Monday, December 30, 2013

On My Nightstand: 2013

Remember last year's post about the books I read? Well I've kept track, and in the interest of giving (You know the line. Repeat after me: I'm a giver!) and making sure that you have some good pages to turn, I'm sharing the books that kept me from doing laundry occupied my time and shared space on my nightstand this year.

I'll list them by month, then title and author. I'll give you a little blurb on those that are my particular favorites.

January

Help, Thanks, Wow--Anne Lamott

One Thousand Gifts--Ann Voskamp
      Dreamy writing, wonderful message.

The Sense of an Ending--Julian Barnes


February

The Silver Linings Playbook--Matthew Quick
     The movie was good, the book was better.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette?--Maria Semple
      Any main character that hates all Canadians piques my interest. (Not that I have anything against Canadians. I just found that very funny.)

Argo--Antonio Mendez

The Girls from Ames--Jeffrey Zaslow
     If you've maintained friendships with girls who "knew you when" you'll enjoy this book.

March

Fall of Giants: The Century Trilogy--Ken Follett

Winter of the World--Ken Follett

Pride and Prejudice--Jane Austen
     A particular favorite that I revisit every few years.

April

80 Days--Matthew Goodman
     The true story of the widely known Nellie Bly, the unknown Elizbeth Bisland and their quest to see who could travel around the world in 80 days first. Exciting, interesting, and true!

Calling Invisible Women--Jeanne Ray

Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed--Glennon Doyle Melton
     Melton's book is at turns thoughtful and humorous. Her ideas that we are more alike than different and that Love Wins are ideas I can get behind.

A Red Herring without Mustard--Alan Bradley
     If you haven't read any of Bradley's books starring precocious 11 year old Flavia de Luce, you are missing out. Flavia is fascinated with chemistry, bicycles and death and is hell bent to solve the mysteries that seem to find their way into her life. Entertaining and then some.

May

Flight Behavior--Barbara Kingsolver
    I have yet to read one of Kingsolver's books that leaves me flat. She is a wonderful writer with well developed characters and interesting plots.

The Interestings--Meg Wolitzer

I Am Half Sick of Shadows--Alan Bradley
     More Flavia!!

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk--Ben Fountain

June

Wave--Sonali Deraniyagala
     The harrowing story of how the author survived the 2004 tsunami while her family (parents, husband, and two sons) perished. Horrifying, beautiful, and compelling.

A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again--David Foster Wallace

The Happiness Project--Gretchen Rubin

The Lion is In--Delia Ephron

How to be Good--Nick Hornby

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime--Mark Haddon (another re-read)

The Handmaid's Tale--Margaret Atwood

The Chaperone--Laura Moriarty
     A fictionalized account of actress Louise Brooks and her chaperone on a trip to New York City in the summer of 1922. A page-turner that left me wanting to read more by the author.

July

Me Before You--Jojo Mayes

Tell the Wolves I'm Home--Carol Rifka Brunt
    Set in the 80's when AIDS was a terrifying and stigmatizing scourge about which little was known. A wonderfully wrought story of sisters, family, and love.

What Alice Forgot--Liane Moriarty (not to be confused with Laura Moriarty, above)
    A story of love, indifference, anger, forgiveness, and amnesia.

The Art of Fielding--Chad Harbach
   Love and baseball. Lots and lots of baseball.

The Cukoo's Calling--Robert Gilbraith (who is really J.K. Rowling)

August

The Hypnotist's Love Story--Liane Moriarty

The Silent Wife--A.S.A. Harrison

The Moonflower Vine--
   An old-time novel--the author's only book. Well developed characters with good story lines. This is a re-read for me.

September

Black Water Rising--Attica Locke

Red Sparrow--Jason Matthews

Eleanor and Park--Rainbow Rowell
     Don't let the author's name put you off. This was one of my favorite books of the year. Set in the 80's, I related to so much of this book. I loved the characters, the plot, the writing, the flow of this book. It left me wrecked to read anything else for quite a while afterwards.

The Great Gatsby--F. Scott Fitzgerald
     A re-read. Yep. It still holds up even all these years after reading it my Junior year in English class.

Attachments--Rainbow Rowell

The Husband's Secret--Liane Moriarty

October

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats--Jan-Philipp Sendker

November

I somehow did not manage to read a single thing during the whole month of November. I dunno. Maybe I read cereal boxes.

December

Double Down: Game Change 2012--Mark Halperin and John Heilemann

Hyperbole and a Half--Allie Brosh
     Blogger Allie Brosh has put much of her blog in book form. Her blog, which is half writing, half cartoon, and all fabulous is made up of the stories that make up her life. In the book she talks of her dogs (her dog Simple Dog and my Dumb Dog simply HAVE to be related), a psychotic goose, being the god of cake, and her personality (trust me, funnier than it sounds.) She also describes her descent into, slog through, and slow climb out of debilitating depression in a way that should be required reading. (trust me, this is, somehow, in some ways, also funnier than it sounds) I read this book in about a day. Fast, funny, and terrifyingly relatable.

One Summer: America 1927--Bill Bryson
     I love Bill Bryson. If he wrote a story about phone books, I would read it. I am only half-way through this book, and I'm amazed at the many important things that happened in the very busy summer of 1927.



2013 wins over 2012 by almost 10 books read. (42 1/2 to 33) Yowza! It's a wonder I got any laundry done at all this year.  (Said the woman writing this in her pajamas. ;)  ) In 2014, I'm just planning on foregoing laundry and having my family wear togas and go commando so that I can READ ALL THE BOOKS!

If you read something wonderful and feel you have to tell someone or you may burst want to share it, please share in the comments section. I'm always looking for the next book for my nightstand.

Thanks for stopping by to read my ramblings this year. May you have a blessed 2014!





Monday, December 9, 2013

I Think I Have Developed TLDBCSD

That would be The Little Drummer Boy Challenge Stress Disorder. What is The Little Drummer Boy Challenge? Essentially it is a game where in the player does his best to avoid hearing the (dreaded) Christmas song between Black Friday and Christmas Eve. If you hear it, you are dead. Out. Done for. Now, you can't be tricked into hearing it (as my beloved keeps wanting to do to me) and it doesn't count if someone who knows you are playing sings it to you or otherwise sets you up, but all other instances count. This has led to some rather ridiculous behavior on my part.

Er, more ridiculous than usual, anyway.

