All I want for Christmas, I won back from CPS

Do not give up! If you are facing this holiday season without your children, know that our hearts are with you and that the view on the other side is not only beautiful but also reachable!

We thought we were in a never-ending nightmare. We felt the depth of the gorge and saw the height of the mountains that we were determined to climb. We questioned the view from the top and wondered about what would come on the other side if we were to ever make it out of the valley.

I know many of you feel this now. The holidays are overwhelming for your children or grandchildren, for any number of reasons either real or false reports, are dreaming of sugar plums in a bed that is not their own. For those of you who have not experienced this, imagine the emptiness of a stocking on Christmas morning because there is no child to shriek with excitement. Imagine seeing other parents urge their children to sit on Santa’s lap and wondering if your own is scared or excited. The magnitude of this cannot easily be portrayed but I am here to tell you that the view from atop that mountain, what lies beyond the valley, is beautiful!

I mean, look at this smile!

We just saw Chase and Marshall from Paw Patrol!

They tried to tell me, in the valley, that this smile would not be over that ridge! But on a Friday night at a local Christmas tree lighting, Chase and Marshall from Paw Patrol told them that they were wrong. She smiles and I smile!

But wait, they also said that my daughter would never smile again and that she would no longer get “mommy moments” but they were wrong.

mommy smiles
Banana Pudding: Just Because!

Of course, they did not count on me snapping a quick photo while the children made banana pudding with their mommy! They did not know that, on the other side of that seemingly insurmountable mountain, my daughter would smile again!

In fact, they did not count on library craft mornings or ice cream afternoons!

But the smiles are real and so is the view! Do not give up! If you are facing this holiday season without your children, know that our hearts are with you and that the view on the other side is not only beautiful but also reachable!

Many blessings and prayers to all of you!


Spider Infestation! Toddler Crafts

Today’s Halloween fun was inspired by Mother Goose Stories on Netflix. The itsy bitsy spider was represented on the show as some twisted up pipe cleaners! Hey, I have tons of those! We talked about how many legs a spider has and then how to show that on our fingers. (Always trying to sneak in a little bit of learning into the fun!)

Anyway, plenty of pipe cleaners was not the issue. The problem was, we were down to two large pompoms. Oh, but I believe that I am a genius so, here I go, cutting these pompoms in half. So you know, when you cut them in have, you get a bunch of loose fuzz all over the place.

Next step, I took some good old Elmer’s glue and rolled the fuzz up into balls. This kinda worked. I mean it worked enough to work I guess you could say. I twisted the first pipe cleaner around to hold the fuzz in place and then the children helped to place the other three on each.

Now, we had spiders! Of course, the structure of these (due to my little experiment with the pompoms) is not great enough for the kids to carry them around but, hey, these are decorations after all! Not to mention, who wants to walk around with a spider (see #s 4 and 5)?

So, we decided that our spiders would climb the built-in and hang out with our witches!

The fun of this story is in the mishaps. (Me, running around rolling fuzz into a palm full of glue.) But that’s the point of these moments. If we sit down with the kids with perfectly stenciled crafts that come with exact directions, then, yes, we would probably have some pretty awesome looking crafts. But we would not have one of a kind (well, four of a kind) depictions of our family time!

I hope you are all made some memories today!



And the Halloween Fun Continues!

So, tonight we sat down all four children with bowls full of candy corn and candy pumpkins and watched Casper’s Scary School! Okay, so sitting does not last long when you give four toddlers their own bowl of candy, but hey, why not? We only live once and these are memories that will last throughout that lifetime!

candy corn
Candy Corn Movie Time!

After the movie, we designed these high-quality construction paper ghosts, scribbled some perfectly designed eyes and mouths (see #24), (insert giggle) and gave the children crayons to finish them off. A quick piece of tape to hold on the pipe cleaners and BAM, the second decoration of the season is complete!

As I said previously, the holidays are about family time. They are for making memories. They are for sweeping up the scraps of construction paper and making eyes with them the next night. We spend quality bonding time every chance that we can. We just disguise it as playing 🙂

Grab some paper and crayons and show us what you got!


100 Things about us for our 100th Blog

Okay, you guys have started to really get to know our story and we are honored by the love and support that we have received. However, we really feel that maybe we are holding back. Like, maybe, just maybe, you all deserve to hear a little bit more about our true smudges. (Truthfully, Gigi just thought this would be a fun 100th blog but this introduction sounds waaaaay more interesting!) So, without further ado, here are 100 things about Gigi and Ashley (aka -A-)!

