Has it really been a year?

mama bear plus 6

I am clueless to how a year has passed since my last post here at Mama Bear Plus 6!

The kids and I left WA State and moved to Coeur d ‘Alene Idaho and what another amazing adventure that has been, we LOVE it!

1 daughter has left the nest to start her adult journey.

1 on her way out in just a few months and is heading to WSU to study business, GO COUGS!

I finished my Tamale Therapy cookbook, finally! You can find that here http://cookingtamales.com/

We are adding a new member to the family, my oldest daughter and her husband are expecting their 1st baby, a son, in April 2015 (which is weeks away folks, just weeks!)! This nanna is SO overly excited!! You can read about that journey at http://thenannachronicles.com/

mama bear plus 6

A lot of life can happen in 1 year! We have been super busy and why I have not just jumped on and posted updates or recipes or pictures… well I will not serve anyone any excuses because we all know that’s all they are. Honestly I just haven’t made time!

Hope this finds everyone amazing and all the things that have taken place in your life in the last year have been wonderful!

Mama Bear Plus 6+

Feeding a Large Family Tips

I often get asked about meals, cooking, shopping for a big family.

“How do you do it?”

“I bet that costs a fortune!”

“Is it hard to cook for so many?”

“Do you plan out your meals?”

“Will you share your recipes?”

And the list goes on…

I am not an extreme coupon-er, although I certainly wish I was! A certain level of jealously hits me when I see all these people saving butt loads of money at the store with coupons and here I am handing the check out person 3-8 coupons saving a few bucks. I have always wanted to do it but can never quite figure it out, the only coupons I ever get are for toothpaste, deodorant, all the name brand laundry stuff etc. And it is for all the stuff I don’t use so am I missing something!? Am I not looking in the right place for the right coupons!? I prefer store brand stuff on most things I but (except for fabric softener and Mac and Cheese, no just no!) And I feel I am saving a good amount of money by doing that so this my friends is how I keep the coupon jealousy down to a minimum! I do however follow the Krazy Coupon Lady’s blog and do follow some of her amazing tips and use some of her coupons etc! http://thekrazycouponlady.com/

As for our family I will share with you what works for us and what we also plan to try to see if it is a fit.

Ever heard of a fruit/veggie co-op? We have used several and really enjoy the produce and the savings! Now these may or may not be located in your city so a quick Google search should let you know. We have used Market on the Move http://the3000club.org/ and they always have an abundance of produce! Not sure if this is only located in AZ but you can always check. 1 we really love and have used for years is Bountiful Baskets! They are in many cities so chances are good you will find 1 near you, if not contact them and start 1! http://bountifulbaskets.org/. They have more than just produce that you can purchase as well, like honey, breads, combo packs etc all at a discount price! Check them out!

Menu/Meal Planning We plan out all our meals, recipes, etc and then make a list based on that for at least 2 weeks and then shop for those items. I use the sales ads to plan the meals and talk about saving time, money & headaches! It saves me from having to go to the grocery store often (which is great for me considering we live 20 min from any major grocery stores) and cooking is so much more fun when you have all you need ahead of time! Plus the kids like knowing what we are having for dinner each night of the week. http://mamabearplus6.com/meal-planning-or-go-with-the-flow/

Quality Discount Meats. We also have used a discount place for meats, chicken, fish, produce, and the best bacon, called Zaycon! https://www.zayconfoods.com/. This is where you buy meats by the case. You can buy the case if you can afford it or go in with another family member of friend to stock up. I have heard there are other places like Zaycon but I have yet to find them so if you know of any please share! Also too, we are considering buy a whole cow and/or pig and spiting it up between our family and my daughter and her hubbys households and may even add a friend on with us. It is a great way to stock the freezer and splitting the cost to make it affordable for everyone. And it supports local farmers, win win!

Grow your own! A GREAT way to feed the fam and eat healthy and what a wonderful experience it is! Seeds are cheap and with effort and love you can have a hearty garden to put food on the table! Our very 1st real garden experience this last summer and I am in LOVE with it! Looking forward to growing it bigger and better every year!

Find your local growers! We spent many days in Greenbluff, which is a local farming area that grows ALL sorts of produce! We would go and pick pounds of fruits/veggies for a great price and so so yummy too! Find a local grower in your area!

Sales! If I groceries on a good sale, I stock up! Meats, boxed sides, household goods etc. Check your store ads weekly so you know what is coming up on sale and can prepare to buy those items and stock up on them. If it is produce that is on sale, buy it, chop it, freeze it, you will be so glad you did! The stuff you cant freeze, create a weekly menu, meals and snacks based on those items that you bought while they were cheaper.

Buy bulk when it makes sense. I say this because it is not always cheaper to buy bulk! On some things yes, but not on everything. I LOVE Costco and I have certain things I will only buy there but there are some items that I can get cheaper like spaghetti sauce hahaha! Always check prices and see if it is a great deal. I love how my teens now always check labels and sue their math skills to see what is cheaper per unit etc. A few seconds of time to do this can add up a great deal of savings over time!

Bulk meals. Something we are new too and just beginning to try is bulk meals. We will be shopping with our family along with my oldest daughter and her hubby to buy bulk, make numerous ready to cook crock pot freezer meals to stock both of our freezers for the winters. I am excited to start this and will surely blog about how it goes. We will include recipes, shopping lists and how the overall experience goes. Stay tuned 🙂

P.S. These are just a few ways that we shop, cook etc and save money! What tips/tricks help you save money!? What would you add to this list!?

 


Mama Bear Plus 6

Finding life, family and work balance

Since I work from home (and currently go to online school) I always hear people say how lucky I am or how lucky my kids are to have their mom home etc. Yes I feel SO blessed to be able to work from home with them and have a flexible schedule (my wish for all parents that want flexible schedules!) I am home to make meals/dinner, to go to school things, to run them to all their appointments, to run them clothes or money when they forget it and the list goes on.

