Thursday, November 17, 2011

Maybe I Should Change My Last Name To Duggar?

What I'm about to say sounds crazy, but just go with me here, ok?

I'm going to attempt to make my own laundry detergent. 

I know, I know, it's 2011, and these products are readily available at my local grocery store.  And, no, I haven't decided to run off to Arkansas and join the Duggar family.  My awesome friend Ashley (she writes a blog called Organized Homemaking), got me interested in trying this.  She and I are what I like to call "famously frugal."   We love finding new ways to save money.  This one is apparently a HUGE saver! 

After lots of highly intensive research (I did a Google search), I found that there are a lot of "recipes" out there for laundry detergent.  Most of them are for the liquid variety, which is the kind I normally use.  They seem pretty labor intensive and involve "cooking" the mixture and monitoring it to make sure it doesn't burn.  This is the kind that you see the Duggar Family make on 19 Kids and Counting.  I'm sure it probably works great and it's worth all the effort, but I don't have teenager in my house that I can ask to take on this project.  There a two preschool age children in my house and one stay-at-home mommy, and frankly, I don't have time to "cook" my laundry detergent.  So I found a recipe for the powdered variety on a great website called DIY Natural.  It seems MUCH simpler, and this is what I plan on trying. 

The website estimates that their homemade detergent costs $0.05 a load, compared to an average of $0.21 a load for the name brand detergent.  Since I don't trust anyone (I mean, come on!  I won't even use my name on this blog!), I'll do my own price comparison. 

Here's the link to the recipe:

I'll let you know how it goes.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Halloween Update

This year's costumes turned out pretty good. 

Captain Hook & Tinkerbell

Me and my munchkins

And for your enjoyment, a blast from the past:

Estimate1992, I think

6th grade?? 

My mom, way back when

The Trunk or Treat event at church was awesome.  Headed to a costume birthday party tomorrow.  Trick or Treating on Monday.   I love this time of year!!

Monday, October 24, 2011

My Halloween Obsession

I love dressing up for Halloween.

I mean it.  I really LOOOOOOOOOVE dressing up for Halloween. 

When I was a kid, my mom would let me come up with whatever I wanted to be, no matter how crazy or difficult to make, and that's exactly what I'd be.  She'd let me creative visions guide our work, even if how I wanted to make the costume wasn't necessarily the best way.  I dressed up as almost every character imaginable. 

Strawberry Shortcake
A China Doll
Minnie Mouse
Scarlet O'Hara
The Ace of Hearts
Nancy Kerrigan
Crew Member from the Starship Enterprise

That's just the short list.  There are tons of other costumes.  Those are just the most memorable.  We spent hours at the local walmart or the hardware store or wherever had the crazy part we were looking for.  It was super fun and super memorable.

I am determined to do the same thing with my kids.  On Curly's first Halloween in 2007, I made this costume for her with no pattern.

In 2008, I bought this in Montgomery for her in February.

In 2009, I spent HOURS working on these costumes.  At age 2, she picked Snow White from the pattern catalog at the craft store.  Buddy's was put together from scratch.

Last year, she wanted to be a ballerina and he was in love with Bob the Tomato.

This year, she wants to be Tinkerbell.  He still isn't expressing a preference, so I figure this is the last year I will get to make them into a matching set.  He's going as Captain Hook. 

I had some elaborate plans for Curly's Tinkerbell costume, but Handsome pointed out to me that authenticity was probably more important to me than to her.  So we found a really sweet Tinkerbell costume at the local thrift store for $2.  Buddy's costume has been the time consuming one this year. 

They will make their debut on Wednesday at our church's Trunk or Treat event.  Pictures to come. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Lazy Blogger

I know, it's been forever.  Life has been busy, so sue me!

Handsome's new job is going well.  I'm STILL looking.  I have a few "nibbles" with some phone interviews, but nothing concrete.

Curly just started back to preschool today.  (See obligatory first day of school picture below)  They are now keeping her from 9 am to 1 pm, Mon, Wed & Fri.  We are required to send lunch with her, which now creates an entirely new set of issues.  They do not allow peanut butter, so our "lunch on the go" choices are pretty limited for my picky eater.

Other summer events that took place since I last posted included a weekend at the beach with some amazing friends.  We spent three glorious days at Carolina Beach, digging holes, building sand castles, jumping in waves and generally having a fabulous time.  The beach is WAY more fun with little kids!  Unfortunately I haven't downloaded those pics yet, so you'll have to see them later. 

Curly has discovered her own sense of fashion.  So as not to stifle her creativity (and lacking the energy to argue with her about it), we made many outings this summer with Curly sporting ensembles like this:

Buddy has also begun to assert his independence.  While his speech therapy is going amazingly well, and he's talking WAY more than he used to, he is also learning how to be defiant.  As exemplified below:

The monkeys had some other great times at recent events, especially at church.  Curly and her best buds got to spend some time on a water slide, at a rock concert and watching science experiments.  I think she likes being a big kid.

