Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Oh, the Places She'll Go

First day of school poses

Well, summer officially came to an end today when I took Ava to her first day of Kindergarten. If you live in Wake County, you probably know that the public schools do something called "staggered entry." Basically, they just bring about a quarter of the students in each day for assessment. Ava's staggered day is today, and then her first "real" day with her teacher and classroom is on Thursday. But, today is a full day, so it felt pretty real.

I spent my summer feeling ready for her to go off to school. After all, she's six years old, and did a half day kindergarten last year. I was like, "Yeah, we've got this. No big deal at all." In my mind, I scoffed at parents who were so sad to be sending their babies off to school.

So, off we went this morning. I was organized. Lunch was packed last night. The backpack was ready. Requested paperwork was filled out. Ava was asleep at a decent hour. I even did a cycle class at 6am, took a shower, dried my hair, and put on makeup. And a new dress. (Back to school clothes aren't just for kids, you know). Ava had picked out her outfits for the whole week back in July, so we were good.

We arrived on time, and just for today, we were asked to walk the kids in. Ava had expressed a teensy (ok, lots) of anxiety before we left, but as soon as we walked into her school, she was giddy. She was skipping down the hall, thrilled to see her new home away from home. The problem came when we got to the classroom, and there was about a 7 minute wait to get her checked in. That's when the big anxiety set in. I expected that, though. She's always been a high-stress kid, and I didn't think today would be the day she would deviate from her own ways. She was clingy, but after a gentle nudge, she went into the classroom.There were some tears, but I know that's how she is, I urged her on.

I was fine.

Until I turned around and started to leave.

That's when I felt the tightness in my throat. The tears in my eyes. What? This was not what I had expected from myself. I managed to keep it together, but to be honest, I think if I had allowed it, I could have bawled my eyes out.

Luckily for me, a good friend had invited Davis and me to come over, and she had a celebratory mimosa waiting for me when I got there. Best surprise of my day.

I have about another hour until I go pick Ava up. I won't lie - Davis is napping and I'm enjoying a very quiet house. I can't wait to hear about Ava's day, though.

To all of you whose emotional states I may have mocked when your kids went off to school, my sincere apologies. It turns out you were right.


Thursday, August 25, 2011


Friends, it's time I confessed something to you. I need to be honest, and I hope that you won't judge me. I have a secret, and I need to get it off my chest.

Okay, here goes.

I am a Britney Spears fan.


Glad that's over.

Are you judging me? Really? You? With the Justin Beiber CD that you say is for your kids? No, I didn't think so.

Last night I went to see Britney in concert for the second time in two years. There was a time when I may have tried to hide my love for her, but I've come to terms with the fact that I need a good pop princess in my life. And besides, there is probably no better people watching anywhere. Seriously, Britney's fan base puts "People of Wal-Mart" to shame.

I saw everything last night. And when I say everything, believe me, it was everything. Like, all of people's body parts. Which reminds me, here's a little PSA for you: if you are going to a concert, and you're thinking of wearing a very short dress or skirt, you may want to do a little trial run of walking up a flight of stairs, just to make sure the dress isn't showing all of your bits. The people who are seated at the end of the row, next to the arena stairs, will be grateful. Really. I saw this from experience.

I was also introduced to a term I was previously unaware of: Kentucky Waterfall. Most of you probably already know what this is, but if not, let me show you:

Let me tell you something: even if Britney had never gotten on stage, my favorite friends and I would have been fully entertained by our own snarky comments about all those around us.

Onto the show, though.

DJ Pauly D, of Jersey Shore fame, was the opening act.

I'm pretty sure he had done about an eight ball of cocaine before taking stage because he had an unnatural amount of energy. I like the whole DJ thing at a pop concert, though. Otherwise, you get some terrible opening act that you never wanted to see in the first place. Pauly D did a good job of getting the crowd excited, and he played all the cheesy dance/pop songs you had to admit you like.

Forty minutes later, Britney took the stage. The crowd was frighteningly screamy, and Britney emerged looking good for someone who has had two kids and a total meltdown. In other words, she didn't look bad in any of her 2-piece ensembles, but her one-piece numbers were much more flattering.

I give you photographic evidence:

One piece (you know, like what the rest of us wear all the time):

Two piece:

Obviously, I would not cry if my abs looked like that. She's definitely doing better than me. But I do see a little normalish-ness in her. And I like that.