On a side note: I don’t think my teens feel very “lucky” having mom home. No messing around after school, no ditching school, no sneaking people over and any other things teens look forward to when their parents are away. Not that they would do this if I worked outside the home but there is no opportunities to find out hehe.

Working from home is HARD, it is not all fancy and fairytale-ish as some people and media make it seem! With all the things and more mentioned above it is VERY distracting when trying to get things done! There are days and weeks that fly by that I feel like I wasn’t productive at all. And as those types of days and weeks pass, the list of things to do gets longer and income coming in is affected. I make lists, print calendars and create deadlines and it still doesn’t keep the distractions down! From cell phone to laundry to dogs to cats to house phone to emails to doorbell to cooking to trying to keep the house clean to kids kids kids… There are distractions around every corner. There are days when they get the best of me, what can I say, I am only human!

This month (December) (I know, crazy to do around the holidays but cant keep putting it off!)I have started a new way of making my time productive as well as meeting the needs of the house and family. I have a planner now and started literally making “appointments” for stuff that needs to get done, plus using my printed calendars I have created time slots with beginning and ending times not just jotting 6-8 things that I need to get done each day on it. I need to be more disciplined and make time for the “work” stuff and time for the kids so I am not always saying to them that I need to get this and that done before we can go for a walk or before we go on a bike ride or sledding or just laying with them watching a movie and NOT feeling guiltily about doing it and then half the time not getting to do any of it cause it took too much time to tend to 3 things at once while trying to take a call or write a page in my book or get research done for school. I am determined to balance life, work and family and will continue to look for ways to do so as I live and learn. So starting with this and will see how it goes 🙂

Want to share this awesome blog I so enjoy reading! Plus she has GREAT tools & tips for organizing your life!

http://justagirlandherblog.com/how-i-organized-my-whole-life/

My kids are in school M-Fri, except for my son who only goes part time 3 days a week, and I pretty much have time from 8-3pm give or take to be productive so starting here and NOW! I will keep everyone posted as I go thru this new structure and system as I have had several emails asking how I balance it all, so I am admitting to the world that I don’t have all the right answers and I don’t have it all together, yes I am scattered a bit but I am a work in progress! Hmm maybe a great idea for a newsletter!

I suffer from “Guilty Mommy Syndrome”! I feel bad when I can’t give them all my time and attention. I try to live by the moto “Housework can wait, they will only be little once” Buuutt all my work is “Housework”… And this my friends is how I get SO far behind!
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When my son, who is 6, is home on his non school days he has a hard time with mommy not being able to give him all my time and attention so I have found him several workbooks that he works in while mommy works. We also LOVE ABC Mouse! I also used ABC Mouse when I ran a childcare and used it when I taught preschool. I HIGHLY recommend it! And the best part… Try it FREE for a whole month! Guaranteed you will be sold and your kids will love it, just saying 🙂


Here are some planner/organize your life products! I bought and love so far, the “Mom’s Family Desk Planner”

P.S. Do you have any time saving, balancing life/work, get stuff done tips that you can share!? Please please do! We are all opens ears/eyes here!

Mama Bear Plus 6

See what happens when you are nice to people

At Walmart with my son last week picking up the rest of his party stuff as he is bouncing everywhere and using his VERY good imagination as he “shoots zombies” and hides behind my cart and others carts (oh yes we are those people that others frown upon in stores for my kid being just that… a kid)

Mind you we have already been to 4 other stores and we are ready for lunch and a movie so I am awaiting a break down from him and/or myself at any moment. But he is so content just being himself. This is my queue to get what I need and get out, 45 minutes in this Walmart trip…it is only a matter of time at this point.

As we are checking out, he is like 90% of other kids and is asking for gum, candy, beef jerky and anything else he sees that they place there just for the littles to beg their parents for. I told him he needed to wait and that I would give him a quarter on our way out for a gum. He was okay with that, thankfully.

On our way out we are passing Subway located inside of Walmart and he notices an elderly woman that is checking out has dropped some money so he runs over and picks it up as she is walking away and runs up to her and says “Mam you dropped this.” She stopped and looked in her hand and looked at him as he stared at her with his hand stretched out and her dropped money in it. And she says as she takes her money from his hand “Oh my I guess I did, what a wonderful young man you are to bring it to me, thank you so much. This is for you.” she says and hands him the shiniest quarter ever and says “That was so very nice of you, always be good to people and be honest.” His eyes lit up like she had handed him a check for a million dollars! He says “Thank you to you. I will!” as he runs in my direction showing me the quarter and says “Mama, see what happens when you are nice to people! Now I can buy my gum and you can use your quarter you were going to give me to buy you a gum!”

As we both walk out chewing gum far too big for our mouths mama can’t help but smile at what a great lesson my son just learned all on his own.

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P.S. Share with us a  proud mama or dad moment that brought a smile to your face or a tear to your eye!

Mama Bear Plus 6

Meal planning or go with the flow?

A common question I get asked often is: How does your family plan your meals!?

Are you the family that shops for what you are cooking the same day and make everyday or other day trips to grocery store?

Are you the family that shops 1 time a month and stock piles everything?

Or do you shop a few times a month for your meals?

Do you even cook!? Or is it can/cold stuff/boxed/microwaved (is microwaved mean cooked!?) every night for dinner?

I have met families that do not cook and eat out pretty much everyday aside from TV dinners. Hey if that’s what works for you!

I am always curious to know how others do it and what works for them.

With my big family I feel that some type of routine/schedule/plan is a MUST! For the mind and bank account!

