Monday, December 24, 2012

We Wish You a Merry Christmas

From our family to yours, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


While I'm slightly bummed I don't have a good picture of all 5 of us to include on our card, or even a good recent one of all of the kids together, I'm not stressing. I whipped this one up in Photoshop a couple of weeks ago in no time flat just using what I had, and it's good enough. Boom. Done.

Sunday, December 23, 2012


My Christmas shopping was D.O.N.E as of Thursday, about half of the presents are wrapped, we've baked cookies, and I'm actually sitting on the couch sipping coffee (creamed with eggnog, yes!) and relaxing while the kids watch Rudolph.

{alazycrazylife} {alazycrazylife}

I even painted Lorelai's nails for the first time. Festive sparkles "like a princess" to match my nails. Clearly I'm totally winning at Christmas this year. :)


Someone else who's winning is Lissa, who won the Mailpix giveaway. Congrats and thanks to everyone who entered!

And now I'll leave you with a festive video of Lorelai singing (ish) Jingle Bells. I hope everyone is all (or almost!) ready for the big day. I can't wait!!

Ever since I got sick a few weeks ago with a nasty stomach bug, Lorelai asks me daily if I'm all better. Sweet girl :) And as always, I apologize for the mommy voice behind the camera. She wanted to single Jingle Bells for daddy since he was out of town, but got camera shy as soon as I got my phone out.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

They totally get me

Adam took the boys out shopping for me this weekend and he sent these pictures.


I think they totally get me. I mean, that hat is amazing. So versatile and totally my style, dontcha think? Fingers crossed it ends up under the tree on Christmas morning! ;)

And don't forget to enter my giveaway for a $40 mailpix credit! Only a few entries so far, so you've got a really good chance of winning. :) It ends tomorrow at midnight, so hurry!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

In remembrance

Please consider making a donation in remembrance of the lives lost.

Charlotte Bacon, 2/22/06, female (age 6)
Daniel Barden, 9/25/05, male (age 7)
Olivia Engel, 7/18/06, female (age 6)
Josephine Gay, 12/11/05, female (age 7)
Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 04/04/06, female (age 6)
Dylan Hockley, 03/08/06, male (age 6)
Madeleine F. Hsu, 07/10/06, female (age 6)
Catherine V. Hubbard, 06/08/06, female (age 6)
Chase Kowalski, 10/31/05, male (age 7)
Jesse Lewis, 06/30/06, male (age 6)
James Mattioli, 03/22/06, male (age 6)
Grace McDonnell, 11/04/05, female (age 7)
Emilie Parker, 05/12/06, female (age 6)
Jack Pinto, 05/06/06, male (age 6)
Noah Pozner, 11/20/06, male (age 6)
Caroline Previdi, 09/07/06, female (age 6)
Jessica Rekos, 05/10/06, female (age 6)
Avielle Richman, 10/17/06, female (age 6)
Benjamin Wheeler, 9/12/06, male (age 6)
Allison N. Wyatt, 07/03/06, female (age 6)
Rachel Davino, 7/17/83, female (age 29)
Dawn Hochsprung, 06/28/65, female (age 47)
Anne Marie Murphy, 07/25/60, female (age 52)
Lauren Russeau, 1982, female (age 29)
Mary Sherlach, 02/11/56, female (age 56)
Victoria Soto, 11/04/85, female (age 27)

My heart breaks all over again when I see this list, especially since Caroline Previdi was born on the same day as Logan. Rest in peace, hero teachers and sweet angels.

Friday, December 14, 2012


Columbine. VA Tech. Aurora. The most recent Portland mall shooting, plus WAY too many other horrific, senseless shootings. And now Sandy Hook.

My brain cannot comprehend the kind of madness and hate and I don't know what else that would compel someone to do unspeakable things like this. I can't help but think about what broke this person and turned him into a monster. Was it something he was born with? Something that happened in his childhood? Something that could have been prevented? What makes someone do this???

