Monday, July 29, 2013

Made it this Weekend

Just a little bragging, folks, don't mind me. 

We have a three-page-long list on our fridge of things to make, fix, paint, or clean before the girls' first/third dual party in less than two weeks, so I made us a pretty freaking long list for this weekend. And we KICKED BUTT. 

There were multiple shopping trips for supplies, lots of cleaning and organizing (even -- this is embarrassing -- an entire BEDROOM in our basement that I had turned into the "throw crap in there to deal with later and slam the door shut on the way out" room), painting (walls, trim, the hallway linen closet, AND ceilings -- kill me), AND I made a bunch of stuff. 

I know, right? Too bad we are not even close to being done. *Womp womp*

But, I made these things all in one weekend ... and got the world's dreariest Monday to take pictures of them all (oh well, please excuse the terrible picture quality).

I recovered the so-dark-brown-they-were-almost-black roman shades with this beautiful fabric. This is on the back wall of my living room and to one side of the side door (the one most people use -- don't even get me started). I've been wanting to do it forever, but after painting the trim white, it became even more necessary. 

And here's the "matching" widow on the other side of the side door and in the eat-in- part of the kitchen. At least this picture has a little bit of natural light.

This project was not hard at all and would have been super fast if I hadn't accidentally cut the strings while I was working and had to figure out how to re-string them. Ahem.

I've had the supplies and intentions to make this next project for more than a year, and I finally did it. This is the little half wall as you walk from the kitchen to the living room. To the left are the basement stairs and to the right is the side door. Sorry about not being able to take a head-on shot, but the pesky flash, you know.

This project was also easy peasy.

This final project that I made for above Genevieve's dresser/changing table took much more effort, but it's not like it was brain surgery or anything. I'm most upset about the lack of sun for this picture because I couldn't get it clear enough or from a good angle. Each of the butterflies is only attached by the body, and the wings are lifted off the paper so they look like they are flying in the shadow box. Again, I was planning this and had all the supplies since before GiGi was born (sigh) but I finally spray painted the shadow box, punched out the butterflies, chose the pattern, and glued them all painstakingly on in rows. I love it. It looks about a million times better in real life.

And hey, we also managed a visit to the Bologna Festival (the free balloons were the best part, apparently):

A cookout and parade viewing with friends:

And dinner with Granny and Gramps.

And I am dead. 

BUT, it's looking like the only rooms we won't have completely done by our one-year house-versary will be the kitchen and our bedroom! That doesn't sound all that great, but we have worked our butts off in the other rooms and the yard (dear god, the yard). Hopefully I will be able to do before and after pictures in a few weeks. Things are looking up! Now just two more pages of things to complete! Oh, wait ...

My feelings on the remaining list. Home-improvemented out. 

I can't wait for next weekend. :/

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Josie Says

Josie: I heard a really loud noise, and I got scared, so I ran to the neighbors' house* and I hid in their rowboat** to be safe.

*Nope. Didn't happen.
**They don't even HAVE a rowboat.

Josie: Who made this quilt?
Jeremy: Granny.
Josie: Oh. Who made this doll?
Jeremy: Well, that doll came from a store, so no one we know made it. Someone made it in a factory.
Josie: It came from a store?
Jeremy: Yep.
Josie: A store like Meijer?
Jeremy: Sure. Probably Meijer or Target.
Josie: *thinks quietly for a minute* But, did Uncle Luke make it?
Jeremy: No, Uncle Luke didn't make this baby.
Josie: I think Uncle Luke made it. 
Jeremy: Okay.

Josie: I don't have any dog bones in my butt.
Veronica: ...
Josie: But your doctor office does*.
Veronica: My doctor's office ... has ... dog bones ... in its butt?

*We were driving past the doctor's office (that I went to ONCE, six months ago), but the dog bone thing? No idea.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

This Week (plus links)

So, I wrote a few things for the Sean Purcell Photography blog recently. First up was a fairly heart-warming post in which I count my blessings (something I need to do more often, it seems).

