Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!  I hope you had a wonderful day filled with love, family and friends!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Thoughts on Newtown


As this story unfolds from the faraway, I never even knew it existed Newtown, Connecticut, I’m jumbled.  How do you process this unimaginable tragedy?  How do you express what you’re thinking and what you are feeling? And how to explain to your kids without freaking them out along the way?   I don’t remember the “How to Speak so Your Child will Listen when a Maniac has Destroyed the Lives of an Entire Community” unit in Family Life studies.


And brokenness.

Friday I caught a glimpse of the report on the homepage of my computer.  A glimpse because even seeing the headline I thought to myself

“I can’t read that.” 

Turning the channel at lunch in the kitchen because the news channel and live coverage and somber reporters were on.

“I can’t watch this.” 

And later, passing through the kitchen again now with a group of co-workers gathered watching the coverage.

“I CAN'T watch this.” 

But finally turning again to my computer and reading and watching and sobbing at my desk.
And when I could take no more, walking away from it.

Except Newtown couldn’t walk away.

And coming back again, my heart aching and broken and wanting nothing more than to go home and hug my boys and never letting them go.

Except so many at Sandy Hook couldn’t go home and hug their kids and never let them go.


And shock.

How does something like this happen?

Wise angry words from Colten, my 14 year old:

“Don’t people realize that going out and killing a bunch of other people who have nothing to do with what is bothering them is just stupid?  They didn’t do anything to him.”

Emergency Family Night was declared and we all snuggled on the couch and watched TV and ate pizza and watched a movie.

Josh, my 10 year old worrier.  Still afraid of the dark “because it’s dark” and “bad things happen in the dark”.  Now he sees that bad things happen all the time. 

“Mom, you know I’m not going to be able to sleep tonight.  This is too scary.”

So we both camped out on the couch.

And morning came and we all hugged more and said extra “I love you”s.


And confusion.

I keep asking myself how different that day would have played out if someone, anyone had means to stop this kid before he could even get past the office. 

How? A gun? A taser at least? Office doors that require codes or cards or buzzers to let you in?  Does my kids’ schools even have these things?  And why would they?  Why do you need high security clearance to get in a school?

Because there is madness out there.  Crazy minds and dark forces and things I don’t want to think about.

Or read.

Or watch.


And worry.

As Monday came and I had to watch Colten walk off into school and drop Josh off at his friend’s house before school.  Were they worried even though they didn’t say anything?  How would this day be different?  What would be said at school? Would they be safe?

And so along with my usual “Have a good day.  I love you.”  I’ve added “Be safe.”


And hope.

For comfort. 

For those families.

For that community.

For you.

For my kids. 

For me.

And we hurt and heal and grow and change. 

And we hope for change so this doesn’t happen again.

And we remember that life continues, even when it is ended.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

On Weight-y Issues

For the most part, and on most days I’m ok with where I am with my weight issues.  I don’t know that it’s fair to call them struggles because it’s not like I’m really trying to lose weight right now.  "Struggles" implies to me that I'm doing everything I can and nothing is happening.  I half-heartedly say I’d like to lose weight and that I need to eat better and get back to running and sign up for the dang Zumba class already.  But when it is all said and done, I still stick that cookie or chocolate bar or cake or fried-glorious-whatever in my mouth and promptly sit my ass down for another episode of Cake Boss.

And usually I’m ok with that.
Until this weekend.
I went shopping.
I knew it was inevitable.  I couldn’t cram my ass into those size 10s forever…  And the fact that I would willingly go a week without washing them because nothing is worse than freshly washed jeans...  Especially when they don’t really fit that well when they are stretched out and comfy.

So I bought a couple of pairs of jeans in a 12.  I had been wanting a pair of dark wash skinny jeans and I found the most comfortable pair at WalMart of all places.  They are Levi’s “Curvy Skinny” - The hips and thighs are cut curvy and the legs are skinny.  And I bought a pair of just normal jeans for whenever. 

I knew we were going out with some friends that night and I was SO excited to wear those skinny jeans.  So I put them on, put the sweater on I thought I wanted to wear with them. 


It looked like crap. 