We also did lots of park playdates with friends.  We especially enjoyed those with the little guy pictured below. 

We also instituted what we like to call Family Movie Night.  We eat pizza, pop popcorn and cuddle up together as a family to watch a movie.  Curly loves it, but Buddy is still learning to sit still.  One day we'll go to a real theater.

That's pretty much how we spent our summer.  Just one more thing -

Kenan - you still need to wash your car.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

I can't believe I haven't posted in over almost a month!  There's really no excuse except I just haven't known what to say, there's been so much going on!  I'll break it down into categories, to make it easier.

Buddy developed a bad cough that wouldn't quit, then kindly passed it on to Curly and then me.  All 3 of us have taken antibiotics, which didn't work.  Buddy seems to be over it now, but after 3 weeks, Curly and I are still coughing.   We've driven everyone around us nuts, hacking up a lung everywhere we go.  I should probably by stock in Ricola cough drops.  I'm certain I've gone through the entire supply on the East Coast by now.   Unfortunately, I had to bow out of singing a solo at church that I had really been looking forward to sharing.  No one would have wanted to see me hack up there on the platform.  I didn't even make it to church that day (which is a BIG deal for us, since we practically live in that building!) 

So I haven't accomplished much lately.  I'd been working on a rocking chair for my friends, the McTriplet Family.  (They are expecting triplets next month)  I was too sick to attend the baby shower, and in the days leading up to it, was too sick to even work on it.  Hopefully I'll get it finished before the baby girls get here.  It matches their nursery perfectly.  I haven't even started on either of the dressers.  The job search has been going on in earnest, which has taken up a lot of my time (more on that later).  Hopefully, in the next few weeks, I'll have several photos of finished products to post.

Handsome officially has a new job.  He starts work for a major "not to be named on this blog" computer company next Wednesday.  He won't have any gap in his employment.  The only issue is that this new position is hourly, and carries no benefits, necessitating that I MUST get a job so we can insurance.  Not the most fun reason to work, but a valid one. 

I've sent out what feels like a million resumes now.  I have had a few new "nibbles."  I interviewed for a position with a nonprofit that sounded ideal.  The commute was a little long, but the benefits at this place were crazy good (100% health care paid for the entire family, 5 weeks of vacation up front, unlimited sick leave, etc.)  It was looking really promising, and I had been called for a second interview.  There was some crazy changes to the scheduling of the second interview, necessitating that we reschedule a family trip (more on this later).  Once we'd finally gotten it all straightened out, I received a message that they have decided to postpone hiring for the position all together.  Needless to say, I wasn't really happy about that.  I guess they lost some funding or something, and the most logical place to cut funds it to not hire the open position.  I've been assured that I was a "finalist" for the job and that I'll be contacted as soon as it re-opens, but who knows when that will be.  I also interviewed at a large, national health/kid services organization.  That interview went really well, but it looks like A LOT of late nights and weekends, and with 2 munchkins at home, that would be really really hard. 

I did apply for a job at a small university that is very close to our home.  The job sounds like I'd really enjoy it, and I even know someone in the department, who was very encouraging when I contacted her.  I am REALLY hoping I get an interview there, but who knows.

I keep praying two things:  that God would guide my steps, and make His will clear to me and to Handsome; and (this one is a little selfish) that if I MUST go back to work and leave my two precious children in someone else's care, that I would at least enjoy the job itself, so I won't be completely miserable.  I get the feeling that even though the benefits were great at the postponed job, that I would have hated the actual work itself. 

We'd been planning to visit Handsome's parents, who live 16 hours away in the Midwest in June, since who knows when he'll get another vacation.  We had planned to go the 19th to the 25th, but when my interview got rescheduled for the 24th (the one that was later canceled), we rearranged our travel plans, and left almost immediately for a visit.  We've been here since last Friday and will return home tomorrow.  The kids are having a great time and got to visit this awesome children's museum.  I'll post pics once we get home.  It has stormed a lot while we've been here, and my in-laws lost 4 trees in their yard during one of them. It's supposed to storm all day today, mostly likely severely in the afternoon.  Hopefully we won't have to spend all afternoon in the basement. 

My favorite name-sake aunt is coming for a very short visit as soon as we get back.  Hopefully I'll get to spend a couple of hours with her, and let the kids visit with her a bit.  I wish she could spend more time with us, but she and my mom are headed north to visit a friend, so they must get on the road ASAP. 

Well, there's an update.  Probably not very entertaining or funny, but hopefully we'll get back to those kinds of posts soon.  There's just so much change going on right now in our family, it's hard to focus on the humorous. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

Artists in Residence

This is how we spent our pre-bedtime, daylight hours yesterday:

A private art show is being held in our driveway.  At least until it rains...

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Getting Ahead of Myself...

So I now have 3 pieces waiting for me to complete them. 

I really enjoyed doing the last one, especially the selling it part!  We have the rocking chair, the 1940's dresser and another dresser I bought today. 

