Saturday, August 30, 2008

Susan's Sister

Hi. This is Susan’s older sister. I am experiencing blog envy so she is going to let me guest post here about politics occasionally until the election. I am qualified for this because I watch Meet the Press and my husband does policy research and runs Republican campaigns here in the great swing state of Ohio.



It sounds a lot more glamorous than it is. He is mostly gone a lot and makes a salary that can best be compared to a first year teacher. (ok, maybe a first year teacher with a master’s degree…but still) We do get to meet interesting people and go to A LOT of events. This is us with the Honerable Patrick J. Tiberi and his wife.


After the long primary season (we have had political ads on TV here since January), DH’s crazy political schedule and watching gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Democratic National Convention last week I am starting to see the American flag when I close my eyes. But then, on my way to the gym the other day I saw this:



This, to me, is kind of cool. I will probably reluctantly vote for McCain, so this isn’t really a “pro-Obama” post. But what I like about this is that someone cared enough about this election that he went down to his basement, got some old piece of cardboard, bought some blue and red block letter stickers and made that sign! (can you see him at the store choosing some red and some blue, wondering if he should get 3” letters or 4”?) He has no idea that you can call or e-mail Obama’s local headquarters and someone will gladly bring the real thing out to your house. Maybe he thinks they cost money or that you have to know someone to get a sign. Anyway, I think that it is all very American and when it comes to patriotism…. there is really no need to “reign it in.”

Monday, August 25, 2008

These are a few of my favorite things...

Oprah does that "favorite things" show, which is awesome and all. But, what are real women's favorite things? I always want to know what real women can't do without, whether it's the perfect wine or bathtub cleaner or what-have-you. So, here are mine (in no particular order) and I'd love to know what yours are. Please let me know!

Charle's Shaw Chardonnay (otherwise known as Two-buck-chuck at Trader Joe's)



This Gilligan O'Mally's lace bra (in cream, white and black) at Target that costs about $10. It lasts about 6 months, but if you have to buy it twice a year, that's not bad for $10 right? By the way, this is not a picture of me, if you hadn't guessed yet.


Seven7 Jeans at Kohl's. They aren't the cool "7's"...but at $39.99 they are the best fitting, best looking jeans I have bought myself in my 28 years of life.


I could use any $1 shampoo, but this conditioner is something I'll go looking for at 1 am if I don't have it in my shower. It takes years off your hair's life. And, for someone who highlights their hair waaaaaaay too often, I need this....every time I wash my hair. It's awesome. Even when I was in my "adult video blonde" stage....this stuff saves your life.


Why wax at an expensive salon when surgi-wax allows you to wax yourself at home? Alright, so I haven't exactly mastered the bikini wax, but for eyebrows...this is the stuff. No weird honey-based weirdness that doesn't pull off right...no weird strips...no weird perfumes. You just paint this stuff on the bad hairs, wait about 10 seconds and pull it off. It's very old-school. Once you get it on, it ain't coming off without taking with it the hair that it has attached to. But it's awesome and it gets the job done quickly and for about $5/pot. You can't argue with that.

Other things that I love:

Irv & Shelly's Fresh picks: http://www.freshpicks.com/cms/

Smoked meat, preferably pork shoulder (you can't mess this recipe up): http://www.avalonwine.com/Smoking-Meat-Wood-Equipment-recipes-wine.php

Flip flops from Old Navy for $5 (the black ones are my "church" shoes, the brown ones are my "casual" shoes) :

http://www.oldnavy.com/browse/product.do?cid=39879&pid=522932&scid=522932012

Trader Joe's Spinach Pizza and Orange Blossom Hand Soap

IKEA's Grundtal wall shelf (it's a $20 pot rack that I've had at 3 houses), their wooden salad bowl (we use it daily) and my daughter's loft bed: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/50063882

Benjamin Moore paint colors: Sierra Hills and Traditional (beige and brown...woohoo! I'm exciting).

That's about it...anyone else?



Saturday, August 23, 2008

Carpet glue and ped egg



Well, after two solid weeks of construction (and deconstruction) we're done. Well, done with our part. The basement has been taken apart and put back together and every friggin' baseboard has been painted a new shiny white. The carpet guys are here right now and oh my GOODNESS is that glue a strong smell. My husband took the kids to the pool and I'm here getting high on fumes.

