Monday, February 28, 2011

I Shop, So You Don't Have To

Now that I finally have a phone with a camera on it, we can, as they say on The Bachelor, take our relationship to the NEXT LEVEL.

I'll let you know what treasures I find during my thrifting excursions, and you can tell me if you want me to pick them up for you!

Today's Haul:

World's Largest Lampshade. To grasp the enormity of this item, please use the man's head, the wheelbarrow, and the brass chandelier as reference points.

3 inch Tall College Cash Crock. Yeah, believing that 2 fistfuls of change will offset any college expenses IS a crock.

The One-Use Wonder: If you are driven to distraction when your tacos topple, I'm sure you could use a chili-pepper-shaped taco holder:

Cutesy Air Force Sign, 3 iterations available: Also known as, "The Air Force keeps moving us and I refuse to pack up this crap one more time."
Old Hair Dye: Why buy new when you can pay the same price at your thrift store and help some old lady downsize all in one fell swoop?

...And last but not least, everything you'll need for those fun At-Home Gynecological exams:

2 Exam tables, stirrups included, felt bunny extra:

Let me know what you would like. I ship C.O.D.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday Fragment

As a child we had a pussywillow tree in the back yard. I loved, loved, loved that tree, as did my mom.

What I didn't love was when she would cut branches and deliver them to the neighbors saying, "Look what I have for you! Aren't these just the prettiest pussywillows (minus the word willow) that you have ever seen? Look how full the pussywillows (minus the word willow) are this year!"

Made me want to crawl in a hole and die.

Today I don't have a tree, but I do have artificial pussywillows in a steel tub in my dining room. We were talking about them the other day and the kids couldn't remember exactly what they were called:

Jake: Oh yeah! Pumpernickels!
Molly: No, they're called Periwinkles.
Jake: Uh...Puggly Wuggles?

So very close. When I told them what they were, they weren't embarrassed in the least, which made me oh so happy... because in a week of TMI, I'm glad there is one "colorful" word they still haven't heard.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Table Transformation, OR, I am in Love

My friend gave me a table that used to be her grandmother's. I know, I have really nice friends.

It had the cutest little shape, but it needed some help. The top had no finish left at all and looked, well, thirsty:

I got out a can of Minwax stain in "Special Walnut" and wiped it on the top with an old t-shirt. Immediately, the beautiful grain of the wood started showing. I wiped on 4-5 layers, each taking only 1-2 minutes to apply.

When the top was the color I wanted, I stopped. My husband used this same stain for our dining room table re-do and it came out almost ebony. For this table I wanted a lighter look to go with the antique mirror in the hallway.

After it was dry, I taped a garbage bag over the top, so I could spray paint the body.

I used white spray primer, then one coat of Heirloom White. I was freaking out because it was cold and rainy and I was afraid the paint would bubble and drip and generally look like crap.

Fortunately, the spray paint gods must have known that it had been a really long winter and this girl needed to "get her paint on," so the paint was smooth and perfect!

When I put it in the hall, I liked it, but I've been promising myself to try to learn how to glaze. Also, it looked a little too pristine.
I opened the glaze I bought back in OCTOBER and realized it was black. That was too scary for a first-timer, so I just dipped a dish towel right back in the can of walnut stain, lightly rubbed it over the entire piece, and then wiped it off.

This toned the white down a bit and gave the appearance of brush strokes, which I kind of liked.

Subtle, I know, but it was a baby step.

What do you think? I just hope my friend doesn't ask for it back.

Linking up to Transformation Thursday at The Shabby Chic Cottage! and Miss Mustard Seed!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Love Your Neighbor, Brain Dump Edition

I went to work today and there was a power outage. A suicidal squirrel had run straight into a transformer. It took me about .03 seconds to decide to hightail it out and here I am, at 9:37 am, wondering what to blog about.

A lot is swirling around in my head, but here goes:

We have 2 houses on our street that have just sold. I've been praying for weeks that we will be a blessing to the new people and they to us.

We have a great street and neighbors, so I've been bubbling over with excitement about the promise of welcoming these new families to it.

So what am I looking for? I'm looking for neighbors who will love and accept my kids just how they are. Who will get a kick out of them the way I do. Who will invite us over for Friday night pizza and a few beers.

I want to be needed, so if the whole family, parents included, were orphans, that would be fine. Of course in my shallowness, I must admit I want to be needed in the "Where's the grocery store? or "Let's hang out on my porch" kind of way, not in the walk with me through a major life crisis sort of way.

And, at its most basic, I want to be LIKED, a la Sally Field at the Oscars.

But the reality is, they may not need me, or WANT me, or even LIKE me.

