Friday, June 28, 2013

An Unexpected Surprise

After my mom had the kids over for their summer sleepover (here), I asked if I could borrow her camera to download her pictures.  We always joke with my mom because she never deletes pictures from her memory card (as in NEVER).  I decided to look through some of the older pictures of my kids.  I unexpectedly came across pictures of my grandmother (my mom's mother) at my mom's house when she visited in 2009.  The pictures actually took my breath away and brought tears to my eyes.  I didn't get to see her very often because we lived several states away.  However, she always sent me letters, newspaper clippings, and care packages.  I also spoke to her on the phone and visited every summer when I was a bit older.  I just LOVED every thing about her.  She had the most amazing stories, gave great back rubs, and read books with so much energy and expression.
After she passed away in 2010, it saddened me that my own kids would really never know her.  Both of my sons met her but they were so young I don't think they will remember being with her.  My cousins and their children lived in the same town as my grandmother.  They have countless pictures of their kids in her lap, reading books, at her house, etc.  Well now I have that too, the pictures include my grandma and my sons.  She is reading books, playing the piano, have conversations with them - all the things I remember her doing with me.
What I would give to have her read another story to my kids (and to me).  

I can hear the expression in her voice.  She would point out every detail in a picture or story.

This picture was fun to look at.  I had forgotten how chunky our youngest son was at this age.

This picture melts my heart.  Since then, the piano has been moved from my parents' house to my house.  The kids "play" it all the time.

Oh my word, it doesn't get any better than this.  :)

I guess I will no longer raze my mom about keeping old pictures on her memory card.  These pictures were an expected and priceless surprise.  Thanks Mom!


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

God Knows Best

I have been having such a rough week.  Nothing seems to be up to my satisfaction.  Have you ever had a day (or a couple of days) like that?  You know, everything and everyone seems extra annoying and irritating (sorry but it is true).  I hate it when this mood comes over me because I even begin to annoy myself!  :)  But when I finally stop throwing my own pity party and I really try to listen, God always reminds me that he knows best. After coming home from shuffling kids back and forth from martial arts lessons, I was feeling extremely defeated.  I began to start dinner and decided to check some of my favorite blogs while I had a few minutes.  One blog, M.O.B. Society (here), shared a link to another blog, A Better Mom.  I had never read this blog so I decided to click and give it a try.  This link, The Better Mom , will take you to the post I read. Wow!  As soon as I started to read the post, I understood exactly what this woman was talking about.  My eyes began to water because I realized that God knew I needed this post.  I am not going to go into detail, I will let you click on the link and form your own opinion.  However, I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.  It refocused my priorities and reminded me that God specifically made me the mom of our household.  What an amazing reminder of the mom I should strive to be and that God ALWAYS knows best. *The "funk" will return, as always (usually 12 times a year :) ), but at least I have this wonderful post to refer to when I need a swift kick in the pants. :) Elizabeth

