Sunday, July 31, 2011

One of our best ever decisions!


One day about, oh three or four months ago, my husband was on the phone, yet again, with Verizon. They had switched their cable packages again and we had to either choose to pay an additional exorbitant amount to keep the channels we were used to, or we could pay the same amount we had been and gain a much smaller library of channels to choose from.

That's when it came to me*... Screw Them! We'll cancel our cable. We don't need them. We're always trying to make the kids less zombie-ish anyways, AND who has time to sit around and watch $100 worth of television a month when you have 3 little kids?

(* I say "it came to me" because this is the moment I agreed to it. My husband had brought this up many times before and gotten shot down - by me... cancel our cable - HA! how would I ever cook dinner without SpongeBob?!?!?!)

At a time when we have been trying everything we can to cut costs and spend more quality time with the kids, this seemed like the perfect timing, the perfect decision to make! And boy! Was I right!  We cancelled the cable (kept the internet - obviously! We're not animals!) and bought an antenna. We also stream shows and/or movies from Hulu and Netflix through our Roku when we want to. All this is more than enough for us and costs us about $65 a month (including the internet).

Let's review the benefits:
  • A LOT less money per month!
  • Kids (and parents) watch so much less TV. There are some days the kids don't ask to watch it at all. They play - using their imaginations, read books, help around the house, etc. I can also honestly say that Zoie - my almost 11 month old has never shown interest in watching TV at all!
  • No TV in the bedroom = more quality time with the hubs, more sexy time AND more parental sleep - which is HIGHLY valued around here.
  • Without the stupid TV noise in the background all day long - we are now big music listeners. Music is good for the soul. :)
  • 95% less commercials viewed! This was a benefit I hadn't anticipated - but it is so so so nice. I love that the kids can watch cartoons and I don't have to hear "I WANT THAT!" a billion and a half times.
  • Productivity: up 60% in the Deneweth household!
This has definitely been one of the best decisions we have made! Two days ago, Christopher asked me this, "If we were rich and didn't have to worry about cutting costs anymore, would we have cable?" To which I answered a quick, "Hell no!"

After we did this revolutionary thing called cancelling cable, I start reading news articles about other people doing it, the latest here in the St. Pete Times. Yup - I feel kind of like a trend setter. :D

Although - this is our first year without Shark Week - which is kind of a major bummer... :(

Monday, July 25, 2011

It's hard to be happy when...

... terrible tragedies happen to good people. This thing in Norway is so terrible. I honestly don't know how a human can open fire and shoot to kill innocent teenagers like that. Unprovoked. I mean, even bad people aren't 100% evil, right? First, a BOMB! Then this guy goes and shoots to kill for something like 90 minutes!! He sees these kids' faces, their pleading...

That link above is a blog post from one of the victims on the island - a child. Truly a real life horror story. All those in Norway that lost a friend and/or relative are in my thoughts.

... We lose another genius to addiction. RIP Amy Winehouse. Russell Brand wrote about this and his account on the whole scenario is touching, smart, witty...  I know some people have bad thoughts about my R. Brand (ahem - Christopher), but I see his genius.

I have my own theory about people whose personalities are like Amy's (addictive). Some are not so talented as she, some are. Sometimes I think in abstract and I haven't found the right words to explain this theory clearly, but I'll try: Drugs/Alcohol are very spiritual things. People do these things, yes to numb pain (emotional and/or physical), but it also opens up your spiritual beingness. Some people have spirits that are too strong, too powerful for their earthly bodies to handle. These people either learn to harness their powerful spirits and succeed at life... OR... they give in and let the drugs release their spirits into the heavens.

... I feel like crap and my baby feels like crap. :(

On Saturday, we had a pretty good day at Adventure Island. Shared some laughs with close friends, bonded a little as a family, ate some good food, etc.

Then we came home.     Zoie puked.     I read the news (above).     Zoie puked.     Chris tore apart the house looking for his wallet and lost glasses.     I started feeling crappy.     All in that order.

But, in true Tabi Happy form, I will keep on keeping on.

This keeps me happy. 
Peek A Boo!
It's IMPOSSIBLE for me to look at this picture without smiling. ;)


Thursday, July 21, 2011

At this very moment...

from: http://jugga-lizzle.deviantart.com/art/Rainbow-Concepts-II-51037092
 ... I feel that anything is possible!

I've had this conversation with my husband before. It's one of those convos that after we finish up, I'm positive he records it somewhere in a password protected journal titled, "Reasons Tabi is nutzo."

He's the skeptic, I'm the believer - we balance each other out...

