Saturday, May 31, 2008

Jumping in

It's less than 2 months until we officially start the homeschool journey with Kai. We'll be doing some preschool/kindergarten with her to see how things go. This is our test year. Our year to see if I am able to pull this off.

We chose this age 'cause we decided if it didn't work out, at least she wouldn't be behind the other kids her age. But, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit nervous to try this.

Still, I think it will be an exciting adventure for Kai, me, and the rest of the family.

My biggest fear is socialization. Or rather, lack thereof. I tend to be a bit on the introverted side in real life (the internet gives me amazing courage) so my biggest worry is that my tendency to withdraw in social settings will ultimately affect Kai in a negative way.

But, I'd love to know, oh blogosphere friends, do those of you homeschooling have any words of wisdom for a fledgling homeschool mom embarking on this journey? And tips for making sure she's educated and sociable??

Friday, May 30, 2008

Haiku Friday: Sisters

What is a sister?
Best friend and worst enemy
Sometimes both at once.

My girls love each other. This much I know. But they also dislike each other immensely at times. This, too, I can relate to. Having two sisters of my own, I know that love and hate can both be a part of a sister's relationship. But, I also know which of these is stronger.

I know that no matter how angry or frustrated or betrayed I feel I will come to my sisters' defense. I know that I will always be there for her and she for me. I know that we will forever be connected. Across all anger and pain and hurt, we will be sisters. And for that I am very thankful.

And I am thankful my girls will know that with each other as well. Even if they do occasionally pull each other's hair and bite...

**Thanks Eryn for pointing this out! These pics were from her wedding and taken by Kyle Hale who is, incidentally, amazing. So, if you're in Atlanta and looking for a good event photographer check out his site: **

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Fro' Me to You

Let me tell you a little about my highschool. It was an all-girls school. Which means we basically had an all-girls prom (with the exception of a few pitiful fellows bused in from the local military school). And, in case you couldn't guess, all-girls proms pretty much, you know, blow. But, I went. Every year.

And here I am my junior year dressed as a deranged wedding cake topper. This outfit was not a joke. I was serious. Notice how I am alone in the pic? Yep. No date for prom. But that didn't stop me from getting my picture taken in this stunning get-up. Oh no. I had to have photographic evidence of my horrendous fashion sense.

And that brings me to this.

My dearest mom,

why, oh why, did you ever let me out of the house dressed like this? why did you not call the national guard to barricade the door so I wouldn't go into public in this dress? and this hair?

I know you love me, but seriously? would it have killed you to keep me from this embarrassment?

with all my love,
your beloved daughter/chronic fashion victim

Head over to That Family's blog to see other pics from the past!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

See, the last week wasn't all bad...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Works for Me Wednesday - Don't Overpay!

I have this annoying habit that drives cashiers, clerks, waitresses and my husband crazy. But it saves me from paying too much for everything from vitamins to car service.

I am a receipt checker. I sit down with my receipt as soon as I get in the car and check every single line item to make sure I have not paid more for something or paid for something twice. And, you know what? I find mistakes on a weekly basis.

My husband has admitted that it both drives him crazy and makes him appreciative how much time I spend checking these things out. But, I must say, just in the last week I have been double charged for vitamins, jipped on CVS Extra Care Bucks (I just started CVSing and that is a whole other post!), been charged for extermination services I didn't receive, charged more than the price marked for grocery items, and even not charged for toothbrushes I had in my cart (which I am a stickler for returning and paying for 'cause my family owns retail stores and I apply the whole Golden Rule there) and all this happened at different places.

So, here's what works for me. Checking my receipts the minute I get into the car. I wait until the kids are buckled in and settled which means I may sometimes have to make a return trip into the store if it turns out they did botch the checkout. But, it is worth it to know I have only paid for what I've received. I have even been known to get my BlackBerry calculator out to double check that everything adds up. I'm obsessive that way. Still, in my defense, I have been rewarded for my diligence many times by finding extra money on the receipt in the form of overcharges and whatnot so I can't be totally crazy.

Anyways, that's what is working for me. Head over to Shannon's Dryer to see what is working for other moms this week...

Total Truth Tuesday

I have this bizarre issue that I must confess. I have a violent and irrational aversion to food sounds. Any food sounds.

Let me explain.

You know those sounds that come when you eat cereal or ice cubes or popcorn? Those loud crunchy noises people make when they are sitting next to you? Those noises drive me out of my head.

But, the weirdest part is that it doesn't stop with the obvious noisy foods. I can't stand to hear someone eating noodles, lettuce, french fries, fried chicken, whatever. You name it the sound of it being masticated grosses me out.