Monday, June 24, 2013

Will Work for Dessert: Managing tables manners with children

Have you ever had a vision or day dream about how your children will look and behave as adults?  Depending on the situation, your vision may be different from time to time.  I like to believe and dream about my children growing up to be successful and productive human beings.  HOWEVER, on this particular night (at the dinner table) I had a very different vision.  Without going into gross details, lets just call it an unfavorable vision. Due to my husband's work schedule, I endure breakfast, lunch, and dinner (with three children) all by my lonesome.  "Get me this."  "I need that."  "Oh sorry Mommy, did you just sit down?"  "Oops, how did I spill that?"  This is the conversation at our table for every single meal.  For lunch, I have resorted to standing while they eat so I can sit and eat in peace once they leave the table.  Thousands of times I have reminded the kids to "use their manners", say please and thank you, and most importantly, ask for seconds before Mommy sits down.  For the most part, their tables manners are not horrible.  It is not a scene from "Honey Boo Boo" or anything like that,  BUT... we could use some improvement. So, after feeling exhausted from yet another dinner where I played "short order chef, bus boy, and maid I decided we needed a change.  I had been harping on the kids about their manners and getting really frustrated.  The mood at our table was not great (especially mine).  The more frustrated I got I began to realize that even though I constantly remind them to use their manners I have never really sat them down and demonstrated exactly what "good table manners" include. After dinner was over, I told the kids not to leave the table.  I announced we were going to have an Etiquette 101 class during dessert.  First, I re-set the table, told the kids to stand up and push in their chairs.  I went over the following rules of good table etiquette: **These were the rules I felt were most important for the age of my children (8, 5, 3).
  • Before arriving to the table, please wash your hands with SOAP (I have two boys, soap always needs to be reminded).
  • Calmly sit down at your seat and scoot in your chair (if you need help please ask Mommy).
  • Fold your hands, bow your head, and say your prayers.
  • Unfold your napkin and place it in your lap.
  • Leave your left hand (my kids are right handed) in your lap at all times (unless you need to cut something, however, you are not allowed to use a knife - so you don't need to cut anything) :).
  • Chew with your mouth closed, never burp or make other noises that come from your body, cover your mouth with your napkin and turn your head to cough or sneeze, etc. etc.
  • When you are finished, wipe your hands and mouth with your napkin and then ask to be excused from the table.
  • Extra rule:  My five year old son asked what you should do if you need to scratch something.  I told him it would be ok to scratch your itch calmly and without drawing a lot of attention to yourself.  Then I remembered.... with boys you sometimes have to wonder what they may have to scratch.  So I decided even though I really didn't want to "go there"  we needed to "go there".  So I explained what should and should NEVER be scratched at the table.  I think he is crystal clear, now.  (My husband says that anything from your neck down should really not be scratched at the table.)
The kids loved the "etiquette class".  For the most part, they had great questions and were really trying their hardest to use the rules.  I decided to create a little score card for their table manners.  Over the next few weeks, I will score them on their tables manners at dinner.  This may seem a bit over the top but if I am going to turn these manners into habits, we need major reinforcement and motivation.  Their motivation will be good table manners equal dessert (and cleaning your plate, of course).  I unveiled the idea to the kids and they loved it (they love to earn things, especially dessert).  I also told them if they have earned dessert every night (Sunday through Friday) then they will earn a double dessert on Saturday.  SCORE!!!  THEY ARE IN!

Here are the scores sheets.  Feel free to print and use.  I figured if I was going to the trouble to make the cards for my kids I might as well share. :)

* After clicking (click here to print), you will be sent to a Google Doc page.  From there select "file", then select "download".  The image will download to your computer and then you can print from there.

Here's to happy dinners and beautiful manners (or at least dinner without "scratching", belching, or any other noises from the body).


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Happy 11th Wedding Anniversary - It's A Big Deal!

Today, my husband and I are celebrating our 11th wedding anniversary.  We were high school sweethearts and then got married six weeks after we graduated from college.  We have always had a strong relationship but I have to admit it gets better with each passing year.  We were seventeen years old when we started dating...young whipper snappers. :)  It has been an amazing journey as we have become adults and parents together. Here is a just a little of what we have accomplished over eleven years:
*Warning, this is long.  We have had a lot of "life" in eleven years.  I have included some fun pictures at the end. 2002
  • June 22 - Got Married!!!  
  • Bought our first car (which wasn't officially owned by our parents) :)
  • Both began our careers (my husband as a butcher and me as a teacher)

  • Bought our first house (looking back at it we both agree it was a mistake - WAY TO MUCH WALLPAPER!  However, neither one of us wanted to say anything.  Awww, how cute. :))

