Happy Valentine’s Day!

Still learning how to use canva.com but loving it so far.

Still learning how to use canva.com but loving it so far.

And to the five people who are my Valentines:

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Gia and Leo great wolf

 

I realize Gia is in all of the pictures but since she is always up my butt, she feels she needs to be in all of them.

 

 

 

 

Related Posts:

Valentine’s Day Cheat Sheet

With Valentine’s Day this Friday, I think it’s a good time to help Leo along with what he could possibly do. This will be our 25th (I think) Valentine’s Day and what in the world do you get each other after all that time?

I don’t need  a whole lot but something would be nice. :)

So, Leo, if you are reading this is what I want this year:

1. To sleep in one of the weekend days.

2. For you to cook dinner for us one night.

3. To come home early on the day you don’t have to coach.

4. A night or afternoon all to myself.

 

My happy place.

My happy place.

 

I want this next one more than anything:

5. To spend Monday-Thursday of Spring Break your mom and then Thursday-Monday go somewhere else…maybe meet up with some friends that are going to be in Florida.

See I’m really not that hard to please and besides the staying somewhere else one, none of them cost any money.

And for you,

1. I’ll let you have the TV upstairs without complaining about having to watch highlights of games you have already seen or telling you a hundred times how boring it is to watch some of the Olympic games (ski jumping, I’m looking at you).

2. I’ll make you chicken tacos and hot dog casserole.

3. I’ll let you sleep in one of the weekend days.

4. I will wish you well on a night you’d like to either go watch games at the neighborhood restaurant or go play poker and not say one word about what time you get home or ask if you won.

This one will be the hardest but for you, I’ll do it:

5. I will put a smile on my face and not complain about the close quarters at your mom’s. I will enjoy the time we have there and continue to put forth the effort to be close to your mom since I know that is all she wants (which I know would make your life easier). This will be especially hard (hint, hint) if the whole vacation is a big history lesson.

After 25 years of celebrating this holiday, I realize that grand gestures are nice. They feel good and they tell the world you are loved but it’s the small things that really matter. It’s not having to let the whole world know that someone loves you but knowing in your heart that someone does.

It’s taken this long but I finally get it.

Love you, Leo.

 

One of the first Valentines Days. My God, the hair and why was I wearing a sweater that was swallowing me up and what was Leo wearing?

One of the first Valentines Days. My God, the hair and why was I wearing a sweater that was swallowing me up and what was Leo wearing?

 

Leo and me 2013

Leo and me 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What about you? How will you spend Valentine’s Day? Is it a holiday in your house or just another day?

 

 

with your mom on Spring Break and

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Cyber Monday Meltdowns

Latest meltdowns:

Tommy can’t walk. He has the red bumps on his legs again and writhes in pain. (To see that crisis, click http://tidbitsqueenchaos.com/2011/03/not-all-the-answers-but-some.html) Advil doesn’t help. I’m not a doctor but I really think he has an infection in his body and needs IV antibiotics to get rid of it. We’ve already been to the ER once with this and they were useless. Nothing makes me lose it faster than when I feel out of control to be able to help my kids. When they are in pain, I lose it that much faster. He needed to get downstairs but couldn’t walk. I called for Nico or Leo to come up and get him. They were two floors below and either couldn’t hear me or thought I was exaggerating. I tried carrying him myself but ended up making it worse because when I was trying to get through the door, I scraped his arm. Yelling doesn’t really describe what I did after that.

I was heard asking Leo if we could quit it all and move to St. Thomas where he could run a deep-sea fishing tour thing and I could braid hair on a beach. We could live the simple life in a little hut with indoor plumbing. I’ll homeschool the kids. I can do it. I’m sure I can. After dealing with Nico and some of his homework, I can manage everything but science and math (I can go up to Algebra and all the “ology” classes). We can get off this hamster wheel and start enjoying life.

I could go on but I’ll save it for Wednesday’s post. Instead, I will tell you about the awesome holiday promo we are doing for the book The Mother of All Meltdowns.  What better time to kick it off than Cyber Monday!

