Spring Organizing

Spring has finally sprung and with it the increased desire to get things done around here. As I shared in my last post regarding the big office clean up, we have a long list of “projects” we’re attempting to tackle. Everything from new household projects to basic de-cluttering and organizing. Once again, I admit that even with a background in helping others with residential organizing it’s still a struggle for me personally to keep things as organized as I would like them. There are lots of contributing factors to this but the big three (which in my experience apply to many of us) are:
  • 1) Not having homes & systems established for the various items in your home
  • 2) not taking the time to use the homes & systems once you’ve established them
  • 3) Having too much stuff!
#3 is the biggest of all and always has been in my opinion. When I was in the organizing business I told my clients that the act of organizing itself was a piece of cake compared to the task of eliminating excess. Once you’ve whittled down your belongings to a manageable level, they can practically organize themselves. But if you attempt to “organize” your items before you de-clutter and purge it’s much like putting the cart before the horse.

We’ve found it a challenge to find places for everything within our home and it’s been an ongoing task to come up with solutions. My prior post described how we were able to utilize a large armoire that was no longer in use for storing our projects and in process, shop items for Etsy and other eBay items to be sold. A little over a year ago, constructing a pantry provided the much needed home for our food that previously took up all the cabinets that were needed for dishes and serving ware.

Our newest organizing challenge is the master bedroom closet. While we are at least fortunate enough to have a walk-in closet filled with shelves & double rods, it’s sadly very small and does not house everything without some serious cramming. I hear that in many marriages it’s not uncommon for the husband to keep his clothes in a spare closet in a guestroom or hall, however not only do we not have a spare closet anywhere I couldn’t bring myself to make my hubby get dressed in another room. When we did our seasonal clothes switch (absolutely necessary unless you have a huge closet where you can keep everything out at once!) I realized I needed to get ruthless about paring down my clothes. So far I’ve managed to fill two huge bags to give to charity! Among the first items to go were several pajamas and nightgowns that the hubby has complained about for years. Let’s just say they were the type that would have made Laura Ingall’s very proud. I’m hopeful that with more purging and some great creative ideas I’ll be able to get our Spring/Summer wardrobes set up in the closet in such a way as to be able to actually see and retrieve them without swearing. I’ll let you know how it goes.


Tackling “The List” & Tales of Household Organization

Around here it’s well known that the hubby feels his “Honey-Do” list never ending. Of course, he’d be right about that. The mile-long list of home improvement projects, or let’s call it what it really is; “Crap we have to do to keep the house from falling apart” is something that a lot of households get overwhelmed by. Of course, it’s not just actual house fixes, a lot of it is organization. As you may recall in another life, pre-baby (well, pre-baby 2, post baby 1) I had an organizing business. I’ve said many times, including in this blog, that staying organized is something I still struggle with as it’s a constant work in progress. I certainly know how to get organized and can come up with any number of creative ideas for organized living, but it is definitely work. Things tend to creep up on you when you’re not paying attention.

Take our office for example. Since we don’t really use it much as an office any longer we inadvertently ended up with one of those “catch all” rooms. First, it was shoving in the play kitchen that although little guy still plays with, there are times we’d like it out of the middle of our family room, such as for my recent birthday celebration. Then there are the things we are actually trying to get rid of via eBay; the irony here is that even when de-cluttering you can actually end up with more of a mess while attempting to eliminate stuff! Between all that and several vintage items from our Etsy shop mingled with a few works in project the office was becoming a disaster. And just because I love my readers and am not afraid to “put it all out there” I’m actually showing you a picture of this mess! 
 OfficeB1 OfficeB2
So, we decided to get serious about this and spent last weekend working on it. Here’s what we did; we started with the ol’ pull everything out maneuver (which meant our entire front room was covered in stuff!) and after working all day Saturday, we ended up with one huge bag of trash, several things to eliminate and along the way discovered a surprise solution that solved two dilemmas at once! As readers may recall, we redecorated our home and sold many of our antiques. We successfully sold all the large pieces but one, our French armoire. Once everything was re-decorated and furnished it became the elephant in the room because it no longer fit anywhere. After months of having it block the double doors to the office (there’s another door around the back side of the room) the hubby realized that since we couldn’t seem to sell it and we didn’t want it sitting in the living room any longer that it would be perfect for storage of “projects in process” in the office! He was right, it’s the perfect solution and it’s already outfitted with three shelves. We managed to get it in the office after some partial disassembly and reassembly and its now acting as a very fancy storage solution!
OfficeA1    OfficeA2
Of course, the overall moral of the story here is “never let it pile-up”. Ha! This was definitely an eye-opening lesson in realizing how bad things can get when you let them go vs. how much easier it is to manage to when you have systems in place and do the maintenance to keep things up little by little.

And in closing, I thought I’d share with you this accidentally hilarious photo I took while the hubby was painting.
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The explanation here is that he is painting our new family room wall, a room which was previously used as our dining room that had large iron wall art that held wine bottles. When he removed the iron pieces he set all the empty wine bottles on the table, making it look as though he’d been throwing back a few while on the job!

Conversations with Little Guy: Speech

First of all, I wanted to report that it appears Little Guy is completely caught up with his speech which of course is great news. During his final sessions in speech therapy the therapist tells us she’s now working on things that are past his age just to have things to work on.  One of things she says he’s not yet really expected to be able to do quite yet is correctly produce the “L” sound in words. This was evident in a recent conversation he had as Daddy was getting ready for work.

LG: Daddy, I want to go to work with you!

Daddy: No LG, you can’t come with me, but you get to stay home with Mommy!

LG: I want to go to work with you! I can work, let me come to your work!