I worked up a quote for the lady I sold the last piece to, but I think she just asked for it so she could try to pick my brain about how I do this.  While I'm glad she admired my work, it seemed kinda rude to be asking for EXACTLY what I did for each and every step of the process.  I had already told her that this wasn't just a hobby and that I was trying to make some extra money for my family, but apparently she didn't care.  I didn't give her too much info and eventually just told her that if she wasn't happy with the results she got doing it on her own, that I'd be happy to redo it for her.  Oh well!

We've been moving the "workshop" from warehouse at the family business to our garage in our house.  This will make it a lot easier to finish stuff when I have spare time to work on it. That's what the major hold up has been.  I'm hoping to get at least one piece finished by the end of the weekend.

The rocking chair is sanded and ready to get working on.  The 40's dresser has the knobs removed and is ready to clean up and paint.

Today I sent Handsome off to pick up a large purchase I made on Craigslist.  I know I have 2 other projects waiting to be completed, but this seemed like a really good deal that I couldn't pass up.  He grabbed the high school senior who lived behind us to help him move it out of the second floor apartment that the lady who sold it lives in.  It's a solid mahogany dresser that I got for $40.  The handles are salvageable, and the damage is on the surface.  We paid the senior $5 for helping out, so my cost was $45. 

While the dresser is perfect for a make-over, apparently the apartment it came out of could have used the same.  Handsome said it was really smelly and there were cats everywhere.  Needless to say, I'll be wiping the whole thing down with Clorox wipes before I get started, just for my own sanity. 

While getting gas in town yesterday, I noticed an auction going on at the self storage place behind the gas station.  I was SOOOO tempted to go see how one of those works and see if there was anything I could pick up cheap. I might have to check it out in the future. 

I put a "wanted" ad on craigslist and have gotten some bites from that.  I've also been meaning to check out the flea market at the fair grounds and a store called Garage Brothers that apparently cleans out other people's spaces and sells the contents. 

Hopefully by the next post I'll have more before/after pics to post!! :)

Monday, May 23, 2011


Lots happening lately.  It's been crazy around here.  I know I always say that, but it always feels that way. 

Furniture Update:

So I sold my first piece!  I got impatient, and eventually dropped the price to $60, but it was a start!  I got an e-mail about it on Saturday and set up a pick up time for Sunday.  From Saturday until Sunday, I sat around rethinking the entire thing.  Did I "over-distress" it?  The antique wash was too uneven.  She was gonna take one look at it and change her mind.

The lady couldn't come get it herself, so she sent her husband.  He showed up on time, basically grabbed the dresser and left.  No feedback, nothing.  Kinda leaves you feeling weird. 

This morning when I got up, I had an e-mail from the lady who bought it.  She said, "My husband brought home the nightstand today and it's so beautiful I almost cried!! To say I love it is an understatement!"   She said it didn't quite match the bed she had just bought, and she wanted to know what I'd done to get the antique color. 

Thanks to Handsome and Red's good advice, I told her a small bit about what I did, but offered to refinish it for her or to refinish the bed I have that actually matches the side table.  She wants quotes for both options!!!  Hopefully I'll get some more business off this, but if not I've got lots of other projects to keep my super busy! 

Hoping to get the rocking chair going this week!!  I found the perfect fabric for it.

The seat and the back are both cushioned. and need recovering desperately.  I'm planning to paint the arms white, and distress them a little.  I think it will be really cute.  Hoping to make a little profit on it. 

I've really got to get started on bigger pieces to make some realy profit, but we're getting set up in the garage, so I'll be able to work at home.  :)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Adventures in Furniture Refinishing

My super cool, ultra hip friend/cousin's wife (aka Red) has been refinishing furniture in Atlanta and making a nice profit.  We've been talking about it for a while, and since the job hunt is not going well, I've decided to dabble in it myself.  Here's pics of my first project:

(Notice the nice shot of my brother-in-lawl laughing at me in the backgound)  It's a bedside table that we've had at the house for a while.  The drawers didn't open very well and the only thing being stored in it was junk Curly had decided to put in it.  It's kinda non-descript and boring, so I thought it would make a good place to start.  Plus I didn't have to buy it, so that saved us some cash!! 

I went with Handsome to our local home improvement store.  He's ALWAYS handy to take along for a couple of reasons.  #1  He gets a 10% discount because he's a veteran.  #2  He's really good at getting a great deal.  Reason #2 came in especially handy this time, since I was having to purchase all my initial supplies that can be used again (i.e. paint brushes, sand paper, scrapers, etc.).  After a nice chat with the sales dude, we found a great 3/4 full, used can of white paint that we were able to get for $5 (usually $25) and some brown that was 2/3 full that we were able to get for $1!!  Our total costs were about $30!