Pic of Xmas promo

 

Looking for the perfect gift to give Mom this holiday season? The Mother of All Meltdowns makes a great gift or stocking stuffer and can help mom feel connected, normal, and understood. Forget sweaters, perfume, and wacky slipper-socks. All moms deserve the laughter, validation, and moments of “Me too” this book provides!

Perfect for expecting moms, new moms, older moms, and all moms in between!

On sale now for Kindle and Nook! Just $0.99!

EXCLUSIVE OFFER! 50% off the print edition! Visit our CreateSpace store here. Enter your title access password: moam123 and use coupon code 75N5ZSBR when you order!

Weekly giveaways until Christmas! Subscribe to our blog (http://themotherofallmeltdowns.com/blogging-fun/) and enter to win a free copy of the book or your very own Cocktail Party on Christmas Day! Winners will be chosen at random on Wednesdays (December 4 through 25)!

Please share this email with your friends, family, and colleagues! Or treat yourself and purchase your own copy of the book!

If you haven’t gotten it yet, now is a great time!

Happy Shopping!

Please enjoy this funny video of meltdowns by fellow author: Christa from  http://www.lemondroppie.com C’mon, admit it, we’ve all been there. Oh and on a side note, I had a mini-meltdown just now since my link button isn’t working. :(

 

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Summer Memories Made

So much family time this summer. The 4th of July is always one of my favorite holidays for extremely selfish reasons. I enjoy all of our freedoms and am so grateful for the men and women that continue to fight for them but that being said, it is a holiday that doesn’t require anything more than bringing a dessert or appetizer and some sunscreen. It’s just a relaxing day in the sun.

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Belle poolGia and Leo pool

 

 

 

 

 

 

Experimenting with black and white prints.

Experimenting with black and white prints.

Before the fireworks.

Before the fireworks.

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Anxiously awaiting.

Gia and Vinnie, best buds having summer fun on the 4th.

Gia and Vinnie, best buds having summer fun on the 4th.

Gia and Frankie. Best buds having some summer fun.

Gia and Frankie. Best buds having some summer fun.

 

Gia's first movie. We couldn't find the Monsters' film poster so settled on this one.

Gia’s first movie. We couldn’t find the Monsters’ film poster so settled on this one.

We’ve stuck to our summer bucket list and went to see Monsters University the day after the 4th. It was Gia’s first movie and besides one little meltdown about wanting more popcorn, it was a success. My suggestion to the movie makers: Too many previews makes for antsy kids. Cut them down to two instead of six.

 

 

Linking up with some of my favorite ladies. Click on the button below to check out their fabulous blogs and summer fun ideas.

Ladies Only Blog Share

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The Father’s Day Post

This is late but it’s not really my fault. This whole weekend was spent at games with us split between Tommy’s in Streamwood and Nico’s in West Aurora. Add in the girls and it was chaos supersized.

Some tidbits: Nico forgot his form for his tournament and then asked me half-way there if I had $30 because he had to give $30 to his coach. For the record, I RARELY have cash on me so it was a small miracle that I still had birthday money in my wallet.

Gia throwing a giant-sized fit so that I missed Nico’s game on Sunday.

Tommy finally being out of his slump and his team winning the tournament. (And me missing the whole thing because of Nico’s games and an uncooperative 3-year-old.)

I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off and forgot to call my brother-in-law, Santo for his birthday. Sorry, Bro.

We went to Gina and Deo’s for Father’s Day (after all the games) and it felt so nice to be with family. The kids swam, ate and played. We caught up I was reminded of how much I laugh with my family.

I am extremely lucky to have a lot of great men in my life: my grandpa, my dad, my husband and my brother-in-laws. We are a big, crazy family and it wouldn’t be the same without any of them.

I loved my Mother’s Day Post so I decided to have the kids write why Leo should be Father of the Year. Here is what they came up with:

Nico:

My dad should be Father of the Year because he’s a loving father. He helps me with sports. He’s very supportive. He works hard to make us happy. I love everything about my dad.