Why is it that I want so much to be wanted and to have my kids be wanted (not by the law, mind you) too? Is it because I'm never really sure where I/we fit in? Is it because I sometimes wish I could rewind and put my kids in public school from day one so we'd be more "plugged into" our town? What if my desire to be needed is less about serving others and more about wanting to be popular? Hello? I'm 41, am I not past this YET?

I mean really, do I want the hard work of LOVING MY NEIGHBOR? Do I want to love my neighbor in the biblical sense-- okay not THAT biblical sense-- but in the way that God would want me to?

Because that's more about when the honeymoon wears off.

That's about picking up the bikes and toys that have been strewn over the cul de sac for the umpteenth time by kids, not your own, who treat your carport as their personal Walmart.

That's about dealing with the fact that your kids aren't going to mesh with all of the other kids, all of the time, and that that can be super-awkward when you are friends with the parents.

That's about bearing each other's burdens when a neighbor is crashing and burning.

That's about being real, not pretending that everything is perfect in your own home.

It can even be admitting to yourself and your neighbors that with sports and homework and the relentless Race to Nowhere you are often too fried or too lazy or too blah to initiate the pizza and beer on Friday thing because your flannels have been on since 4pm and you can barely be nice to the people in your own home and you want to pull the blinds down, way down, except you don't have blinds and it's all just too too much.

Sounds exhausting, doesn't it?

But like a brand new baby, new neighbors have that promise of perfection. Of being wrapped in cellophane with a big shiny bow. Of weekend trips and margaritas and best friends and prom dates and soul mates.

But when Jesus calls us to love our neighbors, he meant in the day to day, in the awkwardness, in the disputes, in the whose dog is crapping on my lawn, in the hurt feelings of kid fights, and the late night calls of "We're on our way to the ER, come now!"

And I don't really know how to do that. Because I'm selfish. And insecure. And petty. And I want things to be FUN! and EASY! and NOT INVOLVE SO MUCH POOP!

So my prayer is that I can be a blessing to these new families. Not for me, but for them. And to realize if they don't need me, that's okay too.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine Box Summary

Lest you think we are living in a Hallmark Card over here, I'll give you the run-down of our Valentine Box Love Notes as viewed at breakfast this morning:

Notes from Anna to others: 29.

Notes from Tom to others: 13.

Notes from Molly to HERSELF and OTHERS: 13

Notes from Jake: 0, zilch, nada

R-rated Notes from Tom to Anna: 1, fortunately slipped into her pocket.

Some Classics:

Dear Molly, I LOVE U and so does Everyone. Love, Molly.

Jake, I luv yur beard.- M

Jake, I like yur SASS!-M

Shadow, I H8T yur breath.- M

Shadow, Sorry I said that 'bout your breath.- M

Shadow, You smell like an angel.-M

Dad- I like how U make $$ :)-M

Dear Molly, You are AMAZING! Love, Jake (in Molly's handwriting)

Dear Molly, I will buy u anything u want.- Jake (in Molly's handwriting)

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY! Tom and I got to go to a play this weekend, sans kids, so I'm feeling well-celebrated.

If you want to read one of my earliest posts, about an epically crappy V-Day, check this out.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Valentine Gratitude Box

For the week or so before Valentine's Day we have been writing down things we love and appreciate about our family members on slips of paper and putting them in this little heart shaped box (.99 at Michael's)

We will read them out loud on Valentine's Day. least I hope the other members of the family are doing it too. Mama wants some love.

Monday, February 7, 2011

This Post May Rock Your World a good way, I hope!

At the risk of sounding a tad melodramatic, I must share with you a 5 second project that could make the world a much better place.

I wear long sleeved tees and jeans pretty much all the time, even to work. It drives me crazy when my tee rides up and my jeans ride down. No matter how long my tee is to start with, through my meticulous laundry habits, the shirts get shorter and shorter.

I don't want to wear "Mom Jeans," but I don't want the whole world seeing my business either. While I've started to wear tank tops a lot, it has been hard to find ones I like that are long enough to prevent plumber's butt every time I bend over.

I saw an ad in the back of a magazine for the Hip-T, a band of fabric used to-- shall we say-- "close the gap," but I was not excited about paying $19.95 + shipping.

Sooooo, enter my 9 year old daughter's tank tops from the yard sale pile.

I grabbed some scissors and cut off the shirts right below the pits. The reason I picked my daughter's tanks rather than my own is that I wanted the band to be snug, and the tank-top material seemed to double or even triple in size as soon as I cut it off the shirt part. Trust me on this-- that's some stretchy stuff.