The biggest thing I noticed, though, is that Brit seemed to be having a really good time on stage. (Notice I didn't say "singing." The entire show was lip-synched. No surprise there). 

I just think Britney is kind of adorable, in a trailer park sort of way. I root for her. I've liked her since way back in the "....Baby, One More Time" days. I want things to go well for her. And I was glad to see her having a good time on stage, doing what she does best. 

That's all for me. 6am workout comes early, so must go to bed now.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Shoe wars.

My daughter has officially become tacky. When we go shopping for clothes for her, she is no longer drawn to simple, easy frocks. She doesn't gravitate toward anything smocked. We butted heads in a store last week when she didn't want to try on an adorable dress.

When we're out, no matter what lovliness surrounds us, she goes for anything with tulle, hearts, peace signs. Lace is good for her, too. Sparkles, even better. The more going on, the better. When we went to a Kelly's Kids show last week, I walked out having purchased this:

It wasn't my first choice. Not by a long shot. But Ava loved it, and it was better than some of the other things she's pointed out lately. I'm trying to give her a little leeway on her clothing, but I have to do it in baby steps. There's just too much tacky out there. And while I know it doesn't really matter what she's wearing, I do like for her to look age-appropriate. And let's face it, dressing my kids is a little bit of a hobby for me. 

One place I think I'm going to have to stand firm, however, is on shoes. Last year, in a moment of weakness, I got talked into these:

Skechers Twinkle Toes Groovy

Are they horrible? Well, no. But they are just BUSY. Really busy. And they don't go with everything. And I just don't like them. That's the bottom line. I. Don't. Like. Them. Period.

So, I wasn't at all disappointed when they started getting too small last spring, and Ava picked out a cute pair of New Balance kicks to replace them. 

Now, though, it's back to school time, and guess who wants Twinkle Toes again? I just don't think I can bring myself to purchase another pair. I'm trying to talk her into these Converse Jack Purcells from J.Crew:

Girls' Converse® Jack Purcell® metallic sneakers
I think they're a great compromise. Still sparkly, but not so busy. Miss Inflexible is being pretty insistent on the Twinkle Toes, but I think this is one battle that Mommy is actually going to win. 

I'll let you know how it all turns out.


I Feel the Earth Move Under My Feet. Or not.

A little while ago, the kids and I walked in the door from a morning at the pool. Within seconds, my cell phone started ringing. I ignored it because I was getting ready to put Davis down for a much-needed nap. A couple of minutes later, my doorbell rang. Worried that something had happened to a neighbor (see what a good person I am?), I actually went to the door. Sure enough, there was my neighbor. She asked me if my house had just shook. It had not. At least not that I had noticed. I assumed she was probably just being dramatic and went about my day.

Davis went down for a nap, and I immediately got on Facebook. Imagine my surprise when EVERYONE IN RALEIGH was updating their status to reflect the EARTHQUAKE that they all felt.

I feel totally let down. I mean, how many times am I, a Southern girl, going to feel an earthquake when I'm not visiting California?

So, just to make sure this earthquake was legit, I went to CNN.com. And the Huffington Post. And I found this map, showing just where this alleged quake hit:

Hmmm. Being a Southern girl and also an East Coast girl, I don't know much about earthquakes. Just that I don't really want one coming my way. It's crazy that a quake in VA, close to DC, can be felt all these miles away. Supposedly. Remember, I didn't feel it. And I'm kind of bitter about that. Hmph. Honestly, I don't know how I didn't feel it. All I can figure is that it happened while we were walking up our brick steps into the house, and maybe the bricks are just sturdy enough for us not to feel it.

It's probably a good thing. I live with the world's most dramatic 6-year-old, who already fears all major weather events. The fact that we're fully into hurricane season is a major source of stress for her. 

Speaking of hurricanes, Irene is bearing down on the Carolinas. If you see Ava, please don't tell her. Seriously. Her OCD will send both of us over the edge. 

Earthquakes, hurricanes......obviously,  the end of the world is upon us. What's next? Locusts? Pestilence? 

Everyone batten down the hatches!


Monday, August 22, 2011

Why so hot, Mila?

You all know my heart belongs to Gwyneth. But I kind of have a new #2 girl crush.Mila Kunis is just pure gorgeous. I'm pretty sure my husband adores her. And what breathing man wouldn't? She's that perfect combination of cute AND sexy. And I'm sure that crazy scene in Black Swan won her quite a few new fans.

