Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What Are You Doooooooing New Year's Eve?

Not much, would be the answer here at the T household. With T's reclusive tendencies and the fact that our house still sounds a little bit like a TB ward, I am guessing that making big New Year's Eve plans would not be the best idea this year. Eh. It's not like we've done anything too fabulous in the past few years anyways.

I laugh when my friends or younger family members who don't have children boast of what they have planned for the Big Night. Dinner in Chicago. Clubbing in DC. Kissing someone in Times Square. Of course, if they live in the Burg, there is always the option of going downtown to see the giant glittering piece of fruit they lower on C Street in lieu of a ball. (It used to be a pear that looked like an enormous, glowing booger. Gross. Snot makes me throw up.)

But I laugh because I know that sooner or later, they too will be shackled to their homes by the not-so-elusive eight o'clock bedtime of the 3 and under crowd. We haven't exactly done anything newsworthy for New Year's Eve the past 3 years. The first year, I was so tired and stressed out from having a newborn in the house that I honestly had no idea it was New Year's Eve until I was standing in the Wal-Mart check-out line in a stupor, waiting to buy diapers. I went home and cried. Last year, the highlight of my night was watching my friends L, S, and J play with J's daughter's beauty parlor hair-highlighting kit. They gave each other pink and blue streaks as our children ran wildly through the house. I don't even remember what we did the year before that...must have been pretty exciting stuff. Probably involved me falling asleep with my mouth open in T's chair while he watched soccer.

So, if you have big plans for tonight, enjoy! (If you have children, how did you escape? Do you have an unsuspecting relative who forgot tonight is a holiday? Or does your babysitter charge holiday rates?) Think of me, eating leftover fudge and thumbing through magazines while poor T coughs and watches Fox News.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Do You "Celebwate"?

I was working on a newsletter last night when Natalie scampered (she loves this word) into the kitchen with my new GiantCupcakeCakePan. I didn't pay much attention as she sat across from me, mixing some sort of delectable imaginary cake mix (you can be sure it was chocolate). As she worked, she talked to herself, which she often does when playing mommy or teacher or beautician or sanitation engineer (ha, got you...just checking to see if you are on your toes). I caught the end of the sentence, "...celebwate Hanukkah." Huh? First of all, when did she convert to Judaism? Do they eat cake for Hanukkah? And most importantly, if they don't eat cake for Hanukkah, can I have it? Oy vey...this will kill my mother.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Can Santa Bring Some More Afrin?

It was an interesting Christmas in the T household, friends. I started feeling iffy on Monday night. By Tuesday morning, my throat was on fire, and it's pretty much stayed that way. I think T was secretly grateful that his personal Christmas wish came true--less conversation from me. (By conversation, I mean me talking while T stares at Fox News and nods every once in awhile.) I haven't slept more than a couple of hours in several days...add in wiping snotty kids' noses (they're the stinkers who gave it to me!) and the crazy rush of Christmas Day and I am pooped! To top that off, I am pretty sure I have PMS as I caught myself crying during the sappiest Lifetime movie ever this afternoon. (Aside to my sister's fiance: Sam, if you are reading this, I apologize. That was too much information. But you have only yourself to blame by reading this.)

So, I just made myself a nice little cocktail. I like to call it an AcetaminAfriCodeiniti. It's a delightful mix of Acetaminophen, Codeine, and Afrin. The Acetaminophen/Codeine thing expired back in October. I really don't care. I called my nurse sister just to be sure I wouldn't die, and she said it was okay. But I also heard about 594 people in the background, so I am pretty sure she was at Happy Hour somewhere, which could mean she had no idea what she was saying. I have conveniently showered and dressed for bed so if I pass out here at the keyboard, T can just drag me upstairs when he gets home. Or, if my cocktail kills me, hopefully I will live long enough to hit "publish" so you all can tell T what happened. I swear I'm not a junkie. I'm just desperate for a good night's sleep! You moms know this!

At any rate, all the pain was bearable during yesterday's festivities: Natalie didn't realize that there would be toys out under the tree in the Living room after she opened her stocking. I guess she thought the stocking stuff from Santa was it. This photo is when she ran in and saw her dollhouse. The other photo is Michaela Byrd furiously crawling towards the tree, saying "Oh oh oh!" We clocked her going 68 mph.

It was so much fun to watch them both get excited over their gifts. Michaela Byrd was most excited about a sippy cup she received in her stocking. However, if you were to review our video tape of the morning's events, you'd see Michaela sidling up to the dollhouse, and this would be the transcript;

M: ooooooo!

N: No! Michaela get outta my spot!

Me (frantically): T, turn the camera off!!!

(shuffling, silence)

With the exception of the raging fire in my throat which is currently calming to a dull roar with the aid of my concoction, Christmas was really special this year. T gave me a cookbook I asked for (Hungry Girl- anyone know if it's any good?), a cartridge for my Cricut machine, a scrapbooking gadgety thing, and a new camera. Yay! He also did a great job with my stocking this year, which I can attribute to the fact that he forced my sister to go shopping with him on Christmas Eve. Most importantly, T and I are blessed with two beautiful, smart little girls. They may not always act like angels, but sometimes they sure look like them!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Inappropriate Christmas Carols

"I don't know. It's complicated, and it is inappropriate."