Daddy: I’m sorry, but you can’t. We have Labor Laws.

LG: Daddy, what’s “Wabor Waws?”

Being Happy to be Me at 43

This month marks my 43rd birthday. I haven’t been a fan of my birthday past my late teens. I tend to get caught up in the old “another year older and…..?” it’s that “and” that gets me. And what? “What did I accomplish in this last year?” I say to myself. I know I set my expectations entirely too high..it’s the perfectionist in me and something I try to focus on taming a bit.

There are things I would like to accomplish and I know some of those things are at least doable with supreme effort and fierce determination. There are other things that rely heavily on luck; such as being at the right place at the right time, a blog post going viral, a publisher offering me a book deal….things like that. (You know, those “pie in the sky” type of things. The things on my Vision Board that I’m not sure really coincide with realistic thinking.) It’s when I realize that those are things that may not happen (I don’t like to say probably won’t because after all, you have to have a positive attitude, right? I’m thinking of the old “if you build it they will come” philosophy) that I can start to see the need to just go with whatever is happening; whatever is presenting itself and is right in front of me. At this moment, that would be a kitchen that needs cleaning and some laundry that needs folding, but hey, I am a stay-at-home-mom after all and this is part of my life.

In examining that life, there is quite a mixed bag of emotions or as I like to call it; the happy, the crappy and the ridiculous. Time tends to fly by faster the older we get, as I can’t believe it’s already been three years since I wrote the post Warning: Opinions Ahead on the heels of my fortieth birthday. While I can look over forty three years and think there are some things I perhaps wish I’d done differently as well as things I wish had happened differently, I can also look at the flip side of those things and realize that some things do happen for a reason and may end up with positive results later on down the line. Take the kids for example; yes, it’s amusingly ridiculous that I have two sons with a near fourteen year age gap. It’s even more ridiculous to realize that as one starts college the other will start Kindergarten. But while things like not having siblings closer in age to play and go through school at relatively the same time could be looked at as drawbacks, the flip side of that is having an older son who can often be available for babysitting on Date Nights and who’s actually old enough now to pick up his brother from school or daycare should the need arise. And it’s heartwarmingly adorable to see how close those brothers are and how much they share in common despite the age difference. Of course once they’re both grown the age gap won’t matter much. In the meantime, it’s so fun to see Teenager set up an elaborate train track for his little brother and to see both little guy and his big brother enjoy a Disney movie together and laugh at the same things.

Of course there are other things I’m still trying to figure out but as the saying goes, “life isn’t the destination, it’s the journey.” Now while that statement would make a fitting closing line to this post, I can’t stop here. You see, that statement holds a lot of meaning for me. I’ve been a person who in many aspects was more focused on the end result than the process of getting there. There’s part of that I still struggle with to some extent; the old “It’ll be great when…..(fill in the blank)” and then I remind myself that the journey is so important and being fixated on an end result can be counterproductive to the joy of living. Not to throw in too many clich├ęd sayings but I can’t help but think of “Life is what happens while we’re making other plans”. I’ve previously been guilty of not enjoying the journey of life and really try to not fall into that trap. I think it’s a shame to live life for some “end result” and have that be all one is thinking about and working on in life while failing to truly enjoy the here and now. I believe in living and enjoying life now because “now” is what we have. As a disclaimer for those who might think I’m suggesting living life haphazardly, or to toss out another quote; “Eat, Drink & be Merry for tomorrow we may die” that’s not it, it’s a lot closer to “stop and smell the roses”. I think about things like using the good china for more than just holidays, dressing up for more events than just those that require it, and making the effort to spend quality time with friends and family and truly enjoy their company rather than simply going through the motions of obligatory visits and events.

So along with the concept mentioned in my prior post regarding the Gratitude Board , I intend to put my focus on what’s happening in the here and now and continuing to find the joy (& hilarity!) in everyday life. As always, you’re invited along for the ride. I have some more personal posts planned in the upcoming weeks and months and am looking forward to sharing more with my readers.

Future Dreams and Current Gratitude

A few months ago I set out to do a vision board; one of those things where you use pictures as representations of things you would like to have and happen in your life. I think this is a great idea and it makes a lot of sense to create a “vision” you can refer to in a tangible form. But then I got to thinking, how much of this is too much wishful thinking and not enough reality? Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s not okay to dream because I think we have to dream to some extent. But I pondered what percentage of dreaming to what percentage of current contentment makes sense in one’s life.

Then it hit me, what if I did something similar in a reverse manner? Well, not making a board of things I don’t want, that would be pretty counterproductive. But what about making a board of the things I do have that I am very glad I do; a Gratitude Board. That way, I have tangible images to refer to in helping me remember what I have and how grateful I am for those things. For instance, one thing on my Vision/Dream board is being a size or two smaller. But on my Gratitude Board I have being thankful I’m the size I am since I could be a size or two bigger. You see? Along the same lines, this doesn’t mean I've stopped wanting a larger kitchen, but in the meantime, I'm learning to enjoy the things we’ve done to make it work a little better (remember the awesome pantry?) and look a little nicer (a cabinet re-do is coming this spring!)

These are just a couple examples of many, but I thought I would share this little epiphany with you. Maybe it’s just me waxing philosophical, but it seems like until we’re truly appreciating what we already have and are being genuinely thankful for those things, getting more or having better may not be in the cards. I intend to share more of this with you throughout the year as this little experiment of mine manifests itself in real life. I’d also love to hear from you in the comments below about what you think, so feel free to share!

And Speaking of Brothers

I’d forgotten about this little gem I wanted to share with you, but there would have been no way to really work it into my prior post.