  • Welcomed our first child into the world
  • Hugged and comforted each other as we learned that our child would be born with congenital heart disease.
  • Made it through our son's first heart surgery
  • Bought a bigger, I mean, "family car"
  • Made it through our son's second heart surgery and countless doctors appointments
  • Made it through our son's third heart surgery
  • Sold our first home and purchased our second home
  • Lived in a two bedroom apartment while the new home was being finished.  That was a loooong two months.  I remember we were so crammed into that tiny apartment you had to go to the living room to get clean underwear.  If you leaned against the kitchen sink and bent over at the waist, you could rest your head on the stove...Yes, we found that out through trial and error.  Oh, and the best part, you had to turn the shower on and off with a pair of pliers.  We were definitely living the glamorous life!
  • Moved into our new home.  I loved it so much, I refused to hang anything on the walls for several months.  I didn't want to put a single hole in it! :)
  • Welcomed our second son into the world
  • Got use to life with two kids - enough said!
  • Purchased an even bigger family car
  • I think we had two ear surgeries during that year, but it is a bit fuzzy....I lost a few more brain cells with the birth of each child.  :)
  • Went on our first family vacation - AMAZING!
  • For some reason, that is all I can remember from 2009...and a few more brain cells bite the dust!
  • Welcome our daughter into the world the day before my 30th birthday!  I always said I wanted to be done having children by the time I was thirty.  Now is that called time management or what!
  • Got use to life while being completely out numbered.  We also learned the art of counting to three at least 200 times a day.  Come to think of it, I still count to three all day.  When one child is away from the heard it really throws me!  I literally have a moment of pure panic.
  • Sent our oldest off to kindergarten
  • Purchased yet another bigger family car.  We have maxed out the size, the only thing left is a 15 passenger van.
  • Went on our second family vacation (great memories but some memories I have blocked out due to  vacationing with three children ages six and under).
  • Celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary with a big, exciting....dinner.  When we got married we said we would go to Hawaii for our 10th anniversary.  A few years later we negotiated on a long weekend in Las Vegas.  Well....we did get to go to dinner at a fancy restaurant. :)
  • Decided I should resign from 10 years of teaching to stay home with our kids, which turned out to be such a blessing for our family.
  • Began working through our oldest son's diagnosis of ADHD with General Anxiety.
  • Yet another fantastic family vacation - lots of fun and NO pack-n-play, highchair, diapers, or bottles.  Hallelujah we have made it passed the baby phase!!!!  It only took us 8 years!

Reading over the list above reminds me that an anniversary is a BIG DEAL!  As each year passes more and more trials, celebrations, and victories occur.  So many marriages don't survive.  I think I heard on TV that the current divorce rate is up to 40%.  That is crazy to me!  Marriage is hard work but it is also the most rewarding team you will ever play on.  I am honored to say that my kids don't even know what divorce is.  I know they will eventually find out at school or from friends, but I like that for now, they are innocent.  They are surrounded by people who have stayed married for a long time.  My parents have been married over 35 years and my in-laws have been married over 40 years.  The parents of my closest childhood friends are also still married.  It is a big deal to have these amazing examples for my children.

I hope some day we will be able to renew our vows.  The words we spoke eleven years ago have such a different meaning now.  

"In sickness and in health" - We have been blessed with good health, but our oldest son lives with congenital heart disease, ADHD, and anxiety.  We have endured three heart surgeries and even though he is a thriving boy, more surgeries will eventually be in his (our) future.

"For richer or poorer" - Our family was built on two incomes, this year we made the radical decision for me to stay home.  We have been blessed with things just "falling into place" with our finances, but we also learned to budget and prioritize.  If anything, we now understand that our riches are in the form of blessings not money.  

"Till death do us part" - Since we got married, we have lost four family members (three grandparents and my uncle).  We have watched as one spouse lost the other and had to live through it.  We have also felt the peace that comes with knowing they have been reunited in Heaven.

With each season of life and each season of marriage, the meaning of your vows change.  Though the words may be the same, the life that has happened gives them new meaning and depth.

The date of an anniversary should not be overlooked.  It is a major date in the history of your family.  It is a victory for not only you and your spouse but for your kids.  It is a BIG DEAL! Here are a few pictures just for fun.
At our reception.  We look like babies!  

One year later, at my brother-law's wedding.  Still, we have that "child-free" look. :)

Almost eleven years how we have aged!!!! Wow - it was only three kids, glad we stopped when we did!

Here's to the next anniversary and the one after that and the one after that and get the point.

Happy Anniversary to my hubby!  I wouldn't want to share this crazy life with anyone else!


Friday, June 21, 2013

Dust Bowl!

Oh my, if you could only see the layer of dust floating through the air in my house.  My husband is sanding, de-glossing, and painting our kitchen cabinets.  In order to get the cabinets ready for the new paint we have had to endure endless sanding.  The dust is literally on everything.  My husband even has a thin layer of dust in his hair.  He looks like he is going gray! It is his afternoon off and he has three eager helpers at his side.  I, on the other hand, am trying to stay busy and forget about the dust.  I am by no means a neat freak BUT....I definitely have my limits and this is one of them.  My husband looked at me a few minutes ago and asked me if I needed to go somewhere else.  I think he could see the look of pure stress on my face and thought it would be best for everyone if I were not on the premises.  Oh well, in the end it will be worth it... at least that is my new mantra. :)
The kids were so excited to sand.  However, they thought they were going to use the electric sander...wrong Daddy handed each of them a brand new sparkling sheet of sand paper.  They played along for about 20 minutes which was 19 minutes longer than I expected.