This child is the reason for the delay. He hurt his hand and couldn't write and he takes forever to do things like this. He said it but I wrote it.

This child is the reason for the delay. He hurt his hand and couldn’t write and he takes forever to do things like this. He said it but I wrote it.

 

Tommy:

My dad should win Dad of the Year award because he is caring, helpful, smart, funny and loving. That makes the perfect Dad and my dad has all of that. My dad coaches all the sports I do and I love him as a coach and a Dad. He couldn’t do anything better to get this award because in my heart he by far wins it. I love my dad with all my heart and I hope he feels the same about me!

Don't you love how he signed it "Tommy Gubenko" as if it was a formal letter?

Don’t you love how he signed it “Tommy Gubenko” as if it was a formal letter?

 

Isabella:

My Dad should be dad of the year because he is the best dad ever! He is always there for me when I need him! He is so funny. Like when he makes funny faces or dances. He works every week so we could pay for food and clothes and all the stuff we do. He works for us all to do all the activities we do and of course he works for other reasons too. He loves me so much and I love him so much too. I love when we spend time together, for example when we go to the movies (that happened once but it still was a lot of fun) and when we go for walks. My Dad is the Best dad ever. I would never ask for a better dad! I love him so so so much! My dad deffenitly deserves the dad of the year award!

Spelling is a little rough and I love that she mentioned that he takes her to the movies and then clarifies that it was only once. :)

Spelling is a little rough and I love that she mentioned that he takes her to the movies and then clarifies that it was only once. :)

 

Gia:

My daddy should be Father of the Year because:

he works,

he coaches,

he gives me kisses and hugs,

he goes for walks with me to get me ice cream,

he lays with me,

he loves me so much,

I love him so much because he plays with me, and

he always gives me lovin’s.

 

She had a lot of fun coming up with these and I didn't have to help her at all (except for the writing...she dictated and I wrote).

She had a lot of fun coming up with these and I didn’t have to help her at all (except for the writing…she dictated and I wrote).

 

So there you go. Right from the mouths of the Gubenko kids.

And Leo, if you are reading (and you will be because I am going to send this to you), you have far surpassed any expectation that I ever had of you being a dad. I know I give you a hard time for being a kid yourself but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Nico has your sense of humor and confidence. Tommy has your personality and the desire to be the best he can be. They are on their way to becoming great men just like their dad! Love you and Happy Father’s Day (plus I got him a hoodie that says World Series of Poker that he said he loves)!

I love this picture because he was on his phone looking for the places I wanted to go.

I love this picture because he was on his phone looking for the places I wanted to go.

This week, it wasn’t me that Poured My Heart Out, it was my kids. Thanks, Shell!

 

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A Conversation Between a Husband and a Wife (with pics)

This isn’t a real conversation. It is just how I think the conversation will go. Maybe in real life, Leo would look at me while I was telling him my feelings (all of you men just rolled your eyes, didn’t you?). Maybe in real life, I don’t sound like I am whining or nagging (did you really think I didn’t know how I sounded?). Maybe in real life Leo’s eyes wouldn’t glaze over and he’d decide he was tired and going to sleep because thinking about what to get me for my birthday gives him a headache.

We have celebrated 24 of my birthdays together. That’s a lot of headaches for him trying to figure out what I want. He’s made some mistakes along the way. Some really, really hand-smacking head mistakes. To see click here. I don’t think I am all that hard to buy for. I have simple wants. Click here and read the comments to see what those wants are. A few more hints are here.

See, this is how I imagine he looks when I am talking to him about this stuff:

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I might be way off but based on past conversations, this is how I think it would go:

Me: My birthday is in a few days. Do you know what I want?

Leo: Already? Um…Vegas?

Me: While I am really excited we are going, if this was a trip for my birthday, it wouldn’t be to Vegas. It would be to Jamaica. So the trip can be for our anniversary but not my birthday.

Leo: Hmmm…okay.

Me: So do you know what I want?

Leo: I’ll figure it out.

Me: It’s in three days. I really hate that I don’t like my birthday. I know at this age, who cares but it would be nice to feel loved with you know…some grand gesture. Something that says I am the most important person in your life.