We work with a 2 week meal plan. It goes a little something like this, on every other Sunday we get out a notepad I start a list of things we need for breakfasts, lunches snacks, household, etc. We have a list on the fridge and when we are out of something it gets written down on the list, whether it be toilet paper or nail polish remover (which we use SO much of in our house!) toothpaste, bread, or if there is just something the kids saw or thought about that they want or would like to try. We pick many of our ideas from Pinterest. We actually took a 1  month Pinterest meal challenge and out of everything we cooked from there we only had 1 fail! Each kiddo gets to choose what they want for dinner(s). They LOVE being able to have a say so and picking foods they enjoy and/or can help prepare. Makes them feel important and that makes me smile 🙂  The dinners are written on the right side of the paper. We list 10-14 of them and 2 special desserts (1 for each week). Then I take each dinner and write down what we need to buy for it and gather any coupons I may have that I need for this store trip. I make a Costco list and a grocery store list.

We then take this awesome meal planner that my oldest daughter made me and put our meals up for the 1st week. It makes it so easy to know what to thaw out, soak, prepare, etc. for that nights and the next nights dinner,  talk about making life simpler in little ways like this! I try to prepare meats and sides that can be used for more than 1 meal, for example, boiling and shredding chicken breast for tacos 1 night and chicken noodle soup a few nights later. Or home made re-fried beans for a side for dinner 1 night and bean and cheese burritos next night or night after. Makes cooking easier and groceries stretch out longer. Who doesn’t love that!?

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This is what works for our family! Does it mean that I don’t ever have that annoying “in the middle of the week missing 1 item for the dinner I already started making” store trip!? Of course not, it happens occasionally but for the most part groceries and feeding the cubs is not something that gives me a headache anymore with our method and that I am SO grateful for!

kitchen fun

P.S. What works for you and your family!? Please share any tips or ideas that you may have! We all learn from each other and sharing is caring 🙂

Mama Bear Plus 6

What does your Sunday look like!?

Our wild and oh so enjoyable Sundays begin with me trying my best to get up before every else so I can have a tasty cup of hot coffee on my patio enjoying the temporary quiet, just God, nature & me.

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Kids up at 8am (if we are attending church that week and if we are not it is a “get up when you want, stay in your jams” kinda day as we all need a Sunday like that every now and then!) in hopes everyone is showered, dressed and fed by 9:15 if we are stopping by our small local coffee shop for some small talk and an awesome custom coffee and 9:45 if not.

Coffee in hand from home, or Suncrest Gourmet and we are off to service to have our faith meter filled at our local church connecting with the people chatting about this or that and for approx 90 min of songs of worship and an informative service from our Pastor. The teens normally take this time to volunteer their help in nursery services while the littles go to their groups.

After service and our goodbyes we head home to prepare “linner” (lunch/dinner) for the whole fam bam, including my oldest daughter & her hubby that come spend every Sunday with us and bring their 2, 4 legged children, their 1 blind and 1 half blind oh so adorable sibling pugs, Iggy & Kensey, who enjoy running the property and playing with our dogs & of course getting showered with love and attention (and sometimes ice cream hehe) from all of us!

Dogs

By Friday we have usually have planned the oh so horrible for us oops i mean delish meal, appetizers and dessert we will be making on Sunday. It is our “splurge, stuff our faces & drink gallons of iced tea” day where nobody worries about how bad our food choices are for 1 day. Don’t judge us, we behave all week to be able to do this 1 day, hehe!

The day is spent laughing, talking, of course the occasional argue, playing video games, playing hide and seek, coloring each others hair, a visit to the lake, playing ball, building a fire and making smores, crafts, and the list goes on.

 CampfireSunday fun day

I often find myself looking at life my, my kids, where we now live etc and wonder if I am dreaming, I ask myself what I did that was so wonderful that I deserve to be this blessed. It is days like these where everything that means the most to me, my whole world is in 1 place at 1 time and the nothing can be sweeter. It is days like this that make me look around realize how absolutely rich I am in SO many ways no matter how much money I do or don’t have in the bank, days like this that I am overly grateful and thankful for each breathe I and each 1 of my children take, days like these that I am at times not able to process how blessed I am that it brings tears to my eyes that I often end up sitting in my bathroom after the sun sets and just have a good cry and talk with Jesus about how He trusted me with these precious lives and pray for the ability, skills and patience to continue. Days like these that I hold people I know even closer to my heart that have experienced loss of a child or loved 1 and who can only spend moments with them in memory. Days like these that I say that I will try harder to not let the petty stuff bother me and I will be grateful for each struggle, tantrum, argument, and mistake my kids make as there are so many people that would give their right arm to have their child back in this world even if it meant dealing with the bad stuff like when they don’t follow your rules or guidance. Days like these that I pray for each 1 of my children to feel the “deep, so strong its unreal” love I & the good Lord have for them every minute of their lives, thru the good and the bad.

Take a moment out of your day to read this blog post from Single Dad Laughing, I was in tears and moved beyond words by each parent that shared. Sure makes ya think… http://www.danoah.com/2013/09/truth-from-parents-of-children-who-died.html

I always end each Sunday with anticipation of a fresh new week!

P.S. What does your Sunday look like or do you have another day of the week that is your favorite and why!? Do tell 🙂

Mama Bear Plus 6

 

What’s 14 more grey hairs

It all starts with a promise, as most of us know small child promises are like mud pies, they mean SO much, look appealing, tempting but you know better than to take a bite. But since they come from their hearts just as mud pies do you want to accept them with a smile & believe they will be wonderful.

Alexa “Mom I promise that if you let me watch 1 more episode of Good Luck Charlie that I will go right to sleep and wake up in the morning when you wake me up.” Aiven “Ya mom we will, we even pinky promise!” A pinky promise you say!? Well that’s as good as gold! Deal!

Go right to sleep a half hour after your “normal” bedtime kids? Hmm maybe but highly unlikely, no control over it and that’s okay but mama promises that you will be tired come sun up hahaha. Did they wake when I woke them up like they pinky promised they would? Hmm not so much but good try though! Only had to re-wake twice! Not bad…

Here is the kicker, tired kids mean very slow moving whiny kids.

7AM

Mom “What do you want for breakfast?”

Alexa “I can’t find my jeans I wanted to wear, is there anything in the dryer?”

Mom “No all the laundry is done and put away, they are in your room somewhere. What do you want for breakfast?”

