Friday, February 25, 2011

Girls, girls, girls

Happy Friday, everyone! With the exception of me getting Davis’ cold, it’s been a great week here. I’m just ready for more of last week’s spring weather. It won’t be long now.

In an attempt to really test out the Odyssey’s passenger capacity, I brought not one, not two, but THREE of Ava’s friends home with us the other day. So, with my two, I had five kids in the car. Whew. The girls had a great time, though. It motivated me to clean up our bonus room, and I decluttered Ava’s bedroom by taking lots of toys to the bonus room. I thought she would freak out about it, but she loves the new space.

As is always the case with girls, costumes were needed:


And I think every Disney Princess, Polly Pocket, and other microscopic doll was out. They were all really good, though. And they entertained each other really well. I really didn’t have to interfere at all. The hardest part was loading them all back into the car for choir practice that afternoon. I liken it to herding sheep. And they are very easily distracted. I’d get shoes on one of them, and the other three would be off in another room starting on a new game. It took a good 10-15 minutes to round them all up.

Davis has been really fun this week, after being sick last week. Yesterday, I came into his room, where he and Ava had been playing, and found this:



Ava had put every book he owns in his bed. All, say 75 of them. He loved it. Of course, I forgot about them until nap time yesterday.

He also has a newfound love of Ciabatta. Here’s photographic proof:


And yes, he actually IS the cutest boy ever.

As for me, I’ve been in need of retail therapy all week, but haven’t really done anything about it. I’m really trying to assess my spring/summer wardrobe, but I’m pretty certain I’m going to find it lacking, well, everything.

I’ll report next week on the pieces I’m really craving. In the meantime, you can sleep peacefully knowing that even if I’m looking dreadful in bargain Target fashions, my kids will be looking good. One of the outfits I’m most excited about is this from Shrimp and Grits:

Dress for Ava:

Love the bow in the back:

Hard to tell in the photo, but the dress is white pique with khaki trim.

Davis gets the matching jon jon:

I have gotten them about 2 or 3 other matching outfits, because I think this is the last summer we’ll be able to do it.

They’re also getting these whale outfits:

Okay, enough clothing photos for now. There are beds to be made, mess to be picked up, and kids who will need to come home from school in an hour.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

House Hunters

My husband bought our house when we were dating. I participated in the house shopping, and even had a say in the purchase, even though I wasn’t living there at the time. It was going to be a great house for a few years, and then we would move on.

Now, eleven years, a wedding, and two kids later, we’re still here. For the last several years, we’ve talked about putting it on the market. We really need more space. Badly. But, we love our street, have great neighbors, and frankly, I’m intimidated by the whole house purchase thing. Funny, especially since I’m a licensed real estate broker.

We’ve made some minor improvements (major if you ask the frugal husband): new carpet, Corian countertops (totally should have gone with granite. Live and learn), hardwoods in the kitchen and dining room. And, by the way, the hardwoods in the dining room replaced CARPET. Who puts wall-to-wall carpeting in a dining room?

We did a minor update to the guest bath….nothing fancy, but at least it looks like it’s from this decade now. Also lots and lots of painting.

The Husband’s favorite quip regarding home improvements goes something like this: “If we line the house with gold bricks, will that also increase its market value?”

He’s a funny one, isn’t he?

It’s been a great house for us. A ranch with a (rarely-used) bonus room. Not having to climb stairs with babies was great. Everything has always been easily accessible. But, we just need more space. More living space, more storage space. We need a more grown-up house.

Will we put it on the market this spring? That remains to be seen. We still have some tidying up to do. I’d need to get my kids out of the house for probably two solid weekends to get it all done. Let’s see, I’d need to clean out closets, touch up paint on a few walls, maybe completely repaint Ava’s room (it’s awfully bright), de-clutter everywhere, and do some overall cleanup in the yard. I don’t know that it would be too big an undertaking. I think it’s do-able.

So why the hesitation? Well, taking on a bigger mortgage payment scares the heck out of me for some reason. I don’t want to be house poor. I like shopping, going out to lunch, shopping, Starbucks, shopping. You get the picture.

Also, the idea of keeping my house ready for showings is really stressful to me. I have two children, one of whom is around most of the time. He can mess up a clean space in about half a second. And in this market, I’m scared we’ll have to be showing-ready for the next 8 months. Yuck.