  1. Gigi is a two-time divorcee.
  2. Ashley had spinal fusion at the age of 13. Two titanium rods and 42 screws make up this bionic woman!
  3. We love (I mean LOVE) Grey’s Anatomy!
  4. Gigi is petrified of spiders.
  5. Ashley killed the spiders until Mikey came home at which point she became too scared to do so! (lol)
  6. We have a carb addiction.
  7. Gigi was 16 when she got pregnant with her first child, Damion.
  8. Ashley was 17 when she got pregnant with her first child, Clarabelle.
  9. We have never lived apart.
  10. Gigi loves lists! (a serious obsession. My best friend once said I need a list of lists to make)
  11. Ashley is not as organized as Gigi (she comes to me to make her lists)
  12. We have never flown (although this is on our bucket list)
  13. Gigi loves sunsets and sunrises because beginnings and endings are worth remembering.
  14. Ashley loves crunchy peanut butter. This is truly a funny excitement that she gets in her day!
  15. We once laid out all night to see the Poseidon meteor shower and a deer jumped over our blanket!
  16. Gigi works for a company that sells academic papers.
  17. Ashley hates to write academic papers! (seriously hates this!)
  18. We bought a foreclosed house and did the remodeling ourselves! (Youtube and books, baby!)
  19. Gigi hates math! Numbers are certain and life is not. Quite frankly, to me, that means numbers do not make sense!
  20. Ashley likes direct answers.
  21. We agree to disagree between math and literature.
  22. Gigi has bungee jumped!
  23. Ashley cannot bungee jump because of her spinal fusion. (excuses excuses!) lol
  24. We are not artistic. I mean, yes, you all have seen our “crafts” but seriously, neither of us can draw a stick man.
  25. Gigi has no tattoos. I was supposed to get one in high school but the tattoo artist passed away that weekend and I vowed that I would never have one. (This is one commitment that I have kept… see #1)
  26. Ashley has one tattoo. It represents the times that her two children were born and is adaptable to include future children. (Gigi is excited about that idea)
  27. We have never been to the West Coast. (Plans are in the works!)
  28. Gigi has been on 11 cruises.
  29. Ashley has been 10 cruises.
  30. We love to cruise!
  31. Gigi does not like to be alone. Fortunately, with four grandchildren, this is not a problem!
  32. Ashley is way better with makeup and loves to watch makeup tutorials.
  33. We need pedicures!
  34. Gigi believes a tanning bed is a place to relax but rarely has time to relax.
  35. Ashley believes relaxing requires a cell phone! (generation gap acknowledged!)
  36. We are actually private people. (Yes, this blog has been a way to change that to some extent.)
  37. Gigi has a Bachelor’s degree in Humanities with a concentration in English.
  38. Ashley left college because of the CPS case to focus on her children.
  39. We love thrift shopping!
  40. Gigi has had the same best friend since birth.
  41. Ashley has had the same best friend for 7 years.
  42. We are both friends with the other’s best friend.
  43. Gigi is a literature nerd.
  44. Ashley has recently found her literary voice.
  45. We read to the children every day.
  46. Gigi hates the word hate! (always told the kids to find a better way to express emotions)
  47. Ashley hates the word ointment. (She says it just sounds weird)
  48. We do not attend church. (I know, this is a touchy one, but it is true.)
  49. Gigi stays in contact with everyone who has ever referred to her as their second mommy.
  50. Ashley once broke her wrist by “falling” out of a swing.
  51. We laugh about things so that we do not cry!
  52. Gigi homeschooled all of her children at different stages.
  53. Ashley was homeschooled from the ninth grade because of her back. (The protocol at their school was to curl up in the fetal position if there was a fight. This was physically impossible for her.)
  54. We rocked homeschooling!
  55. Gigi got her high school degree from an adult school while she was pregnant with Damion.
  56. Ashley graduated from homeschooling early and tested high enough to get a scholarship.
  57. We believe that education is essential to life. Not because of monetary gains but because of understanding the world.
  58. We are not political but we are activist!
  59. Gigi gets very involved in causes.
  60. Ashley is more cautious about involvement.
  61. We back each other regardless.
  62. Gigi still stays in touch with her high school prom date.
  63. Ashley did not go to prom. She chose a cruise instead.
  64. We own too many dresses!
  65. Gigi gets migraines.
  66. Ashley struggles with kidney stones and gallstones.
  67. We are guilty of letting our medical problems go.
  68. Gigi has been proposed to three times.
  69. Ashley has been proposed to three times.
  70. We are not really into jewelry.
  71. Gigi does not like new people.
  72. Ashley is far more social.
  73. We spend most of our time together.
  74. Gigi is 40 years old.
  75. Ashley will be 21 on the 14th of October.
  76. We believe in the extended family lifestyle.
  77. Gigi had an ACL and Meniscus replacement.
  78. Ashley hates seafood. (Date night was to Red Lobster!)
  79. We struggle with our weight!
  80. Gigi has a few grey hairs.
  81. Ashley no longer knows her natural hair color.
  82. We love hair dye!
  83. Gigi hates anything gross!
  84. Ashley likes to gross out Gigi!
  85. We agree to disagree on gross stuff!
  86. Gigi is a terrible passenger.
  87. Ashley has embraced Gigi’s passenger brake pedal!
  88. We love to road trip together.
  89. Gigi does not like to hunt.
  90. Ashley loves everything outdoors.
  91. We have never scuba dived but plan to soon.
  92. Gigi wrote seven chapters of a book but lost it when her computer crashed.
  93. Ashley just got married!
  94. We have struggled through the worst atrocity that a family could endure (the legal kidnapping of children)
  95. Gigi will never stop fighting for the rights of parents.
  96. Ashley will never forget how her rights were violated.
  97. We will always persevere!
  98. Gigi is a coffee fanatic!
  99. Ashley hates coffee!
  100. We really do not like to clean mirrors! The title and concept of this blog came as the result of Gigi looking at her jewelry armoire and seeing all of the smudges!

So, there you have it. A little look into ourselves. Not too much. I mean, seriously, if we gave it all then you guys would stop reading!


There are so many details to us all. Treasure your details!



Toddler Time Halloween Craft Number 1

So, yesterday I told you all that I am super excited that we get our holidays back this year. We spent the day yesterday carving pumpkins (and one pineapple for the fun of it). It really kicked off the spirit. So, today, we began the craft/decorating process with our four little witches (the crafts not the kids)!

You see, there are so many different decorations that you can buy in the stores and, yes, sometimes we cannot resist them, but for the most part, the holidays are about time together. Okay, I know that most people don’t consider Halloween as part of the family time holidays, but I take all of the family time that I can get! So, Halloween is the kickoff for all of the holidays.

Anyway, instead of spending money on decorations that will probably be torn up long before the holiday and in an effort to stretch the holiday season, we make daily crafts to decorate the house with. They may not look like much to you, but to me, these are the most beautiful little witches in the world! Priceless!

Stay tuned as we transform the house in the days to come!

Every chance you get, make a memory!