Anyway, I especially think her makeup is always great for red carpet events. And since my life so often calls for red carpet makeup, I'm often looking for styles to emulate. Or not. But once in a while, I go out, so maybe I need to try new makeup applications. 

Her Golden Globes dress was perfection this year:

And, of course, she's pretty darn cute in casual attire with Justin Timberlake in Friends With Benefits (which I am dying to see). 

Her co-star is pretty fun to look at, too. 

Oh, and she rocks aviators like nobody's business:

So, yes, while I remain true to GP, I do like Mila's downtown chic. 

PS: When looking for images of Mila, I came across some of Leighton Meester, because apparently some people think they favor each other. I don't think they do, but that did remind me that Gossip Girl is bound to be starting back soon, and that brings me nothing but pure elation.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Madeline Party

Ava's official birthday was last Sunday, but the celebration started Friday and didn't end until bedtime Sunday. That's the nice thing about a Sunday birthday, especially if you're turning six.

On Friday night, my father-in-law and his wife kicked off the celebration with a visit and dinner, and, of course, gifts for the birthday girl.

The celebration continued on Saturday when my parents came up. I think they topped everyone, gift-wise, when they surprised Ava with Molly, another American Girl doll. Note the expression of pure elation:

They also gave her the cutest bunk bed for Molly and Ava's other doll, Emily. They got it from a man at the farmer's market, and it was a fraction of what they would have paid at American Girl, and it is so nice! My mom painted it.
I won't bore you with all the gift-opening pictures, but let's just say it was kind of like Christmas in our house on Sunday. Ava came to the breakfast table to find this pile waiting for her. Ridiculous.
It was basically an American Girl-fest. She got a couple of outfits (which were actually the cheapies from Michael's), the AG wheelchair, and the Get Better Set, which includes crutches and casts. I'm not sure where Ava's obsession with orthopedics is coming from, but you better believe I plan to encourage it. 

And, yes, of course she got something from the Lilly store. Duh.

She also got a couple of books, including one I am just crazy about, called Just Being Audrey. It's about Audrey Hepburn, and the illustrations are just fantastic. 


Tres bien! 
Now, naturally, Ava doesn't love the book quite as much as I do, but I think one viewing of Breakfast at Tiffany's will take care of that. 

So, the rest of the day was spend preparing for Ava's party. She had requested a Madeline theme, which was a little challenging. We decided to do a couple of crafts and watch the Madeline movie.

The inspiration:

Since I had scheduled the party for 4:30pm, I knew I had all the time in the world to prepare. And I really thought I had it together. I had done all my craft supply shopping during the week, had ordered the cake, and the house was mostly clean. So really, all I had to do was a couple of teensy little things, and we'd be set.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

My first problem was with the Eiffel Tower cookies I had decided to make for the girls to decorate. I got a great cookie cutter from Amazon, but it was HUGE. I didn't think it would be a problem. However, thanks to Pillsbury sugar cookie dough (yes, the refrigerated kind) not being all that user-friendly, it took me 2 freaking hours to make 24 cookies. 

In between cookie batches, I used my glue gun to attach satin ribbon to straw hats. This was my attempt to make hats like Madeline and her friends wear. No real glitches there, but I think my lack of craft skills was really evident. 

Next, I needed to attach tags to the favor bags. My hole punch was not cooperating at all. Have you ever tried to hole-punch a plastic bag? It doesn't work so well. This was the best I could do:

I managed to throw a few streamers up, as well as a banner, but honestly, they aren't blog-photo-worthy.
Before the girls arrived, I grabbed a quick shower, and tried hard to look cute, knowing that I would be assisting in cookie-decorating as well as painting. 

As soon as the girls arrived, Davis woke up from his nap. He was so excited to see a flock of hat-wearing girls come into his room.  

The girls got to work decorating their cookies. Davis got in on the action, too, and also insisted on having a hat. (This picture will be saved and shown during his rehearsal dinner).
Next, it was time to paint the masterpieces. I had gotten 5x7 canvases at an art-supply store, and just let the girls use Crayola kids paint (washable) to paint anything they wanted. 

Of course, the little brother couldn't be left out.

Six-year-old LOVE present time. Then again, so do 35-year olds. 

To get some energy out before the movie, we decided it was time to go outside. 

