Babies, Groundhogs, and the Superbowl

Y’all know by now how much I love a party, right? How much fun I can have just planning a party. I don’t even have to be invited to the party, I just like to plan. Colors, decorations, menu- all of it. I love me a good party. A good friend and I once nearly went into business together as event coordinators.

Fortunately, party planning has been plentiful in these parts lately. A few weeks after our annual New Year’s Eve party this year, I had the honor of helping to plan a baby shower for my very best and oldest friend in all the world. (I should rephrase; she’s not old. She’s just been my best friend basically since we were born.) She was my maid of honor in our wedding; I was the matron of honor in hers. She planned my baby shower, and now I’ve had the privilege of returning the favor in honor of her sweet baby girl, who made her grand appearance one week ago today.

When she announced her pregnancy, I told her I would help to throw her shower. Along with her mom, sister-in-law, and some of her close friends, we planned for a beautiful Sunday morning brunch shower to celebrate the mom-to-be and baby. Baby girl’s bedroom is decorated in a cactus theme; it’s rustic and funky and relaxing and slightly feminine without being over-the-top girly and “foufy.” For the shower, my friend asked for “pink and lots of flowers,” since the nursery didn’t follow the same theme.

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For the food, we went with a brunch theme. My mom helped me to make most of the food, rather than hiring a caterer. I made two pans of my reliable Overnight French Toast (I almost always have a pan or two of this in my freezer for guests or for a weekend my boys are asking for a big breakfast but I have neither the time nor the energy to produce one). I also made two quiches (quiches…that is the plural of quiche, right? It just sounds so weird to me. I always feel like I’m saying it wrong, but I’m not sure what I think it should be. Quiche? Like deer and moose- the plural doesn’t change? I don’t know. Chalk it up to the ramblings of a madwoman. Anyway… the quiches…) I made one ham and cheese, the other spinach and mushroom. In addition, we served three different kind of scones: cinnamon, chocolate chip, and cheddar rosemary. For the cheddar scones, I tweaked the recipe I found on the back of a bag of Great Value cheddar cheese. I also whipped up a batch of these Overnight Danish (I swapped out the cherry filling for blueberry). My mom made two batches of cinnamon rolls, and the cake and cupcakes, and we served all of this with a couple of fruit trays, and a big selection of juice to drink- including pink lemonade.

The shower came together nicely, and we managed to feed roughly 50 ladies with the food we made, and I think we made some good choices in the menu.

Once the shower was over, we still had a little over six weeks to wait for the sweet little love to arrive. I had helped mama-to-be with some suggestions for the nursery before the holidays, and it was so much fun to see it all come together with all of her shower gifts.

Here’s our inspiration board:

…And here’s how the nursery looked before its new inhabitant moved in:


(All photos of the finished room were taken and shared courtesy of LJM .)

Shortly after we wrapped on the baby shower, it was time for a double-header celebration weekend, with Groundhog Day and the Super Bowl. As native Punxsutawnians, Ryan and I have made it a tradition with our boys to make Groundhog Day kind of a big deal. I bake cookies shaped like groundhogs each year for the guys to take to work and school. I used to bake a regular sugar cookie recipe and cut out with my “authentic Punxsutawney Phil cookie cutter,” but a few years back our oldest son began requesting this molasses spice cookies recipe because a friend of the boys’ has an egg allergy, and this recipe doesn’t use eggs.

Immediately following Groundhog Day was the Super Bowl. None of us had a favorite team playing this year, but Super Bowl Sunday is still an excuse to whip up some junk food and throw a party, so that’s what we did. I had found Buffalo Wild Wings’ sauces at the grocery store, in all of our favorite flavors, so I bought some bone-in wings and attempted a crispy baked wings recipe. Another favorite in our house is Anne Burrell’s homemade potato chips. They’re time-consuming but so delicious, and the perfect accompaniment to those wings. Continuing with our party theme of “fat and carbs,” I also made a batch of homemade pretzel bites with a cheesy dipping sauce. And, to add something somewhat fresh and semi-healthy to the buffet (and because I felt like we needed some kind of pizza but I’d already covered main dishes and fat and carbs), I also made this fruit pizza.

For Christmas, I received my very own copy of Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Table cookbook. In it was a recipe for seasoned crackers that sounded intriguing, so I added that to our assortment as well, alongside my favorite cheeseball.

Please forgive me for being so late in posting all of these, friends. Life in La Casa de Merrow has been nothing short of crazy lately, and the days have slipped away faster than I’d realized.