On Saturday, my beloved and I were returning cable boxes belonging to a certain company that I shall not name, but will tell you rhymes with Hay Schmee & Schmee. (Huzzah for faster internet and the ability for all of us to operate devices in the house without feeling like we want to murder someone!) As we were waiting in the UPS store, I could hear the dulcet crooning of Nat King Cole singing The Christmas Song and I began to get antsy. I could feel my heart begin to race and I looked at my beloved and told him that if Nat started wrapping up the tune before we were done, he was on his own, because I would be exiting the store. (I also made him go in before me to make sure it was safe to enter.) As we finished, Nat was finishing too and I pretty much ran out of the store in an "every man for himself" manner. Yeah, I love my husband, but I am not responsible for his meandering ways and if he gets himself knocked off, that's his problem. (TRUE LOVE!)

Last week, I was in a large discount store. I had been in there for nearly an hour and just KNEW that I was pushing fate. The Drummer could come for me at any moment. I was standing in line at the checkout behind an older couple. They were a little slow moving, which usually is no problem, but this time was causing my palms to sweat. I was polite, but was ever so slowly inching my cart forward as they took their time putting on coats and gloves and carefully rearranged the bags in their cart. (Even now I'm breaking into a bit of a cold sweat thinking about it.) As I pulled forward, ready and eager to pay and beat a hasty retreat, the cashier smiled at me and said with a big grin that showed she was blissfully unaware of The Boy and his bent on destruction, 'Just a sec, gotta change the receipt tape!" I shifted back and forth on my feet, I cleared my throat. 'Sure! No problem!' I lied. I was listening to the current carol wind down and was certain that the sound of pah-rum-pum-pum-pumming would be coming for me. As the cashier got the tape in and proceeded to ring up my purchases, the audio loop changed to an in-store ad for something and I started to breathe faster. When the commercial was done, the cashier was still ringing things up and happily chatting to me. I had no idea what she was saying, for I was nodding and uh-huh-ing absently while listening for the dreaded drums. And suddenly, my friends--IT WAS A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE!! The next song was no carol. Instead, my ears were treated to the sweet, sweet sound of Blondie singing "Call Me." I very nearly broke down and wept. I kept willing the cashier to move quickly on my purchases, because I still had to exit the store. Blondie was well into the second verse by the time my packages were bagged. I lobbed a hasty "thank you!" over my shoulder and veritably SPRINTED for the exit. I made it to my van, sweating, breathing heavily, and only able to whisper a hoarse "thanks!" to the Muzak Gods who intervened on my behalf.

That evening, it was a simple yawn that kept me from being slain along with my son. We had been watching the SNL holiday show, giggling as Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg gave inappropriate gifts in a box, when suddenly I yawned. Not a dainty yawn, but a great big, gaping, canyon of a yawn. It was then that I decided that I should hit the hay. I bid my boy goodnight, went upstairs, performed my evening ablutions, and crawled into bed, exhausted from the trauma of earlier in the day. I wasn't in bed long when I heard an unearthly wail from downstairs. My son came up and told me that The Boy had just slain him via Will Ferrell as Robert Goulet. (Every year, this skit kills thousands who don't mute or leave in time. The humanity!) You know how experts are always saying that we should listen to our bodies? I BELIEVE. That yawn saved me.

It's just a minefield out there, friends! I've taken to going to the grocery with headphones on. Yes, I've become one of those people! I make my non-playing/slain family members enter buildings before me. I've always liked shopping online because I can shop in my pajamas. Now, I know we've all seen those girls who are out in public with their hair piled on top of their heads, no make up on, and in pajamas. I'm pretty sure my own daughter has done this. And they can get away with it. They look cute, even. But y'all. I'm 45 years old. NO ONE wants to see me sans makeup, in my pajamas with a messy bun. (My beloved sees my this way last thing at night, first thing in the morning. LUCKY.) So really, shopping online is serving both myself AND mankind. (You are welcome. I am a giver. Again. So. Generous.) I've done most of my shopping online this season to avoid The Boy. I changed the presets on my radio. I have a Drummer Boy Free playlist of Christmas songs on Spotify. I gave my 9 year old daughter the third degree regarding her choir concert, making sure that no drumming of any kind would be taking place. I may or may not have told her that if The Boy was making an appearance, I would be in the bathroom for that performance. Fortunately for all of us, her concert was percussion free.

I'm jittery every time I go out. It's like waiting for the other shoe to drop. Part of me wants to just jump in front of the Drummer Boy train to get it over with already. But the competitor in me just will not give up. Last year, I went down early thanks (NO THANKS AT ALL) to the unholy pairing of The Boy and Bob Seeger. I refuse to be slain in such an inhumane way this year.

So if you need me, I'll be here. In front of my computer, trolling Amazon, wearing my pajamas and blissfully Drummer Boy Free.

Be safe out there, y'all. He's just waiting to do you in.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Skating Into Christmas

Hello! I'm back after a respite. Is a six week gap in posts a respite? Whatever. Potato, potahto. Things have happened. There were holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving. There was football. There was much sickness. And frankly, there wasn't much I felt like blogging. To tell the truth, I'm still not all that motivated to do much of anything. But, since usually this time of year I post a few crafty ideas, I figured that I could keep with tradition and post the ONE crafty thing I've done in--oh, ages. YOU'RE WELCOME. I keep telling you all that I'm a giver. Ahem.

Anyway.

I made these:

Please do not pay attention to my dirty door. Especially now that I've called your attention to it. 
 I could not be happier with how they turned out or with how simple they were to make. I bought a pair of used skates, painted them gray, used a round stenciling sponge to make the polka dots, painted glitter paint on the blades, wove ribbon through the lacing holes and stuffed them with greenery. Oh! And the fur trim? Socks I found at WalMart! Did I go back and buy several more pairs of those socks so that I can someday make more skates? Yes. Yes I did. So now, should Sockpocalypse ever happen, I am more than ready.

I know this could be done even more quickly with vinyl polka dots--especially if you have a Silhouette or Cricut machine. Shoot, I almost did it myself with a hole punch and some contact paper, but decided that I liked the gray. The vinyl option would be great if you wanted to be able to change things up since the paint is permanent.

The moral of the story is…

Well there is no moral since this is a craft post.

Wait. Yes there is. Stock up on socks.

Nope. Definitely not a moral.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email.




Monday, October 28, 2013

Something Humorous For Your Monday

I've been away dealing with stuff lately. Some of it has been Stuff, with a capital S and some of it has been rather lowercase. The Stuff, I feel I can't really share here. The other stuff would just bore you to tears and make you wonder exactly why you chose to click over and read. So instead, I'm going to leave you with something that happened here last week that is still making me laugh.

Scene: My beloved and I are settled into our comfy chairs in the family room for the evening, watching Brian Williams deliver the national news. My children are all upstairs engaged in various pursuits: playing on the computer, doing homework, reading, showering, etc. We hear our eldest son knocking on our other son's door:

James: Sean, mom wants you.

My husband and I exchange quizzical glances, as I have not uttered any such thing.

Me: (in a semi-hollering voice) No, I don't!

