese and I picked caramel with cashews. How did we forget to take pictures of the popcorn?

We walked 2 more blocks to a 7-Eleven where Scary Baby had her first Slurpee®. I have to confess the banana piña colada Slurpee I felt compelled to order because I really the combo sounded great was disgusting. OMG – I didn’t realize it was made with banana soda so it was fizzy. Gross. Thankfully, I bought a back-up Coke.

Harry Caray’s Tavern at Navy Pier – Chicago, IL

Fun to walk through Navy Pier at night when it had cooled down to a breezy 90 degrees. Bonus fun was taking Scary Baby on her first taxi ride from our hotel downtown. Harry Caray’s Tavern was very marginal. I would have been happier with a Chicago hot dog. I forgot until after we got home that I really wanted to go to Superdawg but alas, we were on the wrong side of town.

Perkins Restaurant & Bakery – Janesville, WI

BONUS LESSON: Scary Baby now knows where the newly announced Republican Vice Presidential candidate is from.

Yes, it’s a chain but not in Georgia. They have perfected breakfast and I know because I had it twice. Egg perfection on both visits but different locations! Brioche french toast anyone?

And they have pie.

Scary Baby is still talking about the chicken noodle soup and the pie.

Johnny Pamcakes – Rockford, IL

A brief history lesson for Scary Baby meant I had to introduce her to swedish pancakes. It’s a Rockford specialty that I love. My “Swedish Connection” breakfast was delicious. Are you getting the idea that I really love breakfast for lunch? 🙂

Winner of Best Breakfast Meal on Entire Trip.

In addition to delicious food cooked exactly the way we ordered it, this family-owned restaurant did everything right. From the hostess to the waitress and the chef and kitchen staff, it was a well-oiled machine where everyone was friendly and they all helped each other on a very busy Sunday afternoon.

Even if Scary Baby was less than impressed with the pancakes and said “they’re like crepes and I really don’t like those that much either.” She order a bagel with cream cheese and one swedish pancake. She can’t be related to me.

Culver’s – multiple locations in several states.

Maybe, just maybe we had Culver’s custard more than once three times. But who counts when you’re on vacation and it’s one of the hottest summers of our lifetime.

Lynn’s Paradise Cafe – Louisville, KY

A personal recommendation from my friend Laura inspired us to visit this fun and funny restaurant. We have rarely driven through Louisville at meal time in all our years of traveling to visit family so this was a treat on our last day on our way home. My breakfast was good not great – I had to send the eggs back. Yes, it would be easier to order scrambled as PhilBillPaul has kindly pointed out several times. But I really like over medium eggs and think restaurants should know how to cook them correctly.

The highlight was an order of Bourbon Ball French Toast made with cinnamon swirl bread, bourbon vanilla sauce, chocolate sauce, pecans, strawberries and bourbon whipped cream that was featured on Food Network’s “Throwdown with Bobby Flay“.

Order tip: I asked if they did a 1/2 order because I knew after a full breakfast, I couldn’t eat a whole order. It wasn’t on the menu but the waitress said yes and brought the perfect-sized 1/2 order. YUM!

Scary Baby had scrumptious macaroni and cheese.

Click here for Lynn’s Paradise Cafe macaroni and cheese recipe on their website

I made it for dinner last night.

Pizza, Wisconsin cheese curds and a few other meals and we rolled ourselves home.

Later this week, I’ll show you what else we did on our trip and how much weight I gained as we ate our way through the Midwest.

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Our Last Tween

We enjoyed 22 months of teenage-free living and then, darn it, if that Scary Baby didn’t go and turn 13 and put us back in that parenting mode. Again.

Though really, her tween years counted double since she had three teen siblings for those years.

The tween and teen years really put the toddler years to shame. Oh how I yearn for those cute, funny days.

Alas, we can’t turn back time and here we are with a teenager once again.

We continue to keep birthdays pretty low key around here at the Humpfreeze house and have never caved to the peer pressure of extravagant, expensive parties and typically opt for family celebrations.

After her birthday weekend was spent with the grandmothers, she patiently waited two weeks to have a few friends over for dinner and a movie at home.

She picked the menu.

Fruit kabob appetizers. She was inspired to make kabobs when she found the funky skewers at a garage sale the weekend before for the bargain price of 50¢.