Ava and Frazier have been friends since they were in 2-year old preschool together:

My birthday girl and me:

Sweet friends:

Hugs with Daddy:

Next up was cake;

Then it was movie time. Ahh....a few minutes of quiet;

After the guests left, I had a large glass of wine and about passed out from exhaustion. In the meantime, Ava and Davis kept their own little party going:

The party was a success, but it's clear that my crafting skills need some help. Like, professional help. It's okay, though. If it wasn't for people like me, all you crafty types wouldn't be able to shine so bright. 

I'm off now to enjoy a few more days at the beach. The kids and I have been here since Tuesday, and have to go back home for the last week of summer on Sunday. I'm sad that it's all coming to an end, but I think I'll be happy to get back into a normal routine.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Happy Birthday, Ava

My firstborn turned 6 today. Six! It’s so cliché, but really, it doesn’t seem like more than a year or two ago that I was bringing my little girl home from the hospital. Six years ago, she looked like this:


Sometimes, when I look at her sleeping, I can still see that newborn baby. The one that looked nothing like me, and everything like her daddy. She’s grown up a lot, but she’s still Ava. Still spunky, still full of personality. Still snuggly. We have our moments of conflict (often), but I still think she is absolutely the best girl in the world. I love watching her learn, seeing how her little mind works, and watching her grow up more and more every day.

While I certainly don’t want her growing up too fast, I do look forward to her adult years, and hope that she will see me not just as her mother, but as a confidante, and a friend. I think that’s the thing about daughters – another girl will come along and take your boys’ hearts, but there isn’t much that can come between a girl and her mother.

So, to my daughter, I say this:

Ava, if you ever remember anything about your childhood, remember this: your Daddy and I are so in love with you, we could never put our feelings into actual words. You brighten our days, you make us laugh, and you make us proud (even though you hate it when we tell you that). You have amazed us with your love for your brother, and your kindness to him (most of the time). You are such a loving, sensitive soul, and our lives are better because of you.

Happy birthday, sweet girl.


Thursday, August 11, 2011


The other night, we actually had the rare opportunity to eat dinner as a family. The kids had just returned from their weekend with my parents, and we were enjoying a little time together. Corn, which is the kids’ summer favorite, was on the menu.

Sadly, there was only enough corn for everyone to have one ear. Ava complimented the corn, and I said something like, “Savor that ear, because it’s all we have tonight.”

Her reply?

“No more corn?? DAMMON!”

Dammon? Hmmm. That sounds suspiciously like “damn it.” No idea where she could have heard such a thing. Certainly not from her mother.

I asked her to repeat herself. Again, she said, “Dammon!”

Well, that did it. Between the mispronunciation of her new cuss word and the  fact that she was saying it, I lost it. I could not stifle my laughter. It was terrible. Morgan, being the more mature parent, calmly mentioned that that’s a word that isn’t nice to say, and only adults can say it. And then he moved on.

As for me? I was unable to speak or make eye contact with anyone at dinner, lest I start laughing uncontrollably. Again.

I know that all kids have to lose their cussing virginity. I’m pretty sure that when I was around Ava’s age, I let my own version of “dammon” slip while playing a game on the Intellivision. (Remember how cool Intellivision was? Gotta love being a child of the 80s).

Frankly, though, I thought I would be able to be a little more parent-like when it happened to us. No such luck.

Oh well. So far, that’s the only time we’ve heard it. The rest of the week she’s been back to her usual “poopie head.” Hmmm. Maybe I like “dammon” better.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Candles on my cake

I think that title is the name of an OPI nail polish color. Why is it that I can probably name at least ten nail polish colors, but would be at a loss to list all of the world’s major bodies of water? (Those always stump me on Jeopardy).

My birthday came and went yesterday, and it was a really fun day. I didn’t do anything extraordinary, but I just enjoyed myself and felt really happy all day long. As I think I mentioned last week, this birthday was number 35 for me. I’ll be honest….it’s the first birthday I haven’t really been excited about. I feel like at thirty-five, I’m supposed to have my act totally together, my life 100% on track, and just be a bona fide adult.

Truth be told, that’s not me at all most days. Maybe I pull off the illusion once in a while, but half the time I still question my own decisions, wonder if I’m disciplining my kids correctly, struggle with making adult choices, and often run to my parents for support. I just don’t really FEEL thirty-five. Or, as I told my sister, I don’t feel like I expected to feel at thirty-five. At least not if you’d asked me a decade ago.

It’s funny, when we have babysitters, I sort of have this whole imaginary thing going on in my head where the babysitters can SO relate to me because we’re SO close in age. In reality, I’m pretty sure they see me the same way I used to see the moms whose kids I would watch. They were nice, and maybe hip thirtysomethings, but they were definitely WAY older than me. So we both watch Real Housewives of New Jersey? That just gives us something in common. It doesn’t make us peers.

