Thursday, April 28, 2011

You Should Have Been in Pictures...

I try not to take the kids to the grocery store with me. This started when they were very young. They weren't the treat-grubbing types, but I've just never liked having to crawl through the store at a snail's pace when I can do it faster by myself. I don't enjoy shopping, and I just need to focus.

This Monday, however, they didn't have school, and I took them to the store. It went smoothly, and the only special request was by my son who wanted to spend some time "looking at the soda." To each his own.

A cute young woman came up and introduced herself as a casting agent for a grocery store commercial and said I was just the type they were looking for... Mom-ish. Not sure if they were looking at my hawkish nose, zits, or the two cute kids with me. I'm thinking it was the kids.

After we checked out, we walked over to the producer and had an audition right next to those uber-irritating self check-outs. Oooh...I hate those things! Make us do more work? Isn't grocery shopping hard enough?

Anyway, the very good looking producer did a little background research by asking us if we had a vacation home. No. Any interesting summer activities? No. Hmmmm. Not looking good here.

I thought the kids could save me, because they both have the acting bug. Molly came through when asked what makes her mom special: "She's kind, funny, thoughtful and caring." I will cherish those words. Especially when she's 16.

Jake said, "Mom. She's...Um." That was it.

I couldn't decide whether to look at the producer or the camera, so I did a crazy, sexy eye-dart between the two. Repeatedly. I'm sure it read well on film.

When he asked my favorite summer hobbies, the producer seemed a little put out that I scavenge for trash on people's curbs. Not exactly the Vacation-House-Speedboat-Driving Mama he was looking for.

Molly later said I should have extolled the virtues of the fresh, healthy groceries I find at *** Foods that help me maintain my "active tennis schedule." Geez, she's good. But it kinda made me question the integrity of the whole, "kind, funny, thoughtful and caring" thing.

Oh well. I didn't get a call-back.

I did, however, find a large grub and a prolific supply of grub poop in the package of fresh mint I had just bought. And I did make this discovery after I'd put it on my beautiful tortellini salad. Waah! (For those of you who have been reading this blog since the beginning, you'll remember this isn't the first time I've been grubbed.)

So, I guess it's okay that I didn't make the cut and embark on a fascinating journey ending up with my being awarded a star on the Walk of Fame. I know it's Acting, with a capital A, but I would have had a hard time gushing about a grocery store chain that sold me food with, shall we say, unwanted extra protein.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mid-Week House Fix

The kids and I visited my sister's family over Easter. I thought I'd share pictures of the lovely house they bought a few years ago.

Isn't it charming? Just pulling into the driveway makes me feel like I'm far, far away from stress and the "big city."

She bought this house without ever having visited it. She wasn't sure what the floor plan was like, and when I grilled her about the closet space, she said, "I didn't ask. Closets aren't that important to me."


Let's just say she and I are a wee bit different in that respect. When I told her I was taking pics for my blog, she told me to stick to the outside so she wouldn't end up "...being one of your 'before' pictures, Anna."

One of her biggest concerns before she saw the house was that it would have a bad location, and that her husband, who had seen it, would have forgotten to mention a trash dump, sewage plant, or trailer park next door.


I can't imagine waking up to this each day, and seeing the sun set over these fields each night! I'd easily trade my view of my neighbor's driveway and suburban life for this kind of view. Divine!

And wouldn't this "barn" in the backyard be perfect for storing furniture that is awaiting a makeover?

Even the robins find the backyard to be peaceful, and they built this nest inside the gas grill.

The backyard is also a great place for an egg toss:

And spending quality time with these two!

The kids and I had a blast with my sister and her family, and with each other!

Happy spring!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Dirty Little Secrets

I love my kids. You know I do. It's just that I'm worried that they aren't shaping up to be very...well...nice.

The glances they give each other and the critical stuff that comes out of their mouths leave my mouth agape.

For instance, they are very much into tween fashion right now. Without Molly ever uttering a word, I can tell she feels superior to other little girls who haven't caught the fashion bug yet and who are still sporting Disney princess attire at age 8 or 9. This from the girl who wore the same pair of $2.48 capri pants from Target year round from when they were ankle long until they became shorts!

My kids, who have not yet discovered a love of food, judge their friends when they raid our snack drawer, sneak food from their parents, or take a huge piece of cake. If they were to put this judgment into words, I guess it would be a "lack of self-control" but instead, they just give each other "the look."

I think they have heard a lot about "childhood obesity" and want to avoid it at all costs. They have always been underweight, so this worries me for my kids and their health, but also for the way they react to others who are different. Trust me, fat kids on tv are still the butt of jokes, and my kids have picked up on it. Ask your child if he'd rather be obese or lose a hand in an accident. Just ask.