But, sometimes the worst is drinking noises. Thomas will sit down across the couch from me and drink a glass of milk and, though I try to ignore it, I will nearly crawl out of my skin. I shuddered just thinking about it right now.

It's not like I have to wear earplugs at dinner or anything weird like that. I just hate the sound of chewing, swallowing, and eating in general and have to try super hard to ignore it. It has driven my family crazy since I was a kid.

Anyways, so there you have it. I am a freak when it comes to eating/drinking noises. So, do tell, am I the only weirdo or do you guys have any weird issues that make people question your sanity?

That settles it

I want to be organic and green. Really I do. Not 'cause it's a fad but 'cause I actually enjoy it.

But after what happened today in my youngest's cloth swim diaper, I don't think I'll ever be able to handle cloth diapers.

But I am interested, how many of you have chosen cloth diapers and of those who've done both cloth and disposable, what are your thoughts?

Ladies and Gentleman, I present, my sad car.

I keep having daydreams where the adjuster says the car is totaled and we get a new one. But, considering it only looks like that I am going to snap back to reality. The reality where we pay our $500 deductible and get the same car we had before. Oh well. A girl can dream can't she?

Monday, May 26, 2008

Some inspiration

While on our trip we made a short trek to Richmond to the Children's Museum there. Every time we travel with the kids we make a point to stop at a children's museum. Most cities have one and since visiting places often becomes about keeping the kids out of trouble they are the perfect place to let the kid's loose in an environment designed just for them.

The Richmond Children's Museum was one of our favorites. It had great local inspired exhibits like a "James River Boat Run," a cave for "spelunking," and a tree climbing exhibit. And of course the usual grocery store, diner, and trucks & cars that always make the kids happy.

By far my favorite, though, was their art room. They had a room filled with art supplies made from recycled items such as egg cartons, toilet paper rolls, shredded paper, plastic yogurt cups, and more. There were stations with paints, stamps, markers, and any other art supply you could imagine. Basically, the kids were given access to all the materials and free reign to create whatever struck their fancy.

We made butterflies out of shredded paper, toilet paper rolls, water bottle caps, and egg cartons. We also painted 'til our hearts were content. And made bird's nests out of plastic yogurt cups and birthday streamers.

If you know me, you know I am all about creative expression in my house. I LOVE to let the kids paint and draw and glue and whatever else they can come up with. But, this. Oh, this has given me fabulous inspiration for our art room. I can't wait to collect all kinds of random bits to make available to the girls for art creation!

The pics above were taken at the museum of some of the art pieces left by some of its patrons. I love seeing the creativity that evolves when kids have access to unusual materials.

You can definitely expect to be seeing more recycled art from the Loving girls from now on!

Wanna know what I learned this week?

I learned that it is much easier than you might think for a child to dislocate her shoulder. Amazingly easy. So, yes, we wrapped up our trip with one dislocated shoulder for our dear Ives. Oh, the humanity!

Actually, she was such a trooper. It happened in the blink of an eye and the next thing we knew she was holding her little right arm limp at her side. One quick call to our super hero nurse friend (and my honorary sister) Ms. Yvonne and we had her diagnosed.

So, here's what else I learned this week (besides that nurses are the coolest people in the entire Universe - cause I already knew that!) I learned that if a child dislocates her shoulder you don't actually have to take them to the hospital. 'Cause with minimal telephone coaching you, too, can pop a shoulder into it's socket. It took about 10 seconds, saved us $2000 in out-of-state ER charges, and made Ivy happier much faster than if we had spent hours in the ER waiting room.

In fact, today she is as good as new. And, for that, we are thankful.

And while I am talking about being thankful, I want to say that without Ms. Yvonne we would probably have signed over our life savings to the vast medical expenses that seem to pop up in our world. She is a nurse and a friend and, quite honestly, family to us. Thank you, Ms. Yvonne, for being so generous with your time, your expertise, and your love for our girls. We love you and are thankful every day that God blessed us with such an amazing person in our lives!

I just wanted to give you a very public and personal shout-out so everyone can know how amazing you are!

Friday, May 23, 2008

woo hoo. but not really.

For my birthday, my husband generously agreed to allow me to get up at the butt-crack of dawn and travel 8 hours to Virginia for his family reunion party. On the way, we visited such exciting sites as the big Peach butt in Gaffney and Powhite (pronounced po' white) Pkwy. So far it has been a thrilling trip.

