Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Total Truth Tuesday

This is not such a shocking admission, really. But, there have been a few things that have brought this front and center this week so I thought I'd lay it out there.

I have an uncontrollable addiction. It is taking over my house. It borders on compulsion. And, it is beginning to rub off on my kids in very obvious ways.

I am a book-a-holic. A bibliophile. A collector of the printed word. And I just can't stop myself.

Have you seen the bookcase in my Tackle it Tuesday post? You know, this one:

Well, it is filled on both sides with books. And, I have about 6 large boxes of books in my basement. And books by my bedside. And an overflowing bookshelf in the girl's room with kids books.

Everywhere you turn in our house there are books. Bathrooms, bedrooms, playrooms, laundry room, kitchen. Everywhere. And, yet, I continue to fill up my arms at trips to Barnes and Noble and bring more and more and more home.

Years ago I had an English professor who told me she had so many books she had them stacked in her bath tub at home. She had literally lost the use of a bathroom due to her collection of books. So she and her husband just used the other bathroom. And let the books take over.

That is where I am headed, friends. And I'm hoping that if my kids start having to find somewhere else to bathe due to a book filled bath tub someone will come stage an intervention. I know it won't be my mom since she'll be in the same boat, so will one of you please intervene if it gets out of hand? I promise to listen if you tell me it is out of control.


Well, probably not. But, thanks for your concern anyways. I really can quit whenever I want to. I just, you know, don't want to. So, you can just mind your own business, thank you very much.

What about you? Do you have any seemingly harmless addictions taking over? Anyone out there in need of their own intervention?

The Big Switch.

Ever since we moved the girls' bedroom into the playroom we've had a bit of a dilemma. Our flat screen was mounted over the fireplace and the new bunkbeds made it all too easy for Kai peek into the family room and watch tv from the top bunk of her bed.

So, my dad (who is shockingly helpful with interior design) suggested we do a little moving around in our house. His recommendation? Flip the family room and dining room.

And switch we did.

The Dining Room Before
(it should be noted that the section beyond the wall divider on the left was turned into a sewing room a looong time ago and doesn't factor into the whole dining room layout)

Same Space, Different Use

The best part? Our new dining room is looking beautiful! Our old family room was bigger and has an awesome painted brick fireplace. So perfect for entertaining friends and family at our dinner parties. In fact, I can barely resist the urge to get this table. I'll be posting pics of it as soon as I get our new cupboard from Eddy West!

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

Monday, December 29, 2008

Obligatory Christmas Post.

I wasn't going to do this to you, my faithful readers, because I figured "who really wants to see my Christmas pics?" But then 5 minutes for Mom gave me a reason to do it by having a Christmas photo carnival and, well, I just couldn't resist.

So, here you have it. Our Christmas pics. Feel free to ignore until tomorrow when I promise to have some real content. With words and thoughts and everything!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My Favorite Christmas Picture Ever

From the Loving Family Archives. Christmas 2007. Our best Christmas card ever!

For more Wordless Wednesday, head over to 5 Minutes for Mom!

Total Truth Tuesday - Christmas Edition

Every year at Christmas I do the same thing. I profess for weeks in advance my desire to have a "simple" Christmas. I declare my refusal to get caught up in the commercialism of Christmas. And, I am successful every single year. Up until December 19th. And then I have some sort of bizarre attack of commercialism where the relentless Christmas marketing catches up with me and I falter. In a huge way.

I then go on some ridiculous Christmas present buying spree. And pick up things that were never on my list. Because I secretly adore the look on my kids face when they see all the shiny, colorful presents beneath the tree on Christmas morning. Even though it means I risk breeding society's preoccupation with materialism in my own kids.

Then every year, after the dust has settled, I feel insanely guilty for caving in. I have some sick, emotionally unhealthy, codependent relationship with Christmas shopping. It's like that crazy, dangerous "bad boy" you go out with an that you want to stop dating because you know it's just wrong, but it is so exciting to be with him that you just can't stop yourself. Or so I've been told.