My sweet mom kept my kids for me so I could work on the project at Handsome's office with no interruptions.  It took me all day, but I'm sure as I figure the process out, I'll get faster.  Had a few hiccups figuring out how to get it done correctly, but overall went fairly smoothly.  Thankfully my hubby is a painting expert, so I was able to get some great tips from him.  The distressing part was particularly tricky.  It had been pretty humid around here lately, so the paint was dry but not "dry."  I had a few problems with paint coming off in much bigger chunks than I really wanted, but overall it turned out ok. 

I went on an intensive search for affordable, pretty knobs or handles to put on the piece.  Handles were non-existent, but knobs were plentiful if I wanted to pay $6 to $10 each!!  Fortunately, I found some at World Market for $5 each and I had a coupon for $10 off a purchase of $30, so I got all six of them for $20.  That brought our entire investment into the piece to $50. 

Here's the finished product:

I listed it on craigslist on Sunday for $100.  After some thought, I dropped the price to $80.  I'm still making a few amendments to the listing, so hopefully it will sell soon.  Thankfully Red has been giving me some great tips on how to list it effectively. 

This weekend I went on the hunt for more furniture to work on.  Apparently no one sells stuff at garage sales anymore.  I drove around for over an hour and didn't stop at even one because the didn't seem to have any furniture at all!  I stopped at a resale store owned by a friend of my dad's but they were WAY out of my price range.  Good will had a pretty dressing table for $50 but it had A LOT of damage.  I almost bought a dresser at a thrift store, but $50 still seemed a little high for my next project.  Gotta sell something first!!

On Monday, I drove down to Angier to a little place called Rusty's Furniture.  It was a little thrift store run by a family who owns a small moving company.  Apparently they end up with a lot of furniture.  I had a great conversation with the lady there.  Their prices were reasonable.  She gave me some tips on where to find some other pieces that I plan to follow up on soon.

I bought a child's rocking chair for $7.  The seat is upholstered and needs recovering, but it's in really good shape.  I think it will be really cute.  Pics to come.

I'm picking up a vintage 1940's/1950's dressing/vanity table today that I found on craigslist for FREE!!!  So exicted about the possibilities for this one.  Here's the pic the lady put on craigslist:

I can't wait to see how this one turns out!!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Pretty much everybody knows I'm looking for a job.   Due to a series of unexpected events, I must go back to work.  Not my first choice, being away from my babies, but you gotta do what you gotta do, right?  Anyway, we've worked out just about all the details with child care, communting, new budget, etc.  Just one small problem:


I started my search back at the very beginning of February.  It's now almost mid May, and I still don't have gainful employment.  It makes a girl question her abilities!  It's been almost 5 years since I've held a traditional job.  Since I was about 6 months pregnant with Curly, I've been lucky enough to be at home, taking care of my family.  Before this job search, I thought I was pretty hirable (in the small niche that I'm qualified to work in)!  I have a good education, strong experience and excellent recommendations.  Apparently, these days, that's not enough. 

My search started out pretty good.  After sending out a ba-zillion resumes, I finally got a call back in March for a couple of interviews.  The first one was with a very large, well know organization for a pretty important local position.  It was a phone interview, and I knew during the conversation that it didn't go very well.  It took them over nine weeks and two email "nudges" for them to tell me they weren't intersted.  Fine.  I can handle that. 

My next interview was with a local chapter of another large organization.  It is a position that I've done before with a similar group, so I'd think I was an easy hire.  I've had 2 interviews with them, the 1st on March 21st and the second about 3 weeks later.  Well, it's May 12th.  Still no word from them.  It's a job that requires A LOT of travel and the salary is low, so I'm not anxious to hear from them too much, but you'd think by now, they'd give me some sort of news. 

The next interview was with a large, internationally known canine membership organization for a position in their foundation.  The interviewer told me at my second visit to their offices that I was their top candidate.  Somehow, I didn't get the job.  My guess is that my salary requirements were too high.  Apparently I'm expected to work for peanuts and warm, fuzzy feelings.  Unfortunately I don't have that luxury anymore. 

The NEXT interview was with a large electric coop for a position doing outreach and public relations.  I've totally done this exact job before and the salary range was perfect.  I REALLY wanted this one, but I have yet to hear back from them.  It's been 2 weeks since the interview, and the lady told me they were going to hire someone quickly.  I'm guessing that one isn't in the cards for me. 

Today I had another phone interview with an non-profit focused on farming.  It seemed to go well, but now I'm thinking my "it went well" gage is broken.  The lady said that she was certain she'd be calling me in the next few days to set up an in-person interview.  We'll see.

So I'm still in the running (as far as I know) for 3 different positions.  And I'm still sending out resume's hopefully someone will want me.

In the mean time, to try and earn some extra $$, I've just started refinishing furniture to a "shabby chic" look to try and resell on FB.  My WONDERFUL friend, who I'll call Red, has been holding my hand through the entire process.  She does this regularly and has been making a tidy little profit on her work.  My first piece should be done tomorrow.  I'll post pics later.  I invested about $50 in materials (many of which can be used on the next project) and I'm hoping to sell it for $100 to $125.  It's a small bed-side table with two drawers.  It had been sitting, broken with a boring finish on it in Curly's room for almost a year now.  I painted it white, and will be distressing the edges and putting an "aging wash" on it.  I also bought new knobs to replace the non-descript handles.  Hopefully someone will buy it and I can get started on another, bigger project and get better at it.  :)  We'll see!