By far my favorite part came when a white tailed Bambi ran out into the highway at 6 this morning and right into our car. Bambi ran away though from the looks of our car she couldn't have made it too far.

So far birthday #29 is falling short of any great expectations. Though, I am super thankful that our Memorial Day weekend auto accident was a minor one. I'm definitely not so shallow that I forget how lucky we are that is wasn't a more serious one...

My "To Do" List

In honor of my 29th birthday (today!) I thought I'd finally start a list of things I want to do before I, well, you know. So, here it is. Some of it is taken from a list I made years and years ago. Some of it is new. And I know there are tons of things I've forgotten or not yet even realized I want to do. But, I'll keep adding to it and hopefully keep checking things off. So, without further ado here's my list (in no particular order)...

1. Take a mission trip to Africa.
2. Meet Roselle Marie Luzana (Compassion sponsored child)
3. Meet Hellen Abunyo (Compassion sponsored child)
4. Take my husband and children to London and Cambridge.
5. Visit Ireland with my family.
6. And Italy.
7. And Australia.
8. And Singapore.
9. Visit all 50 states with the family.
10. Swim with Sharks in a Shark Cage.
11. Learn to quilt.
12. Go to nursing school.
13. Have my children's book published.
14. Teach my kids compassion and empathy.
15. Take a second honeymoon with my husband.
16. Renew my wedding vows with family present.
17. Get a tattoo.
18. Visit the Amish.
19. Spend a week in NYC with my husband and no kids.
20. Take a deep sea fishing excursion.
21. Refresh my spanish speaking skills.
22. Learn to be a domestic goddess.
23. Have an article published in a international print publication.
24. Have more and more and more babies.
25. Eliminate ALL debt and live life with cash.
26. Teach my kids to sew.
27. Maintain an organic garden that is capable of sustaining our family's food needs.
28. Homeschool my children successfully.
29. Own horses and teach my children to ride.
30. Impact a stranger in a life changing way.
31. Buy a house with enough acreage for a small farm.
32. Read the entire Bible. And enjoy it.
33. Read all the books on my bookshelf.
34. Reach and maintain a healthy weight.
35. Stop worrying about what other people think.
36. Learn my family's history so I can pass it on to my kids.
37. Learn to control my temper so I don't pass it on to my kids.
38. Donate my hair to Locks of Love.
39. Begin to collect art for our home.
40. Convert to a more holistic and organic lifestyle.
41. Study in a foreign country.
42. Bring a child into our family through adoption.
43. Have a fairy tale romance.
44. Take a white water rafting trip.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Two Years




The night before you were born I asked my mom the secret to loving your second child as much as your first. I couldn't imagine how much love a mother could hold in her heart. She assured me I would never question my ability to love once I held you in my arms.

But, she was wrong.

Because I didn't even have to wait until I held you to know my heart had a capacity for love that was bigger than I could possibly have imagined. I remember the moment you were born and your lungs cried out with your first breath. I remember being flooded with an overwhelming sense of love in that moment. I remember knowing I would never be the same.

You, my amazing girl, taught me about the breadth of a mother's love. You showed me that my heart was capable of more love than I could have ever known. You revealed a part of God's heart I had never before experienced.

You changed my life the moment you entered this world. You bring immeasurable joy. You have shown me all that is good in me and all that is good in this world.

I love you, precious baby. I am thankful every day for you...

A pretty terrifying question

Okay, so I've done one of these posts before, but this time it is at the prompting of a What's in Your Car? Carnival over at Shannon's Dryer. I cleaned out my car tonight to take it to the shop and here is what I found:

heaping handful of miscellaneous crumbs
diet coke from Burger King
Bug cage w/abandoned cocoon inside
Happy Birthday princess crown
$25 Gift Certificate for Manicure/Pedicure
discarded drink carrier
Whole Foods paper bag
Cinderella Candle
baggy of dirty clothes from daycare
singing birthday card
2 Burger King receipts
Compassion Int. Sponsorship packet (minus the info on the little girl we're sponsoring - that is posted on our lockers!)
4 assorted happy meal toys
small stack of miscellaneous bills
2 $1 bills and a cup holder full of sticky change
disposable camera
$5 coupon for Target
2 old sippy cups

Wow. Not nearly as embarrassing as it could have been considering I once found a disfigured Tootsie Roll stuck in a shoe that was left in my van. So, there you go. To find out what horrors lurk in other moms' vans/cars head over to Rocks in My Dryer and check it out!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

When it comes to art, this is how the Loving family rolls.
The world is our canvas.