Hoping you’re all surviving the lingering winter days, and that you’re seeing some sunshine where you are.

xoxo,

~d

Happy Valentine’s Day. I’m an Adult Now

Well, it’s official, y’all. I think I’ve finally become a real, mature adult.

It’s taken a few decades to get here, but I can honestly say that I truly recognized my maturity on this Valentine’s Day.

Ryan came home from work yesterday, a little freaked out after talking to other females he works with and hearing their expectations for Valentine’s Day. They asked him what he had planned for his wife, and he told them he didn’t have an extravagant plan. (He failed to mention that last weekend he had been trying to line up a sitter so we could sneak away somewhere for a little getaway).

My husband is really amazing that way. Valentine’s Day has never been a real thing for us. When I was younger, inexperienced in life and love, I wished for romantic Valentine’s Day surprises. When I was about 12 or 13, I decided I wanted a Valentine’s Day wedding because I thought it was the most romantic day of the year. When I discussed this plan with my aunt Sharon around that time, she pointed out that when you marry the right person, ANY day is the most romantic day of the year. So that plan fell by the wayside. Still, I sent Ryan telepathic Valentine’s Day messages that I wanted all of the wine and roses and chocolate and jewelry I could get, but never vocalized my desires because I wanted him to know all on his own what I wanted. He’s always delivered a small surprise: always chocolates, sometimes a small piece of jewelry, sometimes flowers, sometimes all of the above. But he’s notorious for surprising me with spontaneous romantic gestures on random days throughout the year. He doesn’t need a calendar or a big-label greeting card company to tell him when to extend a romantic gesture.

This morning I made my trip to shop for valentines for my family while they were at school and work. For Ryan I had decided on candy and frozen pizzas. Sounds weird, I know, but he’s been asking for pizza all week. So I thought if I bought frozen pizza, we could have a romantic pizza snack to ourselves after the boys went to bed. I bought the boys each a little box of candy- more than enough to supplement the sugar highs they all brought home from school- and called it a day on my shopping.

I was in the kitchen making a very non-exciting dinner of oven-fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, and homemade mac and cheese when my tall, handsome valentine walked in the door laden with grocery bags, a liquor store bag, and… a premade deli pizza.

I bust out laughing. He was so confused until I pulled his “valentine” out of the freezer. We congratulated ourselves on thinking so much alike, and he handed me the liquor store bag with not one but two bottles of my favorite wine. Then he started to unload the other grocery store bag. When he pulled out three miniature boxes of chocolates identical to the ones I’d purchased for the boys, we both started to laugh.

Friends, that moment- the moment of knowing that celebrating Valentine’s Day in the simplest way, with my four guys who piled on top of me yesterday morning and declared me their “Princess,” my favorite wine, chocolates, and frozen pizzas on the same night Grey’s Anatomy is on, is the only way I care to celebrate Valentine’s Day, ever- that moment was so clarifying.

I became a real adult today.

And it feels damn good.

Happy Valentine’s Day, my friends.

xoxo,

~d

Don’t Forget Thanksgiving!

It’s still fall, y’all.

Doesn’t look much like it outside, what with the white stuff covering the ground (already.  Again.  So soon after it went away.  Sniffle).  But seriously, it’s still fall.  That’s what the calendar says, anyway.

You can’t really tell from the store displays, either, or from the TV commercials and Hallmark movies and the Hallmark Christmas station on my XM radio.  But seriously, we still have four days till Thanksgiving.   Seriously.  Still fall.

Are you ready for Thanksgiving?  I love it.  It’s like a Farewell to Fall event- the opportunity to get together with family and sit around the table and just be thankful, before the full-blown chaos of the Christmas season sets in.

Fall decorations are my favorite.  The colors, the natural elements; you can decorate your home for fall almost exclusively from nature.  The changing leaves, the bare twigs, the pinecones, the assortment of squashes: pumpkins, acorn squash, butternut squash, spaghetti squash.. you can make a centerpiece from all of these things for super cheap!

My grandmother had the prettiest Thanksgiving dishes.  We used them every year, and seeing them even today makes me think of our family gatherings when she and my grandfather were still alive:

Blog- friendly villiage dishes

Friendly Village Dishes by Johnson Brothers.  Image via Google Images

 

Since we don’t typically host Thanksgiving, I don’t have holiday-specific dishes.  However, I do have enough versatility in my collection that I was able to round up a few ideas for you, in case you’re looking for simple ideas to set your table beautifully enough to keep your kinfolk gathered round (while the men do the dishes, amiright?)