Muffin top that wouldn’t quit even with my new tank top that is supposed to help with tummy control and only made more rolls in odd places.  I really wanted to kind of dress up and it just wasn’t working.  I went through 3 different outfits at least 2 different times and in the end I ended up wearing my usual old Ohio State sweatshirt and the whenever jeans.  Blah. 

Plus my hair was being rude, but that’s another whine story.

That episode really sent me for a tailspin.  The rest of the weekend was grumpy after that. 

I managed to get out of the house to go grocery shopping alone on Sunday.  I decided I probably needed to find some larger tops also since the ones I have aren’t fitting as well either.  I hit up my favorite thrift store and scoured the aisles to find nothing.  Well, I did get another pair of whenever jeans in a 14 that unfortunately fit much better than even the 12s did.  But everything on the racks seemed to be mocking my pain and flabbiness and just being all wrong.

Lesson learned. Don’t go shopping grumpy.

I had also planned to do some Christmas shopping but by the time I was done with the spiteful thrift store and got our food from the way too crowded WalMart, there was NO WAY I was doing that. 

I just wanted to wallow in my self-pity. 

And I did.

And then I got over it.

The truth is I’m the one who has allowed myself to get back to this place.  This place where I was when I started Weight Watchers and lost 20 lbs.  This place where I eat for comfort and pleasure.  This place where I am uncomfortable in most of my clothes.  This place where I try to think of a way I could convince my boss to let us all come to work in our sweat pants and t-shirts because they don’t pinch our navel rings and belly rolls.

And all that is on me.  And the only way it is going to change… again… is if I choose to change it.

I can’t say that I’m there yet, but I’m taking baby steps. 

I started tracking my food on myfitnesspal.com again.  And I purchased a lot of veggies and fruit instead of chips and candy. I stopped buying that Pepsi at work, and I remembered the way that I could still get my afternoon chocolate fix - it’s a disease I tell you! - without eating my weight in calories. 
© The Hershey Company

Hershey’s Bliss dark chocolate squares.  It doesn’t take much to fulfill that craving and they are only 35 calories each.

Am I running?  Not yet.  Zumba? Not yet. I did look it up though and I am going to sign up for the new session that starts January 7th.

So I’m at that point that I’m no longer comfortable with where I am.  And things are changing I am changing things to get me back to that point. 

In the meantime, I am reminding myself of one of my many mantra’s that I have hanging in my cube at work…

I love who I am inside and out right here, right now.

Even if I feel like this…

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Creating Rustic Snowman Art

We have an extraordinary pile of wood in our backyard.  The wood is for our firepit, and the majority of it is from pallets that Adrian has brought home from work.  It makes great firewood, but I have had an itching to make something with it ever since he started bringing it home.  You know I wanted to do something with the mantel to add some height to the snowman collection I put up there.  And so, I got creative.

First, I found some boards that I liked and got a hammer and some nails.

I just eyeballed how wide I wanted it to be and figured out which side of each board I wanted facing out.  For the most part this was the most rustic looking side.  Then, I laid another board diagonally across the other board to secure them all together.

It didn't take Colten and I long to figure out that neither one of us could hammer a nail straight into the boards to save our lives.  So 6 bent nails later, I got some screws and the cordless drill. 

I might not be able to nail, but I sure can screw. Heh-heh.

My next revelation was that one board diagonally across 5 others is not going to hold the boards securely.  A bit more brainstorming and I decided that what I needed was a couple of larger branches to frame the front of the boards and at the same time, secure the boards down.

Colten helped me screw through the back of the boards and into the branches on the front.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~* Time for a cute break*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

It's VERY important that you have all the necessary supervisors when taking on a project such as this.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~* ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
On a sheet of poster board I traced two plates since I lack the ability to draw a circle.  I've got the crafty part down, but I've never been very artsy.

I cut out the circles and *ta-da* snowman stencil. 

I moved down to the yard and got my white spray paint.  I sprayed a layer of paint and let it dry.  I repeated this 2 more times since the wood was very absorbent.  If you wanted a more solid look, you could use a primer first.  I wanted the wood to show through though.

I also had a can of glitter paint that I sprayed over the entire piece.

I moved the piece to the garage to dry and let the fumes go away since it was too chilly outside for the paint to dry properly.  I let it dry for 2 days and then brought it inside to add the finishing touches.

