Sunday, August 30, 2009

It's the Most Wonderful time of the year

Several months back, in one of my favorite-things-about-Sydney posts, I told you a little about Council collection, or cleanup. Basically, this is a designated week where the people in a certain suburb put anything from their house they want to throw away out on the curb. During the course of the week, big trucks come by and cart everything away. At the beginning of the year, you get a little fridge magnet in the mail that tells you when your two cleanup weeks are. And ours was a couple weeks ago. Oh, the glee in our household!

Aren't you even a little interested in what people throw away? I sure am. I don't mean old newspapers or empty milk cartons, but the bigger things. Items they once needed or wanted and don't anymore. Maybe it's because it offers a sneak peek into the lives of people you know almost nothing about, but I'm always interested to see what they bring to the curb. Yes, I am nosy. But at least I own up to it!

The other reason we love Council collection week is that it affords the chance to score some free stuff. Lots of people do this, but there seems to be some embarrassment about it. Others are somewhat covert in their missions. Not us! We cruise with the windows down, music playing. The way we see it, our neighbors are sharing with us, and we are with them.

So, on a lovely, spring-like Monday morning a couple weeks ago Jason and I set out to see what offerings were on the sidewalks of our neighborhood. Ava was in school, Jan (Jason's mom)looked after Nate and Grace and off we went. It was like a date. A scavenging for free stuff date. Which, in my opinion, is the best kind.

This trip was unusually fruitful. Here's a few pics from the day. Some stuff we nabbed, some we left for others to find.

I know it's hard to tell from the picture, but this is a full-length mirror with a stand that we found. It has a really nice solid wood frame. "Baby," I said to Jason, "Throw that thing in the truck!" Not really. We don't have a truck. But we took it anyway. I've been needing a full-length mirror in our bedroom to check my oufits. Score!

I really liked this chair--there were actually two of them. I was thinking we could be all DIY on it, but Jason thought it was too rickety and beyond our skill level to fix. (It doesn't take much to be beyond our skill level.) So, I bid it adieu and we moved on.

These two chairs were found at different houses--one of them actually about a month ago. Isn't it funny how they almost match? The one on the left needed a little wood glue on the back legs, but it's going in our hallway to hold my bag and "going out" stuff. The one on the right we are sanding (which is why it looks a little rough there) and painting and I'll use it for my new desk in our kitchen. (More on that in a minute.)

Now, I gotta tell you, I wasn't wild about these at first. I didn't really like the print. It may surprise you that a person who gets furniture off the street would be so choosy. What can I say--I am a woman of mystery and contradiction. But they were pretty comfy and Jason thought they'd work in the room he uses as an office. So, we took 'em. And if I find some slipcovers, they might even make it to the Big Leagues. Living room, baby. Ohhh yeeeaahh.

This was my favorite find. Y'all, there ain't a thing wrong with this little desk. And now it is mine. ALL MINE. When we pulled over to look at it, a lady was walking her dog across the street. "Oooo, that's a nice one!" she called out. And so we had a little bonding moment with her about our good fortune. Score!

And here I am, back home with some of the spoils. Don't you think free furniture does wonderful things for my complexion? Too bad Estee Lauder can't grind that up and bottle it!

I am normally way too nervous to try to paint or fix things up. I am not exactly crafty. (See the post about my pineapple-upside-down-cake for evidence of this.) But there's no pressure when the stuff was free to begin with, and destined for the landfill. That, and the fact that Jason's mom is doing most of the hard stuff helps!

Well, I am off to bed. Hope everyone had a lovely weekend. Find any cool stuff in your neighborhood? Helpful hint--make sure it's being thrown out before you boost it from the front yard!

Monday, August 24, 2009

These Three

This girl... ten weeks old and finally getting a little meat on her bones. Check that little double chin!! Just like her mama... Oh man, now I'm kinda depressed. Anyway...

This girl...

...lost her first tooth last week. (Witness her amazement.) She outed me about the Tooth Fairy. Look, I can only live a life of deceit and trickery in so many areas. It's too exhausting. So the Tooth Fairy got the ax. But she still got a dollar under her pillow. A dollar! If you ask me, that's a little high. Jason talked me into it.

This boy...

...had the greasiest, matted hair last night and I couldn't figure out why. I noticed it in the middle of church. We had a Child Dedication Service, and we were dedicating Nate. (To the Lord. You know.) He was standing in front of us, and as I put my hand on his head to pray for him, I was like, Ewww. What in the world? After church, Jason saw Nate finish eating a snack and then take his greasy, foody hands and wipe them in his hair. But he must've also done it earlier in the day as well. Before church, I'd mentioned to him that I didn't want him to get his clothes dirty. What's a boy to do when he can't wipe his hands on his shirt?