Chinese carryout – sesame chicken and fried rice.

And a birthday cake.

Selected by her via the Publix website.

Ebony & Ivory cake.

The chocolate pudding was suspiciously missing between the layers as described on their website but the cake was otherwise good.

Side note: I’d personally recommend the Chocolate Ganache Supreme instead. I also have a few customer service tips for Publix about the bakery clerk taking the cake order over the phone. Very surprised to get anything less than stellar customer service from Publix. (Especially since my 3 darling Twenties were forced to work there by their mean parents so they could learn the art of stellar customer service.)

Now we look forward to the next five years with our new teenager. She has so much potential and we can only hope her elderly senior citizen parents can live through it.

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College Care Packages

I’m a big believer in giving gifts that are memorable and that I can add a personal touch to whenever possible.

This leads to some gift procrastination because I’m sometimes a little slow coming up with an idea.

Way back in May, I was stuck on giving several high school graduation gifts that would be personal even though I know that most graduates love good old-fashioned cash or the more hip and cool gift cards.

Easy gifts that are very appreciated from my own experience of having 3 high school graduates who were very grateful!

Finally, I came up with what I thought was a great idea for gifts.

In August.

Not very timely for the May and June graduates.

Until I realized that the gift recipients were going to college and it would be way more fun to mail their graduation gifts as care packages.

So in September I ordered 3 copies of this favorite book.

And then I got busy and started baking. I made 3 different kinds of quick bread (no yeast).

I might have made more than 3 loaves. Good time to freeze bread. You know, I like to bake in batches. Great little gifts any time!

I did this baking over two weekends not all at once.

I made 3 different kinds of cookies. Chocolate Chip were the obvious first choice.

Next I wanted to try these Triple Threat Chocolate Fudge Peanut Butter Cookies and they did not disappoint.

Who wouldn’t love a box filled with 3 dozen cookies?


The chocolate chip cookies were made the weekend before so they were frozen in little dollar store foil containers. I decided the 3rd kind should be chocolate-free so I made Lemon Drops

And 3 adorable mini loaves of bread?

Pumpkin Bread, Banana Bread & Poppy Seed Bread

To share or hoard as I told the new college freshmen in the note I sent in each box.

I’ve heard via texting, phone and a lovely handwritten note that they enjoyed all the goodies.

Send a college kid a care package if you can. Any time of year, for no special occasion, just because you’re thinking of them. In fact, I think you can send anybody a care package and they’ll love it!

Next week I’ll share our new favorite cookies that are the best I’ve made in YEARS!

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Twenty is the New Twelve

Guess who turned twenty on Saturday?

Happy 20th Birthday to the darling twins!

Holy cow! This means I do not have teenagers living in my house for the first time in 8 years. Until next April when Scary Baby turns 13 and the cycle begins again. Yikes.

I will not lie and say I will miss the teen years. I will tell the truth and confess that I absolutely miss this stage…

Zero to two is my favorite time. They were such adorable tiny twins.

Then they get big and talk back and think we’re stupid.

Side note: Twenty feels like the new twelve this summer as we go ’round and ’round about all our ridiculous rules. But that’s a post for another day.

Roger Leroy requested a chocolate chip fruit pizza for her birthday “cake.”

Wizzy requested a chocolate cake.

“Hot” tip regarding frosting = it melts if cake is still warm.

They’ve had to share one cake for so many years that I decided I could accommodate both requests. The bonus was that we had dessert three nights in a row.

They are such opposites in so many ways. Dinner requests were Mexican and Italian. We took them for Mexican on Friday night and Wizzy had an Italian dinner with her dad the next night.

Neither requested the singing, the sopapillas or the…

…sombreros.

Forced cell phone picture. Can you tell?

We thought Wizzy’s hat made her look like a Canadian Mountie. We blamed her big head. She insisted it was because of her bun.

Wizzy also tried to escape from our booth when she realized PhilBillPaul had discreetly arranged for the wait staff to come out and sing for the darling twins. We pinned her in and about seven staff members delivered a rousing performance.

They really didn’t seem to appreciate when their dad and I came out of the restaurant wearing the bonus sombreros they got to keep.