I was already dressed, so I just pulled the band on over my boots and jeans (stretching it further) and went to work. All day I felt covered and comfortable.

I made sure the band was a good length for maximum movement. Seriously, I could reach things on a high shelf or do jumping jacks or yoga (as if!) and still have prime real estate covered.

So, how did it work?

No sudden gusts of air as I sat at my desk! I was able to bend over to pick up boxes without feeling like I was offending people! And on the way home, the cold leather seats in the car did not give me a chilly surprise. This little band never once rode up the way a tank top would have.

All of that cozy comfort made me realize just how uncomfortable I usually am tugging and adjusting my jeans and shirt all day.

Here's a pic at the end of the day.

It appears that contents may have shifted during the course of the day, or it could have been all of those cookies. A quick trip through the wash tightened it right up again. Too bad that doesn't work for thighs.

If this starts a revolution, I'd like to ship these tank top bands to any woman my age or older who insists on wearing low jeans with a thong. Eeek. Now wouldn't that make the world a better place?

The End.

Linking up to Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Who Turned the Lights Out?

We did.

If you are one of those families who have been without power for days due to ice and snow, you may look with disdain upon the idea of turning out the lights on purpose, but for our family on Thursday night, it was a necessity.

You see, we've gotten so plugged in and turned on, if you know what I mean, we can't seem to connect with each other. Things have gotten even worse since we replaced my block o' wood cell phone with an iPhone loaded with games and what not. The kids are checking my phone before breakfast, and rushing through homework to feed virtual animals or fight virtual battles in the afternoons.

By Thursday, both kids had "lost screen time" due to misbehavior, Tom kept checking sports news on his iPhone under the dinner table, and I felt more connected to my computer screen than my own flesh and blood. Dinner itself was some gross soup I made out of questionable chicken. We needed help.

I told the kids I heard a BLACKOUT was coming and promptly at seven, we turned out all the lights in the house. Using candles and our camping lantern, we gathered supplies. Soon we were at our (seldom used) dining room table ready to play Clue.

I told them one of my favorite childhood memories was losing electricity when my cousin was visiting from Africa. We had played several games of Clue then started dripping candle wax all over the game board until we had made a wax volcano and destroyed the board. I figured Tom wouldn't go for the defacing property part, but he would support the family togetherness.

I wisely selected Molly to be on a "team" with me, since the last time we played Clue as a family, she got so agitated she had to be ejected.

The blackout worked wonders. For starters, I couldn't see the mounds of laundry, paper piles and other crap that distracts and annoys me each evening. I couldn't sneak downstairs to "check on something" and read blogs until detected. BTW, am I the only one who has turned off the sound on her computer so that no one can hear her log on? Okey Dokey.

The candles sconces on the dining room walls created a perfect, creepy Clue atmosphere, and despite the fact that Tom narrowly beat everyone else out, no tears were shed. In fact, we laughed more than we had in quite a while.

Bedtime meant showers-- in the dark. During shower time, we all hung out in the master bedroom so that everyone was accounted for. We finally had time to read together. An added bonus: we all got to bed early because it seemed so much later than it was. Disc One, Season One of Modern Family (loving it!) had to wait until another day.

So while uncharged cell phones, defrosted refrigerators, and cold, cold nights are drawbacks of a real blackout, I am now a big fan of the self-imposed variety.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Stepford Mom?

So it seems Molly sometimes doubts I am who I say I am.

We were snuggling in bed when she was about 5 years old and she starting rubbing my back.

Molly: "Do you know what I'm doing?"

Me: "Rubbing my back. I like it."

Molly: "I'm... checking for batteries."

Me: ...

Molly: "Sometimes I think my real mom got taken and was replace by a robot."

Alrighty then.

So I guess I shouldn't have been TOOOOO, TOOOOOO surprised when the following occurred during check-out at the Hampton Inn last weekend.

I looked up from my hot tea to see Molly looking frightened, leaning against the wall. Okay, maybe she was cowering.

Me: "What's the matter, Molly?"

Molly: "You're not my real mom."

Me: "What? Why?"

Molly: "When you were checking out, the lady asked your last name and you didn't answer her. You just said 'Umm' and had to look at the bill before you said 'See.' My real mommy would know what her name is."

Oh my. Poor thing. Her real mommy does know what her name is, usually. But with no fewer than 3 possible configurations of my name, 5 email accounts, multiple passwords for work and home, phone numbers-- home and cell, and even my new personalized license plates, I sometimes get a tad...confused. I was just glad I had pants on.

I would like to think if I were replaced by an imposter, my doppelganger would have more energy, more patience, could figure out elementary school math and would be a better cook that I am. But I guess we need to keep this whole thing semi-believable.