So not only does Nate have a way with the ladies, he's got some pretty sweet hygiene, too.

Now, I'll back in a couple days to tell you about some free furniture we scored off the side of the road! Woohoo! Why, yes, we are shameless. Have a great day!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I guess it comes built-in, maybe in the Y chromosome?

A few days ago, Ava had a little girl from her class over to play after school. Nate, of course, wanted to be included in the activities. Ava was really good about letting him join in their tea party and follow them around and generally be a nuisance. Such is the job of little brothers.

E, the little girl that was visiting us last week, doesn't have a little brother, so she found Nate to be quite the novelty. And as she watched Nate and screamed with laughter at his antics, I saw my 3 year old boy have a revelation. If I do stupid stuff, girls will laugh at me! This totally rocks!! It was as if his life was given new purpose.

As I type this, Ava has another friend, L, over to play. And as soon as Nate woke up from his nap about half an hour ago, it was on with the show! Heeerrre's Nate--three shows a night! Be sure to tip your waitresses! Over these last two playdates I have watched him do the following to make Ava's little friends laugh:

--Slap himself repeatedly in the face, a la The Three Stooges.
--Fall down on purpose.
--Scrub his face with a dish scrubber. (This didn't go so well and was quickly abandoned. Ouch)
--Put Ava's underwear on his head.
--Speak an entire gibberish language, complete with arm gestures and a little dance.
--And last week, he came out of the bathroom with no pants or underwear on and joined Ava and E in the backyard.

This last one, unfortunately, went undiscovered by me till E's mother and I went to the back door to call them inside. I have no idea how long he'd been out there, naked.

Jason and I were laughing about it later that night. "Here we go," I said to him. "He'll spend the next 20 years of his life doing this." It's like I could see future incarnations of Nate, his tactics growing only slightly more sophisticated with time. It seems it doesn't take long for boys to figure this out, even though they don't always realize that drawing attention to oneself by any means isn't always flattering!

L, the friend who's visiting today has a little brother Nate's age at home. So unfortunately for Nate, she is not as impressed as E was. So I am watching him ramp up his efforts. This could get ugly/interesting, so I better go intervene. The boy's only 3--I guess he's got time to learn at least a little finesse with the ladies. Lord help us. No, really. Lord, help us!

Friday, August 14, 2009

To all those who doubted me: Well, it turns out you were right.

My status as domestic goddess is not exactly legendary. So I shouldn't have been surprised when the pineapple upside down cake that I was baking for Ava's school fete tomorrow was a complete disaster. This happened about 20 minutes ago, so I am still dealing with it all. I am living in a glass case of emotion right now, so pardon my pain.

You see, I have these fancy pots and pans, and the recipe book that came with them says that you can bake a pineapple upside down cake in a skillet, on the stove. It does, I say to you. Have any of you ever baked a cake on the stove? I actually tried it a couple years ago and I seem to remember it turning out okay. But tonight the skillet fairy must have been visiting another house, cause it burned, stuck to the pan and is totally not pretty enough to show the other school moms. Barbara, it's too bad you don't live in Oz, cause I'd totally have you bake a cake like you did here, and pass it off as mine!

And just in case you're wondering if the pineapple upside down cake was really all that bad, or if I'm just playing it up a bit for a blog post, here's a photo after I scraped it out of the pan. I will show you this once, and then we will never speak of it again.

Luckily, I am used to failing in these endeavors, and had already bought a back-up cake mix. Said cake is in the oven right now--at 10:30 p.m. So let's hope it turns out okay, cause I've got cake batter splattered on my robe, I'd like to go to bed, and my wounded self esteem can't take much more.

Update: Jason's mom just took it out of the oven for me, cause I was too busy blogging about burning the last cake and nearly burned this one too. And you were wondering why I'm so awesome. Clearly my talents lie in other areas.

Do you believe in the skillet fairy?

P.S. Speaking of scary cakes, check out this freaky baby shower cake on CakeWrecks. Seriously, you really should. It is too bizarre.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Don't you need more of this in your life?


Or, perhaps I can interest you in...SLEEPING BABY CHEEKS!

I know...this gratuitous displaying of the cheeks and the cuteness and the wide-eyed preciousness. But I just thought you should know.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

My Picky Eater: A Story of Intestines and Tough Love

When Ava was about 13 months old, she stopped eating all fruit and veggies. Just stopped for no discernible reason. The girl was barely walking and not even talking yet, and was already making the iron hammer of her will known throughout the house.

