Sunday, June 29, 2008

The post where my hormones make me way too philosophical about something relatively minor.

First Day of "Real" Preschool (2005)
First Day 2006

First Day 2007
Kai has been a part of this great church preschool/daycare since she was 8 months old. I remember the first day I dropped her off there. She was so little and her teacher took her out of my arms and assured me she'd only cry for a little while. I stood outside the tinted window in her classroom watching her for a few moments before reluctantly heading to work.

And she did get used to the environment there. And she grew to love it. And the teachers became family and we trusted these people to take care of our most precious baby.

Each year she moved into a new classroom. Each classroom became more grown-up than the one before. And she grew from a baby to a little girl.

But, tomorrow Kai will be walking through the doors to this school for her last time as a student there. She will leave behind friends she's known since the age of 8 months to come home for homeschool Kindergarten.

And I am absolutely positively terrified that I am making the wrong decision for her. Because this, I am realizing, is where parenting gets hard.

Knowing what to do when your baby has an ear infection, or a stomach bug, or painful teething is easy. There are concrete and unchanging answers to these problems. Knowing how to potty train, or wean from the bottle, or pick developmentally appropriate toys is something we can all figure out how to do with a little help from Google and our friends.

But these big decisions, the ones where we make choices that affect the emotional, spiritual, and educational lives of our children, the ones where there are no answers to be Googled, no concrete and definitive truth, these are the decisions that define us as parents. And these are the decisions that tear our hearts out every time we make them.

As I sit here, crying on the sofa remembering all of the ways my girl has grown these past 4 years and wondering if we're going to damage that growth with this choice, I know that we are entering into a new phase of parenting. A place where there are no certainties and no absolutes and no way to know whether we're doing the right thing until we're in the thick of it.

I realize that this is the beginning of a thousand difficult decisions to come. I know they are only going to get harder. But, I am thankful that I am blessed with the opportunity to make them. Because these decisions mean we are all growing. They define the direction of my life as much as my children. And I am anxious to see where these decisions take us all...

Coop! There it is!

Not much has been happening on the chicken project since I last posted. They've been growing, but that's about it.

But, a couple weeks ago our good friend David (who, incidentally, has a totally awesome wife who reads this blog and should really start blogging, too. **Hint, Hint**) came over to build our chicken coop with Thomas so we could get the now grown chickens out of our basement.

And, TA-DA! Here it is. Isn't it nice? The whole project took about 6 hours and $130 to complete. Which isn't bad when you compare that to the cost of the ones on My Pet Chicken. The coop is built around a chicken nesting box my mom found for us for only $30. The back is on hinges and comes off so we can collect the eggs from the back of the coop.

The chickens love it and I can't wait until I get to go out and collect eggs from the backyard!

Here's another pic of our little agricultural project. We've got the garden and the chickens and, well, I suppose that's it for now. Until I convince Tal to let me get a goat! (preeeetttty pleassseee, honey?)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Not that size matters...

Check out my zucchini. Can you believe this? And I'm proud to say this zucchini was grown in my very own backyard. I'm gonna make some fierce zucchini bread with this. Lots of it.

Anyone want some?

Friday, June 27, 2008

Diaper Cake How-to

I've had several people email and comment with questions on how to make a diaper cake. So I thought I'd do a little tutorial. Now, I'm just giving directions based on my totally non-expert experience so there are probably a million better tutorials, but I thought I'd do one just the same.

It's a fun gift and one you can actually adapt for other occasions. I've made a lingerie cake (see bottom pic) for a bachelorette party and I think it could easily be done with t-shirts for a birthday, too. Once you get the basic concept down you can do all kinds of cool things with it!

2 packs (or more) of diapers (I usually get generic since they tend to be white with little printing on them and make for prettier cakes)
1 package of light colored assorted sized rubber bands
decorative tray or cardboard for base
Wooden dowel rod or paper towel roll
Decorative ribbons, cake toppers, baby charms, silk flowers
optional, gifts (pacifiers, baby wash, etc.) to hide within the cake or use to decorate the outside of the cake.

Step One: Roll diapers starting at the top of the front side of the diaper. The back of the diaper should be facing out when the roll is completed. Secure with rubber band.

Step Two: To make the layers of the cake, take one very large rubber band and wrap it around several diapers. Continue adding diapers shaping the layer into a circle. I've found it works best to add diapers to the center of the layer. Once you have the circle shape you can add diapers until you reach the size you prefer.

Step Three: Follow step two for the subsequent layers making each layer smaller than the one before it. I usually make the second and third layer smaller by one diaper row.

Step Four: Make room in base for paper towel roll or dowel by removing a center diaper in each layer. Stack diaper layers around for center support.

Step Five: Now that you have the cake structure complete, wrap ribbon around each layer to hide the rubber bands and get ready for the fun part! Add cake toppers and other decorative items or gifts to the cake to give it more of a cake-like look.

Step Six: Put decorated cake onto platter or cardboard base and serve!

The pic below is one of my favorite (and most difficult) creations. It was a lingerie cake for my sister's bachelorette party. The polka-dot part was made from inverted bra cups. The rest of the cake was made with panties, camisoles, and a towel wrap.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Now that's what I call a Super Mom...

I've been slacking in the craftiness department. But, yesterday I got the chance to make a diaper cake for a friend's shower. I LOVE diaper cakes in a big way. They're fun to make and make a cool centerpiece for showers.

