Endless Summer

It’s been a good summer. It’s been a busy summer. There was a good bit of traveling, a few camps, and lots of laughs. But you know, it’s time to return to our regularly scheduled programming. The school bus schedules arrived yesterday and every night this week there’s some event at each of their three separate schools to welcome back and introduce new teachers and friends. The long days of sleeping in, playing as many video games as Mom will allow and staying up late are drawing to a close.

I turned 49 this summer, and I don’t know if it’s this feeling like I’m on the downward slope of a roller coaster ride into 50, but I feel the need to make some changes, get a few things done. First thing is to get the house in order, just rearranging all the pieces that have just been sitting in places where they originally landed. Then I’m also getting myself in order, trying to exercise both body and mind more than I have in recent months…or years.

I started in the office, which looked like this:

 

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but now looks like this:

 

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Then, yesterday, I rearranged a junk drawer in the kitchen, though there are still two more of those left. Basically, I plan to be an organizational tsunami from one end of the house to the other, hopefully finishing the whole thing before the end of September.

But mostly, I am looking forward to the quiet that the school day brings to my life, a chance when I can gather my thoughts and actually follow through on them, or use the bathroom without hearing my name called on the other side of the door. I realize that some day, too soon, this will be the whole of my life, once the kids are grown and out of here. It’s not that I don’t cherish the moments of chaos, but I do love the quiet.

 

This is pretty much the story of every morning, when they are talking to me about who hit whom, who’s not being fair and what kind of breakfast they want, when all I can really think about is that first cup of coffee.

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Fantasy Island Type Beds for Kids

The Princess has always had hand-me-down mis-matched furniture in her room, so recently we decided to get her some pieces of her own. She wants a canopy bed, which is kind of hard to find if you are not looking for super-frilly, but I did find one, and some matching pieces at PBTeen. The stuff was a little pricey, but I figured it would last her until she goes to college, so I was willing to pay for the style and quality…until I got to the shipping. For three pieces of furniture and a mattress (without a box spring) it was almost $500 to have it delivered. And I’m sorry, but that’s just crazy talk. When we moved here two years ago, I had 9 rooms full of furniture, including a piano, plus a basement full of kids’ toys moved for a little over $1500. Nine rooms! So, I stopped myself, after asking if they could combine the shipping and being denied, from making a purchase.

From there, I went looking for alternatives, and was shocked to find some CRAZY outrageous kids’ beds that I thought I would share.

First of all, if I had the means, and it was available anywhere, this is the one I would buy for sure.

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TweenNick The Retreat Canopy Bed $3150

But three grand is nothing compared to some of these:

English Tudor Cottage Bed - $35,000

English Tudor Cottage Bed – $35,000

Princess Palace Bed

Princess Palace Playhouse – $47,000

Fantasy Coach Bed

Fantasy Coach Bed – $47,000

But if princesses aren’t your thing, how about a bed for the little prince?

Tropical Surf Shack Bunk Bed - $16,000

Tropical Surf Shack Bunk Bed – $16,000

Vintage Race Car Bed - $20,160

Vintage Race Car Bed – $20,160

Lighthouse Bed (Which also has drawers and a laundry hamper) - $16,150

Lighthouse Bed (Which also has drawers and a laundry hamper) – $16,150

Deep Space Fighter Bed - (Though let's face facts - it's an unliscenced Star Wars bed) - Priced on demand, and I am sure more than my car cost.

Deep Space Fighter Bed – (Though let’s face facts – it’s an unliscenced Star Wars bed) – Priced on demand, and I am sure more than my car cost.

Needless to say, I am continuing my search for the perfect bed for our Princess. Let me know if you found anything here for your kids…or self.


Playing Catch-Up With ThinkIt

One of the problems I have every year with these prompts is that it takes me a day or two to think of an answer. That being said, I’m sure you will look at a few of these and think, That took her time to come up with? Jeez. Click!

So, without further adieu…

December 3 – If you could meet someone new in 2013, who would it be? Or would you rather spend more time with someone you already know?

No, I do a pretty good job of socializing as it is. I’m kind of making a career of it. Who would I like to meet in 2013? Anyone but my maker.

December 4 – What was the wisest decision you made this year?