Disclaimer: my decorating style is a little quirky.  I love mixing up different styles to add elegance to simplicity, a dash of modern to the traditional, or some country to the urban.   I guess that’s just me- a juxtaposition of contradicting ideas and styles.  Obviously, any of the ideas here could be changed around to include what you already have and to suit your own style and the mood of your gathering.  Play with it.  Have fun.  SHOP YOUR HOME! (or, as previously mentioned, your backyard.  Or your pantry.  Or your neighbor’s…with permission, of course).

 

 

I guess I should also add that in our home, almost everything has a story.  The plates in this setting, for example, are locally crafted near our town.  The candle holders are place card holders- leftover favors from our wedding.  And the turkey centerpieces and pumpkin napkin rings are ceramics my mom painted for us.  The glasses with the spiral design are vintage Libby glassware, inherited from the attic of a family friend.

 

This setting makes me think, “urban rustic,” with a more formal place setting (a discontinued pattern from Pier One, my favorite dishes), made modern with my favorite wine glasses- a prekids purchase from Crate & Barrel.   The absence of a tablecloth softens the formality of the dishes and brings a bit more rustic to the table. The tall candlesticks are also from Pier One, and those leaf candles were from the head table at our wedding.  The centerpiece is a collection of random items I collected from around our house- the candles, again, are from our wedding (a decade ago), and the plate was a gift that I’m too afraid to serve food from in a houseful of boys.  Under the candles and ribbon I’ve buried potpourri; this centerpiece is often on my dining room buffet.

 

 

I tend to think of this last setting as being more “traditional,” with the plain, solid color dishes and traditional stemware.  Mixing the styles of the plates- the round with the square- adds just a subtle enough twist to make it fun.  The pumpkin and napkin rings, again, are ones my mom painted for me.

 

There are so many ways to make your table inviting and pretty without purchasing special…everything.  Do any of these speak to you?

 

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.  May your holiday be full of food and love.

 

xoxo,

~d

Reason #408 why motherhood just may kill me

Wanna know how I spent the twins’ naptime today?

Putting clean sheets on the boys’ beds.

Seriously, the whole hour was consumed by putting sheets on three beds: twin bunks and a full size bed.  AN HOUR, friends.  Well, 50 minutes.  To put sheets on three beds.  The actual breakdown is probably closer to 45 minutes for the bunk beds, 5 minutes for the other one.  Still, there were a lot of other things I could’ve accomplished in that time.

Ever consider where bunk beds came from?  I have.  I’ve also pondered his painful demise.  Yes.  His.  Because it was certainly a man who invented those blasted things, knowing full well it’d be woman who would be changing the sheets the majority of the time.

We’ve had bunk beds in our house for almost a year, but we just stacked them two weeks ago.  I’ve changed the sheets three times now.  Every time I’ve damn near died.  The first time was a near concussion, lifting my head too fast while trying to raise the mattress to tuck the sheets.  The second time was the same day, when I came one step closer to a concussion by bashing my head off the ceiling while repeating the same process on the top bunk.  (Yes, I’m aware of the definition of insanity.)  The third time my socked foot slipped on the ladder while I was trying to smooth the wrinkles from the sheets and blankets and return all of the fuzzy friends to their happy home in the bed.

Repeat every week until the end of time.

To be fair, I totally get the functionality of bunk beds.  I’ve toured a few war ships in my day; I get that sometimes function and practicality has to be a priority.  We have three boys; space in our home needs to be used wisely as well.  Aesthetic be damned, I guess.  And, it’s a fun hideaway for all three; they’ll be entertained for hours, climbing up the ladder and hiding in the top bunk.  So, it’s kind of a no-brainer and a necessary evil.

We kept their beds separate and both close to the floor for as long as we could, until they started asking us weekly how long until we could bunk them.  It made sense to stack their beds; they’re getting bigger and they’re playing in their room more and more, and they need the floor space.  And they’re doing really well with the change.  Clearly, changing sheets has no effect on their perception of the intricacies of making a bed without headroom.  What do they know?  They’re three feet tall.

Just make sure my tombstone reads, “it was those damned bunk beds.”

 

xoxo,

~d

Que Sera, Sera

I love the saying, “Que sera, sera.”