Visit Wordless Wednesday for more photo fun.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Works for Me Wednesday: Finding Money

I have money hidden all over my house. In the basement. In the garage. In the laundry room, bedroom, kids' room, playroom. Everywhere.

Lest you think me one of those crazies who stuffs money in box springs and behind loose boards, let me explain myself. See, I have found that there is an untold amount of unused stuff in my house. And, on weeks when I want to buy something frivolous like groceries, diapers, or gas (Note the sarcasm.) I find these things and list them on Craigslist.

You can sell almost anything on there. From exciting things like electronics to decidedly unglamorous things like used baby clothes, you can find a local buyer for just about anything you have to sell.

Here's why I love it. First (and most importantly) it's free. You can list anything you want with no listing fees or commissions. Second, it's so easy. You list it. You get emails from interested people. You meet them and deliver the goods. You get cash. Does it get any better than that?

I've had a couple yard sales and found them to be a ton of work and kind of hit or miss as far as success is concerned. However, with CL I've always had great success. In fact, two Christmas' ago I paid for our entire Christmas (and a very good Christmas at that) just by selling stuff we weren't using. It was awesome.

To be fair, selling on Craigslist isn't perfect. So, I'll give you the downsides just so you go into this thing informed.

First, you have to run around and meet people to transfer the goods for the money. You could always have them come to your house if you feel comfortable, but I've always been pretty funny about that so I tend to find local places in my area to meet them. I always make them come my way to buy it 'cause it's not worth selling something if you have to spend too much gas running around.

And since I'm a mom I couldn't live with myself if I didn't say this, please make sure you meet people in daylight hours and public places. Just like you wouldn't hold a yard sale in a back alley at night, you shouldn't meet buyers in places that seem sketchy to you. If you're smart and careful, there is no reason meeting a buyer from CL won't be as safe as anything else you do.

Second, you have to be willing to sell things for just slightly above Yard Sale prices. You definitely won't get the same amount for an item on CL as you would on Ebay, but you aren't paying the commission like at Ebay and Paypal either so I think it's a pretty fair trade.

Lastly, you do have to be careful who you sell to/how you accept payment. The most important rule on CL is this: CASH, CASH, CASH. Never accept checks, cashier's checks (even for cars) or any other form of payment. And only agree to local buyers. Chances are the nice lady from across the country is some scammer looking to involve you in a check fraud scam. Only deal with people you are going to meet face to face.

Basically, if you follow those few simple rules you'll find that you're discovering money in places you never even realized you had. I look at it like an extra source of income on weeks when your bank balance dips dangerously low before Tuesday.

That's what is working for me this week. To see other tips from some amazing moms visit Shannon's Dryer!

Total Truth Tuesday

I have a salt and pepper shaker obsession.

It is bordering on scary how much I LOVE to collect these little guys. The more kitschy they are the better I like them. And if I see a pair I love I cannot bring myself not to take them home with me.

Cheesy Niagara Falls? Love it.

Awful dolphin shakers? You bet.

Toaster shakers, kissing boy/girl shakers on a bench, hideous dinosaurs shakers? Yes! Yes! Yes!

Now, for the truly weird part. I have dozens of salt and pepper shakers. I have them on display all over my dining room. However, in my kitchen, I generally use the most generic and boring set of salt and pepper shakers imaginable. Some random pair I picked up in the grocery store.

Why? Who knows.

I guess love them all so much I just can't pick one pair to use over all the others. And, that my friends, is one more reason I am a total weirdo...

(in case you didn't realize, the photo at the top is a pic of one of my absolute favorite shaker sets in my collection. thanks to my sister, Tara, for finding this treasure!)

Twitter Material

Ironically, if Twitter were working I'd totally Twitter this, but since it isn't I feel compelled to post it somewhere:

Why Twitter must you be down when I have random tidbits to share with the world? WHY???

When Twitter is finally back up, you can find/follow my feed here...

Only Two Days

Just two days away from having a full-fledged two-year-old. But, thankfully, she still acts like my baby...

P.S. I promise to have a Total Truth up this evening. So, check back if you're interested in knowing more weird facts about me...

Monday, May 19, 2008

Oh, Birthday Fairy please bring me this...

Is it possible to be in love with a kitchen appliance? This thing is amazing.

Now if only I can convince my husband to spend $2000 on a cooktop. Do you think telling him it boils water in 90 seconds would win me any points?

Yeah, I didn't think so...

Thanks Christopher Columbus for really confusing my 4-year-old...

A couple weekends ago we visited a local park for their "Indian Festival" and we thought it would be an excellent educational opportunity for the girls. It definitely was, but in a way I hadn't expected.