James: (knocking again) Sean! Mom wants you!

Then there's the sound of Sean's door opening, shortly followed by grunts, muffled yelps, and scuffling, leading to louder shouts and bumps and thuds.

Sean: (laughing) You liar!

More scuffling, laughter, and dog barking.

Patrick and I look at each other with puzzled amusement.

Beloved: What's going on up there, boys?

Sean and James come racing down the stairs sounding like a herd of stampeding wildebeests, followed by a hepped up and wild-eyed Dumb Dog, whose tongue is lolling out the side of her mouth. Sean does a lap around the couch, followed by James who is brandishing a tube sock stuffed with a couple of other rolled up socks. Sean flops on the couch while James pelts him with the sock-stuffed sock and the Dumb Dog stamps her front feet and barks to wake the dead. Then James flops down next to his brother. They are both out of breath and grinning.

Me: Well at least it's a sock full of socks and not nickels or rocks.

James: Pretty clever, eh?

Sean: (looking at me and shoving his brother) Just so you know, if I don't respond to you actually wanting me, it's all his fault.

Me: Gee, thanks, James. More reasons for your siblings to ignore me.

James: (grinning evilly and waggling his eyebrows [a trick of which I'm envious]) Totally worth it.

Now whenever Sean is in his room and someone knocks on his door, he slides his phone under the door and takes a picture before opening. Smart cookie.

I'm totally gonna do this when I'm huddled in the laundry room with wine and chocolate hiding from the kids doing laundry.

Oh who am I kidding?! They'll never find me there. My kids don't even know where the laundry room is!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Last Week

I was busy last week. That explains my lack of posting. I was busy. BOOM! Best excuse ever! It explains everything without getting overly involved.

"We missed you at the PTO meeting."
"Sorry. I was busy."

"Why are you late for this appointment?"
"I was busy."

"Mom! You were supposed to pick me up 15 minutes ago!"
"I was busy."

"Why are we just now eating dinner at 7:15?"
"I was busy."

Then, when people try to ask you what you were busy with, you change the subject back to them, in either a positive or negative way.

"I am so impressed with the way you are running the PTO this year! Never in a million years would I be able to take on such a responsibility!" (HAHAHA!! Why??? Because I'M BUSY!!)

"You know, the staff here in this office is always so kind and efficient. I really hope these doctors know how lucky they are to have such a great staff!"

"Hey, I was looking on Skyward and I noticed that your English grade isn't looking so good, what's going on?"

"Wow, honey, you are looking especially good in your unshowered, unshaven, state! And the bicycle shorts only add to the glamour. Sexy! Here, have some potatoes!"

Or, if that takes too much effort, you could just type a few things on your blog and add pictures. Because the pictures will surely explain what you have been busy with.

I was busy trying to escape enormous spiders with 6 foot webs that MYSTERIOUSLY DISAPPEAR within 10 minutes of viewing it.

I was busy trying to figure out just what is in her mouth and why she felt the need to photograph it on my phone. #photobomb

I was busy trying to figure out if this is the new duckface selfie.  #photobombedagain

I was busy...um...still scratching my head over this one.... #seriouslytherewereabout15oftheseonmyphone

I was busy sending snarky texts to my daughter when she informed me that she would be late coming home from school. #motheroftheyearproof1

I was busy helping my son get ready for the big rivalry football game. #motheroftheyearproof2

I was busy sending pictures of duct tape to my other son in order to find out his preference on which one he would prefer I use to put on his cleats. #motheroftheyearproof3

I was busy taking very hip and chic selfies with my youngest. 

I was busy rescuing a leopard frog from our window well.

I was busy eating frozen custard with my family.

I was busy marveling at the light.

I was busy watching my daughter spin circles in her "twirly skirt."

I was busy taking pictures of my daughter's pillow perm. This picture doesn't even do it justice--you should've seen the back! #motheroftheyearproof4

I was busy helping my Beloved pick out new glasses. And by that I mean absently nodding in his direction and grunting "uh huh" at every pair of specs while really prowling the store for the frames I want when I go in to get new glasses soon. 

I was busy trying not to melt at my son's first game of the season. 

I'm busy trying to distract you from the ridiculousness of this post with a picture of an adorable Great Dane who was at my son's game. The game didn't end so well, but she was fabulous entertainment.
So. There you have it. I've have been busy, wouldn't you agree?

Um...look! Cute doggy!!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Tiling The Pantry (And Finally Beating My Procrastination)

Remember in my last post how I was kinda, sorta procrastinating? Remember how it all started? You know, because I was loath to begin the project of "tiling" my pantry? Well, my friends, I am happy to report that the job is finished. And the outcome is good.

I've actually done this project in a few closets in our home and my reluctance to start didn't have anything to do with the difficulty of the project. "Tiling" the shelves is a fairly simple affair in and of itself. It's emptying and culling through the 250 pounds of crap and then placing it back in that makes me want to do anything else. And I mean anything! I would rather listen to my children whine about boredom than empty, cull, and replace items in the pantry. I would rather play infinity games of Candyland--and you all know how I feel about Candyland. I would rather shave my legs with a vegetable peeler and then soak them in a bath of salt and lemon juice. I guess what I'm saying, is it's not my favorite thing.

But! It does make a difference in how things operate around here. It's so much easier to cook dinner when I can actually see what I have that isn't going to result in a a case of botulism. It's so much easier to find medications to heal my hypochondriacs preshus baybays when they are under the weather. It's so much easier for my beloved to find razors/soap/floss/good-lord-anything-at-all-damn-you-Y-chromosome when everything is labeled and in it's place.

One of the things that I loved about this house when we moved in was the abundance of closets. We had plenty of room to move in all our crap and the space for it to multiply--as it does when given the room. What I didn't love was that all the shelving was wire shelving. (#firstworldprobs, right?) I hated that things toppled over more easily and that if things spilled, they spilled through the shelves and onto the stuff below. (Syrup, I am looking at you.) So when I saw this idea featured on a blog I frequent (sometimes just for the pretty pictures and the fantasy of ever being that organized, because, yo, it ain't that way up in here, you know what I'm sayin'?) I thought it was a brilliant and inexpensive and totally doable solution. I mean, ideally, I'd have some sort of melamine or solid shelving, but given that my beloved has a million things on his To Do List already, I figured I could handle this one on my own and it wouldn't involve power tools or swearing. (Much.)