They ask this one every year, and if I can think of anything, it’s stupid material stuff. I got a minivan that has made it easier to load the kids into the car and has cut down the squabble factor. I bought a new toaster oven that seems to do the trick. I started Practice What You Pinterest, but I can’t say that has turned out to be wise. Decisions? I didn’t really make any major ones this year, and I make too many little ones every day to single any out.

Oh, wait! I decided to avoid MSG. It’s made a world of difference with my migraines. That counts as wise, right?

December 5 – Interview 3 people about their favorite moments of the year. Share what you heard.

This was a fun one, and I actually got several good answers:

Michelle H. said that her best moment was her sister’s wedding and seeing her own daughters all dressed up for the event. She also enjoyed a moment the day before the wedding when she threatened to bitch-slap her sister.

Nadia had two as well. First was the day (May 23, 2012) when she had lost enough weight to fit back into her wedding gown. (Way to go, Nadia! I’ve kissed my gown goodnight until my daughter can wear it.) And October 31st, when she had officially lost 100 pounds.

That is one FINE looking man.

That is one FINE looking man. I bet he smells better than cinnamon.

Robin said the day after Election Day was the best moment for her. (Yes, many of us felt we could breathe easier that day…)

Meredeth gave some silly story about her daughter becoming potty trained, until she remembered that she had met George Clooney. Not to belittle A’s milestone, but duh, M. I would deal with diapers for a decade to have that guy press his shoulder into mine like that.

Michelle M. enjoyed seeing her daughter graduate high school to go study veterinary medicine.

Several friends said that their moment was when Notre Dame beat USC to go to the National Championship.

Three friends had babies this year, so those moments trumped all the others for them.

Kelly’s daughter underwent surgery that changed her life for the better.

Bill got pulled onstage during a concert to sing and dance with the band.

Kevin had a great one too. He said his moment was seeing his wife present their son with his high school diploma on a stage, where they shared an affectionate whisper. It was a message. “Tell Dad,” the graduate said, “the Phillies are tied in the tenth.”

For me, there were a million little moments. Edison’s excitement waiting in the audience at Asbury Lanes for the Potter Puppet Pals to begin; watching Craig, one of my fellow potter_puppet_pals1wizards “bonding” with two “gnomes” made out of potatoes, while sitting on a bench looking serenely at the lake; laughing with Manfrengensen until tears came out of our eyes; asking Clooney whether I tell him I love him enough and his response, “Uh, duh”; laughs with my lady friends who lunch/and/or/breakfast at Panera; hearing my son referred to as “a ringer” during  a Quidditch match; meeting our new niece and our new nephew; almost passing out while driving Manfrengensen to the hospital after his bike accident; holding my daughter’s hand; watching her try on the shoes I wore to my wedding; The Book of Mormon. I’m surrounded by magic every single day.

December 6 – How do you want get involved in your community this year?

I did a lot this year to get involved in my community. I still cook once a month for a local soup kitchen, and I started teaching Sunday school. I will continue to do those things in the coming year, and I will look for other opportunities, chiefly ones that involve aiding the poor in our area.

So there, all caught up…now let me get to the myriad other things I have on the docket today.


Pinheads Revisited – Random Acts of Kindness Day 2

Pinheads Revisited – Random Acts of Kindness Day 2.


The Year In Pictures

It’s that time of year again, and this year, I really hope to keep up with ThinkIt’s Year-End Blog Wrap-Up. The prompt for December 1st is the Year in Pictures. I had a hard time reducing it to one moment, so I collected these, in no particular order:

This year, I discovered Pinterest, and have spent a good deal of time trying out ideas from the site and blogging about them.

This year, I discovered Pinterest, and have spent a good deal of time trying out ideas from the site and blogging about them.

Met this guy at PetSmart.

Met this guy at PetSmart.

Met this guy in the back yard.

Met this guy in the back yard.

Over the summer, I spent a week as a counselor at a wizard-themed camp. It was really fun, like working in an acting troupe for a week.

Over the summer, I spent a week as a counselor at a wizard-themed camp. It was really fun, like working in an acting troupe for a week.

We also discovered Breaking Bad this year and got all caught up on all five seasons so far.

We also discovered Breaking Bad this year and got all caught up on all five seasons so far.

