Thursday, December 20, 2012

Disney '12

On our first full day at Disney, I set my alarm for 6 to go running with my friend Betsey, who was visiting with her family from St. Louis. I had just put on my running shoes when Jacob woke up and came over to me crying -- his ears were just throbbing and he was in terrible pain. He'd had a bit of a cold, and that and the landing into Orlando the night before combined to cause big trouble. I plied him with Motrin, texted Betsey to cancel our run, and pulled out the Guest Services directory to check out the magical medical care options. It looked like there was a shuttle service to urgent care, and also an option of "in-room medical care." I decided to just walk down to the front desk to ask for more details.

I got to the front desk and the two women working there greeted me cheerfully (magically!) and I explained my situation -- child with probable ear infection, short visit, desire to get problem treated quickly so as to minimize disruption to vacation, etc. etc. First I asked about the shuttle/urgent care option and they told me a little about that. And then I asked about the in-room medical care option that I had read about, and one of the clerks said:

"Oh. That's very expensive."

Now granted, I had just rolled out of bed and was wearing pajamas/running clothes and sporting matted hair and no makeup, but was it really so bad that they wouldn't even quote me a price?

So I said, "I doubt very much that we'll use it, but we just have a short trip here so I'm trying to get all of our options on the table, because frankly each day in Walt Disney World is also expensive, so from a strictly economic perspective, if the in-room option would help us avoid missing a full day of our already-paid-for vacation, it might ultimately be our least expensive option."

So first clerk (Kim) said "gosh, so few people use this because it's very expensive, isn't it Sandie?" And Sandie replied "yes, it's VERY expensive!"

Something about the way Kim and Sandie tagged-teamed in communicating the expensiveness caused my mind to fly to the scene in Pretty Woman where Julia Roberts goes shopping:

And it was all I could do to stop myself from pulling a Julia and yelling: "HEY I GOT MONEY TO SPEND HERE!!" but as I get older I really do try to refrain from blurting out things that are likely to seem weird or confusing to others just because it would totally amuse me.

Eventually I was able to beat the price for in-room medical care out of them (hint: less than the cost of a day at Disney World for a family of 5, as I suspected), but Kim, Sandie and I hatched a plan that involved me calling our pediatrician's office when it opened to see if I could convince them to call in some prescriptions and avoid the need for any kind of Orlando doctor's visit at all! I filled out some forms for them to fax to the local pharmacy and headed back upstairs.

{To summarize the rest of Jacob's ear saga, which can't possibly be interesting to anyone but me: we went to the Magic Kingdom that day and Motrin carried him through until late afternoon, when he started to feel really bad. So David and Jacob went back to hotel while girls and I stayed on at the Magic Kingdom for a couple of hours. When we got back to the hotel, I took one look at him and knew he was flat-out sick. Turns out our pediatrician would only call in numbing drops unless he had a fever, which he did not when I called in the morning but did by early evening. So I told David that we had no choice but to take him to urgent care. I think of a trip to urgent care as easily killing a half a day or more, and I assumed that it would be even worse in a place swarming with kids, but it turned out to be WAY less of a production than it is here at home. David was given a shuttle time, had only a short wait in the waiting room, and was seen pretty much immediately by the doctor when they got into an exam room. They came back with a diagnosis of a double ear infection and an antibiotic. Jacob took his first dose before bed that night, and within an hour of his second dose the next morning, he was as good as new}.

Other than than minor bump in the road, the trip went off without a hitch, and everyone had a great time. A defining feature of our last trip to Disney World was Caroline's disabling fear of large-costumed characters, so we were curious to see how she'd handle things this go-round. Our first test was breakfast with Minnie, Donald and Goofy that first morning in our hotel. The result? She still doesn't like them, but she can at least hold herself together. David didn't need to remove her from the premises like last time, for example. So no photos of Caroline with the characters, but she was able to just ignore them and skittishly eat her Mickey-shaped waffle. My baby's growing up - sniff.

Here are Jacob and Elizabeth at breakfast with Donald:

At the Magic Kingdom that morning, David and Jacob took off to ride some roller coasters, and I took the girls onto Elizabeth's favorite ride -- the Mad Tea Cups, of all things.

