Wednesday, August 31, 2011

School Supply Absurdity

There I was in the Target school supply isle looking over the list for the first time. I couldn't help saying out loud, "They want me to buy what?" When I looked up to see if anyone had heard my outburst I received head nods and half smiles. Mothers walked past with carts overflowing with cases of tissues and hand sanitizer, zip-lock baggies and paper towels. In addition to the usual, pencils, notebooks, and erasers that I expected to find on the list, some things were just asinine. Apparently parents now buy janitorial supplies for the janitors, dry erase makers for the thousand-dollar smart boards and white boards in the classrooms, and bags of candy. Candy? What in the world is one teacher going to do with 60 bags of candy, assuming each student contributes the two required bags? Good thing that we are a military family with seven kids and money is no object. Like teachers, we are so well paid. (Insert LOL) When can I expect a bill for the rent to cover to cover classroom time? The way things are going, it wont be long.
Landon and Evi sorting the school supplies. This was before I went to the grocery store to buy all the big ticket items, and the $100 calculator.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Best Bath Tub Toy Storage

How many bath tub toy bags have you bought with suction cups that don't stick? I've never found one that stays put with a full load of wet stacking cups and boats inside. When I moved into this house I was determined to conquer the unruly bath tub toy problem. I found the best solution, The Maytex Mesh Pockets Shower Curtain. Here's why it's great:
  • Loads of pockets to separate toys
  • Sturdy cloth construction that doesn't rip easily and is machine washable
  • Keeps toys out of the tub for showers 
This is an inexpensive decorating item that I know you'll like it if you have kids, teens or a high traffic bathroom. It's great for organizing bath products if a few people share a bathroom.

I also have to recommend my favorite set of bath toys. Well worth it for only $6, they are the Caterpillar Spillers by Munchkin. Here's why they're great:
  • Stack together, taking up very little storage space
  • Solid plastic with no crevices for water to sit and get gunky
  • The biggest one couples as a cup for rinsing hair
  • Encourages imaginative play
  • Super inexpensive and loads of fun
I would never recommend giving anyone a plastic baby bath tub as a shower gift because I can't even tell you how many of those came through the door of the thrift store that I ran in Italy. But this shower curtain, paired with the stacking cups and a nice towel makes the perfect shower gift. It's also a great tween girl birthday gift that mom will enjoy too. Just add bath soaps and spa essentials.

Monday, August 29, 2011

More of Mom's Nice Room

I heard from friends old and new after launching my blog last week. Thanks for the overwhelming support! It seems that a consistent topic people enjoyed hearing about was "Mom's Nice Room". Thinking of decorating a special space of your own? Here's a picture of my newest nice room for inspiration. It brings together the perfect combination of antiques and new finds, in colors that are comfortable to me and my Sicilian kitty Olive.
"There's nothing like staying at home for real comfort."      -Jane Austen

What is the most special piece of furniture, color and memoir that you would include in a nice room of your own? 

Friday, August 26, 2011

Mom's Nice Room

Do you have a space in your house that you love to escape to? A place that is always clean and organized, even when the family room looks like a truck full of toys exploded? I do. We call it Mom's Nice Room and it replaces the formal living room in every house we move to.
My first nice room was in our Pensacola house, the one I bought when Dave was away. I forged his name on the sales contract.
I painted my nice room the perfect shade of green. Dave installed bright white crown molding, wood floors and double doors for privacy. It was a light and bright, the perfect spot for a room of cottage antiques, with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the yard.
Everything had a place in my nice room. My favorite plant sat elevated in a chippy, white, iron planter by the window. My grandmother's porcelain birds perched high in the upper level window sill were a constant reminder that my Ninie, my paternal grandmother, is always with me. An antique print of Jesus surrounded by children and flowers, one that I took from my father's storage shed long ago, hung behind a comfy plaid yellow couch with overstuffed pillows.
My nice room was and continues to be a place where I sit quietly to comb through decorating magazines or gather my thoughts when I can't think straight. Every mother deserves one. I'll have to transfer an interior picture from our back-up hard drive. Check back.
The exterior of our Pensacola house. My nice room in just inside the tall windows to the left of the door. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

And That Was an Earthquake

Did you feel it? I live just outside DC in Northern Virginia and I sure did. I was laying on my bed on the top floor of our colonial. It sits on a hillside, with a walkout basement. Rowan and I were reading stories and Lily had just stormed out of my room having a mini-tantrum. I felt the house shake, the same way it does when Lily jumps and stomps her feet.
The stomping lasted longer than normal. I kept waiting for it to end but instead it got stronger. I stared at the walls, which started to shake and sway. I realized we were having an earthquake, grabbed Rowan and started yelling for the kids. I was frantic. I didn't know where Davey was in the house. He had left my room earlier to hang out with Cal.
Evi came screaming out of her room. I ran by her, "We're having an earthquake, where's Davey?", I said. She tagged along behind me and Rowan. We grabbed Lily on the way down and finally bumped into Cal on the stairs. He had Davey.
The shaking lasted about 30 seconds. By the time I found all the kids and got to a safe spot in the basement,  it had stopped. We were all panicked and shaking ourselves. Because I am the grown up I had to pretend that I knew what was going on. I told the kids that it was over (I certainly hoped it was) and that we were OK.
We hurried to Facebook to post status updates. Hey, it's not often that you get to say you were just miles from the epicenter of a 5.9 earthquake on the East Coast.