So tonight is date night again...that is if the babysitter doesn't mind hanging out with the fumes. This weekly date night thing is great but it's almost overwhelming! I feel like I turn around and it's Saturday again. I think it's making me shower more often...totally disrupting my "once-a-week-whether-I-need-it-or-not" routine. ;)

Also speaking of grooming, I bought a ped egg. This is a cheese-grater type device which is supposed to make your feet awesomely smooth. As usual, I went to town on my gnarly feet and am now I'm a little tender in the heel-area. And since I stabbed myself on carpet tacs about 100 times this week, my fingertips are killing too. And, due to the infrequent showering and stress as of late, I've broken out with about 100zits on my face. My elderly neighbor said to me this morning: "What got to you? The mosquitos?" and pointed at my neck. Nope, just pimples. She looked horrified. Yeah, I'm not pretty right now. Good night for date night.

I can NOT find my camera. It's killing me. What good is a pictureless blog?

With my living room and kids bedrooms torn apart, we've had time to think about how we want it to be when we put it all back together. One experiment we are considering is putting the kids together in one room and making the other a play room. There rooms are so small that once your bed is in there, you don't have much room for toys. I figure if we just bunk them up in one room then they can have more space in the other to play. But of course, that requires them sleeping together. I'm going to try to turn her girly light blue room into their mutual room and his tan colored room into the playroom. She has a lofted bed which you can slide another bed under and I have some bookshelves to put in the playroom. Ideas?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Get the divorce papers ready....

Just kidding, it's not QUITE that bad, but the kids are at grandma's (thank you grandma!!!) and the husband and I are taking on the baseboard project today. So far, the baseboards are not sitting flush with the wall. Some f-bombs were definitely dropped (and that does not happen around here) and I got the wrong size nails at my 150th trip to Home Depot. The carpet people are supposed to be here in an hour, and it sounds like Matt is doing a lot more banging than would be necessary to pound in a finishing nail, so I don't have a lot of time....but just pray that we make it through this, and that the Luna carpet people don't run screaming from our house.

I'm not sure what time Grandma and I agreed that I'd pick up the kids. Do you think tomorrow is ok? ;)

Seriously, he's banging loud...this could be bad. Maybe if I buy REALLY fluffy carpet, it will distract from our struggling baseboards.

Alright, I'm getting back in there...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Wine on the Sabbath....

I have no pictures to post because I can't find my camera. I have the cutest pictures of some fun stuff we did last week, but I can't find my camera because it is buried beneath the rubble that is my home right now. As I posted before, our house flooded 4 inches of water. It only stayed for 2 hours before the sump pump came back on and sucked it all away, but the damage it did was crazy. We have ripped up carpet and padding, ripped out our baseboards, painted them with Kills, sawed off the bottom 4 inches of our wall, and we're in the putting-stuff-back-on stage right now. I'm taking a 5 minute break with a glass of wine (What time is it? Who knows...I'm on construction-worker time right now) before I go pick up my daughter from her friend's house. I'm covered in oil-based paint that will not come off, and my husband is starting to put the baseboards back on as I type. My son is walking around in Incredible Hulk underpants yelling "IIIIIIIIIIII want to paint toooooooooo!" Tomorrow I get to paint the baseboards with actual paint, retouch some walls, and drop a couple thousand dollars on new carpet.

But can I be a little proud of myself that I used a circular saw and sawed off my walls by myself? I almost lost a finger a couple times, and I can't wait for my chiropractor appointment on Tuesday, but it made me feel a little tough.

By Tuesday I hope to be back at regular life. Date night has been canceled for this week, so my husband and I are just like passing ships in the night.

"Did you paint that baseboard?"

"Yep"

"Ok, I'm gonna clean this paint up and then go make the kids grilled cheese...do you know where Sammy is?"

"Nope"

(Daughter's voice rings out) "SAAAAAAAAAAAmmmmy is going to HIIIIIIIIT me!"

"I'm on it"

"OK"

That's about the extent of our relationship right now. Hence the wine....

Monday, August 11, 2008

Feminists, crazy Russians, and other tales of this weekend...







So, a tip: if you are already feeling a little lonely and bored with your "housewifely" status...don't read 1960s feminist literature! I'm not saying it's not worth a read at a time when you are feeling secure and regular, but this was not the weekend for me to pick up The Feminine Mystique. My goodness. I won't even bother posting pictures from this week's date night because it mainly entailed me weeping into my scallops and running to the bathroom to wash off mascara-face. It didn't start while we were on the date though...oh no; the decline had started in the afternoon. The husband and I had a spat about something earlier that day, and after reading that book, all I could think about was: "He doesn't respect me...he thinks I'm an appliance....he thinks I want to stand here wearing pearls and vacuuming for him....he doesn't appreciate that I have a brain or he might care about my side of this argument more!"