Alexa (whines) “I can’t find them that’s what I wanted to wear, I can’t find anything else”

Mom “Um did all your clothes disappear overnight!? What do you want for breakfast?”

Aiven “Can I wear my black pants again?”

Mom “No Aiven you wore those on Wednesday, What do you want for breakfast?”

Aiven (whines) “But I want to wear them they are my favorite pants”

7:20AM

Mom “What do you guys want for breakfast?”

Alexa & Aiven (whines) “I am not hungry”

Mom “You have to eat before school, how about fruit and a string cheese?”

Alexa “No, I want a bagel”

Mom “We are out of bagels, are you dressed yet?”

Alexa “No I still can’t find what to wear”

Aiven “I want pancakes, can I please wear my black pants?”

Mom “No Aiven, wear the clothes I picked out for you”

Aiven “NO mom! I’m big I will get my own clothes out I just really like those pants”

7:40AM

Mom getting all the stuff out for pancakes…

Alexa “I don’t want pancakes I want French toast”

Aiven “I want French toast too”

Ties my shoes, do my hair, Aiven has my toothbrush and won’t give it back, help me find my clip on bear for my backpack, where is my shoe, can you sign this paper for my teacher, what are we having for dinner, I need money for the book order, I wanted the powder chocolate in my milk not the syrup, can I pack my lunch today cause I don’t like the burrito at school, the cat is drinking my choco milk, I didn’t want powdered sugar on my French toast, can I change this shirt I don’t like the way it fits, can I call grandma…

8:05AM

Mom “Is that the bus already!?”

Alexa & Aiven “Yes”

The sound of 6 feet running for the street… We made it! Whew!

Mom (heavy breathing) “Wait let me take a picture! Okay bye kiddos love you have a great day!”

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Alexa “Bye mom love you too have a good day to see you after school I’m going to miss you”

Aiven “Bye mom love you so much you are the best mom ever I love you more than chicken see you after school”

Yep wouldn’t change being a mom to all these awesome & crazy kids for the world! (Even if they give me 14 grey hairs every morning before 8am!)

Starbucks solo, here I come! (Did you know, they have all their pumpkin stuff back in!? I am not too into all that, but seemed like the morning crowd was pretty excited as I people watched silently for a few)

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Mama Bear Plus 6

You have been so good to us summer

Our “summer” started June 14th! Kids last day of school the 13th and off to a Cali vacation the next day, talk about starting it off right!

My 1st major vacation as a single parent, FEAR had set in and I was nervous about the 23 hour drive as the only adult and the fear of being able to keep everything and everyone together while we were there. O’well time to suck it up and begin the journey!  

CA Collage

Plans to meet our best friends from AZ there that we haven’t seen in a year, so exciting! On our week stay, we hit Disneyland, California Adventure,  Knotts Berry Farm & the beach, Hunnigton.

the beach

Disneyland… My most favorite place on Earth. The feeling of walking thru those gates cannot be matched, although the new Cars ride was beyond amazing and brought tears to my eyes over how WOW  it was.  Being there brings this tingly awesome feeling that I could never get enough of.  We have been there numerous times and I could go every week if I was able too!  A blog on that alone will be in the future!

ca group

California Adventure and Knotts are awesome places too of course! The kids prefer California Adventure over Disneyland for the bigger thrill rides they offer. Knotts is more of the break you take between or after the bigger parks, lots of fun but not as large so easier to get thru in 1 day.

CA and knotts

 A wonderful vacation, amusement parks, beach, shopping and all the neat places we ate, my fav The Boling Crab http://www.theboilingcrab.com/! It was our 1st time there and was AMAZING! A must try if you like seafood and well… chicken tenders. The food was delish, after I got past having to remove the shrimp heads myself! The atmosphere loud crazy and fun, kinda like us as we fit right in there, which is hard to do in restaurants these days when everyone is quiet and reserved haha!

Boiling crab

We spent a week having a blast with some awesome people! The 23 hour drive home was tough since we drove straight thru and didn’t stop to sleep like we did on the way there. Would I do it again!? YES I could never stay away from Disney for too long, but will prefer to fly!

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Big vacation behind us, time to spend some time in our own amazing area…

We have spent many Saturdays this year in Green Bluff http://www.greenbluffgrowers.com/ picking lots of fresh fruits, feeding the animals, eating more cherries than any of us would like to admit, meeting some pretty amazing people, seeing beautiful weddings, getting lost & best of all, enjoying some quality family time!

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Silverwood & Boulder Beach http://www.silverwoodthemepark.com/! A neat amusement park & seasonal water park located in Athol, ID. It is about an hour & half from our house. I want to say that Silverwood is very similar to Knotts Berry farm. Not too big and loads of fun! We have spent several days there this summer! We all love it and with it being so close it is a must visit for a full day of fun in the park itself riding awesome wooden roller coasters & some other big rides and then spending a few hours cooling off in the water park and hitting some huge slides and the 2 wave pools! Can’t miss the magic show in the Theatre of Illusion with Nick Norton while you are there! A must see while enjoying a very affordable large pizza dinner, breadsticks & drinks for the family, all for $25 while having your mind blown with his amazing magic!

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Summer camps! My 5 year old son got to attend his very 1st 3 day pee wee camp at Camp Gifford! (YIKES!) I was SO nervous and he was SO excited. I honestly have NO idea how I actually dropped him off and drove away. I cried the entire ride home and on and off all 3 days & not being able to talk to him drove me NUTS!! I was counting the hours till I could pick him up. Not sure I want him to go again but he had SO much fun it will be so hard to say no.