Of course this year was no exception. I staunchly refused to buy into commercialism this year. I declared my righteous indignation at the shopping craze going on in the malls. I professed my commitment to making my girls' presents or buying handmade or, at the very least, buying only American made.

And, then my girls began their love affair with their Barbie dolls. And they played with them for hours every day. And they dressed them up and drove them around in their Barbie minivan and created a whole make-believe Barbie world for them.

Little by little, my resolve began to weaken. Until I found myself buying Mariposa Barbie and Fairy Barbie and Hannah Montana singing Barbie-ish dolls.

So, while my girls will have American made wooden puzzles and lacing beads and educational toys under the tree, there will also be a hefty dose of good old American commercialism with a dash of anti-feminist archetypes and unrealistic female body images thrown in for good measure.

But, they will be giddy with excitement come Christmas morning. And, I'm hoping all the Advent and Bible stories and Sunday school lessons will be enough to make them remember Baby Jesus when they're dressing their Malibu Barbie in her bright pink stilettos...

Friday, December 19, 2008

Because there is something infinitely wrong with my brain...

It has occurred to me before now that I am not entirely normal. But the extent of my strangeness was never more real to me than last night at my fantastically romantic Anniversary dinner with my husband.

As part of our night out Thomas took me downtown to "Big Atlanta" to go out to a restaurant that we went to on our 1st anniversary. It is a great old downtown restaurant. Dimly lit, romantic, delicious food. You know, everything an anniversary destination should be.

Knowing where we were going I had a chance to prepare a wardrobe choice for the evening. Which is a good thing since it takes me hours to dress this belly of mine lately.

I ended up in the same black dress I always wear when we go out, a pair of tall black boots (because I know you care what shoes I was wearing) and a pair of pre-pregnancy skinny jeans.

Okay, so here's where you begin to get a glimpse into my weird, weird brain. See, when I'm preggo I try and use my regular jeans as long as possible. With a 6 month belly (that is apparently STILL measuring 3 weeks ahead) you might be able to guess that these jeans don't button. But, I'm creative. I think of ways to keep them up.

Last night I decided to just wear a long tight shirt under the dress to function as a makeshift belly band and keep them up. Of course, it didn't work well and I spent several trips to the bathroom hiking up my pants to avoid losing them in public.

On one such trip I was contemplating ways to make my pants stay up easier. The rubber band trick never works. I am too lazy to go out and look for a belly band. And maternity pants? No way. I'm more than halfway through this pregnancy. The next pair of cute jeans I buy will be post-pregnancy jeans.

And then, in some flash of twisted genius it occurred to me. I should wear a pair of my beloved maternity panties on top of the jeans to hold them up. Because pants can't fall down with a pair of those over-the-belly underwear on top, right? And since I almost always wear a short dress over these particular jeans no one would be the wiser. There was a brief moment when I really, truly thought I had discovered something quite genius.

But, I'll be honest, the idea of wearing underwear over my jeans cracked me up right there in the middle of the ladies room. Because, I imagined what would happen. I knew the first time I did something like that I would end up in some minor accident that would send me to the hospital where I would have to explain the reason I was wearing my underwear on the outside. And then I would end up in some compilation of the "weirdest patients" at an end of the year hospital party.

You know it's true.

When I finally made it back to the table I was still giggling about it. 'Cause I could just envision the post-accident/panty revelation post that would come out of such a ridiculous scenario. When I began to explain my sudden fit of giggles to my husband, he looked at me adoringly and said, "Why not just use a belt?"

Because, friends, that is what a semi-normal person uses to hold up their pants, right? A belt. And yet my mind went straight to wearing maternity panties over my jeans. That right there is why I will ultimately never run out of blog material.

I am simply too weird for my own good.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Dear Santa...

Mailing our letters to Santa via the Macy's Make a Wish Foundation mailbox.