But there are pros, too. A new house would be fun and exciting. More space would make me really happen. A bigger kitchen would rock my world. A closet in my own bedroom would thrill me. (I currently occupy the one in Ava’s room, which is pretty sizable. She has one of the two in Davis’ room. He has the other. And the Husband has our master walk-in, which is smaller than the one I have, for some reason).

I’d also like a master bath with 2 sinks. Ours has one. Only one of us can be in there at a time. It’s not working anymore. And I’d kind of like to have 2 stories. As I said before, a ranch is really great. But we can’t really get away from each other when we need to. Morgan needs a man cave. I need an office. And the kids need a real playroom.

We also need a windfall of cash to make it all more comfortable.

Stay tuned. We’ll see what happens.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

It’s not just a minivan. It’s a lifestyle.

Well, I did it. I bought a minivan. You know, the one thing I swore up and down I would never, ever do? And here’s something else: I’m a little bit in love with it. It’s just SO much easier to tote the kids around.

The only thing it needs is a retractable screen like you see in limos to really give me some front seat privacy!

Yesterday, I was driving with the kids, and we were jamming out to Kids Bop 16. If you are fortunate enough to be unfamiliar with the Kids Bop CDs, they take the most popular pop songs and re-record them with kids on vocals. They’re fairly horrible. For instance, Kids Bop 16 includes a kid version of “Boom Boom Pow.” And “Shorty Fire Burning.” (Or maybe it’s “SHAWTY Fire Burning.” Need to look into that).

Anyway, here’s the thought that occurred to me as I was driving to this so-called music: “Hmm. I’m driving in a minivan, and I’m listening to Kids Bop. Yep, that seems about right.” Oh, but today, Ava and I jammed out to some Live Phish on the way to school. So, balance.

The Odyssey just suits me right now. And I have no stigma about driving it. At 30, maybe I would have. But at 34, I am who I am, and I’m comfortable with that.

Besides, if we hang on to it long enough, I  might be able to force it on one of the kids when they turn 16. How embarrassing would that be for a first car?

Speaking of 16, it seems my 5-year-old is turning 16. Or at least making me dread the day she does. Talking back is becoming worse and worse around here. The other morning, she was really mad at me. First, for making her do too much (like the slave driver that I am, I asked her to take her dishes to the sink when she finished her breakfast).  A few breaths later, she declared that I ALWAYS treat her like a baby. Then I said something about wanting to get ready for school, at which point she screamed, “Yes, I do want to get ready for school! I want to go to school just so I can get a break from YOU!”


It took me a second to recover from that one. I just reminded myself that this is the same child who is beside herself with sadness if I leave her just to go out for a run. Clearly, I am loved and hated, all at once.

Not wanting to react too quickly, I chose to ignore her pleasantries for the time being. Later that afternoon, we were engaged in an intense game of Monopoly Jr., and I took a moment to remind her that everyone has feelings, and that we should take a moment to think about what we say before we open our mouths. Her reply? A very truthful, “But I did need a break from you.”

I give up.

In other news, Davis continues to knock over the chair in the den. It’s better, I suppose, than when a floor lamp was his home furnishing of choice for demolition.

Darn kids.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Grammy Recap

I am such a sucker for an awards show. Emmys, Oscars, Golden Globes. I watch ‘em all. I have a teeny  bit of an obsession with celebrity culture. It’s okay, though. No need for a 12-step program. Yet.

I was pretty excited about the Grammys, because in general, they highlight real music, not just the music that the American public deems good. Plus, they highlight just enough pop to make me happy.

I gotta say, though, last night’s show was a bit of a disappointment. Way too heavy on Justin Bieber. I have tried and tried to stifle my negative thoughts about this kid. He’s only, what? Sixteen? Seventeen? He’s a baby. But his music makes me nuts. He can sing, sure. And dance. And apparently have skin that any woman would die for.

Ok, so. Highlights for me.

1. The opening tribute to Aretha Franklin. I’m not a huge fan of Christina Aguilera, but man, that girl can sing. I think that she pretty much made everyone forget her little Star Spangled flub at the Superbowl.