Then onto Caroline's favorite ride, Aladdin's Magic Carpet (or "Magic Carpet Dumbo," as David calls it):

The parks were pretty decked out for Christmas, which I loved:

We booked the trip too late to get a reservation to eat in Cinderella's castle, but we managed to hit the princess breakfast in Epcot:

Another thing I'll remember about this trip is fidgeting, and a lot of it. Touching the ropes when waiting in line, getting from point A to point B by spinning or dancing, getting all up into the personal space of the people in front of them because they're just not paying attention, etc. I felt like we took up way more space than our numbers would justify, so we were constantly trying to reign that in. Ah, childhood!! Here are Jacob and Elizabeth not keeping their hands to themselves at breakfast, this was typical:

Note that the hair accessory that Elizabeth chose that day was a stuffed Goofy with magnetic paws.

Watching the fireworks:

One new thing the kids got into this time that they hadn't done on their last trip was pin trading. The cast members who collect and wear pins happily trade with pin-trading kids, and my kids thought this was a lot of fun.

I think the most fun we had was the night we went to the Magic Kingdom for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. The crowds were light and we just walked on to most rides. We learned that while Caroline may be afraid of walking oversized characters, she is definitely not afraid of thrill rides -- she rode Big Thunder Mountain twice and wanted to ride Space Mountain (we told her she was too small). The parade and fireworks were festive. I think everyone just had fun being there at night.

At some point I decided that the one thing I really wanted from this trip was a picture of the kids with Goofy Claus to serve as our annual Santa Claus photo. David texted me at one point when we had separated at Mickey's party to tell me that Goofy Claus was cutting the rug at the Tomorrowland Character Dance Party. The girls and I high-tailed it to Tomorrowland, but alas, Goofy was gone, replaced by Chip and Dale. The guy at the door (bouncer?) told us that they rotate every 45 minutes, so Goofy would be back. I started grilling David for more details of what he'd seen to try to figure out if it was worth it to come back:

C: So he's just out there on the dance floor?

D: Yes, he's just out there dancing.

C: But is he posing for pictures?

D: Well, it's a dance party.

C: I'm just trying to figure out if I can get my Santa Claus picture.

D: Look, it's like a nightclub. I guess there is nothing to stop us from going up and pawing at him.

In the end we found out that Goofy Claus would be making a proper appearance at Animal Kingdom, where we planned to go the next day, so there was no need to accost him on the dance floor. At Animal Kingdom the next day, I was the first in line for Goofy a solid 30 minutes before he was scheduled to make his appearance while David and the kids wandered around Dinoland. I think my efforts paid off.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


We just got back from Disney World. When we told the kids about my cancer diagnosis back in the summer, we promised them that we would celebrate with a trip to Disney World once my surgery and any treatments were over. This was that trip. But something else that motivated me to plan this trip was the shattered sense of limitless time that came with my diagnosis. Even though my prognosis is excellent, I lost any sense of security that I have infinite time with my children, any sense of a guarantee that we have years and years together in which to do all of the things we want to do. So "wouldn't it be fun to go to Disney World around Christmas someday?" suddenly became "we're going to Disney World next month!"

So we were in Disney World, surrounded by sweet, innocent, wide-eyed children at the mecca for sweet, innocent, wide-eyed children, when we heard about the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary. My phone had run out of battery power early in the day on Friday so I didn't have access to the news, but at one point David asked me where Newtown was, because there had been a shooting there. But it wasn't until we were back in the hotel when we learned of the magnitude of the horror. It just hits so close to home on so many levels -- as the parent of elementary-aged kids, as a Connecticut native. Connecticut is a small state, and when you grow up there it feels like you "know" all of the towns much more than in any other place I've lived, just because none of them are much more than an hour away. Newtown is only 20 minutes from my hometown, and I immediately thought about my college friends from Newtown. Leann. Dan. My mother has friends with children who teach at Sandy Hook. My friend Maureen sent us an email to let us know that Sean, who accompanied her on the piano whenever she sang at 10:00 mass, has a son at Sandy Hook. Sean played the piano in our wedding. His son, Brendan, was okay, but they lost many close friends on Friday, including the school psychologist.

To be at Disney World this weekend was to experience moments of great joy with my children, followed by that "punched in the gut" feeling when thinking about the families who had these kind of moments with their own children permanently and savagely taken from them.

On the plane ride home, my own beautiful kindergartner fell asleep on my lap with her ridiculously oversized Disney World lollipop still in her mouth:

I stroked her soft baby cheeks and wondered where she got that scratch and counted her eyelashes and just cried.