I headed to Ye Olde Big Box Hardware Store and bought the cheapest peel and stick tiles I could find. I didn't care what they looked like. My only criteria was that they had to have a smooth surface so that anything I placed on it would be stable. Then I cleared out 250 pounds of crap, culled through it, getting rid of anything that was past it's prime, and set to putting the tiles in. I started at the fronts of the shelves and put in as many full tiles as I could and then I worked on cutting the tiles to fill in the gaps. This is where it gets more tricky and time consuming. It's not really that hard and all told, the tiling for each closet/pantry only took about 45 minutes. But because the walls and shelves are not perfectly square, each cut tile has to be done individually--I couldn't just measure one gap and make identical cuts for all the cut tiles. Does that make sense? And the only tools I needed were a utility knife and a straight edge (I used a metal framing square).

So for all my fussing and moaning and procrastinating, I wound up with this:

Please don't judge the crappy photos. I took these with my phone to send to my mom and used them out of sheer laziness because I didn't want the hassle of starting all over with my good camera. Laziness, it's the new black! Or something!

Don't judge by what's on the floor. I wasn't done when I snapped these. That area is now clean and organized. With only a smidge--okay, a lot--of dog hair thrown in to keep things real.

I've used this method in the hall linen closet, the closet in our master bath, and the pantry and closet in our kitchen. That, combined with the shoe hangers, (which I used in all except the master bath closet) have made it much easier to store and find things in a hurry. Now my storage spaces are in good shape. You might even say they are Y Chromosome Proof.

Although that might be pushing things.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

This Is What Procrastination Looks Like

*Decide that today is finally the day to work on lining the wire shelving with adhesive tiles in the pantry. It's been put off long enough.

*Set your mouth in a grim line of determination and set your mind to the task.

*Gather tools.

*Realize that utility knife blade is dull. Understand that dull blades lead to accidents and go on hunt for replacement blades.

*While hunting for replacement blades, trip over vacuum cord and decide that putting away the vacuum would be a good idea. Someone could get hurt.

*Notice while winding up vacuum cord that the Dumb Dog has distributed her hair everywhere yet again and decide that the downstairs could use a quick once over with the Dyson before putting it away.

*Start to vacuum.

*Stop vacuuming every 6 seconds to pick up a stray sock or shoe.

*Realize the futility of vacuuming without first having picked up the eleventy billion stray shoes and socks.

*Smack self in forehead.

*Mutter things about living with feral goats disguised as children.

*Pick up eleventy billion stray shoes, socks, hoodies, pens, pencils, coins, remotes, games controllers.

*Resume vacuuming.

*Finish vacuuming and put vacuum in closet.

*Notice that the Dumb Dog looks awfully warm and snuggly lying there in the sunshaft on the floor.

*Go over and lie down next to the dog.

*Talk to the dog in some weird form of baby talk that only dogs understand and rub her face.

*Notice that with every stroke of your hand, enough fur flies off of dog to completely undo all the vacuuming you just did.

* Shake fist in the air.

*Pet dog again and tell her you wish she was hairless.

* Get up and notice that the kitchen table has not been wiped down after breakfast.

*Head to the sink and grab the dishrag.

*Notice a funky smell emanating from said rag.

*Bring rag closer to nose and inhale deeply.

*Reconfirm that rag is definitely funky.

*Shudder while trying not to gag.

*Get new rag from drawer and place on counter.

*Gather up dishrag, towels, and hand towel from downstairs bathroom and run them upstairs to the laundry.

*Switch out clothes from the washer to the dryer.

*Fold a load of clothes.

*Start a new load in the washer.

*Go around to every upstairs bedroom shutting off every overhead light, table lamp, and closet light.

*Shake fist in the air.

*Mutter things about living with children who have no sympathy for drowning polar bears.

*Head back downstairs.

*Notice that the spider who has taken up residence in the foyer has built, yet again overnight, a stunning tangle of webs from the chandelier to the stairs to the doorway to the entry table.

*Get vacuum back out of closet.

*Attempt to vacuum the spider's transport routes.

*Put vacuum away.

*Notice the mess in the living room that the two eldest children left when they were putting together their school supplies.

*Remember that these children swore they picked up after themselves.

*Shake fist in the air.

*Make mental note to go over what "picking up" means with two eldest children.

*Pet Dumb Dog who is now making circles around your legs and whining.

*Realize that Dumb Dog needs to go outside.

*Take Dumb Dog outside.

*While strolling with dog, notice that your Garden of Neglect has more tomatoes that need picking.

*Go inside and take dog off leash.

*Grab basket and head back outside to Garden of Neglect.

*Pick eleventy billion tomatoes.

*Smack self in forehead and ask yourself again the need for three tomato plants when only one person in the house eats tomatoes.

*Curse self for being greedy about tomatoes.

*Take tomatoes inside and wash them.

*Notice overabundance of tomatoes on counter.

*Decide to make salsa.

*Check fridge for jalapeƱo peppers and cilantro.

*Realize that not only are there no jalapeƱos or cilantro, there is no sour cream for dinner.

*Decide to start a grocery list.

*Grab a pen.

*Scribble with it in mad circles on the paper and realize that it doesn't work.

*Throw it away and try another.

*Repeat this process at least 8 more times.

*After writing grocery list, notice Post-It note on cupboard about thank you notes.

*Move thank you notes to a prominent spot in the kitchen so that they can get written in a timely manner.

*Laugh at yourself, because it's way past timely.

*Remind yourself that even a late thank you note is better than none at all.

*Say a little prayer that the receivers of the notes feel the same way.

*Notice your cell phone.

*Wonder if you have any lives in Candy Crush.

*Decide that it won't hurt anything to just check.

*Play 5 rounds of Candy Crush, check email, nose around on Facebook, admire photos on Instagram, check the weather forecast, see if you have any moves on Words with Friends, look at the kids' school websites for information on upcoming meetings.

*Notice that 45 minutes has passed since picking up the phone.

*Shake fist in the air.

*Curse self for falling into a black hole of time-suck.

*Realize you heard the dryer buzzer 15 minutes ago.

*Run upstairs and switch out laundry and fold a load.

*Come back downstairs and notice that the reusable grocery bags are still sitting next to the fridge where you put them a week ago.

*Gather up bags and take out to van.

*Open up van door and get knocked backwards by the funk.

*Go on a search and destroy mission for the source of the funk, even though you've done this for three days running with no success.

*Grab a few stray pieces of trash, an asthma inhaler, two pairs of sunglasses, a hoodie and an umbrella while you are on the search mission.

*Decide mission is futile and spray Febreeze around the car like a teenage boy applying Axe.

*Dispose of garbage.

*Put other random items where they belong.

*Walk by computer and decide to check a few blogs for inspiration for a project idea you have in mind.

*Get sucked into other people's creativity.

*Realize that 20 minutes has passed.

*Shake fist in air.

*Curse self for not only not being as creative as the people whose blogs you just read, but also for being weak-willed for stopping at the computer when you have a job to do.

*Wrinkle brow and wonder, what was that job I was supposed to do again?