I've made a few for different friends and family, but this one had the coolest top I've ever used. Check her out. She's super mom-to-be. Don't you just love her? I want her to come with two toddlers and a minivan. Then she'd find a home in the center of my dashboard. Kind of like the patron saint of moms. Except there is a probably a real patron saint of moms that I don't know about. You know, one who doesn't wear spandex.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Like Mother, Like Daughters...

Proof positive that if fashion can be a crime, my family is the fashion mafia. And we force you into the "family business" at a very young age...

My sister and me playing dress-up in which I apparently decided to forgo the pants. And, the tapestry vest? Classic.

Kai and Ivy playing dress-up. Notice Ivy's backward winter coat? She loves to pull the hood up over her face!

I've apparently also inherited my mom's chop-the-top-off-your-kid's head photo technique. Just one more way I'm turning into my mother!

For more blasts from the past, visit That Family's site for Fro' Me to You...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Works for Me Wednesday - Save Gas

If you're like me you are sick and tired of spending your hard earned money on gas.

My husband has the misfortune of spending about an hour a day in heavy highway traffic in order to get to work. Couple that with the gas guzzling SUV and we had about $500 a month in gas expenses for his commute. That's just his car, people. Seriously, can you believe it?

So, we had to find something that worked for us. Atlanta is one of those crazy spread out cities and our public transportation is kind of a joke. At least, that's what we always thought. And, taking the train to work every day was certainly no where on our radar screen.

But, when we sold the Xterra and were faced with the prospect of either buying a gas saving car we didn't love or a gas guzzling car we did, we decided to abstain from buying anything new. And, we did something we never would have imagined in our future.

We became a one car family and started taking public transportation. And, amazingly, we liked it. Every morning I get up and take Thomas to the bus station. He rides the bus to the main train line and hops on. He takes it right downtown and then walks about a mile to work. And, it actually takes him less time to do that than it did to drive it in traffic.

I know it isn't for everyone and I always thought it wouldn't work for us, but it has changed our lives in a few great ways:

1. I am forced to get my behind out of bed and take Tal to the bus station which has the added benefit of getting my day started much earlier. This makes me a much more productive mom.

2. We avoided another 60 month loan and saved $$ on car insurance with just one car.

3. Thomas is walking 2 miles a day and getting in better shape.

4. We're a little greener now.

5. We're saving about $500 a month in gas in return for a $52 bus/train pass that lasts the whole month.

I'd say all in all it has been a great arrangement. And, while it may not work for everyone, you might be surprised to find out it works for you.

That's what is working for me this week. For more WFMW, head over to Shannon's Dryer and check out the great tips!

Bad Feminist.

Dear Feminists,

I have always considered myself one of you. Always.

I mean, I went to an all-girls high school. And a womens' college. In fact, for years, there were members of my family who wondered if I was more than just a feminist. Maybe 'cause I didn't date until I was 21? And, geez, I just like the Indigo Girls music. Why does everyone make that such a big deal?

Anyways, I digress. If you were to ask me if I were a feminist I would say yes. Even when I quit my job to stay home with my girls. And when I decided to homeschool. And when I signed up as a Mary Kay Lady.

I believe women should be treated equally with men. Maybe not the same as men, but with an equal amount of respect and dignity. So, that makes me a feminist, right? I mean, heck, I hyphenated my last name. That has to count for something,

But, I am starting to wonder if I'm just fooling myself. Because, my feminist friends, I have been behaving like bad feminist.

Case in point:

The other day it was time to upgrade our chickens from starter feed to...whatever it is that comes after starter feed. So, I went to the feed store to get food. And I could have googled it so I would know just what they needed. But, I didn't. And I found myself in the feed store (a bastion of masculinity and testosterone second only to the men's room at the Super Bowl) reverting to some scary gender role stereotypes.

Since I didn't know what I needed I decided to fake it and ask for a 50lb bag of chicken feed. The very big, very young farmer boy looked at me with a look I recognize as one I give to my kids and asks, "what kind of chicken feed? scratch? or bla-bla-bla*? or something bla-bla*?"

To which, I completely switch into my helpless female voice and say, "Oh, man. I don't know. My husband asked me to come and get it and I can't remember what he said to get. I don't want to call him 'cause he'll clobber me for not remembering (oh, yeah, and he doesn't have a clue what I should get) do you think you could help me figure out what I need?"

And, suddenly, I was swarmed with overall-wearing farm boys anxious to save me from my chicken dilemma. It was too fun. I got my feed, had it carried out to my car, was treated so sweetly by those feed store boys, and preserved my husband's reputation for farm-knowledge.

So, feminists, I think this must mean I'm out of your club. I can't imagine anything less in keeping with your ideals. Which is a bummer 'cause I sure do like your music...

*not intended to be an exact representation of terms used by the delightfully helpful feed store boy.

Total Truth Tuesday

Oh, this one might just be as embarrassing as the fact that I am hopelessly addicted to Army Wives on Lifetime. It pretty much guarantees my eternal uncoolness.

My total truth this week is that I LOVE country music. I mean, I looooove it. Listen to it all the time. Cry at the sappy songs. Dance to the "fun" ones. And, generally make a fool of my self while listening to it. In fact, if Thomas came home tonight and said we were going out to a honkey-tonk I'd be in my boots and out the door in under a minute.

