Monday, December 27, 2010

Our first country Christmas

Relatively speaking, we didn't have any relatives over Christmas, so it was a fairly quiet one for us. Either that, or I'm just used to our family's noise...

Christmas Eve started with 4:00 Mass with the rest of the greater Nashville area. Although we managed to get 6 seats together, we did have to watch and hear the news of our dear Savior's birth via closed-circuit television.

Afterward, we headed over to P.F. Chang's because as Matty said, "Nothing says Christmas like Chinese food." but in Tennessee on Christmas Eve, you're not getting a whole lot of open dining choices. But it turned out to be a beautiful and delicious meal, and absolutely perfect to be all together enjoying our first Christmas in our new town.

As we were leaving, the rain turned into the most beautiful snow--the frosty beginnings of Nashville's first white Christmas in 17 years.

By this time, Norad (the best website EVER) reported that Santa was in North AMerica and we had just enough time to get cookies ready, The Night Before Christmas read, and the little ones in bed. Not that they stayed there--the girls stayed up after midnight which made it a particularly late evening for the elves. (The upside is that I got Sean addicted to my new television guilty pleasure: Clean House.)

We got up a few minutes later as the kids rustled up at 6, and then the next few hours we leisurely tore open our gifts and enjoyed our day in our p.j.'s. Santa was very good to us--even bringing us a "golf cart," which will have to be renamed since we won't be playing golf in it. Naps by the fire followed by dinner of prime rib, Yorkshire pudding and my first homemade Yule log finished off the day. It snowed and was a perfect Christmas.

It's a good thing we got all of that quiet out of the way, because starting tomorrow, 50 of our Florida friends invade the Volunteer State for some New Year's celebrations.

I can't wait.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

In case you missed my column today...

Although I don't exactly plan it this way, it seems that I am forever destined to be a last- minute shopper at Christmastime.

Instead of complaining, I've resigned myself to my fate and now look at the glass of eggnog as half-full.

So I share with you the Top 6 Reasons Procrastinating Shoppers Rule:

1.) Camaraderie. There's nothing like bonding with other last-minute folks. Everyone is so joyful on December 23rd, it's like one big CheerFest at the register at Lowe's, we even give each other special waves in the parking lot while searching for a spot. Just yesterday as a kindly old man and I reached for the last Shrek Chia Pet on the shelf, he mumbled something about me being similar to his sainted (and apparently promiscuous) mother. The holidays are all about family.

2.) It's more polite. Gift-giving becomes a kinder, gentler process when you're dealing with limited selections. I don't see Uncle Albert as the 4XL guy he is--I like to look at the inner-Albert and get him that reindeer sweater in a boy’s medium.

3.) Creativity. Anyone can fill a gift list from a major retailer. But it takes an industrious soul to buy presents for the whole family at 7-11. (Those WWE Slurpee cups are refillable and collectible, Grandma. You’re welcome.)

4.) Does every holiday tradition have to be taken so literally? I mean who's to say that figgy pudding isn't a suspicious-looking Snack Pack at the gas station and that among the various meats in Spam Christmas goose isn't one of them?

5.) To keep the balance of the universe in check. While the annoyingly prepared are shopping at 3 am on Black Friday for 98% off the hottest toys of the season, I'm shopping at 11pm on Christmas Eve paying double for the crap no one wanted. It's the circle of life or something like that.

6.) It's more eco-friendly. There is no such thing as a giftbox for your purchase after December 1st since those have long run out. In a pinch I have been known to wrap socks in Frosted Flake boxes and Snuggies in Ziploc bags. It’s my gift to Mother Earth.


To my fellow procrastinators: Merry Christmas. To all those who have finished their shopping and are enjoying this week relaxing before a fire?

Here’s that special parking lot wave.


©2010 Tracey Henry


(And in case you also missed some updates on Whoa Momma.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Snow Days

We had our first of many last week. On Monday, we got hit with about 4 inches legit of snow. My kids immediately went sledding despite having not much snow, not much hill and not much sled. It was fun nonetheless.

We played in it, and then came inside to hot cocoa and cookie baking. It was really beautiful, cozy and very Norman Rockwell-esque.

Until you had to drive in it.

Now I am a salt-seasoned driver. I learned to drive on the potholed roads of lower Michigan--a slippery, slushy, snowy mess nine months out of the year. You can't get your driver's license there without knowing how to successfully navigate icy roads and scrape your windshield with a cassette cover.

I had this.

Until I realized that the state of Tennessee doesn't own snow plows. Or salt trucks. No, the only tool they have in their snow-removal arsenal is the sun, with the hope it melts the white stuff on the ground by rush hour.

It doesn't.

Tennesseans are quick to tell you that this is out-of-the ordinary weather for them--that it almost NEVER snows here at all, and if it does, it certainly never sticks.

Tennesseans are liars. Because although they are really wimpy about the snow, they were not surprised by it. And the hardware store on the corner sold snow shovels.

I rest my case.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

I lied

Okay, I suck at plans.

But I have a good excuse. We just finished a week's worth of company and 10 overnight guests for Thanksgiving.

I'm not complaining--you know I love Thanksgiving and I love people around to help ease into this new life, but I won't lie--I'm zausted. And I have yet to find my groove.

But I'm trying.

We actually got a lot of the Christmas decorations up this weekend, which was a little frustrating to unpack more stuff while re-packing up some of the things I just unpacked, but what are you going to do? It's Christmas.

I'm finding that everything takes me twice as long to do. First off, I still don't know where everything is supposed to go, so picking up is a daylong chore. I have a grocery store, but I have to backtrack through the aisles because it isn't laid out the same as my Publix at home. I get lost a lot.

And the stairs are kicking my ass. Firming up my calves, but kicking my ass.

If it sounds like I'm whining, but I'm really not. I'm just still searching for that groove thing and I'm hoping it's not up or downstairs....

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving week!

In honor of Thanksgiving, my most favorite day of the year, and the simultaneous celebration of no more workers in my house for a little while, I'm dedicating this week's blog to passing on helpful tips to help you celebrate this week in style, comfort and maybe some free gifts.

So, Monday's Blog Deal of the Day comes from SkinMedica, and it's a special Friends and Family coupon code you can use for Black Friday specials and on to December 1st. I am an online Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopper, so this is my perfect deal.

Use Friends and Family Coupon* Code: FF25 to save 25% on your purchases at SkinCareRx, and start giving to friends, or yourself.

Two Weeks

We've officially been Nashvillians for two weeks now. It's not nearly as sinister as it sounds.

We got that first week of school in, which was a big step and a successful one, I'm happy to report. I think we can all breathe a little easier now that that's over. We still need to get into a routine, but we'll get there. Stevie is already on the hockey team and feeling well, and the little ones are meeting new friends.