Seriously. I've considered that it's totally possible unicorns hang out by rainbows and maybe fairies are real. I think humans only think they know everything when actually there is so much in this world universe that anyone one has ever begun to think about. There is a shrimp - Mantis Shrimp, that can see 12 different wavelengths of color. We humans only see 4 wavelengths of color. See? Imagine if we could see all those wavelengths - what our world would look like. Physics, dimensions, parallel universes... there are studies that contradict themselves in the news every day. This is all very fascinating stuff to me. I am so not a grounded person.

Magic is real.

I've always felt that whatever I want - I mean what I really really want - I get. Is it praying that works? Is it The Secret? Karma? I'm absolutely not a person of unlimited resources (i.e. money) and I'm also that girl who always wants more. Yet - I feel very lucky and satisfied in that I get what I want - but there's always more, there's always a higher standard I want to reach.

Rev Run (of Run DMC) tweeted this recently:
If we pray little, it is probably because we do not really believe that prayer accomplishes much at all.
Every so often I read/hear something that sticks with me. This quote did and I am going to start praying bigger. I want so much more. Not just for myself - mostly for my family. For those awesome, incredibly cute little humans that I've put so much energy into raising - I want so much more. I've had such an amazing experience with life for myself so far. And since anything is possible, I want my kids to experience anything their hearts desire. Whatever they can imagine.

"Playing it safe can cause a lot of damage in the long run"
-Banksy

So - I'm sticking myself out there. Right now. God... I'm ready. I can handle it. I want to take risks and reap their rewards. Please answer my prayers and show me how to be that successful person I get a glimpse of in my daydreams.


<3

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Today is Tuesday, July 19th...

I had to look that up. I really had no idea. I feel lost. I don't know what day it is, what I'm supposed to do tomorrow, when bath night is, what's for dinner or even what Christopher is watching on tv right now.
(Actually, I think he's in iPhone coma and doesn't know either.)

Since Lilly's tragedy, it's hard to write about stuff. It all seems so meaningless and small in comparison...

I could write about how lucky I am, but that's not fun to read/write about all the time. So, here I go anyways. :)

Here are all the pictures I took with my iPhone today:

 11:17 am
My Zoie Rainbow just fell asleep for her nap. Doesn't she have the sweetest little lips? And, oh my the eyelashes! Swoon. :)

 11:21 am
Me. Supermodel. Still striving to get that perfect profile picture.

 12:18 pm
Just finished Roxy's hair. This was my first attempt at two backwards french braids. Thanks Lori, for showing me the technique. I took this to text to Christopher and brag. Notice the Rapunzel hair attachment. It's a permanent fixture now.

 1:00 pm
The Bear's 'weirdo face' during lunch. Lunch consisted of 1/2 cheese sandwich on stoneground whole wheat for the Bear with a side of turkey, whole grain goldfish and a pickle. Roxy and Zoie had turkey and cheese pinwheels with whole grain goldfish. I went for the cracked pepper turkey sandwich with tomato and cucumber with a side of leftover potato salad. We all had the strawberry, mango pineapple smoothies for beverage. Gourmet!


 3:56 pm
The girls at the splash pool during break time (when the lifeguards blow the whistle and I have to run up the stairs to get the Bear with baby on hip because he's in his own little world and doesn't hear anyone unless your name is Batman or the Joker.)
In other news, the Bear got his head stuck in bars at the splash pool - didn't freak out and was freed about a minute later. But three lifeguards got involved. That was exciting. (No, I didn't get a picture of that.)

 7:12 pm
Dinner. Steak kebabs with squash, red onions and a side of french fries. I was nervous about this as Christopher usually is the red meat griller. He was at work - so I had to brave it. I did pretty good except I seasoned a little too heavily and it was too spicy for the kiddos. They didn't mind just eating french fries, though.

7:31 pm
And he's out! At the table. 

Don't worry, he woke up 10 minutes later.

Friday, July 15, 2011

5 Days in a Row

Christopher Blair is in training. So his hours changed for two weeks, and it seems to drastically affect me. I'm used to two days without Christopher and then Christopher. But this week (and I have to do it again next week... ugh), he worked Monday through Friday.

Five days.

By Wednesday I was lost. It's weird how you get used to things being one way, then they change... and I didn't know what to do with myself.

By day five (today), I got to a point I was so frustrated with myself, I could have punched myself in the head....

Anyways, I don't know how mantras work - really - but I need to figure it out. 

I need to remember to consider that maybe I should be doing exactly what I am doing, and not what I think I should be doing.

Something like that anyways....

