Sunday, December 27, 2009

Merry Christmas

Nothing much to say but here's a few snapshots of Christmas.

Me with Greta and my teeny new niece, Meredith.

Wyatt looking old enough to get move out and take a wife.

Christmas 2009 will officially be recorded as the Holiday of the Legos.

Caroline with my niece Joanna. Caroline truly believes Joanna is the coolest person on the face of the planet.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

It's Christmas. . . .We're All Miserable

I wanted to write a wonderful and insightful post about the joy of the holidays and family and friends and peace and love and blah blah blah. It kept sounding exactly wrong. This post is from last Christmas and it bears repeating. So without further ado I give you my thoughts on Christmas. . .

I used to love Christmas. I loved it so much that fifteen years ago I got married at Christmas! I loved the lights and the music and the hustle and bustle and the food and the drink and the food and the drink and the fa la la la la la la la. . .but somewhere between there and here I got lost. Here I sit at 30-ish-something and I am wishing it was January. How wrong it that? Very wrong. Somehow in my mom-life the entire holiday season has become a never-ending chore list. Buy this, bake that (or buy this to make it look like I baked that). Go to festive parties with sassy-mouthed girls and a boy who feels compelled to put his grimy paws on every object lower than 36 inches. Keep everyone happy all the time! And don't forget matching! Everyone must match! (OK, that's my own neurosis, but a girl is entitled to one or two.) I want the joy back. I want the peace on earth. I want to not insert cuss words in the middle of fa la la la la la. I don't want my kids to remember Grumpy Mommy at Christmas. They are all destined for therapy anyway but maybe they can at least say, "Mama screwed me up somethin' BAD but Christmas shure was good!"

I have been thinking and stewing and praying and stewing and praying and stewing about this since Halloween. For me to get where I need to be this holiday season, I need to be specific and intentional. So here are my "Holiday Resolutions"

1. I am going to venture into the store I really really dislike~Family Christian Stores~and find a new advent devotional. Then I will order it from Amazon. :-)

2. I am not going to second guess my shopping. When I find a gift for someone, it is done. No rehashing to make sure it's perfect, "fair" to others on my list, wondering incessantly if they will like it, ect. I will follow lists and suggestions but I will not drive myself nuts.

3. I will let my kids be kids. Yes, they will need to follow the rules and not play football with Nana's pretties or Grandma's 785 teeny weeny ceramic things but they are kids. At least at Christmas, they need to play with their cousins and have fun.

4. I will watch "Elf" and "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" at least 3 times each.

5. I will not try to be Paula Deen because no one really likes my cooking anyway. I will only cook elaborate dishes for myself or for fun. When asked to bring an appetizer, I will bring something I have made before and that is easy, cheap, and quick. I don't need to search everything the Neelys have ever made to find the "perfect" recipe. It doesn't exist.

6. I will try ONCE to get a Christmas card photo. If I can't get it in one afternoon, I will reuse the same one from last year. Only Wyatt has really changed anyway.

7. I will Christmas shop with my BFF late on weeknights. The mall is open til 10:00pm and Chili's in open til 11:00.

8. I will burn CDs of Christmas music I actually like instead of listening to the same 8 songs over and over on 93.9. While I'm at it, I will make a peaceful worshipful, CD and some fun ones too.

9. I will bake for the neighbors and invite them all to church. Again. Maybe the holiday season will make the "no thanks" turn into a "we'd love to."

So there is my concrete plan to reclaim the holiday joy for myself! Fa lalalalalalala. . . .

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Reason #358 Why Wyatt Will Need Therapy

When you have 3 big sisters, you end up with pink snowman sheets.

He's not so good at the Big Boy Bed yet. Every night he cries "Wyatt no big boy! Wyatt's bed!" And here is "Wyatt's bed"~in the wood pile.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Why You Won't Be Receiving a Chirstmas Card

Caroline is telling everyone to shut up and Wyatt is unwilling to give up the pipe.