This would be Leo’s face as he thinks he is going to make the greatest point ever regarding not doing anything for my birthday:

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Leo: Um, I remember my birthday last year and I didn’t get anything or do anything special.

Me: That’s because yours is after mine and I only put as much effort in as you do.

It’s at about this time that his eyes would glaze over, he’d have a headache and need a nap and it would look like this:

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The conversation would be over and I would sit in anticipation to see what he has planned for my birthday.

 

*This post was really just to show off my pictures from the zoo and to give Leo a friendly reminder that my birthday is in three days and while he would like me to not care about celebrating it, I do. I also thought it was fitting that it was of lions because of Leo’s name and that it looked like the lioness was talking and the lion was tuning her out. :)

What about you? What’s the best birthday present you ever got?

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Happy Mother’s Day! A Word From the Gubenko Kids

As I shuffle my kids and Leo out of the house to go visit Leo’s mom who is now home from Florida for the summer, the irony hits me. I love being a mom. Today is Mother’s Day and I am looking forward to a few hours to myself. Irony at its finest. I wrote a post for my dear friend Meredith over at The Mom of the Year about when I feel like Mom of the Year. To see that post click here. Chris from The Mom Cafe also did a post for Meredith and I loved how she did it. She let her kids decide why she should be.

I thought this sounded like a great idea so I asked my kids and they didn’t even fight me on writing their lists.

Nico’s: Nico letter

My mom would win the award because she is loving and cares about us. As much as I wish she would care less just so I can do more, I wouldn’t change her one bit. She is always there when I need her through tough times and good times. I love her so much and hope the blog can be the start to her writing career. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

(I punctuated and fixed the spelling so it would read easier. :) )

Belle’s letter:

Belle letter

Dear Mom, you should be mom of the year because you are always there for me. I tell you Everything! We have a special bond that I think is awesome. I don’t know what I would without you. I couldn’t ask for a better mom. you’re the best mom in the whole world. You’re my best friend. I love you so so so much. You definitely deserve mom of the year. I love you and everything I wrote is true.  You’re the best and I love you soooo much!

(Obviously we need to work on your and you’re.)

Tommy’s letter:

Tommy letter

My mom is the Best! I think my mom should win the mom  of the year by far! My mom has the love, the brain, the cooking, the cuddles, the help, the muscles, the beauty and of course more love. I love my mom with all my heart and soul and I hope she does, too. My mom is the Best mom I could ever have and that is why my mom should win the mom of the year!

(I feel lucky that he included the “brain” but not sure where the “help” is coming from.)

Gia’s letter:

Gia letter

Mommy is the best mommy ever because I love her. She is the best. She is beautiful. She is nice. I like cuddling with her. I like to eat candy with her. I like to play with her to do stuff: church, Barbies, towers and walks. I love Mommy so much.

(Gia dictated to Belle who wrote it down in case you were wondering whether Gia is a 3-year-old genius.)

I, of course, cried when I read them. It feels good to feel loved and to feel like through all the chaos and battles, they know that I love them.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you moms out there, to all the Godmothers, aunts, grandmas, moms with angels in Heaven and women who are mom’s in their heart but life hasn’t caught up yet.

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Some Mother’s Day Help

Two years in a row now, Leo had totally got it right. Is it a coincidence that I have been blogging for two years? I think not. To see last year’s list, click here. See, Leo is really a “hit you over the head with a brick house” kind of guy. If I don’t spell it out, I end up with coconut people and faucets. If you don’t believe me click here. After 24 years together, I have learned…lists are the way to go and since there is still time, I thought I would do one now.

1. Last year’s spa day with a friend was AWESOME. I would love that again. A whole day to do what I wanted, some time by the pool with a frozen drink, quality time with a friend that was uninterrupted by kids and a massage thrown in there? Heaven on Earth.

2. This one will have to be given way early but the okay to go to BBC in Charlotte. And if we can’t swing it then the okay to go to BlogHer in Chicago in July.