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Weekend Full of Opposites

This weekend was a bit crazy.  Buddy woke up at 5:55 on Friday morning.  He and I watched the Royal Wedding together.  He was more interested in his sippy cup of juice and his graham cracker than the wedding, but it was nice not to view it by myself.  I thought it was lovely.  Such a happy occasion, with two people that seem to genuinely care about one another, despite all the craziness surrounding the wedding.  The bride was gorgeous.  The ceremony lovely (although a little stuffy).  The hats were hysterical. The images from the wedding made me smile throughout the weekend. 

On Friday night, the mom's group from my church met up for a "Mom's Night In" where we planned to watch (or re-watch) the royal wedding.  We got started at 8, but somehow managed not to even start the DVR until midnight.  We had SUCH a great time together, laughing, sharing our struggles, praying for each other, realizing we're not alone in this crazy journey of motherhood.  I didn't get home until almost 2 am.  SOOOO worth it!

The rest of the weekend proceeded pretty normally for us.  We ran errands, did some projects around the house and spent time with some friends.   Sunday we went to church in the morning and choir practice at in the evening. 

I woke up this morning, turned on the news to see the headline that Osama Bin Laden had been killed last night by US Special Forces.  While I couldn't help but feel a small sense of relief at the announcement, it just seemed so opposite to the happiness that was embodied by the royal wedding.  It was like a shock back into reality. 

I've seen so many scenes today of people celebrating over this death.  There were literally parties in the streets of NYC.  I can understand the sense of justice being served, but my first instinct upon hearing the news wasn't to celebrate, it was to pray.  While I understand the necessity of what our forces did, I still can't help but feel a little scared, knowing that retaliation will be imminent, and our troops are definitely in more danger today than they were yesterday. 

The other thing that struck me is a little bit of sadness that another soul is spending an eternity in hell.  Many say "he deserves it for what he did."  But isn't all sin equal?  Doesn't the bible tell us that ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God?  In God's eyes, my own wretched deeds are just as bad as those of Bid Laden.  

I've heard this verse in several places today:

"Do not gloat when your enemy falls;
   when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice,
or the LORD will see and disapprove
   and turn his wrath away from them."
-Proverbs 24:17-18

I'm really reminded today of how undeserving each and every one of us are of the sacrifice that Christ made on our behalf.  I'm so blessed to have a personal relationship with the one and only God, who loves me more than I can ever imagine.  He loves each one of us.  Jesus died for Osama Bin Laden too.  God loved Bin Laden just as much as he loves me.  Too bad he never realized it. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Libraries Still Exist??

Last night at bible study, we learned some shocking news.  One of our ladies didn't realized that you really could check books out of the public library for free. Crazy, right?

It all happened while we were discussing a book that one of us had read.  M, our tech savvy, youngest member of the group who reads the Bible off her i-pad, piped up that the book was only $8.78 at Costco right now.  I replied that since I'm notoriously cheap, I'd rather check it out from the library, where' it's free.  The rest of the conversation went something like this:

M:  Shut up!  The library is still around?!

me:  Uh ...   yes.

M:  And it's free?!?!

me:  Uh ...     yes.  You've basically already paid for their services with your taxes.  It free as long as you return or renew the books on time.  They even have audio books, dvds and books for your e-reader.

M:  Shut up!  I've seen them on tv and stuff, but I didn't realize they were still around!

KK:  You can even check out more than one book at a time.

M:  Shut up!  So it's like Netflix, only free?  What??

We spent the next several minutes laughing hysterically and explaining the intricacies of the library system to her.  She was amazed that you could reserve a book online and that they'd have it waiting for you once it was ready.  We heard the phrase "Shut up!" (used in the Stacy & Clinton tense) numerous times.  One of us almost convinced her that there was a $5 monthly fee that she could collect and pay on her behalf, but we didn't let her fall for it. 

I love these ladies and I love that we can laugh together, cry together, say ridiculous things together, share our prayers together and most importantly grow in our faith together.  So much fun!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Egg Extravaganza Pics

Here are a few pics we took during our various Easter excursions:

With her princess crown, so graciously provided by the face painter lady.  Mommy vetoed the lipstick and eye-shadow in the original design.
Buddy, just waiting for egg time at Phillip's Farm.

Run, little man, run!

More running.

"Mommy, I promise, the butterfly went that way!  Why can't I follow?"

 Loading up for egg time!


 "Mommy, there's nothing in here!"


 "See!  I ate it!"

 Always the little mommy at her preschool egg hunt.

 She got to be the door holder that day.

 I asked him to pose for a picture.  He froze in this position for a good 45 seconds waiting for me to take it.