I don't think we'll ever get enough answers and whatever answers we get will never make it ok. That unknown is scary to me. How do I protect my kids from not only being victims, but from being broken somewhere along the way?

I'm so heartbroken for the parents who lost children just like my own, and I'm mourning the loss of innocent lives and the loss of innocence for all of the other children who had to witness such a terrifying ordeal.

I just pray that my children never have to experience the terror that those children went through. I even hate that my boys heard anything about what happened at all. Explaining it was tough--I don't even know what to tell them, or how much they can or should understand about the situation. I just let them know that even though there are people who do very bad things, there are many more people who do really good things, and we have to always try to be one of those people. To care about others and always know right from wrong. That I was sorry to be crying, but it just means that I care about how other people feel and that's always a good thing.

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. " -Martin Luther King, Jr

So like every other parent who was fortunate enough to tuck their children safely into bed tonight, I hugged them a lot tighter, told them I loved them, and we said a prayer for those whose lives were lost and whose hearts were hurting.

Rest in peace.

I finally have a new calendar {Plus a Mailpix giveaway!!}

I have a confession: I had my 2011 Shutterfly calendar up on my wall for more than half of 2012, turning the page each month, silently cursing myself that I was so lame (but glad I still had the pretty family pictures to look at).

I finally got embarrassed enough to take it down before people came over for Lorelai's birthday party in July (and after my mom got totally confused about a note for a birthday party we went to last year). I swear I had the best of intentions last year to do a new family calendar, but time got away from me, and then Target ran out of their dollar spot calendars...and then I just gave up.

So when Mailpix contacted me and asked if I'd be interested in trying them out, I knew exactly what I wanted to get. You guys, I finally have an updated calendar for 2013 with cute pictures of my cute kids. It's a miracle! :)

{alazycrazylife} mailpix review and giveaway

Because I'm a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to this type of thing, but also very indecisive on which pics to use (I wanted to include all of them!), it took a while for me to get everything just right. They've got lots of different calendar designs to choose from and tons of layout options (which was a blessing and a curse for this indecisive momma!). I even discovered a trick for making custom layout options. If you choose one of the layouts that includes a text box, it's super easy to delete the text box and add a new photo box or two. You can resize and move them around to get the perfect layout.

I loved how quick and easy it was to upload new pictures and drop them into my layout. If I didn't have the right picture already in my album, a simple click, drag and drop later, voila. No need to navigate out of your project just to upload more. And the upload time (for me, at least) was super quick!

You can also link to your Facebook and Instagram photos, which gives you even more photo options. I didn't try linking up with Facebook since I rarely post photos there anymore, but one limitation I noticed with Instagram is that they can only retrieve your 60 most recent photos. This really bummed me out until I realized that it also retrieves the most recent photos you've liked, so all I had to do was sort through my own Instagram photos and like the ones that were older. Sure, if anyone looked at my activity they may have thought I was crazy for liking my own photos, but it worked!

{alazycrazylife} mailpix review and giveaway

I now have some of my fave 5x5 Instagram prints on my kitchen gallery wall, with more I need to find frames and homes for. :) The pictures look great, with the exception of a couple I took with my front camera. Tip: if they're a little grainy on a tiny iPhone screen, they're going to be a lot grainy blown up to 5x5!

{alazycrazylife} mailpix review and giveaway
I only realized the pictures were crooked after I snapped this photo, oops!

I also took the opportunity to put together a photo book of my kids. I've been absolutely negligent in printing out any photos for actual photo albums for the past um...FOUR this was an easy way to get them all compiled. Again, I used my trick for custom layouts so I could include all of the photos I wanted in the 20 pages that were included. And again, it was super easy to drop all of my pictures in place. I really wish there was a way to rearrange the pages as you're compiling the project (if there is a way, I have no idea how to do it), but overall I'm happy with the process and how it turned out.

