Waffle Party

Remember to scroll down and enter the giveaway for a hot pad and a set of handmade go-with-anything earrings from Clella Belle Beads!  Giveaway ends on the 16th!


Last night, the girl finally got her waffle party.  While I was uploading and slightly editing the pictures, I noticed a great mothering fail: I took a ton of pictures of the set-up and hardly any of anything else.  It isn’t that the set-up was the most important thing to me -it’s just that once the party started, everyone’s hands were busy and hardly any pictures were taken.

On second thought: that’s probably the real sign of a true party.  We were livin it up SO MUCH we didn’t have a chance to take pictures.  You believe me, right?

Growing up, my mom always made our birthday cakes. I’ve mentioned before how much I loved it. Trying to carry on that tradition has been harder than I thought it would (thank you, fondant). In years past, Lacy’s cake requests have been pretty easy to fill.
First birthday: Elmo cake. Bought a cake pan and frosting at Michaels (because I can’t seem to make red OR black frosting). No problem.
Second birthday: Cinderella Cake.  I used my mom’s Barbie cake pan and just decorated her to look like Cinderella.  Ta-Da!
Third Birthday: Star cake. Easy enough. I baked a round cake for the center and then cut another round cake up for the points. I frosted it all white. It looked pathetic, but we all ate it anyway.

Fourth birthday: Rainbow cake. We were all sick for pretty much the entire month of January last year. Lacy made her own cake. It was supposed to look like this:

But it ended up looking like this:

Ah, life.
For her fifth birthday, I had to talk her OUT of a He-Man cake. How the hen would you make a He-Man cake? I have NO idea. I had seen this cake on pinterest, and it looked easy enough.

Pinned Image
(image from recipegirl.com)
I gave it my best shot.

And I’ll say this: EASIEST CAKE EVER. I was so happy to get something so adorable out of something ridiculously simple.
I woke up Friday with pretty much no idea how the waffle party was going to turn out, but as the day went on, things came together. I didn’t have ribbon to tie the cake with, so I dug through my fabric stash where I found this cute striped fabric and two big hunks of burlap. And just like that, I had a table clothish thingy. I had no idea what the syrup was going to go into until I looked up while stirring the buttermilk syrup and saw Grandpa’s old milk bottles from the dairy.
Light. Bulb.

The waffles were put on my Goodwill cake plates (candlestick + plate + E6000 = cake plate!), and I loved how the pile of plain waffles were piled so high… until they toppled over. So we rearranged them. Two cake plates, one regular plate.

Don’t you love the pink chocolate chip waffles? We call it The Lacy Special. I got so wrapped up in throwing a party together that I forgot to take Lacy to preschool.
Wow, I’m just RIFE with mothering fails.
I took her half an hour late, and while she was gone I painted a banner in red -her favorite color (lately).

Can I just say? I have no idea what I would do without a good roll of butcher paper. I use it all the time! It covered the tables last night and made for a perfect tablecloth because it entertained while it covered.
Multi-tasking miracle!

The adults had more fun with the crayons and butcher paper than the kids did, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
Our decorations consisted of balloons. That’s it.
There’s something about this picture that makes me want to sing Dashboard
“This is about as [festive] as I get now.”

Before I go on, I have to post one more picture of Grandpa’s milk bottle. I love his old milk bottles. Love, love. LOVE.

We also had an old wire hen holding the napkins and forks. I got the hen at a yard sale.

But wait. This post is NOT about my love of old things. It is about a birthday party, right?

Here’s a few guests. Remember Beki? The Price is Right Contestant sitting RIGHT ON MY COUCH. And she’s about 20 weeks pregnant. It’s not obvious, but I swear it’s true. She’s having a boy!

After everyone left, I snagged the camera and took a few pictures of the art left behind:

I had such a great time last night, and I LOVE living here! Last night I dreamed that my husband was pricing farms for me. I was so touched that he would do something like that for lil’ ol’ me. Then I woke up, helped put the horses in once, then twice. My husband started painting our soon-to-be chicken coop while I shoveled manure from the driveway into the garden (fertilizer! [when I typed that, I accidentally typed “fartilizer” which I think might be more appropriate]). After I was done I came inside, washed my hands (thoroughly) and made biscuits and gravy.
We are literally LIVING my DREAM. Well, the one I had last night anyway. Although: my dream was more like the first rainbow cake picture… picturesque. While the reality is much more like the sawed up second cake: manure, rogue horses. But given the choice between the two of them, I’d pick the sawed up cake every dang time.
It’s just more my style, manure and all.

Clella Belle Beads -Giveaway!

A while back, I was eating a meal at my Grandma’s house. I don’t remember what we ate or why we had gathered the family to eat together, but what I do remember is much more significant.
More significant than family? Normally I’d cry foul, but this was not a normal occasion. Before I go on, I have to point out that I’m not a jewelry person. Diamonds have never been THIS girl’s best friend, and when my soon-to-be fiance boyfriend asked me what cut of diamond I preferred I just blinked back at him, Dora the Explorer style.
“What kind of diamond to YOU like?”
*blink, blink. blink, blink.*
“Very good!”