On the housefront, almost all of the boxes are now unpacked, and with the exception of the garage and storage rooms in the basement, pretty much set up. Tomorrow the last of the various service people come to fix the last of the broken things. God willing. No longer planning my entire day around service calls will be a much needed reprieve. It seems like that's been the agenda since August.

And next week is another fun one to look forward to. We've got tons of family coming in for Thanksgiving, and we are dining at the governor's mansion on Tuesday. I even found a babysitter so Jessie won't be swinging from chandeliers and otherwise causing an international incident.

Because that would be a little sinister for my little Nashvillian.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Suburban/Urban/Rural Diva

It's a funny place where I live now.

The neighborhood couldn't be more suburban--we've got neighbors that show up with baked goods and an HOA. But we are also 10 miles from the city limits, and when I drive the kids to school I pass at least five sprawling horse farms on the way.

It's hilly--there are hills and valleys that I'm not used to in flat Florida. The colors are vibrant and not just various shades of green. And while nothing can compare to the beauty of the Gulf, it is definitely a pretty place to live. I miss the water in Florida, but in Florida I realize now that I missed the trees.

I'm trying to find my way here--literally and figuratively; but mostly literally. I like turning off the GPS which is so unhelpful at times, and just driving around getting the lay of the land. It doesn't help that every road is called something Pike, but we'll figure it out.

The kids started school yesterday, and they are all loving it so far. People are extremely friendly here, and with exception of things breaking and repairmen here every day, it's been a very nice week to get acclimated to Nashville life. I've got about 80% of the boxes unpacked, and hopefully by the end of the weekend, most things will be hung on the wall for all of the Thanksgiving guests to look at when they're eating their turkey.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Friends

I was having one of those really tough moving days that you know are bound to come along but still piss you off nonetheless, when a neighbor stopped by just as I spilled an entire chocolate shake in the car. She has a first grade daughter born a day after A-Dog and she brought a gift.

She said she was debating between the gourmet cupcakes and a bottle of wine.

She chose the cupcakes but said she almost picked the champagne-flavored variety.

I almost kissed her on the mouth, but didn't want to scare her off on the first day.

Maybe I could get used to this after all....

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Nashville

We are here.

It wasn't easy, and we are all exhausted and cold, but all are present and accounted for in Music City.

I can't begin this next chapter of entries without first acknowledging the fact that I have the world's greatest friends who made it particularly difficult to leave. I miss them already. But if any of them are reading this now and considering sending me a care package of oranges, please include slippers and Chapstick because I don't know if I'll die from scurvy or frostbite because it's freaking cold here!

And just so you know that I haven't changed in the last 48 hours since surrendering my Florida residency, you'll be pleased to know that I am still wearing my cheesy black flip flops as my footwear. Not so much out of protest, but because the movers seemed to have misplaced the box that all my shoes are packed in. Normally, I wouldn't mind these missing articles, but since it's 28 degrees here and I'm supposed to be attending the CMA's tomorrow night, I'm a little concerned. Dude, I seriously can't be walking the red carpet in the $2.50 Old Navy bin specials.

Other than that, things are going well. Ish.

I've discovered that I'm waking up before 6 every morning here, but then exhausted and ready for bed by 7:30. I also have learned that I hate unpacking as much as I hated packing, which doesn't bode well for the next couple of weeks.

The neighborhood is quiet, but we did have some visitors today which was encouraging. I'm still waiting for some homemade cookies or BBQ to show up on the doorstep.

The kids are doing well--they, too are confused on these things people use around here called "clothes" and "closed-toed shoes." It's going to be a tough adjustment.

But Jingle likes the weather. She seems to be particularly dog-like here, running in the backyard and molesting the native wildlife, including the dogs next door.

I hope to post some pictures of the sparkly events tomorrow night, but watch for me on tv. I'll be the one in flip flops and earmuffs.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Hello November

It's pretty sad when I leave on a post like that and then fade away.

Stevie's surgery went well. Although it wasn't what we thought, it still required the same surgery, so we are thankful we found it in time and were able to take care of it so soon.

And now, we move.

The movers are here and if I'm not typing furiously, they will pack this computer along with everything else in this house. It's amazing that it took me 3 months to pack 20 boxes, and they have my whole house boxed in 8. They are actually ahead of schedule, so we will be on the road to our new digs fairly soon.

But until then, we celebrate Stevie's 15th birthday feeling a little more humbled and much more blessed.

Happy Birthday, my Old Soul.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

An unexpected break in the action

I'm not going to lie, yesterday was not my favorite day. But tomorrow may just top it in its craptastickness.

It seems as though Stevie's heart condition--the screaming hydra-Medusa pathway--is back, and surgery is scheduled tomorrow. Three days before the moving truck is scheduled to arrive, we discovered that the WPW has returned and must be dealt with immediately.

It sort of puts things into perspective.

Things are going to get packed that shouldn't. Things are going to be disorganized for a while. I'm going to forget something somewhere, and I'll never get to all of those things on my To Do List.

Oh well.

Somehow things just got a little quieter around here just when it should be crunch time.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Mom's Breakfast Club




In the midst of all of the packing, I took a fast break. Or rather, a breakfast with my friends.

Kellogg treated us to a breakfast last week, and it certainly was a treat. I made several of the recipes on their website, and seven friends shared a morning talking. Mostly about how crazy our mornings are even when we’re not in the midst of a move, and how no one ever raves about how smoothly morning routines are when you’re constantly on the go. We discussed nutrition and food in general and received a lot of great tips from Kellogg and pretty awesome goody bags as well.

You can read about all of their tips here, but a couple highlights from our party included:

~If your child doesn’t like milk, try a granola parfait with lowfat yogurt and fresh fruit. This is one of Amy’s favorites.

~While breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, we often have cereal after dinner on nights when we ate early and the kids are still looking for something substantial and nutritious to eat.

~For a quick on the go breakfast, don’t discount muffins. If you make them yourself, you can control what goes in them. These blueberry-bran were particularly yummy.

So love your cereal! We sure did.

(More photos to follow after I resolve my never-ending camera issues. With yet another new camera. With new issues.)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Tips to share

New article up on Whoa Momma with tips on preventing MRSA.

See? I am still working.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Tampa friends: If my house is nominated, I will hunt you down like a dogdown

Do you know of a house with a decorating theme gone wild? A room with an overboard motif or idea carried too far? A hobby or collection that has taken over?

If you know someone in need of a style intervention, you can anonymously nominate them and their room run awry for a surprise makeover.

The Style Network show, “Tacky House,” starring celebrity designer Thom Filicia, is looking for Tampa area rooms to feature on upcoming episodes. Last season, the design team tackled attacking leopard prints, overgrown florals and Hawaii Five-No!

For more information, email the show at castingfortv@yahoo.com, and help streamline someone’s style.

(Pick a friend with a crazy decorating-style but with a good sense of humor, too.)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

When do the handprints on the walls and juice box stains on the carpet get moved in?