These were my sister's final thoughts on "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" tonight as we rode around town looking at lights. It had just come on the radio, and we were passing a delightfully tacky display. It was dark in the backseat (Mimi was driving), and we were separated by Su-Su, otherwise I would have slapped her upside the head.

"You really didn't know that the little girl was singing about seeing her father dressed up as Santa Claus, but she doesn't know it?" I asked incredulously.

"What? I thought the mom was kissing Santa. That's inappropriate, Manda."

It took Su-Su and I several tries to explain to Alison that the little girl in the song sees her father dressed up like Santa Claus, but she doesn't realize it's her father. It's like a funny little joke to her. Obviously to my sister this is a ballad of heartbreaking familial betrayal.

She's supposed to be the smart one. Right. I feel like I just told a kid that Santa isn't real. Am I spoiling the song for anyone else?

I leaned my head back as Nannie exclaimed over the same lights we saw last year.... She must have missed a few throwbacks of her mighty-water today because she did not remember the enormous blow-up Nutcracker (or, CrackerNut, as Natalie calls them) or the flashing gingerbread men or even the thousands upon thousands of lights plastered to every surface of home and yard.

As we passed the one house on the street that seemed to be boycotting the splendiferous displays (they only had one wreath on the door and a tree in the window, geez), I thought of a few more inappropriate carols.

What about "Baby, It's Cold Outside?" That man is clearly going to drug the young lady in an effort to keep her in his home (Glenn Beck analyzed this song cleverly on his show the other day). I'm sure there are more.

You have to be careful about what you let your kids listen to around the holidays, people!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

"I can't deny that fact that you like me, right now, you like me!"

It seems that of the three people who read my blog, one of them generously chose me for this prestigous award:
I am truly honored. I would like to start off by thanking the Academy. Well, I guess I should thank Meri. Meri is awesome because she is always serving behind the scenes, whether it's at church or our MOPS group, or with her friends. She is always up for meeting me for coffee. She is super-creative, and I have never seen the woman without a spool of yarn and some sort of project. Meri also she raises four (!!!) little boys with her BrilliantHusband and still manages to not only be awake, but to serve others so faithfully. She is smart, genuine, and never afraid to speak her mind. It doesn't hurt that I love her blog too. So here is the "interview" she sent me:

Do you have any friends from childhood?
{Yes! I went to school with most of the same people from 1st grade to 12th grade, and I still keep in touch with some of them, mostly through Facebook. My friends M (of "I Heart NY 2008" fame), E, E, S, and M I see pretty regularly at MOPS or just hanging out}

What do you value about your friends?
{I love and admire their many talents and abilities: cooking, sewing, decorating, writing, teaching, research, cake decorating, good gossip!, knitting, crotchet, running more than 10 steps without getting winded, dance, fashion, conversation...the list goes on and on. There is something about each one of them that I can admire and aspire to be. They have been there for me, especially during my second pregnancy, which was unexpected. They gave me advice and helped me to understand that my feelings were normal. They offered to help me with childcare, meals, and cleaning my house. Most importantly, there were just there. }

Are they your sounding board?
{Most definitely! Especially when it comes to matters of decorating. I am pretty unsure in this area. My friend L is very good at furniture placement, so I always ask her before I move something. My friends are all great listeners. Most of us are mothers, so we're all in the same boat and we are in this journey together-might as well pop the champagne cork and enjoy the ride!}

What activities do you like to share together?
{Anything and everything! Shopping, play dates, MOPS meetings, girls' only trips, coffee dates, double (and triple and quadruple!) dates, movie nights, game nights, spa name it!}

Now it is time for me to pass the love on. I choose to bestow the honor upon my friend, Tracy. Tracy and I became friends last summer in our MOPS Bible study. Tracy is a dedicated blogger, and a very devoted mommy to two precious little boys. (Natalie is obsessed with her younger son. I think she wants to be his mother.) I don't think I've ever met another mom with such a love for teaching. Tracy comes up with the most creative ideas for teaching her boys, and she blogs about it too! Her family always looks like they are having a blast. Tracy is quiet, but always a friendly face. Her bruschetta recipe rocks. I hope our friendship keeps growing, Tracy! Love to ya!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

"MyLeese Nahbeeblah" and "Merry Christmas" to You Too!

You know, "MyLeese Nahbeeblah," that classic Christmas carol! If you don't speak three-year old, let me translate. "Feliz Navidad." I'd love to tell you that I taught Natalie that during our intensive home creative learning time, but I am fairly certain she picked it up from Elmo's Happy Holidays or the obsessive selection of Christmas music I force upon my children in the car. We have learned a lot this year though!

We learned that things don't always turn out the way we want (week-long stay in the NICU for Michaela in January). We also learned to thank God for answering prayers. (He let her come home with us and she's just fine--no more infections!)

Natalie learned that little sisters can be fun...

...and frustrating.

T worked very, very hard on our bathroom, the addition, and the Living room.

We were blessed with a beautiful new addition! (Thanks Mama and Nannie!) I worked hard on window treatments and decorating to make it fun for me and the kids...we'll get there someday!

We also learned that sometimes it's okay to stop and smell the roses.

Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year from the "T" family!

Oh, and Myleese Nahbeeblah too!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

This Party Was Brought to You By...

...the letter "N" and the number "3!"