Monday, August 19, 2013

The Longest Shortest Summer Ever

Well howdy there, stranger! How have you been? Me? I've been busy crazy holed up in my room with the door closed for the last two weeks trying to avoid my offspring fine, thanks for asking!

Our summer was a combination of long days laced with cries of "I'm hungry!" and whines of "I'm bored" intertwined with frenzied days of travel and go-here-do-this-have-fun-dammit! (Hence the title of this post.) It seems we just finished the manic final days of school and now here we are starting them all up again. But in between, we crammed stuff in there, man. We crammed like a BOSS. To wit:

*My children were out of school for two days before heading over to my folks' house for a week of VBS, visiting, eating ice cream, swimming, fishing, and, according to my ever-hungry-never-full offspring, absolutely starved by my mother who would not let them raid the pantry willy-nilly as they are wont to do here. (My mom fears she is a mean grandma. I tell her no, I'm just a lazy mother too tired to fight with my children. They have me way outnumbered. Never mind that they have her outnumbered, too. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.)

*At the same time 3 of my children were at my folks' home, my eldest son and my beloved were in Canada, fishing, hiking, avoiding stumps that look like bears (no lie--three different times they mistook the same stump for a bear such was their wish/fear of seeing a bear. That stump/bear came to be known as Stumpy the "bear.") and checking out the ER of a Canadian hospital just for grins. Oh, and maybe to get stitches in a thumb because, as my son learned, knives are sharp.

*While my children and my beloved were gone, I painted my kitchen. Why yes, it seems I did just paint the kitchen a couple of years ago. But, now that the family room is painted (the color has grown on me. It's grown on me so much that I painted the kitchen the same color. Who knew that "Tattered Sail/Not Tattered Sail/Lavender Swine/Who Knows What Color This Is" would look so good? Now, I must share that the kitchen is not actually completely painted. My beloved told me he would paint the wee crevices above the upper cabinets with his special painting device he used last time we painted. I also left the area behind the fridge for him for two reasons: 1) I am a delicate flower and moving the fridge by myself seemed too overwhelming, and 2) I was afraid I would scratch the hardwood floors and then be given the stinkeye by my beloved. So now, my kitchen is totally painted. Um, if you don't you know, actually look above the cabinets or behind the fridge. Chances are very good that it will get painted. Sometime in 2017 when my husband gets to it on his very long To Do List and he actually has a day or two strung together that doesn't require his attention somewhere else. Until then, I'm pretending. Yellow? I don't see any yellow! Have you been to the eye doctor lately? I'm concerned for your vision.

*My eldest daughter spent 8 days in Guatemala with other students from her school's Spanish department. If we are Facebook friends, perhaps you will remember my request for prayers and good thoughts as she spent the first 3 days sick with the stomach flu and I spent the first 3 days alternately praying for her, answering her frantic texts, and being wracked with guilt for not letting her come home. It ultimately turned out just fine--just like I kept calmly telling her in my texts and just like my Sane Brain kept telling me over the very loud, very scary protests of my Insane Brain. She had a marvelous trip--ziplining at a coffee plantation, hiking up an active volcano, going to a black sand beach, working with kids at an after school program, visiting a local market, climbing pyramids, and trying not to die from being much to close to a poisonous snake. And, oh yes! Speaking and improving her Spanish.

*My family came in from my hometown and Chicago and Texas for the 4th of July. There was no burn ban in place this year, so we spent a great amount of time blowing things up to celebrate our country's independence. We also ate. A lot. And laughed. A lot. And just all around crammed as much enjoyment and togetherness as we could into a couple of days. Oh! And the Dreaded Owls never made an appearance. Will wonders never cease?

*My sweet mother-in-law left the bonds of this Earth to meet her Lord in Heaven and we spent a few days with my beloved's family celebrating her life--talking, laughing, looking through photos, crying, hugging, and remembering the countless ways she loved us all.

*We spent waaaay too many hours in a car together driving to, around, and from Florida. But, along the way, we got to see my sweet Aunt Bonnie, my beloved connected with a buddy, we had a weird little yodeling contest with the people in a truck next to us in a traffic jam, we saw a shark, we saw dolphins, we met up with my folks at a rented house and spent a wonderful week with them, swimming, eating, laughing, walking the beach, and playing approximately 827 games of SCAT.

*We celebrated three birthdays. Mary turned 9, Sean turned 12, and Maggie turned 17. I'm not sure how this is possible, given that I'm only 18 myself. Mary went to her first concert--with her big sister--and had a blast. Sean received a cell phone as his right of passage. And Maggie got a job. So you know, all is good in the 'hood.

*We returned from vacation to the windup to back-to-school. There was school shopping and more school shopping and meet the teacher and registration and orientation and so much paperwork that I'm sure several trees were harmed in the making of this school year.

*The kids started school on the 14th. On the 16th, I had one sick kid--two days in and his immune system went Holy Schnikes! Look at all these people! Look at all these germy surfaces! I know, I really feel the need to battle these. Oh! And I know what else sounds fun: Let me battle this virus while I'm already battling the allergens already in your body. Ready, Set, BOOM! Aaaaaaand he was down for the count. The same day, my eldest son, you know the one with the smart phone attached to his body permanent-like? He missed the bus. Let me say it again: Third day. Phone that not only does fancy things, it also shows the time to the minute, attached to body. Bus missed.

It was at that point in the program friends, that I knew. I might have had the Longest Shortest summer ever, but that was just a lead up to what may become the Longest Longest School Year ever.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Perseverance

In one of my last posts, On Baseball and Grace, I recounted for you my son's frustration and how ultimately we all learned a little lesson on grace. Today, I just want to show you the result of his (and our) perseverance:



His team--you know, the one that was STUPID, and in turn, because of our refusal to let him quit it, made us, his parents, STUPID--won the league championship.

And this kid, the one who was brave every time he was in the batter's box and was not rocking such a great batting average, stepped up to the plate and got an RBI, starting a two out rally that ultimately led to the team's win.



I try very hard to not hit my kids over the head when the lessons they are (or should be) learning are obvious. But I have to say, I might have whispered "Aren't you glad we didn't let you quit?" in my boy's ear.

Proving once again, that I may not be Mother of the Year material, but who cares?! I have a shiny trophy sitting on my mantle.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Fractured Five Senses Poem

My kids have all written what is called a five senses poem while in elementary school. It's not a poem that rhymes, rather one that focuses on using your five senses to describe your surroundings. I shall attempt to replicate such a poem with a Que Sara Sara spin.

Home:

I see: dirty socks lying like dessicated worms in crumpled heaps on the floor; pale tumbleweeds of dog fur that roll across the floor with the breeze; piles of notebooks, keys, and sunglasses that make an end-of-school-year mountain on the kitchen island.