My kids judge kids for picking noses and eating, which is ironic considering my son once tried to convince us that boogers should be their own food group.

And they love babies and old people, except for when they don't. "Adorable," "sweet," and "kind" can instead be "smelly," "disgusting," and "gross."

What about whiners, tattle-tales and drama queens? Don't get my kids started.

And appearance? Today we were out and about Jake said, "I just don't know what I'd do if I had ugly kids." Molly gave him a sympathetic cluck cluck, looked him up and down and then said, "Well, I know MINE won't be ugly."

Molly is also experiencing a bit of friend drama. If a friend gets jealous or too needy, she feels uncomfortable and wants to write her off and pull away. I want her to like everyone, all the time, and be the all-inclusive (but not coke-sniffing) Julie McCoy of the 4th grade set.

All this Judgy-McJudgment, coupled with some smart alecky behavior toward me and their poor beleaguered dad, makes me wonder if it's time to pull the plug on the Disney channel or YouTube, or even the cafeteria table and recess, where I've heard that a lot of snarky convos take place.

But before I try to blame all of this on the media or someone else, I need to look closely at myself. The same girl drama neediness that drives Molly away? Makes me run for cover and stop answering my phone.

And while I don't (usually) judge kids for taking that too-big piece of cake, I know Tom and I have felt superior when our kids turn down their sweets and Halloween candy, therefore leaving me more to eat.

I have had a hard time empathizing with my friends when I feel some of their trauma and drama is self-inflicted by poor life choices. Sounds a little like I'm judging them for a "lack of self-control," doesn't it?

It's not as if my kids have no sense of charity. Just this week Molly wanted to have a lemonade and brownie sale for the earthquake victims in Japan. If it hadn't been for an accidental squirt of Dawn into the brownie batter, forcing me to eat the entire batch, we would have done it, too.

This morning we stopped by my dear friend's house to see how she's doing after cancer surgery, and the kids were loving and wonderful. And even though it is still spring, they are already planning ahead to next Christmas when they want to fill 20 boxes with toys for children through Samaritan's Purse.

But what about in their own backyard? The admonition to "Love Your Neighbor" comes into play here. The kids have an easier time loving "neighbors" who are a far away ideal or idea than a nitty-gritty in-your-face entity in their own neighborhood, class, or home.

I, too, am quick to raise money for kids in Africa, or spearhead a clothing collection drive,but I'm also the first one to go all Linda Blair on my poor husband for the grievous offenses of turning the light on while I'm trying to sleep or EATING CEREAL within my earshot. Isn't he my neighbor, too?

And the cashier at the grocery store today, with the visible razor stubble on her chin? Who kept repeating "Thank you, come again" the entire time she scanned my stuff? Was doing nothing wrong, but I wanted to brusquely tell her to leave me the heck alone so I could tear through an entire magazine of kitchen re-do's before my purchases were rung up.

I realize I am just as hateful and hypercritical as my kids are, but I have a more adult filter so I can get by without owning up to my critical spirit and doing something about it.

And the booger picking? When I was little I went to our middle-aged neighbors' house, knocked on their door, and self-righteously informed them with disdain: "Lisa (my sister) picks her boogers and eats them!"

Hey apples? Meet your tree.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Everybody's Home Girl

Okay, so you know I've been laid up this week with a bum back. I am feeling 75% better, which is a huge blessing, and I fully expect to be back in business by the end of the weekend. I'm having trouble taking it easy, but I'm grateful I can now go to the bathroom unassisted and get up and down the 5 stinkin' levels of our house without wincing. Life is good.

The first night after my ridiculous refrigerator injury, there was a knock at the door. My friend Helen dropped off soup and dessert bars for my lunch the next day. She was running off to her son's baseball game, so we didn't get to visit, but my whole family stood there, mouths agape, as my beautiful friend pulled away.

You see, Helen is recovering from cancer surgery and is gearing up for a tough 12 weeks of chemo starting next week.


Sometimes my sister and I will say about someone, "She's not like regular people." That is our highest compliment for someone who goes way outside the parameters of what a normal person would do for others. I've known about 3 people like this in my entire life.

And Helen? Is. not. like. regular. people.

While I loved teaching high school, I lasted a measly 6 years! During the summers I'd hole up in my house, hoping to see no one between the ages of 13-18. It was as if I wanted to save myself up for the school year.

Helen, however, has been at it for 20 years, and she has an open door policy for students past and present. She goes to all the sporting events because she wants to, while sometimes I can barely drag myself to my own children's games. She loves her students and can't wait to get to school in the morning. Blood drives? Pep rallies? Guess who is in the middle of it all? She is a great listener, who takes it all in before saying anything, which is a gift.

And beauty? Helen is a hottie, inside and out, with or without hair. I've had more than a few girl crushes in my lifetime, but none as long-lasting as the one for Helen.