3. Gift certificates are always a good, safe bet. Some that I would enjoy: Old Navy, New York and Company, Barnes and Noble and Shutterfly.

Shooting for the stars with these:

1. Telling me we are putting the house up for sale since I think it might be easier to move and start over than keeping this house organized and clean. How in the world we have outgrown this house, I have no idea.

2. A new car since mine is seriously old and needs to be put down.

Since those aren’t likely to happen (and these are still shooting for the stars):

1. A kitchen island (yes…it still escapes me).

2. A kitchen or master bath renovation.

I’m no dummy. I know that by asking for the last 4 things, it ups my chances of getting something from the first list. Because that is how it works over here. It has for years. And it goes both ways. He comes to me with an idea that I really do not want to do, such as spending time with people I’d rather not (I’ll leave it to your imagination since I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings and you never know who might stumble across this blog) and I will end up saying, “Why don’t you go fishing for the day instead?” or “Why don’t you go to the boat?” He ends up doing what he really wants and I end up not having to restrain myself from strangling anyone. Don’t judge, it’s worked for 24 years. :)

What I absolutely do NOT want:

The backyard stuff to be my gift (since he is more the backyard kinda guy).

The heat fixed to be my gift (not likely since it is finally getting warm).

The garage fixed to be my gift.

I think it’s reasonable to not want those three things, don’t you?

I would say that I don’t want anything and I just want to spend a lovely day with the people I love but I’m pretty sure Nico has a basketball tournament and since it is Mother’s Day, I won’t be able to get anyone to watch Gia. So, since that pretty much guarantees some stress at some point, having a nice gift might balance it all out.

What about you? What are you asking for this year?

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Say Cheese!

We are the worst at taking family pictures. And that bums me out because it’s important to me to have a family picture at family parties or events. I love looking through them to see how we have all changed and how the kids have grown (I do not enjoy seeing how I have :) ). It always starts and ends up the same. Complaining and whining from the older kids in the beginning and then yelling, sweating  (sometimes a pinch or two) and everyone mad at everyone involved. I’ve decided to share so that some good can come from it. A laugh or two:

First there is finding the person to take the picture. If it is anyone from the generation above me, there is an explanation of how the camera works and a for sure, “Oh, wait…where do I look? Uh, the screen is black. What did I do? What is this green box? So I hold it half-way and then what? Ooops, I took the picture. I didn’t know that was going to happen.”

The oops one.

The oops one.

 

Then there is the one where everyone looks okay except for Leo but it was too far:

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So you tell the person you want it closer:

Yes, this was a second try at closer.

Yes, this was a second try at closer. You can tell by Belle’s head.

 

So you say, “CLOSER, PLEASE”:

Not bad but what is Belle doing and why is Leo smiling like a frumpazoid?

Not bad but why is Tommy sideways and Belle has a better smile than that. And why is Leo smiling like a frumpazoid? And why is there a line through my face?

 

And then we tried again:

Okay, cuter smile on Belle but still frumpazoid on Leo and now Nico's one eye is closed.

Okay, cuter smile on Belle but still frumpazoid on Leo and now Nico’s one eye is closed. And why is it so grainy?

 

I just knew we could get a better picture so maybe closer would work better:

Oh, good, everyone is smiling but wait...we can't really see Gia.

Oh, good, everyone is smiling but wait…we can’t really see Gia and why, why sunburn line, just why?

Let’s try again. One more time:

Stick your head out Gia. Good. Wait...we lost Nico.

Stick your head out, Gia. Good. Finally. Wait…we lost Nico and there is that unfortunate sunburn line showing again. Darn.

After this picture, there were beads of sweat on my forehead and possibly on Leo’s as well. I didn’t even include the pictures that were taken on accident because the person held it down too long and I forgot to switch it out of “sports mode”. Let’s just say, it was like watching a mini-movie with all the frames of the slow movement. And there were a lot of them. I’m not going to lie, there was yelling and arguing and maybe a tear or two by me for failing at something I wanted so badly which led to this:

Someone was in a horrible mood after.

Someone was in a horrible mood after.