See, Kai has a teacher from India and since being in her class she has become obsessed with all things Indian. It's why she wears the bindis, eats Indian foods, and talks about taking a trip to India every chance she gets. It never occurred to me that taking her to an American Indian/Native American Pow Wow would confuse her like it did.

Because it was being advertised as an Indian Festival that is what we called it. The day before we went Kai was jumping up and down with excitement over our trip to "India." I tried to explain to her that these were American Indians. It went something like this:

Kai: "I can't wait to go to the India Festival and see the elephants!"
Me: "No, Kai. These are American Indians. Not like the India Ms. Kum Kum is from."
Kai: "But, Ms, Kum Kum is from India and she is an American. What is the difference?"
Me: "Well, these Indians are Native Americans. They were here before anyone else?"
Kai: "Before God?"

It was nearly impossible to explain in a way she would understand. No matter what we said, she couldn't figure out why these "Indians" weren't like Ms. Kum Kum. She couldn't figure out why their Indian food consisted of roasted corn and not curry sauces. And though I thought she'd finally get it when we saw them, when we got there she was, needless to say, a bit disappointed not to find Indian food, elephants, bindis, and Indian clothing. Which I find slightly ironic considering her great grandpa was Cherokee and Choctaw.

Oh, well. Guess that's one more reason to hold a grudge against good old Christopher Columbus...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Faerie Forest Tea Party

**I apologize in advance for how looong this blog post is. I just wanted to document everything 'cause this birthday was so fun and this will end up going in our end of the year blog book!**

I LOVE birthdays. Not necessarily my birthdays, but other people's birthdays are the best. Especially when those other people are ones I am responsible for planning parties for.

So, every year around February I start planning the girls' birthday party. Luckily, their birthdays are about a month apart so we get to cheat and plan one big party for the two of them.

They've had an Asian themed party (complete with Sushi Cake), Luau Party (with Hula Dancers), Pop Art Party (with a paint balloon throw), and now a Faerie Forest Tea Party. This party may just have been my favorite.

This party was a bit more laid back than previous parties 'cause we really didn't plan lots of stuff for the kids to do. We had it in the backyard and just let the Faerie Forest do the entertaining. And, boy did it! The kids stayed busy the whole time.

Here are some pics of the party.

First, the Food.

Aside from the fresh fruit and veggies (Faeries are nothing if not healthy), we had magic pretzel wands

And Garden Cupcakes

And Flower Cakes

And Strawberry Popcorn Balls

For Decor we put up a portable outdoor Gazebo to keep the food under and decorated it with burlap ribbon and craft paper. We kept the whole theme very earthy.

Even our napkins were Garden themed:

And my favorite was the Faerie Garden Thomas built for the kids to enjoy:

We also had a couple pics of the girls framed with signable mats for the guests to wish Happy Birthday to the girls. We've done these for each of their birthdays since they were born and look forward to having a collection of them when they're older.

Now, for the best part. The goodies.

Each guest walked into the garden after visiting these bags of crowns and wands. The sign read "Trooping Faeries gather here/come quick and take a peek/first grab yourself a wand and crown/to join the faeries that you seek!"

The bags were made with hot glue, burlap, ribbon and some cardboard. So easy!

Then they walked down the garden path with their crowns and wands:

Girl crowns & wands:
Boy crowns and wands:

The crowns and wands were made from the cuttings from our Muscadine Vine. I just wove the crowns, hot glued various flowers, ribbons, and leaves onto them and they were good to go. The wands were even easier. They were made from Muscadine Vines and small tree limbs. I just cut them to a good size, wrapped them in gold ribbon and hot glued the ribbon on. Super easy and the kids loved them!

My absolute favorite thing about the whole party was the "Faerie in a Jar" party favor. Thomas designed these Faerie jars for the kids to take home with them. They were awesome! Each one was cut out and mounted inside the jar with a forest background and then we filled the jar with Moss and ta-da! Faeries in Jar. They were a huge hit with the kids and the grown-ups!

All-in-all I'd say the party was a success. We had fun. The kids had fun. And hopefully our guests did, too. Now I'm off to relax and not worry about birthdays again until sometime in October!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Darn you to Heck, Tivo!

I'm totally gonna get made fun of for that title. But, last night on the most glorious night of the week for television we watched Grey's, and ER (who got on the ambulance?!?), and headed back to the bedroom because we had saved the best for last.

No, not that. Even better. The new episode of Lost. But, our cursed Tivo decided not to record Lost. Despite the fact that it ALWAYS records Lost and has strict instructions to keep that show at the top of the list cutting all other shows before that one.