Do you remember the scene in Father of the Bride where the bride-to-be starts crying and calls off the wedding because her fiance bought her a blender? It was kinda like that, except with possibly more crying. It was bad. And I'm not even hormonal or anything right now! But I hit this crazy low point and I couldn't even talk (that's not a normal reaction for me, by the way). But then of course I felt bad for feeling this way, and wanted to rush home to my children and tell them I was sorry for ever feeling purposeless when I'm raising their little souls. And then there was paying the babysitter, and tucking the kids in, and the basement is still a disaster from the flood so the distractions made it all go away for a while. In the words of Scarlet O'Hara: "I can't think about that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow."

THEN, on Sunday, there was one of my favorite events of the year. One of the reasons we live in the city. At first, I was still a little melancholy from the previous night's date-night-sobathon, but when I finally arrived at this place, I remembered how much of a pick-me-up it is. It was the birthday party for one of my daughter's friends from school! I know....groan....who would ever like a child's birthday party, right?

But this is different.

We don't get princess birthday parties around these parts (well, except at my house, but that's because I'm really only faking this urban lifestyle...I'm not really cool). This child lives in the Ukrainian Village with her parents who are artists. Last year, her mother put on this probably 5-hour-long puppet show about a flying pig which was narrated by this huge Russian guy wearing a chef puppet on his hand. I don't even remember the story line, but it was hilarious. The kids sorta stopped watching it and played in the yard during it, but it was just so weird! And the crazy Russians kept drinking more and more vodka and cheering it on. Of course everyone I met there was either an artist or a writer or a yoga instructor (whose husband may or may not have been in the Russian mafia). It was hilarious. They buy these abnoxious giant cakes from the Polish bakery and the GAMES....I couldn't even describe the games.

Last night was no let down. There was ukelele playing and interpretive dance while the kids blew bubbles! There was an obscene amount of sausages being grilled and giant bottles of cheap red wine. I politely declined when they started with the vodka shots (remember...I'm reigning it in) but Matt thought he had to do it to be manly, I think. He did his best this-isn't-burning-my-throat face and thanked them politely. Then he ate another sausage. Good thing because he was supposed to drive us home. The party ended with the hostess singing "the party is over...go home" while strumming her ukelele and walking around the back yard. Good times. You gotta love the city when you get to meet people like this. I couldn't make this stuff up!

But now it's Monday, and Matt has to leave town for the day, and I have baseboards to repaint in the basement. So here's a little pic of cute Matt in his suit before leaving for the train, and Sammy and I still in bed when he was leaving, my living room as it looks today sans-carpeting, and my favorite appliance: the tiny 4-cup coffee maker my friend Nina gave me. It is so 1970's that I think it might be a collectors item, but it keeps the coffee friggin' hot! There are no controls or buttons on it; you just plug it in or unplug it. And if you forget to unplug it, then it will just stay 400 degrees hot all day long and burn that coffee down to ashes in the bottom of the pot, but I love it! Coffee that hot is a hard thing to come by with the new-fangled coffee pots out there today. And I'm definitely going to need the coffee today...

Friday, August 8, 2008

Those Nester sisters!

My sister and I read blogs sometimes and one that we like is called "The Nesting Place" and the woman calls herself "the Nester". She has a younger sister who calls herself "Nester's sister". I love that, because aren't all little sisters just "so-and-so's sister"? Well, I could have called my blog "Laura's sister" because that's what I am, of course.

So, today, the same big sister informed me that Nester's sister put a picture of HER big sister on her blog, and what is SHE: chopped liver? Good job "Nester's sister"! I know why you did it....you have to pay a weekly homage to your big sister. That's cool. We all have to do it. So, here's mine. Above is my older sister, Laura with her youngest daughter. She's skinny. She has a Posh-like haircut. She's neat and organized and fun and witty and informed on things like politics. She has cute clothes. Her house is awesome. Seriously, you wouldn't believe the incredible Barbie dream house this girl created out of a refrigerator box when we were kids...we're talking carpet remnants, curtains, the works. I'm just a wannabe of her, basically.
She taught me how to do things like roll my hair. This is me with my oldest daughter and her oldest daughter...we all still rolled our hair until about a year ago! We're from Kansas though...we have big hair there. I can specifically remember sitting in her room when I was about 10 (she was 15) and she was teaching me how to be neat and tidy in my appearance for school. She rolled my hair and showed me several fashions I could wear it in. Her two preferences were a) rolled and then put back in a banana clip, or b) rolled and then put back in a headband.
The first time she got pregnant, I accidentally got pregnant a few months later, so our "firsts" are 3 months apart. But then she was in charge of when we were to have our "seconds" so our second children are about a month apart. I'm so fat in this picture...so, so fat. Look at our faces!
And now we have all these scrappy kids. I have the chubby ones on the left...she has the twiggy girls on the right. Hers are well-behaved and wear matching outfits. Mine can be kinda naughty (especially the tiny chubby one...who is 3 now) and they wear random hand-me-downs. I just didn't quite get the "togetherness" gene in the family.