I cried again when I saw the armed police officer outside our elementary school when I dropped the kids off this morning, even though his presence brought me comfort.

Time with my children, experiences with my family: one gift from my diagnosis was great clarity, and these are the only things that matter to me. We might not have tomorrow -- that is of course the reality for all of us, although a cancer diagnosis will help drive the point home. But you know what? Cancer happens. Accidents happen. But a massacre of babies at an elementary school? THIS CANNOT HAPPEN AGAIN.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Elfin style

The elves came a few days ago and got right down to their usual elf antics. The first night they worked on a Christmas village jigsaw puzzle:

I had never seen this puzzle before, so apparently some kind of elf magic carried it into the house. It happens. Then the next night they got into the mops and brooms and rigged up some kind of elf obstacle course in the dining room.

I have a dream that someday, the elves will get into the mops and brooms and actually use them to mop and sweep.

And then LAST night, they somehow got a hold of the Video Star app on the iPad and made this über-bizarre music video: 

The first time I saw the original Gangnam Style, I told the friend who emailed it to me that I had no earthly idea what I had just seen, and I felt exactly the same way when I woke up and saw this.  We are invited to a Gangnam-style dance-off on New Years' Eve, so I guess I better hurry and figure it out.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Nutcracker weekend

Elizabeth danced in her first Nutcracker last weekend. She had been rehearsing since September and did such a great job -- we are so proud of her! She was a candle angel:

She had so much fun with this and wants to do it again next year. Our family has gone to see the Nutcracker for the past several years, so I think it was really fun for her to actually perform in it! Here she is backstage:

Our whole family went to see her perform in the Saturday night show. I volunteered to work backstage during her second performance at the Sunday matinee. As a volunteer with no discernible talents (like sewing, for example) I was assigned to be a generic "chaperone;" i.e. babysitter. You know, little boys kind of have the reputation of being wilder than little girls, but whenever I'm around a large group of little girls, they are totally insane. Is it me? During my gig, I needed to track down ice for one little girl (head bonk incurred during the course of flinging herself around) {as an aside: you should never do anything with a large group of children without knowing exactly where to find (1) a bathroom, and (2) ice}. I also had to scrub off eye shadow from the cheeks of a little 5 year old who tried to apply her own makeup and kind of looked like she'd been in a bar brawl. And then another little girl (a cherub) started sobbing upon being falsely accused of sitting in the seat that another cherub had been sitting in. I had watched the superb performance the night before, and seriously had NO IDEA that there was such drama going on backstage. I guess props to the directors are in order!

Right when we needed a little comic relief, Mother Ginger came to visit:

This was really such a fun experience for Elizabeth (and the rest of us!)

Friday, December 7, 2012

I'm handing you no blarney, the likes you've never known

Yesterday Amanda and I were in my garage painting a bed (that's another post) and listening to tunes, including some Christmas music, when she asked me about my favorite Christmas songs. I couldn't answer her question on the spot, but in the hours that followed my favorites started popping around in my brain like hot corn kernels. In no particular order:

Do They Know It's Christmas, Band Aid. Christmas+the 80s+a recording studio full of Brits = the highest form of bliss.

All I Want for Christmas is You, Mariah Carey. I'm not a Mariah fan, but I love this song. If you don't like this version, you probably don't like puppies, rainbows or ponies either.

It's Christmas (Baby Please Come Home), U2. So much angst, Bono, and at Christmas! I hope she finally came home.

I love Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker from start to finish. The Chinese Tea dance is one of my favorites:

Little Drummer Boy (Peace on Earth), Bing Crosby & David Bowie. The dialogue at the beginning is kind of cheesy in that "Paul, I think I told you, I'm a lover, not a fighter" kind of way, but it should be obvious by now that a little cheese will never deter me from liking something.

Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah. Gives me chills every time. Chills I tell you!

Followed closely by For Unto Us a Child is Born, Handel's Messiah.

Shifting gears, we have Blue Christmas by Elvis. Elvis's Christmas Album was a mainstay of my childhood, and for me it's just not Christmas until Elvis starts crooning (sorry, I tried to find young Elvis but could only find 70s Elvis on You Tube.)

Ah, but here's young Elvis singing Peace in the Valley, which I might even love more than Blue Christmas!