Try as we might, we could not find a place to watch it online last night so we have yet to enjoy what I am sure was an amazing episode. Don't tell me anything about it. Did they explain why Jack's dad was there? No, don't tell me. Did they? Okay, no I don't want to know anything.

I am going to try and wait for Thomas to get home so we can watch it on iTunes...

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Fro' Me to You: Kai's Chair Experience

I'm joining the Fro' Me to You Carnival and I have to say this has to be one of my FAVORITE carnival ideas ever. The whole point is to publish photographic evidence of something in your recent or distant past.

I know I've posted about this before, but I just have to relive one of my absolute favorite Kai moments:

Lest you think me a horrible mom, let me say that she got herself stuck in this chair while I had turned my back to finish cooking. She slid down into the chair but her head was stuck and she couldn't go back out either way.

The picture was taken while we waited for her Uncle Jared to come rescue her from the chair since her Daddy was stuck on the highway in horrible traffic. We had to unscrew the chair and take it apart to get her out. So, since we had all that time on our hands waiting how could I not document this priceless moment?

Head over to THAT Family's site and see the rest of the unforgettable moments...

Have you ever?

Have you ever needed a particular item of clothing to wear someplace only to find that it is sitting happily in the dirty clothes pile?

Have you ever washed it quickly so it would dry in time only to forget that you washed it and discover it has been sitting in the washer for a bit too long?

Have you ever given the clothes a "sniff test" and deemed the load in the washer not sour?

Have you ever discovered only after drying them that the "sniff test" is not a scientific test with guaranteed accuracy?

Have you ever been running so short on time that you have worn said "sour" shirt out only after generously spraying yourself down with Febreze?

Nope? Me either.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

How is it possible that this is the baby that is turning 2 in one short week? Time moves too quicky...

Today is THE Day!

Check out the First Ever Carnival of Modern Home Dwelling over at Today's Homemaker. It is going to have some amazing tips/tricks/projects from some totally great bloggers (and a few from me, too!).

This isn't your grandma's homemaking carnival. Did you grandma even have a homemaking carnival?

Nope. And if she did it could never have been this cool. (No offense Grandma!)

This is a totally modern, totally amazing homemaking carnival. Great for moms with kids, women without kids, women who work outside the home, and women who work within their home, people with houses, apartments, condos, and townhomes. Basically, it's for everyone! Whether you be a novice homemaker or a pro, this carnival is sure to have something cool for you to take away.

So, why are you still here? Go there and check it out!


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Works for Me Wednesday

I am totally into funky reclaimed items for the home. I love picking things up at junk shops, antique stores and yard sales. One thing I found at a local junk shop has turned into a family organizational life-saver. They are my cool kitchen lockers.

My brother-in-law scouted these babies out for me and I paid just $25 for each one. They are old gym lockers and they are amazing for storage.

My family was constantly coming in the kitchen door, dropping their shoes/bags, and cluttering up the entire entry way. We bought these to keep things a bit more organized and they have made a huge difference!

Now, we have one locker for coats and shoes, one for bags, and one for miscellaneous items. They keep the clutter contained and look cool at the same time. My sister even picked some up and installed shelves to use as a kitchen pantry in her house. Lockers are a crazy versatile storage option and can be used just about anywhere. They can be found cheap on sites like Craigslist and Freecycle groups and can be refinished to fit any decor. Even in houses where junk shop decor may not fit in, they are an excellent option for the garage or basement!

So, that's what is working for my family this week. Head over to Shannon's Dryer and see what is working for other moms!

Meet me.

Okay, so it's Mommyfest 2008 and my job is to post my introduction. Here goes...

Jenna, meet the Mommy Bloggers.
Mommy Bloggers, meet Jenna (a.k.a. Land of Lovings)

Who am I?

Geez, I've been trying to figure out the answer to that for years! Rather than post some super long intro to me, I think I'll make a list of the best blog posts that describe who I am and what I'm about. That way, you can browse at your leisure, and get a feel for what I like to write about here at Land of Lovings.

So, without further ado, the top 4 Land of Lovings posts to describe who I am:

My 100 Things
My Brand of Feminism
7 Random Facts
My Resolutions

Okay, so that's done. Now it's your job to head over to the Blog Party and meet some other moms or leave me a comment and tell me about you!

Monday, May 12, 2008

What do you buy?

I just got back from Krogering and stocked my pantry with my purchases. And added yet another 3 boxes of pasta to the 4 boxes I already had. And, I wondered, what is with me and pasta?

