The Christmas Story House

I've been pretty much out of commission for the past month because of my asthma, an upper respiratory infection and dental surgery.  Yea...what a way to spend the holidays, right?!  I've been frantically shopping online and receiving multiple packages on a daily basis.  The tree (artificial this year because of my illness) is up, the decorations out and I was really getting cabin fever from being inside for so long.  That's when Hubby decided that we would take a spur of the moment trip...I mean like the night before we booked Cleveland.

We were originally planning to attend the Christmas Festival in Natchitoches that weekend when the weather forecast called for about 6 inches of rain.  Well, with me still recovering from sickness and a couple of the Grands with runny noses, there was no way we were going to get out in that mess.  It was also Caitlin's birthday weekend and I hadn't spent a birthday with her for four years.  So, we packed a bag, hopped a plane and were in Cleveland the day before her birthday!

It was cold there, I'm not gonna lie.  And I still really don't like Cleveland in the winter.  But for my baby girl's birthday it was well worth it.  And while we were there she asked me if I knew The Christmas Story House was located there.  WHAT?!  Are you kidding me?  How did I not know that?  That is one of my all time favorite Christmas movies!  Right then and there I decided that we HAD to go before heading home.
This is the original house where the movie was filmed.  Whenever it was purchased from a man out of California, houses in that neighborhood were selling for around &30,000- $40,000.  He offered $120,000 sight unseen for it.  Of course, the owners sold it.  However, when he and his wife came to look at it, the house was in terrible condition and about to be condemned.  They spent countless hours and money to restore it to what you see today.
When you enter the living room you see the "Leg Lamp".  Ahhh...the "Leg Lamp".  Just one of the many things that make the visit to this house so exciting for everyone who is a fan of the movie.

And then, leaning against the fireplace, near the Christmas tree is the Red Ryder BB Gun!  My nephews and my own boys alike, had BB guns and I can remember telling them to be careful with them as well.  They didn't put any eyes out with them but I do recall the glass in my French doors being shot out once!
And...the kitchen.  Where so many scenes in the movie were filmed.  Where Randy smashed food all over his face laughing the entire time.  It looked the same, however, it was so much smaller than it looked on film.

And the Christmas turkey!  You know... the one that the dad was so anxiously waiting to eat for lunch that the dogs destroyed and sent the family out to eat Christmas lunch at a Chinese restaurant.
                                 Then we moved upstairs to Ralphie and Randy's bedroom.

Holli was fascinated by the typewriter.  Imagine an entire generation who doesn't know how to use one of these things.  Yep...I remember taking a typing class in high school.  YIKES!  I think that dates me.
                The Bathroom.  Where so many important (and funny...) things happened.
Remember the "Secret Decoder Ring"?  As I was remembering the moment that Ralphie found out that it was merely an advertisement for Ovaltine (Who out there even remembers what Ovaltine was??), I didn't notice that Holli had picked that ring up as a new-found treasure!
See it in her hand?  I was insisting Hubby snap a photo of me reliving Raphie getting his mouth washed out with soap for the "Oh Fudge" scene and she was holding her new little treasure.  Luckily I saw what she had in her hand and replaced it (Whew!)
             We ended the tour of the house in the backyard, where the original shed can be found.

And that wasn't all!  Directly across the street is the museum which houses original costumes, the school blackboard, and many many other items that were found over the years to display here.  The gentleman who conducted our tour was wonderful, telling us all sorts of things that happened during production of the movie and things to look for the next time we watched it.  And yes...I have already watched it this year and with new eyes!

There is also a really cute gift shop next to the museum where individuals can purchase everything from "Oh Fudge" fudge, the fuzzy pink bunny pajamas that Ralphie got for Christmas, the Red Ryder BB Gun and, of course, The Leg Lamp!  If you are ever in the Cleveland area stopping here is a MUST!  And it is opened year round so it doesn't matter when you are in the area.  AND...if you haven't ever seen the movie (Are there actually people out there who haven't?!), then that is a MUST also!  And now is the perfect time because it is currently being aired during the holiday season.