I blame her daddy. Jason's childhood stories of outlasting both his parents at mealtime showdowns have achieved mythical status in our family. So when she stopped, I just didn't put up much of a fight. To be honest. I KNOW! Thus, my tradition of losing Mother of the Year began. My excuses are these:
1. We were getting ready to move to Australia.
2. I got pregnant with Nate and was tired.
3. I wasn't sure what to do.
4. And I blame Jason.

Fast forward 4 and a half years to now. This girl has still never allowed a piece of fruit or the tiniest morsel of vegetable to pass her lips. Not once. When I try to sneak it in something, she knows. It is eerie. When Nate was about 18 months old, he figured out that Ava had a fruit aversion, so he would chase her around the house with a half-eaten apple in his hands. She would scream like he was carrying a severed head. We are talking almost phobic levels of aversion here, people.

Allow me to share what I call "intestinal math" with you. The game everyone can play:

No fruit + lots of cheese= serious plumbing problems.

I'm just sayin'. So we have had some *issues* at our house. Involving tears and drama and not pooping. There. I said it. So, two nights ago I had a sit-down with Ava. A sorta "come to Jesus" type of conversation. I told her that she's a big girl now, and that part of being a big girl is being able to make hard decisions and good choices. That things would, um, get moving again if she ate fruit and veggies. We talked for awhile and she said she'd think it over.

Last night, I was in the kitchen cleaning up after dinner and I thought, it's now or never. We had some grapes in the house that were remarkably good, so I took one, sliced it in half, and carried it into the living room. Ava was sitting in our rocking chair, holding Grace for me. I knelt in front of the chair. "Remember what I said yesterday about making good choices, babe? Here's a grape, and you need to eat it now."

Then the thunder cracked right outside our window, lightning flashed and a great chasm opened in the earth. No, not really. But you would've thought that the four horsemen of the Apocalypse had stopped in for tea by the way she reacted. "Wait. Wait!", she wailed. "Babe, I'm not going to make you do this. It's your choice. But it's something that will help you and it tastes good. You take medicine all the time that is yucky. YOU WILL LIKE THIS."

You shoulda seen her. She sat in the chair, clutching Grace, big tears forming and sliding down her cheeks. We talked for a bit, mentally rehearsing her eating this grape. (I know, I know!) I said, "Okay, if I sprinkle a little sugar on it, will you try it?" She nodded, sniffing.

So I did. I went into the kitchen with this measly little half of a grape and put a few grains of sugar on it and brought it back to her. Do you ever have moments where the utter ridiculousness of a situation just smacks you in the face? And not just the ridiculosity (hee hee!) of the situation, but that of the emotional weight you have placed on it. This was one for me. Here I am, kneeling before my teary-eyed five year old daughter holding out a grape for her to try. No, wait--not a grape. A sugar-encrusted grape HALF. A piddly one half of one grape! And I am holding my breath. Please, just eat it. Just try it. Just take a bite. TRY IT!

Well, after taking several deep breaths, as if I'd asked her to dive to the depths of the ocean, she popped it in her mouth. And chewed. And gagged. And swallowed. And the heavens did open. Yea, verily.

There you have it--a minor miracle! Then she ate the other half and gagged a little more. In the time honored method of mothers everywhere, I said, "Don't you dare spit that out!" But she didn't. And I was so proud.

Hey--it's a start. I had her eat another grape this morning, but this time with no sugar. See? I am so hardcore! Tough love, y'all. Tough love.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Redonkulous Things I Learned from a Magazine

Jason's mom arrived two days ago (I know--I am being way spoiled in the help category), and among other things, she brought me a magazine from the States. One of my favorite ways to zone out is to read a magazine. It's kind of like a mental hot fudge sundae: fun and yummy and okay to have in moderation. (I wish I could apply that last principle to regular hot fudge sundaes. But anyway.)

The magazine is this month's Marie Claire. Now, I usually enjoy Marie Claire for a couple reasons. One, it does not make me feel embarrassed to be seen in public with it and two, there is some actual journalism within its pages. But this time...I don't know, it seems that the wheels have maybe fallen off over there. Or maybe it's me. Maybe I am more suburban, boring, and out-of-touch than I thought. (This is entirely possible.) Here's a few samples...

I love how fashion mags are trying to be relatable in this financial climate. They point out that, in these tough economic times, don't worry about buying whole new outfits. Just update your accessories! They can provide "an instant update to a well traveled look". I'm thinking of adding these to my Gap jeans/diaper bag combo--a pair of metal-studded Christian Louboutin loafers for only $995. Check it.