I bought some buttons and hot glued them to the snowman to add some dimension to him.  Let's hear it for hot pink polka dotted glue guns!

I decided that having him look off to the side would be a nice change from the usual straight on snowman.  Of course Colten asked if the snowman had been in some kind of freak accident and that's why his face was crooked.  *sigh*  Teenagers.

I let the glue set up and very excitedly moved him to the living room.

A bit of rearranging and he found his home in the middle of the mantle.

What do you think?



An added poinsettia also helps add some color and texture.  My Joy sign doesn't feel quite as out of place anymore either.  I still feel like I would like to have a big wreath up there instead of the Joy sign, but for now, it works and I really like it! 

So what kind of decorating have you been doing?  Have you created any rustic Christmas art?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Charlie Brown Tree

Living in apartments for the last 4 years, we had to make due with this little guy.  I hated to not use him now that we have the space, so I designated him as the man cave tree.  Adrian has a collection of Star Trek ornaments that I seem to have a hard time finding a place for, so now, they have their very own tree.  I think this is a work in progress though.  He can really go crazy on his Fan Boy tree.

 Here's the Enterprise from Next Generation...

And the Romulan Bird of Prey.  He also has the Klingon Bird of Prey and the Enterprise from Deep Space Nine...

And Bubble Lights...

And the ultimate tree topper - Darth Vader's Tie Fighter.  We definitely need more Star Wars representation on this tree!

I think we are going to try and make these ornaments I saw on Pinterest.  We have tons of Legos.  So this should be fun.  

Lego Ornaments

Today was gorgeous out!  December 2nd and 66°.  Crazy.  I could handle a whole winter like this!

Colten has a Science project on fossils he is working on so step one was find a fossil.  We headed down to the creek across the street from the house and had an expedition.

We brought along a hammer and screwdriver to dislodge any fossils we found. 

Whether he was actually looking for fossils in this rock or not is questionable, but he really enjoyed chiseling it apart.

Colten found this little rock with 2 shell fossils in it.  We also found another shell fossil in the big rocks.  He's going to take them both in to school, then decide which one to do his report on.

I thought the mushrooms on this downed trunk were really cool.  They were huge!  I should have made one of the boys stand there for scale.  I would guess they were as big as a dinner plate at least.  I looked them up and they are polysphore shelf mushrooms.

I got some great ideas on what to do with the mantel.  Thanks for sharing your ideas on Facebook.  You can also comment here if you like.  I have an idea of what I want to do, but I just need to find the time to make it happen.  Of course I'll show you when I do.

What did you do with this weekend?  Was the weather great where you are too?  Did you find any fungis with your fun guys?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Not So Black Friday

At our house, as it was at my house growing up, the day after Thanksgiving is for decorating for Christmas.  I was so excited to decorate this year since it is our first year in our home.  I got to use our big tree and not the Charlie Brown tree we used in the apartment.  We had our friend Mark come put colored lights on our roof line.

Here's the front of the house from the road.  Mark gets those lights in such a straight line.  So nice!

And a closer view of the front window.

We inherited the snowman from Adrian's folks.  He was a bit dusty, but nothing a Magic Eraser couldn't fix.

Bright and shiny!


I LOVE our new fireplace!  This was one of the things I was most looking forward to and it came out great!

 I put all of my snowmen on the mantle.  I love snowmen.  I know...  I don't like winter, but I love snowmen.  Going to have to come up with a way to make snowmen that doesn't involve cold weather.

I feel like this needs something else, or something different, but I'm not sure what.  More height differences?  I feel like it's all on one level.  Any ideas?
 Here's our kitchen table and the wall opposite the table. 

I like to switch out our usual art, in this case some coffee prints, for Christmas art. 

And finally, our tree.  It looks so pretty in our front window! 
I really like how the top window afforded me the opportunity to hang the wreath. I used a regular door wreath hanger.  It was skinny enough to fit behind the molding on top of the window, then I just bent it to wrap around the frame and hang next to the window itself.  The wreath is hung backwards so the majority of the lights show from the outside, but you can still see them from inside too.

Here are a few of my favorite ornaments.

Our First Christmas - as a married couple.