2. Mumford and Sons/Avett Brothers. Love, love love. I was slow to get on the Avett train, but I do love these NC boys. And Mumford & Sons. XM radio introduced them to me, and I’ve been hooked for a while. Both groups have such a cool, unique style. Sadly, when Bob Dylan joined them, the performance went downhill. But more on old Bob in a few.

mumford sons grammys 2011 06

3. Mick Jagger. Do I even need to elaborate? Probably not, but I will. At 67 (I think), the man has got it. He performs with the same energy he had when he was 27. No one struts like he does. No one is a better front man. His love for performing is so intoxicating. Love him.

Mick Jagger Feb. 14

That brings me back to poor Bob Dylan. I’ve never been a big fan of his unique voice. Great songwriter, and yes, a legend. But unlike Mick, he probably should just let us remember him as he was. He’s just getting a little old for this.

4. Eminem. He and Jay-Z are the best rappers out there. He takes his work so seriously, and he’s good. Really good. Rhianna’s performance dress was gorgeous. That song, though. “Love the Way You Lie.” I find it a little hard to listen to, as it seems to kind of endorse domestic violence. You know, the whole “I’m going to burn this house down with you inside if you betray me again.” Just doesn’t seem quite right, but I’m not Eminem, so whatever.

rihanna eminem grammys 01

6. Gwyneth and Cee-Lo. Eek! Gwynnie on the Grammys! I heart her beyond what would be considered normal. She looked hot. Kind of Olivia Newton John-ish in those feather earrings. Does anything ever go badly for her? She did seem a little nervous, but I would have been nervous descending stairs in those shoes, too!

And a few other observations:

1. Why was John Mayer channeling Johnny Depp?

2. Seth Rogen’s funny remark about getting high backstage with Miley Cyrus was hysterical.

3. Who would have ever thought that Jennifer Hudson would be skinnier than Christina Aguilera? And more importantly, how does Xtina feel about this?

4. Kate Hudson would never be with the lead singer of Muse if he were not the lead singer of Muse.

5. Katy Perry seems like a sweet girl, and I like that she brought her grandmother as her guest. I’ll be honest. I like her music a little bit, too. It’s catchy.

Okay, I must sign off and free my young son from time out, where he is paying the price for continually (and on purpose) knocking over a chair.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Hello, Friday, My Old Friend

Whew. Another long week. I’m happy my old friend the weekend is back.

I work from home 1, sometimes 2 days a week. I try to make this happen when the kids are at school. It’s a good gig. Just enough work for now. I’m working this afternoon, though, and the kids are at home. They are, in fact, in the very room in which I’m supposed to be working, making as much noise as humanly possible.

WHY, I ask you. WHY???

Also, Davis keeps overturning a chair. This is one of his favorite past times of late, and one of my least favorite. He also enjoys leveling the contents of a coffee table as fast as humanly possible. And then saying, “oh, man!” Funny, yes, at least the first 200 times. Then it’s just annoying. But at least he’s cute, so he kind of gets away with such Dennis the Menace behaviors.

Girls and boys are funny in their differences. I could always count on toddler Ava to keep things tidy, and to be quiet in her play. Don’t get me wrong. The girl could throw a tantrum to rival Veruca Salt (see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory if you don’t know who I’m talking about). But she was never destructive in her play. And she was always up for snuggling up for a book. Davis? Not so much, except at bedtime.

The upside of this wild boy behavior is that he’s pretty worn out by bedtime, and he loves to sleep. You lay him down, he says, “nye nye”, and then you typically don’t hear from him again for 12 hours. Naps are good, too. Today, in fact, school was apparently so taxing that he wanted to fall asleep on the kitchen floor. I wish I had taken a picture. We walked in the door, he grabbed his blanket and lovey, and immediately laid down on the floor and closed his eyes. He objected when I tried to put him in bed, apparently unaware that the kitchen floor is an inappropriate place for a nap.

Okay, I must go get dinner ready for the munchkins. And also? It just came to my attention that we are OUT OF WINE. Seriously? SERIOUSLY? Egads. I briefly considered having a Miller Lite out of the fridge, but, well, yuck. I’m not THAT desperate. I’ll just go eat some chocolate while I figure out how to address this travesty that has befallen me.

Happy weekend, everyone.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My split personalities

Hello, friends! It seems I am losing a battle with my inner self. That’s right, folks. I think that within a few weeks, I will be a Honda Odyssey owner.