While I’m a very firm believer that we’re all responsible for our own destiny, I believe even more firmly in divine intervention and a higher plan, a deeper meaning, and a purpose beyond the greatest limits of our imagination.  I think we should work hard toward our goals to make our own dreams come true.  I also believe that some circumstances are beyond our control and we have to know when to take a step back to see the bigger picture.

I went to college to learn to be an interior designer.  My family thought I should be a teacher, or possibly a writer, but my heart was set on design.  I finished college right before the recession of 2008 and jobs became hard to find- particularly jobs in a luxury service industry like interior design.  I had put all of my “eggs” in the basket of my internship with the VA hospital, an organization whose mission had solidified my belief that I’d found my highest purpose: using my passion to positively impact the healthcare experience of our nation’s heroes.  It was my dream job; I found my home with my mentors and coworkers within the hospital.  The additional perks were that it was a government position, with decent pay, lots of paid holidays, and a very decent retirement plan.

Alas, it was not meant to be, as a permanent position was not approved for me before the end of my internship, and the intern who came after me took the position.  By that time, I’d moved on to searching for my “place” elsewhere, in the midst of an economic downturn, and ended up leaving my dream behind in favor of any position that offered a paycheck.  I tried my hand in sales, knowing that my confidence needed the bolstering of clients’ rejection in addition to the extra practice of selling my own ideas.  The experience, while not one of my most pleasant, served the purpose I had intended, and one of my sales jobs actually led- completely unexpectedly-  to a management position, which helped my confidence issues even more.  I didn’t stay there long, though, as that job was only part-time.  My next venture was as an administrative assistant for an insurance company, where I sharpened my organizational skills and learned that I’m actually pretty good at keeping other people organized as well.  I learned a lot from this position, and was there until our field office was closed as a result of new corporate leadership.

At that time, a friend of ours recommended me for another- temporary- sales position with our local newspaper, introducing a trial program.  Knowing me outside of work, she knew my passion for writing, and she recommended me for an intense writing assignment as well.  The sales project failed to take off, however, and after a few months, that position was eliminated.

There is, believe it or not, a point to all of this rambling, and it does relate to the belief that sometimes, “whatever will be, will be.”  My point is, I started college with the goal of becoming an interior designer, then spent ten years after struggling to figure out how I’d make it happen.  After all these years and all the life experiences I’ve tucked into my (expanding) belt, I’ve made it to my 30’s, and just like every other 30-something who’s come before me has promised, I’ve found a confidence in myself to pursue my passion in a way that still allows me to be constantly present for my HIGHEST purpose.  I’m a wife and a mom first, above everything else.  My family depends on my experience in planning  and organization and leading operations to keep track of all of the things that need to be kept track of in a houseful of boys.  That’s my purpose.  And it’s pointed my ambition to create beautiful and functional spaces and to help others like me to do the same.

I’m pursuing interior design again, in a professional capacity.  I’ve been spending the last few weeks and months sharpening my skills in an electronic format.  I’ve learned that there’s a whole new approach to interior design that allows the client to submit their goals and visions for their space to a designer who can envision the space without being face-to-face.  AND, working this way allows me the flexibility to work from my house, while my boys play next to me, with all of us in our PJ’s.  OR, I can work at night when the house is quiet and I’ve fulfilled all of my domestic duties for the day.

One of my first practice projects is my vision for the office where I plan to set up shop, in my home:

My office_Office (1)My office_Office 1

2018-10-04 (2)2018-10-04

 

This “office” is actually a 25 square foot walk-in closet in the room we use as a guest bedroom.  The limited space and the lack of windows for natural light forced colors and shapes that will, I hope, inspire my creativity and help me to be at my greatest problem-solving capacity.

 

I’d love to hear your feedback!  Love it or hate it, tell me!  I’m a seasoned professional at accepting constructive criticism.

 

xoxo,

~d

Goodbye, Summer…until we meet again

It’s been a busy summer.  A trying summer, with two 3 year olds and a 5 year old at home all day every day.  My patience has been tested, and the guilt-meter has been off the charts, knowing every trying day is a day I’ll regret when they all go to school.

We’ve purchased three backpacks.  We’ve attended orientation for one, scheduled the other two, and fulfilled three school supply lists, gone school clothes shopping, and have filled the pantry with lunch and snack-packing supplies.

One week ago, my firstborn baby headed off to his first day of kindergarten.  Four days ago, he turned six.