And PhilBillPaul wore one all the way home.

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Home Sweet Home

Since their college exams which they finished in the last week of April, the darling twins have been to drill, camping, a Braves game, several movies and the beach.

This was all in May.

We’ve seen them a couple of times.

There was even one Friday night which happened to be somewhat significant in our lives where we all went out to a Mexican restaurant together for dinner.

ALL. SIX. OF. US.

Crazy, I know.

Remember how I told you last week what Stress #1 was?

The darling twins being home (sort of) is…

Stress #2

That may not sound very loving. Please allow me to explain.

The week of exams Roger Leroy drove home with most of their belongings and dropped them off in the garage and foyer. She also arrived with a little surprise.

Make that two little surprises.

Meet Clarence and Francis

We were not amused.

Scary Baby fell in love with them.

She has taken them on walks. Ridden them around in a basket on her bicycle. Let them wade in the creek. Introduced them to neighbors.

We are still not amused.

Roger Leroy promptly headed back to campus to go load her car with friends and go camping. You know, the end of the semester before summer starts we’ve been with our friends for nine months we don’t want it to end dreading the days of living with our parents who will ask us annoying questions like where are you going and expect us to be home by their stupid curfew even though we get to live for free in their home because we don’t have enough money to live anywhere else please don’t make us have a summer job annual camping trip.

After the camping trip, Wizzy chose to stay with a friend for two weeks deciding if she wanted to come home and live by our rules.

Then she came home on a Friday night and promptly went to a Braves game, took Scary Baby fishing, met a friend for lunch and ended her first 48 hours at home by joining friends for a movie and quickly preparing for her next spontaneous trip.

During all this running around, Scary Baby has been appointed chief duck caretaker. This is not an honor.

Scary Baby has had to administer first aid to one of the duck’s feet. She used all of the hydrogen peroxide and antibiotic ointment. You can thank me now for no pictures of that.

Roger Leroy was home long enough to build an absurd duck pen in the backyard since they had outgrown their cat carrier in about 2 weeks flat. Then she headed out for a 5 night spontaneous trip to the beach with her darling twin and 4 other girls.

Really, the ducks were taken from their mother and then abandoned in our backyard by their new owners. I’ve yet to see Wizzy do anything with the ducks.

Imagine how much the wiener dogs love the ducks.

“Tasty treats” is what I think they are saying in their heads.

Lots of barking and quacking in our backyard.

Roger Leroy also spent a few hours building a fire pit and then took Scary Baby to WalMart to buy a hammock, a chair and a couple of tiki torches so they can chill out while she strums her guitar and Wizzy…reads?!

Photo taken in planning stages before firepit and hammock purchase.

She’s also run an extension cord so she can get back to nature with her electronic devices. We find her out there in her hammock with her iPad and cell phone.

Ahh…those good ole’ days of summer.

The ducks are being relocated to a friend’s pond THIS WEEK.

They are now threatening to buy peacock eggs on eBay.

Save me.

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Pot Roast & Bananagrams

Calm and quiet weekend here.

My favorite kind.

One darling daughter came home for one night.

We watched The Final Four basketball games together.

She took her baby sister to a movie.

And bought her new glasses. Her second pair of these fashion accessory only glasses.

She requested her favorite home cooked meal.

Pot roast, Granny’s noodles, mashed potatoes, corn and rolls.

Gosh, could I cram one more starch in to that meal?

We sent her home with the leftovers so her darling twin sister and friends could indulge in a homecooked meal this week.

Minus the pleasure of our company means it won’t be as good but I hope they’ll enjoy it. 😉

I even included a dozen chocolate chip caramel cookies I baked on Saturday.

After dinner, we played a quick round of Bananagrams.

Have you played this fun game yet?

Back in February when Scary Baby and I played eleven rounds of Boggle and she said we were going to continue to play until she beat me, I had to tell her that was impossible.

When I shared Scary Baby’s relentless quest for a Boggle victory, my friend Ann said she had a great word game she would send us promising as much fun or more for the whole family.

We love it!

Not bragging, but no one has beat me at this one either.

Then we watched a little of the Country Music Awards while the boys headed to a movie together.

So nice to have you all to ourselves Wizzy!

We missed you Roger Leroy.

How was your weekend?

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