I didn’t know there were different cuts. I hadn’t bought any kind of jewelry in ages, let alone stopped to worry about diamonds set in rings that symbolize an eternity of commitment. I couldn’t even commit to one bloomin’ pair of earrings!
So when I reacted the way I did to the necklace my aunt was wearing to that particular family dinner… I was completely taken back. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it, and I finally wiped the drool from my chin long enough to tell her how much I loved it.
“Oh, really?” She asked, nonchalantly, “I made it. I was thinking of selling my jewelry.”
The news was too good to be true.
Minutes later, the EXACT necklace that she had been wearing was on my neck.

Absolutely to DIE for. I couldn’t take it off. Truthfully, I SLEPT in it. Within months, Aunt Cat had put together a website and etsy shop, and I slobbered all over them. This is all completely out of character for me, folks. Completely.
Normally I slobber all over canning kits and Robert Frost poetry. And in reality, I hardly ever find jewelry that I like enough to pay for. But Aunt Cat’s stuff? Oh, brother. I’m completely lost on it. See this?

See this?

Mine all mine.
And then there’s this:
Santa brought that to me after I told him to. He’s so obedient, but then: he always has been -even when I was a naughty little toddler.
I was going to say that I’m a little obsessed, but I’m starting to realize that it’s gone beyond that… far beyond. I’ve left the realms of obsession and entered the dangerous world of the Happy Addicts. I’ve even got the bracelet to prove it:

And yeah. I have earrings too. But I’m wearing them (duh), so I can’t share a personal picture with you. But here:

I saw that picture online and went post haste.
I seldom leave the house without being lovingly frosted by Cat’s handmade jewelry, and WITHOUT FAIL no matter where I go, I always get complimented on my jewelry. It’s universally admired, from the college students who work at the underground clothing store downtown to the 40 year old post master man.

This is all going somewhere. I swaaare.

Yesterday, Aunt Cat mentioned to me that she’s going to be selling her wares out of her home for two days in February. Do you know what this means for you?
It means you get to spend a few hours browsing not only Cat’s amazing jewelry BUT you get a glimpse at her inspirational HOME as well!

If you’ve been in her home, you know what I mean. If you haven’t, then this boutique is mandatory for you.
Oh, and I’ll be there too. Mostly for the atmosphere and jewelry but a little to sell my aprons and hot pads. In the process of cleaning my crud up (new year, new me! Right?) I found a small stash of aprons that I had made. I had planned on selling them, but I never did. In the next few weeks, I’ll be adding to what I’ve lovingly titled…

The Jane Collection

There’s the Calamity Jane:

Calamity Jane was crafted from items I found around my home. She’s scrappy, country, unique, and loaded with personality. The best part? Because she was crafted with found items, she’s easy on the pocketbook.

She’s also my favorite, so please. Indulge me.

I love the lace flower with a pearl center.

I don’t mean to be dramatic, but I MIGHT have to perform a background check on whoever takes this lady home. I can’t let her go to just anyone…
Next is the Jane Powell -named for a beloved actress you probably recognize.

Seven Brides, anyone? This retro apron captures the charm of the early 60’s completely.

Polka dots, lace, ric rac…
And our last sneak peek of The Jane Collection is Plain Jane.

This goody is long, wide, and sturdy. It will hold up to whatever you send it’s way. Just ask the cupcake.

More aprons are coming your way, what with there being SO many Janes to pick from. Jane Austen, Jane Wyman (red, white, and blue for the woman who once called herself wife to Ronald Regan), Jane Lynch, Jane Eyre, Jane Fonda!!
Look out!

And you can’t have aprons without hot pads. I don’t have a name for my hot pad collection.
How about The Kitschy Collection?

The urban dictionary defines “kitschy” as “so tacky or lame that it has a certain ironic appeal.”
I just like saying “kitschy.”

I’m also cranking out one of these babies:

Sweet Heart Crochet Garland (image via belladia.typepad.com)
A crochet heart garland -Valentine style.

Here’s the final details:

If you need directions, just stop by Clelle Belle Bead’s facebook page. Click on “info” for her address.
And while you’re at it, click the “like” button.
Once you’ve liked her page, let me know in the comments section. On Monday, January 16th, I’ll pick two winners… One will get a so-lame-it’s-ironic hot pad… colors undecided.

The other will receive a pair of Clella Belle Earrings.  Like these:

In an effort to get the word out about the boutique AND Cat’s jewelry (which -confession -I’m a little sad to share with the world because I like to think of her as mine. Forgive my Gollum-ness), repost this blog post on your facebook for an extra entry.