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Family Camp at Riverview Bible Camp located in Cusik, WA! http://www.riverviewbiblecamp.com/   Wow what a neat experience that was! We will be making that a yearly trip no doubt! We went with our church, Suncrest Family Worship and spent a Fri, Sat & Sun there. The camp had SO many things to do for the whole family! Riverfront swimming with inflatable water toys which included and were SO much FUN: The Blob (fun & scary!), Trampoline (loads of fun!), Saturn (ya good luck getting onto that!), Iceberg (now that is a climb), Log ( sure if you feel like falling into the water repeatedly), Slide (more for the kiddos), Canoes (Um about that… Our family & canoes= will end up swimming 3 minutes after getting into it), Heated pool (didn’t get to try that, not enough hours in a day),  Swings (yes even for us big kids!), 40′ Amusement park slide (I would like to change the name of this slide to Burn Slide instead of amusement slide since every person that flies down it on a waxed burlap bag WILL obtain a burn on some area of skin LOL but it is impossible to stay off of since it is SO fun), Hiking trails (LOTS!), a beautiful creek with a bridge ( a must see), Water Balloon War Zone (um SO fun!), Gymnasium with three basketball courts, Ping Pong, Tether Ball (a fav of our family!), a game room,  24 hour coffee/tea/hot chocolate with SO much scenery to sit on the deck or at the lake and watch, priceless really. The cabins were awesome! Our cabin slept 10 with full bathroom & shower, so our whole family got to stay together. We had guest speakers who are missionaries that told some pretty amazing stories that had our attention, morning and evening services, 3 delish full course meals, tons of play & family time. If you have not visited a family camp as a family this is a must do!

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Cat Tales, an amazing non-profit animal rescue! To make a donation or to see what it is all about visit their website http://www.cattales.org/ Spent the day with the fam bam there seeing the big kitties, tigers (lots of them, white 1s too!), bobcats, lions, panthers, cheetah, and even a bear! You can take a guided tour, watch a show, just browse the cages and best of all; you can choose to feed a bear or tiger! To feed a bear you must be 6 years old, he LOVEs watermelon! To feed a tiger you must be 8 years old and they eat raw bloody steak, yum! The workers there are awesome, full of energy, very friendly and helpful and willing to talk to you & answer any questions you have (I had lots!) It was a neat experience for all of us! They also offer Zoo school, I was told it is a 1 year fulltime program that you take and you can get hired there or go somewhere else and apply. If you are interested in zoo keeper, animal medicine or just want to work around the big cats (ME!) you can take this 1 year hands on course and get certified! How cool is that!?

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Here is more info from their website:  “Are you interested in a career in zoology? Train to become one of the best. Cat Tales ZTC is the ONLY school of it’s kind where students learn every aspect of zoo operations and professional animal care.  Take a peek at a Zookeeper’s Day to get a taste of what is involved, and see if zookeeping may be for you. While we do not guarantee job placement for graduates of the program, we receive requests on a regular basis for information on upcoming graduates as possibilities for positions at various facilities. Top names in the Zoological community hire people who have successfully completed our program, because of their well rounded training. Applicants must be 18 to apply.

From movies, to eating out, to theme parks, to long long drives, to getting lost, to picnics & events, to camps and so on this summer has been nothing short of amazing, but today it is time for summer to end and school to start! As I said bye to my kids today as they went off to their 1st day of the new school year I was filled with so much emotion, mostly happiness that this new year brings new adventures, new memories & experiences but some sadness creeped in as well, sad that the summer fun & late nights are over & that my house will be very quiet during school hours, also sad that they are 1 step /year closer to growing up and leaving the nest.

school year 2013

Well, gotta use this quiet time wisely & get some work done, they will be back home before I know it!

P.S. Please share your summer stories and any new or neat places you visited & that you would or wouldn’t recommend! We would LOVE to hear about it! Afterall, it is never too early to start planning next summer!

Mama Bear Plus 6

 

I wish Heaven had a phone…

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Lugene Ann Colby 01/01/1956-04/25/1993

My mama, my best friend, a woman FULL of spunk, love, endless dreams and laughs.

Me and her, her & I. Single mama of 1, ME

I could write for days about all the memories that I pray never leave my mind of her life & our relationship. But I will keep it short and sweet as this day I remember is not a celebration as her birthday would be, it is a day that stings me to the inner core of my being, the day I lost the only parent I ever had. The day my life as a daughter ended just.like.that.

April 25th, 1993 We were baptizing our 2 month old daughter at St John’s Catholic Church at 1:30PM. All our friends and family are there except for my grandma who had to work and could not join us and my mom, who was supposed to be there. I talked to her 2 days before that and she, in her very scratchy sounding voice said of course she would be there, she was off that Sunday and wouldn’t miss her 1st grandbaby’s baptism. But she wasn’t. I was mad. I kept looking for here to walk in the door and nothing. How could she do this? She knew this was important to us. She knows where the church is and said she was off so there should be no excuses for her to miss this. Baptism was beautiful but I was still upset. Maybe just maybe she would show up at the after party we had planned… What would her excuse be?

See I was rebuilding a great relationship with my mom during these last 2 months since the birth of my daughter since she had been very upset that I was going to be a 17 year old mother. She wanted more for me and felt that I had thrown it all away by keeping my baby. I knew from the time I saw the pink line on the test strip that she would flip out, that she would not want me to keep it, that she would be so very disappointed in me. I was her only daughter, she had high hopes for me and felt that this was a way to road block them all for myself. Plus no mother dreams of being a grandma at only 37! During my pregnancy we rarely talked and when we did we would argue and fight. As I got closer to my due date she began to realize she would have to accept this or we would never have a relationship, so we began to build. To build a new friendship and a new understanding of each other. It wasn’t the same fun exciting relationship we had as I was growing up, it was more of a mature “soon to be mother” to mother bond and relationship. It was what I was longing for so very much. She was there in the delivery room when I delivered cheering me on, to see her hold her granddaughter was a sight I will never forget! She fell in love, instantly and from that point on I knew we would all 3 be close. In the weeks that followed she had me meet her at the bars she hung out at, the bowling alley etc so she could show off her granddaughter! She was a young and proud grandma J