So, you would think that not having two little ones and instead having one little one and a really big one there’d be virtually no squabbles or brotherly torture. You would think, but that would not be entirely true around here. Making up for lost time I suppose, Teenager has found numerous ways to irritate and otherwise lovingly torture his little brother. I just discovered one of these recently.

Teenager was getting little guy a yogurt and was headed over to the table with it along with a spoon. Little guy starts getting upset and saying; “No, no nooooo!” when I asked what in the world was going on. Teenager, now laughing, explained that for some time now whenever he got his brother a yogurt he would pretend to just about put the spoon into the cup because he’d discovered a while back that little guy wanted to be the one to put the first little “stab” into his yogurt. So of course, his little brother would get very irritated if he thought his big brother was going to be the one to get to do it. A wee bit mean? Perhaps. Amusingly cute? Absolutely.

Coming Soon to a Restaurant Near You

Since kids are off school this week for President’s Week aka “Furlough week”, we’ve been spending some quality time together.

The other day little guy had a little friend over and the two of them were having a blast playing “restaurant”. The kitchen LG got for Christmas two years ago is still a huge hit. The hubby and I were sitting in the living room and the kids would come over to take our order and then go over to the play kitchen to make it. The best part was when we asked what the special was. LG responds; “Chicken BaBomb!” Intrigued by this new creation (sure to be the next big culinary hit) we asked questions. We were told it’s very spicy (hence the “bomb” part of the name) and preparation involves some form of meat tenderizing with one’s feet. The whole scenario was hilarious.

When LG took his big brother’s order, Teenager ordered the Chicken BaBomb only to be told by LG that they were out of that. (Isn’t that the way it always is?) Teenager insisted on speaking to the manager. LG yelled over to his little friend in the kitchen; “Manager! We have a pwoblem ober here!”

At the end of our meal, we were offered “buzzert”. Another example of hilarity and cuteness colliding.

The Grocery Cart of Shame

I realize you all may be tired of hearing my tales of weight loss antics, but I’m going to tell you another one anyway. There’s good news though! This one’s funny rather than sad and pathetic. Well, okay, it’s a little pathetic, but therein lies the funny.

First, I’d like to report that after my record weight gain a few weeks ago, I have managed to take those pounds off. Now I need to work on taking “new” pounds off, instead of the same old pounds that I’ve lost over and over again. *sigh*

So, onto the story. The other day I popped into a favorite food store of mine to pick up a few specialty items. I wasn’t there to get much and I couldn’t get anything perishable because I still had my regular grocery shopping to do afterwards. Yes, I generally go to several stores; it’s just how I am. I was checking on some wine the hubby had wanted me to try to locate and they didn’t have it. Then I found some of my favorite cookies and put a package into my cart.

Now let me explain about me and cookies. If they are cookies I like, I have no self control. If I purchase a package of cookies, I make reasonable attempts to take a couple and be done with it, but more often than I’d care to admit my cookie eating habits involve a “row” or a “sleeve”, if you know what I’m saying. I had convinced myself that I still needed to purchase the cookies because they don’t often have them and they were a great price. Yes, I’m justifying this all over the place.

But here’s where it gets tricky. At this point I have nothing else in my cart. Just the cookies. Then a couple aisles over I spot a fellow Weight Watcher’s member. A thin one, too, I might add. At this point, you may as well cue the theme music from Mission Impossible because now I’m stealthily trying to figure out how to make it to the checkout aisle without my WW friend spotting me. With a package of cookies. And nothing else. I start thinking of other things I need to throw in the cart so at least I could conceal the cookies and I can’t come up with anything. I probably spent a good ten minutes on my plan to make it out of there unseen and with my cookies. And yes, I can fully see the ridiculousness of this whole scenario…..well, now anyway. I finally decided this was clearly fate intervening of my behalf and I put the cookies back. Am I proud of myself? Well, not terribly, no. Because I think we can all see that the humiliation of being caught with the cookies was the motivating factor here. But nonetheless, I will go without cookies this week. And that’s a good thing.

Home Improvement

We’ve been busy around here with numerous home related projects. My regular readers are familiar with the RRR Projects posts and I’ll have a few more of those coming up here soon. We’ve been on a major home re-do kick here and have made some impressive changes. Our most recent project however is painting the interior of the house. This of course involved not one, not two, but many paint samples. We were having a hard time discovering a color we really loved and had it narrowed down to two colors which are right next to each other. But we still felt one was too light and the other too dark; leave it to us to be difficult like that. So we went down to the paint store and asked them if they could make us something right in between the two colors. They did, and thankfully it was perfect. The hubby was overjoyed with the fact that he could finally start painting and get rid of our ridiculous patchwork wall.  005

Before he started painting, I decided to clean out the hall closet. Some items I uncovered were; the sheet to Little Guy's pack-and-play that I sold about two years ago, my granny sandals I wore when pregnant because no other shoes fit and the sad discovery of Murray’s leash. But the best discovery was this gem; a brand new, still has the tags on, fishing vest from Eddie Bauer. Beyond the fact that he bought this long before we were ever married and he's never gone fishing since we've been married is the hilarious realization that it makes him look like the main character of one of our new favorite shows; “$#*! My Dad Says”.

 

 

001 

You’ll have to exscuse the messy hair and unshaven face. The guy’s been painting all day.

Learning the same lessons over and over

 

I’d like to briefly discuss a particular lesson I’d really like to not continually re-learn. That lesson would be the one about not going off the wagon, so to speak, in regards to my food choices that ends up in a weight gain. You know it’s bad when you step on the scale and your WW leader exclaims; “Whoa, what did you do this week?!” Yeah, it’s that bad. Let’s just say if they gave an award for weight gain a one week I’d be a big winner. Of course, I’d much prefer to be a big loser, pardon the pun.