If you don’t already like Story Lady Blog’s facebook page, go thou and do likewise. Leave a comment telling me you did!
That means you have THREE ways to enter your little name.
#1) Like Cat’s page and tell me about it.
#2) Like my page and tell me about it (just saying that makes me feel so needy. “VALIDATE ME! VALIDATE ME!”)
#3) Share this post! -then tell me about it.

Good luck, and I wish you ALL could win.
Even if you aren’t drawn, you’ll always have February 10th and 11th!


My daughter, as of today, is five years old. I’ve been married for seven and a half years so it shouldn’t SHOCK me that I have a 5 year old, but it does. FIVE?! I mean, when did THAT happen? I’m sure I’ll read this post in ten years and think, ‘Oh, please. FIVE shocked me? Ha. Try 15!’

Anyway, my husband and I sat on our couch last night and we thought about our little birthday girl. My husband started reminiscing about the night before her birthday, when I was admitted and induced.
“Come here,” he reached out to our daughter, “Let’s talk.” He gently put his daughter on his knee -her big, innocent eyes stared up at him.
“Did you know that 5 YEARS ago RIGHT NOW Mommy was in the hospital and you were trying to get out of her belly?” Lacy only smiled back, so my husband continued, “A week before you were born, Mommy and Daddy went to the hospital because Mommy was having some pains. They put us in a bed overnight and told us that Mommy’s blood pressure was much too high, and that she needed to rest. We went home and Mommy rested all week, and then we went back to the doctor. Mommy had been keeping track of her blood pressure and writing it down. She gave the paper with all of her blood pressure stuff on it to the doctor and he was worried. He said that Mommy’s blood pressure shouldn’t be that high if she was just at home resting. He said he wanted to check Mommy, so he did and he said that it was time to go to the hospital and have a baby.”
Lacy smiled again, her bright eyes still locked on her Daddy.
“We went into the hospital and we called Grammy and Papa and Grandpa and Grandma and we told them, ‘It’s time!’ and they all drove to the hospital to be with us.”Yes, that IS the 6-hour “Pride & Prejudice” playing on the telly.  I packed ESSENTIALS in my hospital bag, man.  On a side note, Lacy was born to the sounds of Mrs. Bennett barking complaints to her daughter for NOT marrying Mr. Collins.  Somehow the background chatter soothed me as I pushed.  My sweet mother in law tried turning it off (and rightly so because, let’s face it, that woman’s voice can be grating) and I panted through my pushing to leave it on.  Silence, it seems, makes me more nervous than chaos.  Anyway:
(Our first nurse just happened to be named “Gayle” which is not only MY middle name but our on-the-way daughter’s middle name as well!)
Dad went on:
“Mommy had a really hard time getting you out. She would push and push and the doctor would say, ‘I see her hair!’ and then you would go back and hide in Mom’s belly again. You would come up… and then slide back… and then come up… and slide back.”
At this point, I was grimacing. They say you eventually forget labor… ha. ha. ha.
“Then a nurse took a towel and told mommy to PULL on it while she pulled on the other end. So Mommy did, and THEN you came out!”
Lacy grinned from ear to ear. Daddy was started to get a little emotional as he told her about the first time he saw her.
“The doctor let me cut your cord, and then he handed you to Mommy and I was so happy to see you. I just wanted to hold you forever.”

“You looked up and Mommy and you just stared at her for a long time.”

“That night, it snowed and all of the nurses said that you brought the snow with you.”

“I was really scared to drive you home with snow all over.”
“Where did I go in the car?” Lacy asked, speaking up for the first time.
“In your little tiny car seat,” he replied. “We put you in the back and Mom sat by you and we all drove home together. The next day, Daddy had to leave for a long time because of work and he didn’t want to go, but he HAD to. But Lacy…” my husband looked straight into her eyes, “I love my job, but I wanted to give it up FOR YOU. YOU are more important to me than my job and I love you so much. We’re so glad you’re in our family.”

He was still locking eyes with her, and she looked back at him. It was such a sweet, tender moment.
And then.
“I needa poop,” she said, hopping off his lap and running into the bathroom.
We went from being sentimentally touched to rolling with laughter. Ah, kids.

This morning she got to pick what we had for breakfast, and we had waffles. Her Grammy sent her an apron (and TWO matching hot pads) in the mail for her birthday. She opened it and said, “Oh, MOM! My Grammy is just SO SWEET!” And she used it to serve dinner last night.

Then she put it on first thing this morning so she could make waffles. I have to say: all I did was measure the ingredients. She dumped them. She mixed them. She poured the batter in the waffle iron. She closed it. She STARED at the iron until the light went off. She YELLED at mom, “It’s OFF! It’s OFF!” and Mom got the waffle out, and she went at it all over again. SHE made those waffles, folks. For her birthday, she wanted nothing more than to cook.

Yes, she was “popping” those eggs when I took the picture. Yes, she did a PERFECT job. No, there were no shells. Yes, the yolks were intact.
Until she beat them, that is.