 Buddy with our ever-helpful friend, Miss K!  Love that girl!!

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Great Food Lion Ice Cream Show Down

I had one of those mommy moments today.  The kind you know are coming, but really don't want to face.  My daughter tested my will power in public. 

She's done it before, but it's been quite a while.  She and Buddy are usually very well behaved when we're out and about.  So much so, that sometimes I pretend I have perfect children.

It all started when Curly started talking about ice cream on the way home from my parents' house.  We'd been there for a brief visit, and she and Buddy had been really sweet and pretty well behaved.  We had to stop at Food Lion to pick up a couple of odds and ends.  As soon as we pulled into the parking lot, Curly asked where the ice cream truck was.  I told her it wasn't there, but they had ice cream inside.  She asked if we could buy some, and I said sure, since they had been so sweet this morning. 

We got in the store and they both immediately ran for the dreaded "mini carts." You know, the miniature version of the real cart that some stores have for children.  When I only have one child with me, the "mini-cart" is managable. With both of them with me, the mini-carts become tiny missiles, endangering any ankle that might dare get in their path, as my children run crazily up the aisles with me shouting their names in vain behind them. 

We'd had a very uneventful run through the aisles by the time we got to the ice cream.   Curly had asked me where the ice cream was approximately 4,327 times.  Buddy hadn't assaulted anyone with his mini-cart.  It was at this moment that they both decided make a b-line for a display of wind chimes.  (Smart idea Food Lion, place a display of wind chimes exactly at toddler/preschooler height level.  Colossal FAIL!) 

As I calmly called them both back, I told Curly that if she needed to come pick out her ice cream.

No response, except the loud banging of every wind chime they had hanging there.

I said the same thing again.

Same response.

Then I stepped it up to no ice cream if they both didn't come back right this minute.

Same loud banging.

I finally marched myself over, grabbed them both by the arm and placed them back in the main aisle, skipping the ice cream completely, and scolding them for wondering off and disobeying mommy.  Buddy was unphased.  Suddenly, Curly realized we were headed for the check out, but without ice cream.

She gasped.  "Mommy!!  WE FORGOT THE ICE CREAM!"  I calmly explained that she'd made her choice not to listen to mommy so no ice cream. This is when the meltdown started.

She immediately turned on the waterworks, whining loudly, "But Mommy, you said we could get some ice cream!!"  I explained about her choice again.  She continued to scream and cry, very loudly.  I then told her that if she didn't stop her fit, I'd call the Easter Bunny and tell him not to come. 

Yes.  I went there.

She let out a loud "Nooooooo!!"  By this time every eyeball in a 30 ft radius was staring in our direction.  One of those moments you want to dive under the nearest display.  I quietly told her to stop screaming and crying.  This time, she obliged.  She let out a few loud sniffs, but we made it to the check out and back to the van (in the rain) without further incident. 

It was one of those moments I just wanted to go back and grab the ice cream, just so she'd quit screaming and people would quit boring holes in my back with their eyes and thinking "what a horrible mom."  But then it would set a precident.  Curly would think "All I have to do is throw a fit, and then I'll get my way!"  Her "monkey-see, monkey-do" brother would get the same idea.  We can't have that or life would be intolerable with my kids! 

So I had that moment.  I threatened to cancel the Easter Bunny.  I was that mom.  Hopefully, in the long run, it will do her good.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Doll Named Nekkid

Curly doesn't like to name her dolls much.  She's has lots, and only a few get actual names.  Most of them are just called what they are.  She has a My Little Pony baby unicorn that came with the name Sweetie Bell.  It even speaks and calls itself Sweetie Bell.  Curly still insists on calling it Unicorn.  She does have a Target rip-off American Girl doll she named Sally and a large doll that my Granny made for me when I was little that we call Rose, because I named her that when I was a child.  The rest of her dolls are just called Baby or Dolly or whatever brand name they came with.

Today, she came up with a new name for one of her dolls. 


Not Naked, with a long A sound, but Nekkid, pronounced just like it looks.  It's a Barbie doll in a bikini that she got for her birthday last month.  She had been watching Toy Story 3 with her brother, and abruptly stopped watching it to go have a tea party with her dolls.  She spread out napkins for her Princess Barbie doll, her Disney Princess Ariel doll, one of her baby dolls, and her bikini-clad Barbie.  She came running back in to the kitchen and told me to come join her tea party.  I walked in the room and she said, "Mommy, you sit next to Nekkid."  "Who?"  I replied.  "My doll, Nekkid."  "Why is she named Nekkid?"  I asked.  "She just is," was the reply. 

So apparently, we now have a new doll resident in our house named Nekkid.  I just can't wait until she's playing with friends and says, "Mommy, where's Nekkid?" or "I wanna play with Nekkid" or "I want Nekkid."  Oh, goods times!