What kind of mother would I be if I didn't boast about the millions of hours I spent planning a 3 year old's birthday party? Natalie's birthday is in early December, so December has been a stressful month for the past few years: babies being born (or about to be born), decorating to do, trees to put up, and of course-birthday parties to plan. Come New Year's Eve, I am plumb tuckered out!

We had 11 (yes, 11!) children (10 girls and one adorable baby boy) cram themselves into our home one Saturday for a Sesame Street birthday. No, we do not normally force Elmo to brave sub-zero temperatures on our front stoop. This year, I decided to take it easy on myself and not plan a craft that would just be thrown away the minute the kids piled back into their minivans. I kept things simple, and the girls colored Sesame Street party hats and decorated them with little jazzy pom poms on the top. That kept them busy for all of 3 minutes before the whining (Natalie's) commenced. She wanted cake. RIGHT NOW!

I managed to distract them (her-she has a cake obsession, don't know where she gets it) long enough to propel them into the new room. We played "Pin the Cookie on Cookie Monster." Natalie cheats. Then we managed to get all the girls to sit in a circle for my very own version of "hot potato," which we called "hot cookie." This entailed the girls passing a small plastic cookie around the circle while Sesame Street music (theme song and "C is for Cookie") played in the background. When the music stopped, the person holding the cookie was out. Except that two and three year olds are very egotistical, and the shock of being "out" is more than their little psyches can handle. So the "loser" had the privilege of choosing a glittery necklace and standing to the side. This went over much better than dragging them screaming from the circle.

After the mass riot over the necklaces ended, the SWAT team (other moms) ushered their kids into my kitchen for the best part: cake and ice cream! At this point, I don't want to see a cake decorating tool for a long, long time. I was up very late making these Cookie Monster cupcakes, which were my very first attempt at cake decorating (unless you count running a spatula of icing over some hastily prepared cupcakes and then eating the remaining icing). They weren't all that hard to do...just very, very time consuming. They were also devoured in about 2 minutes. Please don't report me to the Cake Wrecks blog, Meri, as I am a novice and I do not sell my work. Not that anyone would be buying....

The animals gather for feeding.

Birthday Girl! I can't believe we have had only 3 years of her benevolent dictatorship...sniff sniff.

Well, if they won't let me eat cake, I will eat my shoe!

All in all, a fun little party! Natalie had a blast, and I will too once I take a breath and relax after Christmas. I think I need some eggnog....

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I could convert for this....

I could convert to nerdiness for this:
It looks like so much fun, and a total throwback to my old highschool cheerleading days. I HATE video games, but this could be worth trying....I had no clue there were games like this. I thought they were all about wizards and trolls and monsters trying to slay dragons and other such nonsense. This could be interesting.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I (Heart) New York {2008}

Several months ago, I registered for a county Parks & Rec sponsored trip to New York City. My friend M decided to join me, and another friend A signed on at the last minute. Just a day-long trip to the Big Apple...the bus left Virginia at 4 am on Saturday and returned around 1 am on Sunday.

I've done the trip before and assured my two friends that the gloriousness of NY at Christmas awaited us (along with the massive crowds, traffic, puddles of dirty water, and the occasional crazy-but I left that part out because it's not kind to scare your friends, 'specially when you want them to take a trip with you). I have some other girlfriends who tricked, I mean convinced, their husbands to accompany them in a separate van. I'm not sure why they did that, because a trip to NYC with T is about as much fun as watching a pot boil-unless you're into that sort of thing, in which case you'd have a blast with your husband. Mine, however, is a bit of a Grinchy-Scrooge type. T is a 72 year old man in a 29 year old's body. He was happy to be left home with the comforts of leather cushions and cable television, and I was just as happy to have a girls-only day in the most fabulous city in the U.S.

I'll be honest and admit that I wasn't feeling the love at 2:45 am when my alarm went off. By the time M and I took our seats in front of A on the crowded bus (behind Mullet-Lady and across from Cell-Phone-Rings-Too-Much), we were too keyed up to go back to sleep right away. So for awhile we gossiped and eventually exhausted ourselves into a stupor. After a few rest stops and some make-up adjustments, we were entering the magical Lincoln Tunnel. I'm not sure what exactly is magical about the Lincoln Tunnel except that it has lots of traffic and some mildew, but maybe the magic is that people can swerve and cut in front of each other to get inside without having a 300 car pile-up. If this is the case, our bus driver is a master magician.

The bus dropped us off on 34th street, near Macy's and a very tall guy dressed as Frosty the Snowman, who was accompanied by two scantily dressed Mrs. Clauses. After gawking at them, my friends and I decided to experience New York! We chose to ride the subway yesterday, and I am so glad we did. With a $7.50 Fun Pass (T and I did this a few years ago and decided it was worth it), we had access to all the wonders of Manhattan. I'm not sure what all the fussing is about, because the subway is pretty awesome. With the exception of the scary man with the wild beard dressed in a trench in the back, everyone on our car was normal and just out for some fun. A and I came to the conclusion that since M is a law school graduate and passed the Virginia bar, she was the most obvious choice to read the maps and tell us stupid regular college graduates which line to take.