The second post talks about how nervous I was to have not only a family photo session, but a lovey-dovey one with me and Jeremy to make up for our dreadful wedding photos. I talked a bit about how I'm uncomfortable with my looks, and, I've gotta tell you, when I posted the link on facebook and people were commenting left and right that they thought I was beautiful? I eventually started to feel like Kelly in the "Weight Loss" episode of The Office when Michael makes her stand up on her chair and has people shout out things they like about her. At first she's hanging her head and embarrassed, but then she slowly lifts her head and asks "What else do people like about me?" 

But then, of course, I immediately thought of Phyllis and laughed and got over the desire to pull a Kelly:

Anywho, if you're interested, follow those links (bonus: You will get to see some sneak peeks from our portrait sessions. If you're into that sort of thing, of course).

In other news, we had a mighty busy week. We did a bunch of fun things despite the high heat index (feels like 105 ... YUCK), but that just meant packing lots of extra water, sunscreen, hats, and a spray bottle of ice water with which I compulsively spritzed the girls (they ADORED it).

Josephine and Genevieve were in a PARADE for the first time!

Waiting to line up -- she was a leeetle excited.

Wet spots on my shirt are from J squirting me with the spray bottle. I swear.

She shouted "I'm in a hip-hip-parade!" the entire time.

I also took Josephine to the family night at the Blue Water Festival where she got her first taste of a bounce house and her very first pony ride! 

She had a blast, but unfortunately, when she tells people about it, she only says "A big guy CUH-RASHED into me in the bounce house and I CRIED. Then mama popped my balloon." 

I swear, I was holding her balloon animal to keep it from popping on the pokey grass like her friend's did and it just popped in my hand! There was a pop every two minutes at that place. Maybe the heat? Anyway, try explaining that to an almost-three-year-old. Or to all the people in line for the pony rides (she went up and down the line and told every single person -- through tears -- "My mama POPPED my balloon!"). 

Plus storyhour, pool time, playgroup, a visit to Granny and Gramps and a visit to Grandma and Grandpa. Quite the week.

Hope you all had a great week too and no one popped any of your balloons. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

She Just Has So Many Feelings

About forty minutes after going to bed tonight, Josephine started sobbing and screaming something unintelligible from her bedroom. She never does that, so after waiting a minute to see if she'd calm down on her own, I went in and asked her what was wrong. 

Me: What's wrong, angel?

Josie: Well*, I just want to vacuum ALL. BY. MY. SELF.**
*She starts pretty much every sentence lately with a long drawn-out "Welllll ..."
**She's obsessed with vacuuming. She's do it all day if I let her. 

Me: Oh, you heard me vacuuming, huh? I'm sorry, honey. You can vacuum first thing in the morning if you want. 

Josie: *sobbing escalates*

Me: I'm sorry, honey, but it's bedtime now, so you can't vacuum, but you can in the morning, okay?

Josie: *sobbing escalates even more*

Me: Sweetie, I said you could vacuum in the morning. What's wrong?

Josie: Well, I just love to cry.

Me: You what?

Josie: I love to cry. It makes me so happy!

Me: You ... do?

Josie: Well, YES!

Me: Ummm ... well, do you think it might be easier to fall asleep if you stopped crying?

Josie: Well ... yes.

Me: Okay, how about you take a deep breath and count to ten.

Josie: *takes a deep breath and counts to fourteen*

Me: Now close your eyes and think of something happy.

Josie: *Lips start quivering, tears well up in eyes, starts crying again*

Me: Josie, when I asked you to think of something happy, did you think of ... crying?

Josie: Well, yeah! It just makes me happy!

Me: *Sigh* Let's start over ...

Saturday, July 13, 2013

An open letter to the other moms at the mall playplace yesterday

Dear other moms* at the mall playplace yesterday,

I get it. I really do. Letting an eleven-month-old baby crawl up a slide, turn around, sit down, and slide down by herself sounds terrifying. It's obviously not on your list of things you'd let your own baby do.

Yes, I tucked her dress into her underoos shortly after that. 