After leaving the church and still no sign of my mom we headed to my grandmas place of work to pick her up so we could head to the after party. As we pulled up there were cops everywhere by the front door, which is where we were supposed to pull in. She works at a retirement home and we see cops and ambulances there often, no worries. We get as close as we can and I can see my grandma walking towards to door, she is crying and crying hard. I am now thinking her favorite patient just died, oh no. As she approaching the car a few officers are also walking towards us. Hmm this is weird. I am getting the baby who is still all dressed in her white dress to show grandma in hopes of cheering her up. An officer reaches out and takes my baby from me as my grandma starts talking, she says “Kelly, its your mom.”  I say “What about my mom!? And why the hell are you taking my child from my arms!?” She then tells me that my mom has died. “What NO no she hasn’t she is home she isn’t at work.” My mom was a heavy equipment operator at the mines and it was a very dangerous place for her to work, many accidents had happened there and if she was to ever die, which of course no teens mom is ever going to die, but if she ever did it would be at work. Grandma stop this I say. “She is off today she told me so!” She says “She died, she died at home. She was very sick. We need to go with the officers and they will take us to her.” At this time I have NO clue where my infant is and I am leaning against the car wishing I could wake up. This is bullshit, it’s a lie. Not true not true at all. The officer with my baby walks over and wraps his arm around me and walks me to his car while another officer is basically holding my grandma up as she walks to the police car as well. We all get in and start driving. I am asking question after question and no one is answering them, they all keep saying we don’t have details yet etc. UGH! After what seems like a 2 hour car ride we get to St Joesphs hospital. “Okay she is in the hospital, she has not died she is just very sick. People that have died are not in hospitals! What is wrong with these people telling me false info. See grandma they got you all upset and she is just in the hospital. She is going to be okay, she just needs us here.”  No one speaks…  The officers, carrying my baby in her car seat refusing to let me carry it,  walk us in the emergency room area and thru the halls and then into a room where there is another officer sitting and my mom on a table covered with a blanket to her neck and a tube still hanging out of her mouth. My grandma very loudly loses control and begins to cry out to her daughter, her 1 and only daughter. The officer holds her upright and keeps her from hitting the floor. As I slowly approach the table looking at her intently thinking she will ask me what the hell I am staring at I realize this is real… She is not moving and she looks so different. I walk up next to her face with my grandma. We both are talking to her, almost yelling at her. This can’t be happening! This is my mother, the only parent I have. I am 17 I can’t be without my mom! Why would God do this!? What happened!? Why didn’t they save her!? She was SO young SO healthy! Our lives at this moment are forever changed…

My mom died at her home from a mixture of the flu & pneumonia with her long time girlfriend there as she is the 1 that called the paramedics and after working on her for over 30 minutes they pronounced her gone at 1pm. There was entirely too much fluid build up in her lungs for them to get any oxygen into them. She was sick for a week and saw 2 docs that told her she had a cold and to take cough syrup. Not 1 of them took the time to take a chest x-ray or any blood work etc. Not 1 of them took their time to really listen to her and diagnose her correctly. Wrong doing on their part, YES! Did we sure them and their practice, YES! Did we win, YES and NO! We won the lawsuit and they financially paid their dues but then again we didn’t win as we still didn’t have her. We still had a HUGE hole in our hearts and lives that can never be filled… Would she be here today if they did their job better!? Nobody can answer that! But damn it she would have had a chance! Beating myself up for years over cursing her and being angry at her for not being at my childs baptism when she was at home taking her last breath…UGH! For many years my faith in God was 0. After all how could God take my mom from me when I am at church baptizing my baby!? There is no good mighty powerful God that would do that! So for years I blocked out any and all things that was God related, until my mid 20s when I was able to really find faith on my own thru several life experiences that I endured. I then came to realize that it was just time for her maker to call her home. There is nothing any of us can do about that no matter how much or how good of care she would and should have received.

I have many moments in my life where I wish Heaven had a phone, just to talk to her 1 last time… ALL the things I want to tell her, talk to her about, ask her! The list is endless…  The 1st thing I think I would say is how much I love her, because I just never told her enough and how I miss her beyond words. How I am so sorry that I didn’t stop by her house on my way to the church at noon even though I was right up the street and just assumed I would see her at the church. How I find SO much of her in my own parenting and the things I say to my own kids sounds like it is coming from her mouth! I would ask her if she is proud of me & the person I am today, even though I was once a teen parent and was destined for failure as so many people assume.  I would give anything to see what she would have to say about all these grandchildren she has and how amazing they are. How she would spend her time with them and teach them to bowl like a pro like herself and how to play a top notch game of pool. I would give anything to see her have her dream of owning land with a horse, and the smile on her face after accomplishing that since she was saving every last penny for it before she passed.  And SO much more!

Life is short! You just never know when your time will be up or the when the time will be up for the people that you hold close! Be patient with the people you love and cherish them and the moments with them for the time you have is limited. Tell them you love them! Forgive them! Like they say, life is like an hour glass and when it runs out of time you can’t turn it over and start it again. And if you are lucky enough to still have 1 or both parents, call them. Tell them they are important to you, you will be SO glad you did!

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Mama Bear Plus 6

In Just 1 Year…

It has taken me a year to even attempt to share a small portion of this story with anyone outside my small circle of close friends & family & even now I will be very selective on details, not sure there will ever be enough time between then and the present that will make me want to dig up and share those deep ugly memories. It is not something that I thought I would ever want to talk about or share with anyone or relive, but it is amazing of what just 1 year can do in terms of healing, strength, grace and faith. So today, 1 year to the month when darkness fell, I celebrate victory! Victory for my children that have grown and have become even more amazing stronger individuals and victory for myself to have picked up the scattered & shattered pieces of our lives in my weakest moments and have slowly but diligently sorted thru what pieces we needed and what pieces we didn’t, gathered almost all new pieces and have created brand new life for us!

Let me start by briefly taking this back to days, weeks, months and years before April  2012.