Our fun took the form of a jaunt down Canal Street in China Town. The shops on Canal Street seem to me to be the modern version of a Speak-Easy. A customer approaches the shop keeper and whispers the password, which is usually "Versace" or "Coach" or "Kate Spade" (my personal favorite). If you get the magic password correct, the shopkeeper takes you back to view rows of *real* designer handbags, and you just won't believe the prices, people! $30 for a Prada bag! $10 for a Burberry scarf! It's really almost too good to be true. M lectured me for a moment on the woes of the business on Canal Street, but I pretended not to hear her. She bought a non-designer green beaded bag, which A and I deemed just perfect. Then some other people bought some other things and yadda yadda yadda we ended up at Lombardi's in Little Italy for a pizza lunch. Lombardi's boasted an excessive wait in the cold, and fairly decent pizza. We chose a large pepperoni, spinach, and mushroom and inhaled the entire thing. It was a great break from the cold.
Rockefeller uptown was even more packed this year than it was last year. We couldn't even find a spot to take good pictures of ourselves with the tree in the background. It was M's idea to head inside St. Patrick's cathedral next, and I am so glad we did. It was warm and gorgeous inside. A and I were amused to see a priest filling a vial of holy water from a large orange "Gatorade" tub, but all in all, the cathedral was very impressive. Their indoor nativity scene was breathtaking. As we walked the aisles, we could hear the amazing choir practicing somewhere...the echoes were lovely.

We trudged further up 5th Avenue, passing the likes of Cartier, Trump Tower, Harry Winston (!!!), Louis Vuitton, The Waldorf Astoria, The Plaza (hi, Eloise!), and beautiful Tiffany & Co. The beautiful, glittering, glowing, shining display outside of Tiffany & Co. sang to me all the way down 5th Avenue. Walking inside that store (I've never made it that far up 5th before) was like hearing the hallelujah chorus, except that we just heard the choir at St. Patricks, so maybe it was just them echoing in my head. At any rate, I am convinced it was a miracle that I did not purchase anything in there. My wallet is thanking me today, but I am mourning for that little blue box I wanted to bring home.

It was dark by the time we reached Central Park, and our camera batteries were beginning to wear down, so any flash photography in the park would have failed miserably. We walked in just far enough to say we'd been to Central Park, but not so far as to encourage a mugging, kidnapping, or stabbing. After a quick photo shoot in front of The Plaza, we ran into FAO Schwarz, and then hitched a subway ride back to Herald Square. We were pleasantly surprised to find ourselves in the perfect spot for shots of Macy's all lit up. A and I decided that it wouldn't be a trip to NYC without a pretzel from a street vendor, so we munched on our snacks while we staked out a spot on 34th Street to wait for the return of our bus. Last year, it felt like you sort of had to run after the bus like a hobo trying to board a moving train, so we wanted to be early this time.

As we finally boarded, a tiny little policewoman appeared out of nowhere and gave our driver some flack for parking on 34th. She jokingly told him that she'd make his passengers split the ticket. I told her that would be impossible because we'd spent all our money already. That seemed to lighten her up, and she let us go with no problems.
While we rode back through Manhattan, I couldn't help but reflect on such a fun day. I am so grateful to have a chance to take a break from Mommy-duty for a day and just have some fun! I already counting down the days until next year's trip...A and M, are you guys up for it? I (Heart) New York!

In Case You Were Wondering What True Love Looks Like...

This is it.

The beautiful, glowing Tiffany & Co. display lured me close like an enchanting Siren. Here is a more subdued shot of me and my friend, A, in front of the store.

We found all sorts of things to put on our Christmas lists inside. Our friend, M, humored us and was kind enough to find a "secret" elevator in the back so we wouldn't have to wait with the throngs of jewelry worshippers to get back down to the main floor.

More on our fabulous "I (Heart) New York Trip 2008" to come!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

It's Like Little House on the Prairie

Let me begin by saying that I was always a huge fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books growing up. I used to imagine what it would be like to ride in a covered wagon, shop in a general store, and share a cozy bed with my sister on a cold prairie night. Well, scratch that last part because I shared a room with my sister for 7 years and it was pure torture most nights because she found great joy in making me miserable.

This week has come about as close to life on the prairie as I want to get. We have some kind of BIG, unfortunate clog in the pipes under our house, which resulted in some major backing up in the downstairs bathroom. Ick! So T declared that we must not use the showers or the toilets (except for Natalie because it's impossible to ask a three year old to hold it) until the situation is resolved. He seemed to think that it would be okay to use the dishwasher and the kitchen sink because those lines weren't affected. Wrong. Whatever clogged the pipe blew the kitchen pipe apart, so all the water we were using went under the house. Great.

So I've really felt like Laura or Mary Ingalls as I get in my (covered) Chevrolet Trailblazer and drive to WaWa to use the bathroom. And showering at my mom's house has sort of been like camping out in the wilderness...her mood can sometimes swing and she'll go all Comanche on you. Dangerous.

Today is Day 5 1/2 of "The Great Plumbing Debacle of 2008." The plumber sent his guys over last night, and they tried to run a monster snake down the line, and even that wouldn't go through. They asked if someone might have flushed a toy down the toilet...meanwhile, Natalie is standing at the door wearing a red scottie dog dress, pink fairy wings, and pink dress-up shoes with flowers on them. They must have been referring to T.

Yes, I am sure I've seen him sneak his He-Man action figures into the bathroom. It couldn't have been Michaela Byrd--she prefers playing in the dog water. But just to be safe, we asked her, and the look on her face was priceless. Her mouth dropped open in shock that we would even consider accusing her of such treachery. "No! I di'int!"