So here’s the thing; I could list lots of excuses for letting my weight go up instead of down, but ultimately it all boils down to not properly planning for the right food choices and simply eating beyond what I should be. Like I say; “Weight loss requires planning. When I fly by the seat of my pants, it means I’ll need bigger pants”. But while we’re talking about excuses I do have to address one little thing I really am having an issue with. Weight Watcher’s decided to revamp their program, effectively making the old points system null and void and starting out with the brand new PointsPlus system. The thing is, they’re still calling it “points” but yet they aren’t really points as we’ve come to know them. The points values for numerous foods have gone up, in many cases doubling and tripling the former points. Oh sure, they tried to make us feel better about it because we get “more points" in a week, but if you do the math, we don’t get anywhere near the amount of points that would cover the points that foods have increased to. And that’s a hard thing to adjust to. In addition, I have yet to go through everything I normally eat, recalculate all the new PointsPlus values and plan my meals around that new information. Of course that sounds like it would be pretty important to do, right? Yes, I must get on that. Because I am really, really tired of not fitting into my pants.

That Darn Cat

Originally, this was going to be titled “Conversations with Teenager” until I realized he had a very small part in the actual conversation.

Ever since our dog Murray left us, one year ago this month in fact, the cat has been difficult to deal with. She frequently wants in and then wants back out. As previously mentioned, we cannot have a pet door or we’ll be dealing with live critters in the house (mice, lizards and snakes) along with the occasional dead bird and associated feather mess. So we deal with the whole in and out thing. The rule is she has to be “out” when we’re gone. She knows this and tries to get around it by this little maneuver; she “camps out” at the front door stealthily, knowing I’m about to leave at any moment. This morning’s attempt at gaining entry was straight out of a comedy routine, though at the time I failed to see the humor. I was ready to head out with Little Guy, wearing my coat, car keys in hand and loaded down with my travel coffee container, water bottle, purse, and assorted bags of things I was taking with me. I open the door and the cat darts in and zooms past me at lightning speed. A somewhat unfortunate word may have escaped my mouth as I took off chasing her. She darted down the hall, at first trying to break into the Teenager's room. When she found that door closed she turned around and headed back down the hall towards the dining room and hid underneath the table. As I was screaming like a lunatic, gently trying to coax her out, I noticed little guy was standing by the front door laughing at this whole scene. I finally managed to get her out from underneath the table and chase her towards the back door where I was able to boot her out.

When Teenager arrived home this afternoon, I relayed the tale of “What your @%&! Cat did” only to have him also laugh hysterically at his Mother’s ridiculous tale. The kicker was his comment at the end of my story; “Well, you would have been able to chase her down a lot sooner if you’d put all your stuff down!”

I hate it when Teenagers are right.

New Year, New Feature

Long before the show, the book and back before I even heard of and started the following the author of the hilarious Tweets that kicked off “$#*! My Dad Says”, I often thought I should be sharing my own hilarity in the stuff that my 82 year old mother comes out with. So I decided I need to start a new feature here on the blog, titled “Stuff My Mom Says”. To kick this off, I need to share a little back story with you.

The Teenager has been trying for some time now to get a job. He’s had no luck finding anybody within walking distance (he has no car yet, one of the reasons he wants to get a job) that would hire him. With the economy the way it is, a lot of the “teen” type jobs have been going to the adults. Furthermore, many businesses nowadays don’t want to hire the teens and are requiring them to be at least 18, and he only just recently had his 18th birthday. He’s still finding many places simply not hiring.

So, during a phone call with my mother, she inquired about Teenager’s recent attempts at obtaining employment. I stated that he’d just put in another couple of applications, but so far had no luck. She’d asked about what types of business he’d applied to and I told her mostly food places and a couple retail stores. She then suggested the following; “You know, ‘Service Stations’ and ‘Garages’ are always looking to hire young people.” It was all I could do to not bust up laughing. Poor Mom, I don’t know the last time she went to get gas in her car, but she must’ve taken a time machine back to the 1950’s.

50s gas station
Back to a time when “young people” actually worked at "filling stations" that had "garages" and actually provided "services". As I’m trying to hold back my laughter all I could picture in my mind is Goober from the old Andy Griffith Show working at Wally’s Service Station.

Christmas Un-wrapped: 2010

This year’s gifts for Little Guy included some Scooby Doo items, as previously mentioned. He was thrilled to get an actual Scooby Doo stuffed toy, which he got to open Christmas Eve. Christmas morning he found Santa had left him a Scooby Doo Mystery Machine by the fireplace. He later told us he was happy with his Mystery Machine but had told Santa he wanted a big one. His daddy replied; “You got a big one; see it fits all the characters inside and had the ghost computer, ghost trapping net, and all kinds of things in it!” To this little guy replied; “No, I meant a big one, that our whole family can drive around in!” Of course.
Little guy also got camera suited for his age. So far, we have about 100+ pictures of Scooby Doo, the Mystery Machine, and some unfortunate photos of family members who would rather have not had their picture taken.
The teenager got some technical gadgets and gizmos and so far his favorite appears to be a version of the old fashioned erector sets where you can make a vehicle of some sort complete with a motor. He’s kept himself pretty busy with that as well as playing “Scooby Doo” with his brother.
The hubby seems happy with his mundane gifts. I kept it simple this year and bought him some shirts in basic colors so as to avoid prior year’s catastrophes with oddly colored periwinkle pants and other such atrocities.
Perhaps the best gift of all was the gift the hubby gave me. When I opened the box, this is what I found inside:
iphone case
I laughed hysterically thinking he’d fashioned a redneck iPhone case! He said actually it was just an “IOU” for getting me an iphone case. Still hilarious, nonetheless.
Here’s a little slide show of some of our family’s holiday festivities.