Gabriel's Message, Sting. This is a beautiful song, and I don't think it's ever gotten the play that it deserves.

Ave Maria, Harry Connick Jr. Harry takes his sweet time getting into it, but I love his version.

Do You Hear What I Hear?, Whitney Houston. Oh, Whit. That Bobby Brown really did a number on you.

O Holy Night, Josh Groban.

Carol of the Bells. Amanda introduced me to this version by the a capella group Straight No Chaser:

Christmas in Killarney, Bing Crosby. I pretty much want to live inside this song.

That's a good start. There are more, many more. I'll be adding them as I remember.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

o christmas tree(s)

Ever since we moved into this house 5.5 years ago, we've talked about putting up a second Christmas tree in our sunroom. The conversation usually went like this:

C: We should really put a second tree up in our sunroom.
D: Yeah.

But we never did. Because let's face it, decorating the house for Christmas is kind of a chore. There, I said it. Sure, I have the same Norman Rockwellian vision that everybody does of all of us drinking hot cocoa while Christmas carols play in the background and we take turns picking out that perfect branch for a favorite ornament, but the scenes where the kids nearly come to blows at the Christmas tree lot over which tree to pick and a coin flip is finally needed to settle it, or where an ornament bites the dust roughly every three minutes, are conspicuously absent from Norman's paintings. But once it's actually done, I could swear that it was nothing but hot cocoa and carols for us -- that's the magic of Christmas!

Anyway, we got married in November, and David informed me right before our first Christmas that he preferred large colored lights on the Christmas tree. He waited until after we were married to tell me that. Because I loved him, I acquiesced, and even went so far as to go into a Walmart in December to procure said lights. That's love. And ever since, we've had big honking lights on the Christmas tree. They've totally grown on me over the years, but when we moved into this house and suddently had a big empty room off the back, I saw my opportunity for a Christmas tree with dainty white lights. And this was the year that we stopped talking and started doing. So now we have party in the front:

Business in the back:

I went all white and gold on the business Christmas tree. I love it. But I love the party tree too. And the kids have cute little tabletop tinsel trees from Target in their rooms, so there's really a tree for every mood and personality type in our house this year.

Friday, November 30, 2012

November brain dump (in under the wire)

I started various Thanksgiving-related posts this month but never finished any of them. And now we're about to officially enter Christmas season (if you drive around my neighborhood, you would think that it started last weekend, but in our house, it does not start until December 1) so I better unload these Novemberish thoughts immediately.

- Thomases Bagel Thins do not get stale. It's actually pretty creepy. I just had a breakfast sandwich on one that's been living in my refrigerator since . . . late summer? And it was delicious! I think I'm going to keep them in my freezer from now on, not because they need it to stay fresh (clearly) but just so I'm not reminded of their preternatural freshness when I'm trying to enjoy one.

- As I was about to click "BUY" on Katy Perry's Teenage Dream: The Complete Collection, it occured to me that my musical taste seems to be regressing. I think it's all of the Top 40 radio that I'm exposed to in my car, combined with how much time I actually spend in my car. It rewires your brain or something. In fact, I was driving in the car with the kids recently and it became painfully obvious that I am the biggest only Justin Bieber fan in the family. I realized that when "As Long as You Love Me" came on the radio:

and just as I was about to enthusiastically jump in with "As long as you love me, I'll be your platinum, I'll be your silver, I'll be your gold," the chorus of voices from the back shouted "NOOOOOOOOO!!! Turn the channel!!" Caroline added, "Ew! It's Justin Beaver!" And -- and here is when I realized that something is terribly wrong with the natural order of the universe when my 7 and 5 year old daughters don't want to listen to Justin Bieber but their 40 year old mother does--I felt vaguely annoyed as I turned the channel. Because I REALLY wanted to listen to that song. Because I like it, dammit. A couple of days later I was running with another 40 year old mom friend of mine, whose taste in music I totally trust, and she brought up completely on her own how much she loves that Bieber song. See! It's them, not us!

- David and I went to the beach for our 14th anniversary (thank you for babysitting, Grammy and Granddaddy!!) It was awesome. That is all.