She made a Lacy Specialty: pink chocolate chip waffles.

As they cooked, we planned Lacy’s party. It shall here be mentioned that we do not currently have any gifts for our daughter, nor did we plan a party. I expect you to judge me for it.
I asked her when she wanted her party and who she wanted there, and then… an idea hit home with her.
“I want EVERYONE to come and they can all eat my waffles!”
Oh… oh man. And so it goes: we will be having a waffle buffet on Friday night. Chef Lacy will be presiding.
And for those of you who are really concerned for the whole “gift” situation, I’ll put you at ease: we’re going shopping as a family tonight AND her biggest gift is impossible to wrap up and give.
She wants to go ice skating. The nearest ice skating rink is over an hour away, so we’ll be taking her on a later day. I really wish I was better at skating so it would actually be a good experience for her. As it sits, she’s going to have her ideal skating experience smashed. on ice.

We’ve come so far from the little girl who cried 7 hours a day:

To a feisty one year old who got into ev-er-ee-thing:

To a two year old who never left anyone in doubt as to her personality:

In the words of Josh Turner, “My little darlin’ is a fire cracker.”
We now interrupt this program to bring you your daily dose of absolute cuteness, compliments of The Boy circa early 2009:

Melt. My. Heart.

Before we knew it, Lacy was three. By the time she was three, she was SO HAPPY to finally be able to really put her learning skills to use. Her entire life, Lacy has not been content to just sit. She loves to get her hands on things, to find out how they work, and to do it ON HER OWN.
Which is usually fine.
And usually memorable.
And only sometimes makes me want to pluck my hair out (see the post about laundry detergent below).

That was the day she made “Bad Guy Cookies” out of crushed Club crackers and (you guessed it!) flour.

I can’t believe she’s not four anymore. She’s still four to me.

That’s my girl in a nutshell. If she isn’t looking cute, she’s coloring. If she isn’t coloring, she’s cooking. If she isn’t cooking, she’s digging up worms in her Easter dress.
Ah, my love.

Eight more months of having her all to myself before the school system pries her from my loving arms.
Until then…

A Good {Wo}man Works Until the Daylight’s Gone

I clean on Mondays, and before I went to bed on Sunday, I made a list of things that absolutely needed doing on Monday. I fall asleep so much faster if I make a list, and I accomplish so much more the next day when it stares back at me, daring me to cross it off victorious.

Usually I start cleaning day around 9 am and wrap it up around 1 pm. But yesterday? Oh, brother. I got a late start at 10:30 because I had the audacity to indulge in a blog post about my morning workout that turned my arms into cooked noodles (they’re swollen and sore as a cowboy’s behind today, thanks for asking). According to my regular clock, the cleaning should have been done around 2:30ish. But it wasn’t. In fact, at 2:30 I wasn’t even halfway done. I was, in case you were wondering, trying to force my vacuum to pick up pine needles.
That’s right. For Christmas, I got one of “them balsams” where all the needles fall off (“ain’t no needles comin’ off this here tree…”)

My poor vacuum. I bought it with a gift card we received as a wedding gift. We’ve been married for 7 and half years now, and I’m starting to see why the 7th year gets a bad rap. Everything. Falls. Apart.
My toaster (a wedding gift. classic.) has stopped popping the toast up 100%.
My vacuum has stopped working as well as it used to.
My tupperware, treated with kid gloves (and loads of bleach), is begging for mercy (“just send us to the landfill, mommy!”).
And so it goes…

We’re powering through, so don’t worry about us.
I powered through yesterday. When I vacuumed as much as my back would let me (still hurting from Bookcase Day), I paid my kids a buck each to scour the floor for  pine needles. I even gave each one a plastic bag. Special treatment, that.

I bleached yesterday. I bleached my trashcan, in and out. I bleached the dishes that came out of the fridge that I cleaned with baking soda and vinegar. I thought about my mom and how she had taught me to clean a fridge. I thought about how I was going to have to teach my daughter someday. Then I chimed in and sang, “Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man” at the top of my lungs. Then I cleaned the counters off, breaking a platter as I did so (yet another example of my elegant grace). I washed our bedding. I cleaned out the microwave. I SINGE-HANDEDLY hauled our dryer-than-dry balsam Christmas tree out of the house and into the back of our little truck. I moved the loveseat back into it’s spot the Christmas tree had stolen (my back hated me for it). Then I chimed in and sang along with Dolly Parton, “Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, JO-LEEENE!”
Have I mentioned that I tune into my Loretta Lynn Pandora station every Monday? Cleaning goes by so much quicker to cheatin’ songs.
As I polished and scrubbed and threatened to throw the children’s toys away, I also chanced to look in the mirror. The day was coming to a close, the sun was beginning to set, and I looked exactly like I did after the Fated Workout. So I made quick work of myself, throwing on a little make up and a wrinkled top (and about 8 ounces of perfume). The minute my husband walked through the door was the minute I finished Cleaning Day.
Cleaning Day turned right into dinner time (leftovers!) and dinner time turned right into Family Home Evening (in the which I terrified my children to the bone as I rehearsed the story of The Little Boy Who Cried Wolf -see if THEY lie anytime soon) and Family Home Evening turned right into bedtime.
For the kids.
Do you know what I did? I turned to my husband and said, “I’m going to put a heating pad on my back, crochet a hot pad, and watch Downton Abbey. I’ve been waiting all day -I’m so excited!”
My husband looked at me like I was crazy.
I rehearsed back to myself what I had said.
Heating Pad.
Hot Pad.
Television Program.