 

In case you wanted another chuckle, this was what happened when I tried to get a family picture while we were looking for eggs:

Do I really have to explain why I don't like this one? Nico and Tommy (in case I do).

Do I really have to explain why I don’t like this one? Nico and Tommy (in case I do).

 

Nico, Nico, Nico. He hates taking pictures but is the reason we have to do so many over.

Nico, Nico, Nico. He hates taking pictures but is the reason we have to do so many over.

And then everyone moving and Gia deciding she is done so we get the blurry one that was inevitable at some point.

And then everyone moving and Gia deciding she is done so we get the blurry one that was inevitable at some point.

 

And then I tried to get one as we were leaving to go home:

No explanation necessary.

No explanation necessary.

 

One last time:

Really?

Really?

 

I quit.

 

Jody Byas, please tell me you are still taking pictures and that you’ll take ours again. Soon before I give up forever. Help a woman who just wants a decent family picture.

Tell me it’s not just my family or just tell me that my personal torture made you laugh so that something good came from it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Essence of Now: Spring Break and Easter

One of the more discouraging parts of Spring Break was that I brought my point and shoot camera that is a little ancient. I was frustrated that the memory card wasn’t big enough so I thought I would just run to Target and get a new one. Well, since it is ancient, they no longer sell the memory cards that my camera takes and I bought the wrong one. Huge bummer that I only had the camera from my phone. Nico, being the typical boy teen hates when I take his picture and it showed all over our Easter pics. Probably an overload of pictures but I wanted to get them both in.

Spring Break:

 

This was the happiest I could get them. Landing in Miami, getting ready for the drive to Boca Raton.

An airport shot where everyone is happy to be off the plane and in Miami.

 

 

Tell me again why we live in the Midwest?

Tell me again why we live in the Midwest?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is all Nico wanted to do, not that I blame him.

This is all Nico wanted to do, not that I blame him.

 

Leo and my first date night. Legal Sea Food and Barnes and Noble. My happy place. Nico is thrilled to be in the picture.

Leo and my first date night. Legal Sea Food and Barnes and Noble. My happy place. Nico

is thrilled to be in the picture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And this would be our second date night. Can you tell she is happy to be on it?

 

What? Did you want pictures of the plane ride home where Gia screamed for 45 minutes and strangers felt compelled to stop and ask me if I tried certain things to get her to stop? Because I love that they think I haven’t thought of giving her candy or letting her play with my phone. Did you want a picture of Nico asking me in frustration, “What does she want?” Um, my dear son, if I knew, don’t you think I’d give it to her?!

 

Easter:

Three people and a reluctant dad awake and ready to go find eggs.

Three people and a reluctant dad awake and ready to go find eggs.

 

And one not so much.

And one not so much.

This little one came in first.

This little one came in first.

 

 

 

 

 

This one came in second and we're not sure why in the world, Leo is making that face. Because every Easter morning needs a troll face?

This one came in second and we’re not sure why in the world,

Leo is making that face. Because every Easter morning needs a troll face?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This one was third, though there was some mix-up with Gia taking one of his eggs so he couldn't find it.

This one was third, though there was some mix-up with Gia taking one of his eggs so he couldn’t find it.

 

This one doesn't care that he was last.

This one doesn’t care that he was last.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Candy for breakfast! Should be great while we are sitting in church and the sugar crash comes.

Candy for breakfast! Should be great while we are sitting in church and the sugar crash comes.

 

Tune in tomorrow when I show you what happens when I try to get a family picture. I promise, you’ll get a good laugh. Jody, are you reading this? Come see and then please help. Until then, here are a few that did turn out:

Someone LOVES to be dressed up. Yay!

Someone LOVES to be dressed up. Yay!

 

 

 

 

 

My mom and the girls. How cute is my mom?

My mom and the girls. How cute is my mom?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Yep. That’s as good as it got. I’m telling you. Tune in tomorrow.

How was your Easter and are your kids better at taking pictures than mine are? Some of these are like the 5th takes.

Linking up with My Time as Mom and Mama Track:

 

Essence of Now
 

 

 

 

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