And after some words of encouragement via text messages courtesy of Christopher, I turned the day around and checked everything off my list:
  • laundry
  • grocery*
  • HAVE FUN, RELAX A LITTLE... See?


My girl should be in magazines.

Ask me how many compliments she got on her pigtails.
Okay, I'll tell you: 3!!


And the Bear ran away from me and the camera.
 
Matching bathing suits, $5, Old Navy. Heck yea!

At the end of the day... reflecting with my glass of Chardonnay - a couple of thoughts:
  1. How do mothers that have to go 5 days in a row, or even worse - single mothers do it all the time?!?  Support systems are so important to sanity.
  2. The whole I should be doing what I'm doing thing.
  3. My husband is my anchor. I am lost without him.
Have a great weekend - Gramma's tomorrow and Addie's Princess and Pirate Party on Sunday.

Peace. <3

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Whole Box of Tissues

Lilly's funeral service was today. Definitely one of the hardest things I've ever done. Definitely the saddest. Boy, the emotions!

It was beautiful. They really did a great job. Lilly's favorite color was pink... there were pink details everywhere: pink flowers, pink light bulbs in the wall sconces, pink and purple tulle drapes, rose colored tablecloths, guests wore pink dresses, shirts, ties...

.... even the small casket was draped in pink cloth with small little satin bows.

Butterflies and rainbows. A huge rainbow made out of balloons arched over where she lay. Beautiful.

A Laurie Berkner Band album played in the background as Chris and I looked over pictures of Lilly and her drawings, her toys she played with, decorations from her Rapunzel birthday party. A CD that I know well - it will take on a whole new meaning from now on. It's one that gets played daily around here. One more thing that will remind me of Lilly's smiling face and beautiful blonde curls.

During the service, it was asked if anyone wanted to speak about Lilly. I didn't feel strong enough in that moment, but I regret it now. I wish I was stronger. I should have spoken for Roxy - in honor of her BFF in heaven.

Chris and I went through a whole box of tissues.

After the service, all the guests were invited into a beautiful little garden with a fountain. A prayer was said and butterflies were released in Lilly's honor.

It was perfect.

There was a feeling in that room full of all those people. There was sadness, but that's not the one I'm talking about. I'm not sure what the word is for this feeling - but it will stay in my heart forever.

Maybe it was Lilly's spirit there trying to comfort us?

After the service, Chris had to go to work. I had to relieve Gramma of her babysitting duties. I felt so grateful and lucky that I got to come home to my babies. And everyone was smiling, happy and healthy.

May God bring some peace and comfort to the Mills family in their tender moment. I promise Lilly will not be forgotten.

xo

Not looking forward...

....

clothes ironed.

pink sparkle nails for Lilly.

I am NOT looking forward to tomorrow. It's a day I think will force me to grow emotionally. It is not going to be easy. But it's important.

tonight i pray for Lilly's Mom:
may she make it through tomorrow. 
i won't even try to imagine what it will be like in her shoes.
....

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Instagrams of my Meh Day

It started out good, really good... I woke up before anyone else (if you know me, this is w e i r dddd) and I had a nice, quiet 30 minutes to myself - all alone. I used this time wisely to explore a few of my old favorite blogs (cjane, nienie) and some new ones (bleubird) I am finding quite interesting.

I snapped this photo before I snuck out.
<3
The gang finally got up.
I love everyone's expression in this photo. Makes me giggle every time.
I cranked up my 'Three Little Birds' Pandora channel - and got the party started.

I made the kids fold some laundry...
The Bear is 'supervising'.
... while I made breakfast.
Pancakes, chocolate chip pancakes, eggs, bacon. (eggs and bacon not pictured)

Then I kicked the hubs out to cut the grass (we can see the fence again!!) and that's where it started going sour. A few tattles, tantrums and tears later we were dressed, fed and out the door for a few errands and to shop for our new kitchen table.

A little IKEA should fix any kind of day gone bad - but not today. There was an issue with a price, some weird happenings in Smaland involving two kids that were thrown in time out unjustly, and a Momma leaving IKEA without a new kitchen table.

Plus, Christopher took this awful, crummy picture of me...
The sun was in my eyes - what?!?
So - homeward bound to fix dinner, clean the kids and get them to bed. LOL! That was MUCH easier said than done. But dinner was deelish (cheeseburgers, fries and Aunt Lisa's Broccoli Salad).
Which brings us to right now - me: blogging and drinking a glass of Chardonnay (thanks Christopher <3), Christopher: lounging shirtless and watching tosh.O on Hulu, Kids: dreaming away.