I've only ever used Shutterfly for calendars and photo books before (pre-Tiny Prints merge, if that matters) so I don't have a lot to compare to Mailpix, but the quality is on par with anything I've gotten from Shutterfly, and I think the upload process is even quicker and easier. And I received my order less than a week after I placed it, woohoo! They've got unlimited storage and lots of options like ornament, keepsake boxes and canvas photos for ways to "turn your images into memories" as they say. Their prices are competitive, and it seems like they've always got great deals floating around. In fact, I might just be taking care of some of my Christmas shopping right now. ;)

The best part is that Mailpix has offered to give away a $40 credit to one of my readers! Just enter via the Rafflecopter widget below. I'll pick a winner next Friday, 12/21. Good luck!

For more information, check out Mailpix:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I was offered free products in exchange for this review, but all opinions are my own. I'd use Mailpix again in a heartbeat!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Ever since I became a mom, Christmas time has become so much more stressful than it ever had been. Before, I just had the usual stress of finding the perfect gift for everyone on my list, finding time to shop, fighting the crowds, etc. And just to be clear, that's the biggest stress for me. But when Aidan was born, the stress somehow morphed and all of a sudden, the pressure was ON to create the perfect, magical Christmas experience, on top of everything else (see also: my last post).

I'd like to say it's gotten better over the years as I've become a more experienced (ha!) mom, but that would be a big, fat lie. I think it's actually gotten more stressful now that I have more kids, all at different ages of understanding about this whole Christmas thing.


But all this stress means that the holidays pass by without me fully enjoying them. It's a race to get to the finish, and at the end, I'm just exhausted and mad that I didn't appreciate the scenery along the way. Short of getting Santa to pull more weight on this whole Christmas thing (seriously, would it kill the guy to haul a few more presents to my house for all of the rest of my loved ones? ☺), I've got to do something to simplify.

Paring down the presents for the kids is as start. But to be honest, this alone will not reduce my holiday stresses because my kids are the easiest to shop for there's still SO many other gifts to get and/or make.

So I've also decided that I'm not ordering and mailing out Christmas cards this year. I didn't get to it last year because I just didn't have time, and while I kind of felt bad about it, it was a huge load off my plate and that was nice. Plus, it saves me money--stamps are expensive! So instead of using the cute Christmas address labels St. Jude sent, I just tucked them away and wrote a them check instead. I'll probably end up photoshopping something for the blog, but that's about it. Sorry family.

And as much as it originally upset me, we've also done away with getting a real tree. No need to carve out time to go pick out a tree, and I can decorate earlier without having to worry that the tree will dry out and become a fire hazard. That's like 3 stresses eliminated right there! (You like how I justify a fake tree to myself, lol!).

I don't know if this is enough, but I hope it's a start to reduce my holiday stresses. Hey, it's better than nothing. And if this weekend was any indication, I think it's working (knock on wood). After I got back from Christmas shopping with the boys, I actually said to Adam that I hardly feel stressed at all right now (and then I had to pick his jaw up off the floor).

The tree went up on Dec 1, teacher gifts are done, cousins presents are almost all done, Adam's presents are bought. Overall, I think I'm about halfway done with shopping, which may be unheard of for me this early in December.

{alazycrazylife} {alazycrazylife}

If I can wrap a present or two every night (which I hate) and find some time this weekend to do even more shopping (and/or crafting), dare I say I might have time to relax before Christmas? We'll see, there's still plenty of time for the ish to hit the fan and my own personal stress monster to rear its ugly head, so I'm not holding my breath. ☺

Things could get cray. Like this silly girl who apparently likes to eat our decorations.

Any other tips for reducing holiday stresses (aside from the obvious spiked eggnog, of course ☺)?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Just four gifts.

As a kid, I remember walking into our living room on Christmas morning and seeing the tree all lit up with a room full of presents, and it was an amazing feeling. Maybe even more amazing than the presents themselves. It was the anticipation that I relished and I truly felt the magic of Christmas.

I really want to make Christmas as magical for my kids as it always was for me, make all of their gift wishes come true but also make sure they understand the true meaning of Christmas and the value of giving.

