When does a House Feel like Home?

As I’ve mentioned before, we have moved within the last year. I even wrote about songs for house hunting back over summer. We found our now house last winter, but didn’t close and move until almost summertime. Since then, we have did our share of “breaking it in” and making it our own through painting, a lot of cleaning, hosting cook outs, a backyard camp-out, dinners, lunches, and birthday parties. With each event, we’ve had to look for that one thing that we only use occasionally (which box is that in, now?), and we’ve been able to figure out what works best in our new space.

Now with the  holidays quickly approaching, we have decorated our house and it truly feels like home. No other holiday holds so many memories of loved ones and special traditions than Christmas.

I’ve had the chance to re-arrange and play around with our existing holiday decor and find some new pieces for our new home. In our last home we didn’t have a fireplace or mantle, so I hung our stockings on a bookshelf or on the side of an entertainment center. In our new home, I am so happy to have our stockings hung up on the mantle. I took a recent selfie with my kids in front of the fireplace.


Yay – all dressed in red and posing so cute in front of the fireplace.

It was really special putting up our tree and decorating it as a family. The kids helped put on the ornaments so quickly and only minor adjustments were needed. So many ornaments tell our families collective story, from baby 1st Christmas ornaments, to ornaments of our grandparents who live on in our hearts. The ornaments on the tree are so very personal – and so at home in our house. Our cat even approves and has assumed her usual place hanging out under the tree.


Good kitty!

As I mentioned in my post, A Time of Patience, we have enjoyed lighting the advent wreath during family dinners. With the first real snowfall, we even managed to light a fire. Once it was going, we hung out together, playing games and reading. It was peaceful and cozy – very homey.


Top – Our advent wreath centerpiece, enjoying Christmas lights on our tree, and our first fire in our fireplace. 

All of these decorations and moments that we have shared as a family as we prepare for Christmas and the coming of the New Year have solidified the feeling of being home. As the song says, “There’s no place like home for the holidays,” and I couldn’t agree more.

It’s good to be home.


Fly on the Wall: Cuckoo Gaga Cray Cray

Welcome to a Fly on the Wall group post. Today 10 bloggers are inviting you to catch a glimpse of what you’d see if you were a fly on the wall in our homes. Come on in and buzz around my house.

Here’s who you’ll be hearing from:

  • Me, Mama O.
  • Daddy O.
  • Big Sister, age 6
  • Little Brother, age 4

Buzz around, see what you think, then click on these links at the bottom of my post for a peek into some other homes:

Can you Hear Me Now?

Ever feel like family members don’t listen to you? This happens all the time with my kids and happened recently with Daddy O. It went like this:

Me: There are extra english muffins in the freezer if you want some.

Two minutes later, Daddy O: Do we have english muffins?

Me: Big sister likes blueberries now.

Two minutes later, Daddy O to Big Sister: Do you like blueberries?

Me: Honestly, you didn’t hear me say those two things just minutes ago? Sigh…

Fashion Feedback

I did some shopping online and we had some interesting reactions to what I found.

Big sister: This is our like a belt on my sandal! I love them. (The “belt strap” is by her heel.)


Adorable- do they come in my size?

Little Brother: Shirts should cover my privates. (Upon trying on his new size 5 shirt, it covered his privates.)

Daddy O.: No, shirts don’t have to do that. I think Mom was saying that she likes shirts that cover her privates when she wears leggings.

Mama O in workout gear

This is an example of what I mean – I like a longer top to cover my “privates” when I wear leggings / spandex. This is my workout gear with #noMakeup #noFilter

I don’t always look cute when I workout. I also have these mannish, padded bike shorts. I’ll take function, comfort, and a good workout over cuteness anytime!


Me: (reacting to another online purchase) Isn’t the back of this sports bra cute?

Back detail of new sports bra (same yoga outfit as above).

Daddy O: Isn’t that like something Kendall Jenner would wear?