Met a guy (I met this guy as a single mother of 4 daughters) became friends, fell in love, got married, had 2 children, started 2 businesses, bought a house… happens to many many people. Isn’t that the way it is suppose to be!? Living the dream, or so I thought!

Yes I was married before to my high school sweetheart. We were very young when we got together, 15, married at 18 and over the years began to grow apart. By the time we were 21 our marriage was on its way to over and by the time I was 22 I was divorced, even sadder, we have no contact and haven’t for 10 years, not even with his children. Most dream of falling in love with that 1 person and staying with them for life as I did but life as we know it hardly ever goes as planned. But enough about going WAY back; I will leave that for another day.

Happily married to my best friend, life was great, it was as I thought it should be (little did I know…). We hardly fought, we vacationed, we partied (although he drank WAY more often than I did, which I didn’t really care for), we laughed, we worked hard, we cried, we were connected to an awesome church, we lived our lives surrounded by many amazing friends (friends who I will be forever grateful for that were there for me & the kids when the darkness fell) People were envious of our love & happiness. I counseled friends on love and relationships, I even played dating service and hooked up everyone I knew that was single because I felt like everyone should have the love in their life that I had. I spent many moments lost in thought of how this was it and I was set with my lifelong partner and all life could do was get even better and for years that seemed to be the case. We were planning on moving to WA State and opening a business. We were set to leave in May, to pack up life as we knew it and move. We had a house set up, he had a job lined up that would sustain us until the business that I would put all my time and energy into, got off the ground. Crazy when they say Man plans God laughs because it is so true…

There was nothing in my mind, heart or soul that led me to believe things were about change, drastically, nothing… How did I not know? How did I not see this happening? Why is it that my gut instinct didn’t kick in? How did things get so twisted in our lives that made him think that it was okay to betray us, to destroy us, to throw all we had worked for away after 8 years of our lives together…WTF!? And I was too blind to see it. Blinded by the wonderful marriage I thought we had, blinded by a love I thought was true from both ends… Love is blind they say, guess “they” are right.

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Anyone have an “unlucky” month in their life!? I do, it is April. I lost my 37 year old mother on April 25th, 1993. I lost my white cat Sugar in April of 1995 as she suffered a horrible death by coyotes in our yard. I also lost a friend to accidental suicide in April 1995. I have been in 3 car accidents, 2 in April. Oh God I get it, just not my month and that’s okay, I didn’t dwell or focus on all that as April approached over the years, okay well maybe I did lay awake some nights in every April thinking about the negative but I didn’t let it control my mind or life. In April 2012 just as the month was almost over with another good streak of good Aprils, BAM! The day this all came out and knocked me to my knees is unimportant, days & times etc are all a blur anyways. The tremendous amount of pain that hits a person when they hear devastating news that their husband, best friend had betrayed his family, more than once & I didn’t see it coming is unreal. Was it the drinking!? Would this all have happened if it wasn’t for the alcohol!? Why couldn’t our marriage be rocky 1st? Why didn’t we argue more? Why did I let my heart get SO involved and let my wall all the way down when I swore I wouldn’t years back when we got together? Why couldn’t we have been falling apart so my heart would have thickened and prepared for the end? Why was there NO notice? Sudden SUCKS! I feel like this would have been easy for me to walk away had I been preparing myself and I never got that chance. And then more questions that will never have answers came… What did I do wrong? Why wasn’t I good a good enough wife and why didn’t he talk to me before it went too far? Why was this family that loved him endlessly not enough to keep him from hurting us!? What was he thinking!? And the list goes on… Talk about feeling worthless and like the biggest failure ever. Not only was I divorced once, now twice, wow nice… NOT what I wanted to my children to have to go thru or witness. There are so many things I wish I could have protected them from seeing, feeling and hearing but the things we go thru in life either make us or break us and it is up to us to choose which path we will take, I have to say these children are fighters and have turned all the negative in their life into strength and power and dreams. They are what got me thru this, thru everything that has crossed my path in life. In the days & weeks to follow: no sleep, no showers, no eating, I couldn’t even think straight. Friends were stopping by to check on us and it was as if I wanted to run with my kids to a cave somewhere far away where none of us could be hurt by anyone and no one would talk to us.  Although I can say now that I am thankful for everyone support & love even when I tried to push them away. Everyone had SO many questions and I had no answers for them. And worst thing ever, nobody believed it. I had and still have friends and family that feel me ending the marriage was & is wrong, that I should “work it out” that I should give it time that I should be more forgiving that I should give him another chance that I should “think about the kids needing their father” and so on. I have never been good at doing what other people think I should do, they do NOT walk in my shoes, this is my life, my children’s lives I WILL do what is best for us and that is to remove us from heartache and pain. God gave me these children to protect, nourish and raise with morals and respect and that is what I will do. I have been asked over and over “What about your kids being raised in a broken home?” Excuse me!? What about our happy, fun & love filled, crazy most of the time, never a dull moment, loud, laughter filled house is broken!? If you can find something please let me know! Broken would be to stay in the negative ugliness of betrayal and heartache raising them to ignore hurt and pain and no trust! We don’t live there anymore! We are free!

I was now, overnight, a single mother of 6, 5 daughters and 1 son. They needed me, they needed me to be their strength and they were mine. They needed me to show them we would be okay. They needed & still need to know they have me and I will NEVER leave their side or betray them, ever… We needed to get thru this together and we did and we are. In the months that followed all this nastiness I had some tough choices to make, our house was being sold on short sale and I knew I needed to move out of it somehow someway with 5 kids still at home. Talk about raw knees from spending most hours of the days & nights on them praying endlessly for some guidance some light some hope, a glimpse is all I needed and God showed me so much more than that. I had emailed the wonderful couple that we had planned to rent their house in WA the week after this all happened and told them that my marriage had ended and that I would not be making the move, after all how in the world would a single mother pack up her 5 kids (and 2 dogs), pack up all our stuff, leave her oldest daughter behind, and move over 1600 miles away to a city with no job promised!? Ya ,sounds about crazy doesn’t it!? The home owners were sad and so was I. This house was meant for us, I felt it from the day I spoke to them on the phone and read their very 1st email to me offering their house to our family to lease for a year and to possibly purchase. I pictured our family there, living on the lake, enjoying our new surroundings, making the best of our lives in a beautiful place and starting a new chapter in our lives. My vision came to an end that nasty day in April. No way would I make it alone on the road and in a new place.  The home owners wished me their best and went about their lives as I tried to as well. What was I going to do? Where would we live? I started looking at houses in Tucson and it felt wrong in so many ways… Why am I going to allow this 1 person who has taken so much from us already take my dreams of moving to this place with my kids away!? I wasn’t!

