I know you can't believe it, 2 posts within 3 days! 
We have officially been in our new house 1 year, and although I haven't done a house tour post (we still have so much to do), I couldn't resist showing off our new built-ins that Michael custom built.

This room was used as an office by the precious owner, that we decided to turn into a library. We have so many books and I really feel that there is nothing like built in book cases. The room is rectangular, so Michael took the far back wall and worked his magic and I LOVE how they turned out. I wish these pictures could capture the quality of his workmanship, but you'll just have to take my word for it. We joke that these bookcases are so strong they're like a bunker and if anything happens, the bookcase will protect us. It's that strong!

Michael building the frame.
 I feel SO LUCKY to have a husband that can do all these things!

And the finished product!
That Earmes recliner is the perfect spot to curl up and read a good book!
The picture hanging above the chair will eventually become a long window.  Like I said, we have big plans for this house and although I know it can't all happen in a day, I will eventually have lots of cool "before and afters" to share, so stay tuned!

Thanks for reading!


Tommy- 4 1/2

I haven't blogged OR done a Tommy post in a while, and he's 4 1/2, so here you go!
Tommy starts preschool in the Fall, so when I found out the school he will be attending holds a summer camp, I thought it would be a great introduction for him.  I must admit I was a little worried. For starters, Tommy has never been away from us for a long period of time and camp was from 9-2pm. That's right, 5 hours! I mean...... could he handle it? Would he miss us? What if he had to go to the bathroom in a strange bathroom? Would he cry when we left? Would he think we left him? These were just a few of my worries. You had the option to sign up for 1 or 2 weeks, so I decided to start with one week to see how he did and then possibly extend. We prepped him well. Told him it was going to be SOOOOOOO FUN! Lots of toys and kids and a playground! 
The morning of his first day of camp came, and we headed over.  In the car he told me his heart was beating very fast because he had never been to camp (awwwwwwww)!  I assured him he would have a blast and he said okay. We got to his room and he immediately jumped in. We told him we would be leaving but would pick him up later. He said that would be okay but he needed a hug AND a kiss.  Just like that! I was just so proud of him!
We went home and it was the longest 5 hours of my life! I think I checked my phone oh....... about every second. I had so much time on my hands,  It was crazy!  I showered, shopped, cleaned, you name it, and then it was finally time to pick him up. 
We headed over, and there he was. He was alive! Smiling and alive! He hugged us and said he had fun. He made an owl puppet, and slime, and cooked, learned Spanish and played, played, played!
The next few days were more of the same so I'm happy to report we have extended another week. I'm just so proud of this boy. He is so brave, and adaptable. So, that's about it. All that worry for nothing!

Here are a few more Tommyisms at 4 1/2 years old......

Wants to be: A Machine Maker! A machine maker? Yes! He loves to take apart and build things. It will be interesting to see if he ends up being an engineer or something.
Favorite color: Red!
Favorite food: Hot dogs, with buttered spaghetti noodles and peas.
Favorite Restaurant: Shake Shack
Favorite singer: Bruno Mars! All the way! Oh- and his dad of course!
Obsessed with: Girls! Has been for a long time. LOVES girls!
Favorite TV show: Team Umizoomie, (thankfully it's educational).
Favorite Toy: His kitchen. He loves to cook real and fake food.

 Oh, and the apple does not fall far from the tree. He has already created a few characters like his dad. Here is "Double Glasses Cowboy."

I just can't say enough about this boy!
Thank you for reading.



My Buddy Jake passed away last Thursday.
He was more than a dog. He was my best friend, and he is sorely missed.
I've written about Jake in the past in this post and again in this post. People who know me and knew Jake know the the special bond we shared. I came upon this beautiful poem and it describes the loss I feel for Jake better than I could ever express it myself.
If you have ever loved a pet, you will understand.
This is dedicated to my sweet boy.


"There's something missing in my home,
I feel it day and night,
I know it will take time and strength
Before things feel quite right.

But just for now, I need to mourn,
My heart-- it needs to mend.
Though some may say it's 'just a pet'
I know I've lost a friend.

You've brought such laughter to my home,
and richness to my days...
A constant friend through joy or loss,
 With gentle loving ways.

Companion, pal and confidante,
A friend I won't forget,
You'll live for always in my heart,
My sweet forever pet.."

RIP Jake
(7-18-04 to 3-16-17)


2017 Resolutions

It's time for those New Years resolutions friends!
I was looking back on a few of my past resolution posts to see how well I stuck to them,  and....well.....most I didn't! 
They all have the same general theme. You know, to eat better, read more, less TV, blah, blah, blah and what I am realizing more and more, is that unless you're in the right mindset, you won't accomplish ANY of them.
I've always been into new age/spiritual/self-help/motivational books. I've read them all, and when I say I've read them all,  I mean it! I've never been to a therapist. They ARE my therapist. I have a whole library of those books, and although I have my favorites, they all say the same thing.
Live in the Moment, 
Live Authentically, 
and everything in your life you have created through the Law of Attraction. 