             Click HERE to see the web site with all of the information about The Christmas
                                              Story House in Cleveland, Ohio.

 RIFLE." Ralphie

A Black Friday Baby!

Thanksgiving around here was quiet.  It was the kids' year to be away at in-laws.  And that wasn't a bad thing since I have been battling my asthma and upper respiratory infection for  3 weeks now.  And then there was "Number 8 " who was due to make their arrival on Black Friday, if not sooner.
And so it was that "Number 8" did not decide to make their appearance before Friday so a Black Friday Baby it was going to be!

It was already decided that Justin and Sarah would bring Parker Ann and Lila Kate over Thursday evening to spend the night since her induction the next morning would be early.  And although I wasn't feeling well, I had promised the traditional tree decorating for not only them but Beckett too.  And trust me, the little ones do not let you forget anything so I sent Hubby up to the attic to retrieve the boxes of ornaments and then laid out the ones that couldn't be broken for them to place on the tree.

                                     The step stools were quiet popular with the older ones.
When Parker asked Beckett if he was spending the night too, he replied by saying, "Well, I really, really want to..."  And so they all snuggled down beside my bed to watch a movie before going to sleep.

I haven't ever really been a Black Friday shopper myself, opting to put my Christmas decorations up on that day every year.  So a Black Friday Baby sounded good to me!  I couldn't wait to meet Number 8 and see if it was a he or she!  And it didn't take long at all because by about 10 a.m., the newest member of OUR BIG FAT SOUTHERN FAMILY made their debut...

          Meet MISS PEARSON ELIZABETH ROGENMOSER, weighing in at 8 lbs., 8 oz!

We didn't tell the girls if if the baby was a brother or sister and waited until they arrived at the hospital to find out for themselves.  We knew that Parker Ann was already so excited but we weren't quite sure how Lila Kate was going to take to a new baby.
I tried to snap as many photos to capture the moment the girls first saw their new baby sister.  As you can see, Parker was elated!

One could have never guessed in a million years that Lila Kate would be immediately so in love with her hew new baby sister.  So much so that she really didn't want anyone else to hold her.
And so in order for family to get a chance to hold Pearson, we took Lila Kate downstairs to get a snack.
    But she didn't really want a snack...she just wanted to get her hands on that baby again.
Poppi was actually the first one to get his hands on the new little one since he was already in town that morning whenever I called to say that the baby had arrived.
                                        But it wasn't long before YaYa was on the scene too!

It was so much fun not knowing the sex of the baby this time around.  And we couldn't be happier to welcome a sweet new little girl into this ever growing family!  She doesn't know it yet but I foresee many happy days with those two older sisters of hers and all the cousins to boot.  Family holidays and vacations.  Birthday parties and playing dolls.  Making the best friends for life...Yes, we are so happy and feel so very blessed to have another healthy baby come into our family this year.


Take This Quiz To Find Out What Type of "ORIGINAL THINKER" YOU Are!

Kimberly- Clark reached out to me recently and asked if my readers and I would be interested in taking a quiz they have created.  It is a quiz that defines what type of "Original Thinker" you are by answering just a few simple questions.  Well, of course, I was interested!  I love taking quizzes of all sorts and I know that most of you do too.  And the best thing about it is it takes only a couple of minutes and you will immediately find out what kind of "Original Thinker" you are!

If you aren't familiar with who Kimberly-Clark is, let me refresh your memory...because I'm sure that you purchase many of their products.  The one that I associate the company with is Huggies diapers which I used on my own kids.  But here is a little history on how the company got its start that I thought was really interesting.   Kimberly, Clark and Co. was founded 144 years ago in 1872 by John A. Kimberly, Havilah Babcock, Charles B. Clark, and Franklyn C. Shattuck in Neenah, Wisconsin.   The group's first business was operating paper mills, which the collective expanded throughout the following decades. The company developed cellu-cotton in 1914, a cotton substitute used by the U.S. Army as surgical cotton during World War I. Army nurses used cellu-cotton pads as disposable sanitary napkins, and six years later the company introduced Kotex, the first disposable feminine hygiene product. Kleenex, a disposable handkerchief, followed in 1924. Kimberly & Clark joined with The New York Times Company in 1926 to build a newsprint mill in Kapuskasing, Ontario, Canada. Two years later, the company went public as Kimberly-Clark!