- I made the Pioneer Woman's Cornbread Dressing with Sausage and Apples for Thanksgiving. At first I was a little worried about it (1) it's a little non-traditional (mushrooms?), and (2) I was NOT a fan of the huge, dry looking breadcrumbs in her photo. It just didn't seem to be the right dressing/stuffing texture. But I figured that a PW recipe would probably be reliable for comfort food, so I went for it, with some tweaks. The recipe said to cut one inch cubes of bread, but I cut mine much smaller:

And it totally worked! It was that quasi-mushy-in-a-good-way texture that I like in my dressing/stuffing. Next time I'll either omit, or cut way back on the quanitity of baby bellas -- I think 32 ounces was overkill (PW is clearly of the "go big or go home" mindset in her recipes.).

- I made these oreo turkeys for the kids since I was pretty sure they wouldn't eat apple pie or pumpkin cheesecake (where have I gone wrong?)

- We started Thanksgiving off with a hike:

Pretend rock climbing:

- I think we got a 3-legged turkey. I'm still kind of disturbed. And it was even one of those organic, free-range, hormone-free, preservative-free, treated-to-weekly-massages turkeys from Whole Foods, so I have no explanation for the third leg.

- I love a holiday table.

- Leaf jumping:

-If I have time to edit this later, I'm going to add a photo of our Thanksgiving mantel. Hint: it includes Mr. and Mrs. Pilgrim, whom I scored on clearance at Smith's after Thanksgiving one year:

I know! I can't believe that such a fine, handsome wood-carved pilgrim couple wasn't snatched up LONG before Thanksgiving, but sometimes Lady Luck is just with you that way.

We have SO much to be thankful for. I love having a (still relatively non-commercialized) holiday that celebrates gratitude, but I really try to be mindful of it every day.

Monday, November 12, 2012

presidential posters

I remember learning about the presidents, and more generally, about the U.S. system of government, when I was a kid. And while my parents certainly had political beliefs, they really didn't try to impose them on me, so my main takeaway from my childhood was that the president is awesome and that our system of government is the best. I am grateful that I was introduced to government and politics in a simple and innocent way, and that I was allowed to develop a healthy respect for the office, and the system, before I grew up and learned just how ugly politics can be. And it is very important to me that my children learn to have a similar respect for the office, the system, and the process while they are young. There will be plenty of time for them to threaten to move to Canada and/or secede when their candidate loses! So while David and I had strong opinions about the last election, we really tried to explain that both candidates want what is best for the country, but just have different ideas about how to get there. We did share a little bit about why we vote the way we vote, which the kids may or may not have understood, but one thing they do understand is that they will be on the losing side of every classroom mock presidential election they ever participate in in Alabama if they vote like we do. ☺

Coinciding with the election, Jacob had to make a presidential poster for school. The kids did not get to choose their presidents but were randomly assigned. Jacob got:

I'm kind of a fangirl, so I was super excited! Of course with Bill you don't get too far into the bio when you start running into names like "Paula Jones" and "Monica Lewinsky," but Jacob seemed pretty focused on getting in, getting the information he needed for his poster, and getting out, so he didn't deviate from his outline -- date of birth, place of birth, education, offices held before president, identify of vice president, political party, main accomplishments while in office, fun facts. And thankfully, he chose as his fun fact "nicknamed Bubba as a kid," so I didn't need to field any questions about Gap dresses or pizza deliveries. Phew.

Elizabeth cannot have someone else in the house working on poster board without getting in on the action, so she wanted to do her own presidential poster. She chose James Madison. Of course as with all Elizabeth projects, copious amounts of scotch tape were used.

When David left for work in the morning, she begged him to come home with a picture of James Madison and a copy of the Constitution for her poster (our printer is broken) and you would have thought he came home with a new puppy to witness her reaction when he came home with these papers in hand. Elizabeth taped them to the poster to complete it. Both children then did a presentation of their presidents for us from the hearth. We are a happy nerd family.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

It's Cathy with a -- eh, nevermind.

This post is not about the little Starbucks habit I seem to have developed over the past couple of months. Or the fact that "grande nonfat decaf two pump pumpkin spice latte" rolls off my tongue with an ease that troubles me. It's about the fact that it drives my kids crazy that I don't specify the spelling of my name when I order my drink, or correct them when it comes back spelled the wrong way. I find that the world spells my name correctly 50% of the time (although Starbucks only gets it right about 20% of the time). Sometimes the spelling matters (e.g., tax forms, medical records) and sometimes it just doesn't (e.g., coffee drinks). I've always wondered why people bother going through the extra step of asking me if it's a C or a K in situations where it just doesn't matter, like placing a take out pizza order:

- Hi, I'd like to order a large half pepperoni, half sausage for takeout.
- Large half pepp, half sausage. Give us about 30 minutes. And what's the name on this order?
- Cathy.
- Cathy with a K or a C?
- Cathy with a C.