For more Wordless Wednesday head over to 5 Minutes for Mom!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Total Truth Tuesday

Though my undergraduate degree is in English, I have earned an honorary Ph.D. in Swearing. And here’s the Total Truth for today: I have the potential for a potty mouth that would put a longshoreman’s vocabulary to shame.

Lest you think I am bragging about this Total Truth, let me assure you, I most certainly am not. I am quite aware that it is a disgusting habit. And though I have made great strides in eliminating bad language from most days, I’m hoping that maybe by admitting this problem I will finally shame myself into quitting for good. The thing is, swearing can be ridiculously therapeutic. It is, unfortunately, also incredibly contagious.

Which is why each of my children have said their first swear words before the age of two. Not that they swear, mind you, or use these words in conversation. I’m just saying they’ve each managed to catch and repeat a word that mommy has used and that she most definitely should not have. On a possibly slightly positive note (in a most convoluted way, of course) they both know what a swear word is and that these words should not in be uttered by their mouths in any circumstances. And we don’t actually have problems with them slipping up and saying naughty things. I have the feeling that this will not be the case once they reach, oh, middle school age unless I get my act together.

Now, BlogHer would prefer that I not swear on my blog and so I will be attempting to document and expose this problem without actually using any of the words in my repertoire. But, people, I’ve got some amazing swear word combinations. And that is all I’m going to say about that.

So, here’s how this whole swearing thing began. First, I grew up a good girl. Then, I went to girl’s school. And, I found out that if sugar and spice and everything nice was what girls were made of it meant that sometimes the “spice” involved was a bit more cayenne pepper than cinnamon. I got quite the education in swearing. But, I must have been storing up the skill and waiting until later to practice because it wasn’t until I turned 21 that the swearing was unleashed full force.

For years, I justified it. I mean, I’m an English major. I can argue all day long. How can you say a word, in itself, is immoral? I never argued that it wasn’t ugly to hear. Or hurtful. Or just foul. But, immoral? Really? What about shag? Obviously (thanks to Austin Powers) we know that it is a naughty word in England, right? And yet I have “shag” carpet in my bedroom. The goodness (or badness) of a word was, in my mind, purely subjective.

And then it happened. One day, on our way home from Easter Sunday service with my mother in the car, my darling Kai (then just shy of two) took one look at the church traffic ahead of us and oh-so-sweetly shouted, “Move it, Dumb*ss.” And, that is when I knew whether people could convince me of a moral problem with swearing or not, it was just plain ugly to hear.

Now, mind you. I’ve admitted that both of my children have said swear words and obviously Ivy wasn’t born when Kai was just two so I have clearly not been successful in eliminating these bad words completely. But, I have gotten so much better. And found many, many alternatives. Take for instance, Doughnut Hole. As in, “A green light means GO, Doughnut Hole!” Or even F. Because, it is the less abrasive nickname for another word that peppers my vocabulary. I mean, clearly not a nice alternative, but much better than it’s dirtier cousin. And, since it is simply a letter, it is at least helping to teach the girls their alphabet (um…totally kidding by the way).

Kai has helped me find other words to use as well, her suggestions include: booty hind, snap-a-doo, flip, blast, son of a nutcracker (thanks Elf!), and the slightly modified son of a motherless gun.

She thinks these are terribly clever. And using said modified “swears” actually turns yucky situations into something comical so it’s actually working for me. Of course, when the situation calls for swearing and nothing else will do I have a tendency to send them to their room so I can swear behind closed doors. And there are days when that is essential as well. Like when rude and uncaring government employees are reeking havoc on your taxes due to pure stupidity and you can’t quite tell your husband to tell those “sons of motherless guns to flipping get off their booty hinds and get it right.” It just doesn’t have the same effect, you know?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Christmas Confetti Bubble Bath Experience

Okay, so I saw this recipe online for Christmas Confetti Bubble Bath and thought it would be the perfect little project for the girls and I to do one afternoon. After all, what is more fun than homemade bubble bath?

Making the bubble bath really was fun. And with a bit of tweaking the end product could be quite the success.