Sitting inside the cabinet is one way to do it!

Little arms beginning to give out.

Just had to share the view of my living room.  It contains almost my entire kitchen!

I decided to come back after I published this post to show the final amount of dust.

Judging by the size, I think this footprint belongs to our oldest. :)

I will post more pictures when the project is finished.  For now, I am trying to find the positive in our dust bowl!  Oh and my daughter is running through the house amazed at the dusty footprints she is leaving behind.  I think I should probably just not look.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Cheater Brownies with Nutella - YUM!!!

My husband loves Nutella.  He will eat it on just about anything.  When he can't find something to use as a base, he will eat it straight out of the jar with a spoon.  Ok...confession, I have also been known to eat Nutella right out of the jar.  It is one of those guilty pleasures, except I don't feel any guilt!  It is worth every calorie!! For Father's Day, I wanted to make a dessert that I knew he would love.  As I was doing my weekly grocery shopping, I noticed our grocery store was running Nutella on sale...PERFECT.  So, I picked up a box of brownie mix and ice cream.  Brownies, ice cream, and Nutella, how could I go wrong? :)  I loving refer to boxed brownies as cheater brownies.  Homemade brownies are wonderful but the boxed mixes are great and so fast.
The Betty Crocker Chocolate Chunk is my favorite.  

I mixed the batter according to the directions on the back of the box.

Then I sprayed the bottom of the pan with non stick cooking spray.  Next, I coated the bottom of the pan with cocoa powder.  You could probably skip this but why would you want to? :)

Next... I grabbed the "good stuff".

After pouring the brownie batter into the pan, I spooned generous amounts of Nutella over the the top of the batter.

Using a butter knife, I swirled the Nutella throughout the batter.  Next, I used the back of the brownie mix box to determine oven temperature and baking time.  

This is what they looked like when I pulled them out of the oven.

To serve this amazing, decadent, heavenly warm brownie,  I added a scoop of ice cream and melted Nutella. 

These were a huge hit with my entire family.  We love our cheater brownies with Nutella - YUMMM!  I have a feeling these will become a Father's Day tradition and a weekend tradition and a "I had a bad day" tradition and get the picture. :)


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Triple Berry Delight

Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries...the summer fruit season is so yummy!  For years, my mother-in-law has made the most delicious fruit dip.  She mixes 1 8oz block of cream cheese with 1 7 oz. jar of Jet Puff.  It is the best fruit dip and goes with just about any type of fruit.  After trying a grape salad recipe (Grape Salad), I decided to play with the ingredients to see what I could come up with.  I took the cream cheese and Jet Puff from my mother-in -law's recipe and the sour cream with vanilla from the grape salad recipe.  Then I decided to only use berries that are currently in season (although I think almost any fruit would be great).  The outcome was Triple Berry Delight. Ingredients: 1 7oz. Jet Puff
1 8oz. block cream cheese (softened)
1/2 C. sour cream
3 tsp. vanilla
7-8 C. mixed berries (I used fresh strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries.) Rinse and cut berries.  I quartered the strawberries, halved the raspberries, and left the blueberries whole.  In a stand mixer, combine Jet Puff, softened cream cheese, sour cream, and vanilla.  Using the whisk attachment, whisk ingredients for several minutes .  Once mixture is smooth, fold in berries with a large spoon.  Cover and place in refrigerator for at least 1 hour (enough time to let the mixture set a little).  Serve as a side dish or a dessert.  It is "berry" wonderful!!! :)

(Whisk ingredients in a stand mixer for several minutes)

(Rinse and cut berries - combine with whisked mixture)

Triple Berry Delight
(This bowl was my grandmother's.  I love having any excuse to use it!)


Saturday, June 15, 2013

2nd Annual Summer Sleepover at Ma's!!!