Kimberly-Clark, as you can see, is very committed to the consumer and creating new and innovative products.  And that is exactly why they developed the "Original Thinker" quiz; to determine what individuals' strengths were and where they could best be put to use.  Not only did I think it was a fun little quiz but it also let me know a little about my own strengths.  Because, although, I no longer work outside of the home, I do work on a volunteer basis for organizations where this information could be very helpful.

                                 What type of "Original Thinker" am I?  I'm a MUSE!

Take the QUIZ, yourself right now too and leave a comment to let me know what kind of "Original Thinker" YOU are!


Turning My Office Into a Playroom

Boy am I glad I decided to keep that office in our house plans when we built this house.  Because if I hadn't I don't know where all of our grandkids would be playing!  Seriously, if you only have one or two grandkids, you can get away without them having their own space for toys, books and games.  However, I'm about to have Number 8 and Number 9 and that is just a little too much chaos even for this YaYa.  That's why, recently I decided to do a complete makeover of my office into a playroom.  And while doing so, I came to the realization that I'm still really a second grade teacher at heart.  Here's a peek into where my little ones spend most of their time while visiting me...

                    Behind this door cousins play and pretend and become best friends for life.
Here you see our teepee (Land of Nod), book collection and art wall.  I wanted this space to be a positive, fun place so I looked on Etsy to find all of the stick-on lettering and poster you see.  On the art wall is a quote from Picasso:  "Every child is an artist".  And as you can see, it is where I put all of the art either my children or grandchildren created.  In the foreground is a table with lots of markers, crayons and coloring books.
This little train table is popular with both the boys and girls and when not in use, I have the perfect spot to get it out of the middle of the room.
I purchased bins for books and toys to keep things organized.  The toy bins are on the wall you see there.
The Dr. Seuss quote you see on the wall was one I chose to celebrate everyone's uniqueness.  Some of the Fisher Price Little People toys (which by the way, I love...) can be found at arm's reach for the toddlers.  Some of the other toys for the older kids are in the bins.

I also searched until I found the perfect poster that has the "Playroom Rules" to also display on this wall.
 It was bright and fun, but also said all of the things I wanted to teach the children.  Parker Ann was curious about what all it said and later told Uncle Ryan that this was the room where you GIVE BIG HUGS!
This particular corner of the room is quite popular with everyone.  On the floor you see a play mat (Doug and Melissa) where they can play with cars and trucks.  Also sitting on the mat are the Little Critters.  This is where I have seen the kids enter a world of creative imagination.  If your little ones haven't found these yet, you must check them out!  Small woodland creatures who live in cottages and tree houses, drive campers and row tiny boats.  By far, this is one of the best toys I have discovered and my kiddos can play for hours with them.
 And finally, here is my children's farm table.  I realize this photo isn't very good, but hopefully you can see it well enough.  Hubby and Caitlin designed and created this table for me for Mother's Day this past year and I just LOVE it!  It will seat 10 (maybe more...) comfortably.  I'm hoping that the benches will be ready for Christmas so I can seat all of the little ones there for Christmas dinner.  But this is where they spend a lot of time too because they love to color and create.

Yes, I'm so happy that I decided to keep my office on the house plans because I believe children need their own space.  And believe me, they know that it's their room.  Whenever they arrive at my house, they slip around the corner and into the playroom to make memories I hope they will cherish forever.

2 Weeks of Chaos With My BIG FAT SOUTHERN FAMILY

WHEW...The past 2 weeks have been crazy here to say the least!  When you are dealing with the lives of 17 people in your immediate family there is always a bit of drama but lately things have been on a roll.  Where should I begin?  If I had to truly go back to the beginning I would have to go back just a little further than 2 weeks...