But, that won't happen 'cause Thomas is horrified at this development. See, I didn't always love country music. I went through a country phase in high school (complete with cowboy hat and boots) and then it went away. In fact, before Thomas and I were married I was into more punk music. I wore vintage tshirts and old Izod cardigans and cons. I was cool. At least I thought I was.

But, then when I got pregnant with Kai I started "craving" country music. What can I say? Some women have really strange and unhealthy cravings for charcoal and dirt and vodka. I craved country music. And then it just stuck.

And as much as I may like it, I know it just isn't "cool." Which is probably why I turn it to a rock station every single time I go through a drive-thru. I just am not ready to be the mom in the minivan rocking out to Faith Hill. That is just more than I am ready to admit face-to-face with the 18-year-old kid serving me my Chick-Fil-A...

So, what about you? Do you ladies have any musical dirty secrets or guilty pleasures?

Monday, June 23, 2008

If you're reading this in a reader...

Forgive me as I mess with my feed settings. It's acting a little wonky right now, but I promise I'll have it fixed soon!

Just stick it up your butt. No, really.

I realize daily what a naive mom I actually am. I think I'm all tough and smart and, whatever, and them something like this happens and I realize I am just a big, fat sucker.

See, Kai HATES having her hair washed. Hates it. With a passion. And I know this. But, still, when we are sitting at the dinner table having mentioned it is a hair washing night and she suddenly falls ill with a teeerrriiibbblllle stomach ache what do I do? I believe her.

Of course I ask her repeatedly if this is for real or just a ploy to a.) get Pepto-Bismol (she's suck a med junkie) or b.) get out of washing hair. She assures me it is neither and proceeds to ball up and cry - with real tears - about how much her tummy hurts. So, I do what any good mom would do. I believe her. And I call our friend who is a nurse and ask her what I should do. Because this, I say, seems serious.

She gives me a solution that turns out to be the perfect fix though for reasons other than you might think. After asking a bunch of questions and discussing her day's bowel patterns (or lack thereof) she decides I should try a glycerin suppository. Which, I just happen to have in the medicine cabinet, thank you very much.

And, so I gently go to my precious sobbing writhing miserable 4-year-old and say, "Honey, Ms. Yvonne told me something that is going to make you feel better. I need to give you this medicine." If I'm honest, at this point, I am really worried because Kai is never sick and I'm thinking this must be really bad. Appendicitis bad. Perforated something-or-other bad.

She looks at me pitifully and opens her mouth so I can give her the medicine. And, then I speak the words that have healing powers over my child, "No, honey, this goes in your bottom."


"In my BOTTOM?? No, I feel much better. My tummy says it is feeling much better. I think if we cuddle and watch Blue's Clues for a while I will be fine. How about that? Does that sound good, Mommy? Let's do that. I don't need that in my bottom."

And, it is at that point that I realize: I. have. been. had.

It is equal parts frightening and impressive the lengths my girl went to in order to convince me of the seriousness of her "tummy problems." So I react in the way any good mom would.

I give her the glycerin suppository anyway. And, now, I'm thinking she won't be faking a tummy ache any time in the near future...

Friday, June 20, 2008

Things I've had to say...

Take that Duck out of your mouth!
Please put back the Egyptian flag.
Stop sucking on your toes.
Get your hair out of your mouth.
No you may not pee in the grass.
Goldfish crackers do not count as breakfast.


Kai-versations: Theology and Spelling the Kai way

To fully understand this, you must know that Kai thinks the biggest compliment in the world is to tell you that you are "the bomb." It the highest praise she can give and is reserved only for the most important of occasions.

Kai: "Hey Mom, do you know who the two biggest bombs in Heaven are?"

Me, giggling: "No, Kai, who?

Kai: "I'll give you a hint. The first one starts with J - J -J"

Me: "Jesus?"

Kai: "Very good, Mom! Now, the next one starts with H - H - H"

Me, stumped: "Um, I don't know. Who?"

Kai: "H-H-H, God, of course!"

That's my girl. She may never be a spelling bee champ, but you gotta love her heart.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Careful How You Crop

Okay, this one is for my mom. She LOVES this picture. It is a prime example of why you should always frame and/or crop your photos carefully.

In case you're confused, this was two years ago when I was about 9 months pregnant for Ivy (as is evidenced by the painfully faked smile, oh yeah, and the belly).

Kai was standing in front of me and her hair was, um, placed in the most awkward place possible. Mom took this picture not realizing **blushing** what exactly she was making the photo look like.

But, she sends it to me every 6 months or so after she comes across it and nearly passes out from the hilariousness. Then she sends it to my sisters. And, God knows who else.

Last time, she sent it with a poem:

oh dear, i fear its time for you shave.
grab a razor and be brave.
enter the gates of furry heaven
how many hours will it take?
hopefully not 7.
your carpet and drapes don't match!!!

She's hilarious. And I am never letting her near me with a camera again. Ever.

For more funny and fun pics from the past, check out Fro' Me to You at That Family's site!

Total Truth Tuesday on Wednesday

Okay, somehow yesterday I completely missed out on the Total Truth post. I wish I had a good excuse. But, the truth (and that's what we're talking about here, right?) is that I was having way too much fun swimming and napping and watching movies with my girls.

So, here's my Total Truth a day late.

I have an irrational fear of the mailbox.

It's true. I HATE checking my mail. Don't get me wrong, I'm not dodging creditors or anything. In fact, all my bills are sent electronically so I don't even get any bills in the mail, really. But, I still feel a ball of dread in my stomach every time I go check the mail.