Then I asked my husband to please call my Nancy -my new Old Lady Code Name. Last night, I Nancied it up hard core.

Over two years ago, I found a crochet pattern for a hot pad that I loved! I had just spent a few lost-forever minutes in the cooking aisle at Wal-Mart bemoaning the prices of hot pads when it suddenly struck me that I had the power to MAKE hot pads… what in the devil was I doing PRICING them? So I went home, found this great pattern and proceeded to make a million and give them out because MAN, aren’t they AWESOME?! I saved a practice one for myself and hated the very sight of it. It was creme, turquoise, and had pepto-pink backing.
You would cry too if it happened to you.
Finally, after two years of going without and hating what I had, I sat back and MADE one selfishly. For myself (if you’ve seen Thoroughly Modern Millie, please clap. I insert the “selfishly for myself” quote anywhere I can).

The best part was: Episode 1 of Season 2 of Downton Abbey was TWO HOURS long! I thought it was one! I was absolutely thrilled to the bone to sit and watch two blessed hours of one of my favorite television shows! It was the perfect end to a perfect day.
My sheer exhaustion was richly rewarded.
I can’t wait for Monday to roll ’round again.

Nancy Time.

Keeping My Body in Shave

After I birthed The Girl, my workouts were very habitual.  Almost every morning, I was in the living room doing my pilates.  I walked whenever I got the chance.  One day my husband remarked that I looked better than I ever had (dating days included), and once… I bent over and touched my toes.  THIS, if you understand the length of my legs, was something of a triumph for me.

After birthing The Boy, I wasn’t so dedicated.  I was tired, you know.  I was REALLY tired.

Then my body took a baby-making break, and I thought it was as good a chance as any to get in shape.

-Please forgive me for abruptly changing the mood of this post.  Rest assured, we’ll be playful again in a moment.-

I resolved to work harder, and then one year and two weeks ago a bomb of sorts got dropped on me.  I spent the entire month of January blessedly sick and was able to hole up in my house with all manner of legitimate excuses.

“No I can’t help, I’m sorry.  My daughter has a terrible cold, an ear infection, AND pink eye.”

“No, I won’t be at the party.  I’m sorry.  My son has a temperature of 103.”

I sometimes stared at my cell phone while it rang, and even though I really didn’t WANT to pick it up, I couldn’t. My voice was absolutely gone. Thus I was able to hide away from society without having to reveal my real need for doing so.
I often wondered if you could tell something was haywire with me. I tried not to let my off-ness come across in my blog posts, but I’m sure it did. My life is an open book -as much as I sometimes hate that. One morning, early in January, I decided I’d try to fold some laundry. My husband had been taking care of things as best he could, and he had been washing laundry without ever folding any of it. I thought to myself ‘Folding is simple. You can fold.’
So I got out of bed.
I walked down the hall.
I looked at the laundry.
I burst into tears, ran back to bed, and didn’t bother trying anything else that day.

It’s funny now, to think of myself that way. We all go through times like that in our life. I’m sure it won’t be the last time laundry looms and taunts me and makes me cry.
The best part of this story is: I got through it. I mean, sure, there’s still laundry on my couch, but I’m not crying about it. I’ve grown and changed, and even though it took me HALF OF AN ENTIRE YEAR to stop crying about it (yeah), I hit a point in November when I became extraordinarily GRATEFUL for it all. I’m still grateful for it, and now that it has been a year, I’m more and more grateful.
Isn’t that a great story?
Onto the bad part.

When a girl is more focused on keeping her sanity than her body, things start to… change. Did I care that I was eating crap for breakfast? Huh? No. I hardly noticed what I was eating at all, to be honest. Did I walk? Work out? No and no.
Out of genuine concern, my husband once breached the topic with some trepidation.
“It might help you feel better…”
I won’t tell you what my reply was, but I WILL tell you that he never brought the subject up again.

I used to work out to look good, but in the past year, I reached a point where I didn’t care anymore. Then I reached a point where I realized that I needed to work out -not for vanity’s sake, but for the sake of taking care of what the Lord has given me. I’ve been given a precious body, and I need to take proper care of it, rock hard abs or not.