But something's got to give in that equation because it just doesn't all fit. How can I teach my kids that it's better to give than to receive when I've been unintentionally equating a magical Christmas to filling a room full of gifts for them? I think I need to retrain my brain, and theirs. 

I mean, I WANT to give to them. And I know the grandparents WANT to give to them. I love seeing their faces light up when they see a room full of gifts, and the excitement of opening their presents. That's the magic for me. And for them, because duh, presents.

The haul from last year. Although to be fair, there are presents for cousins/grandparents/etc. under the tree as well. A room that gets filled with presents overnight is magical when you're a kid!

But my kids already have SO much. The toys are overtaking our house and the more they get, the less each gets played with (and the less room we have for more). Don't get me wrong, they'd play with them all if they had the time, but that's not reality. And I hate to see toys go to waste when there are so many other kids out there with barely a fraction of what my kids have.

I don't want Christmas to turn into one big gift grab. If that's the biggest focus, I worry that we'll lose focus on all of the other things that make Christmastime truly special. What I want them to learn is that a magical Christmas doesn't necessarily have to mean more gifts for them, before they start taking it all for granted. Christmas should be just as much about family, traditions, and the excited feeling you get when you see your tree all lit up and decorated, or you bake cookies for Santa, or you pick out a special gift for someone who wouldn't otherwise get anything, and you watch someone smile as they open a gift you picked out especially for them.

I've thought a lot about this recently, and based on some Pinterest inspiration from last year, Adam and I have decided to pare down our gift giving this year in an effort to simplify and focus on enjoying the anticipation and the spirit of the season.

They'll each get just 4 gifts from us: something they want, something they need, something to play and something to read. Santa will also come, but we told the boys we've asked him to take it easy on the gifts this year to make sure there's more to go around for the people who need them. And we'll help Santa out by participating in our local rescue mission's toy/book drive through school. They'll also be very involved in deciding what to get the people on their gift list, now that they're old enough to keep a secret ☺.

We've explained what we are doing this year and why, and I think they're on board. It makes them sad to know that some kids don't get any gifts, and they realize that our house is full of toys. I don't know if that makes them appreciate their toys more, but it certainly does give them perspective. Logan was excited to pick out a book for us to donate, which made me happy to see.

In the meantime, we've already been enjoying the season.

Decorating our tree, listening to Christmas music, finding Jack the Elf every day, and shopping for the cousins and Lorelai (she stayed home to nap while I took Aidan and Logan out this weekend).

Now if only I could find the time to go shopping for everyone *else* on my list, including the boys...

So tell me: How does everyone else achieve balance? Am I crazy for worrying about this now while they're still young and believe in Santa?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

How do you reason with a crazy person?

I don't even know how to start this post, other than to say that Logan did it again. He went absolutely crazy and I had no idea what to do. I'm an emotional wreck right now and completely questioning my abilities as a parent. (Bear with me on the rambling, I'm hoping I'll feel better if I write this out...)

Yesterday morning, Adam left early to go out of town again so I was on daycare and bus duty. Not much changes with our routine, except the boys have to leave the house about 15 minutes earlier than they do when Adam takes them to the bus, but they're usually ready anyway. Unfortunately, we didn't have any pop tarts, and apparently that was the only thing Logan was willing to eat, so he freaked out. Refused to do anything I asked (it's a miracle he even got into the van with me), including getting on the bus. He was refusing to go to school, saying over and over that he hates school and won't go.

I literally had to drag him onto the bus and block the door so he couldn't run out. His bus driver (a total saint!) ended up parking the bus in the middle of the road so he could get out and physically pick Logan up kicking and screaming to wrestle him (with my permission) into his seat which took a great bit of effort, apparently with some help on Aidan's part to keep him in the seat. All the while, I'm in hysterics on the side of the road watching helpless, as cars are looking on waiting to pass.