Slide Album: Christmas 2010

 
I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas. I’m looking forward to a brand new year and have planned some creative and intriguing posts in the upcoming months.

Un-Recommendations & Funny Bathrooms

Since we have an Internet presence and have recently been on the receiving end of some very poor customer service the hubby and I thought this would be a good place to share and vent. Kind of like when Heather Armstrong of Dooce went postal on the Maytag folks. But not quite.

So, let me tell the back story of our products. A while back we decided to research bidet attachments for standard home toilets. I’ve always wanted an actual bidet and frankly am surprised they aren’t more prevalent here like they are in Europe. But the awesomeness of bidets is not what this post is about. Real bidets require extra bathroom space to install them and even bidet toilet seats require electricity, something not available in the water closet areas of either of our bathrooms. So our research led us to a product that attached to the toilet, had its own water hose and required no electricity. At an affordable $100 price tag, we bought them for each bathroom. The hubby was able to quickly and easily install them and they worked great. Then as time went on, specifically about a month or so after the warranty ran out, we had problems. One of the units had the “arm” that attached it to the toilet break. Sadly, that part is plastic and not replaceable. We asked. The other unit in the hall bathroom had another problem. The spring that is supposed to retract the nozzle back underneath the rim of the toilet stopped automatically doing its job. This meant that when anyone bumped into the lever (which is positioned right outside the toilet seat) it would remain in that position; a position that caused it to shoot water into the air. This event occurred whenever we’d brush by the side of the toilet to start the water for the little guy’s bath. It also occurred when other toddlers were visiting for playgroups resulting in some serious flooding. And perhaps most amusing of all, it occurred whenever Daddy was in the bathroom giving little guy his bath and little guy thought it would be loads of fun to squirt Daddy. Good times, my friends, good times.

But the bottom line here (pun shamelessly intended) is that we have two malfunctioning bidet attachments that are not repairable. Apparently the company must have determined that making an all plastic unit that’s not repairable is not a great idea and recently started making all metal units. Of course these units cost nearly twice the price of the older models. When we contacted the company about our problem the most they were willing to do for us was to give us a $20 discount of the cost of the new metal units. After further conversations with the company pointing out that would mean our spending an additional $300 over and above the $200 we’d already spent with them they basically said “too bad.” Naturally, we’re not willing to spend that kind of money nor would we consider doing business with a company that does not stand behind their products or make any reasonable compensation towards customers who’ve spent a significant amount on now faulty products.  The offending company is called The American Biffy Company at www.biffy.com. Again, this is very much an un-recommendation to do business with these people. As far as bidet attachments themselves go (when operating properly) I cannot recommend them enough! We’re currently researching new options for replacing these units so if any readers out there know of any good options for us to try, feel free to share them with us! In the meantime, we’ll just be trying not to flood our bathroom.

A Very Scooby Christmas

As my blog readers and Twitter followers are aware, little guy has a Scooby Doo obsession.

I think it all started back when we all suddenly saw Teenager’s startling resemblance to Shaggy. Things took off because of course Teenager had to introduce his little brother to the classic Scooby Doo shows which are available thanks to On Demand TV viewing. Since little guy is rarely afraid of anything and loves Halloween with all the monsters, ghosts and “scary guys” he is enthralled with the shows.

Things progressed from there to the point that he now refers to both the family car and Daddy’s car as the “Mystery Machine”, the latter being especially hilarious since, as the hubs puts it; “It’s a mystery whether or not it will start.” Then he insisted upon calling his parents Fred and Daphne, although it’s hard to complain about that one since for a while I was Velma.

So, after hearing him call his little stuffed puppy Scooby Doo for the last few months we decided it might be time to get the kid an actual Scooby Doo for Christmas. Along with this, I hear Santa may be bringing him a complete set of figures of all the Scooby gang along with a Mystery Machine. We are really hoping this will mean we can go back to being Mommy and Daddy.

Conversations with Little Guy: Brothers Playing

The newest thing around here is Little Guy's love for all things Scooby Doo. Ever since he saw an episode of the show and noticed his brother looked just like Shaggy he's pretty much been singing the theme song non-stop.  He likes to "play Scooby Doo" which involves his family members assuming the various, Little Guy-assigned roles; generally I'm Velma. (the story of my life- always a Velma never a Daphne!)
Recently, while we were busy getting ready for Thanksgiving and the boys were in Little Guy's room we heard this little exchange between them over the monitor:
LG:                Buhbuh (little guy's term for his brother), let's play Scooby Doo!
Teenager:  All right, I'll tell you what, I'll be the monster, I'll hide and I won't say anything.
LG:                Blissfully unaware of what this meant:  Okay!
So we peek in and see that Teenager is in a corner playing his PSP while Little Guy plays. Brotherly togetherness at its best, right there.

The Roller Skating Story

Recently I was thinking about a story from my own childhood that perfectly illustrates my accident-prone nature; what’s now become known as a part of my “I-Love-Lucy-tendencies”.

Flash back to the late seventies. My mom, dad and I were visiting relatives in the Seattle area including two female cousins, around my age. At this point in time, roller skating outdoors is particularly popular. The cousins and I throw on our skates and start skating around their large cul-de-sac. The older of my two cousins tells me one of her favorite things to do is skate down the hill that starts at the top of the cul-de-sac and slopes down steeply toward their house. She demonstrates to me how this is done; she starts at the top and swiftly zig-zags back and forth so as not to pick up too much speed. I try next. I start out at the top of the hill, manage a zig and part of a zag when I panic that I’m unable to do this move and start to head straight down. I begin to pick up some serious speed as I head down this step hill. At this point in time all I’m thinking about is how I just need to get to the bottom and eventually stop myself because I’m pretty sure the sparks now flying off the back of my metal wheels would be a fire hazzard if not for being in very green Washington state. From off to the side I can make out my oldest cousin yelling something about how I need to zig-zag and I think my younger cousin was probably watching in horror. What I didn’t know at the time, were that the rest of the relatives sitting upstairs at the kitchen table watching out the window. They saw this whole thing unfold and were wondering where on earth I was going to stop.