I hear: the wet, slurping sound of the dumb dog's tongue repeatedly licking a spot on her dog bed; the thunderous kawunking thump of the washing machine on spin cycle, sounding like a Blackhawk helicopter in my laundry room, signaling the end of its useful days; the squawks and screeches of yet another battle between siblings over the blaring television.

I smell: the bitter, but lovely smell of mama's little helper coffee brewing; the stale, heavy, still somewhat appetizing aroma of bacon that was cooked days ago; a slightly musty, warm Frito odor coming off the dog as dozes in the sunbeam by the door.

I taste: the bittersweet hotness of the cappuccino as I guzzle it down while signing school papers; the bright, minty flavor of the sweet peppermint gum I chew to keep coffee-breath at bay; the bland, plastic taste of the tip of a pen as I compose yet another grocery list.

I touch: the gummy surface of a countertop left mottled and blemished by dirty cups, bowls, dishes, and wrappers; a slightly damp, highly stinky baseball jersey as I throw it into the dying washer; a wet shower mat with my bare feet, causing me to leap onto cold tiles. (Ick.)

Home.


And there you have it. It's probably not the A+ work my children received on their poems describing places like Disneyworld or the zoo, but it's my poem and I'm sticking to it.


Thursday, May 16, 2013

On Baseball And Grace

Yesterday there was an enormous row at our house. My brave, baseball playing son decided he no longer wants to play baseball. He was dressed in his uniform and ready to go, yet digging in his cleats and refusing to go. There was yelling. There were tears. There were slamming doors. It was ugly.

Because we are the meanest parents in the world and believe that once you commit to a team you must follow through and finish the season, we made him go. He glared at us and told us that he wasn't playing next year. We told him fine. He huffed at us and told us we could make him go but we couldn't make him care about playing. He told us he just wouldn't try. We told him that was his choice. He could certainly go and not try and let his teammates and himself down. He told us he didn't care about his teammates. We told him that was his choice, but playing the rest of the season was not.

It was a very quiet 20 minute ride to the ball park.

When we got to the field, the coach was already on the field with some players having batting practice. Sean took his equipment and hustled onto the field. Batting practice hasn't been a problem. Despite the hitting slump in actual games, my boy has made some great hits during practice. Somehow it just hasn't translated to game time. So when it was Sean's turn to take some pitches, I was waiting to see if he would actually swing or if he would do as he threatened and not try but just stand and watch the ball breeze by.

He swung. He swung for the fences.

Unfortunately, it wasn't the fences he hit.



This is his coach's van. Ouch.

Sean swung hard and hit a pop up foul that went over the back stop. Waaaaay over. (This, incidentally, is not the first car to get hit. This is also the reason we never park in the front row.) It was like that ball was in slow motion. I could see it flying up, up, up, and then coming down, down, down. It looked for a second like it would hit between vehicles. Except it didn't. There was a loud *THUNK* and then a crackling crash as the window shattered.

Coach looked at my red-faced son and said, 'Nice hit.'

What happened next was a lesson in grace.

Sean apologized. Profusely. Coach told him not to worry about it because that's what insurance is for. (My beloved and I have already spoken to him about taking care of his deductible.) He told Sean that he knew he took a risk parking in the front row and that's why he parked with his back end in first. Then he told Sean that he knew he was a hitter. He told him that was a big hit, but next time swing faster.

Coach and my beloved swept out his van as best as they could and cleaned up the glass. Then coach called my brave, embarrassed, battling son over to his van. He said: 'I have three autographed balls in my office. I'd like yours to be the fourth. Would you autograph this ball for me?"

Sean grinned and took the pen. Then coach asked him if it was his first autograph. While I have always been faithful to my husband, I may have fallen a little bit in love at that moment.

As Sean and his coach walked back to the field to continue practice, his coach told him he wanted him to be three for three in the batter's box. He told Sean he owed him.

And my boy? He was two for two in the batter's box. (Never got a chance to bat a third time because our game was called due to the Mercy Rule in the 5th inning. We were throttling the other team.) He also caught a pop fly for an out and in the next play, bare handed a grounder and threw the runner out at first. His teammates were very happy for him. They also enjoyed ribbing him about the window. At the end of the game, Sean was given the game ball.

When my boy, my beloved, and myself climbed into the car for the silent, tense drive to the ball park last night, we didn't imagine the evening would end as it did. And it all could have ended differently if the coach's response had been different. I knew that in the course of the season my son would learn many things on the baseball field: sportsmanship, being a team player, commitment, athletic skills. I just never dreamed he would learn about grace.

What a lesson.




Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Brave

He dons his uniform and cap, gathers his glove and equipment bag, and heads out the door yet again. It's baseball season and he has another game. He virtually vibrates in his seat as we drive to the game. He tells me about his teammates. He regales me with great plays. He tells me that he hopes he gets a hit.

It's been a bit of a dry spell in the hitting department. He's going great guns on the field. He's catching pop-ups, he's making double plays, he's aggressive. But when he steps into the batter's box, I can see it in his shoulders. I can see the tension. I can see the co-mingled hope and fear as he takes a couple of practice swings.

And I watch. And I cross my fingers. And my toes. And I whisper a silent prayer: Please, God, just once. Just one hit. Just to bring his confidence back. Please.

And I listen to his coach and his teammates as they offer encouragement: You can do it! This one's yours! Good eye! Big swing! Take it for a ride!

And I watch as he goes down swinging. And my heart aches as I see him walk dejectedly back to the dug out.

But then, when it's time to head back out to the field, there he is, all grins and freckles and joy. And when it's time to head back into the batter's box, he is there again serious-faced, ready to give it another try. Ready to swing away again.

And I think how hard this is and how strong he is and how brave he is to step into that box every time and keep swinging. And I am proud of his bravery.

****************

She looks beautiful all in white. She is proud of her dress. She twirls. She loves her shoes; loves the clonking noise the little heels make as she walks across the wood floors.

She has been preparing for this day. She says she was practicing in bed at night. She says she is ready. She is aglow.

And I see her, in the same dress her sister wore, taking the flower wreath on and off her head, rolling her eyes as we tell her "one more picture" and my eyes prick with tears. My baby. The one I didn't know I needed until we found out about her. I can't believe we are at this milestone already.

We head to the church and there is milling about and more pictures and exclamations when friends are seen. And finally, it's time. We are gathered in the pew, like 8 ducks in a row, listening, waiting, watching. And I look over at her.

Her face has crumpled. She is crying. And I know. I know she is frightened. She is afraid of walking down that aisle. She is afraid of making a mistake. She is afraid of all those eyes on her.