While Amy Grant, Nanci Griffith and Gwyneth Paltrow eventually fell off my girl-crush throne, Helen has been a constant since I was a sophomore in high school! She's the only one who could truly tempt me to bat for the other team except, darn it, she's straight. I also suspect there'd be a long line in front of me!

And as a mom? Helen is a "mother woman." She mothers her 3 boys with warmth and grace. She glows when she talks about them. But her heart is HUGE and is big enough to mother others, too. Just recently she found out a mutual friend of ours was in financial crisis, so she quietly organized a huge fundraiser for our friend and her children.

Each year she raises thousands of dollars for cancer research. Rather than holding her love tightly clenched in her fist, and saving it for those closest to her, Helen knows she has more than enough love to give away.

I remember when Helen got divorced. Even as she grieved, she comforted her friends. "I know this will take a while for you to process, Anna..." she said, patting my hand. Later, she gently released me from carrying a grudge against her ex, because she no longer held one herself. Wow.

Love, fun, faith, enthusiasm, mothering, reconciliation, a relentlessly positive attitude, and now beef and barley soup are all words that make me think of my friend Helen.

God made Helen special, and those special qualities will help her fight the crappy cancer that has come back after being gone 3 years.

Helen's motto for kicking cancer's ass is: "DWELL IN HOPE."

So could you do me a favor and join the hundreds upon hundreds of Helen-lovers around the country? Could you pray for Helen as she enters treatment this week?

Thank you.

Dwell in Hope!

Spring is in the Air, and On the Curb

For those of you who aren't into furniture re-dos, I'm sorry for yet another dumpster diving post!

But spring is in the air, and that seems to correlate to the quantity, if not quality, of stuff to be found curbside.

Here is the dresser that 2 sweet 9 yr old girls helped me load into my car Friday night:

Great shape, but a distressing job-- handles and all-- that that was a bit...distressing.

Despite a carport work area beseiged by rain, blowing blossoms, and pollen, this is how she ended up:

First I primed her with Kilz using a small foam roller. Two coats of semi-gloss paint in a putty color from Lowe's "Ooops" shelf. Then I rubbed on finishing wax/paste. I primed and painted the drawer pulls in Heirloom white spray paint. Oh how I wish the photos did her justice, and that I had room for her in my house!

Total cost: $3.00

I love spring!

Linking up to:

Transformation Thursday

Furniture Feature Friday at Miss Mustard Seed.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Manic Monday Post

So much to share, peeps! Tom and Jake spent the weekend on a pilgrimage to Legoland in sunny California, while Molly and I wallowed in rain and self pity.

And by wallowed I mean:

Found an awesome dresser curbside, WHILE MOLLY HAD A FRIEND IN THE CAR. It's amazing what two 9 year old girls can lift when they're in a hurry. I think I may have found 2 new assistants. More details on the mammoth dresser to come, but let's just say I now know the answer to the question, "Is it possible to use too much glaze?" Uh, yes.

Discovered we've been banned from the public library. Ok, not exactly banned, but our account has been "Locked" until we return our books and pay a $20 fee. Molly remembered she has a book tucked in her desk at school (now locked up for Spring Break,) so I guess we'll stick to TV and movies for now.

Ate popcorn for dinner two nights, and cereal for dinner the other two. Lunches were: Taco Bell, Panera, McDonalds, and "It's 3 pm already? Let's just have another bowl of cereal."

Saw "Soul Surfer" at the theater. What an inspiring movie! I loved watching it with my little girl.

Watched (sans Molly) a "Hoarders" marathon until 1 am. Not a great idea considering that with the addition of the new dresser, my carport looks like this: Shopped at the mall. Went into Aeropostale for the first time, per Molly's request. She's been dying for Aeropostale clothes for a while, but was too nervous to go in and see if they carried her size (micro-peanut).

Having witnessed Bethany Hamilton on the big screen learning how to surf with one arm, Molly was emboldened to forge bravely ahead into the land of graphic tees and madras shorts. She bought 3 t-shirts with her own money....

which led me to wonder...

If teeny-tiny 4th graders are shopping in teenage shops, where does that leave the teenagers? Nothing can stay "cool" when it gets that far down the pipeline. I mean, in 1985 would I have enjoyed my "Forenza" sweaters as much if I knew they were hot among the 4th grade set?

Speaking of the 80's, I saw CROP TOPS on 2 occasions this weekend. Dear Lord. Okay, back to our weekend round-up:

Painted Furniture. AKA: "What the *#$%! did Anna do to Great Uncle Earl's Chair?"

It went from bad to worse to this: I'm thinking I'll land a spot on my friend Lindsey's "Better Before" feature on her awesome blog.