So, I’m zooming towards the house and my plan at this point is to simply get to a stable place where I can stop myself. To this day I don’t know how I managed to do this, but I stepped up onto the curb, still going at lightning speed and then stepped up onto the raised walkway towards the front door. I made it to the door thinking surely I would simply be able to put my arms out and finally stop. I went straight through. If this were a cartoon there would have been a cut-out shape of me left in the door. As is was, I tore the door off the hinges and landed on top of it in their entryway as my horrified family members came running from the kitchen asking if I was okay. I remember exactly what I said at that moment; in my stunned state all I could mutter; “I’m ok, but your door isn’t.” I don’t know how I made it through this incident in one piece. I had some aches and pains, some bruises and a little dent in the middle of my thigh that still exists today, but I was for the most part “okay”.

Scenes, Seasons and Milestones

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I love Fall and look forward to this time of year. It kicks off when the weather first starts to cease being blistering hot with a much anticipated segue into Halloween. Now I’ve already shared with you our Halloween festivities and of course it’s not yet Thanksgiving. In between these two favorite holidays of mine are two other very significant events. Our anniversary, as you saw me mention in my last post, followed shortly thereafter by Teenager’s birthday.

This is a year for milestones; just as we hit our five year anniversary mark, Teenager will have a milestone all his own. Turning 18. I can hardly believe it. The official day and celebration does not take place for another week or so, but it’s coming fast and I’m still in amazement that it’s been nearly 18 years since my darling baby boy was born. And naturally I can scarcely believe it’s been four years since my other darling baby boy was born! Frankly, I’m not sure which one is the cause of more of my gray hair; the Teenager or the Toddler! I think it’s too close to call.

As my oldest becomes a “young man” (yeah, I know it’s “technically” an adult, but the kid isn’t even out of high school yet!) and I reflect on all he’s done in his life thus far, I could not be more pleased or more proud. Last week, Hubby and I had the opportunity to attend his school production in which he had several roles, including a great acting role along with singing. It was very entertaining and so fun to see him up there performing! I was just so proud.

I wrote a post about Teenager last year at this time when he turned seventeen and it’s hard to believe another year has already gone by. I won’t do too much more mommy-gushing since I covered a lot in last year’s post, but I will sum up by stating his most recent GPA was 4.0 and that’s with two advanced placement classes. And again, he’s an awesome big brother.

During our recent family shoot that I shared some of with you in the prior post, we also had Sr. Portraits taken of Teenager which you can see below.

Here’s wishing my son a very happy 18th Birthday!

We love you!!!

  

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Marriage, Family and a Look Behind the Curtain!

I feel compelled to begin this post with a short clip from one of my  favorite movies; The Princess Bride.
This month marks the five year anniversary for me and the Hubby. That’s five years of wedded bliss, aka, five years of not killing each other. Because let’s face it, as much as many of us would like marriage to be all Fairytale-like there are many factors involved that make it much more of a comedy-drama . So let’s take a little peek into the marriage of yours truly to see a bit of what five years has contained.

~ A thirty-something bride and forty-something groom, both previously married and the bride with a young son, meet and marry. (Okay, there was more to it than that, but I’m ‘nut shelling’ here, folks.)

~ It was a beautiful wedding and reception. The stress of planning this event alone (we did it all ourselves!) was about enough to do us in…but it all worked out and was well worth it.

~ A Thanksgiving time honeymoon in Hawaii was planned…during which the groom ended up with some bizarre illness involving a high fever and lots of sleeping. I watched a lot of TV and managed to make it out to the pool a couple times.

~ But surprise!  A couple weeks after the honeymoon we learned that Little Guy was on the way. Didn’t see that coming...at least not that fast!

~ Then we ended up in a car accident; nearly head-on with a big truck, car folded all the way into the glove box, right before our first Christmas. Though we “walked away” from the crash, Hubby had lots of back pain and lots of therapy. And yes, I was seven weeks pregnant during this ordeal but the baby was fine and I was thankfully unharmed all but for some temporary pains.

~ Year one of marriage while pregnant is not something I recommend, suffice it to say, the “honeymoon period” was non-existent. However, at our ages we didn’t have lots of time to get this whole baby-making process going, so I’m glad things happened how they did. My pregnancy was rough towards the end, I had a huge weight gain, high blood pressure and a tough delivery, though little guy made it here ok. On our first anniversary, we had a two and a half month old baby. It had been tough, but we were overjoyed with our little guy.

~ During our first years of marriage we were dealing with the incredibly unnecessary, former-spouse -and-his-new-spouse (aka; “Special Reader”!) induced court dates regarding support and care of Teenager. As if court itself weren’t delightful enough, dealing with all this nonsense during the first years of marriage was taxing, to put it mildly. But we made it! And yes, it’s trite but true; what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. The things we went through during this ordeal were certainly not something I’d sign up for, but they’ve strengthened me as a person and a mother and have provided unexpected opportunities to bring positive things into my life.

Now, there are a host of other things we've dealt with during these last years, but I think the above gives you the overall idea that we’re practically shoe-ins if they give out an award for couples who’ve dealt with much more than usual for their first years of marriage.