I wish I had some great insights to blog about, but I could never quite get on my game today. So, instead - I leave you with the many looks of Roxy's Chixo:


Friday, July 8, 2011

What can I do to help?


Ever since I first heard about the tragedy that struck the Mills family, I've felt the huge urge to help. I've asked how I can help and the only answer I've received is that the Mills family is accepting donations. The whole family was involved in this horrific accident and they need time to heal - physically and emotionally....

From Sam's brother Damian:
Thank you ALL for your gracious comments and help. You do not know how much everything you have done is appreciated. My sister Sam Populin and her husband Paul are still in need of any type of donation or help that you can offer. Kelli and Damian Populin are putting the word out and raising funds to help in the expenses that can not be covered due to Paul's extensive injuries. We are still not sure when he will be able to return to work, so in the mean time they are in need.
I will donate what I can - but it won't be enough. I want to share this info with anyone who shares my need to help the Mills family.

....

There is a contribution fund set up through Bank of America:
Samantha Populin/Paul Mills Contribution Fund
You can donate by:
  1. Contacting Bank of America at 1 (800) 432-1000
  2. Send your checks to:
    Bank of America
    13180 US HWY 301
    South Riverview, FL 33569
    (made payable to: Samantha Populin/Paul Mills Contribution Fund)
  3. Walk into any Bank of America branch and tell them you want to make a contribution to the above fund.
  4. The family has set up a Paypal account and is accepting donations online. Click here to go to their page. Scroll down and click on the yellow Donate button. 


If you want to learn more about Lilly's story, you can read the news stories online here and here.

To read about this from my perspective, start here then here then here.

Thank You. <3

p.s. Please feel free to share this with any of your friends. Drunk driving destroys families!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Dear Lilly,

More balloons are headed your way. They were sent to you in heaven from some of our family members that you didn't even know. But they are so very touched by your story and wanted to send you some love, too.



(balloons sent from the LeBlancs in Sarasota <3)

Also, I forgot to tell you that when Roxy sent those balloons to you yesterday, she told me,

"Lilly is like a rainbow now."

I told her that was a very beautiful thing to say. I told Chris and he told his sister who told us about this song...



(Thanks, Lisa! It did make me cry!!)
"Lord make me a rainbow, I'll shine down on my mother.
She'll know I'm safe with you when she stands under my colors"

Your mom posted these pictures of you and Roxy. I was SOO happy she did it because I looked through all my pictures the other day and was in tears that I couldn't find one picture of just the two of you.



Tonight when I was tucking Roxy in to bed, we started talking about you and I started to get tears in my eyes. Roxy said, "Oh. I shouldn't talk about Lilly. I didn't mean to make you cry, Mommy." 

I tried to tell her it's okay to cry and that when we feel sad, we need to let it out with our tears, but I'm not sure if she really heard me. I know she talks to you, Lilly, she told me she does in her head. Next time you girls have a chat - please let her know it's okay to cry sometimes. I promise I will hug her for you and try to make her feel better.

Love,
Roxy's Mom

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Saying Goodbye to Lilly

Roxy sending balloons, a paper flower and a picture to Lilly up in Heaven
Children amaze me every day.

This morning, my husband and I sat Roxy down to tell her about her friend Lilly that was taken from this world way too early and just plain unfairly. When these things happen, there are so many many questions that we as grown ups, as parents have. Most of the time, we don't have all the answers. It's a very delicate and difficult thing for us to even comprehend, much less try and explain to our young children.

We decided it was best to keep it simple, and answer any questions she asked truthfully and honestly.

"Roxy, your friend Lilly was in a bad car accident a couple of days ago and she died."

Chris added, "The car accident hurt her very badly and the doctors could not fix her body."

Roxy got very quiet, hid her face for a few minutes.

I wanted to hug her and cry with her (I was crying, Chris was, she was not). She is such a brave kid. The kind of brave kid that hates shots, but does not cry when she gets them. She sucks it in.

"Do you have any questions?"

She only had one. "How do you know that?"

"I talked to her Mommy."

I let her know it's okay to be sad. I let her know it is a very sad thing. I let her know that her Daddy and I were very sad about it. She is trying to make vague funny faces at me like she always does when she is trying to make me feel better. But I can tell she is also trying to make herself feel better. It's her coping mechanism.