Now it is the 1st week of June, I had cried and wallowed enough! It was time to take back my life and make things happen. I woke up at 2am and sat up and said out loud, we are moving; we are leaving this place and starting over. I WILL follow my dreams I WILL make a new life for my kids. Hitting my knees again praying for a sign this was what I was supposed to do I asked God to please show me something, speak to me thru someone anyone! I emailed the home owners figuring the house was long gone by then. Then I waited, I wanted to start looking for another house but I waited… 2 days and the home owner emailed me back. She stated that her father had passed away in May and they had been SO busy with handling their pain and his affairs that they had not rented the house yet and it was mine if I still wanted it. Thank you God! Here was my sign! I wanted to leave that day! But in order to do this the right way I needed to plan it out to the T so there were little surprises.  And I did, reserved the truck, bought and sold a bunch of cars to rack up my savings and planned a move date, July 17th. As the date grew closer I grew more scared. I have lived here all my life, all I know is right here and I am going to drive away from it all into the very unknown, YIKES! Preparing myself to leave behind my 19 year old child was HARD! Knowing she would be right behind me right after she was done with school and knowing all my friends would look after her and be there for her is what gave me the strength to go and not worry too much. My kids had SO many mixed feelings about leaving, of course leaving their friends was making them very sad but the desire to see a new place and be near the water kept them excited. Regardless of what they thought at that moment we were moving. I as their mother had to do what was best for them and me and staying in Tucson just wasn’t it. The movers came and we loaded our stuff on the 16th and emptied our house aside from what we packed in suitcases, the moving truck left the 18th. We stayed at my daughters for 3 days and nights spending every moment I could with her… The wee hours of the 19th we loaded up our suburban kissed & hugged and bawled like a baby as we were walking out the door and left AZ. There were countless moments where I almost backed out, even after the truck left with everything I own in it I wanted to back out but I knew I couldn’t and wouldn’t. We made it to WA on the 20th. I will never forget the feeling of driving to our new house thru the neighborhood and how speechless I was about the priceless beauty all around us.  And then pulling into the driveway and crying, not tears of sadness but tears of joy, tears of accomplishment, tears of gratitude… We are home, we are free, we will all be okay! When people ask how we did it, how we made that move, my answer “On faith & gasoline & the wings of prayer”!

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We have been here for 9 months. It has been an adventure to say the least, a wonderful one that will never be forgotten. SO elated that I am able to say that my oldest daughter and her boyfriend really were right behind us, they sold everything, packed their car and moved up here end of September! All my babies home where they belong, where we can grow together until their futures take them to new places and on their own exciting journeys! We are all new people in so many ways. It has taken me months to be able to go out in the community and make any connections here. I was happy to stay home, work from home and never go out (anyone who knows me knows that is SO NOT me!) unless I was shopping quickly. I was healing, growing, focusing, creating a new me from the inside out, etc. Little by little things are changing, I am now able to get out and have a life here. I actually have made friends in my community & Spokane and enjoy being away from home when I can be and doing my best to truly enjoying all this place has to offer.

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I have learned that nothing I did or didn’t do caused the end to our marriage and our life together. I refuse to own his mistakes & doings. This has been a huge thing for me to come to terms with and there are days that I still ask myself why but those days of sorrow come less and less and most of my days are filled with happiness and joy with my head held high knowing life goes on no matter how broken my heart is. When your life falls apart you can blame, make horrible choices, give up, etc or you can fight like hell for your happiness, peace and hope and turn what was once a tragedy into a blessing and see it as God’s push into something more than I could have ever planned for myself. He guided me here to this beautiful place in an amazing community, I have no clue as to why yet, but as with most things in time I will be able to look back and see how the plan was all laid out by Him. Our future is bright! The kids have SO many plans and dreams and I am so wrapped up in witnessing their beauty and lives, thank you God for another chance at life! I myself am working towards my dreams, I am creating a passion filled career where I can fuel and move others! I have always had “save the world” syndrome and now I will be able to utilize that thru my work, may not save the world but helping people is right up my alley!

People have brought up the fact that I was SO broken just 1 year ago and expecting me to say I will never date again and never love again, even heard that I may turn gay, LOL! I am only bent now, not broken. I do like knowing my heart is safe from being broken, I do like knowing I can’t be hurt or let down if I don’t trust again. I am in my safe zone, I am content to just be me and being single for as long as time & the man above allows, which could be the rest of my life. I need to allow God to guide that part of my life for me and right now He is saying be a mama to those babies and do your best and if and when the time is right He will guide me to someone special and if it never happens I am okay knowing that I will be surrounded by endless love thru my family, friends, children and their children and so on. I am okay with having 1 rocking chair on my front porch with my lap full of grand babies when I am old and gray if that is the plan He has for me.

I want to express my deepest gratitude to God for guiding me out of the darkness and into the light of life, to my kids for being the most amazing, inspiring, strongest people I will ever know, to Tammy for being the most awesome true spiritual friend to me and for always being there day or night to walk me thru the very dark moments & for always helping me see things differently, and last but not least to countless friends and some family who showed support to my family past & present & talked me thru many times of desperation and fear. I would not be who I am today without all these people in my life, I may not even be here if it wasn’t for them, everyone of them helps make life worth living.

Mama Bear Plus 6