And that’s okay.

And you know what else?

I got carded last week.

So take that, mid-thirties.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Restful weekend, busy week

Happy Monday! My weekend of peace and quiet came to an end yesterday at lunchtime, but it sure was nice while it lasted. Morgan had a golf trip (shocker), and I planned a few weeks ago to ship the kids off to my parents’ house for the weekend. Luckily, my parents are nice enough to actually accept my begging request to keep them. I’m not sure they really knew what they were in for with a 2-year-old boy, but they survived.

I, on the other hand, really enjoyed having my house all to myself. I almost didn’t want to do anything but stay in my little cocoon all weekend. That didn’t happen, though. On Friday, I hit the Tanger Outlets in Mebane, NC for a little light shopping. You can imagine my delight when I discovered a Vineyard Vines outlet had just opened!

I got a great deal on a couple of things for Davis: a bathing suit for next year and a pair of tan cords for winter. Both more than 50% off.

At Brooks Brothers, I scored a bathing suit for Morgan for $32. That, my friends, is a bargain, especially when you consider the retail price on those things is $85.

So, the boys scored well, but Ava and I got nothing. At least not that day.

Saturday was supposed to start with a run, but it was storming when I got up, so I scrapped that idea and enjoyed an episode of Design Star with my cup of coffee.

There was maybe a little more shopping that day. Old Navy had their kids’ jeans for $10 (and tax-free), so I got one pair for Ava.

Everything else there was meh. I’m just not ready for Ava to look like a miniature Ke$ha.

And lest you think I left myself out of this shopping extravaganza, I finally got myself a cute tennis outfit.

adidas Response Tank WFa11_O04713 adidas Response Skirt WFa11_O04678

Saturday also included a Peach Milkshake at Chick Fil A. Yum.

The weekend went by way too fast, that’s for sure. I didn’t tackle any of the projects around the house that needed to get done, but that’s okay. I was kind of on a little vacation. If I could do that about once a month, I think my sanity level would be much better.

This week we’re right back into busy life. I started my  Monday with a 6am workout at Heat, and it was a killer. I’m fairly certain the instructor was attempting to kill us all. Fortunately for him, he’s pretty cute, so he can get away with torture.

Later in the week, we’ve got my birthday AND Ava’s birthday, which also includes a party at our house. I’m scrambling this week to get prepared for that. It’s a Madeline party, and I’ll share all the details with you next week.

Ava is in American Girl doll camp every morning this week (yes, there really is such a thing), so I’ve got my trusty sidekick, Davis, to help me with all my party-prep errands. Today we went to Michael’s. We’re probably not welcome back. Ever. I’m thinking of getting a sitter for him for a couple of hours tomorrow so I can run the rest of my errands in peace.

For now, I’m happy. I have dinner prepped and ready to go in the oven (vegetarian baked ziti), and a loaf of banana blueberry bread baking as I type. The kitchen smells good!

I hear the sounds of creaking crib, letting me know Davis is waking up. I promised Ava a trip to the library, so off we go.



Sunday, August 7, 2011

House envy

I recently saw that author Emily Giffin (of Something Borrowed fame) is selling her Atlanta home. If I had $2.2 million and was moving to Atlanta, I would buy it. It’s pretty much my dream house.

Prepare to drool:

(all images from Wall Street Journal website)

5847223097_b370b1cdbd_b[1]Exterior. Hi, pretty house.

5847223117_4e5cd45453_b[1] Living room: chic, yet cozy. And not too formal.


Kitchen. Perfection. What kind of wood is that table? I likey.


Family room. Love the doors heading to the porch. Bringing the outdoors in.


Another view of the family room. I am in love with the ceiling and the arcitechtural details of the room. All those arches.


Master bedroom, filled with light from that huge window.


Ava would adore this room. I particularly like the chandelier.


Emily apparently has twin boys, and this is their room. I can’t ever get enough stripes, and I really like the single initial pillows.


The hardscape yard. Probably the one drawback, at least from a family perspective. It doesn’t change the fact that it’s gorgeous. Oh, and how about that sweet little guest house?


Another view. Isn’t the house a cool shape?

So, I am sufficiently green with envy, and you probably are, too. I know I just feel good knowing that by purchasing some of Emily’s novels, I have contributed to the loveliness that is this home.