Some of the best moments of the year were spent looking at this.

Some of the best moments of the year were spent looking at this.

Aaarghhh.

Aaarghhh.

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Is it me, or has this been the "Year of Bacon"?

Is it me, or has this been the “Year of Bacon”?

Family vacation

Family vacation

I’m surely leaving out many memories of the year, but hopefully they will come back to me as we continue this process over the next few weeks.


Homemade Halloween Costumes

This year I made costumes for the boys, and I was pretty happy with the way they turned out.

Clooney went dressed as a $100 bill. For this, I cut a box apart and attached a beach towel that had the bill’s image printed on it. I used staples to attach it, and then covered the staples with duct tape. The box had some creases in it, so I fortified those with popsicle sticks to keep the cardboard straight across his back. Duct tape was also used to make straps that went over his shoulders and through the back of the costume. Then I cut the real Ben Franklin out of the towel, and dressed Clooney up as the old man.

I also painted the back, using some leftover paint samples from when we painted the house and roughly sketched a facsimile of what’s on the back of the bill to finish it off.

Edison decided that he wanted to be a penny this year. At first, I was going to use cardboard, but then it turned out that a pop-up play tent  that belonged to The Princess had broken, so we were going to throw it away. The base of it was round, made of nylon, lightweight and shaped with a wire frame. So, I got some copper spray paint, and changed the color from purple to shiny new penny. Then I got some stick-on glitter letters and copied the penny’s words. (There were no upper case letters to be had, so I had to go all lower case, but worked out fine. People knew what he was.) We got a stick-on Abe beard (which I also spray painted) and used a little face paint to recreate the coin.

And I decorated the back as well.

Lots of fun! Hope you had a great Halloween too.


Brave Themed Birthday Party

The Princess recently turned seven, and this year, she wanted her party to be Brave-themed.

So I came up with some ideas that went with the theme. First we got some molded plastic crown goblets, along with gold paper plates, napkins and forks.

Then, I made Will O’ the Wisps, like the one Merida follows into the forest, using battery-operated tea lights, double-sided tape, some blue cellophane wrap and streamers.

First I put the double-sided tape around the edges of the tea lights,

and then I sort of randomly attached the cellophane.

Using more double-sided tape, I attached thin strips of white streamers under the cellophane. This was also good for folding parts of the cellophane to get a sort of rounded, billowy shape.

And then I used some white lanyard (because I couldn’t find the fishing line that I KNOW IS AROUND HERE SOMEWHERE!!) and hung them in a trail to the door of the party. They looked really great blowing in the breeze, and after the sun went down they looked really cool, as the little tea lights flickered in the night air.

I also made crowns (using paper crowns from the craft store and glue-on jewels) for all the girls. For the boys, I got some ear-headbands, though at this time of the year, I had trouble finding inexpensive bears and had to settle for mouse ears. The kids didn’t seem to mind. For goodie bags, I used gold paper bags, and inside of each was a little teddy bear, bullseye cookies from snack bakeshop and a little bow and arrow set that I made using popsicle sticks and Q-Tips. (Directions for those on Practice What You Pinterest) tomorrow.

For cake, I made little cupcakes that looked a bit like the one Queen Elinor eats that turns her into a bear, and these were butterscotch flavored cake with vanilla butter cream icing. To make the cake, I started with a basic white cake recipe, and then I added a box of Jello Butterscotch Pudding mix.

The cupcakes were baked for 20 minutes,

and once they had cooled, I put a ring around the top with vanilla butter cream icing.

Once all the rings had been placed, I took what was left of the frosting and added red food coloring. (I think that the center-circle of the cake in the movie might be red, but I couldn’t justify using the amount of food coloring it would take to make the icing red, thus mine were pink.) The pink icing was used then to fill the center circle on top of the cupcakes.

For games, we had a tug-of war, and I bought a little toy archery set. The kids had a nice competition to see who could hit the target, though it turned out to be more fun than it was competitive.

It was a really fun party, and The Princess had a great day. Though one other thing I forgot to mention: During the party, I set my iPod to play some Bagpipe music via Pandora Radio to go with the theme. One of the guests (or perhaps more than one…) kept turning it off though. Go figure.