Money well spent

Yesterday was one of those crazy days. We started off with a 2 hour delay (AGAIN!!!) which throws the whole normal flow of the day off. Once the kids got on the bus, Hannah, Aiden and Jonathan and I headed into town for a few appointments. Once all of the running around was done and it was determined that it was too late to try to get Hannah back for school, we stopped for a quick visit with my mom. After she did her grandmotherly  duty and filled them with pringles, we headed over to Mema and Poppy’s house. We spent a little bit of time with them and the added bonus of my Aunt Joni. Mema did her great-grandmotherly duty and not only gave the kids some candy, but sent them home with a big bag to share with the other kids. It was time to go home and of course I needed to stop and get some gas. That was when I decided to do something that I never ever do. I paid $7 for a carwash. Normally I would never do that because it seems like such a waste of money, especially in this winter weather. But given the fact that I literally couldn’t see out of any of my windows other than the front windshield, I figured that it was necessary. The salt and dirty snow and crud finally won out. The best part of  the car wash was Jonathan. Oh my word, he was hysterical! Every time that the big arm thingy that shoots water out, would go past his window, he would squeal. He just kept saying over and over again that it was the best thing EVER!  His giggles were infectious and before I knew it we were all laughing and shouting.

Best $7 I have spent in a long time.

Car Wash giggles…watch it here.