Well, okay then. Back to square one. Looks like they will have to replace the entire line under the house if their magic balloon trick thingie doesn't work tonight. I honestly don't care anymore. I just want to be able to shower at my house! I am PRAYING that they can just fix the darn thing tonight...and let the record show that if they take the pipe out and discover a Fisher Price Little People car, or a My Little Pony, or any sort of toy a 3 year old might find fascinating to flush, there will be a very unhappy little girl on L Avenue. And that someone isn't me.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

When You're 97 Years Old...

...Anything goes! We had the pleasure of spending Thanksgiving with my grandmother this year. She came to visit all the way from North Carolina. My Nannie is a wonderful, loving, outgoing, perplexing woman. We enjoyed our visit with her, but we always get a few laughs when we talk with her. I guess when you are 97, you just let all of your opinions about everything out to air. Here are some highlights from our Thanksgiving with Nannie:

1. Thanks to Nannie, we are now aware that the "red Chinese" have amassed troops on our borders and are waiting to attack the U.S., take over, and turn us all Communist.

2. Her thoughts on the election, spoken with sadness and great conviction: "Poor, old John McCain." (This in and of itself is so wonderfully hilarious because she is as old as poor, old John McCain's mother!)

3. It should be noted that she and my grandfather were always ardent Democrats, probably since before FDR and his New Deal. JFK might have been their Second Coming. I think my grandfather would have voted for Mickey Mouse if he had run under the Democratic ticket. So it came as a great shock to us when she passionately announced that my grandfather would have hated the way that the party is being run these days (she thinks the Clintons want to take over the U.N., which is funny because I know for a fact she voted for Clinton in both of the 1990's elections). She proclaimed that "we are Republicans now." I'm not sure why she added the "we" in there, as my grandfather passed away in 1994, but perhaps she feels so strongly about her recent political defection that she felt he also needed to be included to save his good name.

4. On facial hair: Riding next to my brother in the car, she stared hard at his new beard and finally said, "I don't like beards." Jamie felt so bad he went home and shaved it off.

5. She has special water. Thanks to Nannie's hair dresser, who sold her a marvelous contraption, Nannie now has "special water" that she must take everywhere with her. She claims that it can heal cuts and bruises, and it makes her loose weight. She strong-armed my mom into bringing a small cooler of it up from North Carolina. Mom took a sip of it when Nannie wasn't looking and it tasted just like her regular water...filtered. Jamie's sister-in-law did not help the situation when, over Thanksgiving dinner, she told my grandmother that it sounded like magic water. I am pretty certain that Nannie said that's ridiculous. It's just special, that's all.

6. The wonder of the Playstation: Jamie got bored at my mom's and found his old stash of Play Station 1 games. He decided that even though the graphics are terrible, he'd play Madden 2000 on the Play Station 2 to pass the time. My grandmother toddled in with her cane, peered at the TV, and exclaimed "Oh, who's playing?" My brother didn't have the heart to tell her that she was watching a (very poor) version of a video football game so he told her she was watching the Colts and the Skins. She sat down to watch and said, "Well, I've never seen football players on ice skates before. Why are they ice skating?" It was all Jamie could do to keep his cool. He decided not to say anything because he knew she'd be asleep soon anyways. Sure enough, he looked back two minutes later and she was fast asleep in my mom's big arm chair.

7. On our new addition: Most people who've come over to see our new room have shown polite admiration for all the work that went into it. Nannie made one positive comment on Tim's bookshelves and then all she said was, "I put the closet over there [on my plans]." Oookaaayyyy.

If I make it to 97, I hope I have the energy that she has each day. I am looking forward to being able to speak my mind too.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I'm Bringin' Sexy Back...

Went shopping with Michaela Byrd today. (It is SO much easier to shop with only one child!) We headed out to DSW to check out the kicks. I wanted a really sexy pair of shoes to wear to the brother-in-law's wedding this weekend. I wanted to find something that would make me feel better about myself, as the dress I found at Macy's obviously did not do wonders for my self-esteem. I was hoping that the perfect pair of strappy stilettos would jump off the shelf into my eager arms, but no such luck. I didn't see anything strappy enough, if that makes any sense. So I settled on this pair from Steve Madden. Not bad. I like the sparkly sequins that are actually pretty subtle. They only shimmer when the light hits them in just the right way. Michaela Byrd approved them, but I think she was only in a hurry to get back in the car and stare at her baby mirror mobile. We shopped hard! All in a good day's work, right?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Have you been BOO!ed ??

No, I'm not talking about the kind of booing one would receive after a particularly bad karaoke performace, or an Obama t-shirt at a McCain-Palin rally....BOO!ing is a fun Halloween activity that got started recently in my local Mothers of Preschoolers group.

I'm not a huge fan of Halloween, but I do let my girls dress up, and next year we will go Trick or Treating for the first time (see my wedding post for the reason why we won't be this year). We don't decorate for Halloween, save for two really cute Jack 'O Lantern signs in my front flower pots. I prefer pumpkins, gourds, leaves, etc. But I always enjoy fun seasonal activities, so when another mom from my group secretly left a little Halloween goodie bag on my front steps, I knew I had to give BOO!ing a try!