And I begin to whisper. I whisper to her that it will be okay. I whisper that we will be right there with her. I whisper that there are others feeling frightened. I whisper that it doesn't matter if she makes a mistake--no one cares, God certainly doesn't. God loves her heart. God loves her humor. God loves her compassion. God loves her. I crack a joke. I cross my eyes. I make a face.

She gives me a tentative smile.

But then it's our turn. We rise and walk down the aisle. She is still crying. I see compassionate eyes in the pews, watching my girl. She checks my face and I offer her every ounce of encouragement I can summon. As she approaches the front, I see her panic. She wants to flee. She tells me: I can't! And I tell her: You can! You can do hard things! I am so proud of you!

And she does. She does it through tears, but she does it just the same.

We head back to the pew where the rest of the family is waiting with smiles and hugs and pats and thumbs up. And she settles back into the pew, relieved, as she watches others have their turn.

And I think how hard this is and how strong she is and how brave she is to put one foot in front of the other and keep walking down that aisle. And I am proud of her bravery.

***************

I am doubtful. I question myself constantly; Is this the right decision? What if I mess up? What should I do next? What do people think of me? I am sometimes jumpy and uncomfortable in my own skin. Some days I want to pull the covers back up and say Not Today. I think I must be the only one: the only one who feels this way, the only one who struggles, the only one who hasn't got it all together, the only one who wishes she was someone else, was somewhere else. And I don't want any part of it. I think it might be easier to just stop. Quit.

But then they show me. Every day they show me how to walk bravely through this world. It's not always graceful. It's certainly not easy. But it's always amazing.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Before and After: Table and Tray

Good morning! Is it sunny where you are? If it is, would you mind sending a little my way? It has been so gray and rainy here in the past week that it's making me a little grumpy. Grrrr... But you know what doesn't make me grumpy? A good before and after.

I had this little black table that has been in my family room for several years. It was in my parents' house before that, but when they downsized to a smaller home, I inherited it. It's not a fabulous table, but it's sturdy and has good lines and it fits perfectly behind our couch as a depository for wrappers, empty glasses, pop tabs, dirty socks, pencils, random playing cards and other detritus of the feral goats that live in this house with me beautiful things.

When it came to me, it was light blue. I painted it black. It worked fine when my room was green, but when I lightened up the room and changed the curtains, I wanted something different for the table. Also, I had been dying to try out Annie Sloan chalk paint, so I decided that the table would make a perfect guinea pig for a chalk paint experiment. I figured if it didn't work out and I hated it, it would be easy enough to change.

Bad blogger! I started painting before I thought to take a "before" shot. 
Turns out, I love it! I used the Annie Sloan chalk paint in Greek blue. I used a 4 ounce sample pot and that was enough to completely cover the table. I used two coats, because I wanted good coverage and I didn't want the black to come through because I wasn't going for an antique-y look. The paint dries super quick and no sanding or prep is required, which is a great match for my need for instant gratification in crafty projects. I also used two coats of the Annie Sloan clear wax. The can is HUGE and a little goes a very long way. I barely made a dent in it and will be able to use it again and again on other projects. All told, with the painting and the waxing, the table only took 24 hours start to finish.  The blue is a nearly perfect match for the lighter blue in the family room curtains and it adds a nice pop of color to the room.

Perfect spot to sit your dirty socks refreshments.
The tray was a Goodwill find. I think it was $2.50? It was just a simple wood framed tray with a cork bottom, but there was something about the lines of it and the cork that I liked. So I sanded it and stained it with a dark stain (Minwax Kona), gave it a going over with some paste wax, and BAM! Just what the blue table needed to be complete.
I think the tray is pine, but I'm not sure. I wasn't fond of the orange-y finish, so it was given a sanding and some darker stain. 

I think the table and tray turned out great. Plus, because of the cork bottom, the tray does double duty in acting as a coaster.
Accessories were also found at Goodwill. Except for the cute kid. He's my own unique creation. :)

Now if I could just figure out a way to make my offspring understand that pretty things go on the table and tray and dirty socks go in the hamper...



Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Because My Mother Taught Me To Say "Thank You"

It's May. And for as much as I groused in my last post about dreading some things in May, well, today the sun is shining, the windows are open, and the birds are serenading me. (I can pretend, people.) In short, I'm feeling pretty blessed this morning.

While I was reading through my blog feeds this morning, I came upon this. Go read it. Seriously, I'll wait.

Mmmkay. Done? Having been a special education teacher for about 10 years before I started having children and having children of my own, I understand both sides of that particular coin. And today, I want to say a few words to the teachers who meant so much and made a difference in my own life.

Mrs. Fluss (Bertauski)--You made 3rd grade so fun. I remember the pranks you pulled on other teachers and the ones they pulled on you. That left an impression. It made me think that a workplace could be enjoyable and full of camaraderie. Your unit on space ignited a love of all things space related. Seriously--when my mom and I visited the Smithsonian Air & Space museum for my 40th birthday and I got to meet real live astronauts? I got all fangirl giggly and teary-eyed. Embarrassing-- but in a good way? You set the bar high for any teacher that came after you.

Mr. Espindola--You made this hypochondriac girl want to attend school. You were young and full of ideas. It also helped that you were cute. I remember your unit on government and the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution test we had to take. It was hard. You pushed us and encouraged us and made us believe that we could do hard things. And we rose to that and did hard things. (Because of you and Schoolhouse Rock, I can still sing the preamble of the Declaration of Independence some 35 years later.) And the time for the health unit that we got to make breakfast at school? That was unheard of at the time and our class was giddy at the prospect. I looked to your example when I taught my own students to try new and unheard of ideas.

Mrs. Carlton--You made me love writing. You made me love literature. You made me believe I could write. And you did it all in a way that made me love you.

Mrs. Moseley--I can't pretend to be a good speaker. I convey my thoughts much better through the written word. But your speech class was a comfortable, safe place to learn public speaking skills. Your critiques were always honest and encouraging, making getting up to the podium a little less intimidating. So even though I still get muddled when speaking to adults, when speaking to kids, I know my audience and I can rock that mother out!

Mr. White--Algebra was scary and hard. But you wouldn't let that stop me. I was intimidated by numbers and by you, but you didn't let that get in the way of trying to help me to "get it." That time I got a B+ on a test? I know how I felt as a student. And years later, when working with students who found things scary and hard--students who were intimidated--I didn't let that get in the way of trying to help them "get it." And when they would come to show me a good grade? I know how you must have felt when I got that B+. Well done, sir.

Mrs. McVey--When we were studying poetry, I was like just about every other student in your class and I inwardly groaned my way through it. I had no idea that studying poetry would plant a seed that would grow into a love for words of all kinds. I had no idea that the words of Blake, Housman, Chaucer, Coleridge, Cummings, Eliot, Frost, and Thomas among others would someday come home to roost in my head and my heart. Thank you for encouraging me as a writer.  When you selected an essay I had written to take to a conference/contest, your actions confirmed my abilities. And now, even though there are plenty of people who write better than I, I know that my words have worth and that I will write anyway.