Now,  I'm no spiritual guru, but I try, and when I regularly read these books, my life is just a little bit better. A little bit "brighter." I'm more conscious of how I live my life, treat other people and most importantly treat myself. They remind me to set goals and to have gratitude.
They center my soul....

So, my New Years resolution for 2017 is to get back to those books, and if I try my best,  LIFE will take care of itself.

Have a blessed 2017 everyone, and be safe!


An Andrew Christmas

How was your Christmas? Ours was nice. Gramma Ginny joined us this year and it was our first Christmas in the new house. Tommy is at that magical age (4) which is just so much fun. Ahhhh, the excitement! 
It was just the four of us so we made a turkey (Mike doesn't eat red meat), a big vegetable platter, stuffing, and cranberry and finished it off with a red velvet cake that Tommy helped make. Oh and Martini's. Lots! 

Mike got this ski mask with a beard attached. He's ALWAYS cold. Thought it would be a good/funny stocking stuffer. Great for cold weather, AND to rob a bank! 

We now have a robot monkey in the house thanks to gramma. The toys they make now? Incredible!

Trader Joe's makes a cinnamon bun wreath for the holidays that I was SO excited to bring out for Christmas morning. Side note- you are supposed to let it sit out over night to rise for 8 hours. I didn't read the box and just baked it. It was still good though! Flat, but good!

And the sweetest part of Christmas? 
Mike was in charge of Tommy's advent calendar this year. He made 24 individual boxes with different pictures displayed outside Tommy's room on shelves. It TOTALLY put my last years advent to shame. When Tommy looks back on Christmas someday, I hope the advent calendars are what he remembers the most. You just can't buy something that special. Toys come and go, but family traditions live on and on....

Wishing everyone a happy and blessed 2017.
Stay tuned for my New Years resolution post. You know, the resolutions that I rarely keep!


The Christmas Wait

We've done all the pre-Christmas prep. The tree is up, the stockings are hung, and the cookies are baked. Tommy has two advent calendars. One with waxy chocolates and one that his dad made him with little surprises inside, so he's counting down the days until Santa comes down the chimney. This is a fun age. He's JUST turned four, and is really getting into the spirit. I put up a wreath last night because he informed me that we needed a circle on the front door. Kid doesn't miss a beat!
"Jimmy the elf" reminds him to be good, and it works about half the time. He's already a bit skeptical about Jimmy. He doesn't really know what to think, but he cautiously goes along with the game. 
Home Alone has been on our TV every day for the past week, and he thinks he's Kevin McCallister and I must say, he's not far from it. He's informed me that he NEEDS to have hot chocolate on Christmas morning and we should have coffee. I can make that happen.  He's obsessed with Nutcrackers and has his own little collection that he keeps in a box under the tree. So cute! He says we need snow, and he's right about that. Maybe next year we can make that happen, but this year we'll have our first Christmas in the new house, where Grandma will be visiting to escape the show! She arrives tomorrow. 
So now we wait.
and wait,
and wait!
Are you ready for Santa to arrive?
Have a great week everyone.... 🎄


Santa's Christmas Tree Forest

Christmas Tree shopping where I'm from involves snow, and a ride out to the country where you cut down your own tree. That's right, just like the Griswolds! 
In Florida, that's not the case. It's hot, and you can grab one in front of Publix Grocery, Home Depot, or various tents with pre-cut trees. Or people have fake trees. Totally lame!  
Last year I discovered a place called Santa's Christmas Tree forest. It's about a 45 minute ride from us, but you get the whole "Northern" experience. It's a farm in what feels like the middle of nowhere complete with a petting zoo, pony rides, a huge bouncy pillow, zip line, and even a campfire where you can make s'mores, and to top it off, you can cut down your own tree! That's what we decided to do, so we threw on our flannels, (because you have to look the part), and headed out!

The bounce pillow is Tommy's favorite, especially if there are girls on it! He's VERY girl crazy. He spent most of the day on the bouncy pillow!

Who can resist a white horse with antlers? Who?!

We ended the day on the hayride, where you are taken through the Christmas tree forest, but the driver let us in on a little secret. Florida trees are too soft to hold ornaments, and don't have that pine tree smell! Can you believe that?! So -we ended up choosing one of their pre-cut tree's. You choose your tree and they load it up onto your car for you and the prices are great, and guess what? 
We ended up with the PERFECT tree!
I would highly recommend Santa's Christmas Tree Forest. It's a little piece of heaven right here in Florida.
Happy Holidays!


Friday + LINKS

What are you up to this weekend? We're still in renovation mode, so I'll be looking for house painters, and Mike is continuing to renovate his studio. We've almost finished the holiday decor and have some good friends coming over for dinner. I'm making my Lentil and sweet potato chili, if you missed the recipe see (here). Other than that, they'll be some relaxing and I"m sure Tommy will have a play date or two. Have a great weekend and here are some links from around the web.

-Tell me this is not the cutest little cabin!

-Ladies, I bought these denim leggings and they're awesome!