The Hubby and I have learned a lot along the way. We’ve learned that we’re more alike than we thought and that two stubborn, strong-willed people have to work on (& continue to work on!) how to deal with each other. We’ve learned that as two pretty darn funny people separately we are knee-slappingly hilarious together (just ask our kids!) We’ve learned that putting the emphasis on the positive is critical in a marriage; whatever you want to grow is what you need to put the fertilizer on, so put it on the flowers, not the weeds! Of course this is easier said than done. We certainly don’t claim to be marriage experts by any stretch, but we’re both very committed to our marriage and family.

To celebrate our 5 year anniversary which coincides with the Teenager about to turn 18 and little guy now 4, we recently had a family photo shoot. Along with some great family shots, our fabulous photographer also got some nice couple shots, which I’ll share with you here. No, really! For those of you who’ve been wondering for years now about this anonymous blogger, you'll finally get to see an actual photo. And I didn’t even Photoshop a bag over my head.

also….

Happy Anniversary to my Hubby! I love you!




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More than a little Spooky

This year’s Halloween festivities included two parties, one which we hosted and the other which we attended. The Hubby always gets into the spirit of holiday fun–he’s definitely not a stick in the mud when it comes to fun and frivolity. This year, we made the most obvious choice for a Halloween costume for him, and once you see it, I think you’ll be able to tell why. Behold; Dracula, my own personal vampire....

 

 

Now, I know it’s probably just the fact that I’m his wife talking here, but the black hair with the natural “point”and the way he pulls that whole costume off just says the guy was made for the role. Of course, I also have to chuckle to myself because the baby face he’s got going on gives him that total package of adorable and hot mixed with a bit of delightfully-geeky all rolled into one. Uh hmm…okay, moving on now.

Since we were attending costume party I impressed upon the Teenager the need for coming up with some sort of costume several weeks in advance. Naturally, he dragged his feet and a week before Halloween still had no idea what he was going to wear. I attempted to take matters in my own hands, came up with what I thought was a great costume idea and pitched it to him. Apparently, that was all I needed to do because I guess there is no faster way to pull a costume together than when your mother comes up with something totally embarrassing and threatens to make you wear it out in public. He ended up wearing his torn-fabric cloak from last year, sans mask or make-up, so essentially he just looked like a teenager in ratty a bathrobe.

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Little Guy made his second year appearance in his Dragon costume. It had one more year left in it, size wise, but just barely.

dragon 2010While out Trick or Treating we went to a house that had gone out of their way to decorate and it was pretty impressive. We’re talking all the way up the walk to the door were huge characters, lights, spooky sounds and more. Now, Little Guy loves Halloween as I’ve previously mentioned. He’s not one to be frightened too easily and usually enjoys a fair dose of the spooky. He bravely made his little way to the door, Daddy in one hand and shaking pumpkin in the other. By the time the homeowner opened the door, instead of saying “Trick or Treat” all he could manage to get out is; “I scared”. Poor Little Guy! He managed to press on and hit a few more houses before calling it quits.

 

Oh, and speaking of scary here’s a little something for you; it’s only 53 days until Christmas!

Conversations with Little Guy: Wagon Accident

Recently we were at a birthday party for one of little guy's friends.

The kids were running around the backyard taking turns pushing each other in a wagon. All of a sudden there were lots of tears coming from little guy.

Me: What happened?

LG: I got runned over from the wagon!

Me: Are you okay?

LG: No, my foot hurts!

Me: I'm sorry little guy, how did your foot get run over?

LG: It was a drive-by.

Introducing The Reduce, Re-Use and Re-Do Project

This is the first post in what will be a multiple post series to show and tell you all about what we’ve been up to with this new project.

The Hubby and I decided to redecorate the main rooms of our home. As we thought about what we’d like, we came up with the idea that we not only wanted to be as frugal as possible, but still purchase quality, mostly secondhand pieces and then re-do them to make them fit our tastes and style. This was the perfect project for the Hubby; after all, he’s not only handy, but this is the guy who designs jewelry from wine bottles and silver spoons!

Back when we had the Garage Sale, we sorted through our belongings to see what we had that we might want to use again by re-purposing things to work and we did find a few things. During our trips to secondhand shops and used furniture stores we’ve stumbled on several things that we are excited to work on and make our own. I’ll be uncovering these here complete with before and after photos and descriptions of what we’ve done. The first project is posted below.

The Table & Chairs

An old, badly painted cottage style table, but solid wood. It came with some chairs we didn’t care for so those were set aside. We stumbled on a set of four chairs a week or so later with a cute, scroll-like design and heart along with  legs that matched the table’s legs. In order to seat six instead of four, we ended up using two chairs on one side and a bench we already had (yet to be painted but will eventually match) to use on the other side. In fact, you may remember it from the post; The Brother Bench. Ironically, it’s still the “brother bench” as this is where the boys both sit at the table. Below you'll see the "before" shots as well as the finished project.

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The hubby sanded down the table, painted it in a creamy, antique white, distressed it to make it look worn like many of the current styles you see in stores such as Pottery Barn, etc. and did the same to the chairs. The seats were recovered in a mocha-colored cotton canvas. Finally, all the wood was treated with a matte lacquer to protect it. I’ll go ahead and tell you right now that when my mother recently visited, having no idea about current furniture styles and seeing the distressed table immediately said very confused; “I thought you said you had just re-finished the table?” I got a kick out of that.