Stinky Threat Level Yellow

Most of you know that on Saturday, April 16th, our area was hit with some extremely violent tornadoes.  Apparently 62 of them touched down across the state, killing at least 23 people.  For us, Saturday started out pretty normal.  We attended one of our five Easter Egg Extravaganzas, then came home to give Buddy a nap.  I had just laid down to catch some z's myself when Handsome came upstairs and abruptly woke me saying he needed me downstairs immediately. 

In a sleepy stupor, I stumbled downstairs, where Handsome had the tv on.  The radar images showed indications of a funnel cloud about 7 miles away from our house (directly over the office of our family business), and headed in our general direction.  I didn't need anymore waking up after seeing that image. Handsome, being the manly man that he is, went outside to check out what was going on.  Buddy happened to wake up at this moment.  After getting him downstairs and gathering Curly up from her toys, I immediately started cleaning out the only relatively safe place in our house during a tornado. 

Five years ago, when we built this house, we were in "luv" with the open floor plan concept.  We thought, "Hey, we're expecting our first baby.  It will be easy to keep track of them if downstairs is basically one open room!"  Apparently, the designers of this concept don't think about weather safety when working on these plans.  The bathroom is in the worst possible place for a tornado.  In the front, with a window, sticking out on it's own.  There is literally only one place in our house on the first floor that doesn't have windows or an outside wall, and that place is the teeny, tiny closet under the stairs.

We affectionately call this place in our home The Stinky Closet.  It happens to be the place where I store the downstairs diaper pail and diaper genie.  So at any given point in time, the closet smells like dirty diapers.  The severity of the smell depends on how desperately the trash needs to be taken out.  On most days, I'd say we hover at stinky threat level orange, but thankfully, on Saturday morning, I'd emptied the cans and put a new air freshener in there, so we were at a stinky threat level yellow. 

So as I am desperately heaving diaper pails, extra baby wipes, boots and other random things out of the closet, the power goes out.  By this time Handsome has come back in the house and informed us that the sky is looking really scary.  I throw some shoes on my kids and position us next to the stinky closet, so we can jump in with a moment's notice.  Handsome had turned on our battery powered radio.  They were still playing country music, oddly enough, as if nothing was going on, but about every other minute, a very scared sounding DJ would break in and update us on what was going on. 

So we waited. 

The rain got harder, the wind was blowing pretty strong. 

We waited some more. 

We never heard anything like a train coming.  Things never got eerily still.  It just all of the sudden stopped raining and the sun came out.  After about 30 minutes of waiting and listening to the radio, we figured we were in the clear.  Naturally, Handsome goes back outside.  After another 15 minutes, I feel safe enough to stick my head out there.  It was wet but nice outside.  The kids ventured out with me, where we chatted with a neighbor about the gossip that was already flying about what areas were hit and where the storm was headed.  There was absolutely zero damage in our neighborhood. 

Handsome decided he needed to go check on the office.  Right before he left, a received a call that no one could reach one of our friends, who's home is in the area that was being reported as hardest hit so far.  Handsome headed out to check the office and check on our friends. 

During our experience, my sister, her husband and three little boys where huddled in their "under the stairs" closet (there's is much bigger and non-stinky).  They heard the train sound.  Their entire house shook.  The tornado rammed right through their town, and seemed to "jump" over their neighborhood and more on to elsewhere.  I thoroughly believe the hand of God was covering them and their house.  They had no damage.  Not a single tree down in their heavily wooded back yard.  All around their neighborhood, trees were down, roads were impassable, roofs were blown off homes.  Their area was spared.  God is good!

Handsome checked out the office, which was fine.  He found our friends, who were safe, but without power.  They had no idea that there was massive damage near their neighborhood.  During this time the power was restored to our home, so they came on over with their five year old and baby in tow.  We ate pizza and had a giant slumber party at our house, since their power wasn't expected to be restored for several days. 

The news got worse and worse.  Lots of people lost everything.  Sanford, an area very close to our hearts, was practically blown off the map.  The first apartment that Handsome and I ever shared together was leveled in Fayetteville.  Areas of Raleigh were really bad.  It made you feel very helpless. 

This was our first apartment in Fayetteville

Damage in Sanford

On Monday night, my neighborhood ladies bible study had a fantastic idea.  We ventured out as a group to help a total stranger with storm clean up.  The woman we found was a single mom who lived about 5 miles away, with no equipment to even attempt to clean up the several trees that were down on her property. Armed with hacksaws, trimmers, gloves and rakes, our group of about eight ladies got to work.  Within two hours, we had cleared her property and half of what needed to be done on her next door neighbors property. 

While we were there, a few people saw what we were doing and decided to help out.  A sweet young married couple showed up about half way in.  A guy with a chainsaw stopped as he was driving by to help us cut the large stumps.  A man who had come by her house earlier looking to get paid for removing the trees stopped by to give an estimate, saw what we were doing and decided to help out for free with his chain saw.  Another neighbor on his way home from the gym stopped just to lend another pair of hands.  It was great!  We were also able to talk with these folks a little bit about why we were there, and invite them to church with us. 