Then when the mail does get checked at our house (which is usually when the mail carrier gets frustrated with us and leaved the door open 'cause nothing else can fit in there) I have to go through it right that very moment. And, if Thomas brings the mail in with him, I can't stop myself from going through it right that very second. I alternately hate it and can't stay away from it at the same time.

I think it originated sometime around the birth of Kai when every time we went to check the mail we found a $750 bill for this or $1000 bill for that. And, so I found myself cringing every time I went to check it. 4 years later I still can't shake it.

The other day we were leaving the house and Kai asked if we could check the mail. I told her, no, we'd check it later.

To which she replied, "Do you not like to check the mail 'cause it always screams at you?"

When I asked her what she meant, she said, "Daddy says every time you check the mail is screams, I WANT MONEY!!! Is that why you don't like it?"

She has a real knack for speaking truth to me...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Works for Me Wednesday - Stop the Fighting!

With a two-year-old and four-year-old we have lots of fighting in our house over who's "turn" it is to do something first. Or, I should say, we did have lots of fighting.

I hear way too much whining about this topic and the other day I'd pretty much been driven to my wit's end. So, I came up with a solution. And it has completely stopped the whining. It's my new favorite thing.

I picked up a cheap Chick-Fil-A calendar that I had been suckered into buying after the new year and decided to put it to good use. It is now our, "Who Goes First Today?" calendar. (Don't ya love the fancy and creative name?)

Basically, I went through and alternated the girls names on every day of the week. And, if their name is on the day then it's their day to go first. I didn't claim it was insanely complex and innovative, but it works nonetheless. It has also helps them to recognize and spell their names so it's a double win.

I posted it on the kitchen lockers and now anytime they have a situation where someone goes first, they know to go check the calendar. It nips all the drama in the bud!

So, that's what's working for me this week. For more Works for Me Wednesday, head over to Shannon's Dryer!

Yeah, that's a shocker...

With questions like, "Does she wear red nail polish?" and "Does she wear pajamas instead of nightgowns?" or my favorite, "Does she cook in Pajamas?" Is it any wonder I rated as low as I did?

Not surprisingly, Tal scored as a Very Superior 1930's Husband. Wow. Now I really feel bad. Though, judging by the questions, I might score as a Very Superior 1930's Husband, too...

My Score= 22

As a 1930s wife, I am
Very Poor (Failure)

Take the test!

Monday, June 16, 2008

One Car Wonder: Day One

Okay, so today was the first work day we spent with one car. It's a big change since Tal and I have always had our own cars. But, I'm thinking it's a good change. And here's why:

1. Thomas got to go with me to drop the girls off at preschool. They LOVED that the whole family took them to school.

2. I got my lazy-in-the-morning behind out of bed and dressed EARLY to take Thomas to Marta and it made my day super productive.

3. Thomas was able to get to work on time with a minimal amount of frustration and sweat (from the 1/2 mile walk to Coca-Cola).

4. Thomas is guaranteed to get more exercise this way and he's pretty excited about that.

5. We'll save over $100 this week in gas we'd ordinarily be putting in the Xterra for one week's worth of commuting. That's the best part of all!

I'm sure it isn't going to be easy all the time, but this first day was alot less traumatic than I thought it was going to be. And, I'm excited to see what other hidden benefits we find from being a one-car wonder...

Kai-versations: You mean God and Jesus are both multi-lingual?

Kai: So, not everyone speaks Spanish, right?

Me: No, not everyone.

Kai: But, does God speak Spanish?

Me: Yes, he does. And English, French, German, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, and every other language in the world.

Kai: wow. Can Jesus speak all of those, too?

Me: He sure can.

Kai: Wow. They are amazing!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day!

Our tradition, every year, is to take a picture of my dad with "his girls" in the same spot. We have four years worth of pics like this and I love to see how much we all change from year to year.

So, blog world meet my family. They are, from left to right:

Me (I know, I look nothing like them), Eryn (my baby sister), Ivy, my Dad, my Mom, Kai, Tara(my younger sister).

10 Reasons Daddy is the bestest dad ever...

(Gotta love the Father's Day shot above. The girls were SO not having any part of family picture time!)

1. He can dress a Barbie like nobody's business.
2. He taught the girls how to Hadouken.
3. He gave up Warcraft just so he could spend more time with all of us.
4. He will spend 5 days creating the perfect faerie village in the backyard just to see his girls smile.
5. He's willing to let his girls dress him up in wigs and hats.
6. He works hard every single day so mommy can stay home and clean the house.
7. He's the best cooker in the family.
8. He loves us no matter what.
9. He likes to cuddle on the couch and watch Hannah Montana.
10. He knows how to kiss boo-boos and make them better almost as good as mommy.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

A greener solution (and not just in the way you might think)

Okay, so as we evaluated our automobile options we just couldn't find one we fell in love with. And, we just didn't feel like making a fast decision on a car we only felt lukewarm about.

So, we're proposing a trial for the next few weeks. Our plan is to try the one car family life for a couple weeks and see how it works out. People do it. Alot. And now, we're gonna give it a shot.

Thankfully, Thomas can take MARTA to work without too much inconvenience. And, since I stay home with the girls, it's not gonna kill me to drive him to the train station in the mornings. In fact, there's a bus just down the road that he can take to the station if he's so inclined. And, since he got an iPod Touch for Father's Day, I'm betting he might be a bit more inclined to do so.