My apologies…

So I will start off by apologizing for, well, a lot of things. First of all I am apologizing in advance for the scatteryness of my brain. ( See what I mean. I couldn’t even think of a real word there. ) I would also like to apologize for any whining or moaning that you may have to endure by reading any further. And well anything else that jumps out at you that might be annoying or whatever.
Ok. Now that I have that squared away, let’s begin. This blog is about things that I never thought about until I started to try to get ready for the big move. (How is that for a title?)
1) We do not actually fit in our house. Just for the record, 11 people do not really fit in a 1300 square foot ranch. We don’t. I am not sure how it is that we are actually living here. When we first started to look at houses in Steubenville, we were looking at houses with at least 4 bedrooms because that is what we have now. Brian and I would pull up to a house and just from the outside, I knew that there was no way that we would fit. I was always amazed and slightly taken aback when I found out that it was actually bigger than our house that we live in now. We would go in to look around (mainly just to be polite to the realtor) and I could not for the life of me, figure out how in the world our kids would all fit. The bedrooms were teeny, we would have had to take turns eating in the dining room and as far the living room was concerned…well, let’s just say that it wasn’t going to work. 
So how in the world have we (quite happily, I would like to point out) managed to live in this house for the last 14 years? I guess because we added the kids slowly and they were all pretty small when they first came out, we were lulled into a fall sense of space. Think of the frog and the boiling water. We just never realized how small our house was until we had to find a new one.
(Thank you God, for leading us the perfectly perfect Hough-sized home. It was actually the second house that we saw and I knew immediately that it was going to be the one. Every house that we looked at after that one really didn’t stand a chance. More on this later…but it truly has just been another way that God has blessed us in this whole adventure.)
2) We are hoarders. Well, maybe not actually hoarders, but we have waaaaaaaay too much crap. Since we found out that we would be moving I have been slowly but surely going through every inch of this house and getting rid of unnecessary things. The toy closet in the basement took me about a  month. (I am not even joking.) I have gone through every bin of clothing. I have gone through every bookshelf. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that I have donated about 15 garbage bags of clothing and toys and several boxes of books. I have also thrown out 10 garbage bags of broken toys. Seriously!!! That isn’t even counting the things that I passed along to my sister. That is a lot of unneeded things. I am about half way finished. I have yet to conquer my kitchen cupboards and my craft room. My new rule is to ask myself, “Do I love this enough to move it to Ohio?” It’s that simple. I have also decided that anything having to do with the kids is definitely best done when they aren’t around. Otherwise you have them packing the first every spelling test that they have taken since first grade along with 50 stuffed animals. 
3) I will have to rename my blog. Ok, this one is kind of lame, but it is sort of stressing me out. We will no longer be the Dayton Houghs. We will be the Steubenville Houghs. And to be completely honest, I didn’t realize what a lame name the Dayton Houghs really was. When I first started to blog, I never thought to think up something clever. Great now I have to be clever. ugh. I will happily entertain any suggestions to rename this baby. Thanks.
4) We will have to go to a new church. Duh. Obviously we aren’t going to drive an hour and a half every Sunday to go to mass at our church, especially when there will be several churches within 10 minutes of our new home. Here is the tricky thing. We (all 11 of us) will have to go to a new church. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to find seats for 11 people in a church? Let me just say that it is super difficult. I think that in the church that we go to now, we sort of grew into our row. We always sit in the second row on the left hand side of the main aisle and we take up the entire row. That gives us a little bit of wiggle room, but nobody at the 11:00 mass is crazy enough to sit in our row of chaos. (I must admit that I kind of love sitting with the choir and admiring my family from afar. I can see how blessed I am from across the church, especially when I don’t have to wrestle a toddler or make a frantic run to the bathroom with a little one.)
So this became very apparent to me the other week. Isaac was going to a sleepover birthday party on a Saturday night. I decided to take him to mass before I dropped him off so that he wouldn’t have to go to mass in the morning all stinky and sleep deprived. He walked in before me and went to our usual row. Since we normally go to the 11:00 mass on Sundays, and it was Saturday evening, technically it was somebody else’s row. The normal Saturday night crowd was just starting to come when we sat down. We sat at one end of “our” row and I began to pray my rosary. That is when it started. We could hear a couple in the back of the church talking. They were wondering where to sit because there were people in their seats. uh oh. I looked at Isaac and he looked at me and shrugged his shoulders. At this time there were maybe 15 other people in the whole church, so there were plenty of seats, but not “their” seats. After (kind of loudly) debating for a few minutes they decided to sit behind the seat-stealers. I held my breath praying that they sat behind somebody else but of course they ended up right behind us. gulp. But then they moved again, because they were worried about taking somebody else’s seats. We had caused a great upheaval in the church. I could hear other people whispering about the whole incident around the church. Oh gees. I would like to say that I completely understand the people that we displaced. When somebody sits in our row, it throws off the balance of the church. We have to take someone else’s seats and it is a domino effect. Here is my question… If this is what happened when two of us sat in the “wrong”place, what in the world,  would happen when 11 of us showed up at a brand new church??? When I presented this quandary to my husband, the answer was obvious. The house that we are buying is currently being loved by a family with nine kids. We just have to go to whatever church they are currently attending and sit where they sit. period. 
5) I hate painting. That is pretty much self explanatory.
6) I have discovered a bit of a DIYer in me. I have taken on the task of sanding and refinishing our kitchen cupboards. I have to admit that so far they look pretty good! I bought myself an electric sander and have become quite dangerous with it, just ask Brian. 
7) I have no idea how in the world I am going to keep this house clean to show it to potential buyers. My kids are slobs. Six of the 7 kids that live here full time, outnumber my cleaning ability with their mess making abilities hands down. 
I think that is about all that I can think of for now. I am sure that random things will continue to pop up between now and when we are finally situated in our new home. Please keep us all in your prayers. I ask that you pray for the quick sale of our house and a smooth transition into our new house and for the family whose house we are buying as well. But most importantly, I ask that you pray for my sanity. Thank you!

A bushel and a peck.