So I started jogging. I hated every minute of it, but I loved how I felt when I was done.
Then I stopped jogging for two reasons
#1) I hated going alone -“paranoia, paranoia, everybody’s comin’ to get me.”
#2) Cows were put on my track.

My track, it should be said, was a dirt road behind my house that runs the length of my Dad’s farm. Now there’s some cows on it (and a few ADORABLE calves that I’m trying not to love on account of my impending feasting on one of them). And aside from my unfounded fears of being charged and killed by a heifer, running with cows just isn’t seemly.
Excuse me while I adjust my corset.

I found some excellent walking partners, and I went religiously walking… for a week. We tried to go more often, but both of them have babies, and when you spend the night up with a baby, you just don’t feel person enough to wake up at 5:30 and walk your thighs off. Then the holidays came.
Then my husband gave me a work out DVD for Christmas. In his defense, I had mentioned a time or two that I wanted it.
Please, remember.
I haven’t worked out in ages. My Pilates DVDs have been gathering dust for an entire year, and I’ve been less-than-careful with my eating habits. Okay, it’s been a year of free-for-all, and my sugar addiction has been the ruler of the day. I weigh more than I ever have, and after registering on sparkpeople.com, I found that I needed to lose almost 20 pounds to be healthy.
I will also say that losing 20 pounds will put me back at what I weighed when I went to college.
So I’m a little suspicious that sparkpeople.com wants me to live the life of an 17 year old who ate Snickers and Dr. Pepper for lunch.
But I digress.

I cracked open my workout DVD this morning. It is Jillian Michael’s 30 day shred. I did the first work out.
That is to say: I pushed “play” on the first work out. I was grateful it was only 20 minutes long. My husband was in the shower and wouldn’t be able to witness my first attempt at working out in over a year.
I started off okay.
Jumping jacks? Okay, yeah. I can do that.
Arm weights? Okay, ow. Okay, OW!
Back to jumping jacks. Whew.
After 11 minutes, I was breathing heavily and wanting to really puke up everything I’d eaten before working out (which was 4 cookies, so judge me up one side and down the other starting… now).
My push ups went from full-on awesomeness to resting-on-my-knees patheticness in all of, oh, 2 minutes.
By the 15 minutes mark, I bent over, rested my hands on my knees and PANTED. I was nauseated, and I seemed to be seeing everything through some sort of soft lens which is exactly why I didn’t see my HUSBAND walk in at that exact moment.
“Whatcha doin?” He asked. I immediately shot up like a rocket and feigned jumping jacks.
“Oh, you know…” I breathed heavily, “Working out.”
“You okay?”
That’s all it took. I stepped backward onto the couch as Jillian Michaels professed that I should be feeling the burn and getting lower.
“I’m done! I’m through! I’ve had it!”
“Breathe through your nose,” he said, calmly.
Oh, men. What do we keep them for, if not bits for wisdom that make us want to punch them in the nards?

When it came time for cool down, Jillian asked me to sit down and try to spread my legs out in front of me as FAR as I good. She was shooting for me to get that at a 180 degree angle. I got a good 30 degree, with a great deal of effort.
“Reach all the way and touch your toes if you can, if not just grab your calf.” I made it to my knee.
That was an hour and a half ago, and my arms JUST stopped shaking.

My son watched the entire video from the couch, and when it was over he asked me WHY I watched a movie like that.
“I have to keep my body in shape,” I replied weakly, mostly because I didn’t really BELIEVE what I was saying.
“In shave?” He cocked his head, “I don’t hafta keep my body in shave.”

Ah, boys. What do we keep them for if not to make us laugh when we want to cry and puke?

House Fancies

We’re been married for well over 7 years. Well, 7 years and 4 months. 4 months counts as “well over” today, okay? For the first time since September 4, 2004… I got an itch.
A house itch.

I’ve scratched many-an-itch before… the marriage itch, the child itch, the watch-an-entire-television-series-in-a-week itch. The list goes on. I’ve always somehow escaped the house itch. What’s brought it on now?
Maybe pinterest and all of it’s amazing ideas.
Maybe my age and my children and the yearning in my female soul to JUST BE SETTLED.
Maybe it’s the New Year.
Maybe it was you. Maybe it was me, but it sure [feels] right.

(If you’re now singing country songs about Memphis out loud or in your head, I’m to blame, and not the least bit sorry.)

I decided to DO something about my itch. You know what’s wrong with the world today? Too many itches and not enough doings about them. Well, I wasn’t about to fall into the laziness trap, no SIRREE! I’ll tell you what I did:
I sat in my PJs on my couch opened my computer and drew up some haphazard house plans for an entire hour. Now THAT’S what I call hard work! Progress!
Also: my house was disaster. By the time I finished putting up the walls, each bedroom was much bigger than my house I’m writing from now. I put bunk beds in one room and they looked like toys in dwarf’s doll house.
But, like a crick in my back on Bookcase Making Day, it didn’t stop me. I put a range top in the kitchen AND one in the garage (for canning).