Step One:

Shred (with regular cheese grater) one bar of soap. It should be noted: soy soap flakes do NOT turn into bubbles in the bath. More on that later...

Step Two: Add food coloring gel to soap shavings. Add a few drops to each bowl and mix. Tip: Be careful what colors you choose!

Step Three: Spread on wax paper to dry. Isn't it lovely?

Step Four:

Add to bath water and watch Red and Green turn into a horrible, horrible Brown colored water with strange floating soap flakes in it. Listen as your children exclaim with glee that it is like having a bath in lake water!!

Apparently, bathing in lake water is all the rage among preschoolers these days so luckily the girls didn't seem to notice the lack of bubbles and the hideous color of the water. (Note to self: next time stick with regular soap and consult a color wheel before choosing colors!)

I'm just glad I tested it out on my girls before giving it away as gifts for Christmas. 'Cause, you know, not everyone likes the idea of bathing in the Loch Ness Monster's natural habitat!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

The best part of making Gingerbread houses? Eating the icing, of course!

For more Wordless Wednesday, head over to 5 Minutes for Mom!

Secret Santa = Super Savings (and fun!)

This isn't particularly a groundbreaking idea or anything, but it really is an idea that is so much more fun than you'd think!

The last couple of years as our extended family grew and my sisters got married buying presents for everyone has become a daunting task. We're big present givers so buying big gifts for lots of people is just too expensive to do and really seems to zap the fun from our holiday shopping.

So, a couple of years ago we decided to start the Secret Santa tradition. Each year on Thanksgiving we draw names and (making sure no one gets their own name *cough* DAD!) swear everyone to secrecy.

We set a limit for spending and let the fun begin. It takes the stress out of shopping because buying the perfect gift for one person is so much easier and my favorite part of all is the fun that is had weaseling everyone's names out of each other. Each year I think I have it all figured out and each year I am dead wrong! Still, a full month of intrigue and sneaking around is more fun than the buying or receiving presents.

We all buy presents for the kids in the family and have fun picking up little stocking stuffers for everyone else. But each person only has to buy one "big" present thus reducing both shopping and budgetary stress. It's a great Christmas tradition that we've never regretted!

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

Kai-versations: Perhaps the most important difference of all...

I'm putting Total Truth Tuesday on hold this week, because (truth be told) I'm feeling a little bit too steeped in reality to be dragging up any deep dark secrets or to be silly about any of my more ridiculous ones. I promise to dig up a doozy of a Total Truth for next week! In the meantime, here's one of my favorite recent Kai quotes...

Last night Kai and I watched The Navity Story. The live action one that came out a couple of years ago. And, though you might think she'd be too young to get what was going on she seemed to comprehend it pretty well. But, by far the most interesting conversation came as a result of the circumcision scene after Mary's cousin, Elizabeth gives birth to John.

Now, don't go getting all worried. They didn't show anything gruesome that would scar her for life but it did make her ask what exactly was going on. And since she's going to have a baby brother in less than 4 months I thought it might be time to go ahead and start explaining these things.

Me: "So, Kai, do you what makes boys and girls different?"

Kai, very seriously: "Yes! Girls get excited when they get clothes as a present and boys don't."

Me, giggling: "True...but they are also different in another way."

Kai, gesturing with her hand: "Boys have a...um....pickle, right? Wait! Does that mean Daddy has a pickle, too?!"

Ah....the next few months will be interesting indeed!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Sometime the best answers are the ones you make up...

The other day Kai asked me an interesting question. She wanted to know where she was before she was in my tummy. Was she, she asked, with God in heaven? Or, was she hanging out with angels? Did God know her then? Where did she come from before she "hatched" out of the egg in mommy's tummy? (Okay, so she doesn't get the whole reproductive process, people. But, she's four. What am I supposed to tell her?)

I thought - hatching aspects aside - it was a really smart question. And, yet, another Kai question that I had to leave largely unanswered. I'm sure theologians have this all figured out. And, I'm sure it is a lot less romantic an idea than the one I've always carried in my head.