But, it doesn't stop with pasta. 'Cause then I went to put away the frozen veggies I bought and discovered bags and bags and bags of frozen cauliflower, broccoli, peas, carrots.

It used to be that I would buy dryer sheets like a mad woman. Every single trip to the grocery resulted in boxes of dryer sheets. Boxes and boxes and boxes. In fact, I haven't bought dryer sheets in more than 6 months. I probably won't need them for another couple months. And I wash LOTS of clothes.

So, that begs the question. Is there something you compulsively buy every time you go to the store?

Fitting in...

In case you haven't noticed, I'm not great at fitting in. I'm just one of those people who was born noticeably less like everyone else.

I'm not like the working professional parents. I'm not your typical SAHM. I'm not fully organic. Not fully mainstream. I'm not a traditional church girl. I'm not extremely counter-culture either. I am a visitor in many social scenes, but an inhabitant of none.

I've been through the adolescent efforts to squash and cram myself into a personality that isn't mine but that fits into more social molds. It doesn't work. I'm either unconvincing or feel like I've betrayed myself in doing so.

As a result, I have learned to embrace my true self (it's still a work in progress, but you know what I mean...) And, I came to the conclusion a long, long time ago that the price of individuality (i.e. never fitting in) was one I was willing to pay to be who I am.

However, as a mom, I am starting to wonder if my choice is a fair one to my kids. I am noticing, for a variety of reasons, that I am just not like the other parents at school, at church, at playgroup, at wherever. And, I'm okay with that for myself. But, when I see how it is taking a toll on my girls I start to question my decisions.

Whether it be exclusion from birthday parties or just not fitting in at school, I am wondering if I am giving my kids the choice to fit in or not. Don't get me wrong, I think fitting in is HIGHLY overrated. But, should I let my girls make that choice for themselves? Should I reign myself in so I'm not always the mom who just isn't quite like the other moms? Should tattoos be covered and more "normal" clothes be worn? Should I try to act a little more like a chameleon where my kids are concerned? Is it fair to force my girls to be the "different" kids before they even get a chance to figure themselves out?

To be honest, I don't know.

I know that Kai is already different from the other kids. I know that the other day when her teacher said that she wished Kai could just "act like the other kids" I was furious. Because she isn't the other kids. She never will be. She is, undeniably, Kai. And that is why I love her. And I know that is what makes her special. And I know that being yourself is worth missing out on a few birthday parties.

I guess, for now, I'll trust my instincts and give them the freedom to be who they choose to be and hope and pray that they'll understand that a necessary element of being brought up that way is having a mom who is who she is. Even if she never fits in.

If all else fails, there's always lots and lots of therapy. In fact, maybe I'll start saving for that now...

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day: Blog-Jack

20 Reasons You Rock as a Mom!

1. You clean everything.
2. You read the best books.
3. You make up the best bedtime stories.
4. You let me pray to God however I want to.
5. You play the 'Happy Working Song'.
6. You planted a garden with us.
7. You help me calm down so daddy doesn't spank me.
8. You give plenty of hugs.
9. You do art with us.
10. You are so creative.
11. You build forts out of sheets and blankets and pillows and chairs.
12. You hold me when I'm sad.
13. You let us paint on walls.
14. You teach us about God and Heaven.
15. You kiss our boo-boo's.
16. You take us to fun places like the Indian Pow-Wow.
17. You read poetry to us.
18. You let us listen to cool music like Jonathan Coulton.
19. You let us crawl in bed with you.
20. You make the best birthday parties ever!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Happy Mother's Day, Mom.

Thank you for all the times you picked me up, fixed me up, and made things better.

Thank you for all the ways you've supported me, inspired me, loved me, and taught me.

Thank you for your sacrifices, your dedication, and your unwavering support.

I am who I am because of you.

Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 9, 2008

How to really embarrass yourself as a mom in public

I'm pretty great at humiliating myself. I've become an expert at it. In fact, I dare say, I have not one shred of dignity left for reasons I will slowly reveal over the life of this blog.

On a scale of 1 to 10 this most recent humiliation is pretty mild. But, I still thought it worth mentioning. You know, so you can feel even better about yourself by comparison.

Your welcome.

I bought Thomas this shirt.

Because, you know it's true. Here's the proof:

But, then one day I borrowed it to wear under another shirt in a rush to get out of the house semi- dressed. I was at no time planning to let anyone see me in this shirt.

