Ahhhh, the State Fair.  It's hard to pass up the opportunity to eat horribly good food, ride rides and play games only to spend twenty dollars on a prize that's worth two.
   Nevertheless, it called our names yet again.  Our stomachs hurt from the sugar and grease, but the day was worth it...and we'll eagerly wait until next year when we'll get to do it all over again. 
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     Okay, so last night, I couldn't sleep. 
     Reaching for my laptop, I was happy to see there was the Hallmark Channel's movie of "My Boyfriends' Dogs" I could review.  
     Thinking I would watch a little and maybe drift back to bed, I quickly realized that was a silly notion.  Five minutes into the movie, I was hooked.
     "My Boyfriend's Dog" is a charming journey of a young woman who is trying to find her "Mr. Right" as opposed to "Mr. Right Now".  
      The movie begins as the main character, Bailey, (played by Erika Christensen from “Parenthood”) stumbles into a diner with her three dogs. 
      Soaking wet and wearing a wedding gown, Christensen does an excellent job at pulling you into her story with a lovable character and a best girlfriend type appeal, leading you to root her on to find her fairy tale ending.     
      "My Boyfriends' Dogs" is a Hallmark Channel Original Movie World Premiere, based on the popular fiction novel of the same name, written by Dandi Daley, includes a cast of, Mackall Joyce DeWitt (“Three’s Company”), Teryl Rothery (“Debbie Macomber’s
Cedar Cove”), Emily Holmes (“Snakes on a Plane”), Jeremy Guilbaut (“The L.A. Complex”), Tyron Leitso (“Being Erica”) and Jesse Hutch (“Arrow”) co-star.
      Be sure to catch it tonight, (Saturday), October 18 at
(9 p.m. ET/PT, 8C).   
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     I pushed my grocery cart into the cool air and saw you park your van in front of the store.  You needed to drop a movie off at a Redbox in front of you and I couldn't help but inwardly smile at your messy pony tail, sweat pants and exasperated look.  
     Realizing that you left your toddler in his car seat while you jumped out, you thought you'd only be a second, leaving your car door open with intentions of jumping right back in.  What you didn't plan on though, was how quickly he'd climb out of his seat and pull his door open in the van.  
    Slowing my cart, I quickly surveyed the parking lot as panic struck with an oncoming truck.  Your little one was about to crawl out on his side, with the truck on its way.  The driver would never have a chance to slow down.  In that split second, you turned around to head back.
    That's how fast it was.  That's how quickly it all happened.  I prepared to run and get your son but I didn't need to.  You shot to him before his little feet hit the ground.
    He was fine.  You were fine.  Your look was of pure exasperation and I thought you would start to cry.  I felt your look glaze over me with an expression of, "You have no idea how hard this is."
   I simply smiled back with my cart in tow...and gave a nod of understanding. 
   Then something happened.  An older woman walked towards us with a scowl on her face and a tsk, tsk shake of her head.   
    Her glare was directed directly at you with a look of complete disapproval.  She saw what had happened and wanted to make quite sure that you knew how greatly you were in the wrong.
    It did nothing to support you.  It didn't help the situation in anyway and I watched as you fell a little deeper into your defeat.  
    I'm sure the woman had raised children of her own and did everything right, without a day of despair or wrongdoing.  I'm sorry that she made you feel that way and I want you to know that there is no such thing as a perfect mother.  
    You will make mistakes.  Some will be big, some small.  Some will scare you to death, others will have you laugh until it hurts.  That's called being a parent.
     No matter what, don't let the negative and judgmental people get you down.  They're always going to be there, telling you what you're doing wrong and how you should be better.  Try to focus on the good though. 
     Surround yourself with people who will support you and love you no matter what.
     Even though it's hard to believe, it will get easier.  Just hang in there and get through one day at a time...and try not to let the bad ones get you down.  
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    With the holidays coming right around the corner, traveling and sight seeing will be in full swing.  If you're going somewhere with young children, here are a few simple tips to keep them together with you...safe and sound.
   1. What they wear.  We may look like the cheesiest family, but when we travel or go to places with large crowds, we often dress our kids alike. 
    Most everyone thinks this is for a "cute" factor.  I usually don't take the time to explain, but it's actually not. 
    Not only is it easier to scan and pick out your kids if your mind/eyes are looking for the same thing/color, but it's for another very critical factor as well.  You see, when we went to Disney World one year, we lost our second son.  I mean, completely and utterly lost. 
   There was a panic that hit levels I'd never humanly known before.  We frantically searched for him through tears and gut wrenching fear.  He was only three years old and I nauseously ran around the park, trying to find our little boy.  
   Every person we stopped to ask for help, asked one single question.  "What was he wearing?"  It was in that moment that I realized that if our others were dressed somewhat alike, I could've simply shown them.  It felt like such a waste of time to try and describe his appearance when we should've been combing the park.  
    My husband ended up finding him.  It turned out that Ethan evidently found the train tracks that ran down main street and simply walked away from us in hopes to find the train at the end.
    We've dressed them alike ever since.    