Along with a few treats, there was a note that said this:

You've Been BOO!ED
The air is cool, it’s time for Fall! Soon sweet treats will come for all. Table leaders are planning things to fact, a MOPS mom brought this to YOU!
The treats that came with this short note are yours to keep. Enjoy them both! But what makes this fun is when friends like you copy and make it Two.
We’ll all have smiles upon our faces trying to figure out who BOO!Ed our places. Just be sure that you don’t tell-Keep it a secret and hide it well.
Please join the fun, the season’s here to spread the goodies, BOO!s, and cheer.
Lots of Love, A MOPS Mom

This could be edited to fit any neighborhood or group. The most fun was picking out the goodies for the people that I would be BOO!ing. I had a crazy crazy week, so I knew I wouldn't be able to make anything homemade. to Wally World I went (closer to home and I had only so much time before the girls woke up and my husband would be required to get off the couch and watch them). This was the note that I sent along. I retyped the one that was dropped off at my house because it was a little wet and hard to read. I used Publisher and found a cute font that looked like I cut the letters out of a magazine. Add a cute pumpkin graphic, and you're set! The "take out" box I found at my local AC Moore. I loved the fall colors, and they were 2 for $1. The little doorknob "BOO" signs I got at Wal-Mart in a little BOO!ing kit. It also came with a little black bag that said "Boo!" on it. I layered the tiny Halloween cupcakes with a piece of wax paper, and I filled in the cracks with miniature chocolates. After that was packed up, it went into the little black "Boo" bag and I dropped in some Reese's peanut butter cups. Perfect color coordination. Talk about chocolate overload!
There's still time to give BOO!ing a try. The hardest part was dropping off the bags. I went to two moms' houses that I had never been to before. Add in the dark, a slip on wet grass when I almost lost my $$$ glasses, and one of the husbands almost catching me, and it was a freaky night! Tons of fun. If you do this in your neighborhood, be sure to ask people to put the little signs on their door or window so no one gets BOO!ed twice.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Always a Bridesmaid...

Here is a little-known fact about me. I do not like going to weddings. I don't mind watching wedding shows on TV, I enjoy seeing people's pictures, and I love wedding dresses, but I always dread receiving those 4 pound envelopes in the mail with the RSVP cards inside. It just seems like an awful lot of trouble to go through to throw a big party for 200 people that will forget all about it the instant they go home and start perusing their TiVos to see last Thursday's episode of The Office. Do the guests care that your dress has 967 pearls on it that were hand-sewn by French nuns? No. They want to drink as much as possible at the open bar and then head home to watch Dwight throw a baby stroller from the top of a pile of tires. Really, how can you compete with Steve Carrell and Rainn Wilson?

Did I have a wedding? Yes. Did I wish for a big extravagant party complete with a band and sit down dinner? Yes. Did I get it? No. My mom gently (read, not so gently) explained to me that she was not going to spend 40 grand on a big fluffy party. I was not thrilled to hear her explanation at the time, but now I find myself wishing that we had used the money she did end up spending on our wedding for something more practical. Like a new water heater. Or a deck.

So you can imagine my reaction when not only did my brother-in-law's fiancee, K, ask me to be a bridesmaid, but asked me to be a bridesmaid at their wedding all the way up in Pennsylvania...or was it China? Who knows? Might as well be China. All I know is that it is going to require a two to three hour drive up with two cranky girls in the back seat. Joy.

Yes, I realize I am being a wee bit self-centered here. But it's my blog. I can be self-centered if I want. I would never begrudge anyone her big day, but I guess I am just over the whole big white wedding phase of life. Most of my friends are married with kids, which is a whole different ball game. Parents of the bride can complain about money all they want, but they've had 20+ years to save up for their daughter to have an ice sculpture of the Parthenon. (For the record, K is not having an ice scuplture...that is just the first extravagant thing I could think of) It's the groomsmen and bridesmaids who really suffer.

Well, you say, why didn't you just say that you don't want to be a bridesmaid? That excuse might have worked for my brother's wedding last summer, but it would never withstand my mother-in-law. She loves weddings and planning weddings and showers. She is just so darn nice that I hate to upset her. Really. I'm not just saying that. I honestly didn't want to stir up anything, so I agreed to be one of K's bridesmaids.

So not only am I having to pack the family up to head to Pennsylvania for this wedding, did I mention that I also have to lug up Halloween costumes since the rehearsal is on Halloween night? I'm not big into Halloween, but I was looking forward to taking Natalie and Michaela Byrd trick or treating for the first time. Now I guess Dorothy and Glinda will have to make do watching a bunch of old people stand around. This, of course, will be after we drop all our junk off at the $200 hotel room and drive another half an hour to the ceremony site. Gee whiz. And don't forget the winter coats- because the wedding party (and I am guessing my children) will be sitting in a covered porch during the reception in Pennsylvania November weather. But, don't worry...I think they are using canvas to cover the walls. Yay.

Maybe today this is just about blowing off a little steam. I just hate to spend so much money on gas, hotels, clothes, and gifts so close to Christmas. Wedding plans are very personal. But sometimes it's nice to think of other "persons" when you are making your wedding plans. Next time, I will learn to just say "no" to the whole bridesmaid thing. Speak now, or forever hold your peace, right?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Then I Had a Taste, Now I'm a Believer!

I had a sample of a most wonderous new (for me) Starbuck's beverage last night: Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate. Ambrosia, Manna, Nectar of the it what you like, it was amazing! My friend M mentioned how great it was, but I was pretty skeptical. I even gagged a little bit when the barrista described it to me, but I decided to give it a try. Wow! If you haven't tasted it, it's worth the $15 or however much Starbuck's is charging these days for drinks. I am a new convert, and I will follow M's beverage advice to the ends of the earth. Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate is a new addition to my beverage lexicon. Thanks, M!