Amelia looks good here.
If Mom had a clue how to use her camera, this one could have worked. Perhaps.

At least Gracie looks cute.

Evidently, Amelia has issues.

Wyatt is done.

This was about as good as it got.

Friday, November 27, 2009


1. Stuffing~the bread kind with sausage and celery
2. Red wine with turkey
3. Football
4. A turkey sat on a backyard fence song
5. Being thankful

1. Hark, the Herald Angels Sing
2. Joy the the World
3. Away in a Manager~as sung by Wyatt
4. Carol of the Bells
5. O Come All Ye Faithful~in Latin

1. The novelty of Facebook has worn off
2. Too many people read what I write on FB
3. I have a lot to say
4. I wish I hadn't quit
5. Pretty new templates now available for free!

Monday, August 03, 2009

Summer is almost over. . .

. . . and what do I have to show for it?
  • a deep empathy for Kate and a desire to see Jon neutered
  • the knowledge that PayLow is NOT the lowest priced supermarket in South Lake County
  • a pre-teen who thinks she can sleep til noon
  • a toddler who thinks he can swim
  • the knowledge that the government requires Tim to randomly drug test himself~is that really random?
  • the disappointment in never seeing a White Sox win in the Twinkie~dome.
  • pasty white skin without a hint of a tan
  • a working knowledge of "fins to the left"
  • a whole bunch of new friends
  • the loss of my patience
  • the return of my true blond hair
  • a hole in my summer where Hilton Head should have been
  • an appreciation for Yo Gabba Gabba
  • 15 hours lost to helping Jillian find Mr Right

Friday, June 19, 2009


The Friday Five is BACK! I know you were missing it. . .

1. The Monster Red Zin
2. Cakebread Chardonnay
3. Houge Reisling
4. Zen of Zin
5. Ravenswood ICON

1. Buy new carpet
2. Pay CPCS tuition
3. Buy a Honda Odessey
4. Move out of this "lovely" area
5. Hire a nanny so I could take naps

1. Restaurant owner/chef
2. L&D nurse
3. White Sox sportscaster
4. Buyer/designer for Gap and Gymboree
5. Princess

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Hi, My Name is Jen and I'm Addicted to Facebook

I have a new addiction. I tend to be an addictive personality. . .luckily I was a good kid in college! I adore Facebook and the part I love the most is reconnecting with people from way back when I was cool. (I frequently remind my daughters that their mom was like totally awesome.) I was one of those girls who really meant it when I signed KIT your yearbook. It bums me out that I spent all of the 80's with the same group of people and yet I only regularly talk to one of them. Even if some of them were more Farmer Ted than Jake Ryan, I love shared history. The years I spent in high school and college made me the adorably screwed up individual that I am today. We had a mini-high school reunion last winter with 23 girls from my high school class and it was the most fun I have had since the last time I watched "Can't Buy Me Love" six times in a row. We weren't all BFFs back in the day but we sure had a great time remembering the fun of high school.

Facebook is the fab technology that made that cool nite happen! FB also has given our generation a gift like none before us. It has given us the tools to go back in time. To rectify wrongs. Clear up confusion. Mend fences. No one before us has been able to do that without a significant amount of effort. That's a tool with a lot of potential for good and evil. Catching up with old friends and even old flames can stir up things that maybe should have been left dormant. Or it can show us that the guy we pined for really isn't all that perfect and the one we married is all that perfect. The BFF from high school can be thrilled to re-establish the friendship or she can be aloof and leave us feeling rejected all over again. The girl we barely knew in middle school now has kids exactly the same age as yours and you suddenly have tons in common. It's like going back to school but with a shuffled deck. Could be good. Could be bad. Could be both. Use it wisely.