I am standing here in the new house. Standing, because there is no place to sit yet.

It is remarkably empty, and the quiet isn't something I'm used to nor particularly like all that much.

As I spend a few hours here getting things ready like phones, cable and locks changed--I'm trying to get to know the house. There's things that I love--the double oven that looks as though it's never been used, the plantation shutters on every window that I like to open to let in more light, and all of the beautiful trees that frame the backyard.

I still hate the paint colors, but that's an easy fix scheduled for next week, and soon there will be more white noise coming from the televisions and the phone ringing. The kids are going to absolutely love all of the places they can spread out to play--it is party ready.

But the biggest flaw I realize as my footsteps echo around the walls, is that it needs to be filled up with kids. Our kids. We need to complete this move and get up here because this isn't going to be a home until they get here and we're in making new messes together.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

We pause in the moving preparations to meet "Jessica"

Of the thousands of details I have taken on to get our move off smoothly in less than a month, number 407 was to bring Jingle to the vet. We were woefully behind on shots, and I needed to get her a prescription for happy pills for our final departure/long ass drive out of Tampa.

So while we had a showing on the house (yay!) I packed Jingle and Jess up, and we headed to the vet.

This wasn't supposed to be a big deal in the grand scheme of things--Jingle's a pretty good dog (now) and it was really just a check-up. She was doing just fine until the nurse went to take her paw to draw blood, and then Jingle turned into this ferocious beast which required 3 aides, a muzzle and then a trip to the back room where they mysteriously injected the proper medicines. It was all surprisingly upsetting.

As we were leaving, standing by to pay a very high fee for such trouble, another dog came out of another room. A miniature schnauzer started yipping and yapping annoyingly. Jessie walked over to him, but his owner kind of freaked and yelled, 'He's not used to little kids!" and Jessie backed away.

The woman and her little dog left, barking the entire time before urinating on the floor of the waiting room, and I looked down at Jessie who had an uncharacteristic frown on her sweet face. She said, "I just wanted to pet that dog."

I hugged her and explained that some dogs get too scared if they don't know people.

She just looked at me and said sadly, "But I'm Jessica."

I think she's going to have a lot of new friends in Tennessee.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

My weekend

I have signed a treaty that does not allow me to post any pictures, names or details of my farewell weekend away with the girls, but I think I would not be in violation of the terms if I just mention the following:

1.) Be careful of past goofy photographs as they may just end up on 2 cases of wine bottles.

2.) Two days is too short, but you can fit in 10 years worth of laughter in a weekend, especially when prompted with the contents of UrbanDictionary.com.

3.) More research is needed on the precise pudding shot technique as opposed to the Jello variety.

4.) Champagne toasts taste sweeter on the beach.

5.) I have the best friends in the whole wide world.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Not long now

(Please note that I'm typing with my fingers crossed because I've grown very superstitious and weary these last few weeks, so I can't jinx anything via blogging.)

I'm about to fax the last redundant document over to the mortgage company in preparation for closing tomorrow. That's all I want to say about that until they hand us the keys.

But in other news, I wrote an informative piece for the Times and a ridiculous one for you.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Moving Sucks

So that offer probably isn't our buyer, so life goes on. Or rather life in this house goes on staged, cleaned and from a cardboard box.

Friends, I'm tired today. I'm tired from all of the stupid details that I have to attend to, the running and other ridiculously necessary things I have to do in a day.

One of those really irritating errands was a blood test this morning. This is a requirement for a new life insurance policy, because apparently State Farm has determined that if I should die, Sean will need quite a large sum of money to replace me. I'm not sure why this is, but I totally suggest getting into the rodeo clown business if you're looking for a career change because that's where there is great income potential.

Anyway, I had to fast for this test, (Because lord knows a cup of damn coffee might just throw off my body chemistry counts so hideously out of whack that modern science could not deem me insurable) so I was particularly cranky and headache-y in that hazy way when the nurse asked me to get on the scale. (For a split second, I was glad I was fasting.) It was one of those real official types--sliding weights and measures around like an abicus and so accurate you can't even take off 5 pounds by removing your shoes--but the nurse was having trouble with it.

"114, does that sound right?"

"Um, sure if we're not counting my bones, skin, and vital organs."

"Oh, sorry. I was 10 pounds off."

And you know what, I didn't even correct her that she may be a hair off from even that.

Because moving sucks and today the universe owed me at least 10 pounds.

And a damn cup of coffee.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Knock on wood

We interrupt this regularly update on our new house to give one on our current one: Houston, we have an offer.

Ok, who knows if this will lead to the eventual sale, but it is an offer and now the excruciating process of negotiating begins. At least I find it to be so.

So while I do not want to jinx it by counting all of those chickens yet, I will say out loud that I hope it is because selling this right now before entering October having to show this with four kids and a dog will save what little is left of my mind, body and soul. And to be able to move out knowing it won't be left vacant will be worth a boatload of worry cells as well.

So if this is it, I'll dig up St. Joseph and give to all of you out there with your fingers crossed.

Monday, September 20, 2010

For you, Intern

Danny warned me that since I hardly ever update anymore, I might be losing readers. Well, here you go, Intern. An update and countdown to our move.

We went to Nashville this weekend for a quick visit to check out Stevie's future hockey team as well as our new house. We put in an offer on a house that we spent a whopping 18 minutes in the first time around, because that's probably twice as long as we normally would make a life-altering decision. That's just how we roll. So this weekend I got 18 more minutes to check to see if there were blinds on the window and where the bathroom was.

Luckily, my memory was faulty, and I loved it even more now that I knew it is ours. (Almost.)

But there are a couple of things that we do need to change....



I've changed too many babies diapers to let this stand in the girls' room.



And I'd really like a working butler to work in this butler's pantry...



And unless all of the kids decide to go to LSU, these colors in the basement need to go.





But I love my new kitchen.



And upstairs loft which differs from the upstairs playroom complete with its own wetbar and ice maker.



Tomorrow (ish) I'll post pictures of the outside which is just as extreme in its awesomeness.

Monday, September 13, 2010

About that house...



It's big and beautiful, and hopefully, soon to be ours.

We have a contract on this, and right now we're on that torturous stage of inspections, mortgages, appraisals and a host of other non-fun things before we can close and move in. I realize that these things are a necessity, but I hate this part.

This house is much different than the one we're in now. I remember 10 years ago walking into this one and saying, "It'll do." We were in the neighborhood we wanted, and I was so close to giving birth to Matty, and it just felt like anything with a roof would do at that point.

This one was different.

Each of us walked in and before we'd even toured then entire thing, everyone had announced that this was the one. The neighborhood, the location, the house...it just seems to fit us right now.

It's big--but I'm ready to fill it. Besides a big family that deserves some elbow room, I want frequent guests. I want room enough for friends and family around the country to stay with us. I want to do all of the tourist things in Nashville (and there is a lot!) and I want to share that with everyone.