This picture is a perfect example of our relationship. Here I have just given birth to my second child about 8.5 seconds previously, and I'm calling her for nursing advice. I'm probably saying "this sucks...can I quit?" and she is saying "no" and then I'm saying "but...but...but" and she is saying "ummmm.....do you love your child? Do you? Do you? Well, then do it. Call me in the morning." And then I do.....
But she's always right. That's the problem.
There, I'm done. Homage paid. Just kidding big sister....of course I was gonna put you in my blog! Poor my little sister...I haven't even mentioned her! Well, she's another story for another day. Post man's baby we think.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Serious reality check Wednesday!

Remember that living room I was complaining about because it was messy on Monday? Well, the messy living room I was complaining about on Monday, I am nostalgic for now. A giant storm blew through here Monday night dropping TONS of rain and knocking out the electricity (and the sump pump...don't those things come with back up batteries or something?...well, I thought so at least). Matt and I slept through most of it, but then I heard it: splash, splash, splash...."Mom?" Claire and Sam's rooms are in the downstairs of our duplex-down, which means that they essentially have rooms in the basement. Claire had woken up and was scared because her closet light was not on anymore, so she came to get me...except that our basement had flooded 4-5 inches so she was walking in the pitch black through a lake to find the stairs! Bless her baby heart!

Well, two days later after trying forever to soak the water out of the carpet with a shop-vac, we still had squishy wet carpet. So the executive decision was made: it had to go.

Here is that living room with the carpet gone and the cement floor bare. Matt and I spent all morning hauling it out the back door.

Here's another hallway with Sam's toys sitting around...the ones that could be rescued from the water that is.

"Goodbye thousands of dollars worth of carpeting!"

That will teach me to stop complaining! Man, what I'd give to have my regular living room back ...messy or not. And now the question remains: more carpet? Laminate? Leave the concrete and let the kids ride bikes in the house?

Hmmmm...all I know is that I spent until 4am on Tuesday morning rescuing things from the basemet and trudging around in a lake of water, (did I mention that my daughter was having explosive diarhea the same night?). Then, I had to shower off and run to teach VBS on Tuesday. And THEN, I spent today with my husband ripping up carpeting, padding, and hauling it outside. I'm BEAT!

Monday, August 4, 2008

An urban homestead?


If there is one thing you may know about me by now, it's that I wish I could bring a little country to our city. The above book, City Green, by Dyanne DiSalvo-Ryan, inspired me to think about the possiblity of a community garden. This book tells the sweetest story of a girl and an elderly lady who join forces to clean up an abandoned lot in their neighborhood and thus bring the community together.
The next picture shows the vacant, city-owned property across the street from our home which I have been eye-balling since we moved here 4 years ago. I wrote the alderman to ask if I could start a community garden, but I haven't heard back. I've heard you can just start doing it though, as long as it is city and not private property.

Its late in the summer at this point, so I'm not thinking giant flower garden, but I figure I could get the glass bottles and sticks out, mow it, and at least let the little neighborhood boys play baseball there without fear of tetanus. I'm not sure if I can convince the alderman to allow me my oh-so-desired chicken coop, but the family across the street from us has roosters, so I'm not sure I see why I couldn't! If anyone has had any experience in community gardens, let me know. I'm not even sure what I want it to look like, so any ideas would be great. This is one of those times I wish I had a ton of readers...I could use your help! If only I could fly Heidi from Mt. Hope Chronicles here to work her beautiful flower-magic!






Monday morning reality check

My bedroom as it looked the day we took pictures for selling the house.

My bedroom on Monday morning after a friend stayed the weekend, complete with blow-up bed for Sammy and piles of laundry in the hamper (or...around the hamper). Also complete with kids watching copius amounts of PBS.


Aaahhhh...the living room on that glorious "putting the house on the market" day.


The living room last night complete with my husband watching... "Family Guy"? He never watches that...he was probably asleep.


Just trying to "keep it real" as Pioneer Woman always says, but above is my kitchen as it appears on realtor.com. Lovely right? All the things a city condo should have...



But here it is on Monday morning. This actually is not sooo bad.