Maybe we'll see the return of the ABC Afterschool Special about Facebook! Or maybe a very special episode of "Blossom" which projects Joey in 2009 FB-ing an old girlfriend while his wife Sixx gets mad. I would so TiVo that.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Not a Kate Hater

This past week has been a firestorm of controversy about the TLC show "Jon and Kate Plus 8". Did Jon cheat? Did Kate? Is Kate a crazy bitch who deserves whatever she gets? Are they exploiting their kids? I can't answer any of those questions because I don't know them. That seems to be the point that so many people keep forgetting. You don't know someone because you have watched a highly edited and manipulated 30 minute sound byte of their "life". We don't know that Jon is a partying playboy. We don't know if Kate is a raving lunatic. TLC takes the footage and makes it into an "entertaining" show that will generate ratings. Happy parents with lots of cute kids = BORING. Train wreck fed by the tabloids = sky high ratings for TLC. I have heard people suggest that TLC pull the plug and cancel the show because that would be good for the kids. TLC has a cash cow in this show and will not cancel without a major drop in ratings. Everyone seems to want Kate to drop the show and stay home. My guess is that is not an option. She has a contract for her book and contract for the show. I bet she is legally bound by terms to travel and promote.

What amazes me the most is other moms who are so quick to slam Kate. There are absolutely moments on the show where Kate speaks very rudely to her husband and others. I am guilty of the same thing. If you edited together my worst moments in the course of a week and left out any positive moments including any apologies for my worst moments, I'd look like a loon. I just don't get why moms have to tear other moms down. Are we all so perfect that we are in a position to cast stones at a woman we don't even know? We all have our own way of doing things that work for our families and mothering styles. No, Kate is not perfect and yes, she has chosen to put herself out there for scrutiny but that doesn't mean we know her in her private moments. TLC shows us Kate yelling at Jon but how do we know once they were in private she didn't say, "I'm sorry I lost my cool today." I'm not saying she did but we don't know that she didn't. TLC created the "characters" of Jon and Kate~Jon is the lovable husband who puts up with Kate the OCD nasty wife. They edit together clips as they want us to see them.

And yes, Shawnie was right. Nothing like controversy to get me back to blogging!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Spring Break~Not Just for Drunk College Students

The kiddos were on Spring Break this week and let's just say I wish I was a drunk college student. The week would have been easier. It was a LONG week. School breaks are always so much harder than summer. In the summertime we establish a routine and new rules. They can go outside to play. This week, the weather has been crap and we have pretty much been locked up in the house. I don't get moms who love school vacations. They are so hard for me mostly because of the lack of routine. All four of my kids~especially the spirited kindergartener~thrive on schedule. No schedule=chaos.

OK, now that I'm done complaining, I will share our one fun day out this week. We took a road trip to Indy to the famous Children's Museum with a stop in Lafayette to visit the famous burger stop~Triple X. We are huge fans of the Food Network show "Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives" with Guy Fieri and have grand plans to do a trip across the Midwest to visit all the places he has profiled. The Triple X is the closest to us so we started there. It was worth the trip even though it was counter only and my girls acted like tourists yelling and pointing at the pics on the wall, "Look Mom! It's the guy from TV!!!"

The Super Wy has recently mastered the word "PLEASE!" and the use of a straw so he drank everyone's root beer.

Greta is not usually a burger fan but she scarfed her half.
Caroline would eat fried dirt on a stick if she saw it on the Food Network. She was thrilled to be there and ate one the burgers that the menu highlighted "As Seen on the Food Network!"

Amelia has never met a burger she didn't love especially with lettuce, tomato, and onion. She snarfed down an entire adult burger.

Stay tuned for picture from the museum and some great shots of the clouds on the way home!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Matilda Jane

I Miss Blogging

I really do. I have been blogging for 3 full years now and I love to write. It seems like a frivolous pursuit when I have things to do like feeding kids, running a trucking company, doing laundry, sleeping, ect. I feel like I have run out of things to say. Or at least things acceptable for public viewing!

So what should I blog about? Any thoughts?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Oooo! I'm a Guest Poster!

Clair over at Mummy Deals graciously hosted my guest post today. So fun to blog on someone else's blog~especially someone as cool as Clair. :-) She always has awesome ideas for deals and links for great stuff. Check her out. Maybe under her mentoring I will actually master the whole CVS thing that so confuses me!