So come and sit a spell on our back porch, and we'll go to the Grand Ole Opry and anything else that city has to offer. It's a new adventure and I want you all to join us.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

It's been kind of a busy week...

In the past seven days I've put the house on the market, traveled to Nashville where we toured two schools, 17 houses, and the downtown metropolitan area; bought number 14 of that lot, started the school transfer procedures, shown this house twice, continued with bathroom renovations and managed to get everyone to school, baseball, football and cheerleading practices. On time.

To say I'm exhausted would be fair, but I am also excited and overwhelmed.

First, this house.

It sucks to sell a house when the bathroom is still being remodeled and you have the world's hairiest dog and Jesso to cleanup after. I just walk behind them all day with a Clorox wipe and a Swiffer. Not that I have time, but I'm afraid to cook a meal because I don't want the house to smell like some of the ones we toured. Every single routine has been disrupted, and I sort of feel like I'm not really living here because everything that gave this house personality--our personality--is boxed up and sitting in the garage in order to sell it.

I get it, I'm just over it already.

And then there's the new house.

I love it. We love it. We walked in the front door, and even before we saw every room we all announced seperately that this was it. It just felt like home. immediately. It's big and beautiful and I just saw us there. I haven't felt that way in a long time.

But even that wonderful experience is stressballs because now there are offers and counter offers, mortgage shopping and gathering of documents, inspections and appraisals and all of the non-fun stuff that goes along with buying a house. I want to just skip ahead to the picking out paint swatches and eating Chinese food on cardboard boxes waiting for the movers to arrive.

But I guess that's not going to happen until we get through a few more months of Swiffering.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Proof I didn't pack myself in a box yet

Readying the house for a buyer and the kids for school has been time-consuming and completely exhausting, and I'm trying to fit everything in and get everything done on this ever-expanding to-do list.

I'm failing.

But I did finally get a post up about heart condition on Whoa Momma.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

New routine

Well, here they are, bright and early on the first day of 1st and 5th grades.



And here is what Jess and Jing did 5 minutes after they left.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Someone please buy this house in a hurry so I don't have to take the dog and baby for rides in the car all month long

I'm certain that in the depths of hell, Lucifer holds a Sharpie in one hand and a roll of packing tape in the other and demands his minions to "declutter" hades whilst children and the world's hairiest dog run amok.

No, we haven't moved yet--we're just getting clearing, clearing, dumping, packing and otherwise staging the house to appear that six people and a dog don't live here.

And it's not even on the market yet. I can't friggin' wait to start showing the house with 4.2 minutes notice to clean up after Jessie and Jingle and get all of us out of the house while strangers criticize the color of the drapes. I am going to be even a more raving lunatic than usual.

Luckily, we haven't been around too much to mess things up too badly with all of the partying going on. There are many events and by the time we actually make it up to Nashville we will be suffering from gout and cirrhosis of the liver. But it sure is fun and is a nice distraction from the endless home repair.

School begins for the rest of the clan, and I'm not even going to pretend that I will be going back to the gym or writing anything other than "Misc. sports memorabilia" on cardboard boxes in hell.

Save me.....

Thursday, August 12, 2010

About that announcement...

I packed my first box today.

It was small and only contained a few children’s books, but it was the first physical acknowledgement that we will actually be moving soon.

When, exactly, I don’t know.

There is still a lot of life in Tampa to live--a house to prep and sell, semesters for three children to start and complete. And of course, we actually have to a place in Nashville to move into.

But we are excited. And sad. It’s a wonderful place here with wonderful friends and I’ve called it home for the last 10 years. Three of my children were born here. Suburban Diva surfaced. I launched a pretty fun career. I’ve met lifelong friends and learned life lessons. So while the ultimate decision to move was made easy for us by the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity before us, the actual leaving is not going to be.

So one box down, only a couple thousand more to go.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

What's new?

I don't really have a whole lot of words of my own today, so I'm going to leave you with some written by others to fill you in on the latest news and happenings in our household.

From The St. Pete Times.

And from The Tennessean.

It was also in USA Today.


That's what's new here.


(P.S. Here's what's new at SuburbanDiva.com including a $100 giveaway from CSNstores.com)

Monday, August 09, 2010

First Day of High School




Maybe in high school they'll teach him how I can turn photos the right way on blogger.

Fashion disclaimer: it's a uniform.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Ticking clock

We've returned again from yet another weekend o' fun.

Packing a summer for 6 into the last two weeks of it has been challenging, but somehow we've managed it. Because in less than a week, a high-schooler officially resides here.

This is incomprehensible to me. I'm pretending I know what to do as I scurry off to physicals and football practice, uniform stores and Office Depot. I clean out his room from clothes that don't fit even though they are practically new, and buy yet another new pair (or three) of shoes.

I love that he's here at this high school place and hate it all at once. I love who he is becoming--who he has become and I miss him already. We have had such a wonderful summer saying farewell to Middle School that I just can't imagine it ending yet.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Sunday Dinners

So I've decided to incorporate a new feature on this blog entitled: Sunday Dinners. This may or may not be about dinners and/or on Sundays, but it will be a post about food in some fashion or another. I realize that the pursuit of food is a big part of my life and I don't talk about it nearly enough.

This Sunday's menu was a typical one around here: something new from the latest edition of Bon Appetit, something from last month's issue, an old favorite, and something totally crazy.

I chose a lamb kebob with mint pesto from the August edition, and changed it up just a little since I thought I had coriander seed but didn't, and roasted the vegetables alongside rather than on the skewers. This was absolutely delicious, and that mint pesto held up beautifully against the lamb and really made the dish.

Alongside I served this pasta salad with green olivadafrom July, and an Asian cole slaw from my recipe book of long ago. For dessert, I tried twice to make a German chocolate cake from scratch and apparently succeeded on the second try, but since I don't like coconut, I'll have to take everyone's word for it.

I'd like to say we paired this all with a nice wine, but we ended up going through seven bottles of various and sundry reds--none of which were the same, so perhaps that was the failure of the evening but no one ended up caring in the end for those seven-bottle reasons.

Friday, July 23, 2010

More thoughts on the spill

I've been doing a lot of thinking since Tuesday's discussion on TheMotherhood.com on the oil disaster, and as the first raindrops of Tropical Storm Bonnie start falling outside, I can't help but think of it more.

We're not expected to get much from this storm here in Tampa because the bulk of the wind is headed straight toward the spill and no one knows exactly what that means. Or at least not many are speculating on record.

And that's the sort of thing I learned from Tuesday's call--this is an unmitigated disaster, meaning no one really knows what is going on. While the focus has been on capping it (as it should) and getting billboard money for tourism (ridiculous at this point) much of what is going on remains unexamined.