Somebody's fahhhbulous! Not to be pedantic, but I'm not sure that one can actually loaf in loafers that have spikes on them. They just don't seem conducive to loaf-age.

To be fair, not all the accessories are $1000 and up. You can also get a pair of gold, black dotted Furla gloves for $175.

Do you think I could get the snot stains out of these from when I have to wipe the kids' noses? Just wondering.

Flip a few pages over and find out, as one model proclaims: "Fall is all about thigh-high boots as pants!" Y'all, I had to read that twice. I feel like I'm turning into my grandma or something. But, thigh-high boots as pants? Really?

Are we doing that now? I mean, this young lady looks fetching, but can you imagine rocking the produce section in those babies?

And from the world of work, we are informed that sometimes your boss will be in a bad mood and may take it out on you. In case you were unaware that sometimes people are in bad moods and stuff. So be on the lookout for that.

On pg 108, I learned that Asperger's Syndrome is now the "disorder du jour". Apparently, due to a couple of characters in TV and movies portrayed as having AS, Marie Claire is sensing a "trend" of fascination in it. I'm sure that, across the country, the parents of kids with Autism Spectrum disorders are breathing a huge sigh of relief. It's trendy now! Maybe they'll all get free thigh-high boots or something.

Oh, and a few more tidbits: Red is the new neutral, it's good to brush your hair before a job interview, and it's cheaper to dye it at home than have it done in a salon. But it won't look as good, 'k?

That's all for now. Hope this helps--just consider me your source for completely impractical fashion ideas or obvious stuff you already knew! Have a great day, everyone!

(Ok, I'm hesitant to post this, cause it sounds so cynical! That's not usually my thing, but all this stuff just seemed so SILLY and I couldn't help myself!) Alright, I'm done now. Just wanted to say that. Bye. No, you hang up first. Go ahead! No, YOU!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Good Times

(Nate and his buddy Gabe on the trampoline yesterday.)

Yeah, I was gonna say something like, "Hope you're having a hair-raising weekend!", but I won't stoop to that. I will not cheapen our relationship by using such a tired cliché. You mean more than that to me. You deserve better.

Nevertheless, I do indeed hope that you are having a lovely weekend. I am preparing my sermon for later today (getting back in the saddle) and watching Grace do this:

So, it's a good day.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

I am, like, the best mom ever.

It is early Saturday morning. I am sitting, bleary eyed, with the kids in the living room. Jason's out for a good chunk of the day. It's a peaceful day so far, and these kids are entertaining, to say the least. I am having one of those surreal, look-at-me-I'm-not-grownup-enough-for-three-kids kind of moments. Or, more like I never imagined having these conversations at 7:30 on a Saturday morning kind of moments.

Here are some for real conversational snippets from the last ten minutes.

"Mom, why don't I have blue hair like Poko? Can I have blue hair? Why isn't my hair blue? Why?"--Nate

Nate: Mom when could I ever get a dinosaur?

Nate: What do turtles eat? What do spiders eat? What eats spiders? What do butterflies eat? What do whales eat?
Helpful hint: The default answer to all "What do ________ eat?" questions is "Bugs!" It's a crowd-pleaser every time.

Ava: (watching some cartoon with a bear) That's me!! I'm the bear!
Nate: No, I'M the bear!
Ava: No, me! I'm all the people!
Nate: (white hot with rage)I'M ALL THE PEOPLE!! ME!!!
Me: (in my most sensitive tone)I will so turn this TV off if y'all keep this up.

Ava: That was a great show. I love it.
Nate: Yeah, me too.
Ava: I don't like it.
Nate: Yeah, I hate that show. (This is a new favorite word, which is applied often and liberally. We are working on that one!)

Me: Nate, put your pants back on. It's too cold in here to run around naked. (This is repeated a few times over the next several minutes.)

Ava: (in a I am the most neglected girl in the world tone)Mom, I want a puppy. Can I get a puppy now?

Me: Hmmm. Let's see. Close your eyes...go on, close your eyes. Now, tap your feet together twice. Ok, now clap your hands. Alright, open your eyes! Did it work? Is there a puppy? Is there? Oh man, it didn't work! Why can't I ever get that right?

This is my response of choice for many outlandish requests. Gets 'em every time. Ava just rolls her eyes. The things she must endure.

That's me. Dashing the most cherished dreams of childhood since late 2003.

(For all my snarking, these are some of the coolest small people around.)