I was mortified and sick to my stomach with fear, sadness and helplessness. Fear that Logan would try to run off the bus into traffic, hurt someone or get suspended. Sadness that my sweet boy gets like this. Helplessness over the whole situation and the fact that I have NO idea what to do when he gets like this, or how to snap him out of it. There's no reasoning with him when he gets like this. No amount of bargaining, bribing, punishing, guilt or pleading I do has any effect.

The good news is that he made it to school safe and sound, and after some serious convincing to get him off the bus and into the building, had a decent day at school and didn't get suspended. I was hoping he would be forced to go to the principal's office and that would scare him straight, but all he got was a friendly chat with the vice principal in the hall to make sure he was ok.

I, on the other hand, pretty much cried all day (left work early and all). Why does he do this? Why does it seem to only happen with me? What have I done wrong? What do people think of me? What does Logan think of me??

We did have a good conversation when he got home about how what he did was wrong, and he seemed sorry and seemed to get it. I explained that his actions have consequences and he has to be punished (he's grounded for the rest of the week, and on technology restriction through the weekend) so he knows it's wrong and won't want to do it again. He said he doesn't like seeing me cry and only says he doesn't like school when he gets upset like that. But he said he doesn't know why he gets so upset like that. And he clearly doesn't know how to calm himself down, so I have no confidence that my calm chat with him will have any impact on future behavior.

As much as it hurts me to admit, I'm thinking it might be time to call in some professional help again. I need someone to tell me what to do to prevent this, or how to snap him out of his insanity, because whatever I'm doing just isn't working. He doesn't respect my authority--I have no control over my own child. That's terrible. I'm scared for his future and my sanity.

I said it before, I'll say it again: I just want my sweet Logan back. I can't go through this again.


And even though I fear being judged--both me and Logan--maybe by putting this out there, someone will have some advice for me, or at least tell me I'm not alone. Maybe?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Jack is back

Our elf of the shelf, Jack, came back to visit the weekend after Thanksgiving. He's a very polite and observant elf, not mischievous like some of the elves out there who make messes. I guess we lucked out, because there's no way I want to clean up an elf's mess when I already have 3 kids to clean up after! :) He just moves around from place to place every day and stays out of trouble. Simple enough.

His favorite place to hang out when he first comes to visit is Aunt Sarah's painting, in plain view as soon as the kids come out of their rooms in the morning.


Lorelai saw him first this year, and I'm so mad that I didn't get her amazing reaction on video. She was SO excited. She couldn't wait to tell the boys, and they were happy to tell her all about Jack since was too young last year to remember. She kept squatting down and pointing at him, saying "That man not scare me. He not scare me." And when the boys said we weren't allowed to touch him, she said "That man not touch me." It was hilarious.

I did catch her on video when she found him on day 2. The boys had no luck finding him, but Lorelai found him pretty much right away. What I missed on video is her asking her doll where Jack was. This was only a fraction of how excited she was when she first saw him.

They've had so much fun looking for him every day. And Lorelai loves to talk to him. One night during story time, she got off my lap 3 times to tell Jack goodnight and love you. Super cute.


Now if I could just get the boys to stop fighting over who finds him first. Logan has been sneaking out of bed in the mornings to look for him before Aidan gets up, and then bragging that he found Jack first. Then when Lorelai finds him, she tells the boys she found him first. Oy.

Monday, December 3, 2012

30 days of thankful

Although I may not specifically say it every day, I'm very thankful for the big things in my life like my family, my overall good health, the fact that I have a good job, a nice house, reliable vehicles, etc. I really try to not take any of that for granted.

But lately I've really been trying to make a conscientious effort to really appreciate the little things that I'm thankful for. It's something I've been working on with the boys--having a positive attitude and being grateful for all that we've been blessed with. We truly have so much and I want to take the time to recognize that. All of these little things add up to an overall positive outlook on life, which is just so important.

So in honor of the month of Thanksgiving, we did a couple things to help us focus on what we're thankful for. I've wanted to do it for a couple of year, and this year I finally created a "Thankful jar" for all of us to write something we're thankful for each day.