We spoke to an official from the NWF, Jaime Matyas, who is helping with the efforts to save the wildlife. Remember when I said that while we were on Palm Island we saw much more wildlife in the water than ever? That wasn't my imagination-- the methane in the water is sucking up all of the oxygen making it impossible for sealife to survive in these "dead zones" and pushing many species inland.

A blogger that I have met in real life, Trisha Haas from MomDot.com took these photos around Pensacola Beach a few weeks ago. While the tar balls are frightening, to me that mysterious algae is more troubling. Is it from the dispersants? A by-product of something? Is it helpful or harmful and what happens when a fish eats it?

There are others trying to document the wetlands and mainstream publications trying to document BP's corporate recklessness.

But I think it's our job to document, report, talk, write and help as well.

There isn't an anchor organization that is leading up the clean-up efforts. There are just a lot of individuals and small charities working on a great big problem.

For me, I will be volunteering for the NWF's Coastal Volunteer Surveillance Team. At first I didn't think I was qualified, but I have eyes and I care--the only qualifications that matter.

And I will also be writing and posting and sharing and yelling.

Because the more information we get out there, the better.

(If you missed the talk, you can read the transcript here.)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

First Haircut

Some 3 year-olds can look like Dora....




Mine looks like Doris Day.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Let's talk about this mess and what we can do about it

Tomorrow I'm going to be co-hosting a talk over on TheMotherhood.com regarding the oil spill crisis and what we as Gulf coast residents or just plain concerned humans can do.

If you are interested, please join me and many others for this open discussion at The Motherhood at noon, July 20th. It's free and open to all.

http://www.themotherhood.com/talk/show/id/62029

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Home again

I'm really not good at blogging while on vacation.

I have the best of intentions--I pack up the laptop with thoughts of writing in hotel rooms after long days of travel, but truth be told the computer rarely makes it out of the car. I think I turned it on once in the last 10 days.

But when was prose going to fit in on a 3500 mile road trip with four kids across fourteen states? Zactly. By the time my head hit interstate sheets, I was fast asleep exhausted from driving for 12 hour stretches.

But I wouldn't have done it any differently. We headed out last Monday and went to Chattanooga for a first stop on the way to Detroit. I was thinking of the Chattanooga Choo Choo or some touristy equivalent, but the boys decided they wanted to see a Lookouts game so we headed there instead.


We finished our trek to Detroit the next day and spent the next couple with my Dad doing Detroit things like lunch downtown at National Coney Island and the Science Center. We ate dinner at Hockeytown before taking in a Tiger game which was grrr-eat! (Sorry, couldn't help myself.)

On to Akron, Ohio so we could be front and center for LeBron's decision and feel the collective pain of the city. (Actually, that was pure coincidence as we visited my sister and her beautiful family.) We had fun visiting the Football Hall of Fame and I started to get the distinct feeling that sports was going to be the dominant theme of this road trip whether I planned it that way or not.


Next we drove out to Long Island for big family doings. Very fun. Then it was back south by way of Washington D.C. and South Carolina. We got drenched at the Washington Monument but it didn't seem to matter.

People say I'm crazy to spend 24/7 in the car for a couple of weeks with my kids.

But I just got to spend 24/7 with my kids for a couple of weeks, and that is crazy good.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Movie night

Simply to enjoy an evening out and not for review purposes, I actually got tickets from a radio station last weekend for a sneak preview of Despicable Me.

So the kids and I braved the rain and crowds for Twilight, and saw this funny movie. It was considerably better than Saturday's trip to Toy Story 3 where 2/3 of the family had to be carried out to the car in fits of sobs. (I was one.)

Here is our review set to go on Whoa Momma next week:


“Mom, that was sooo funny!
~A. age 6

“That was so beast.”
~M. age 10

At least these two critics were unanimous: Despicable Me is a very funny movie.

Although not in theaters until July 9, we got a sneak peek of the new animated film starring Steve Carrel recently, and it certainly was a big crowd pleaser to the packed theater.

The story is about a fading super villain trying to commit the world’s greatest crime and out-do his younger up-and-coming nemesis. Seeing his opportunity with three young girls (Miranda Cosgrove) selling cookies, Dr. Gru adopts the orphans and finds that he may be outmatched when it comes to parenthood.

The movie earns its PG rating with a few derrière and toilet jokes, but overall it’s pretty harmless. It starts off a little slow, but the laughs come soon enough, especially when we meet Dr. Gru’s “minions,” who look like little yellow Tic-Tacs, but are much funnier.

It’s a bit Addams Family-esque, (Dr. Gru looks like Uncle Fester with a Boris and Natasha accent) but the dark parts are fleeting and replaced with jokes and slapstick stunts. The plot was a touch predictable, but it is a fun story and the 3-D effects and animation are impressive.

That, and Steve Carrel is beast.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Back. Reluctantly.

Well, we are back on the mainland and might I say, I hate the mainland. At least in comparison to islands.

For the last 8 days we floated in the Gulf of Mexico. The big, beautiful, 90+ degree turquoise water held us all day every day of our vacation. The weather was beautiful, the company, even better.



We saw a lot more wildlife this trip than in years past. Occasionally, there would be a dolphin or a manatee siting over the week, but this time we saw several every day. These dolphin (photo by Michelle) were so close we could have touched them right off the beach.



The manatee were out as well, and on the last day one came up and nudged us rather creepily while we were hanging out in the water. I ran up and got some cabbage we took out to feed them and the two big ole walrus's ate it up in a few minutes while we watched. Scrapping the Asian salad we were going to have for dinner was worth the show.

We ate dinner late every night so we could watch sunsets from Shark's Tooth Beach. This is one of my favorite things on the planet. We found hundreds of teeth this trip, and even saw some sting rays in the water. FIsh were abundant and so were the turtles, shore birds and pelicans.

I'm not sure if the oil spill had anything to do with the abundance of wildlife we saw this year or not, but it certainly reminded us all of what we stand to lose from this disaster. This was our 6th trip to the island, and I can't imagine what the 7th will look like if things don't change soon.

So I leave you with what it looks like today--unspoiled except for the visitors like us who get to enjoy it.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Picnic!

As the sun sets on our wonderful magical week at the beach, I wanted to jump back in and tell you where I'll be tomorrow.



Read about the details to the Tampa Better-Than-a-Picnic Picnic here, and be sure to join me for free food and fun while we help with the efforts toward saving our native wildlife from the oil spill.

You don't have to bring a donation, but if you care to contribute, check out SaveOurSeabirds.org wish list for items we will be collecting for their organization.

Hope to see you tomorrow at 11:30 in Ruskin.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

My human vending machine

Well, this was a new one.

One week ago, Jesso swallowed a coin. And by "swallowed," I mean she literally ate it. I heard her chewing metal, looked over and asked what she had in her mouth. She swallowed, gulped and struggled to get it down, but then finally after she said, "I have a penny in my belly."