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I was able to customize my house and add my fancies. Do you have house fancies? I’ve had mine for ages and ages.
Also: 5 years more than constitutes “ages and ages.” Okay?

For starters: a window over my kitchen sink that faces the west.

(image from countryliving.com)

I LOVE having a window next to the sink. I do not have a dishwarsher, nor have I ever -excepting that one year in college and even then I preferred warshing by hand on account of my feeling like a human could out-perform a contraption. Thomas Edison, you MUST forgive me.
Sunsets are something I enjoy beyond anything. The best way to enjoy a sunset is sitting on a back patio in a wooden porch swing with a pooch at your feet, cocoa or lemonade in hand (depending on the season). Seeing as I have:
no back patio
no wooden swing
no pooch

I compensate. I swap the dishes out for the patio, swing, and pooch and… viola! The dishes get done once a day and I get to enjoy the absolute beauty of the sunset. Will I ever trade this for anything? Not on your life.
“Give me [sunsets through the window over my apron front kitchen sink] or give me death!” ~Patrick Henry

My kids prefer it that way as well. When mom’s doing dishes, singing along to her Nat King Cole Pandora station, and losing herself in the splendor of nature, she sure as Playskool isn’t minding the children’s manners. Chaos? Commence.

Enough about my Window/Kitchen Sink Platform.

Let’s move on.

There must be a library. There’s also sartin rules ’bout it.
#1) No computer shall sully the hallowed ground of the library at any time.
#2) The library shall be a refuge inside of a refuge (home being the latter).
#3) There will be bean bags.
#4) There will be art.
#5) Until the girl or boy bats their eyes sufficiently, there will be no kindles.
Add a rolling ladder to this image:

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My heart is singing. Can you hear it?

Next to the library, we will have a craft/office room. Or an office/craft room, depending on the day and the order of the day.
The library and office won’t be very LARGE, you understand. I’ll probably split one room into two, and the office/craft room is negotiable. The library is not.
I know you can’t see it, but my foot is DOWN.

We’ll have a storage room for our food and seasonal decor.
We’ll have a laundry room where I’ll attach a string to the wall and use clothespins to hang odd socks under vinyl lettering that reads “Matchmaker, Matchmaker…” or maybe “Make me a Match” or maybe both depending on how whimsical I’m feeling when I mount it.

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I’d prefer wood flooring. My husband has a thing or two to say about that, but since this itch is going to take YEARS to scratch, I’ve got awhile to wear him down.
He’s also trying to wear me down on the whole “when we get a dog it will come in the house” thing, but I will not budge.
“But babe, I’ll clean up all the hair and stuff.”
“Like fun you will.”
It’s not that I don’t have in any faith in him. It’s just that, well, he’s not here 15 minutes before visiting teachers come to sit on my couch and I don’t want them leaving with more hair than they came with.
I’m a simple girl, really.

My door fancies:
A dutch door in the kitchen. This fancy was brought on during the Christmas season on 2010 when I watched the classic “Christmas in Connecticut” and the farmhouse the movie was filmed in had a dutch door in the kitchen through which a cow came to visit.

image from hookedonhouses.net

You should actually just go read the entire post written HERE. You get to see the set from the movie and get the movie highlights. I’ve got a movie crush on the soldier. He’s divine. Better yet: let’s schedule a movie showing date and we can all fall in love with the soldier together.
Back to dutch doors (quit changing the subject):

image from willowdecor.blogspot.com
And then there’s French doors for the master bath:

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I love the tile, and I’d go nutsy over checkerboard tile in the kitchen. Nutsy!  Of course if it clashed with my dutch door, I’d limit the tile to my master bath.

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Please don’t mistake my fancies for snobbery.  It’s easy to have high expectations for a hypothetical house -especially when that hypothetical house is easily 20 acres big.

And from this moment on, I’m going to be squirreling away cash to scratch my house itch. Apron front sinks don’t grow on trees, you know.
Neither do houses, but I’m all about priorities here.

All About a Bookcase

For YEARS, we’ve been trying to get a bookcase. We’re not one of those awesome people who can log onto craigslist and find what we need around here. Aside from living an hour away from any craiglist listed city, we just don’t have “it.” You know what I mean? I go a’yard sailing, but I can’t ever find anything I need. I come home with a heap of treasures, but never any solid bunk beds or dressers… nothing we really need. Someone people are blessed with an almost supernatural skill to go to a yard sale or goodwill or what-have-you and come home with the absolute COOLEST loot. I’m related to about 50 people like this, so I’m curious as to how the gene missed me. I don’t wonder too much about it, though, because I’m too busy striving to best it. I don’t care if I can’t find awesome stuff, I’m going to spend hours looking anyway! I recently came across a Thomas Jefferson quote that I had scrawled in a notebook from college.
“I find the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.”
Ah, you see? The answer to my problem lies in the wisdom of one of our Great Founding Fathers. And yes, Mr. Jefferson, you can count on me to Dumpster Dive.
That’s what you meant, right?

