Monday, June 21, 2010

Rolling the tape...

I'm a sap for anything sentimental. When I was pregnant with Grant, I would burst into tears anytime the Capital One commercial came on, playing Five for Fighting's "100 years". The thought of time passing so quickly immediately brought me to the verge of hysteria.

Today, I took the boys to see Toy Story 3.

(While I did get a few laughs out of the movie, I don't know that I would classify it as the "Breakout comedy of the summer". Maybe for the hard-hearted...)

The movie opened with footage of Andy, as a little guy, celebrating early birthdays and playing with beloved toys. Then the camera panned out, and you realized that this was video footage being replayed as Andy was preparing to leave for college. I should have taken that as a sign, and got up to leave right then and there. Instead, I stayed in my seat, and began hoarding the napkins. I knew I'd need them.

When the first Toy Story came out in 1995, I was single, young, and carefree. Some friends and I went to see it because we had nothing better to do on a Friday night. A touching tale about friendship, it took us all back to our own childhoods, full of hope and imagination.

Fast forward 15 years. The young boy in the first movie is all grown up. And so am I. I have three kids who are growing up right before my eyes. My oldest is preparing to enter middle school, and I know that in just a few short years, we'll be cleaning out her room in preparation for college. How does that happen so fast?

I won't spoil the ending for those who haven't seen the movie yet, but suffice it to say that I was sobbing, almost uncontrollably. Jack climbed on my lap, turned to me and whispered "Are those happy tears or sad tears?" I could barely answer...just sobbed out something resembling "A little of both". In his young mind, life drags by and his days are marked by when and what he'll eat next and how many times a day he gets to I can't possibly expect him to understand why I held onto him so tight.

I'll be pulling out the video camera a little more often from here on. I just wish that as director of my life's movie, I could yell "CUT" and stop the film from rolling quite so fast.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Going Overboard...A Blessing & A Curse

Anyone who knows me well knows that I love crafty projects. Not like the kind you buy in a kit, but coming up with my own. I feel very blessed that I have a creative mind, but sometimes it is a huge pain in the *** because I can't just do something halfway and be done with it.

Our swim team assigns team buddies to all swimmers. An older swimmer is paired up with a younger one, and they are supposed to encourage and cheer each other on throughout the season. From time to time throughout the season, buddies also trade gifts.

This Saturday's meet is our first home meet, and has a "Beach" theme. I came up with the clever idea of making personalized beach towels for Jack & Olivia's buddies. Sounds easy enough, right?

I bought a couple of $3.99 solid towels from Target, and tried out writing on them with a bleach pen. I was sure it would do the trick and look super cool with the color bleached out in the shape of each swimmer's name. Four hours and a wash load later, nothing had happened. I guess the cheap Target towels are also bleach proof...a good thing if you're using them in the house and want them to stay color safe...a bad thing if you're actually TRYING to bleach them!

I started thinking of other ways to accomplish what I wanted, and searched the aisles of the craft store for fabric paint that wouldn't be scratchy on a towel. I didn't want to freehand it, since I wasn't sure how wide the spray nozzle would span. I saw stencils next to the paint, and thought "Hey, I could do that!" So, I bought the paint and decided to give it a try.

First, I created a name stencil using old shelf liner paper and my Cricut. It took multiple tries to get the letters sized right, the blade depth just right, and the stencil placed in the center of the contact paper.

Then, I took the towels outside and placed the stencil on.

Using the Spray Stencil fabric paint, I lightly sprayed the stencil opening.

I let it dry for about an hour, pulled off the stencil, and voila! Success!

I contemplated trying to do the outline of a shark on the other end, but managed to restrain myself and leave well enough alone.

All in all, the project took about 6 hours. I messed up spraying one towel and had to make a second trip to the store for a new one.

I love that I'm creative and want to use that talent to benefit others. But sometimes—like today, when I'd rather have been just laying on a lounge chair with a book watching the kids swim—I wish that I could be satisfied with something less than original. Chances are, the kids' buddies would have been just as happy with a plain old beach towel.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Top 10 Things I Love About Summer Vacation

School's officially out for the summer. To commemorate, here are the top 10 reasons I love summer vacation:

10. The lunch boxes can gather dust in the cupboard, unused for weeks, except for the occasional outing or picnic.

9. I can work out in the morning without worrying about rushing, or then being too stinky to show my face on school campus.

