Sunday, May 29, 2011

Hell Hath No Fury...

like a daughter "swabbed."

Our jam-packed weekend came to a screeching halt today when Tom texted me that Molly was sick and would be missing her long-anticipated soccer tournament.

My mind immediately went to strep because it has been going around and because that's what started Molly's horrible health roller coaster ride a year ago. I also noted that it was Sunday and trying to get help on Monday, Memorial Day, would be nearly impossible.

Tom told me everything was fine and that he didn't think she had strep. That was annoying, and it spurred me on even more, because I sometimes feel as if I need to step it up when he isn't worried enough. I am angry at myself for times when I've deferred to Tom about the kids' health and regretted it later.

Anyway, emboldened by my Mommy-Mania Hormone, I dragged her to the Minute Clinic at CVS. We wandered the aisles for over an hour (note, not a "minute") and spent $50 on miscellaneous health and beauty items and a 2 lb bag of Twizzlers.

She tried to convince me she was POSITIVE she didn't have strep. Her impassioned reasoning led me to lean toward believing her because by then she was as cool as a cucumber and full of perk, but I didn't want to be dealing with a 104 fever in the middle of the night if her self-diagnosis was wrong.

On the other hand, I was fearful of even allowing her into the little exam room because in a similar room exactly a year before, a mundane WEEKEND STREP VISIT turned into weeks of battling a debilitating super-bug that I like to call "Possum Fever." Icky, dirty exam room.

When we finally got into the exam room today, I started squirting antibacterial stuff everywhere. The Physician's Assistant typed on the computer, either ignoring my craziness or figuring out how to spell "Munchausen by Proxy."

The P.A. heard one of Molly's sassy little remarks and looked at her freckled nose and said, "Doesn't she remind you of Lindsay Lohan in "The Parent Trap?"

Dear God. I was none too thrilled with having my offspring compared to Li-Lo, especially because she has been the star of many a cautionary tale in our household.

Anyway, a few minutes later, I would have been grateful for the pre-"Mean Girls" Lindsay to show up, because I was in much deeper dukey.

You see, Molly has been deathly afraid of being swabbed for the past few years. There has been kicking (sorry Docs), screaming, and carrying on. It's lovely, and it has been getting far worse with age.

The P.A. saw serious trouble brewing and gave me an out, mouthing that she didn't think it was strep, but I knew I couldn't back down at that point. What's next? No, you don't need that tetanus booster? You don't have to go to school? Here's $300 for your latest tattoo?

I thought I'd have to hold her arms,but that was nothing. The struggle that ensued as we pinned her down and tried to pry her mouth open would have made snagging Lindsay's last bottle of vodka in a bar fight seem easy.

Molly screamed bloody murder, writhed and kicked. The P.A. tried to pry the screaming mouth open, but the whole teeth-gnashing thing got in the way. I grabbed her by the ponytail and yanked. The doctor tried to battle her into submission, then tried to reason, then tried to talk to her about the color of her toenail polish. The whole thing was a nightmare, which I don't feel fully capable or willing to describe at this point.

We finally got it done, much to the relief of CVS patrons and the poor P.A. who now thinks:
A) I'm crazy. This girl ain't sick, she's just mean.
B) I'm cruel. Hello? Ponytail yanking? What is this, the WWF?
C) My daughter is crazy. There may have been frothing at the mouth.
D) I'm ineffective as a parent. Control your child, woman!
E) all of the above

I made Molly, who said, "Wow, that didn't hurt at all," apologize to the P.A., which she did earnestly and remorsefully, and we slunk out of there. At home, we apologized to each other and held each other for a long, long, long time.

I'm sorry Molly missed her big tournament.

I'm glad she doesn't have strep.

I'm glad I had a Mike's Hard Lemonade in the fridge and the aforementioned vat of Twizzlers.

And when Tom, the King of Consequences, wanted to know what consequence I'd given Molly for her deplorable behavior, I had to admit that she wasn't the only one with a consequence.

Guess who will be taking her to all of her future "swabbings?"

Yep, I may have been wrong about the strep today, but I've paid my dues.

Time to share the joy.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Word Birds!

Since last we met, I've been dealing with major back pain and a general shirking of responsibilities both at home and at work. Having spent most of the past week and 1/2 on a hard bench in front of the tv, addled with pain killers, I will answer a question you may have asked yourself at some point:

Is it possible to watch too much HGTV? The answer, sadly, is yes. Same goes for Lifetime Movies. Oh my.

But today is a new day, and a Friday at that, so I thought I'd share one project that can be done in the aforementioned prone, drug-addled state. It's inexpensive, fun, and even has a cute name:

Word Birds!

I took old frames that I had previously painted in my favorite colors (heirloom white, black, aqua). I glued burlap to the back, and attached a cute paper cut-out to the burlap. I couldn't free-hand this, so I found bird shapes I liked online and cut those out first. I used old books such as Jane Eyre and a biography of Hemingway for my paper. The flock is a lot larger than this, but I thought I'd share a few today:

The Word Birds and many other home accessories will be joining me at a flea market next Saturday, June 4! I will travel to my friend Theresa's charming store, Stifel & Capra, in Falls Church, Virginia to sell vintage and re-purposed accessories from my home.