Monday, March 09, 2009

Menu Plan Monday


Monday~Bacon Cobb Pitas, Chips

Tuesday~Honey Mustard Pork, Veggies

Wednesday~Chicken Chili Cheese Cups, Zucchini

Thursday~Cheeseburger Hoagies, Veggie Sticks

Friday~30 Hour Famine


Sunday~JOY Group

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

I Do Take Sugar, Thanks for Asking

I am so freakin' excited. Beyond excited. I actually jumped up and down while brushing my teeth this morning when Eric and Kathy made the next big concert announcement. Two of my 3 most favoritest hair-tastic bands and touring TOGETHER and they are coming to town. July 17. . .

Wait for it. . . .

Def Leppard!!!!!!

Oh. My. Aqua Net. I can hardly hold in my joy. Back in the day I was not allowed to attend any concert that didn't end in an alter call. Since I'm pretty sure neither Joe Elliot or Brett Michaels does an alter call in concert, I would not have been allowed to attend. Now as a very old woman, I get to go and hold up my cell phone to "Every Rose Has It's Thorn". Now I just need to lose enough weight between now and July to fit into my snake skin skirt and Forenza t-shirts. Maybe Brett will take me on the Rock of Love bus.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Monday, February 23, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Monday~Deep Dish Pizza Bake 6 pts

Tuesday~Bar Louie $1 burger night

Wednesday~Apricot Chicken, Rice, Veggie

Thursday~Pasta e Fagioli, French Bread


Saturday~Wildfire for my birthday! Woo Hoo!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Attack of the Wyatts

When we chose Wyatt's name we were SO sure we'd found something original. Or at least not widely popular. When we joined our new church last fall, I met a nice girl named Lori at a MOPS Open House. While chatting with a group of girls my friend Shelley says "How's Wyatt? Is he feeling better?" I was a bit confused b/c Wyatt had not been sick. Then I figure out she's not talking to me. She's talking to Lori. . .mom of the other Wyatt. Her Wyatt is only 10 weeks younger than my Wyatt. Since that meeting, we've bonded over all kinds of things and our husbands have discovered they are twins seperated at birth. They are in our JOY group~small group~and here's a few fun shots of the Wyatts from tonight. They even look alike as the trash the place together. Ack!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I Really Don't Want Her to Look Like a Duggar!

Caroline is 10. She is growing up and turning into a sweet and fun young lady. She picks her friends carefully and has a real servant heart. That's the good part. The bad part? What on EARTH is she going to wear?!?!? Since she was a baby we did 90% of our shopping at Gymboree, I am spoiled by the quality and good deals I have learned to get. Last night we went to the mall to scope out some spring clothes. I am totally open to any store even Abercrombie that has cute clothes that won't fall apart after 2 washes. I'm not even opposed to tank tops and denim mini's with leggings. What I am opposed to is my 10 yr old looking 15 and that, my friends, is the challenge. We can shop at Abercrombie or we can buy Duggar-style skirts. There is NO in between!

We have also crossed that line into caring about what the other girls think about what we wear. I do not wish to make my kid the object of ridicule out of some noble thought that it doesn't matter. Face it. We all remember middle school and it matters. Right or wrong, what you wear matters. Call it shallow, but I want to make life as easy as possible for my daughters in that hard time of middle school. We are absolutely teaching Caroline about inner beauty and acceptance but I am also a realist. Preteen girls can be nasty and when the "cool kids" say "Pink is so dorky" that can drive a girl to ditch pink. On the flip side, when said "cool kids" say "I LOVE your outfit!" it goes a long way to builing confidence and feeling included. I think it is possible to teach your daughter to not judge people based on their outward appearance but still allow her to dress in a way that makes her feel part of the group.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Germs Are Bad

SOMEONE at my house has been sick since New Years Day. Ack. Wyatt has been down for NINE days now. Greta woke up crabby and snotty this morning. I can not take it anymore. Seriously, people. Get healthy.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Must get back on the wagon. Ack!