Anyway, for Christmas my husband took pity on my unrelenting search for a large bookcase and BOUGHT me one. I knew exactly what it was the minute he finished wrapping it and put it under the tree. I mean really: a box taller than I am? Thin? Heavy? Bookcase!
I unwrapped it and left it sitting in the living room until yesterday on account of a few things: sickness, dirty house, time constraints…
Yesterday, I threw caution and laundry to the wind. Instead of washing laundry all day, I set to cleaning out a corner in my room to set my bookcase up in. It was no small feat -the corner having become the catch-all corner for boxes of paper that had accumulated throughout our married life. My husband needs these kinds of papers close and hand for his job, and so… there they were. They were right within reach and driving me about as bonkers as his promises to “take care of it.” I don’t happen to live with a husband who makes the phrase, “If you want something done… do it yourself” a mantra (praises!) but I do happen to live with a busy husband who comes home exhausted. I also happen to live with a husband who got a PlayStation3 for Christmas… and when it comes to dealing with boxes of papers or playing video games, well, the boxes lose out.
Yesterday, I dug in.
In each box, I’m so sorry to say, I found thank-you notes that had been written and undelivered. Some were from my BRIDAL SHOWER, for crying out loud (and I almost did). At great length, I reached the end of my piles.
After an afternoon of shredding, filing, trashing, laughing, and sighing, I grappled with my bookcase. In the course of completely ignoring the warning on the box that says something like “have someone help you move this blah blah blah” and dragging it -on my own -from the living room to my bedroom, I did something not-so-good to my lower back.
My lower back already has great cause for suffering, Baby #2 making it thus, and no sympathetic host am I.
Was that going to stop me? Ha.
I am, after all, ridiculous.

I pulled out the drill, a hammer, the instructions, and my can-do attitude.

Allow me to detour: this isn’t our first 5-shelf bookcase. I once bought one for 20% off at Wal-Mart. It was the display and it matched my entertainment center in the living room perfectly. I had saved up to buy the matching bookcase, and I loved it… primarily because it didn’t scream “WAL-MART” like the many contraptions I’d purchased as a college student did.
I had purchased the last one -the display (as I said). I waited a long time for the purchase to go through. I don’t remember WHY it took so long. I just remember the mass amounts of spit-up that accumulated on my shoulder from my daughter. That smell is hard to forget.
I watched as they paged two young men to come and load it onto a cart.
I watched as two young men came and loaded it.
I watched as the two young men made it clear that they had, above anything else, swagger.
I watched as they swagged their way out the door so hard that my newly-purchased-long-awaited-for-more-precious-than-gold-and-worth-all-the-spit-up-on-the-shoulder-a-person-can-humanly-stand bookcase… toppled over and fell to the pavement with a crash.
Wood splintered everywhere and my shoulders fell so far they rivaled The Berlin Wall.

I didn’t pay for it, not monetarily. But my hopes and dreams paid dearly. You think I’m being dramatic, but if you savor books like I do… you understand. The ending result of the little mishap was that my precious books, my limited library, was boxed up and put in storage.

There was NO ROOM in the Inn.

I’ve spent the last 4 years looking for one and saving for one. They’re $100 and it seems that whenever we have $100 to get a solid one that will last… something else comes up.
The car needs a couple tires.
The computer gets a virus.
The children need food.

So my bookcase was a Christmas miracle indeed. I spent 4 hours “playing” with it yesterday, and I didn’t bother telling my husband I had his drill. When he called home to let me know he was coming home from work, he asked what I was doing.
“Putting my bookcase together,” I replied.
“WHAT? I was going to help with that…” I couldn’t tell if he sincerely wanted to HELP or if he was worried I’d mess my present up beyond repair. Or both. If true, his fear of my messing up is completely validated, by the way.
“I GOT this. I want to do it by myself.”

I’ve learned in my marriage to do these things on my own. They frustrate the living snot out of my husband -not that he isn’t mechanically minded or capable… he just hates how the instructions can be so vague or in another language entirely.
Then there’s me.
Instructions? Optional.
Which is why I messed up a few times, and which is ALSO why there’s some highly visible screws on a few of the shelves.
But guess what? It took me over four hours but:

I wasted no time in getting my books on the shelves, and was devastated to find that a bunch of our books suffered water-damage from a slight flood in our storage unit last year. We didn’t realize the storage unit had flooded until a few weeks later.
A few books had to be tossed out entirely.
A few are warped.
Most of them are right as rain, ironically.

From where I sit on my bed, I can see them all now. My precious little library of knowledge, from Calvin and Hobbes to Dickens to Dr. Laura… oh how I’ve missed you.

Mommy promises to never trust men with swagger again, okay?