He was calm, and he was ready for Kindergarten.  Way more ready than his mama.

He offered to get my camera ready for our traditional first-day-of-school shots.  He made his bed, made his own breakfast, brushed his teeth, dressed himself, and kissed us goodbye in the garage.  And then, when the bus came, he turned and gave me one last kiss and said, “I love you, mama,” and got on the bus without looking back.  That moment alone nearly killed me.  Each day since has gotten incrementally easier, but next week the twins are off to preschool and the cord-cutting process will begin all over again.

I’m sad to see summer end.  I’m sad to have to say goodbye to the warm days and sunshine and afternoons in the pool.  I’m sad to see the end of the last summer before all three boys are in school.

But I’m satisfied by what we accomplished this summer.  Our oldest boy is confident in his swimming abilities without his life vest.  The older twin is an independent swimmer with his life vest on.  And the littlest one isn’t far behind.  We played mini golf, spent a few days at the zoo, took a beach trip and visited a new aquarium and a battleship and a cave.  We squeezed in a few date nights, checked out a hot air balloon festival, spent several Sundays watching Ryan race his new go-kart.  We had play dates, took walks, hikes, and bike rides, and spent a lot of time in the pool.  Through all the tough and trying days of being at home with a five year old and two three year olds, we made a lot of memories this summer.

And now that they’re on their way back to school, I’m wrapping it up by fulfilling one last summer goal that had, until today, gone unmet: I’m sitting on the back deck, fresh out of the pool with a cold drink and my laptop.  I’m planning to focus more time on some exciting ideas: a new look for the blog is coming soon.  I have TWO secret projects under wraps, and I’m working on some new design projects that I hope to share on the blog in the coming months.  Stay tuned, friends.  Mama’s got free time on her hands, and it just might be fun…

 

xoxo,

~d

This Never-Ending Winter and my need for a change of scenery

We here in the northeast are experiencing the winter that won’t end.

It feels like it hasn’t stopped snowing since Halloween.  It feels like we’ve been trapped inside, staring at the same walls day after day, week after week, for half a year.  In a Facebook group I’m a member in, someone from Alaska commented last week that winter here has lasts for too long.  Alaska, people.  Let that sink in for a minute.

We’re trying to stay busy.  We’ve walked and been outside as often as we can, but sick kids and exposure to freezing temps aren’t always the best combo.  We planted seeds for veggie plants a few weeks ago.  The boys have a hockey net in the basement and can use that space to run off some extra energy.  T-ball season has started and we’re beginning to see a day or so a week that is suitable to be outside.  Regardless, we’re all tired of being inside. One day last week, upon returning from our errands, the boys filed out of my car and made a beeline for the driveway where big, fat snowflakes were beautifully, gracefully, tauntingly falling from the sky.  The three of them ran around in circles, arms spread wide, catching the flakes on their tongues.  It was heartwarming and beautiful, and I was so fulfilled to watch them, and yet…I’ll be just as fulfilled when I can sit in the grass and watch them roll up and down the driveway on their bikes, draw pictures on the concrete with sidewalk chalk, build castles and mountains in the sand, and push weeds from my flower beds in their big trucks while I soak up sun and heat.

But that’s just me.

In the meantime, I’ve stayed motivated by changing and reorganizing basically every room in our house in the last month.  I sometimes feel more energized when I rearrange things to change the flow and the way the light hits different aspects of a space.  That, in turn, gives me an idea of what accessory items are working for us and what we could maybe replace.

In our living room, for instance, I  played around with a completely different layout that seems to work really well for us.  What I noticed, though, is that we needed a new, larger area rug to tie the space together.  The rule of thumb for a rug is that it should touch all the pieces of furniture in the space to make it feel cohesive .  The rug we had isn’t big enough to do that; far too much of the floor was bare, which is not only an aesthetic problem, but a traction problem for our 12-year-old golden retriever.  She’s having a hard time getting up from the slippery floors after she’s been lying down.  So last weekend, we trooped into town, the five of us, for a family trip to Dick’s.  And I played the “Oh, but I’m the only girl, and can’t we please, please, PLEASE go to a fun store for me to look for house stuff?” card.  And we left with a rug.

I travel with the paint swatches we used on every wall in our house.  This way,  when I’m out and about, I always have the colors on hand to compare.  So, I pulled the swatches out of my purse in the middle of the store to check, and my three super manly boys and my one super manly man each grabbed a spot of the rug and trooped it to the checkout for me.