MONDAY~Italian Dijon Tilapia, Rice, Veggies

TUESDAY~Bar Louie $1 Burger Night

WEDNESDAY~English Muffin Pizzas

THURSDAY~Crock Pot Turkey Breast, Sweet Potatoes

FRIDAY~Deep Dish Pizza Bake It's 6 WW points so I'll let you know if it's good!



Friday, February 06, 2009

Gracie is Home!

The absolute cutest little thing I have ever seen! She weighs about 2 pounds and is so small you almost step on her! She has settled in here well after some nicotine withdrawl. Seriously. She was shaking SO hard most of the first day. . .I know she was just scared but we joked that she was having nic fits after her first home. The kids love her and she already knows to run from Wyatt. He just can not keep his hands off her!
Doesn't she look EXACTLY like the puppy on your 7th grade Trapper Keeper?!

This is how Wyatt spends most of his days~trying to convince Gracie to play with him. This shot gives you a little idea of how teeny tiny she is.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Monday~Sausage and Red Pepper Pasta

Tuesday~Pulled Pork Loaf

Wednesday~Potato Chip Salmon, Mashed Potatoes

Thursday~Savory Turkey Breast, Sweet Potatoes

Friday~Chili with Cornbread


Sunday~JOY Group Italian Night

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I'm Just Not That Into It

In case you live under a rock and are not aware, today is Inauguration Day. Barack Obama will be become the 44th President of the USA and the first African American to hold the office. Even though he wasn't my guy, I have to say I have been impressed with his prep work. It's also a great day for America to take one more step towards Dr. King's dream.

BUT, (c'mon, ya KNEW there'd be a but!) if I hear one more word about what Oprah is wearing to the ball, how Tom and Katie got to Washington, and how Beyonce and Jay-Z are moved to tears, I will scream. I would like to see news coverage of Sen Obama being sworn in. Heck, it's even fun to see Michelle Obama's wardrobe choices and their cute-as-heck little girls, but seriously. Do I NEED to know what Barbra Steisand is having for dinner? I am not someone who follows Hollywood and who does what. Sure, I peek at the mags in the checkout line at the grocery store but I really don't have an opinion on Brad Pitt and his dippy wife. To loosely quote a new movie, "I'm just not that into it." It seems that the news coverage is alot more about who is wearing what and who was seen with who that Sen Obama's taking the oath of office. I am all about the human interest stuff~what kind of puppy are Sasha and Melia getting? I'm voting for the Labradoodle. I guess what it boils down to is I wish I didn't live in a place that is so celebrity-focused.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

After 2 weeks of sickness it is time to get back on a schedule. Kids can not live on PB&J alone!

MONDAY~Tim's Cooking! Venison Meatloaf and Southern Steamed Cabbage

TUESDAY~Bar Louie $1 Burger Night

WEDNESDAY~Chicken and Wild Rice Soup, Rolls

THURSDAY~Chicken and Iowa Stuffing, Green Beans

FRIDAY~Pork Tacos, Chips and Salsa

SATURDAY~Apricot Chicken, Veggies

SUNDAY~JOY GROUP!! Mexican Night

Monday, January 12, 2009

A New Member of the Family

Some of you may remember Ashley, our sweet and wonderful black lab. Ashley was our first baby and part of our family until March 2006 when she developed tumors and we decided to put her to sleep instead of painful and expensive treatments. She was a big part of our lives and we miss her lots! We have been happily pet-free until . . .NOW! We have been thinking about getting another dog for about a year now and have finally found the perfect pooch for this chapter in our lives. Yes, we LOVE labs and would get another in a heartbeat except for 2 factors~the awful shedding and the lack of lots of space. Our friends have a Shih-poo which is a cross between a Poodle and a Shih Tzu and can't say enough good things about the breed. They are small and as close to non-shedding as you can get. Not yappy and extremely good with kids if raised from puppyhood with little ones. This is a pic of BoBo who is the sire of the litter we choose from.
Once we decided on a Shih-Poo (as you can imagine Tim has had some fun with that name!) you would think the work would be over. Nope. We did not want to buy from a pet store and take a chance on supporting puppy mills so that route was out. We wanted a family breeder with home raised pups where we could meet and interact with both the mother and father of the litter. I found one breeder that fit. She was so nice on the phone and said that she would hold the last female for us since she would not have another litter until at least next fall. The pups are only 4 weeks old so they need another 4 weeks with mama dog. We went and visited, played with Bella the Mama and BoBo the Papa, talked to the family, and held the pups. We placed our deposit and on Feb 7, Gracie comes home! Without further ado. . .pictures!