Dr. Caldwell--You stand out among all my college professors. Your genuine love of and compassion for special needs students was evident in the way you prepared us to become teachers ourselves. You were encouraging and funny and wanted us to give our very best all the time. I will never forget when a student in our class was absent because his wife was in premature labor and you asked us to pray for them and drop them a card. Or the time when you loaned my folks your car to help them get home and then you gave me a ride back to the house I lived in. Of course it helped that you and my folks went way back, but I'm fairly certain that you would have done this for any other student had they called you. Thank you for teaching me kindness, generosity, and compassion have a place inside and outside of the classroom.

And to many other teachers that I didn't mention, but that touched my life in countless ways, thanks to you too, for your hard work, dedication, professionalism, and joy in your work. Your work has eternal significance. Well done!

Now it's your turn: Comment and tell me who were your favorite teachers and why?

Monday, April 29, 2013

Feel Free To Paint Your Toenails During This Post

I'm back! Not that I was really gone, I've been here. I mean, around. You know, physically. But after the events in Boston and Texas, I just felt like I needed a vacation from media for awhile. Because I'm such a delicate bunny.

It's not like I accomplished much while I wasn't here writing. Although there was this:




She went to prom with her beau. She went with a group of about 10 other couples. And the whole thing made me think some stuff to myself. Stuff like: Self, you cannot possibly have a daughter old enough to attend prom, because you are only a few years past that yourself! And: Self, this is just a preview. Someday you'll be watching her in a white dress. And then: Self, you must knock off that kind of thinking! And finally: Self, you are getting old. That stuff you said about just being past prom yourself? BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Also, I may have found a new energy source. I think if you could find a way to harness the light that was coming off these kids, BAM! You could light the world! I mean, they were all just so beautiful and fresh and full of light. And they had absolutely no idea!

Youth is wasted on the young.

Let's see....what else?

Um, there was laundry. And dog walking. And trying to keep the dog from walking off with the laundry. Seriously. This has become a thing now. I walk down the hall past the laundry room and I find a random piece of underwear or dirty sock or damp dishrag laying in the middle of the floor. At first, I was blaming the children, thinking they were knocking stuff off of the ever-present-piles of dirties in their haste to grab a clean garment and get out of the laundry room before I could catch them in there and make them take their WHOLE pile of clean clothes back to their room instead of just retrieving one. piece. at. a. time. But then, it dawned on me that the culprit was more than likely the Dumb Dog, what with her excellent nose and the fabulous smelling capabilities that go with it. Oh yeah, and her propensity to find absolute joy in the grossest smelling stuff. Yep. Would that I could find the same joy! It would make doing laundry and spending any amount of time in either of my sons' rooms so much nicer.

Hmmm....there was also taking my younger son to the dermatologist to have something removed from his back and standing by his head to comfort him whilst the doc cut an inch long, nearly inch deep incision into his back. Guess what we talked about while this little procedure was going on? Pizza. It was highly disturbing. And I'm not usually grossed out by stuff like that. In fact, for the first part of it, I was pretty fascinated. And then the discussion of pizza came up and I had to stop watching for a bit. You're welcome.

Also, my house is the poster child for entropy. I have been trying to systematically go through the house and clean things up and throw things out. My children have been systematically going through the house and messing things up and bringing things in. This has been causing me to systematically eyeball my wine bottles more times a day than I should probably mention.

And now that it's almost May (and thank the heavens above, because April? You have bitten it HARD. It's been wet and cold around here. Hey April! Don't let the door hitcha on your way out!) I am equal parts excitement and dread. Excitement because YAY! Warmer weather (Sweet cracker sandwiches! It BETTER get warmer)! And warmer weather means more time outside playing and watching baseball and grilling and walking the Dumb Dog. And also, May means school is almost out. Dread because school is almost out and that means projects and Special Days which require my time and attention when I am in no mood or shape to give any more time or attention to anything but painting my toenails. Seriously. That's my attention span right there. If it takes longer or requires more effort than painting my toenails, I'm out.

Whew! I feel much better! Thanks for reading. Or alternatively, thanks for pretending to read while you painted your toenails.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Photo Friday: Spring Unfolding











Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Little Crafty: Watercolor Map

Yesterday while spending time in the rabbit hole that is Pinterest, I came across an interesting site that unites my love of maps and my admiration for watercolors. You can find it here.  After fooling around with it for a bit, I had an idea. I decided to print out a couple of watercolors of places we had visited and frame them using some frames I had found on clearance at Target and set aside for later use.




It was a super simple process. It works like searching on google maps in that you type in the name of a city or country and then you can zoom in or out as much as you like right down to street grids, depending on how much detail you want in your map. Then you can choose watercolor, toner, or terrain depending on what you want. I wanted something less graphic and detailed than what you get with toner and terrain. But I could see doing one of these--especially toner for a more industrial feel.

Once I zoomed in to what I wanted, I simply printed. This part might take a little trial and error. My print preview allowed me to see exactly how the map would appear on my paper, enabling me to go back and shift the map around to get the area I wanted since when you print, it prints out the details in the top corners that you don't really want to show. This is how the watercolor of Indy printed out. (It's trimmed down here to fit my frame.)


I found three of these frames on clearance at Target. I wasn't crazy about the fabric insert, but I liked the frame color and the matte.



After I trimmed my paper, I just placed it right over the frame backing (the fabric was glued on here and I didn't even take it off, since it was quite thin and didn't bleed through my paper.) and clipped the backing right back into the frame.

This is the one I did of Sanibel and Captiva Islands off the Gulf coast of Florida as a reminder of our lovely vacation last year.


Voila! Easy, fast, and cheap--just how my husband describes me on our first date. Wait. No, that's not right. Easy, fast, and cheap--just how I like my craft projects. There. Much better.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Photo Dump

Pictures from the last week or so from my dslr and my phone.

3 generation selfie.

Yes, we drive through a town named Boody on our way to my hometown. We also drive through a town called Willeys. The 10 year old boy that inhabits my brain finds that hilarious. Alas, I didn't get a picture of Willeys. This time.

This is how all my hands in SCAT looked. Ugh.


His favorite thing from his Easter basket.


Sean's beautiful blue slushie.

Our kicks. On Rt. 66.



She grabbed my camera to take some selfies. 

Then her brothers got involved.

So much for that idea.


Yep. We hid some eggs at Tastee Treat. 

Also at the Lincoln and pig statue on the courthouse lawn.






These people look normal. But if you wait in line with them a while, you learn otherwise.