I guess I've always believed that babies are with God before they're here. That may make me seem silly or hokey or simple minded, but I'm okay with that. And don't even bother emailing me about how that is directly contradicted by specific Bible verses or the implied nature of God. I'm a mommy. I'm just telling you what I've always imagined to myself.

And that got me thinking. Because, our family has an important anniversary coming up. Last year, on Christmas Eve, we lost Thomas' mom following very unexpected complications from heart surgery. And, now, less than a year later we're expecting a baby that I know Natalie would be thrilled about and I can't help but wonder what she would think and say and do each time we reach a pregnancy milestone.

Just the other day I was telling Thomas how happy I think his mom would be to hear that we're adding a little boy to our family when an unexpected idea occurred to me. Perhaps, she knows all about this boy. And maybe, just maybe, she had a chance to spend a little time with him before he came to grow inside me.

And though that is quite possibly the result of someone who has read too many fairy tales and not enough of the Bible, it is enough to make me smile each time my heart breaks at the thought of all she is missing out on here with this baby. Perhaps she's gotten the greatest glimpse of all into exactly who this little boy is. And, I know she'd cherish the opportunity to be ahead of the rest of us...

Friday, December 5, 2008

My Little Girl, Book Review

I'm reviewing "My Little Girl" by Tim McGraw over at my review blog. Come check it out!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

These are healthy, fun, creative, vibrant kids:

These are healthy, fun, creative, vibrant kids on Spongebob Squarepants overload:

It's scary what TV can do.

P.S. I hate SpongeBob Squarepants.

For more Wordless Wednesday, head over to 5 Minutes for Mom!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Cheap and Green Christmas Fun!

Last year at Christmas we were beyond broke. I mean, B-R-O-K-E.

It was our first year experiencing Ye Olde Beverage Company's slow season and we just weren't prepared. It was a real learning experience. Money for Christmas presents came courtesy of our willingness to sell unneeded items on Craigslist but I wanted a way to make our holidays festive around the house without breaking our budget.

And that's when my favorite holiday tradition was born.

Last year rather than spend lots of $$$ on Christmas ornaments and decor, we thought we'd get crafty and make some fun things to have in our house. We had lots of great decor left over from previous years, but we needed ornaments. So, the tradition of making our Christmas ornaments began and it's something I think we'll do with or without any budgetary restrictions.

(Our ornament assembly line - 2007)

Last year, our tree's theme was silly ornament monsters. The whole look was created using an old printer box, some googley eyes, pipe cleaners and glitter. It was the cheapest, easiest and most developmentally appropriate activity I could come up with. Not to mention, we basically had completely recycled and earth friendly decor!

At the end of the Christmas season, I took all the ornaments and tucked them away in a big manila envelope with the year on it. I stuck it in our art archives and figured we'd pull them out one day and look at it like a kind of Christmas time capsule.

(Kai's "Pickle Monster" and more!)

This year, we weren't necessarily trying to be as cheap as possible, but the urge to be simple and creative was still there. I figured the most fun type of ornament to make for a 2 and 4-year-old would be the sugary edible kind and we opted for a candy tree. Gingerbread men, Gumdrop ornaments, and even some creative project from melted peppermints are on the agenda.

(Kai making Gumdrop dangles!)

The Gumdrops were already a huge hit and the best part is that it is something we all do as a family. We take a few hours spread out over a couple weeks and spend it making fun ornaments to hang on the tree. It makes for a great family night and the memories we make are absolutely priceless. Plus, we plan to keep each year's ornaments in a separate envelope and celebrate one year by putting them all on a big tree when the kids bring their own families over for Christmas at our house!

Our only non-edible ornament this year - a pipe cleaner garland. I stole the idea after seeing the exact thing for sale at Joann's Fabric. It was much more fun to make our own!

So, that's what is working for me this week. For more cool ideas, head over to Shannon's Dryer and hear what's working for others out there!

Total Truth Tuesday - Not for the weak stomach!