Friday, September 26, 2008

TV Junkie

Anyone else have a kid that goes through phases of TV obsession? I usually let Natalie watch some Noggin (Little Bear, Blue's Clues, etc.) after her naps in the afternoon b/c she is so darn difficult to deal with that time of the day. I'm seriously afraid of her...girlfriend is scaaaary from 3:30 to around 6:00 pm!

She is really really cranky most of the time after naptime. It's sort of like approaching a sleeping velociraptor. So much so that I started using her sister as a human shield. I discovered that if I let Michaela stand next to the bed and "talk" to Natalie as she wakes up, I get a much better reaction. Usually a smile and an invitation for the baby to snuggle with her for a minute or two. But that's all. Then she turns back into Mr. Hyde.

So anyways, it seems like all she wants to do now is watch TV after her naps, and for some time afterwards. And bless my heart, I've been letting her do it this week. I know it's a phase b/c she's had weeks like this before, but I was just wondering if anyone else's kids do this. I do set a timer and when the timer "dings," she knows we have to turn off the TV and do something else. But I still get a lot of whining. Sometimes she looks like a little zombie sitting there as the Dora theme song plays over and over. I hate that da*& song.

What do you guys do to redirect your kids' attention from the TV? Everybody has days where they let their kiddos watch TV to get out of their hair a bit. Just wondering if your kids border on obsession? Thank God for preschool, MOPS, and Bible study, because I feel like this week she would have logged some serious TV time! Right now, she's playing baby dolls in the other room, and hasn't asked for TV yet...but the day is young, and she'll be spending the morning with Tim, whose idea of quality time is laying on the couch and dozing off while Natalie watches Little Bill and Michaela chews on her sock. Guess we'll see!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

When I Grow Up...

So I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up! I've obviously been thrust into the wonderful, terrifying, hilarious, beautiful role of "Mommy;" but at 28, I don't feel like I know what my passion is. So I have decided to take a cue from our contractor's 16 year old son and decide what I don't like. Perhaps this will narrow things down for me a bit....

1) I do not want to be a professional home interior painter. I am really bad at it. Really. Before yesterday, I had never painted a ceiling before. My neck is thanking me today. According to my husband, I am also a very sloppy painter. After a morning of paint splatters in my eyes (I may need a seeing eye dog-this should almost certainly guarantee me a handicapped parking space if not having a sense of smell won't do it!), streaks on all my clothes, and crusted paint ground into every exposed spot of skin, I came to the conclusion that painting is just not my thing.

On to the next discovery of what I know I'm not good at....

Friday, May 9, 2008

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Amanda's Test Blog Party Post

This is my awesome post that I want to link up to a blog party. It's going to be fantastic!

Blah blah blah. Here is the rest of my post...

I'm linking to Serenity Now.

Weekend Bloggy Reading

Test Blog Party Post

This is a test! Come and link to my pretend test blog party. Please be sure you have linked back to me!

Thanks for joining the party!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Monday, March 10, 2008

Serenity Now Features and Buttons

This is the spot to grab one of my buttons and to see where Serenity Now has been featured out and about the web!

Grab a Serenity Now button here:

Serenity Now

Need to link up to my Weekend Bloggy Reading link party, but don't want to use a text link? Here you go:
Weekend Bloggy Reading

Have I Featured your work here at Serenity Now? Here's an "I've Been Featured" button for you to share on your own blog!
Featured At Serenity Now

I am so very grateful to all of the sites who have kindly Featured me over the years! I am open to guest posts, blog swaps, interviews, and more, time permitting.

More Holiday and Seasonal Posts from Serenity Now

-More Holiday and Season Posts from Serenity Now-

Serenity Now Party Ideas

-More Party Ideas from Serenity Now-

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Serenity Now Crafts

More Crafts from Serenity Now-

Monday, March 3, 2008

More DIY and Home Decor Posts from Serenity Now

-More DIY and Home Decor Projects at Serenity Now-

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Appetizer Recipes

Appetizer recipes shared here at Serenity Now-

Side Dishes

Side Dish recipes shared here at Serenity Now-

Main Dishes

Main Dish recipes shared here at Serenity Now-


Drink Recipes shared here at Serenity Now-

Breakfast and Brunch Recipes

Breakfast and Brunch recipes shared here at Serenity Now-

Dessert and Bread Recipes

Dessert and Bread Recipes here at Serenity Now-

More Social Media Tips for Bloggers

Learn more about how to use Social Media with your blog without wasting time.

More Blog Design Tips


More General Blogging Tips

More tips on planning, scheduling, and writing a blog:

More Blog Etiquette Tips

More on blogging etiquette:

More on Making Money with Your Blog

More tips on the business side of blogging, and how you can earn money as a blogger:

More Blogging Technical Tips Page


More Blogging Tips (from Serenity Now) Page

More Blogging Tips from Serenity Now-

Blogging Resources Page (Blogging Tips & Tricks)

I'm constantly on the lookout for articles, posts, and tutorials on ways to make my blog better. I thought my readers might also enjoy a library stocked with blogging resources from around the blogosphere, so I've rounded up some great ones from other blogs. I know you will find them helpful, so please be sure to let those bloggers know how much you appreciate their work. Check in often, because I'll be adding tips and tricks on all aspects of blogging: writing, photography, SEO, design, etiquette, and more!