Do you like our new crack? We have two matching cracks in the foundation, and a big one straight through the driveway, but that's all the damage we see so far.

Monday, August 22, 2011

He's Not Off To College, Yet

It's football season again. Do you know what that means? In our house that means stinky shoulder pads strewn about the foyer, shirts that stink worse than anything I ever produced playing sports as a girl, and muddy cleats. It means excitement, as the weather starts to cool off. Visions of Friday night games under the lights start to emerge. Our beloved New England Patriots are on TV.
Austin boarded a bus today for a 5-hour drive to New York for an intense week of three-a-days and bonding drills, ropes courses and zip lines into the lake. He's off to football camp with his JV/Varsity football team, the Robinson Secondary Fighting Rams. Robinson is a Northern Virginia mega-school where they play some serious football. I'm excited about a new season. I am not thrilled about the fact that my oldest son is starting his sophomore year when it feels like I just sent him off to kindergarten. He'll be off to college in three short years, and when I type that, say it or even think it, I get anxious.
I stayed up late with Austin last night. We sat in his room sorting laundry and socks, making sure he had enough clean underwear and a travel toothbrush and toothpaste. He loaded all his gear into a military duffel bag and grabbed his pillow. I noticed his Bee, the security blanket that he has slept with since his baptism as a newborn baby. "Are you taking your Bee?", I asked. Not looking back as he left the room he answered, "Nope".
I went to bed already missing Austin. Dave was driving him to the bus at 5:00am and I knew he would be gone when I woke up. When one of my kids is away from me it just doesn't feel right. I suspect that this empty feeling is nothing in comparison to sending him off to college. It doesn't make sense. I cried when I downloaded the pictures of his incredible tackle from Saturday night's scrimmage. I checked Facebook countless times today, hoping for a status update telling me that he is OK.
Austin making a pile driving tackle
in Robinson's first 2011 scrimmage against Hylton.

Certainly he is OK, right? I know that he is having the time of his life, playing the sport that he loves more than anything in the world. That should be comforting. However, nothing is as comforting for me as having my babies right here with me, no matter how big they get.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Car for Your 16th Birthday

It's official, Austin's first car will be a 1967 Chevy Chevelle Malibu. Seems that just yesterday he was two and banging around in my mom's kitchen on his little yellow motorized Fisher-Price CAT with a 12-V battery. Now I'm shopping for Ralley wheels. Proud and totally freaked out at the same time.
We're not actually buying the car, but its not a charity donation either, although we might qualify. We are bartering for it, thanks to I was looking at classic fixer-uppers today and Dave mentioned that he had seen an add for a classic car for barter. A guy in Fairfax, the next town over, had Chevy Malibu to offer in exchange for the construction of a small deck. We went by to take a look at the car and asses the job. The car is adorable. The exterior is a basic cream color and in average shape, but the interior is black, and near perfect. It started right up, and with the exception of needing new brakes, it could be driven home. The deck? We can build a deck in our sleep. After renovating three houses at the same time with a family of five kids ages five and under, we can certainly build a small deck in exchange for a car for our firstborn. 
So it looks like tomorrow we will be buying lumber and pouring footers. The sooner we get the deck built the faster the car will be ours, and we can start fixing it up.  First purchase, new Ralley wheels so it looks more like a muscle car than a grandpa car.  It's going to be awesome! And of course, I'll get pictures up shortly.

Friday, August 19, 2011

My Hyper Son

This morning I took Davey and Rowan to their school physicals. We left the house on time, expecting NoVA traffic but luckily didn't hit any. I remembered all the school paperwork and immunization records that I needed which is amazing. I usually forget something and get there early or remember it all and get there late. Today I remembered it all and got there on time. Proudly, the boys were both dressed in cute outfits, and I even found underwear for them in the clean clothes pile so they wouldn't be naked for the doctor. In my house, clean laundry when you need it, is a luxury.

I filled out paperwork in the waiting room and noticed a lady behind me staring. I looked at her, and then slowly at the boys, fearful of what I might see. They were purposefully drooling spit onto the armrest between their chairs. I gave Rowan an angry stare and told him it was totally inappropriate. If I ever spanked my kids, which I don't, this would have been a time for a good lickin' right there in front of everyone. Instead I grabbed a paper towel and a glob of hand sanitizer and cleaned the chair.