I've also promised that we could get him a new kick-a** Alienware computer (for increased productivity at work, of course) if he decides this is something he can live with long-term. It's definitely much cheaper than a car.

For now, I'm excited about being a bit greener, both environmentally and in the bank. I mean, without a car payment, car insurance, and the huge gas bills from Thomas' commute we'll be saving the earth and our hard-earned cash. It sounds like a win-win to me.

And, I'll be blogging about the highs and lows of the one car life for the next couple weeks for those of you who might be interested how this works out. We'll see if the green life is indeed for me...

Let the torture begin.

This weekend, unless something drastically changes, we are buying a car. And, have I mentioned that I LOATHE car buying?

I hate the haggling and games and the feeling that you're not getting the best deal and there is nothing you can do about it. All that stuff is enough to make me avoid the car buying process for years.

I'm told by those who should know, that this is the time to buy a car. That car dealers want customers so badly that you can gets lots of great incentives when looking for a new vehicle.

While it seems those great incentives are reserved for people who are buying cars that get so-so gas mileage or mid-size sedans and SUVs, I'm sure there are still some deals out there to be had for those of us going the "Mr. Bean car" route. But, since we have about 10 Honda and/or Toyota dealerships within reasonable driving distance that is going to mean lots of hand-shaking and wheeling & dealing. Both things Thomas and I hate.

Not to mention, I am a sucker and cave to pressure way too easily. I am the girl who bought a car I knew I didn't like when I test drove it because I didn't want to upset the salesman. Oh, yes I did. Not my finest moment.

I feel pretty much like a baby for complaining about the opportunity to buy a new car considering only 8% of the world's population have cars (that's another post coming next week) and I know I'm fortunate to be able to do this. I just can't seem to get the ball of dread out of my stomach on this one.

So, bloggy pals, do you have any car buying tips to make this process less painful? Any inside info on how to make this go down smoothly?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Good-bye Friend...

We finally sold our Nissan Xterra tonight. It was yet another thing we sold on Craigslist and I am very thankful to have finally done it.

But, it was bittersweet since it was the very first car Thomas and I bought as a married couple. It was actually doubly important to me 'cause by buying this car it allowed Thomas to get out of a car loan cosigned with an ex-girlfriend. Yeah, he'll never live that one down.

In the end, it was the drinking that made it impossible to keep. It had such a drinking problem we ended up having to cut ties with it. All it wanted to do was get high on gasoline 24/7. It started stealing from us. Lying just to get a fix. It had a problem and we just couldn't subject our family to it anymore.

In all seriousness, we couldn't deal with the crappy fuel mileage. We're hoping to cut our $500/month fuel costs in half. Maybe more. That would be awesome.

And, so, we're planning to join the ranks of subcompact car owners. It looks like the Yaris will be making an appearance at our house soon. It's attractive, inexpensive and gets about 31 miles to the gallon. Since the Xterra was paid off, we don't want to get into a huge payment. And, the Yaris is the commuter car we're looking for.

I'm just hoping Thomas doesn't end up feeling like Mr. Incredible driving that car. They don't call it subcompact for nothin'....

Kai-versations: Tempting, but no thanks.

Kai, loudly from the other room: "Moooommmmm! Come kiss my armpit. I hurt it."

As tempting as that sounds, I think I'll have to pass on that.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Cooking creativity

I like to think we're pretty creative people in our house. But, one area where I'm not very creative is in the cooking realm. I don't love to cook. I do enjoy baking (particularly in the colder months) but cooking is just not my thing. So, I don't really involve the girls in cooking and that means they don't get to express their creativity in the kitchen all that much.

Today, though, Kai was at her Nina's house and making herself a snack. She hand selected which goldfish crackers to put into her cup. And, then asked me if she could sprinkle cinnamon sugar all over them. I immediately said no, more out of reflex than anything, and she looked so incredibly disappointed. It was a little heartbreaking 'cause I think she was really looking forward to making this snack her way.

And, as I busied myself with something else in the kitchen I remembered the bacon ice cream that won such acclaim on last night's Top Chef and it occurred to me that maybe discouraging her from mixing cinnamon sugar and goldfish crackers would hinder her creativity in the kitchen and forever prevent her from being willing to take a risk in the kitchen.

Yes, I know I tend to over think and over estimate the importance of the tiny things, but it convicted me enough to make me go back and hand her the cinnamon sugar and tell her to have at it. And, she was thrilled to have the chance to mix these flavors together.

Now I've made a resolution to let them cook with any ingredients they want at least a couple times a month and let them experience the fun of unlimited creativity in the kitchen.

I even tried her cinnamon and cheddar goldfish mix and it was darn good. Kind of like the preschool version of bacon ice cream. Maybe she'll make an appearance on Top Chef 30 someday!

Speaking Ivylish: Her first ever quotable post!

Ivy is a talker. But, for the most part, Thomas and I are the only ones who have a clue about what she's saying. We call it speaking Ivylish. It's much like Spanish, except not a real language and impossible to translate with 100% accuracy.

The only thing we know for sure is that it's not English. It's Ivylish.

And, here is her first ever appearance on the blog. She's growing up so fast!


Me, marveling in the 100+ degree heat: Wow, Ivy it is too hot!

Ivy: No, Mommy. Is three hot!


That is actually an accurate depiction of the heat today. Three hot. Much, much hotter than too hot.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Fro' to Remember...