Me: Ugh. Did you really just say that?! How do you know what she wears?

Daddy O: I read it online.

Me: Wow, what a great way to spend your lunch hour! (Why did I ask? As a side note, cute sports bras are NOT comfortable. Don’t buy this kind of stuff online if you can’t return it. Ugh..but at least I won’t be wearing something that causes my husband to compare me to Kendall Jenner!)

Where do they come up with this?

Daddy O: Don’t be Cuckoo Gaga Cray Cray! (to Big Sister) Eat your breakfast.

Me: Wow, you came up with that one?

Daddy O: Yes, I guess I did.

Me: A new low in parenting, Daddy! That sounds like something from that Barbie show – lol. (Or possibly a new high in parenting as he relates to our 6 year old daughter – ha)

I’ve been calling Big Sister my mini-me for some time. Here we are together in a selfie that she didn’t want to be in:

Mama O and Mini Me

Anyway, she told me this week, “If I’m your mini-me, then you are my big-me.” Good point, but mini-me sounds way cuter! We talked about this last month, and she suggested I’d have white hair in a few months. It’s tough being the “big-me” I guess!

Mealtime Goofiness

Big sister to Little Brother (who was acting goofy at dinner): You can never be president!

Me: like he’s acting so weird that this would be brought up if he ran for president? Hmm when you were 4 we heard you had bad table manners.

Little Brother: (eating grapes) This tastes like chicken. (What?!)

Day Without the Kids

We had a very fun Saturday out, meeting family to canoe / kayak and go on a brewery tour. As usual, we were cutting it a bit close and should have left earlier.

Daddy O: What’s our ETA?

Me: Late!

Truth be told we were actually right on time. The rental place on the river opened right at the time of our canoe rental, so we made it! YES!

More Fantastic Fly Posts

Now, shoo fly & click on these links for a peek into some other homes:

Baking In A Tornado                   http://www.bakinginatornado.com/

Menopausal Mother                    http://www.menopausalmom.com/

Spatulas on Parade                     http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/

Searching for Sanity                    http://singlemumplusone.blogspot.com

Never Ever Give Up Hope             http://batteredhope.blogspot.com

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy         http://dinoheromommy.com/

Southern Belle Charm                   http://www.southernbellecharm.com

Eileen’s Perpetually Busy               http://eileensperpetuallybusy.blogspot.com/

Molly Ritterbeck                             http://mollyritterbeck.com/


Fly on the Wall: Stop Chatty, Chat, Chatting

It’s that time of the month again! Welcome to a Fly on the Wall group post.  I’ve written these posts before, and you can find past posts on this page of my blog.

Today 12 bloggers are inviting you to catch a glimpse of what you’d see if you were a fly on the wall in our homes. Come on in and buzz around my house.

Here’s who you’ll be hearing from:

  • Me, Mama O.
  • Daddy O.
  • Big Sister, age 6
  • Little Brother, age 4

Animal Antics

My kids really love animals, so I wasn’t surprised when my son said, “I am chewing my spaghetti as a llama.”  Oh really! He’s continued to say this whenever we eat pasta now.

Little brother sniffing me (like an animal), then told me, “When you wake up, you smell like a stinky ball.”

I asked him, “Do you smell like a stinky ball when you wake up?”

“No way!” he said.

While riding in the car, Little Brother declared, “Guess what? Wolves and African wild dogs can tire their prey to exhaustion. They run and run and run and then they get the moose.”

Me to Daddy O. “Wow, he’s just like that kid in Jerry Maguire!”

Tonight in the car, the kids were comparing my driving speed to how fast animals can run. “A lion is 40 mph. Did you know giraffes can only run 25 mph? This is way slower than a cheetah can run. Yeah, that’s 70 mph.” They really crack me up!