As is always the case, I took the top shirt off because while out and about one of my girls spilled something all over it. It never occurred to me what shirt I had underneath. It still never occurred to me when I was carrying two screaming kids through Barnes & Noble. But, then, I hear two college (maybe even highschool) aged guys laughing. Then I hear them let out a "woohoo, she makes good babies! that's hilarious!"

And unfortunately, Barnes and Noble does not have a trap door of any kind to swallow up moms who have just humiliated themselves in public. But, I'm putting that at the top of my wish list...

Don't miss out!

It's coming soon! Next week is the first ever Carnival of Modern Home Dwelling and there's still time to submit some of your best posts. Posts are being accepted until May 12th @ Midnight.

And, I'm excited to say that I had 3 posts accepted for the carnival! I'm not saying which ones (you'll have to head over there next week and find out) but I'm pretty stoked. (And, yes I did just say stoked. I totally went there. Let's move on.)

Even if you don't submit any posts, definitely head over next week to see some of the best posts, ideas, and tips for Modern Home Dwelling...

Thursday, May 8, 2008

"Reading is Fun" Favorite #5: The Tale of the Three Trees

Kai got this book as a present at her Baby Dedication from our good friends, the Witchers. So, that means it has been a favorite of ours since she was just a little, little baby. I'd actually never heard of it until they bought the book for us and it is certainly a family favorite now.

It's apparently a folktale that's been retold for hundreds of years and this particular version is beautifully written and illustrated. Trees must be some kind of classic sacrificial archetype in children's literature 'cause it's a theme that just keeps repeating itself.

Sorry, I let my internal English major out for a second. Ignore that. I think this is a great bedtime story book with an excellent message. Definitely a must-have for your children's library.

"Reading is Fun" Favorite #4: The Giving Tree

No list of favorite children's books can be complete without this classic by Shel Silverstein. Who couldn't love The Giving Tree?

In fact, this is one of those books that if I read it to the girls at the end of a particularly emotional day, I still find myself crying when I read it. I just think it is such a beautiful story about love and sacrifice. It has been one of my favorite books since I was a kid and it is definitely one of Kai's favorites now.

If you have never read this amazing book, RUN don't walk to you nearest book store and pick it up. Think of it as a children's literature emergency...


We try to buy organic as much as possible and one thing we've never been able to find is a natural organic laundry detergent that is cheap and effective. I happened to be blog hopping the other day and came across this site that featured an interesting sounding product. Soapnuts are dried fruits from the Sapindus Mukorossi tree in India, Indonesia, and Nepal. They are naturally and organically grown and function as a natural detergent.

In fact, you can boil the "nuts" (which are actually dried fruits) down and use the Soapnut Soak to make kitchen, bathroom & window cleaner, jewelry cleaner, shampoo, pest repellent, and produce wash! You can actually add essential oils to the soak or laundry bag to give them a nice custom scent that is still gentle and non-abrasive.

I just got my SoapNuts in the mail from Laundry Tree and I am so excited about them! After coming across their site I checked around and found that they had the best prices I could find. I am going to be trying them out tonight and I'll post a follow-up to let you know how they work. From what I hear, though, they are going to be great!

Anyone else ever try these?

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Kai-versations: Nowhere near as sneaky as I thought...

Remember this?

Well, yesterday before we left for small group, Kai wanted to show our sitter the new chicks. When she was pointing out all the chicks she said, "Yeah, we had some other ones but they ate some poison and died (I promise that is so not true!). Then my mom had to go get all new ones. These are the new ones."

Busted. Crap. I can't hide anything from this kid.

"Reading is Fun" Favorite #3: I Love You Because You're You

This is a simple little children's board book that I've had since Kai was about a year old. It's not a children's classic or anything, but the message in the book is one I love reinforcing in our girls.

Basically, the gist of the book is that the mommy fox loves her baby fox whether he be angry, silly, scared, bashful, or naughty. She loves him no matter what he does or doesn't do. She loves him just for being himself. It is a simple sing-song poem that teaches kids that their moms and dads love them even when they may feel unlovable.

When Kai gets in trouble or I seem frustrated with her she inevitably asks me, "Do you still love me?" And everytime, no matter how frustrated or angry I am, I completely melt. I want my girls to always understand that I love them no matter what. That no matter what they do or what happens nothing will be able to change that. Heck, I think it's something even adults can stand to hear more.

Wordless Wednesday: My Crazy Kai

Here's what happens when you take Kai to the beach:

Here's what happens when you turn your back on Kai to watch Dr. Phil
(that's a black SHARPIE!):

Here's what happens when you let Kai dress herself for school:

Is it any wonder my life is so crazy?