In honor of Father's Day I thought I'd post a pic of my own dear dad. And, to give you an idea of how I got to be as, um, unconventional as I am I thought I'd post one of my favorite Dad pictures.

That pic above is my parents' wedding picture. And the mass of hair on the left is my amazing dad. And, let me say, since it has been repeated to me for years, that my dad got a massive haircut in honor of his wedding day. Massive.

And, every time I see that picture I think one thing and one thing only. What in the world was my grandpa thinking when he let that classic rock loving mountain man marry his fresh faced baby girl?

Probably the same thing my own dad was thinking when he let me marry the dreaded and braided man of my dreams (and father to my own precious baby girls).

He was thinking, "Dear God, please let him take care of my daughter better than he takes care of his hair."

Thankfully, they both have.

For more fun pics from the past, head over to That Family's website for Fro' Me to You!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Works for Me Wednesday - Book Bargains

I LOVE books. In fact, I love them so much that I don't actually have nearly enough storage for all my books. I've collected hundreds of books over the years (I was an English major afterall!) and just can't quite stop myself.

Since my husband and I love books, it's pretty much a given that our girls will love them, too. I mean, I've been reading to them since they were in the womb and then pretty much shoved a book in their hands before they cut the umbilical cord.

But, books can get expensive. And, though I don't mind spending the money on them, I also don't mind finding ways to feed my book fetish without breaking the bank.

That's where Library book sales come in. They are my new favorite place to pick up books. Our Library has a book sale once a month on Saturdays and it has become the best way to get great classic kids books as well as books I might never have picked up in any other context.

The prices are crazy good and the selection varies from week to week. But, if you're willing to go and dig through the boxes of books you're sure to find some treasures.

Just to give you an idea of the absolute steals you can find at these sales, here's a list of books I got for $8 last weekend:

Elephants Zoobooks (educational book)
A book of Manet's work
A book of Monet's work
A book of Renoir's work
A book of Degas' work
Bedtime for Frances (storybook)
The Kissing Hand (storybook)
Time for a Rhyme (educational book)
The Hungry King (storybook)
Mi Primer Libro Memory (spanish memory game/flashcards)
Watch them Grow Up (vintage book about baby animals)
The Prehistoric Age
Glow-in-the Dark Book of Human Skeletons
The Ultimate Show-Me-How Activity Book

$8 people! Can you believe that? And the last book I listed was a HUGE 250 page book of kid's activities. This was the best start for our summer!

That's what is working for me this week. To see what is working for other moms, head over to Shannon's Dryer and see what is working for others.

Total Truth Tuesday

This one isn't gritty or shocking, in fact it's pretty much as far from gritty as you can get. But it's true nonetheless.

I am a sucker for make-up and pretty girly cosmetics. Despite the fact that I wear a uniform of jeans, tshirts, and flip-flops almost all the time, I LOVE buying lipsticks, blush, nail polish and anything else that smells fruity, looks pretty, or makes my skin brighten.

Couple that with my genetic predisposition to retail and you have - are you ready for it? - my newest endeavor as a Mary Kay lady. Oh, yes, I said it. I'm a Mary Kay lady.

That's my total truth this week. I have recently joined the ranks of direct cosmetics marketing. I like to think of it more like being a Pink Lady 'cause I've always had a minor obsession with Rizzo in Grease. Oooh, if only they had a pink minivan. Then I'd be set.

I know what you're thinking. "But, Jenna, you're - well, you know - you. Did they meet you before they let you become a Mary Kay lady?" I know tattoos and crazy frenzied creative messes are not exactly what comes to mind when you think of Ms. Mary Kay, but even crazy tattooed moms need make-up, right?

At least this crazy frenzied mom does.

So, if I'm the only one in that demographic I guess I'll just be cool with that. Plus, with Kai coming out of school I was in need of one more place not to fit in!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Object of my Obsession

Remember a couple weeks ago when I mentioned my adoration for salt & pepper shakers? Well, I've collected some cool new ones of late and thought I'd share.

Pardon the photography and the fact that my windowsill needs to be painted (I never noticed that until I was looking at the pics!).

I got these fruit themed ones at two different antique stores. I just love them both. It seems so weird to dispense salt and pepper from something that looks so sweet...

Tal got me these for my birthday. How can you not love any kitchen container sporting a mustache?

My rule is, since this is one of many collecting hobbies, that I don't spend more than $5 for a set and these all came well below that price. I figure it's no worse than drinking Starbucks and a lot less fattening!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

In case you missed it

If you don't watch the National Spelling Bee or The Soup you might have missed this classic Spelling Bee moment. It's too funny!

Officially the best birthday on the books

Here is a list of what I should have done this weekend:

Organize and clean my bedroom
Help Thomas build a chicken coop
Clean the carport
Clean the van
Laundry, laundry, & more laundry

Here is a list of what I actually did this weekend:

Hung out with my new BFF, Richard Blais, at his restaurant, Home.
Got a cool new Swallow tattoo
Slept in until 10 a.m. without having to bribe kids to leave me alone
Loaded up on cool homeschooling material at the Library book sale
Checked out the art and melted in the sun HighlandsFest before dinner @ Noche with our BFFs
Went grocery shopping in peace without pushing those horrible car carts
Found out that I really miss my girls when they aren't home
Was completely surprised by a birthday pool party at my parents' house

I didn't accomplish anything on my list, but it was an awesome weekend and I'm sure I'll find some time this week to get everything else done (yeah right!)