Whenever I was keeping Grayson (9 months), Lila Kate (23 months) became sick and was hospitalized for a few days with an intestinal infection.  It was so sad seeing that precious baby on an IV laying in a hospital bed.  She came home and had to continue to have tests and actually had another bout but it was caught early enough and she was able to take medication to prevent another hospital stay.  I was really tired after that week and headed to our lake house to recoup and get ready for the next round of family adventures.

Two weeks ago I knew that Caitlin and her kids would be coming in from Cleveland for both Andrew's 1st birthday party and Halloween.  And knowing this and that I was about to be rolling non-stop for 10 days, I was glad I had a week of basically doing nothing so I would be well rested when they arrived.  HOWEVER... Codi had a freak little accident that put us all in high gear to help with the kids.  She had a fall and fractured both wrists and one elbow.  That meant that she has been very limited with what she can do.  Her mother came to help her and the baby while I took care of Beckett most of that week.  The rest that I had hoped to get...well, it just didn't happen.  I did have one day before Caitlin flew in but then two MORE things happened:  First, I got a terrible sinus infection that was accompanied by the awful sinus headache that goes along with it (ugh...) and Second, I hit a drain in the road and busted a tire on my SUV.  While my husband was out of town.  Yep, that was the day before Caitlin flew in and I was sitting on the side of the road with a busted tire and no way to pick them up from the airport.  Hubby called someone who was able to not only tow my vehicle but also get me another SUV to drive until mine was being repaired.

Caitlin got in on a Saturday and Andrew's birthday was on Halloween and so we had to prepare for his party AND Trick-R-Treating on Monday. Now, don't even think that preparing for a 1 year olds birthday party is any small feat.  We made the cake ourselves and then there were many other homemade preparations for his special day.  But first...There was the Zoo Boo that some of us attended on Saturday evening.  Now, this is a great 3 day event that our local zoo puts on every year but the only problem is that there are so many people trying to get in that if you want to get in early, you must get in line early...Like 2 HOURS ahead of time!  Yep...and there is a line that stretches far and stiles like one sees at Disney World (gulp!).  We were in line at 4:00 for a 6:00 gate opening.  And that was after Caitlin had only gotten off her plane around 2:00.  Is it getting crazy enough for you yet?!  Just wait...there's more to come.

Andrew's 1st birthday party was a great success.  However, it was not without a great mess (sigh...).  What with all of the cake making and cutting out of decorations my, pretty much my whole house looked like a bomb had gone off in it.  I just took a deep breath (and a garbage bag...) and started cleaning up.  Everyone showed up around 5 for the party and we had cake and gifts.
We already had our costumes on so as soon as the last piece of birthday cake was ingested we headed out to trick-r-treat with all of the kiddos.  It was dark and the older ones were excited and there were quite a few slips and skinned up knees and the younger ones were tired and were crying but WE DID IT!  Halloween 2016 is in the books and we really did have lots of fun.

I could sort of breathe a bit after all of the previous events were over but then the round starting began.  If I wasn't driving Caitlin and the kids around to see family, they were stopping in at the house to see her.  And somewhere in there poor little Livie (20 months) hit her head on a door and had to get stitches.  AND...Ryan and Allison found out the sex of the baby they're expecting in March.  Livie will become the BIG SISTER to a BABY BROTHER!!  And most nights two or three kids could be found sleeping in sleeping bags or on a pallet beside my bed.  It was like navigating a maze whenever I had to get up during the night to use the bathroom.  But no one was stepped on so I felt quite accomplished.

And by the time I turned around, it was time for my daughter to leave again.  There were still so many things I wanted to do with her.  It seems like that's the way it always is.  But the countdown is on.  Her 5 years in Cleveland are almost finished and I am so happy that we will not simply be living for a week here and a week there.  Just a few more months of traveling and the Ohioans will be back and all will be well because I will have all of my little chickies in a basket once again so to speak.  And I'm smart enough not to think it will be a fairy tale because there will continue to be lots of chaos because what else would you expect from A BIG FAT SOUTHERN FAMILY of soon to be 19...and counting?!