It was a great experience.  The whole area smelled like freshly cut wood, people were everywhere, raking, sawing, cutting limbs.  It was a real community effort.  A couple of the ladies went back today with their husbands to finish up the second property that we couldn't get to because it got dark.  It really was a blessing to feel like we could help out in some way.  We prayed for the home owner and we were able to share a bit of Christ's love through what we did.  I came home feeling sore, but truly happy.  (Of course, the Krispy Kreme donuts we ate after we were done didn't diminish that happy feeling!)


Friday, April 15, 2011

Easter Egg Extravaganza

My kids are spoiled. 


They are. 

By the time Easter arrives, they will have attended 4 (possibly 5) Easter Egg Hunts.  I'm not kidding.  I never attended that many Easter Egg Hunts in one year when I was a kid!  One, maybe two, max, but never 4!

My memories of Easter Egg Hunts involve lots of craziness as a stampede of kids, dressed in their Easter finest, would run screaming and trampling each other through a large area scattered with plastic "eggs" filled with melted Hershey's Kisses and hot, squishy Starbursts.  No one came out uninjured or clean.  I remember one year, a brave family in our community hosted an egg hunt for the children of our church on their ranch outside of town, just after the Easter Sunday service.  They never did it again. While those egg hunts were fun, it was truly nuts.  I can see why parents wouldn't want to go to more than one.

Apparently, people have gotten a lot smarter since the 80's.  They section off the hunts so the little kids don't get run over by a stampede and actually have the opportunity to find an egg or two.  They fill the eggs with stuff like stickers, plastic bugs and erasers, eliminating some of the sugar high and sugar coma that result from these events.  Some eggs even come PRE-FILLED, saving hours of trying to stuff prizes into the annoyingly thin plasic eggs that never, ever close right, no matter which way you try to shove them together. 

The Easter craziness around here kicked off yesterday, when the Mommies Group (+ one stay-at-home dad) met at my friend's family farm for our Easter playdate.  It was awesome.  The corn maze that they run is currently closed and they are prepping to open their strawberry patch next week, so we had the run of the place.  Access to the giant slide, the swinging tube, the corn box and the hay stacks: all to ourselves.  These mommies (+ the dad) are some of my closest friends.  The kids all know each other well and love hanging out with each other.  It was a blast! 

The second one took place today at Curly's preschool, just for her class.  It was one well-run event, complete with a catered lunch from Chick-Fil-A. 

The third will take place at our church tomorrow.  It's usually a fabulous, fun outreach event, but it supposed to pour rain all day long tomorrow, so they are going to try to host it inside.  Sounds like insanity to me.  I'm hoping that I make it out alive. 

The fourth will take place next Friday, when my super-cool-Krispy-Kreme-bringing friend will host a flashlight Easter Egg hunt at her house.  Like us, she has a postage stamp sized backyard.   Last year she had an egg hunt for her son's birthday, which was kinda brief since there wasn't anywhere good to hide the eggs.  We thought it'd be WAY more fun at night with flashlights.  We aren't stuffing any of the eggs.  We're just going to count them up at the end, and give out an extra prize to the kid who got the most eggs. 

The possible 5th one may take place at my parent's house.  In year's past, we've done a small one in their great little back yard (plenty of hiding places!).  We'll probably do an impromptu one again this year. 

I'll try to post pics of the Easter insanity once it's all over.

The one great thing about all these egg hunts is that at each one, someone will share with the kids the reason why we celebrate Easter.  While the eggs and stuff are fun, the more important thing to remember is Christ's sacrifice for us, the miracle of His resurrection, and how He bridged the gap created by our sins between us and God.  As a Christian and as a parent, I want my children to hear this message in every place they can.  More importantly I want them to see it in me, clearly and in the reality of our every day life.  I pray that I can show them, not only through telling them but by example, of the love that Christ has for us. 

***Just a plug for my friend's farm:!/pages/Phillips-Farm-of-Cary-NC/115766315101175

They have THE BEST STRAWBERRIES in the Triangle!  They are like our second family, and the place is SO much fun!  Please check them out this year!  They even do strawberry themed birthday parties!!

And off we go...

OK, so everyone I know has a blog.  Some are adorable, some are basic, some are informative, some are incredibly moving, some are hysterical.  I figure, hey, might as well give it a shot!  So here's the basics on us:

We're a small family, just getting by with a little love and A LOT of prayer.  I'm planning to use aliases just for privacy's sake.  Those of you who know us will know EXACTLY who were talking about!  My husband, who I'll call Handsome, and I have been married for almost 11 years now.  We have two small children.  Our oldest, who I'll call Curly, is an adorable four year old girl who keeps us on our toes.  Our youngest, who I'll call Buddy, is all boy, climbing everything in site. 

(My two monkeys with Curly's BFF that might as well be part of our family)

We are currently in a time of some crazy transition, some of which I can share at the moment, some of which I'm not ready to make public.  Just know that we are certain that God is in control of it all, we're just muddling through, trying to take comfort in His perfect plans.