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Best Birthday Evah!! Part 2

So, in my excitement (read: delirious foodie joy) I forgot to mention the second exciting thing that happened last night.

On my quest to recapture lost youth and adorn my body with art, I had my second tattoo experience. We made a quick trip over to Liberty Tattoo down off Ponce and I got the swallow tattoo I've been wanting for a while.

Bill did my ink and even though it was 30 minutes from closing time and I know he was tired, he was friendly and did a beautiful job!

So, without further ado, here's my newest ink:
(Do you think it means anything that I dreamed that Richard Blais was the owner of the tattoo parlor and gave us free tattoos? I think it's telling that my most exciting event of the night was not the permanent body marking, but rather meeting a Top Cheftestant.)

Best Birthday EVER

Oh, my husband is a prince among men. I mean it. A prince.

If you read my birthday posts, you know I had a pretty crappy birthday. 3 a.m. wake up call, 8 hours in a car on the way to Virginia, and hit a deer along the way.

So, my husband promised to make it up to me. And boy did he ever.

The set up to this is that I am a huge Top Chef fan. Huge. Monumental. I mean, I look forward to it every week on TV. And every week I have been pulling for one chef. Chef Richard Blais. He's a hometown guy living here in the ATL and, I think, was one of the nicest people on the show.

Now, back to my husband. Tonight he made special reservations at Home Restaurant & Bar. And who is the Executive Chef there? Yep, you guessed. Richard Blais.

We pretty much knew we wouldn't get a chance to see him considering the show's finale hasn't aired yet. But, he was totally there. And, it gets better.

My crazy brother-in-law told our amazingly nice server that I wanted to have Chef Blais sign my body. Seriously, I'm crazy but it was NOT my idea. (Though I have to admit the moment he said it I knew it would make for an excellent blog post!)

And, what did the server at this very nice and upscale restaurant do? She went back and talked to him and got him to agree to come out. He came out to our table, talked to us about the food, the restaurant, and his cooking philosophy. In case you're wondering, and I know you are, he did not and could not tell us the outcome of Wednesday's finale. But, tune in to Bravo to find out. You know we will be watching with our fingers crossed!

We had a cool conversation with him at our table and then, amazingly, he told us after dessert he'd bring us back to the kitchen and - yep, you guessed it - sign my arm.

So, after a delicious dinner and a wonderful time, we went back to the kitchen and I got my arm signed by the gracious and talented Top Chef finalist Richard Blais.

I was ridiculously star struck and embarrassed by my giddiness. But, it made for the best birthday ever! Thank you dear sweet husband!!
(In case you can't read it through the freckles, it says Richard Blais from Top Chef 4. And, a picture of what he said was a copper pot with some Arugula coming out the top. See, he's so cool, right?)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Kai-versations: Such a pessimist

The other day on our way into preschool Kai looked up at me with a precious smile and said cheerfully, "Mom, this is such a beautiful day! Don't you think it is such a great day?"

Smiling at her optimism I agreed that it was indeed a great day.

Then, with the most sincere expression on her face she said, "So, I wonder what's going to go wrong now?"

Guess she was feeling like a sippy cup half empty kind of girl that day...

You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile...

In 1982, Annie came into theaters. And an obsession was born.

I loved Annie. Had to own everything Annie related. To this day, I can't hear any song from the Annie soundtrack without breaking out into song. Loud, obnoxious song.

One essential element of that was the Annie dress. You know the one. Red dress, black piping, white sash. I had the red mop of hair to go with it so I think I truly believed I was Annie when I had that magical dress on.

I wore this dress every opportunity I got. And, at this moment, that dress is hanging in a special "don't ever touch" spot in the playroom dress up closet. I would wear it to this day if I could. Okay, maybe not. That's creepy. But, still, I do love that dress...

For more pics from the past, check out the Fro' Me to You Carnival at That Family's website!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Cheese, glorious cheese!

Here's what happens when you turn your back on two girls who love cheese and a full bag of shredded mexican cheese...

For more Wordless Wednesday, visit their website to see them all!

Works for Me Wednesday - Make it a Mission

**This week's WFMW was a comedy of errors. I wrote this post. Then wrote a different one and had forgotten I wrote and scheduled the first one. So, this is a two for one deal. The title on Rocks in My Dryer was for an Art related post that you can find here. Sorry for the confusion!**

My girls have a tendency to tire pretty quickly of their toys. I've tried rotating them, elminating them, and reorganizing them. But, the bottom line is, there are some days when toys just don't cut it.

So, on those days, I have to get creative.

My kids love adventure. They love a mission. So, I've started giving them secret missions to accomplish. Kai is into superheros right now (and Ivy is into whatever Kai is into) so we have secret superhero missions. All it takes is a little role playing, a little creativity, and a little storytelling to get the mission started.

For instance, get a manila envelope and write top secret across the top with your child's name(s) on the front. Fill it with age appropriate "clues" needed to complete their mission. For Kai and Ivy, I'd put magazine clippings of household or outdoor items they need to find in order to save the day. You could also make it more educational by writing coded messages for them to figure out, clues leading to books where they'll find info inside with another clue, and other tasks to get them digging into things that have some educational value.

They spend hours on their mission and I get to interact with them but accomplish my own things at the same time.