My mom loves to plan sleepovers for my children and they love sleeping at "Ma's" house.  Maybe I didn't make myself clear...they LOVE, LOVE, LOVE sleeping at Ma's house.  She really plays it up big which is another reason they get so excited.  This year (when we arrived home after vacation) she gave each child an official invitation for the 2nd Annual Summer Sleepover at Ma's.  They felt so important to receive formal invitations.

She spends weeks searching online (especially Pinterest) for craft and experiment ideas and themes.  This year the theme was red, white, and blue.  Then a couple of nights before the big event she goes through the chosen crafts to make sure each craft will work well for the kids and to iron out any last minute wrinkles.  In other words, she knows my kids!  They do not do well with frustrating projects.  They also have tons of questions, so you have to do your homework!  This year the crafts / experiments included:  foam dough, crazy experiments with baking soda and vinegar, swimming with glow sticks after dark, milkshakes (colored red, white, blue), eagle and flag crafts and a 4th of July surprise present for Mommy.  The kids were also instructed to wear old clothes but bring clean clothes for eating out at McDonald's.

On the morning of the sleepover, they packed their suitcases the second they were awake.  I told them Ma would not be picking them up until 2pm but they wanted to make sure they were ready in the event she arrived early.  :)

My husband and I took advantage of an evening without kids and celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary a week early.  We had such a great time running around town without having to worry about the kids.  We even went out for milkshakes at 10pm just because we could!  I know, we are quite the wild couple... :)

The next morning I called to check on everyone.  The boys were watching cartoons and our daughter was still asleep.  I ran and got groceries when my husband left for work.  Then I ran through Starbucks and picked up frappaccinos for my mom and I.  When I arrived the kids were not ready to leave so I said we could stay for awhile.  We ended up staying through lunch and then a little after that!  There is just something about being at Ma's house. :)

Here are some pics from their sleepover:

(My mom bought each child their own pool.  Even though they are baby pools, the kids loved having their own.  My oldest son was reading over my shoulder while I wrote this blog post.  He said it was not cool to call them "baby pools".)

(Sparkling Explosion - vinegar, baking soda, glitter, and food coloring which makes a sparkly volcano.)

(Eating out at McDonald's)

(Foam Dough - shaving cream, food coloring, and corn starch.  After mixing all ingredients together the outcome should be like play dough.  However, my mom said this made a huge mess and she will NEVER do it again!)


(The kids were very excited to make a 4th of July surprise for me.  It is a wreath for our front door.)

(Trying out the wreath on Ma's door)

(Swimming and playing in the pools with glow sticks and balloons after dark.)

(Making red, white, and blue milkshakes)

(Sacked out in Ma's living room after a full night of fun)

The kids also completed eagle foam crafts and flags made out of popsicle sticks.  The second we pulled out of the driveway they asked when the next sleepover would be.  I love the memories they are making.  They will talk about these sleepovers to their kids some day.  I guess I should starting planning... :)

Thank you Ma!!!!


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Hurry Up and Wait

Our family has entered a new phase...the phase of hurry up and wait.  My kids are ages 8, 5, and 3 and all are involved in an activity of some sort.  For years, it was just my oldest son trying out different activities and sports.  It would only last a few weeks or couple of months and then we would have a break.  This past fall our five year old son tried soccer.  Since this spring, both boys have decided they love martial arts.  This week our three year old daughter began ballet.  This is the first time we have experienced having three kids in activities at the same time.  I feel like our life has been taken over by the "hurry up and wait syndrome".  We  hurry to get in the car and then wait while which ever child completes his or her activity.  Then we make the troop movement back to the car and prepare to do it all over again.  I feel as though my rear end is beginning to flatten due to all the sitting.  I sit in the car, I sit at martial arts, I sit at ballet lessons.  Sit, sit, and then sit some more (did I mention the chairs are never comfortable).  I have gone from teaching dance (being on the move all day) to being in the car (still on the move but not burning nearly the calories).  My butt, I mean bottom, is literally tired at the end of the day.  I can physically feel my metabolic rate dropping. Don't get me wrong, I love the activities and watching each child discover their loves BUTT :) I am not sure how many years my derriere can hold up to this amount of sitting. Sigh... Elizabeth

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Chili Enchilada Casserole

This is one of my favorite recipes!!!  It basically came from a night when I didn't have all of the ingredients for an enchilada recipe so I had to wing it.  The extra exciting part is that I am using my new Le Creuset pan.  My husband purchased it for me on our vacation last week.  We both love to cook so a new pot or pan get our adrenaline pumping (corny, I know).  You will see pictures of our beloved Le Creuset in this exciting!!! Chili Enchilada Casserole What you will need:
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 C. shredded cheddar 
  • 1 16oz. jar chili sauce (or enchilada sauce)
  • 10-12 corn tortillas
  • vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • salsa 
  • sour cream
Step 1:   Brown ground beef in pan (season with salt and pepper).