Like I said, I get it. I didn't want to let her do it either. I have those feelings inside me, too. DANGER! DANGER! MY ANGEL BABY MIGHT FALL AND HURT HERSELF! 

But ... she didn't. And look at how steady she was. And how proud of herself she was. She learned how to do that today. In about three minutes of experimenting. And she's only been walking for a month. 

While I was clearly terrified, my desire to let her explore and learn and develop new skills outweighed that. Maybe you'll notice a moment in the second video where the camera bobs around. That's me jumping onto the slide to be closer to her, to have her within hand's reach. I got scared, too, but I kept a smile on my face and encouraged her. It was hard, but I did it.

Now this one goes out especially to the mothers who were gasping and looking faint and watching my baby instead of their own young children (You can see one from the other side of the slide in the second video, leaning in to watch her and ignoring her own two-year-old falling off a giant turtle. Ahem.):

Seriously -- I get it. It's a fine line between protecting them from danger and letting them put themselves out there to experiment. Letting a very little baby do so might seem foolhardy to you. That's okay that you think that. I'm not going to go around making comments about you NOT giving your child space to explore, so saying things like "Kids, we have to leave this playplace early because I can't stand watching that baby be allowed to put herself in danger one more second!" isn't really appreciated. 

I promise you, I'm scared, too. But more importantly than that, I'm RIGHT THERE. I'm right there to catch her if she falls or scoop her up from the (ridiculously soft) surface of the playplace and kiss her until she's smiling and brave again. 

But she didn't need that, did she? In a half an hour of that up and down, she didn't need me for one second. She marched right over to that giant fish, without a backwards glance, and set off to do what she wanted to do. 

I know what she's capable of and what she's not. I'm not shoving a baby who cannot yet walk onto a four-foot-tall balance beam and shouting at her to get busy learning to balance. I had carefully decided, based on what I know of MY OWN CHILD'S skill set, that she would likely be successful if I let her attempt this venture.

To grab her and swaddle her and shush her while she bucked off my lap, reaching out to be where her sister was -- I wasn't up for it. To deny her not only the fun but the experience of learning how to walk up a slide, turn around, and slide herself down? Should I have done that to make YOU more comfortable?

So, to sum up: raise yours how you want, but don't make me feel like an abusive mom when I let mine do things you might not let yours do until they're a little older. Hey, who knows? Maybe yours will turn out "better" than mine because of your parenting choices. More power to you. We're all doing what we think is best and right. I promise.

*Not to start any wars here, but there were two dads there and they were not uncomfortable, did not gasp, make passive aggressive comments, or shoot me dirty looks. In fact, they all smiled at me and the girls and gave me sympathetic looks from time to time. It's just a fact.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

On Yards. And Fixing Them Up.

We've been steadily working on our yard for the past year we've lived in this house, but in the past few weeks we've really kicked it up a notch. We're preparing for a joint first and third birthday extravaganza at the beginning of August, and I made a list a mile long of things that need to get accomplished before the big day. I'd say 85% of the list is outdoors stuff. I am completely broken. My body is protesting so loudly, but we must carry on!!

Honestly though, perhaps the most frustrating part of all of this is my lack of before pictures. CAN YOU EVEN BELIEVE I DIDN'T TAKE BEFORE PICTURES??? I can't, as evidenced by all the all-caps. I have ONE crooked shot, taken from the distance of most of the back yard from the day we moved in. I was mad about the condition in which the house was left and was huffily taking pictures of piles of garbage and forgetting that I needed to take pictures of all spaces we were hoping to transform. Oops. THEN, whenever I actually get a spare minute without any babies attached to me and I want to head out and do something in the yard, I just run and frantically get started so I can accomplish something before one needs me and, d'oh, of course I never stop to take before pictures. GAH! 