Unfortunately I wasn't really diligent about doing it every day (it got lost in the shuffle of our post-dinner/homework/bedtime routine) but the boys wrote down some great things. Logan is thankful for his family, animals, food, life, trees, land, life, eating dinner, and the movies. Aidan is thankful for his family, many toys, having a nice substitute at school, education, recess, his house, chatting with mommy, and the movies. These were all unprompted. I'm proud! Hopefully Lorelai will be able to participate next year.

I also participated in #30daysofthankful on Instagram, taking a picture of something I was thankful for on each day of the month. (If you follow me, this is old news. If you don't follow me, you should. Ha! I'm alazycrazylife.)

Day 1: Thankful for lots of Halloween candy!
Day 2: Thankful for the right to vote and the fact that early voting made it so easy and quick.
Day 3: Thankful for family game night with my boys.

Day 4: Thankful for this silly little girl and how well she plays with the boys (and how well they share their toys with her).
Day 5/6: (oops, missed a day) Doubly thankful for Adam, who stayed home with the boys since school was out, made us dinner AND did the dishes, and still had time to play with the kids. #myhubbyisawesome

Day 7: Thankful for my morning cup(s) of coffee after staying up too late watching election coverage.
Day 7 part deux: Thankful that a bath changed Lorelai's mood after some horrible tantrums. (This most definitely deserved the extra thanks!)
Day 8: Thankful I took a day off work for some me-time to shop.

 Day 9: Thankful Adam was finally back in town!
Day 10: Thankful for bike-riding weather and a cul-de-sac to ride in.
Day 11: Thankful for a family breakfast outing with Adam, Lorelai and these handsome boys

Day 12: Thankful for bath time bubbles with my sweet girl.
Day 13: Thankful to be curled up on the couch relaxing after a really long day at work. Also thankful for my sister on her birthday. Cheers!
Day 14: Thankful for story time with my boys.

Day 15: Thankful for my 3 sweeties and their spontaneous group hugs because they love each other so much. That morning, Lorelai got one foot out the door and than ran back inside to kiss her boys goodbye.
Day 16: Thankful that Logan can read to me now. He's gotten so good lately!
Day 17: Thankful for a fun lunch and shopping outing with my family. (Also thankful that Adam was able to go back to a different Bath and Body Works that week so they could refund they amount they overcharged us because the lady had no idea how to properly ring up our items with coupons.)

Day 18: Thankful for Target and the Starbucks in there. One stop shopping for the win. ☺
Day 19: Thankful for Zumba and friends to go with.
Day 20: Thankful for these flowers Aidan brought me from his class Thanksgiving lunch. Also very thankful that my mom could go to his lunch since both Adam and I were stuck in meetings.

Day 21: Thankful for paid time off to spend quality time with these handsome boys.
Day 22: Thankful for good food and family, especially that my family and Adam's family can celebrate Thanksgiving all together.
Day 23: Thankful that Lorelai had a long nap and started to feel better after being up several times the night before cough-puking.

Day 24: We got a little stir-crazy in the house, so I was thankful for a trip to Chili's and then Sweet Frog with my loves.
Day 25: Thankful for silly moments like this (Lorelai insisted the mustache shold go on her chin) in a day filled with way too many toddler tantrums.
Day 26: Thankful for my crock pot and the yummy chicken tortilla soup that took a couple minutes of prep time and made my house smell amazing.

Day 27: Thankful for the exercise channel because without it, my already limited exercise regimen would be virtually nonexistent.
Day 28: So thankful that as soon as Adam heard I was sick (stomach bug), he ditched his work meeting and hopped on the earliest flight out of ATL so he could be home with me. I wasn't the only one glad to see him, either. ☺
Day 29 (not pictured, bummer): Thankful that Aidan and Logan helped me prep dinner (they made the toast) and get it on the table.
Day 30: Thankful for my work's quarterly team movie outing. We saw Skyfall and I thought it was good!

There's so SO much more I could include on a list of things I'm thankful for in my life--this is just a start. Being overwhelmed with gratitude is an amazing feeling. ☺