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    2. Identification.  One of the simplest and yet most reassuring things we've learned to do when traveling is to hit the pet store first.  Why you may ask?  
    Someone gave us the great idea of making name tags for each of the kids with our cell phone numbers inscribed.  They're fun for the kids to create with using their first name and our contact information.  
    The name tags are a brilliant concept because they're durable and waterproof.  You simply link the metal ring around the back of their shorts or pants belt loop and they're out of the way of fidgety fingers.  
    If you become separated from your child, someone can call you immediately with his or her location. 
    3.  Role play.  You never want to become separated from your child, but what would happen if you did?  Would he or she know what action to take?  Where to turn?
    A very important thing to do is to teach them what and who to look for.  A person wearing a name badge or a uniform.  A police officer. 
    The goal isn't to scare a child silly with the worst case scenario, but instead give them the tools to use if necessary. 
    4. Pick a spot.  One final rule of thumb is to find an area or landmark to act as a type of home base.  Our kids are older now, but even when we go to high school football games, they know that if we get separated or if they run around, we always meet at a big rock at the stadium's entrance when the game is over.  
    It's good to use an obvious location that's easily visible or located.  
    The ultimate goal isn't to worry or become scared of travel and vacation for you or your family.  In fact, it's just the opposite. 
    With some quick and simple tips and to keeping up with your loved ones, you can breath a little easier with the reassurance of keeping your ducks in a row...and staying far, far away from any train tracks.  :) 
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    We've spent the past week on the high seas.  My parents booked a cruise for our family from Ohio to North Carolina to gather together for fun and memories.  Thanks again Mom and Dad!  You're the BEST!!!  XO
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Pirate Night
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    There's something that seems to happen when a child turns around the age of four or five.  We've come to expect it with the boys. 
     Out of nowhere, their loving, tiny world of Blue's Clues, Franklin and Little Bear, turns into the crime fighting powers of Spider-Man and Ninja Turtles.
     What we didn't know, is that with girls, they evidently become...well...Fabulous. 
      I'm not sure how to feel about this yet.  Our daughter who used to be content with simply "hanging with her brothers", must now accessorize from head to toe.  It was kind of cute at first, but now it's borderline ridiculous.
     Take the other day for instance.  Lauren Elizabeth was rummaging through our bathroom drawers, looking for a headband to match her outfit.  What she found instead, was a special container of glitter dust that we keep for the Tooth Fairy. 
     When the kids loose a tooth, the Tooth Fairy always borrows some of this dust to "kiss" each one of them on the cheek, letting them know she was there.  There's a lot of dust - and even the slightest touch of it - goes a long, looooong way.
    When Lauren found this hidden treasure, it was as though she stumbled upon the land of Pixie Hollow.  She carried the dust with her, promising to keep it safe.
     I knew better.  Telling her to give it back, I warned her that if the top came off in her little hands, it would cover her to a level that would be
irrecoverable.
    "No it won't mommy!  Look!"
    - Poof -
    From the back seat of the car on the way home from football practice, a cloud of fairy dust grew to astronomical proportions.  NASA's radar systems had to kick into generator mode, and probably haven't recovered since.
    The boys began to scream, I steadied the car just to keep it straight, while Lauren squealed with excitement as her world became engulfed in silvery perfection.
    Every square inch of us was covered in sparkles.  Our hair, skin, clothes, the boy's football uniforms, even our shoes.  There's no way to describe how much this powder/dust covered. 
    We made our way to the house and jumped out.  Between the five of us, the garage floor, house floor, and aaaaaall the way up to the bathroom became a trail of Pixie Dust. 
    I tried to scrub the kids as the boys were furious and Lauren smiled from ear to ear.  She wanted to sparkle forever.
    Trying to clean after they went to bed was useless.  It seemed like the more we worked, the more it spread.
     The next day was even worse.  Driving to school resulted in covering the four kids in glitter again.  The boys all but refused to get out of the car as Lauren danced to class a cloud full of sparkly happiness.  I fully expected rainbows and unicorns to pop up around her. 
     Our seven, nine and eleven year old boys were mortified as everything from their backpacks to their shoes had that special touch of pizzazz to go with their day.
     Even I felt the humiliation of sitting through a staff meeting at work.  It's hard to look professional when you sparkle.  Trust me.
     All in all, the glitter has died down somewhat and everyone is happy, minus one particular five year old little girl. 
     It's amazing to see what her world is like.  There's never a dull moment...not for one single day. 
     I can always rest assured that she'll have the most sparkly and fabulous time about her...but now I'll know to run for cover the next time that she does.
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    My Father has it, my Father's Mother had it...and now I have it too.
    The Family Curse that states that for whatever reason, it's not humanly possible to sleep past 6:00 in the morning.  I hate this curse. 
    We used to wonder why my Dad would wake up at the crack of dawn, every. single. day. of. the. week.
    It didn't matter if he had to go to work or was on vacation.  You could always find him wide awake with his cup of coffee at o' dark thirty every morning, no matter what the situation.