*If you are viewing this page in a reader, you'll need to click over to my blog to see the collection!
Pin It


Everything from SEO Basics to Using Windows Live Writer

How-Tos on Buttons, Printables, Blog Design DIY, Photography Tutorials, and more

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. The Ins and Outs

Sponsors, Advertisers, Campaigns, and more

How to navigate the blogosphere gracefully (ie. without committing a faux pas!)

Improve your writing, learn to plan and schedule as your blog grows

Do you like what you see here? I'd love for you to Pin this page so others can find these great tips too!

Friday, February 29, 2008

Serenity Now Project Gallery

I've rounded up the best projects that I've shared here at Serenity Now. (You'll have to click over if you're viewing this in a reader)
Pin It






I'd love for you to Pin this page if you like what you see!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Must-Read Blogs

These are my go-to blogs when I need a good read:

Big Mama

Centsational Girl

Domestic Fashionista


Honey We're Home

Hooked on Houses

Imparting Grace

Infarrantly Creative

Nesting Place

Random Thoughts of a SUPERMOM

Sweet Pea

Tatertots and Jello

The Blessed Nest

This is the Year

Thrifty Decor Chick

320 Sycamore

post signature

Featured On

Thank you to the sites who have so kindly featured me! 

I am open to writing guest posts, interviews, and more, schedule permitting!

Popular Posts

Crafts, Decor, and Tutorials:

Blogging Tips:

In the Kitchen:

On Fashion, Friends, and More:

Home Life:

Blog Parties I Like to Host:

Every Friday-Link up your best post of the week!

Monthly- Any projects, tips, or tricks related to your "Crafty Cutter" (ie. Cricut, Silhouette, Sizzix, etc.)

Monthly- Share your own story and meet some new bloggers.

Tell us about your biggest Decorating Dilemma and get feedback from other party participants.

Share the Progress you've made on those dilemmas---or in any other aspect of your life!

Advertising with Serenity Now

Thank you for your interest in advertising here on Serenity Now. Keep reading for rates and to see what my Sponsors have to say!

I focused my attention on blogging in early 2009, and I now blog consistently, six to seven days a week. My blog has grown steadily in readership and subscribers, and I've been Featured on several popular blogs and websites.

I love to partner with businesses and other bloggers to share products that are interesting to myself and, more importantly, to my readers. My readers love to see posts, reviews, and Giveaways about home improvement and home decor, crafting supplies, jewelry, gifts, hair accessories for women, children's clothes and accessories, craft items, and photography.

Some of the larger companies and sites I've successfully partnered with are Elmer'sSilhouettePlaidDannon, KrylonKraftRubbermaidHGTVLender's Bagels, and Duncan Hines.

What do sponsors receive at a competitive rate?
  • I offer several 125px x 125px ads in a prominent spot next to the most recent post on my blog. (You must have your own static 125 x 125 button.) I do also feature a limited number of premium 261 x 125 ads from time to time.
  • New sponsors will receive an introduction post dedicated to promoting their business.
  • I always encourage a small giveaway from a sponsor to generate interest in the introduction post.
  • I'd also like to set aside one weekend post per month to feature my sponsors and any specials, new products, or Giveaways that they have. I link to Twitter and Facebook.
I occasionally do reviews and giveaways for products or services that might appeal to my readers.

If you think we'd be a good match, please contact me at for current rates.

Need a referral? Here's what some of my Sponsors have to say:

"Amanda is great to work with. She does a great job making sure her Followers are aware of her sponsors, and I feel you are getting a good "deal" and bang for your buck when sponsoring her blog. You're not just one sponsor among many that simply get lost in the sauce; but again, she does a great job of promoting and highlighting you. Thanks,  Amanda!" -Sarah, Mississippi Mud

"Advertising on Serenity Now has definitely produced a bump in visits to my shop, and of course sales! Working with Amanda has been wonderful ~ she goes above and beyond for her sponsors and I will definitely be advertising with her again." -RJ, RJ Charms

"Amanda...goes above and beyond what most bloggers are willing to do for an affordable advertising price. When she posted about my shop, the number of views sky rocketed and I believe sales down the line were a result as well." -Anna, Crafty Girls Workshop

"Working with Amanda is a delight. She is always keeping me in the loop with what is going on with her blog that I may want to be involved in, and is always offering suggestions on ways to get my name out there. I thoroughly enjoy associating with her as a sponsor, and as a blog friend!" -Xazmin, Ribbon Blossoms Chic Boutique

This policy is valid from 31 January 2012

This blog is a personal blog written and edited by me. This blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation.

This blog abides by word of mouth marketing standards. We believe in honesty of relationship, opinion and identity. The compensation received may influence the advertising content, topics or posts made in this blog. That content, advertising space or post will be clearly identified as paid or sponsored content.

The owner(s) of this blog is compensated to provide opinion on products, services, websites and various other topics. Even though the owner(s) of this blog receives compensation for our posts or advertisements, we always give our honest opinions, findings, beliefs, or experiences on those topics or products. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the bloggers' own. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider or party in question.

This blog does contain content which might present a conflict of interest. This content will always be identified.

To get your own policy, go to

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