And so, the penny pursuit began.

Of course, the actual ingestion occurred at 5:05 p.m.--just in time for my frantic call to go directly to the nurse's line at All Children's rather than my pediatrician's office so I got the added humiliation of that aspect in addition to being a moron. After determining that she wasn't choking, they told me that we would just "have to let it pass" in three days.

That's grossspeak for going through her leavings searching for a coin the same color as her, er, leavings.

Three days came and went. It was a weekend, so I gave it until Monday before I called back. Then Tuesday because I really didn't want to call. And then Wednesday came, and still no sign, so I took her back.

If after a week of stool samples the home edition doesn't yield any results, then an X-ray is prescribed to see where the foreign object has lodged. So we went to the hospital and got the insurance shake-down before going up to radiology where a team of doctors looked for a penny in Jesso's belly.

After 2 hours of waiting and testing and talking, the X-ray was clear.

Lincoln had left the building.

Sometime over the weekend, it "had passed" and escaped the radar of my plastic fork and gag reflex.

I think we just spent 1000 Washingtons looking for that Lincoln.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Packing light

I have an extensive and quite detailed packing list for our upcoming vacation to the beach. In fact, it's a list that I save on the computer from year to year and sometimes I open it in January just to cheer myself up. It's the only list I have such a powerful feeling for, until this one.

This is the list of things I won't be taking to our beach vacation this year.

1. Diapers. And wipes and swim diapers. Because for the first time in 15 years, all of my children are out of diapers. At the same time. The thought of not packing Pampers makes me almost as happy as my packing list.

2. Clothes. Well, a lot less of them anyway. I usually come home with stacks of clothes that we never wear because we live in our bathing suits. So everyone is getting an outfit in case it rains and their pajamas.

3. My flat-iron. In six years of this particular trip, I've never once used it. My hair is on vacation, too. (I list this as an apology to my friends as well--it's 80's hair time, ladies!)

4. Closed-toed shoes. If ain't a flip-flop, it's not welcome in the suitcase.

5. Negative energy. I'm going to my favorite place with my favorite people and so there's no room for anything but happiness.

I'm ready to go now. Too bad our reservations aren't.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Check-up

You don't know how long you've been tip-toeing until you finally let your heels touch the ground.

You don't know how long you've held your breath until you let it out at last.

You don't know how tense your muscles have grown until you finally allow them to relax.

You don't realize how long and hard you've worried when suddenly you're told you don't have to anymore. And you can believe it.

After a simple EKG, today I walked flat-footed.

I exhaled.

I dropped my shoulders.

I let a big worry go to make room for a whole lot of gratitude.

Happy Summer.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The end is near

Tomorrow is the last day of school and I would know that even if we were not counting it down by the millisecond by these tell-tale signs...

I'm seriously considering breathing tomorrow but only after an afternoon cardiologist appointment.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Text this

Please consider texting "WILDLIFE" to 20222 to donate $10 to help oil-infected wildlife through the NWF. I just did.

Here's more info from the
NWF.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Monday, May 24, 2010

I will take a graduation gown over the hospital kind any day of the week

I spent more time than usual cleaning, shopping and organizing than I normally would on a beautiful May Sunday, but that was to hopefully get a jump on the week ahead, because it's a big one.

We've been joking all school year about the hype and ceremony that is 8th grade graduation around here, but as we now arrive here, I'm softening--or wearing down--a bit.

His kindergarten year also was the first year the school opened, so there is an emotional (and financial) investment that has certainly fostered over the last 10 years. And although we've got three others coming up the pike, I would be fooling myself if I didn't admit that this "graduation" is certainly special, and this year certainly has been a challenging one.

It was only 10 weeks ago that he underwent heart surgery for a cardiac condition we didn't know he had 4 months ago. Since then, not only was he able to make-up all of his work, but he nailed all of his finals, participated in every sport, responsibility, and activity, while continuing as Student Council President. He will also make the honor roll.

Obviously, I'm proud. So very proud. But I also am so grateful for this moment, coming so close not to having it.

And so I will celebrate with him and for him this week.

Congratulations, my sweet boy.



Saturday, May 22, 2010

Awesomeness for charity

We are fortunate enough to be able to attend a lot of cool events around town, but last night's may have been one of the best.

Braving the heat and a fully-stocked stretch limo, we made the drive down to Sarasota to attend Dick Vitale's V Foundation annual gala to raise money for cancer research.

It was a star-studded event at the Ritz-Carlton (how could that be bad?) and we had a great time. We even got a chance to hang with some of those stars like Isiah Thomas, Magic Johnson (well, we were in the same room at least) and Tony Dungy just to name a few of the many that were in attendance.

Some of whom were too slow to dodge our photo requests...


(That's Kenny Chesney in case you didn't recognize him without his cowboy hat.)

And did I mention the food? Delish as well as trademarked...



And then there were the real superstars...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

And in happier news...

...Stevie is getting ready to go to his 8th grade graduation dance.

Wait a minute, that means he is old enough to be finishing up his elementary/middle school career and starts High School in 9 weeks.

Well, that's pretty depressing (for me) after all.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I am...

I'm angry. I'm upset. I'm sad. I seriously cannot believe that there are still millions of gallons of oil being gushed into the Gulf of Mexico while a corporation starts talking about liability caps before the well spewing its poison is even capped.

I am astounded that our governor wants to get $35 million for PR campaign on why Florida beaches can still be visited this summer instead of fighting for money to actually clean up this garbage.

I am mad that our president switched his stance on this.

I am saddened when people make environmental issues political, and forget that we are all humans on this planet and have a responsibility to be good stewards of it regardless of party affiliation.

I am disheartened when I realize that not only will untold tax dollars be spent on cleaning this up, but consumers will be paying for it at the pump and endless other costs as well. Our children's children will still be paying for the cleanup while BP from it's own website reported a first-quarter replacement cost profit of "$5,598 million, compared with $2,387 million a year ago, an increase of 135%." That's the first quarter of 2010. To a foreign company.

I am torn because I will now have to focus my charitable efforts toward helping this cause, while unfortunately neglecting other worthy causes.

So to all of those who still wave rally towels to the ridiculous chant, "Drill Baby Drill,"--take those towels down to Key West and start wiping off an oil-covered dolphin.

This is where I work. Where I play. Where I live.

I am seriously frightened that it won't be here after me.

Friday, May 14, 2010

I'll be back when she's 20

I haven't been posting much because I'm in the midst of potty-training.

Send help.

(Or just more laundry soap.)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Needed: sleepers to try out the new beds

I told you a couple of weeks ago that I was going to order some new beds for the girls from AllChildrensFurniture.com.