Fabulous gleaming hardwood floor throughout...including steps (so reads realtor.com)

Same shot, except facing into my bedroom, on a typical Monday morning. Laundry on top of laundry. Dust on top of dust.

I'd like to say that this will all be clean by the end of the day, but my daughter is having a friend over and my kids are fighting already, thanks to the rainy day. Blech!



Sunday, August 3, 2008

A typical date night






Call sitter.

Invite friend's daughter to share babysitter.

Daughter starts saying that something in her mouth hurts so I give her some Tylenol.

I make pizza for the kids and start to get ready.

"Where should we go for dinner?" husband asks....we haven't made any reservations...great.

"Well, whatever you want!" I say...because what do I care except that I get to leave the house!


A girlfriend is staying with me for the weekend b/c she's going to a reunion from our college, so she stops by between the beach activity and the dinner activity to get cleaned up. Cool. Except she brings 3 other people who needed showers...and towels...and an iron...and my blowdrier. Of course, I actually don't mind because I love that people came over and that I get to see another old college friend who has kids the same age as mine! I start to feel bad, though, that I have no beer in the house for the guys and that I'm walking around the house with wax on my face because I was doing my eyebrows when they showed up.


"Should we just cancel our date?" I say.

"Nope...lets go....we haven't had a date in months" says husband, who, as you remember, has unloaded the dishwasher today in hopes of a romantic encounter that evening.


Okay. Sitter shows up and I'm not ready. That's cool. Husband shows sitter how to use the VCR (yes, we still love our VHS) and I scramble to get ready. So no shower, a little makeup, a little extra deodorant, a glass of wine in a to-go cup and we're out the door (that's a to-go cup for me...not husband who is driving).


"So, where do you want to go?" I say. He is driving suspiciously toward a neighborhood that I was not picturing for our date this evening.

"I thought of a place we could try" he says.

"But...could it maybe be in the city?" I say

"Uh...sure." U-turn.


Of course, Lalapalooza was going on in Grant Park this weekend so traffic was a little hairy. We passed the big sign and tried not to run over the thousands of people crossing the street. Small argument between husband and I over whether or not he was edging the car a little too close to the people who were crossing the street.


"So, how 'bout this place?" he says, pointing to a nice Italian joint.

"We're a little underdressed."

"Okay, how about this place?"

"Well, how about the mexican place. You love mexican."

"But do you really want that?"

"Sure...lets try it."


Carne asada for two, red sangria for two, a big load of chips and salsa, and we were ready to go home.


"Wait...I need gift cards for the church babyshower thing tomorrow...and cupcakes." So, of course, we end our date the way we end every date: wandering around Target.


At LEAST the kids will be in bed when we get home. Oh wait...naughty 3 year old is still up giving the sitter a hard time. And sitter says "your daughter went to bed really early...I think she may be sick." Marvelous.


Now the real question: had I had enough Sangria to overcome all the problems and still be ready for husband's hoped-for romantic encounter? Well, that's for me to know. ;) I'd tell you, but remember, I'm trying to "reign it in."


Saturday, August 2, 2008

Thank heaven for little (and big) boys!




Sam has become increasingly interested in (or should I say: completely biligerant about) picking out his own clothes. My daughter was never very picky about what I put on her, so this is pretty new to me. She has recently been requesting dresses and tights for some reason, but she can be easily talked out of it.

Not Sammy.

He has this huge idea in his head about what it's going to be. And, of course, because he's a boy, it's not about it looking good; it's about picking his favorite things like his "team shirts" or "shorts like daddy's" or "spiderman underpants" (so he can have "scary buns"). I'm not sure what today's outfit was about, but we have a babysitter tonight, so I think that in his mind he was dressing up for her. I'm sure Coco will be extremely impressed.

Also, since it is date night, my husband has suddenly become very helpful in the kitchen. I think a man putting the dishes from the dishwasher away is about the sexiest thing in the world. I think he's going to try to put the moves on me later or this would not be happening.

Just kidding....he's very helpful.


Friday, August 1, 2008

Downtown....things will be great when your Downtown!






Well, my 3 y/o has been begging for new running shoes (he hates sandals) so I finally relented and decided to make a fun day of it. We took the blue line (the subway) downtown to State Street to shop at the most lucrative shoe store that I ever step into: Payless! We ventured into Macy's just to peak on the 5th floor at the FAO Shwartz toy store. What could be more exciting than gigantic stuffed dinosaurs and unicorns? Only the $27,000 Batman made out of legos.


I tried to get cute pictures, but Sammy was holding himself in 90% of them, so here are the rest...except in the case of the Batman picture; he's still holding himself. Sorry!