I hope to re-visit this chair makeover when I have my wits about me, but before "Hoarders" finds out where I live.

All of this exciting weekend business left only a wee bit of time for socializing:

Sorry for the sour puss look on my face. You know how those lovers' quarrels can be. Doesn't Brad look torn between 2 lovers, feelin' like a fooool?

Seriously, though, the wax museum made a fun outing to wrap up a long weekend. I knew I'd been reading too many decorating blogs, however, when instead of taking a pic of Generals Grant and Lee seated at a table at the end of the Civil War, I took a pic of the cool paint treatment on the wall behind them.

Friday, April 15, 2011

5 Minute Friday Furniture Fun

Saw this little leather bad boy at the thrift shop for $4.00 and thought it might be a good place to rest my feet when the rest of the family is hogging the ottoman/coffee table. The problem? Do I need to say it? U-G-L-Y, you ain't got no alibi-- you ugly! With its funky paint job I hesitated for a moment, wondering whether it could be some valuable Middle Eastern prize that could fetch a pretty penny on Craigslist. But an itchy spray paint finger cannot be stopped. 5 minutes later I had a silver sensation. Tom really hates it and made some reference to our house turning into David Bowie. Does that mean the house looks like David Bowie the person? Or does it look the way David Bowie would decorate a house? Whatever. Now this perfectly imperfect little pouf resides under my coffee table/bench/boyfriend in the family room. You can read about how we got together right here. Sorry about the blurry iphone pic! I've lost my camera somewhere in the house, possibly in the David Bowie Sparkle Room.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Taking Care of Bid-Ness

I need to tell you something.

I had some work done.

Unfortunately, it was not THAT kind of work.

It was more of the DENTAL variety. I don't have much experience with dental work, and I called my sister afterward saying, "They gave me a SHOT. In my GUMS!" She was unimpressed. This dental work was entirely my fault.

Over a year ago the dentist told me I needed a custom mouth guard because I've been clenching my teeth at night. Our insurance didn't cover it, and we didn't have an extra $700 around, so I tried to get by without one. This plan worked so well that I gave myself a cracked tooth. And dental work. AND a custom mouth guard for $700. Yay.

This got me thinking about other times I try to cut corners or neglect what I need to do, only to have a bigger problem on my hands later. Examples include dental work, not exercising all fall and winter as if spring would dare not come again, not flossing (oh yeah, that's dental work) and not getting enough sleep because I'm cruising Facebook.

My pastor and friend calls taking care of oneself "The Practice of Self Care" and considers it an important part of our lives. The term "Self Care" reminds me a little too much of the creepy squeeze bottle and tub of hemorrhoid pads the nurses sent home with me after the birth of my two kids.

But I do think women too often neglect Self Care. Self Care to you could be taking a walk by yourself, praying, going to the gym, having a glass of wine while reading "US Weekly," or even going without a glass of wine because you realize it has become far too important to you.

It could be making a phone call you've been avoiding in order to take care of issues when they come up, before they fester, blow up, and cause drama and stress. Choosing to set boundaries when dealing with toxic people in your life could also be considered self care.

What kind of self care is important to you? I'd love to hear about it, unless it's of the "sitz bath" variety.

P.S. Mammogram scheduled for Thursday!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Out of the Mouths of Tweens

So a little while ago Molly comes up to me holding a half eaten half gallon of ice cream and two spoons. Molly: "Wanna go watch some tv and finish this thing off?" Me: "Sure! How do you know me so well, little girl?" Molly: "Well, you did push me out of your private parts, didn't ya?"

Monday, April 4, 2011

Sheet Music Balls

Creative title, huh? Did it wow you? Me either.

Instead of crafting and decorating and pontificating on the meaning of life today, I've been playing hooky from work (kids had the day off) and taking a little nap on the screened porch before the big-time pollen kicks in.

I thought I'd share a quick and easy craft that I did a few weeks ago: sheet music balls.

I have seen similar projects on other blogs. Some of my favorites included using patterned paper napkins and strips of cloth to make decorative balls. One even used wiffle balls from the dollar store since styrofoam balls can be expensive.

I used sheet music, which I soaked in tea to get a slightly aged look.

After it dried, I cut the paper into strips about 1 inch thick.

Then, I used Mod Podge and a foam brush to coat styrofoam balls about the size of baseballs, wrapping individual strips on the balls and adding more Mod Podge as I went.

Sticky, sticky, sticky but fun!

The only problem I ran into was that when I let them dry, the delicate paper ripped off of the very bottom of the balls where they got stuck to the tin foil they were resting on. I just re-covered that spot with a one inch piece of sheet music and more Mod Podge.

I LOVED how this project had a very low skill level-- the less uniform and perfect the better-- and how the balls look great on my new foyer table.

Now if I could just get Jake to stop juggling with them.