Speech Delay & Sensory Processing Disorder Update

It’s been a while since I’ve written about the Little Guy’s progress with these two developmental issues. A while back I wrote about how it was determined that he’d progressed so well within the Speech pre-school program he attended last year that he was not able to attend this year. At that time we’d hoped to be able to put him in regular pre-school but unfortunately that is cost-prohibitive and now he's not in any school at all until he starts Kindergarten next year. The assessment made by the school district was that although he did still require some speech help, he didn’t need enough to send him through the pre-school program during the year before Kindergarten. It was determined that he would still receive some Speech Therapy through his school during this school year. He’s now being seeing his new Speech therapist for individual therapy and so far she’s seeing practically no delays in speech. In fact, she told me that the sounds and blends his records showed he’s previously had problems with are now things he can say with no problem. She went on to further mention that the sounds he does have problems with are sounds all kids his age have problems with and that at this point he speaks like any normal four year old and should have no problems in the classroom once he starts school next Fall.

As far as the Sensory Processing Disorder, his therapist at the school last year said she saw tremendous improvements to the point where she was no longer seeing sensory issues by the end of the school year. In addition, I’d had him seen again by his prior therapist who’d worked with him initially for over a year before he started with the school therapist and she also said that she no longer saw sensory issues in him.

We’re blown away that what were once huge obstacles to overcome now no longer are cause for concern. Little Guy has recently seen a few people who hadn’t seen him in awhile and they’ve been impressed with the fact that he talks so much and they can actually understand him!

So, to those parents struggling with these issues, I just wanted to reassure you that they can improve and often even go away with therapy. I know how difficult it is, believe me. When little guy was 18 mo- 2 years and said virtually nothing, we turned to sign language to get us through and started plugging away with therapy and homework. All that diligence paid off and was well worth it.

Weight Loss Success!

I thought it would be a good idea to come back and share with everyone how my week went, weight-wise.

After re-committing myself to weight loss last week, I managed to lose 3.6 pounds. (See my ticker down below in the left column!) I didn't starve, didn't deprive myself and didn't amputate anything. Basically, at the beginning of the week I took a look at what I normally eat on a daily and then weekly basis. I wrote everything down (actually, I typed it up) and then made tweaks here and there to shave down some of the meals that were clearly too high in fat and calories. I managed to put it all together like a mathematical puzzle so that everything fit within the allotted WW points, using my extra points (or as I call them, my "splurge" points) for treats on the weekend.

When the week was over, I found I even had a few splurge points remaining. I did not swap my exercise points for food, rather I let them stand so that my exercise would go towards weight loss instead of eating more food. Of course, a loss this big is also due to the fact that I'd had gains in the prior couple of weeks, so I know I cannot expect this every week. But if I keep doing what I've been doing I hope to continue to lose at a reasonable rate each week.

For anyone who is struggling with weight loss and staying on a diet plan, I sympathize with you. It comes down to a matter of control; mind over matter. Once you have a plan (whatever "diet" you choose to utilize) it's more mental than anything else, which is why it's so important to choose a plan you can actually stick to and fit within your daily life. Because here's the thing folks; you can't go on a diet, lose weight and then go back to eating the way you did before. It's such a common misconception that once we're done with our diet we can "eat normally" again. You have to learn a new normal. As unpopular as this is, a new normal is eating less than you used to.  That's not an easy thing, I know all too well.  But the alternatives are clear; you can eat the way you want to and continue to be a weight you're not happy with, or you can modify the way you eat (yes, for life) and achieve and maintain a weight that's right for you and makes you happy.

I know I am not happy being the weight I currently am. It doesn't make me feel good to know that I am not in a position to wear shorts or a shorter skirt. During summer, I long for the days of the 1920's swimsuits! Now, I don't know that I'll ever achieve a "bikini body", but just being able to wear a swim suit without wearing my husband's long board shorts over it would be an improvement. Hopefully, my new found commitment will result in success of "Operation Fit" [Back Into My Pants] before too long!

Weight Watching, Losing, Gaining and Complaining

It’s time once again to gripe and complain about weight loss. Who’s with me?

Yes, weight loss can be hard. Weight loss, by its very nature, is eating less food which, let’s face it, is not fun.

I’ve managed to somehow gain weight over the last couple months. This of course puts me even further away from my weight loss goal. And it really ticks me off. Of course I have absolutely no one to blame but myself.  To be quite honest things have been going a little something like this:

Tuesday: (This is the beginning of my weight loss tracking week and my weigh in day) Begin with renewed vigor to stay on the plan and within my points

Wednesday: Still doing well

Thursday: Hanging in there, things are ok

Friday: Not horrible, but slipping up a little here and there

Saturday & Sunday: Eating like I’m going to the electric chair

Monday: Saying; “what the #$%!” and all control goes out the window...after all, I'll "start again" tomorrow

As far as exercise goes, it’s been so-so. As readers already know, the hubby and I get up before the crack of dawn to go out running/walking before we get ready for the day. We manage to make it out about three times per week. We may or may not actually run all of those times, as some of those include some rather lazy walking justified by saying; “it’s better than not moving at all” and "hey, at least we got out of bed!" Ideally, we’d be getting out 4-5 times per week, running every time and throwing in some family bike rides on the weekend as well. This should actually be a minimum as I know I need to kick things up with some additional strength training, etc.

So, after seeing a number on the scale this morning that contained a digit I hadn’t seen since I was 8 weeks postpartum, I decided that enough is enough. I’ve swung into action with a plan which I’ll share with you in upcoming weeks. Part of the plan included taking measurements along with photos. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before because at this point I cannot think of a more effective appetite control system than a photo of myself in a swimming suit. It was pretty horrifying. I also took a couple shots in some snug, capri yoga pants as well which are slightly more suitable for public viewing and I may use those as part of a before and after set. Once I get to the “after” of course.

This is it, folks. I need to quit complaining and start doing. More details to follow so stay tuned!