    My Grandmother was the same way.  We used to have to put pillows over our heads when we went to visit as she clanged pots and pans around for breakfast...even though it was still dark outside.
    It never made sense to me.  Why would anyone want to wake up that early?  What could possibly be that important?
    Then something happened.  I don't know what it was, but for some horrible reason, I'm finding it harder and harder to sleep past 6:00.  It's awful.  I, who used to be able to roll out of bed at ten in the morning when given the chance, am going stir crazy by 6:30. 
    I don't know how to break this curse.  I've tried to stay up late on a weekend to be able to catch some extra z's on a Saturday morning.  It only makes me tired when I wake up early regardless.
    It's no use.  I'm cursed to wake up at an obnoxious hour for the rest of my life.  My husband and kids could sleep the morning away, but I have no such luck.
    So, if you happen to be up this weekend at 6:00 for absolutely no apparent reason at all...give me a call.  While the rest of the world snoozes away, we can catch up and chat for awhile.  Maybe make some breakfast, have some tea.  
    It would be nice to know that somebody else has the same family curse too.    
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    I'll never forget when I moved from my home in Ohio, to the state of North Carolina.  
   It was February of 1999 and I remember loading the car during a huge winter storm, only to drive to my new apartment, in 60 degree weather. 
    I moved for my first job, and everyone I met looked at me like I was crazy for being in short sleeved shirts and dress pants in the "freezing" air. 
    If only I had a dime for every time someone told me that I'd "catch a cold without a coat". 
    It was around 60 degrees warmer from what I was used to (give or take) and my jaw would drop when I saw people in winter gear with scarves and hats.  I was convinced that southerners must obviously, be pansies. 
    Something began to change though.  I noticed that over the next few years, I too, started to feel a difference. 
    One example happened when our nephew was baptized in December, near Cleveland, Ohio.  We drove the whole day, only to get out of the car and totally lock up where we stood.  
    My brother thought I was kidding when my eyes watered and I could barely speak from the artic blast. 
    (He came outside to greet us wearing a t-shirt and shorts mind you.)  
    It's a strange thing that happens to you when you get used to the south.  Your blood seems to thin and the colder temperature tends to freeze you to the bone.  What once was "flip flop" weather, is now considered to be "winter coat wear".  
    As I write, it's raining and 60 degrees outside.  I'm wearing sweatpants and a sweatshirt...and don't tell anyone, but I actually just turned the heat on in our house. 
    My brother would disown me, and I guess I'd have to say that it is I, who has officially become a pansy. 
    Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go find some fuzzy socks. 
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     With four kids, our house is already crazy enough.  It's usually covered in a wild mess from things you wouldn't believe. 
     I can deal with that.
     For years though, I've wanted to get a dog.  A puppy in fact.  Everyone said, "You've lost your mind.  Getting a puppy takes as much work as having another baby...and it'll RUIN your house!"
    Well, we got one.  She's seven months old now and I wouldn't really compare it to having another baby...but she does fit right in with the insanity of having kids. 
     Take today for instance.  You know how when you have children and it seems like they're being too quiet?  Yep, you get a little nervous. 
     I hadn't heard a peep downstairs, so when I went to check on the dog, this is what I found...
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     Yes, the fun never ends in this house.  I guess the person who said, "Silence is golden" - didn't have have kids - or a dog. 
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     When the fifth grade rolls around in school, the students have the option of joining the choir or starting the band.  Our son decided on band. (And he's awesome.)
     I don't even know if awesome is the right word.  Magical, maybe?  You see, his instrument is the trumpet.  Ahhhh, yes...the trumpet.  That same glorious sound that rings through heaven's gates as choirs of angels sing. 
     Our house has been full of heavenly music since the fifth grade began.  It's so beautiful that I think multitudes could actually be found rolling over in their graves at the pure sound.
    Dogs too.  Dogs can be heard howling incessantly as our little cherub practices each night.  I'm waiting for reports that canines from as far as two towns over, have dug holes in the ground with utter joy, just to stick their heads in.
    We're so happy to have our home filled with such harmony and peace every. single. night.  It's as though we've been given this gift, that we get to enjoy over and over again.
    The best part is - now we don't have to save for that trip we've always wanted to take to Alaska.  We now know what it's like to hear the melody of moose, or whales...or moose getting attacked by whales.  National Geographic hasn't even done a show on that one yet. 
    Yes, we're loving it.  Our son can't get enough and neither can we. 
    Oh, and I almost forgot.  This week he told us that we were supposed to be filling out some sheet or form every week, stating that he's practiced daily.  And ohhhh has he practiced.  Why, even just tonight in the kitchen, the whole time I made dinner, he graced me with a serenade that would make a grown man cry.
    He thinks he's actually getting an F in band, because we haven't filled out these sheets.  Our straight A student, who would freak at anything less, could possibly fail the one thing he's so unnaturally gifted in.  It makes it all just that much more wonderful.  
    We're so proud and we're actually finding it difficult to contain our anticipation for the hours and days and months of never ending music we have to look forward to. 
    I guess you could say, it's our own little piece of paradise.  Every single night of the week. 
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