Friday, January 09, 2009


Yesterday, the CPSC re-stated the law to say that used children's clothing and toys are NOT included in the law. WHEW! I can go back to my regularly scheduled life now which includes Kleenex and NyQuil.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Hand-Me-Downs Are Going to Be Illegal

Yep. I am so not kidding. As of Feb 11, new CPSC standards are going into effect and they are making HUGE changes in the sale, re-sale and even GIFTING of children's clothing. Basically, it will be illegal to sell or GIVE a childrens item that you have not tested for lead according to the new standards. The fines are very high and the CPSC is serious about this law as an attempt to save face from all the lead recalls of late. So in theory, you give a bag of baby clothes to your neighbor that your child has outgrown. Illegal. Is she going to call the feds on you? Probably not but if she was mad at you for something else she could.

This law will force Goodwill and all for-profit re-sale shops out of business plus wreak havoc for Ebay sellers and Etsy sellers who make custom children's clothing and jewelry sets. It is not enough that your supplier tested the material you use. YOU need to test them also. Each test costs upwards of $500 and each item will need to be tested.

I'm mostly torqued off about this as an Ebay seller but it also seems crazy to make hand-me-downs illegal. It also means that retailers will need to throw out tons of clothing that is not purchased by Feb 10 b/c they can no longer sell it or donate it. The law went through Congress very quickly and needs to be reviewed. I'm all for testing to protect our kids from lead and other things but this seems a bit extreme.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Back into the swing of things. Ugh.

MONDAY~Clean out the freezer night~we're getting rid of everything that's taking up space there.

TUESDAY~Pizza Pot Pie

WEDNESDAY~Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

THURSDAY~Chinese Pot Roast, Stir Fry Veggies, Rice

FRIDAY~Italian Dijon Tilapia, Rice, Broccoli

SATURDAY~Spaghetti and Meatballs

SUNDAY~Greta's 4th B-day!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Christmas in Review

I don't often get a sweet and innocent picture of Amelia. This one belies her actual personality.The Super Wy loved Christmas. As long as no one ignored him or took him away from his mommy. And gave him everything he wants to chew on.Here's the whole Leozinga Clan~minus Sara the Photog and Joel. Where was he?

We did Christmas breakfast with Tim's parents before we left for Hilton Head. Harbor Town Park! The kids favorite place in the whole world. This was Dec 23 and it was about 60 degrees. After a holiday feast at Fuddruckers and some sweet playground time, we went to see Gregg Russell's Christmas Show by the water. Christmas Eve and we're all sampling Santa's snacks of cookies, chips, and blue cheese stuffed martini olives.Christmas Eve!Amelia and Greta in the penalty box on Christmas morning. They both got 5 for fighting.Grandma chowing on some chips and salsa!

The arrival of everyone else! That night was Mexican night. The Leo's were in charge of dinner and made great enchiladas and Jer kept us all happy with margaritas! Rich and JudySara and her margarita.Here's a rare picture of me without a kid on my lap! I was getting cozy with my margarita.
Happy Uncle Jeff telling one of his many car accident stories!I have no idea.Wyatt got some chocolate cookies on the trip home. I think we're somewhere near Knoxville here! The kids did pretty well on the 17 hour road trip but Wyatt now cries at the sight of the van. I think we've scarred him.