When I get there, they never ask me to spell my name before handing me my pizza to prove that it's really me. You'd think if they were worried about one Cathy with a C and one Kathy with a K picking up large half pepperoni/half sausage pizzas at the same time, they'd be equally worried about two Cathys with a C picking up the same order at the same time, so they'd ask for my last name as well. But they never do. They only ask for the spelling of my first name. I don't know why they ask. Maybe it's just an impulse or a habit. Maybe when they were kids they routinely witnessed their mother's name spelled incorrectly on her to-go coffee cups, and they shook their fists at the heavens and said "when I have the power to do something about it, mark my words, I will spell people's names the right way!" In any event, maybe I should start carrying a Sharpie around to fix the spelling when my kids are around. Or better yet, quit Starbucks.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Happy birthday to me

David and I have apparently established a tradition of celebrating birthdays that end in "zero" by finishing off rooms in our house. For David's 40th, we spruced up the basement. And now for my 40th, we added some furniture to our formerly empty sunroom:

Since this room was largely empty, we've used it mainly for parties, and I was a little hesitant to give up that capacity, but I'm pretty sure it could still serve that purpose if we push everything against the walls. I chose the buffet with parties in mind -- I thought that it could hold a lamp, etc. most of the time, but then be commissioned to hold cakes, wine glasses, red Solo cups, etc. at party time.

The main thing that I knew I wanted in this room was a white, yes white, slipcovered sofa. I love the fresh, crisp look of white slipcovers. I do realize that I have young kids who are very likely to spill juice or drag an uncapped magic marker wherever they go, but people who live with white slipcovers swear that they are kid/pet friendly, since they can be washed and bleached! We've been happy with our basement choice, so we once again went with a sofa from the affordable IKEA Ektorp collection, and since worst case scenario I can get a completely new slipcover set for $49, I'm not too worried about it.

David and his dad drove to IKEA to pick up the sofa a couple of weeks ago. I'm sure that I would have derived a lot more pleasure from a trip to IKEA than David did {and would have almost certainly thrown some other things in the cart while I was there!} but he said that it seemed wrong for me to drive across state lines to pick up my own 200 lb. birthday present. If spending an afternoon at IKEA is wrong, I don't want to be right! -- but I thought the sentiment was sweet, so I let him go get the sofa.

I found the buffet at Nadeau after a scuffle with some furniture in a box. The offending piece was re-boxed and returned to Target, and then I stumbled upon The One at Nadeau. I was originally thinking that I'd find some kind of painted chest for that spot (or find the right chest at a flea market/yard sale and paint it myself) but then I remembered that I don't have any time to go to flea markets and yard sales, or talent for painting furniture, so the ready-to-go-piece-in-front-of-me was definitely the way to go. As it turns out, I totally love the dark wood with the white sofa and the woven/seagrassy texture of the rug and trunks. You can't see much of the detail of the buffet in the photo above, but it has classic lines, a curved front, two drawers and pretty hardware -- it's the perfect size and I luuuuuuurve it.

While I was in spray paint mode from my spooky tree project, I sprayed some orange/green pumpkins from Michael's with white primer (we didn't have any white spray paint in the garage, but the primer seemed to do the trick) and put them on the buffet along with some lucky buckeyes that we collected on a recent hike.

The sofa and the buffet are the only new items in the room; the chairs were one of our first purchases for the porch in our first house maybe 12 years ago, and we picked up the rattan storage trunks at Target somewhere along the way. I'd been planning on getting some kind of coffee table for the room, but I kind of love the way the trunks look, so I might just leave them.