2008 Honda Odyssey Touring

I’d like to think I’m too cool for such a thing, but the bottom line is, I’m not. And while I’m not super-frugal, I’m penny-pinching enough that $100/week to fill up a Suburban or Denali just doesn’t do much for me.

The truth is that I’m a stay-at-home mom. I sometimes have four kids in my car. I always have a lot of stuff in my car, regardless of kids. And we go to the beach a lot.

I thought about a slightly bigger SUV, but really, the stupid minivan just makes sense. A DVD player that I can actually control from the front seat? Yes, please. Captain’s seats in the middle, rather than a bench?  Okay, I’ll take that. Oh, and those power sliding doors. Yes, those are really appealing.I think it could be fun on kid-free road trips with the girls, too. Imagine the possibilities of a carful of women heading to the beach in an Odyssey with no kids!

Now, when I get a bee in my bonnet about a purchase, I can’t let it go. I come by it quite honestly. I think that my dad would admit that he’s the same way. So, in my mind, I should have my new car yesterday.

However, I am married to someone who is a little more laid-back about such things, and probably a little more frugal. We’re complementary like that. It’s for the best, really. But it does mean that I have pretty much volunteered to do the legwork, and then bring Morgan in for negotiations.

I’m scared of that party. I mean, at what point do you say, yeah, okay, that seems like a good enough deal. I’ll take it. This is where I need my poker-faced husband.

I’m looking for a black one, or maybe dark gray, to give me a tiny bit of edginess with my mommymobile. And it can’t look like a pre-owned van. Honestly, I know how messy my own kids can be, and I just can’t bring myself to purchase someone else’s milk-stained, Cheerio-crusted car. Frankly, I would like brand-spankin-new, but my voice-of-reason husband is bringing me back to earth on that one.

I promise one thing: you will NOT see those little stick figure family members adhered to my rear window.


I HATE those. (No offense, Hansen Family. I do not know you, though).

One thing you may see, however, is me, parked in carpool line, reading The Hunger Games on my Kindle.


If you don’t know, this is a series of books that was written for young adults. You know, teenagers. Or maybe younger. But, like Twilight before it, The Hunger Games has captivated my attention to the point that I would sort of like to ignore my family and duties for the next day or so and finish it. So good. And there are two more after I finish this one. And a movie coming out, too!

In fact, I think I’ll go read a little right now. Ta-ta!

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Trouble With Staying at Home

I can’t speak for working moms, but I think one of the toughest things about being a stay at home mom is trying to strike a balance between hanging with the kids and getting real stuff done.

Mean Mom Confession: I don’t really like playing with my kids.

Maybe that sounds terrible. Maybe it IS terrible. But it’s the truth. I enjoy hearing the funny things they say. I like seeing them interact with one another. I like hearing about Ava’s day at school. I love Davis’ recent vocabulary explosion. But I kind of want them to entertain themselves.

Now, I don’t mind an occassional game with Ava (Pinkalicious Scrabble Jr. is actually pretty fun), or some quality reading time. I sometimes can even get into a little coloring. It’s therapeutic. I particularly like to color Disney Princesses.

Clearly, I will not be homeschooling.

We’ve had an especially long week around here. Davis was assaulted by the stomach bug Saturday night. I had a trace of it on Sunday. And Monday. And Wednesday. It then claimed Ava as a victim on Monday afternoon, in the middle of Kroger. So, she stayed home from school on Tuesday, even though she was 100%  better.

That day, while Davis napped, Ava and I wrote a little book called “The Adventures of Ava and Davis.” It was just a silly rhyming story of a fictitious rainy Saturday. The whole time we were writing (I wrote, she illustrated), she kept saying how much she loved doing it, and how much fun she was having. Very sweet. It made me feel like I need to devote special time to her every day. Then again, that laundry is not self-cleaning.

So, the next day, we engaged in the aforementioned Pinkalicious Scrabble. It was fun. And then she beat me. And that was fine, except for the sing-songy, “I beat you! I’m better than you are!”

That was when we had to learn about sore winners.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I adore my kids. Obviously. But I kind of have to make an effort to enjoy actually playing with them. And I’m really trying, because I know that in a few months, Ava will be in school all day, and I won’t have these extra hours in the afternoon.

For now, I must sign off. There is laundry to be folded. And due to that nasty little stomach bug, I have not had any wine in a week. I think it’s time to remedy that.

Hello, Friday.