Step 2:   Shred 2 cups cheddar or use the pre-packaged shredded cheddar.

Step 3:   Add chili sauce (or enchilada sauce) to browned ground beef.  I prefer to use Nueces Gap Chili Fixin's (sold at our family owned butcher shop, Moody's Quality Meats).  Add water to sauce (the amount of water will depend on the thickness of your sauce - start with 1/2 a cup and go up from there).

Step 4:  Transfer approx. 3/4 of sauce and meat mixture to a separate bowl (leaving approx. 1/4 of sauce and meat mixture in pan).

Step 6:  Dip and flip corn tortillas (one at a time) in heated oil.  Each tortilla will only take a few seconds on each side (too much time in oil will result in crunchy tortillas).  After removing tortilla from oil, pat excess oil off with a paper towel.

Step 7:  Place four tortillas on top of sauce and meat mixture in the pan.  Next add more sauce, then shredded cheddar.  Repeat layers until all tortillas, sauce, and cheese are used.

Step 8:  Cover pan and place in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.
  Step 9:  Top with chopped onions, salsa, and sour cream.

This dish goes great with Spanish rice and corn. Elizabeth

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Father's Day Pictures Part 2

About a month ago, I took pictures of my kids wearing my husband's clothes (view photos here).  We thought he would love the adorable pictures for Father's Day.  It was super cute to see their tiny bodies in his large clothes.  Since then I turned the pictures into large 16X20 matte prints on canvas.  Here are the finished products.
(please excuse the glare - it was caused from my patio cover)

I am not an expert at this but I am pretty pleased with the outcome.

Here is what I did:
  • purchased 3 -  16X20 canvases from Hobby Lobby (2 pack for &7.99 plus the 40% off coupon)
  • purchased Elmer's Multi - Purpose Spray Adhesive and Tree House Clear Acrylic Matte Coating
  • purchased 1 craft knife
  • I had each picture blown up to 16X20 at Office Depot.  I asked that the prints be put on regular paper as opposed to photo paper (this really saves on cost).  Each print was about $4.00 each.
  • trim each print to the exact size of the canvas (I went back at the end and trimmed off any extra edges with the craft knife)
  • spray the canvas with spray adhesive and attach print (smoothing out any bubbles or wrinkles)
  • allow spray adhesive to dry for at least one hour
  • spray clear acrylic matte coating, allow to dry for 24 hours
Mistakes I made:
  • I tried to use Modge Podge as the sealer.  For me, this did not work.  It caused huge bubbles in the print and I accidentally tore part of the paper.  I had to go back to Office Depot to have a new print made.  This is when I decided to use the clear acrylic spay.
  • Double and triple check your prints before leaving Office Depot.  I noticed (after getting home) that one of the prints had lines running through it.  No good...had to go back and have yet another re-printed (free of charge).
I would definitely do this again for future gifts.  Now that I have the supplies, it will only cost me a new canvas and print.


Monday, June 10, 2013

My Fabulous, Fantastic, Forever Five

Not too long ago, a girlfriend of mine was telling me that a person should be able to count their closest girlfriends on one hand (I think she read it in an article or something).  When I sat down and thought about it, it is true.  I have five women that I completely treasure.  They are made up of friends and family members and they mean the world to me.  I constantly pour into them and they constantly pour into me.  These are the women I laugh, cry, and share all of life's moments.  They know the nitty gritty of my life as a women, mother, and wife (and they still love me :) ).  I don't feel like I have to impress them or keep up with their standards.  I love to share moments of laughter with them (you know, the kind of laughter that makes you almost wet your pants and makes your side hurt).  They are my "first responders", cheerleaders, and my faithful prayer warriors. They are my Fabulous, Fantastic, Forever Five and I am blessed to have them in my live! Elizabeth