The longer than usual wait allowed me time to finish the final touches on their school physical forms before meeting with the doctor. In the meantime, Rowan had managed to pull his arms into his shirt and spin it around backwards. He tucked his knees up tight inside the shirt, close to his belly, and pulled his head back in the neck hole. He looked like a turtle hiding in a shell-a Toy Story II t-shirt-with only his head sticking out. Davey fell out of his chair trying to copy his big brother. I got up to check the clock. The doctor was 45 minutes late and I was starting to sweat.

Just when we were invited back for weight and height checks Davey decided he had to pee. I got down to his level, looked in his face, and said "We have been waiting outside for 45 minutes and NOW you have to pee." He laughed. Luckily Lily tagged along for the appointment and took Davey to the bathroom while I tried to keep Rowan still enough that the arm pressure cuff could actually get a reading.

Changing into the pediatric gowns was comical. Davey willingly started to strip. Lily panicked. "Mom, they don't have underwear on!" I assured her that they were adequately dressed and wouldn't be in the buff under their stylish paper gowns. The longer we waited the higher my blood pressure seemed to get. Rowan and Lily wrestled. Davey used the doctor's wheeled stool as a body board. He lunged onto it with his belly, after he zipped across the little room he hit wall with his head and let out a hysterical laugh. Before I could stop Rowan he followed suit. All 55 pounds of him crashed into the wall. When he hit, I was sure everyone in the building heard. I begged them to "sit still for one single second!"

I grabbed Rowan's file and added a note to the "Parents Concerns" section of the physical form. "Needs assessment for ADHD!!", followed by two exclamation points.

The exams went well. Dr. Yazdani, although hard to understand due to his thick foreign accent, is a gentle older man who is great with kids. Both boys were in perfect health. Thankfully, neither needed shots.

When I asked for a consult for Rowan's inability to sit still, his hyperactivity, Dr. Yazdani looked at me curiously. "Do you get any help at home?", he asked. Wondering where he was going with this I answered, "Well, I have a husband." He laughed and clarified his question. He wanted to know if I had a nanny or a babysitter, someone who could help me regularly while Dave was at work. I told him the truth. I don't have help because we can't afford the luxuries that we had living in Italy, the nanny.

He patted me on the shoulder, reminded me how blessed I am to have such a beautiful family, and sent me on my way. "Rowan is going to be fine," he said. "It's you I am worried about."

Hard Work Will Pay Off

I am so excited about the page I just put together on Soliciting For Fundraisers. It will make planning silent auctions so much easier. This summer I was the co-chairperson for the silent auction portion of our summer swim team's annual swim-a-thon fundraiser. We raise money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, a charity dear to me since my favorite grandmother died from Leukemia. I spent countless hours and days examining different corporate giving programs and filling out applications. We received such generous donations including an American Girl Doll, and a great coffee maker from Keurig. I decided that applying for corporate donations would be so much easier if I compiled all of my research in one place. So here it is, with links and everything! Honestly, I did it for selfish reasons. Next year's auction will be so much easier now.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Real Skinny or Facebook Skinny?

I've created an image of myself on Facebook that is pounds lighter than the real me. I'll admit it. I hastily untag myself in friends' pictures if I look fat. That's why you only see pictures of me from the shoulders up. I am so tired of hiding from the camera. I want to be thin again, instead of pretending to be. Dave thinks I am crazy. (And not just in regard to my weight.)
I am planning on starting the journey from Facebook skinny to real skinny. Every day I go to bed telling myself that the diet will start tomorrow. Hopefully, tomorrow it really will.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

It Feels Like We're Back in Boston

Friday night Dave and I went to a club in downtown D.C. to see a friend's band, Midnight Hike, headline at the 9:30 Club. We'd spent many nights at Boston bars back when we were dating. Going out was easier then. I always knew what to wear, and was pretty sexy, thinking back. To a college kid, a night out at a club is just another Friday night. For two 40-somethings, it's a little different. 
I had no idea what to wear. Something about being a middle aged, overweight, mother at a club gave me an uncomfortable feeling. I called my girlfriend Dana to vent. She suggested I throw on a cute off-the-shoulder flowy top with a pair of jeans. "You'll feel sexy," she said. I started to think I didn't want to go. 
After locking myself in my room so the kids couldn't get in to help mommy get dressed, I settled for jeans with cute Bandolino heels and a fitted top. Low-cut is a must for me, as it showcases my only attribute at this time, my DD bust. 
We met friends for dinner at Capitol City Brewing Company before the show. When we got to the 9:30 Club, after a few cocktails, I felt like we were back in Boston again and had enough confidence to hit the dance floor.
The next morning I shuttered as I checked Facebook, worried that someone with a camera had caught me in action. Luckily the only pictures were face shots. I approved.