I've found that all it takes to get things started is a push in the right direction and the kids' imaginations take over from there. My girls spent an hour and a half outside the other day hunting down Ogres with their bug catching kits. And I didn't even do anything other than hand them the nets and tell them they had to save the day from Ogre invasions. They did the rest.

So, that what works for me. Secret super hero missions. To see what is working for other moms, visit the "Mom I'm Bored" edition of Works for Me Wednesday over at Shannon's Dryer!

Works for Me Wednesday - Art Direction

There is one thing that is sure to keep my kids entertained. Art, art, and more art.

On days when things are crazy and I am at my limit, I get out the art supplies and let the girls have at it. We're pretty relaxed about art around our house, so our method may not be for everyone but here's how we play it.

We get together paint, paint brushes, stamps, sponges, toothbrushes, pipe cleaners, and any other cool textured things that will make fun prints on paper. The girls love painting with toothbrushes (particularly the electric kind) and I usually just let them get messy and creative. If you're not as crazy as we tend to be (and actually like having a clean house) I've found putting a cheap plastic tablecloth under their art table helps eliminate any unsightly messes.

It also helps to have a variety of art supplies to let kids make their art into mixed media art projects. Fabric, Styrofoam peanuts, sparkle glitter, paper cuttings, and even recycled bottle caps make great additions to your arts & crafts table.

The result is some really fun and innovative art work and hours of entertainment! These butterflies were made from toilet paper rolls, paper scraps, fabric, egg cartons, pipe cleaners, and bottle tops. The girls came up with them on their own and it was exciting to see them take unusual materials and figure out how to mold them into their artistic vision.

That's what is working for me this week. To see how other moms are entertaining their kids this summer, head over to Shannon's Dryer for the "Mom, I'm Bored" edition of WFMW!

Total Truth Tuesday

Here's my total truth this week - Sometimes I am terrified that I am doing the worst possible job as a mom.

Truly, there are days when I am thoroughly convinced I am the worst mom my kids could have ever gotten. And, here's why:

I yell too much.
I never know quite how to discipline.
My days are unstructured.
It is quite possible that I overindulge them
I let them talk back sometimes because I think knowing your place is overrated.
I don't always handle conflicts like a grown-up.
I let their laundry pile up.
It is possible that I have at, one time or another, said swear words in their presence.
It is possible that they have, at one time or another, repeated swear words in my presence.
Sometimes I forget to give them a bath because we're too busy watching movies on the couch.
Their bedtime is not always set in stone.
I sleep in more often than I should.
My idea of breakfast is giving them yogurt and turning on Wonder Pets so I can sleep just a few extra minutes.

I am making mistakes on a daily basis. In fact, on an hourly basis. But, imperfect as I am, I am hoping that the one thing that will erase the damage I'm doing to my girls is their absolute faith that, in the words of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, I love them "to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach."

So, Kai and Ivy, my precious girls, if you read this someday in an attempt to understand how it was possible that I could ruin your life so completely by making sloppy joe's too often for dinner or forgetting to wash your sheets as often as I should, please know this:

I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints,—I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!—and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

(Sonnets from the Portuguese, Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

Kai-versations: two for the price of one...

Kai: Mom, what will we look like in heaven?

Me: Remember, Kai? In heaven we'll have brand-new bodies. Like our body here, but better!

Kai: Oh, right. Can mine have purple sparkles on it? Pleeeaaassee??

hmmm...I think I'll let her work that one out with God.


The other day we were the conspicuous family shopping our local Kroger and making more noise than we should have. My kids just can't be quiet in public.

But, finally we had made it to the blessed check-out line. There was relative quiet. Then Kai decided to pretend the little car cart was a real car. And she turned around to her "kids" in the backseat and said forcefully and with true exhaustion in her voice,

"BE QUIET while your father is on the phone! I've about had it with you two today!"

To which everyone in line with us looked knowingly at me. Busted.

For more of the funny things kids say, head over to Not Before 7!

How do you like your Goodnight Moon?

Goodnight Moon is one of my favorite kid's books of all time. I've been reading it since Kai was about a year old and it is guaranteed to chill my kids out.

About 2 months after I started reading it to Kai, I found that I had it completely memorized. So, I haven't actually read it to her in a while. But, even still, we hear it almost every night.

Then, I got on a Spanish language kick. And since I wanted to bring Spanish into our every day lives, I bought Goodnight Moon in Spanish. So, occasionally we read it in Spanish, too.

My most recent obsession, however, is Goodnight Moon in sign language. Don't ask me why but I found myself wanting to learn enough American Sign Language to be able to sign Goodnight Moon to the girls. And, so, I brought out the book I bought to teach the girls and learned myself some Goodnight Moon!

And tonight, for the very first time ever, I signed it to my girls. And they loved it. I think it is by far the most beautiful way to read the book to my girls...

Monday, June 2, 2008

Does any one know...

what to do with crabapples? I have a bumper crop here and have no idea what on earth I should do with them.

They are currently:

being eaten by squirrels/chipmunks/rabbits
tripping me in the yard
being used as very effective weapons by my children

But, I'd love a more productive use for them. They are super tart so I know you don't really eat them on their own, but what, pray tell, are they good for?

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Things I've had to say this week

Quit making your sister smell your feet.

If you don't finish your french fries you will not get any fruit!
(hmmm...that doesn't sound right.)

Princesses do not burp at the table.

No you cannot have bubble gum medicine just because it tastes good.

There are no Ogres living in the air conditioning vent.

No, God can have any parking place He wants.