New Desserts

As I may have mentioned in other posts, I have a lot of time at home with Little Brother while Big Sister is in all day kindergarten. During winter we try to stay busy even if we’re indoors, so we’ve ended up baking together several times. One day he came up with his own dessert and starting giving me instructions:

“First take a chocolate granola bar. Then put Nutella on it. And then add green sprinkles.” He let me make my own version with Nutella on a graham cracker, saying “you get the pink sprinkles.”  This guy is chocolate lover like me!

Every year for the past 14 years we have been fortunate to receive some Japanese candies along with a card from a family I met when I spent a summer in Tokyo. In turn, I try to send them American candies.  This year it was fun trying all of the candies as a family. My daughter recently held up a fig-newton looking bar, and asked what I thought it was.

“It’s not chocolate! I know that much. It’s probably bean paste.” (as an aside, my mom had mistaken chocolate for bean paste when she visited me in Japan and bought a dessert all by herself – big disappointment).

Big Sister gave it a try, and exclaimed, “You gotta try this bean paste!” I guess I have a new ingredient that I can sneak into baking…

Just because we’re on the topic of baking and desserts, I thought I’d add a few comments around our 10 year anniversary.

Daddy O: I would really love a cherry pie for our anniversary.

Me (later in the day): I made you a marriage of our favorites – your tart cherries and my dark chocolate made one delicious chocolate cherry cake!

Daddy O: This is so good, I’ve had to have two a day!

Mama O and Daddy O on their 10 year anniversary

The selfie I took of Daddy O. and me on our actual anniversary.

Say WHAT?!

I took Little Brother shopping recently, and he spied some camouflage walkie talkies. He was all excited and of course wanted to buy them. I told him that he should bring his money to buy that toy, so we went home to empty his piggy bank and count it. When Daddy came home he said, “I have enough money for a wafee toffee.” I corrected him, “You mean a walkie talkie, right?”  Little Brother, “No, wafee toffee.”  We ended up returning to the store to let him buy the walkie talkie, and he since has stopped saying “wafee toffee.” It sounded pretty cute though!

When Little Brother is getting impatient (usually when we’re out in public), he has taken to saying, “Stop chatty, chat, chatting.” But my name is Cathy…isn’t Chatty Cathy a thing?

We were driving around, looking for a place to eat Sunday brunch, and as we passed a favorite neighborhood bistro, Little Brother professed, “I love bistros.”

Big sister wanted to play some apps or read some e-books on my Nook Tablet, and asked for the password, “Can you tell me the password when I’m like 13 or 14 years old?” Yes, I sure can. She’s so cute!

Life Isn’t Fair

Big sister at age 6 is becoming prone to drama – eye rolls, hands on the hip, and stare downs from time to time! Ugh!  She blurted out, “Jordan and Kate ALWAYS get hot lunch. How come I NEVER get hot lunch?! Life isn’t fair. Don’t laugh at me, Mom.”

Oh my child…I could not help but laugh.  How much you have to learn! And I am sure I will be hearing, “Life’s not fair” from you many more times!

For more Fly fun, be sure to click on these links for a peek into some other homes:

Baking In A Tornado

Juicebox Confession

Menopausal Mother

Someone Else’s Genius

Spatulas on Parade

Searching for Sanity

Never Ever Give Up Hope

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy

Not That Sarah Michelle

Southern Belle Charm

Fly on the Wall: Big Dreams and Lots of Love

Welcome to a Fly on the Wall group post. Today 12 bloggers are inviting you to catch a glimpse of what you’d see if you were a fly on the wall in our homes. Come on in and buzz around my house.

Fly on the Wall Post

If you’re new here, this is who is featured in Fly on the Wall:

  • Me, Mama O.
  • Daddy O.
  • Big Sister, age 6
  • Little Brother, age 4

Big Dreams

Daddy O. subscribes to some car enthusiast magazines.

Reading Car & Driver Magazine together

A few years ago – Daddy O. and Little Brother reading Car & Driver magazine.

He was reading it with the kids around, and I overheard:

Little Brother: Can we buy that (a Lotus Evora)? We have a lot of money.