I don't usually order furniture online, but I was really happy with these results. Besides the very reasonable price of the headboards (I ordered frames, too) I really liked that there was NO SHIPPING charges. There's nothing worse than finding a bargain online and then having to pay a boatload in shipping fees. Anyway, it came within 3 days of my order in perfect condition and besides a few curse words from Sean while assembling, it was a very easy process all of the way around.

All we need now is for two little heads to start sleeping on those new little pillows and we are all set...

Disclosure: I was ordering these beds anyway, and CSN offered a discount for an honest review. They got one, and so do you.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Nothing for Mother's Day

I actually wrote this a couple of years ago before Jesso, but it still holds true today.

Nothing for Mother's Day.

If you need me today, I'll be poolside with steak and cake, Sangria and my little ones all day.

Perfect.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Viva Las Me

So I went to Vegas. For my 40th, because there's nothing like easing into a big birthday with $14 mojitos by the pool and $10 Miller Lites at the Flamingo watching Donny and Marie.

Expensive, but worth every penny.

We managed to talk 12 other people into spending the weekend of the Kentucky Derby in smoky casinos and smoking hotel pools (The Encore has one of those fancy "European Bathing Pools" that require you to be 21 and camera-less. The only topless Europeans I saw were some hairy old Greek men smoking cigars.) We arrived on Friday and walked the strip and had drinks on the Bellagio patio overlooking the fountain. After gambling, we hopped on over to Paris for dinner and then back to gambling along the strip. Heaven.

Saturday was spent by the pool. And speaking of topless men, Sean started his tan tattoo for luck.


Later, the women folk went to Donny and Marie (Fabulous!) Incredibly cheesy, but when you go to see Donny and Marie at the Flamingo, well, you pretty much know what you're in for.

Sunday was more time at the pool, gambling, and then off to my favorite restaurant in the world--a little French hole in the wall that is absolutely divine. The story is that Bobby Darren named it back in 1974 and it is a favorite haunt by anyone who comes to Vegas. I can see why. Tucked in between a barb-wired hair salon and a burned out gas station, you would never find it in a million years.

But we did, and I'm glad.




Afterward, we went to the old Vegas--Freemont Street--and suffered smoke inhalation and second-hand alcoholism, but it was fun.



And now I'll have to continue easing into 40 in Eastern time. It's going to be a long process, so stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

I just did this, so should you

I'm going to write all about Vegas, and 40 and the stuff of milestone birthdays, but first I wanted to tell you that I just saved $30 from my Mother's Day flower order from 1-800-Flowers by using my Juicy Rewards.

Serious and timely savings people.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Look how hilarious my ex-friends are...






They also have flat tires in their driveways and toilet paper hanging from their trees, but they are hilarious.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Remember that interview with Brooke Shields?




It's hard to believe that its been about a decade since Brooke Shields was on the big screen. Images of her in The Blue Lagoon and Pretty Baby are so stuck in our minds that it seems that she has always been making films. But this week she returns in the family comedy Furry Vengeance, a look at how wildlife strikes back when a new housing development threatens their homes.

In the film, Brooke plays Tammy Sanders, a part that appealed to her immediately, she told me in a recent interview. In addition to working with friend and co-star Brendan Fraser, she also appreciated the opportunity to work on a family-friendly film.

Now a mother of two daughters, Brooke, 44, says the movie is a family comedy with a broader social message that “is never condescending, and allows kids to feel that they can make a difference.”

Certainly no stranger to the camera, Brooke's career spans more than four decades of film, television and modeling. She started modeling as an 11 month old, posing for Francesco Scavullo for an Ivory Soap ad. Her career never slowed as she continued in films and television, making guest appearances on many shows, including Friends, Nip/Tuck and Two and a Half Men. Along the way, she portrayed (in flashback) Miley Stewart's mom on Hannah Montana and starred in a couple of shows of her own, Suddenly Susan and more recently, Lipstick Jungle.

During our conversation, it was her poignant and unscripted thoughts about motherhood that revealed her refreshingly real beauty. When asked if her perspective had changed on her career and striking a healthy balance since becoming a mother, she said that “it is constantly being negotiated in my mind." While she was always an incredibly focused performer who often made work the priority over her personal life, that all changed when she had children. “It shifted. (It used to be) the desire for work to be the entirety of your life...having children changes that," she said. "Now the desire to enjoy my life is right in front of my face.”

That's why this film was important to her. “I liked to go to work and bring home laughter. I’m a fuller mom when I work.” She loves to share her passion with her children. "You want your kids to look up to you -- you want to earn their respect.”

It wasn’t all serious talk, however. Furry Vengeance is a comedy after all, and Brooke said she had “the best time she’s ever had working on a film.” On Brendan Fraser, who also is the film's executive producer, she had nothing but the highest praise, calling him “one of the most incredible talents I’ve ever worked with.”

She believes this movie will entertain all ages because it fills that gap between adult and kid films with humor that appeals to all and won’t leave the grown-ups checking their watches. While there are plenty of scenes filled with physical and slapstick comedy, she hints that adults will particularly appreciate the end credit, They are laden with dance montages and spoofs of the stars’ past films. And she even pokes fun at herself.

“For 20 years I have refused The Blue Lagoon,” she groans. But look for a funny reference to the film before the house lights come up.

Good-natured humor about being good to nature sounds like a must-see movie for any family.

My Juicy tip o' the week

Don't forget to check your Juicy Rewards options when you travel--I just found some deals for an upcoming trip which is a bonus and makes me look way smarter and better traveled than I actually am.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

My Mommy turned 40 and all I got was this lousy potholder

My mother used to have a red and white picnic-checked potholder hanging in the kitchen over the monolith of a microwave that read, “I’d rather be 40 than pregnant!”

I didn’t get it.

At 14 years old, both of those things seemed to be equally as horrifying in my adolescent mind.

Fast forward a couple of decades and four pregnancies later, and I think I’m being let in on the joke.

When I first read that potholder, I figured on the morning I turned 40, I’d wake up in a spiraling pit of depression. Or wrinkle beyond recognition. Or at the very least, something would fall off. I’d get a craving to eat dinner at 3:00 in the afternoon and listen to the oldies station on the radio.

What I failed to take into account -- and a big difference between 14 and 40 -- is that by this great big birthday, I would be in the throes of motherhood, and perspectives certainly change here.

Those pregnancies that preceded this birthday produced four beautiful, healthy children that I love beyond words, and being in this moment with them is my greatest joy. And while I’m sure the potholder-author’s original intent was to make a bad joke rather than suggest an introspective philosophy on aging, for me there is a deeper meaning of this gag gift. Now that I’m here, I realize that after our skin gets stretched out from childbearing and wrinkles a little on the edges, it’s now when we at last become the most comfortable in it.

I may be a little grayer and not carded nearly as often, but that only delays the purchase of champagne to toast a very full life of many blessings anyway.

So throw me what you’ve got, Forty -- I’m ready.

I’ve got an oven mitt with your name on it.