Another thing that I’ll be addressing in the living room is the blank wall above the sofa.  I’m currently searching for some artwork to frame and hang to make that more of a focal point.  My problem is deciding on what I want.  Because your space should tell your story, I don’t want something to just “put” there; I want it to be personal, have significance, and to tell a story about our family.  I have family portraits on the wall going up the stairs, so I’d like to do something artistic or inspiring in the living room.  My top ideas right now are to frame some photos of our town or from our travels and have them made into canvases, or blown up for large matted frames.  Because the sofa and curtains are neutral colors, I’d like to bring out the colors of the rug with the art…and then possibly repeat those same colors with some new throw pillows on the sofa and love seat.

I’d love to hear from you; does anyone else get suffocated by their surroundings when the weather keeps you confined in the same spaces?  How do you deal with it?  Are you painting?  Tackling a renovation project?  Replacing furniture or accessories?  Leave me a comment!

 

xoxo,

~d

 

 

You Are you being creative?

Once upon a time (a little over a year ago), a family friend asked me a question that repeats itself in my head every now and again:

“Are you being creative?”

This family friend is actually a friend of Ryan’s family. He’s known me for probably fourteen of the fifteen years I’ve been hanging out with Ryan’s family, and because they live a few states away, time together is pretty limited. To be honest, the question took me completely by surprise because of all those who know me well, nobody had ever asked me that before. Yet, that is undoubtedly what makes me tick: creativity. Crafting, writing, designing, cooking, and baking are my favorite outlets. And when life gets hectic, those are the things that take a backseat (well, except for cooking, obviously. I do feed my family.  But there’s a difference between creative cooking, and cooking just to put something on the table). As it turns out, in the absence of creativity, I tend to get crabby.

My husband is usually the one to catch onto the mood first, and is super amazing at offering me time, or space, or an outing, or coffee, to clear my head enough to zero in on whatever creative recess of my brain is itching.  He offers, very frequently, to take charge of our boys on the weekends to offer me the chance to get away and focus on my ideas.  Somehow, however, I haven’t yet figured out how to accept his offers and relinquish control to do it.  I’m pretty sure it’s not an uncommon thing for moms, but I feel guilty if I’m not doing it all: working, being home, keeping up with the messes three boys can make, feeding said boys, being present for bathtime, storytime, bedtime, and any other time I feel like I need to be present for.  It’s unrealistic, but I’m notorious for holding my expectations high.

 

Over the past few months, I’ve had the opportunity to take on a couple of different interior design projects.  The timing has been perfect, since the boys are getting a bit older and don’t require quite as much of my undivided time and attention these days.  They’re at an age where they will all play together, or find their own separate activities, which gives me a good chance to focus on other things.  And I’ve done it all from home, on my own time, without having to put the kids in daycare and be away from them all day (with the exception of a meeting here and there).

Guys, I feel like I’m on fire. I feel like letting out a little bit of creative energy has created brand new stores of creative energy that refuse to be kept in.  I feel like I’m reaching into the long-forgotten recesses of my brain to exercise atrophied muscles.  I’ve been calmer, yet more energized.  I’ve been patient.  I feel confident in a way I haven’t in a very long time.  My house isn’t any more of a disaster than usual.  My kids have been able to entertain themselves and one another in the room where I’m sitting to work. (OK, full disclosure: literally AS I typed that last sentence, half a pitcher of iced tea got spilled all over the refrigerator and the floor underneath.  I did not lose my cool.)

My point here, friends, is that somewhere in the midst of the creative process that’s required to complete a color scheme, floor plan, and idea board, I’ve gotten more creative.  How else do you explain starting a blog post on your phone while you’re waiting to pick your preschooler up from school?

So…

Are YOU being creative?

xoxox,

~d

An Anecdote on Strong Wills

My Aunt Sharon and Uncle Don used to take me for a week every summer. They’d plan wonderful, often also educational activities for us, like visiting Gettysburg National Park: touring Amish Country in Lancaster County, Pa; camping near Hersheypark; touring the state capital; and shopping. Always, always shopping with Aunt Sharon. I was two years old when they took me to New York City. I still remember calling the Statue of Liberty “the fake lady with the thing in her hand,” and wearing my heavy pink fur coat.