-I knew those damn acai bowls were too good to be true!

-Totally want to try this healthier french toast casserole.

-For someone who is always trying to clean out her closet, this is a great help.


Cali Rae and LOVE

It's been 4 years today since our daughter Cali Rae went to Heaven. 

While going through boxes from our move in April, I came across a box full of sympathy cards from her passing. I saved every single card.
We received cards for a long time: cards from family and friends and people we didn't even know, who just happened to hear about our story. Those cards were like hugs and on the darkest of days, I would read them over and over again.
People offered comfort and shared similar stories of grief and I remember feeling like I wasn't alone. WE weren't alone.

We would come home to flowers on our doorstep, or food with a sweet note. We received emails, texts, and Facebook messages. We received calls from friends who didn't expect a call back, but wanted to let us know they were thinking about us. Our neighbors would visit us every night on their way home from work just to see if we were okay. People made donations in Cali's name to March of Dimes and Winnie Palmer Hospital.
There was such an outpouring of love. Just pure goodness, and that's what I want to focus on.

There is one card in particular that has always stayed in my mind because it was from a little girl. There was a knock on our door shortly after Cali passed, and it was a friend of ours with a small paper bag tied with a red ribbon. She told me the bag was from her daughter, but she didn't know what was inside because she promised her she wouldn't look. She hugged me with a smile and said,"So, excuse me if it's inappropriate, but she's 8!" 
She hopped into her car and drove away. 
I slowly opened the bag, and inside was a beautiful little angel and a note. 
The note said this.......

Dear Mrs Andrew. and Mr. Andrew,
I am so sorry for the loss of your baby girl.
Maybe this was meant to be and God has something greater for this child. At least you still have your baby boy.
May your beautiful baby girl be in Heaven thinking of you. 
May God be with you and guide you through these sad sorrowful days.
I am praying for you.
Amelia ❤️

That card filled with hearts still makes me smile, and that sweet little angel sits up on a shelf near Cali's urn, and life goes on.....

This morning Mike and Tommy are decorating the house with Christmas lights and later today we will head out to choose and cut down our Christmas tree! 
The sun is shining and the sky is a brilliant blue....... it's going to be a good day.

In loving Memory of Cali Rae Andrew
(November 20, 2012-December 17th 2012)


Tommy's 4th Birthday BIG ADVENTURE!

Every year for Tommy's party we've done a pretty typical theme. One year it was Elmo, one year Mickey, you get the point.
 Pee Wee Herman is pretty big in our house. We have all his movies on our most watched list on Netflix so it was no surprise that T would want a Pee Wee party, but how do you work with that theme when most, okay ALL the other kids don't even know who Pee Wee is?
 I decided to make it colorful (kids love color)  and fun, fun, fun because lets face it, at the end of the day all kids want is to play, and eat cake. Am I right?
Mike made the amazing invite and was in charge of a Pee Wee music list to play during the party, and I got to work making ice-cream cone cupcakes that I found on Pinterest. Lets start there shall we? I was so excited for the kids to have THESE cupcakes. I thought they'd go well with the fun house theme and be less messy than regular cupcakes. I even did a trial run a few days before the party and the batch came out great. Well...... the night before the party I made 2 dozen and went to bed. The next morning I woke up to a huge mess! Most of the cupcakes had wilted and tipped over! I nearly had a nervous break down as I salvaged enough for 7 kids and sent Mike to the grocery store to grab 2 dozen store bought cupcakes. Grrrrrrr! 
Here are the salvageable cupcakes. 

Okay, now for disaster #2! I had bought a little cake to be the center of the cupcake display which I planned on finishing off with a Pee Wee Herman bobble head doll. Cute right? So, Mike puts the bobble head doll on top and no sooner than he placed it, did the icing slide off and send Pee Wee flying! Nervous break down #2! See below.

Mike went to work and re-iced and sprinkled that little cake, but it kept sliding regardless. We decided to just go with it, and move on! 
The party was simple. Lots of colorful decor, punching balloons, and a BIG inflatable bouncy house/slide in the front yard. 

The menu was also simple.
Cupcakes, lollipops, retro boxes of popcorn for the kids, baked brie, a bowl of strawberries and grapes, and veggies and dip. Done!
 Oh, and beer and champagne for the adults, because who doesn't need a drink to get through a few hours of screaming toddlers? Am I right? 
Thank you!

All in all the party was a success. It's ridiculous how much you can stress over a party for a 4 year old but you do. 
At about 5:30pm that night Mike was napping and Tommy asked if we could go and jump in that bouncy house one more time, so I said sure. 
There we were jumping and jumping and I felt like a kid again, and the best part was that I was jumping with my son! We slid down that slide on our stomachs, backwards, did somersaults and rolled down like logs. Ahhhhh, to be a kid again!
It was a moment I'll never forget.
Happy 4th Birthday Tommy, and happy birthday in Heaven to my sweet daughter Cali.  I like to think you were jumping right along side us in that bouncy house.
You are not forgotten......