(Cross-posted on Whoa Momma.)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day

My unwitting tribute to Earth Day includes a second visit from the plumber to fix the toilet from Jessie's tribute to Earth Day by exfoliating Mother Nature when she dropped an entire jar of sea salts down there. Yesterday, they took the toilet apart to find that little gem, and today it is still not working properly so perhaps Jessie followed up with a mud mask or a tube of deep moisturizer.

Oh yes, and I also wrote this up for Whoa Momma.

And this on SuburbanDiva.com.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

More redecorating

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been slowly putting the house back together after the Big Carpet Project 2010. I’ve managed to get through the master bedroom and both boys’ rooms, and feel like most everything is back in place with a healthy new shine.

There’s just one room to go.

The girls' room.

I’ve been avoiding this particular nightmare because the scope of this project trumps all other rooms. It isn’t a matter of putting things back in--the baby cribs have been dismantled and given away, the huge canopy bed that never had a night’s sleep in it by the child it was purchased for--a similar fate. I would take a “before” photo but I just watched my first episode of “Hoarders” and I’m afraid I’d get a call from an A&E producer if anyone were to see the crates of stuffed animals that line the walls.

So it’s past time to address this room at our address.

Another problem in this effort is how much I hate to shop. Hate it. I know what I want in my head, I just hate wasting days driving around to find it. So on Sunday, I ordered two twin beds from AllChildrensFurniture.com. I’ve worked with them before (they have given away some gifts to Suburban Diva readers), but this is the first time I’ve ordered from them directly.

I’m pretty excited since it could all be completed painlessly online and it will be delivered to my house in 3-5 days.

But you know the best part? NO SHIPPING CHARGES.

Seriously.

So I will let you know how much we love them and maybe even an “after” photo of the new room.

And if all of those stuffed animals fit under the new beds.

(So don’t call A&E, K?)

Disclosure: My friends at CSN Stores gave me a little shopping spree, and I applied the amount to the beds I had already chosen before we spoke. Seemed like a win-win to me. I will let you know how it turns out.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Don't put those candles away yet

April is a big birthday month around here, and we've had some big birthdays to celebrate lately.



Jessie turned 3 and she got the Spongebob cake she's been begging for for 6 months. It was on display at Publix and since we are there every other day, she had time to form desire for the thing. She didn't need presents after that...



And today is Matty's big day which meant a Storm game and sleepover. Actually it was more of an -over, since very little sleep was involved.



For any of us.




And we won't even talk about the next family birthday quite yet.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Juicy Deal of the Day--Exclusive, ya'll

I’ve got the Juicy Insider Deal of the Day for you...you ready?

For today only, (Friday, April 16) you can cash in 2 Juicy Reward points for a free movie ticket on Fandango.com.

But before you go to the big screen, you have to go to your little one and follow the steps here : www.fandango.com/promo/tropicana/ for a Buy 1 Get 1 Free ticket available today only. (You don’t have to go to the movies today, but you do have to redeem the reward today.)

See, that glass of O.J. you had this morning just boosted your immune system and got you a ticket for Date Night on your Date Night.

Why yes, I am bragging

Posting on more outdoor fun later, but I just had to scream across the Interwebs, Guess who is talking to Brooke Shields tomorrow???!!!

ME!!!!

Okay, back to my regularly scheduled, non-mega celebrity life now at the gym.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Thank goodness there are lights on the field or Day 3

Not all of your outside time need be during the day.




Sometimes extra innings and deciphering the infield fly rule in Little League pushes a nice day outside into a nice night outside.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Be Out There Challenge Day 2



The second day of our Be Out There challenge was also the last weekday of Spring Break for us. While Stevie had all sorts of lofty goals for this vacation, Matty only wanted one thing: to play miniature golf.

An odd request, but easy enough to indulge.

So I cashed in some Juicy Rewards points for discount tickets to Captain Bligh’s Landing: a miniature golf course down in Clearwater.

Please note that Clearwater Beach during Spring Break is only second to the number of people who crowd Disney World on Spring Break. (See Friday's entry.)

But no matter, we braved the traffic circle--an insanely cruel contraption that reminds me of revolving doors on hotels--cool for minute to look at, but really, have you ever tried to push a stroller through? Not at all practical, and borders on decapitating. Anyhoo, I only went around four times before I figured out how to exit, and with a car full of vertigo-infused children, we went to Captain Bligh’s.

It’s a funny little place. An interesting historical fact about old Tampa Bay, after a night of pillaging the city and looting our treasure, pirates used to engage in that ancient seafaring tradition known as putt-putt.

Okay, I totally made that up, but I always wonder why so many miniature golf courses are pirate-themed since I can’t imagine Bluebeard taking a little pencil from his scabbard and writing down his par 3 score after a particularly tricky bank shot over a Sno Bowl colored waterfall. I’m not judging, but I suppose after many long nights at sea, pirates would be particularly inclined toward astro-turf and colored golfballs. Again, not judging.

But it was a gorgeous day, and we all had such a good time. Usually, Sean gets to do all of the putt-putting with the kids and I stay home with the baby, but today we brought her and she got to throw around a plastic club and a ball 3 centimeters from the hole.

And after an hour in that beautiful sunshine and few hundred strokes later, Matty proved victorious. We celebrated in a 1980 (it seriously could have been 1880) arcade with Skeeball.

Curiously, my Ms. Pac-Man and golf score were the exact same.


P.S. There are many moms taking this challenge and getting out there. You can read about their adventures as well:

Ashley Waldvogel Gaddy
Jennifer James
Liz Thompson
Rachel Matthews
Kim Moldofsky
Amie Hurst Adams
Asha Dornfest
Kristin Sundin Brandt
Anna Fader
Veronique Christiansen
Holly Ambrose
Debi Pfitzenmaier
Christine Koh
Cooper Munroe and Emily McKhann

Saturday, April 10, 2010

You can stop growing up now



Happy 3rd Birthday, Jesso.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Day 1 of unorthodox, yet perfectly Floridian challenge

You may think that just because we live in Florida--an hour's drive from the country's premiere theme parks--means that we are in Orlando every weekend.

Not really... just every other.

This week to kick off our Out There challenge, we went to Disney World for the day. Granted, I'm not sure this is what my friends at the NWF headquarters had in mind, but we did spend a great deal of time outside together yesterday. Here are my Twitter updates to prove it:





That 4-7 minute number I told you about earlier? We crushed that number just setting up the stroller alone.

We saw native wildlife.



We traveled to different climes.



We talked to the animals.



We went horseback riding.



We went to the mountains. (Splash, Space and Thunder.) And the sea. (Small World and the Pirates of the Caribbean.)

And while this outside may have also had a few plastic trees and animals of the animatronic variety, I did spend twelve hours with my favorite people in the beautiful spring sunshine.



We live in Florida, and that's how we roll.