I really am that type of person though. I decide it's time for a project, and BAM, I'm ripping things out, throwing things away, hauling things, shouting "JUST DO IT, for cripes' sakes!" I hate taping and prepping and thinking and considering all options. I just want results and I want them now, and I also know my minutes are usually numbered and I need to take advantage. It's frustrating though, because I've probably filled over fifty yard waste bags with poisonous plants and weeds, I've hauled hundreds and hundreds of rocks from piles all over the yard to make borders and beds, I've even hauled over fifty rocks that were bigger than my head across the yard to make a giant rock border around a bed of trees. I have definitely gone over a thousand man hours in this yard, and I want people to step back there and gasp at how beautiful it is, but it's not that yard yet, even with all the progress. It's incensing. 

It's also that cycle of starting a project only to realize there is much more work involved than you imagined AND doing that project makes you realize you have at least one more project you need to add to your list. It also makes you really notice the things that you aren't going to be able to change unless you win the lottery, and I have a hard time letting go of those things. Like the fact that the yard in this place is pitched all over the place and the front sidewalk is all cracked and wonky and pools of water collect in odd places (I blame all the huge trees, obviously), which led to dark, stained sidewalks that I spent two hours attacking with a powerwasher yesterday (with G strapped to the front of me, natch) and only got about FIVE FEET cleaned because OF COURSE. It's so disgusting that even a powerwasher is like "Dudes, I give up. That's some nasty shit." I mean, with all the projects we have lined up that we already technically can't afford, there's no way we're going to smash up the sidewalk, re-grade everything, and lay new sidewalk. We're just not. So I have to make peace with it, and DO I STRIKE YOU AS A PERSON WHO CAN MAKE PEACE WITH THINGS LIKE THAT? (hint: I am not)

Anyway, I have two projects I want to finish in the yard that MIGHT even get done today, and then I will try to give you some before and after evidence with what little before shots I have. Get excited. But not like the time I told you to get excited about Genevieve's 10-month post, because obviously that never happened. 11 months is right around the corner, though!

I'm back off to the yard. Hold me.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Book Review: If You Were Here by Alafair Burke

Magazine journalist McKenna Jordan is chasing the latest urban folktale—the story of an unidentified woman who heroically pulled a teenage boy from the subway tracks seconds before the arrival of an oncoming train. When McKenna locates a video snippet that purportedly captures the incident, she thinks she has an edge on the competition scrambling to identify the mystery heroine.
McKenna is shocked to discover that the woman in the video bears a strong resemblance to Susan Hauptmann, a close friend—and a classmate of her husband’s at West Point—who vanished without a trace ten years earlier. The NYPD concluded that the nomadic Susan—forced by her father into an early military life, floundering as an adult for a fixed identity—simply started over again somewhere else.
But McKenna has always believed that the truth went deeper than the police investigation ever reached and sees Susan’s resurfacing as a sign that she wants to be found. What might have been a short-lived Metro story sends the former prosecutor turned reporter on a twisting search that leads across New York City—and to dark secrets buried dangerously close to home. . . .

I was happy to recieve a copy of If You Were Here by Alafair Burke because it had been far too long since I read a crime thriller, and the blurbs on the ARC promised I was in for a book by a phenomnal author. 

The blurbs were right. If You Were Here was fantastic. Here's where I admit I am a total crime novel snob. They are one of my favorite generes to read, but if the book is too predictable or too formulaic or trying too hard to throw fifty red herrings at you all at once, I tend to toss them aside. If You Were Here was none of those things. It was a page-turner not because the plot was so convuluted that I would never be able to pick out any suspects; the twists and turns were interesting and original. I never would have guessed the ending, which is just the way I like it, and I had a hard time putting it down, which is definitely the way I like it. I have about zero minutes in a given day to read, yet I zoomed through the 350+ pages in two days. 

Interesting characters, original plot, and killer suspense. This is one to pick up. 

I was given an Advanced Reader Copy of If You Were Here by TLC Book Tours, but was not compensated for my review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Overheard (at the Zoo)

Presented without comment ....

Pre-teen boy #1: "Dude, it's totally illegal to marry your mom."

Pre-teen boy #2: "NO, IT'S NOT!!!"

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