Mirrors, trays, vintage jewelry boxes and travel cases-- you get the picture. If Falls Church happens to be local for you, please come by and see me! Hours are 10-2. I will focus on accessories rather than furniture because, well, my back kind of hurts, and I think I can fit more in my 10 x 10 space that way.

Happy Long Weekend! If you are spending yours at sports tournaments like I am, may there be an adult beverage somewhere in your future!

And thank you, God, for all who sacrificed their lives to protect our freedom!

Linking up to:

The Shabby Nest

Friday, May 20, 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!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Blogging Under the Influence

So I'm blogging while on Valium. This particular situation may not be new to some of my bloggy friends, but for me it's a first. Feel free to weigh in on whether you prefer "Earl Grey and Skittles Anna" or "Valium Anna." Thanks.

So yesterday morning I was brushing my teeth. I looked at myself in the mirror and remembered something some wise (annoying) person once said, "Brushing my teeth while not doing squats would be a waste of time."

SOOO there I was, in my bra and underwear under the bright, unforgiving bathroom lights. Another year of non-exercise had passed, and May had somehow snuck up on me again. The pools open next week.

So, during the minute (not two!) I brushed my teeth, I leaned back for a few squats. Then, I got dressed for work and started packing lunches. As I leaned into the open fridge, I felt a pop in my lower, lower back. I could not straighten up my body and called my son for a chair. Pain was shooting up my right leg and I couldn't put any weight on it.

Yep, apparently leaning into the fridge is taxing on someone who has a) not exercised in years b) recently done squats while brushing her teeth.

I couldn't sit, couldn't stand, couldn't walk. You get the picture. Tom had to help me go to the bathroom, which was fun.

A trip to the doc landed me painkillers and Valium, which don't seem to take the edge off. Waaah.

Side note: I've been pushing for a TV in the bedroom. Tom is adamantly opposed because he thinks it will cut down on our already limited bedroom activity. I reasoned with him that sometimes it would just be nice to watch tv in bed. For instance, I told him it would be very helpful when I'm sick. "Like, how often does THAT happen?" he countered. Yes, this conversation took place 10 hours before my back went bye-bye.

Anyway, here I am, surrounded by crap that needs to get done, but I can't do it. Work, Shmurk. And the crazy May schedule of field trips and baseball parties and the like? Not gonna happen.

I did find out that I'll be selling stuff at a flea market in two weeks! Projects I wanted to do for that will have to be on hold, but I have a TON of cute accessories to sell.

If I can dress myself by then.

Below are just a few of the neat accessories I'll have at the sale:

Monday, May 16, 2011

Is that Number 1 or Number 2?

I'm putting together some things to take to a flea market (details to follow when I have them!) and I thought these 2 worn old bar stools could use an update:

I'd seen cute numbered stools on various blogs and decided to try it out.

Matte black spray paint, a stencil, white craft paint, and a little polyurethane on top and here's what we have!

I love them and hope you do too!

Linking up to these fun parties:



Thursday, May 12, 2011

Goodbye Old Friend: I Never Even Knew Your Name

I thought you might like to see something I'm posting on Craigslist tomorrow. I found this old spool rack (?) at an antique store about 10 years ago and have LOVED it.

The plan was for it to go above the cabinets in my still non-existent mudroom addition. I love its rugged, rough-hewn looks, and I like to imagine stories and life events unfolding as a strong woman used it over decades of her life. I figure her husband made it for her. His name, I believe, would have been Chet.

Now, however, it's time for it to find a new home. Is anyone familiar with these? It is over 5 1/2 feet high and is about 22 inches wide. Are there any weavers out there? I'd love to learn more about my buddy before she finds her new home.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Deer in the Headlights: or, How a Wardrobe Malfunction Led to an Unorthodox and Uncompensated Product Review

I know it's probably poor form to follow up a post about poop with one about boobs, but here goes.

I had a simply wonderful Mother's Day and was happy to post pictures on Facebook, because, well, "everybody's doing it!" and we all know that has always been such a great reason for doing something.

Anyway, on the way into church my daughter pointed out something about my 8 year old J Crew dress that I chose not to believe. She said it looked like my....errr...headlights were showing. Of course we were standing right outside the church as when she said it, and she used different words.

So later, after I put the pics on Facebook, I realized she may have been right. Which is a little troubling considering a) I've been wearing this dress for EIGHT YEARS and b)I had just put pics up for several hundred of my nearest and dearest.

I considered whether I should make a joking reference to my dress, thereby acknowledging the issue, or whether that would just draw attention to the problem. I mean, would people believe me when I proclaimed, "Darts, people! Seams! Haven't you seen a classically-styled dress before? Nothing to see here!" Or is that just like saying, "Please look!?"

So I took the pictures down, but in all my Facebook skills, left a blank album entitled, "Mother's Day 2011." This led more than a few friends to assume that I was being a smart-aleck (ME????) and must have had a uber-crappy Mother's Day.