I've admitted my housekeeping skills are less than perfect. But, I truly didn't think they were all that bad. Until the other day when I came face to face with the truth.

You see, this past week we got new carpet. Much needed carpet. The carpet we had was from 1982 or something. Came with the house. Horrible stuff. And as we were prepping the house for the installation it occurred to my husband that we should probably check under our bed since they'd be moving it to put in our carpet.

I should have known it was going to be bad when my hands got clammy and I broke out into a cold sweat just from the thought of looking under my bed. I mean, our room is clean. The house is actually shockingly well-ordered and clean lately (which I attribute to a shared nesting instinct my husband and I seem to be going through). But, the bed? I hadn't looked under the bed in....a while.

At first I was really proud of myself. Nothing under the bed but a stray sock and a few pieces of luggage that don't fit in our closet. But, then I heard a gasp from the other side of the bed. And I knew if it was something bad enough to make my husband actually react audibly it must be serious. That is when he showed me this:

This is the part where I share something to put this gruesome horror into perspective. Ivy is now 30 months old. She was weaned off a bedtime bottle by the time she started sleeping in a big girl bed, which was right around 15 months old. That means, these bottles have been under my bed for MORE THAN A YEAR! And, for the record, my mother is probably deleting all evidence of her relationship to me as she reads this because, how could I let this happen??? (And why was my first instinct to take a picture of it??)

In my defense (not much of one, I'll admit) they were wedged down on the floor behind the headboard. And, it isn't like they had an odor or anything. At least not anymore. Though I am desperately searching my memory for a time when there may have been a strange spoiled milk smell emanating from the headboard.

But, there you have it. Total truth about my housekeeping skills. I apparently have domestic skills that would make a Jerry Springer guest gag a little. And, to make it worse, I just told the whole world about it.

Now, it's your turn. What is the worst thing you ever discovered lurking in your home?

Monday, December 1, 2008

And then she smashed it into a million pieces.

My kids. They are a great many things. Precious. Kind. Creative. Smart.

But, right now, coordinated is not one the adjectives I would use to describe them. Not that I can talk. I mean, I'm certain they get it honest.

For a while, I thought it was just Kai. She moves around the world too fast and just doesn't have time to keep up with her surroundings. And, I can't tell you the number of times my girl has plowed into a door frame because she was zooming all over the house at the speed of light.

But, if clumsiness is contagious then I'm certain Ivy has managed to catch it. She's beginning to have a permanent red mark on her forehead from banging into one thing or another. And, just the other night she actually gave herself a big ol' bruise while drinking a cup of milk. Who'd have thought a nighttime cup of milk could be so dangerous?

Thanksgiving Day, though, she took the cake (or the Turkey) in clumsiness.

I've mentioned how my mom's house is. It's beautiful. And impeccably decorated. Basically, it is a veritable mine field for my children. So, Thursday as we're all settling in to cut the Turkey I hear "the sound."

You moms are familiar with "the sound" right? It is the noise that is made by a catastrophic crash that you are certain has left something decimated beyond all recognition thanks to your child. This time around it sounded like a crystal chandelier falling two stories into the family room. Thank God, it wasn't.

Instead, it was my two-year-old bumping into and knocking over a very expensive 5 foot tall glass cylinder floor lamp. And smashing it into a million pieces in the process.

Thank the Lord, she kept moving on past that lamp and didn't linger in the wreckage because it was the thing Thanksgiving nightmares are made of. We could easily have landed in the ER with an appointment with plastic surgery this week. Instead, she escaped unscathed and the only lingering effect was my own sense of mortification at her propensity for damage and relief at her ability to escape without a mark.

I was also pretty thankful it was at my mom's house, 'cause, you know, Grandma's have to love their grandkids no matter what, right? My kids are definitely testing that theory out with each and every visit!

But, what about you? What is the worst damage you or one of your kids has inflicted on someone else's house? Surely, I'm not the only parent uncomfortably familiar with "the sound?" (Please say no!)