We talked about doing something for Lilly. I told her that now that she isn't in this world anymore, she is an angel and went to heaven. And like God, she can talk to her whenever she wants to. I ask her if she wants to draw her a picture or write her a letter. So we sat down and she started drawing a picture of Lilly as an angel. It's a beautiful picture. At the top, she writes "Lilly I Love You"

Lilly Mills, Angel

Then her Daddy sits down next to her and they make some paper flowers for Lilly. He looked up instructions on the internet. Roxy made this one and I think it came out perfect.

Roxy and her paper rose for Lilly

So we all get dressed, buy 4 balloons from the store and go to the playground at the school where they played together so many afternoons to send the balloons up to heaven.



I was so afraid they wouldn't make it. They seemed to stop and hesitate a little and came very close to one of the trees. I said a little prayer, and they floated up up up, past the trees and en route to heaven.

It was beautiful. 

Roxy told Christopher, "Daddy, Lilly is in heaven and she gets to meet God. That is so cool!" 

It's amazing. She knows in the end, Lilly is okay. I can tell she is sure of it. 

My heart is breaking for the loss of an innocent child. For all those years on earth she didn't get to experience. For Lilly's Mom and Dad and their beautiful young family being broken in a million pieces. 

But telling Roxy today and seeing in her face that piece of her that knows Lilly is okay - gives me some peace tonight. She told me tonight that even though Lilly is not in this world anymore, she is an angel, and angels are alive and not dead.

Lilly Mills, angel - I hope you got your balloons and they arrived okay. Did the flower make it?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Fourth of July - Bittersweet

 How was your Fourth?


   
At the Brandon Fourth of July Parade.
 
Dancing in the mist at BG
 
Ours was:
Sweet in that we were blessed with a nice, relaxing day.
Sweet that we landed a nice shady spot to watch the parade.
Sweet that the thunderstorms ended right before we got to Busch Gardens for fireworks, giving us a cool, clean theater for fireworks.
Sweet that I had a wonderful day with my happy, healthy little family. I am so grateful.

......

Bitter that our friends are mourning the loss of their sweet child and are hurting more than words can express.
Bitter in that I am hiding this terrible secret from my baby.

Chris and I decided we will tell her tomorrow - when he has the day off from work and we can have time to deal with feelings properly.  Then we plan to write a letter to Lilly and send her some balloons up to heaven from the park.

Did I mention I am so grateful?
Waiting for fireworks

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Lilly

Lilly Mills <3
02.04.2006 - 07.02.2011
About a week after Roxy started Pre-K, she received a letter in her folder that wasn't homework or a note from the school. It was a note written in red marker asking Roxy to be friends. That note was from a cute little shy girl named Lilly. And from that day on, Roxy had her first best friend.

Roxy talked about Lilly every day when I picked her up at noon. She would tell me if Lilly had a job (i.e. feed the fish, weather watcher, etc.), how Lilly wore her hair, if she wore a dress or pants... I heard so much about Lilly, I felt like she was a part of my family before I'd even met her outside of school.

On our first play date with Lilly, we met at the park. Roxy, Riley, Lilly and Fifi. The girls played, Riley followed them around. I talked for hours with Lilly's Mom, Sam and we discovered how so similar our two oldest children were. They both loved princesses, they both were amazing big sisters, they even had birthdays 8 days apart. A few strangers even asked me if they were sisters.

Lilly, Fifi and Sam were our new friends. They always had an open invite to play (when the kids weren't sick) and an automatic invitation to our family birthday get togethers.

I had hoped the girls would be BFF's and start kindergarten together at the same school, but the Mills' family planned to move over the summer. And with a move brings a busy Mom! Sam assured me that the girls would get to see each other as her Mom lives close and also Lilly's half siblings. They would still be around and hopefully the girls wouldn't lose touch.

Last Friday, as I sat down after lunch for a breather and did my usual iPhone check. I would check Facebook, Twitter, then the local news. I came across this article about a terrible accident. A drunk driver had crashed into a minivan carrying four young children. Tragic! I read on to see not only was the accident close to home, that minivan was driven by Sam and Lilly was listed as in critical condition. I immediately text Sam, post a note to Facebook asking for prayers and start worrying. And try to hide my worry from the children.

A few hours later, I click back on the article to see if there were any new developments. You can read it here. Lilly had died. Shivers. And my heart broke.

I texted Christopher.
Lilly died. :(
OMG. Do I tell Roxy?
I have been sick to the stomach ever since. And still have not found the heart to tell Roxy.

...

Last night (and every night at bedtime... our routine), I ask Roxy, "... and who do you love?"
"Mommy, Daddy, Riley, Zoie, Lilly, Cameron, Gramma and Mimi."




Mommas, hug your babies extra tight tonight. Life is precious.
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