So, to set the record straight: I had a great day. My dress protruded because I couldn't quite fill out the darts that J or Crew or whoever put there. While I was HAPPY it was Mother's Day, but I wasn't as EXCITED as I may have looked.

On a related note, however, if you HAVE experienced a little poke-through here or there, I have a product to share with you:

Boob-eez. Yep. These are little silicone inserts invented by a 9 year old girl to wear inside a shirt or bra or bathing suit. Seriously. I have purchased these and tested them for you and found that... they work! They don't show at all and are so comfortable you will forget you are wearing them. No need to cross your arms in that cold office, or when you climb out of the pool.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Labor Day on Mother's Day

So I was thinking of things the kids have given me over the years, and my thoughts naturally gravitated toward hemorrhoids. And wandered from there to being in labor and pushing hard and, well, a little story.

Twelve years ago I gave birth to Jake, with Tom and my sister by my side. After 3 botched and 1 successful (thank you, God!) epidurals, I had a healthy baby and an important question for my sister's ears only.

"Uh, did I poop during labor?"

She hesitated. Not a good sign.

"Well, you did, but it was just about the size of a Chihuahua."

I threw my head back on the pillow in abject humiliation. All I could picture was the Taco Bell dog. Barely able to peer over my engorged melon-sized breasts, I held my hands about 12 inches apart and part whispered, part hissed..."Dear Lord! Are you saying I pooped the size of a Chihuahua? That's bigger than the baby!"

My sister laughed at my labor-addled brain and said,

"No! NOOOOOO! You pooped a tiny bit, about what a chihuahua would do!"


Thank you Jesus.

And thank you, kids, for EVERYTHING you've given me these past 12 years.

Except the hemorrhoids.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Being a Grown-up Isn't So Bad Sometimes

I kind of feel sorry for my kids. We were all up until 11 last night because of sports (!) and this morning proved to be one of those deliciously rainy days best spent in bed. But, no, they were up at 7 and soon heading off to school. After I dropped them off, I got to come back home, have 3 cups of tea, do laundry, and read blogs.

While they had to hit the ground running with math and reading and Latin, surrounded by the voices and coughs and personalities of 16 other people, I have had to interact with no one and it's almost 11 a.m. They have to be "ON" for the next 7 hours-- polite and attentive and diligent and studious-- in a very public arena. I, however, can screen my calls, hide out in my office, and focus on the projects in front of me.

Both kids need alone time, but I don't see that they get much of it. I, who never thought I'd ever have alone time again, have found I have a decent amount now that the kids are in school all day, and I go to work just 20 hours a week. If you are home with little kids, there will be the promise of peace and quiet sometime in your future. In fact, I try to store up all of that silence during the day so that when I do pick up the kids, I'll be ready for interaction and running around until bedtime...which seems to get later and later and later.

And while I purposely chose a job that I can leave at the office, a huge difference from my life as a high school English teacher, the kids have to dive into Acts 2 and 3 (homework and sports) as soon as they get home.

The kids say they don't want to be grown-ups, because our lives are so boring, but I think they might be pleasantly surprised. In general, adults don't have to ask to go to the bathroom or get a drink of water. We eat when and what we want. We get to choose how to best fulfil the responsibilities in front of us. We don't have to be good at everything, all of the time, from physical fitness to pre-Algebra to self-control. We get evaluated, but not graded.

I know the adult life can often be a grind, and that we have immense financial and career pressures our kids do not yet face. I know that a 20-hour work week is not realistic for most people. Heck-- it's not even that realistic for me! But today I'm feeling grateful just to be an adult.

Now off to work...

Monday, May 2, 2011

Back Porch Re-Fresh

I love my antique wicker couch and other porch furniture, but in the years since I last painted it, it had gotten pretty shabby. I realized it had been 12 years (!) when I remembered taking a breastfeeding break with my oldest and and whipping out the spray paint and staple gun to get my floral, white and brown on.

I leave it out all winter, so this furniture takes a beating.

Taking it apart was actually fun because I could see the layers done by my mother 40 years ago, and my grandparents before that.

These 2 pieces, plus an antique table, also got brown paint:

The fabric back was easy to do. It was a precise science that may have involved some cutting, folding, a glue gun, masking tape, and staples.

Here's how the porch looks now with espresso spray paint, Sunbrella fabric from JoAnn's, and throw pillows from Lowe's. I desperately wanted 2 of the bird pillows, so if you see another one at Lowe's, be sure to let me know.

Here's a close-up of the brown trim and the houndstooth pillows:

And some yellow accents that I swear were smudge free when I took the pictures.

This chair just has some leftover fabric tucked around the cushion. I may or may not get more ambitious with it later.

The paint is glossy and brown, which gives it a more modern look that I'd been hoping for. The deep, dark brown doesn't really translate in these photos because of all of the POLLEN covering everything!

Each year I tell myself not to "open" my porch until the pollen has gone, and each year I get antsy and do it anyway. That means double the cleaning, but I sure do like looking out and seeing this, even if I'm too allergic to enjoy it quite yet:

Have a great day! Ah-Choo!