It wasn’t just for me; Aunt Sharon and Uncle always plan fun, educational experiences for anyone visiting them. One year, they planned a trip to tour a power plant for our family (there were probably 15 of us) when we stayed with them over Thanksgiving. When I brought Ryan to their house for the first time, they took us to explore the abandoned coal town of Centralia. They always know where to go and what to do that their guests will enjoy the most.

One of my first vacations with them, they took me to Lancaster, Pa, to see Amish country. I don’t remember it very clearly anymore but Aunt Sharon has told the story dozens of times so I know it well:

It was unseasonably cold that morning. I, being all of about four years old, decided I’d wear my pretty summer outfit (a shorts outfit with a sleeveless top, if memory serves). My aunt, with a few years of seasoned adulthood under her belt, advised I go for something more weather-appropriate, but I, already aware of the necessity to sacrifice comfort for beauty, had my mind made up. This led to a meltdown of sorts (ok, total meltdown), but Aunt Sharon wasn’t backing down. We argued a few rounds, and obviously I lost, and we still managed to have a fun day touring a one-room schoolhouse, a blacksmith shop, and sitting in an Amish buggy.

Last night, as I was helping the twins into their pj’s for bed, one of the boys asked for a certain pair of Lightning McQueen pajamas that he’d just worn two nights before. I already had another pair on him, and wouldn’t allow him to change. This led to a meltdown, of sorts (ok, total meltdown,) obviously, but I wasn’t backing down.

This morning I woke up to both twins in my bed. The twin who’d fought so hard over pj’s had had the presence of mind and the sheer determination of, well, his mother, to change into the aforementioned Lightning McQueen pajamas before I was alert enough to stop him.

Apples. They really don’t fall far from the tree, do they?

Busy

It’s a word that gets thrown around often.  Not just with me; we all use it.  Busy.  We’re ALL busy.  Caps, bold, italics.

“Sorry I never got back to you; I’ve been so busy!”

“How’s your summer?” “Busy!”

Me, personally?  It’s never occurred to me to keep track of how many times a day I say it, hear it, think it.

Any time I take my boys (three of them, all under age five) out in public?  At least one casual observer will offer a grin and a sympathetic “I bet you’re busy!”

When my husband reluctantly asks me to do a favor or take care of something household related because he works pretty crazy hours anymore?  “Babe, I know you’re busy enough already, but if you get a minute during naptime or whatever, could you…?”

When I look at the stack of library books on my nightstand or on the end table in the living room? “Ugh, if I wasn’t so busy, I’d be through those already!”

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A lot of my busy-ness is of my own making.  Apparently I took Aesop’s Fables a bit too literally as a child, because every time I ignore work to do something pleasurable, I’m reminded of the Grasshopper and the Ant.  Remember that story?  The ant worked and worked, never taking time off, while the grasshopper, all “Carpe Diem!” played and forgot to prepare for winter.  So when wintertime rolled around, the ant was warm and full, while the grasshopper died a cold, hungry death.

That must be it.  I hate being cold.  And hungry.

So I stay busy.  Not always particularly productive, but definitely busy.  And when I say busy, I pretty much mean in the sense that I start 349587348962 projects and approximately 2 get done.

Take, for instance, this spring.  I found an ant infestation in my spider plant (here we go with the ant theme again). So I carried the plant to our back deck, where I drowned those suckers out, then gave them a nice, healthy dose of old coffee grounds to show them I meant business.  Apparently, ants hate coffee.  So maybe I’m not as much like an ant as I thought.  Anyway… my spider plant.  I didn’t want to bring the ants back inside, so I let my plant sit on the deck for a couple of days.  It was still spring, and we weren’t finished having frost then, so a few leaves on my plant were sacrificed in the effort.  When I pulled them to make room for new growth, I put the dead leaves on top of last summer’s hanging basked from the deck, my Mother’s Day petunia from Ryan and the boys, which I never emptied last fall.

Fast forward to late July.  This past Saturday morning, Ryan took the boys with him to run an errand while I stayed home.  After they left, I wandered back to the deck to pick up yesterday’s swim suits and towels, and decided maybe it’s time to finally clean out that hanging basket.  What I found when I moved those dead spider plant leaves took me by surprise.

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My point is, yes, I’m busy.  We’re ALL busy.  Caps, bold, italics.  It’s not exclusively a parent thing, or a student thing, or a career thing or a sports thing or a…well, you get it.  Life is hectic, and messy, and crazy, and unpredictable.  And sometimes, under all that busy-ness, there are surprises budding that we aren’t expecting.

And aren’t those the best?

 

xoxox,

~d