“I love you a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck…” I can still hear her singing that. That and, “Playmate, come out and play with me.” Oh, I miss my Mama. She has been gone for 17 years, but I can still hear her voice, a little bit shaky but warm and full of enthusiasm. I loved to climb up beside her on the bench for her organ. She would play and play from her worn music books and a hymnal from church. I loved to sit right beside her and sing along. Neither one of us really knew what we were doing, but I loved it just the same.
I have been tremendously and abundantly blessed with grandparents. I have known all four of my grandparents and 5 of my great-grandparents. I have been spoiled beyond spoiled, by what I know is a blessing that very few have. I have lost all but 2 of my grandparents. My Mema and Poppy are still very much here and a special part of my life. Mama, was Mema’s mother. 
I spent a lot of time at Mama’s house. We would sit at her kitchen table and watch Wheel of Fortune and the Love Boat on the little tv mounted on the wall. She would of course mute it if something important came over the police scanner, because she needed to know what was going on.  She taught me all sorts of things, like how to play cards and sew. She taught me how to draw a boy’s face out of the word boy.We would put together puzzles while she smoked her non-filter Pall Malls.  I loved to play in her massive jewelry box. She had sold Sarah Coventry costume jewelry and had an impressive collection. She would tell me stories about her parents, who had immigrated from Italy. She told me stories about her sisters. She told me stories about my Mema and my mom. She talked about her restaurant, Mary’s Restaurant. She was tiny, but mighty, definitely a force to be reckoned with. Not that many people did. She was, after all Mary Woodall. But hands down, my favorite memory of her happened late one spring afternoon.
 We decided to go for a walk in the woods behind her house. We had set our minds on fishing. My great-grandpa, Pup-up laughed and laughed. He had good reason because we were armed with a stick, some fishing line, a hook and some bread. That was our “no fail” fishing equipment. He chuckled at us and said that if we caught a fish that he would clean and cook it for us. Well, that was all that we needed to hear. Game on Pup! We wandered through the woods back to the creek and picked the perfect spot for fishing. I have no idea if it really was perfect, but Mama said so. And of course I believed her. She tied out fishing line on to our stick and we loaded the hook with bread and we threw in the line. We pulled it out a few times, and threw it back in and we waited. All of a sudden we felt a tug. We pulled back and darned if there wasn’t a rainbow trout on the other end of the line! I really don’t know who was more excited, me or Mama. We both jumped up and down screaming! I don’t know how we didn’t lose the fish in all of our celebrating, but somehow we managed to get that big old beautiful fish back to the house. My Pup was sitting on the porch listening to his transistor radio and he started to chuckle. “You’re back already..No fish biting?” Mama had a little smirk on her face as she pulled the fish out from behind her back. “Only this one.” as she handed it to him. I couldn’t stop giggling. As I followed Mama into the house, she stopped and turned around saying, “Oh, and Wayne, we will be ready to eat at 5.” My Pup was in shock, but true to his word, he cleaned and cooked our dinner that night. I can honestly say, I think that was the first time that I ate and enjoyed “real” fish. 
That was Mama. She set her mind and never gave in. She was stubborn and bossy, and I loved her dearly. I still do. She always ordered her deodorant from Avon. When her Avon lady stopped selling, Mama decided to sell it herself. She was in her 80’s at this time. I still use Avon’s face cream because it smells just like Mama. There are often times when I look at my kids and think how much Mama would just love them. I just know that they would get such a kick out of Jonathan and his silly ways. She would just love Aiden’s sweet nature and his big blue eyes. Noah would love to walk through the woods with her. I can just see Hannah and Gianna making Mama laugh with their nonstop chatter. They would love to do crafts or bake with her. She would love to hear all about Isaac’s games, not because she was a huge sports fan, but because he would want to tell her. She would cut every single sports clip about Jacob out of the newspaper, showing them to whoever happened to stop by. Coley would make her so proud because she has pretty much mastered Mama’s apple pie. And DJ with his quiet gentle soul, would make her smile. 
Sadly, she passed away before I met Brian. But, I do not think for a minute that she didn’t have her hand in our meeting some way. You see, she died within a couple of days of when Brian’s first wife passed away. In fact it was at Mama’s funeral that I said a prayer for Brian and the kids, who had been left behind by Andie’s tragic passing. It doesn’t take a lot of creativity to imagine Mama walking, or flying up (or whatever they do in heaven) to Andie and saying, “I have a granddaughter that needs a good Catholic husband and you have a husband that needs a good Catholic wife and mother for your kids. Let’s talk. ” That was her way. I am also sure that she would have had no problem calling in St Therese on the conversation and saying, “Hey Therese, you need to come over here and help us figure this out. I am Mary Woodall, after all.” That was my Mama. Always looking out for us. I miss you Mama!