David and I agree that the sunroom is now probably the best looking room in our house. We decided, upon reflection, that it's because it's a fairly small room with no walls or shelves and only one tabletop, so there just isn't that much for us to arrange in a visually displeasing way. Haha. The room is not exactly a retreat because it's located right off the family room where most of our {loud} living takes place, but still, I am thoroughly enjoying it.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hermione, Wonder Woman, Old-school Vampire

Another Halloween in the books.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

In which I vow to sign up to bring paper plates henceforth

Elizabeth has a class Halloween party tomorrow, and I signed up to bring cupcakes. I signed up to bring cupcakes because I like to bake, and I especially like to bake cute holiday-themed food. I decided on an Ina recipe -- Beatty's chocolate cake. I've made it before with good results. So I stopped at Whole Foods for "good" cocoa powder, per the recipe instructions, and a few other ingredients I needed. I baked the cupcakes. And they were mediocre at best. And worse yet, I couldn't get them out of the pan. I had a serious mess on my hands. I decided to cut my losses, because I did not want to waste my good Callebaut in buttercream for subpar cupcakes for a bunch of 7 year olds. I then made the decision to run to Publix to buy Halloween cupcakes.

E was at soccer practice until 6:30, and I had J and C in the car with me. I looked at the clock and realized that we were pretty tight on time for getting cupcakes and then picking up E on time. So I gave J and C a little lecture: "Okay kids, we need to be a lean, mean cupcake-buying machine. BOOM. Get the cupcakes. BOOM. Get in line. BOOM. Pay for the cupcakes. BOOM. Get back in the car to pick up Elizabeth. We will not get sidetracked. We will not wander off. We will not purchase any other items besides cupcakes. We will not waver from our single, fast cupcake-buying mission. Okay? Okay!"

The kids did exactly what they were supposed to do, but then we got up to the checkout lines, and I immediately got that sinking feeling that comes with knowing that despite your best efforts to purchase cupcakes with military-like speed and precision, you've been thwarted by Publix's "only two checkout lanes open during peak hours" policy. It was 6:19. I knew it would take more than 5 minutes to get through the line, and then we'd be late to pick up E. So I said to the kids: "kids, we have to put back the cupcakes. We don't have time to get through this line. Hurry up! Put back the cupcakes!"

So they did, and we drove off, cupcakeless, to pick up Elizabeth, each of us thinking that we have never seen, and hopefully never again will see, such a spectacular display of incompetence on the cupcake-procurement front. I was going to go back to Publix with the kids after we picked up E, but I decided that cupcakes really did not seem to be in the cards today. I will make a second (third?) attempt tomorrow.

a hot cuppa optimism

I've always liked those cute "Life is Good" t-shirts, and as the resident gift buyer/clothing shopper in my family, I've seen to it that all of my family members have one of these shirts. I've never bought one for myself though. But then I saw this one, which celebrates what is {and hopefully always will be} my life outlook, and also, coffee. So I bought it.

Monday, October 29, 2012


I waited patiently for the Lord
He inclined and heard my cry
He lifted me up out of the pits
Out of the miry clay

I will sing, sing a new song . . .

He set my feet upon the rock
And made my footsteps firm
Many will see, many will see and fear
And put their trust in the Lord

Psalm 40: 1-3
As interpreted and performed by U2 at Red Rocks.

Sunday, October 28, 2012


The kids were underwhelmed by my Halloween decorating efforts this year. I didn't really do anything differently than what I do every year (pumpkins and mums on the front porch; assorted decorative pumpkins inside), and that was definitely the problem. They are interested in a "ghoulish" vibe, not a "harvest" vibe. Their grandparents, who live close by, have a spectacular Halloween display, complete with spider webs, ghosts, orange lights, etc., and ours was definitely uber-lame in comparison. I knew that there was no way that I could compete with Grammy and Granddaddy, but I figured that the least I could do was to try to spook up our mantel a little bit.

I saw this pin on pinterest:

and really loved the bat tree. I figured that a project that involved putting sticks into a vessel of some sort was something that I could probably swing. I found some sticks in our yard, found some black spray paint in the garage, and spraypainted the sticks black. I wedged a piece of styrofoam into a black vase and stuck the sticks into the foam.

Now when it came time to decorate the tree, I almost ordered these from Amazon, but then I happened to find a pack of felt Halloween stickers at Target that contained pumpkins, cats, and these cute little owls:

I originally planned to use all of the embellishments on the tree, but then that killjoy Halloween minimalist in me ended up kind of liking how the pumpkins looked by themselves, so I left out the others. I threaded a loop onto the pumpkins and hung them onto the spooky tree.

I love my spooky tree. The kids think that it is "a good start."

I'm linking to the Pinterest Challenge over at Young House Love.