Big Sister: I have a lot of money.

Little Brother: We could tape it together.

Big Sister: Wait, how many seats does it have?

Daddy O: Only two seats

I think that ended the conversation! We often tease them that two-seaters don’t have room for car seats, so they are a mom and dad ONLY car.  Daddy O. is definitely DREAMING of the day he may get a fancy sports car.

Random Things we Hear in the Morning

While “helping” Daddy O. pick out clothes, my son was jumping on the bed, and asked, “Did it (the bed) shiver?”  I understood what he meant!

Big sister, “I have a busy morning. Actually everyday I have a busy morning. I have to wake up, eat breakfast, make my bed, brush teeth, brush hair, pack my backpack…” She is too cute. We made her a chart for getting ready each day to check off her “jobs” to give me a break from saying, “Hurry up!” It’s been working well, but has apparently felt like a lot to her. Ah, the innocence of youth!

I gave my daughter hot chocolate, saying that it might be hot. She replied, “Burning hot!” (a big exaggerated) My son, agreeing said, “So hot you could boil an egg.”

 Things We Thought We’d Never Say

At library craft time, I said to my kids, “You two are very good at crafts.” My daughter, ever so modest, replies, “Yeah, I’m really good,” and my son chimes in, “Better than the rest.”

I explained, “Well, everyone just has fun making their project.” To another mom I said, “My kids are so competitive!” She agreed, saying, “Yeah, mine are the same way. I never thought I’d have to say arts and crafts is not a competition!”

My kids at craft time

At the craft session when the above conversation was had! I should have taken pictures of each project, so you could have voted on the best one!

Fast forward a bit to my birthday, and Daddy O. found himself saying to our children, “You have to eat your food without being annoying if you want birthday cake.”

Best for Last

On my birthday big sister gave me a hug and said

I love you all around the universe.

She is the best! I wrote this post to her, asking her to stay little and sweet. Here’s a recent family picture:

family picture Nov 15

Mama O. and family at Big Sister’s birthday. At least three of us are smiling nicely.

Thanks for stopping by! Now click on these links for a peek into some other homes:












Life Lessons from Coffee: You Get What you Pay For

After nine years of trusty service, my coffee maker broke. Its inevitable demise was so anti-climatic. I filled it up with water, lined the basket with a paper filter, scooped in the grounds, pressed the button, and waited…and waited. Nothing. I tried unplugging and replugging it in another outlet, pressed the button, and more nothing. Since I’m kind of addicted to my morning fix and frugal, I both wanted my coffee and didn’t want to let good, locally roasted ground coffee (not freshly ground that morning) to go to waste. Being an avid tea drinker as well, I decided to let my coffee steep like so.

mama O making coffee when her coffee maker broke.

Boiling water over coffee filter that’s chip-clipped to a measuring cup. Genius, right?!

This was effective, but not the same experience as my regular old coffee maker. One friend suggested the “pour over” method. I was once served coffee this way in a nice, local coffee shop, though they used specific equipment for this method, instead of my plastic funnel. This video from America’s Test Kitchen breaks it down:

The results: amazing! It takes some time, but the quality and taste was excellent. I compared this with a cup of coffee from the grocery store that I bought on an early A.M. run to the store for a few things. The results were telling, in more ways that one. Here’s what I found in the bottom of the cup:

Grounds in my grocery store coffee

Not “clouds in my coffee” but grounds. Yuck.

It’s no surprise that grocery store coffee is lacking in quality and taste compared to the carefully brewed at home pour-over method, Starbucks, or any local coffee shop. This was a great reminder that you truly do get what you pay for. Be it money, time, convenience, or the overall experience, there is a definite price / value relationship.

Lesson Learned – don’t buy cheap coffee! I also just replaced my defunct coffee maker with a beautiful new Cuisinart one. My first cup this morning was delicious! I’ll stick with my new machine and from time to time the “pour-over” method in my house.