8. There's time for these in the afternoon, giving me a couple of hours of quiet bliss.

7. It stays light until nearly 9:00 (I actually have a love/hate relationship with Daylight Savings Time. It makes the 8:00 bedtime hard to enforce, but I love saving on our electricity bill).

6. My kids can substitute swimming for a bath. This creates some awesome hairstyles.

5. I get to show off my cute pedicure and get a tan line from my flip flops.

4. No homework to supervise, Thursday folders to review, fundraisers to participate in, or research projects to do.

Jack with his recent report on Humpback Whales.
This project was due two days before our final move.
It was not my best work. But Jack thought it was awesome.

3. I can drag my laptop outside and write my weekly newspaper articles from a lounge chair with this view...

2. I can slack off and let my kids do all the chores, with only a little bit of bribery.

And the number 1 reason I love summer vacation...

1. It will eventually end!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Just like childbirth...only different!

Moving is a lot like having a baby, I've decided. Months of preparation lead up to the big event. The preparation is followed by several excruciatingly painful days. Then you spend several days not knowing which end is up and not remembering where you put anything and spontaneously bursting into tears. Then one morning, the pain is gone, and you wake up and think, "Hey, maybe that wasn't so bad after all..."

The last 5 months have been filled with all sorts of uncertainties and chaos. When we decided to put our house on the market back at the first of the year, it was with a specific house in mind. When that house fell through, we were pretty much devastated, and wondered if we were making a big mistake. The next several weeks were spent house hunting, praying, and trying not to panic.

In mid-March, we took a look at a house that had been on the market for a couple of months. The price had been significantly lowered, was in an ideal neighborhood, and we pretty much fell in love with it. It was everything we were looking for, and more. It was a short-sale situation, so we didn't have high hopes for a quick response when we submitted an offer. We had secured a month-to-month rental, had put most of our belongings in storage, and were ready to live lean for several months if necessary.

The day after we moved into the rental, and just two weeks after submitting our offer, we received the phone call that our offer had been accepted and approved by the bank. We had some hurdles to overcome with inspections and such, but one by one, things fell into place, and we finally closed escrow on May 21.

Two moves and 200+ boxes later, we are finally settling in. We still have a long ways to go in the decorating field, but it is feeling like home. We have amazing new neighbors, who welcomed us to the neighborhood with a gift certificate to a local restaurant ( awesome is that? We never even met most of the neighbors in our last house, and we were there for 6 years!). They have 2 sons, and our kids have already made friends.

After just 2 weeks, it already feels like home and we are thrilled with our decision!

Everyone has been asking to see here you go!

Front of the house

View from entry into dining room

The kitchen doesn't have much counter space...or cabinet space, but we have a big pantry and laundry room, which makes up for what the kitchen lacks. At some point down the road, I want to level off the bar and make one giant island.

This was the kitchen the morning after the move...

This is the kitchen now!

The kitchen dining area has a great view of the backyard.

The family room adjoins with the kitchen, into a "great" room.
I love being able to watch the morning news while packing lunches!

There is a larger-than-life mural on the wall going up the staircase. I'm still not sure about the nudity and passion displayed here (not to mention the leopard looking on...), but even more unsure what to do to replace it. We'll have to take some time to figure this out...

The view of the entry/living room from the second story balcony.
The high ceilings create some pretty cool acoustics for the piano.

We've got a playroom upstairs, and this is the kids' domain.
It's great having a central place for their toys, video games, movies, etc.
The biggest challenge is not having it turn into a "Disaster Zone"!

Our guest room is downstairs, away from the noise of the rest of the house.
Visitors are welcome!

There are lots of home improvement projects on the "to-do" list right now.
Steve has been busy!

The kids are having a ball with the pool.
I have a feeling we'll be spending a lot of time in the backyard this summer...