Colten's First Christmas - I can't believe it's been 14 years.

Joshua's First Christmas - 10 years on this one.  This ornament is actually a little book that I filled out about what we did and who we saw on Christmas.  Being 3 months old, Josh mostly slept and nursed.  But I'm glad I have the memories in writing.

And our tree topper - Miss Angel.  She's so pretty.
If you look closely at the bottom of the picture of the tree up there, you can see a little bit of white and grey fluff.  I think the kitties are the most excited about this new play structure full of dangling toys.  Thankfully, most of my ornaments are not breakable, so they are ok to swat them around.  They love this dangley jingle bell and the ball hanging at the very right of the this picture.  We've had a couple of crazy chases involving the tree as base.  I put an end to that madness, and now they just stay on the lower branches to play.

 Ack!  They are so stinking cute! Let's be clear...  We are NOT cat people.  We've always had dogs.  We are C.R.A.Z.Y. about Gwennie, our English Bulldog.  We love our friends' dogs and any other dog we happen across.

 But cats?  We tolerated our friends' cats, but never dreamed we be so in love with a cat (or two).  I'm not sure how this has happened.  We still maintain that we are not cat people.  We just happen to be our cats' people.  

So that's our Black Friday tradition.  What about you?  Do you brave the shopping masses or stay home and decorate?  Any crazy critters in your life keeping you on your toes and tugging your heart strings?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Sputs and Sputters

I can't seem to get this blog up and running with any consistency.  I think I need to actually set myself a schedule to get this done.  I just looked back and my last post was on Sept 17!!?!?!    So I've got a lot of updating to do...


And also the white bench and side tables.  I much prefer them in color.  Although, since my in-laws moved into their new home, we returned their deck furniture to them (a bench, two chairs and a coffee table) and now our deck is pretty empty.  We do have more chairs, but they are all living around the fire pit now that it is fall.

Here are a couple more shots of the deck and a before/after for full effect.

I put two coats on the deck floor.  The second coat being pretty thick so it could soak into all the cracks and crevices.  I had noticed that the first coat was already peeling up in some spots when it rained, so I wanted to be sure to have full coverage.

 It seems to have worked well.

BEFORE: Grey blah...

AFTER:  Tan Ta-da!

I am thinking about adding some paint accents to the deck and/or a rug.  Something to warm it up a bit and add texture.  Also, this color is showing dirt. A lot.  I like the color, but didn't count on this.  Hopefully adding some other elements like more furniture and a rug will help with that little issue.
I'm thinking accents in a dark brown and either blue (like the side tables) or green. Maybe both!  But with cooler weather here and colder weather approaching, that will most likely be a spring project.

Speaking of projects, I have so many ideas flying around in my brain.  Here is the current list.


Outside things to do (in no particular order):

Curb Appeal:
Paint shutter, front door, railings?
Flower boxes (same color as shutters) under the boys windows and big window
3 Azaleas and 2 Spireas under front window
Something taller on either side of window
Raised beds around trees
Trim lower branches

Paint deck
Enclose bottom of deck with trellises
Hummingbird/butterfly garden surrounding deck
Raised vegetable garden
Terraced flower beds up the hill w/steps to upper lawn
Doggie door
Paint shed
Lower patio
Pergola over deck
Upgraded fence
Hot tub

Reside house in better color
Inside things to do:

Master Suite:
Remove wallpaper border
Door for bathroom - barn door
New cabinet pulls
Paint (moody grey?)

Living Room:
Redo (paint or new) fireplace surround
Family pictures wall going to basement
More seating in living room
Paint (muted blue?)

Boys Rooms:
Paint boys rooms
Closet organizer for Colten
Reconfigure Josh's closet organizer
Bed frames
New bed for Colten
New curtains

Flush regulators in all
Paint main bathroom
Replace switch plate
Replace shower curtain rod
New cabinet pulls

Movie Room

Exercise Room

New cabinet pulls
Repair flooring
Paint (sage green?)

So a couple of things are done.  A lot of these are inside projects that we already determined were being saved for winter.  That makes me actually excited for the cooler weather.  I'm not a big fan of winter normally.

So, what are you working on?  Any long drawn out projects that keep getting derailed by the weather? What are your winter project plans?