Monday, February 23, 2009

Someday, boys...someday

Today was the boys' first day back in the swing of gymnastics since last summer. Alex is old enough now to be in the same class as Mickey, so instead of me trying to entertain him in a small space for 40 minutes while Mickey bee-bops around a roomy gym, he now gets to run around with his brother and they both get to crazify the instructor.

We arrived at the community center a full 20 minutes early...don't know why, we just did. I had it mapped in my head, though, I'd hit the vending machine and ration them cheese crackers until time for their class.

Seems that wasn't necessary after all. Since, when we walked into the community center, we heard bouncing balls and shouting.

The basketball gym was being used.

By ten 10-year-olds.

BOY ten-year-olds.

(Ten kids that looked just like their sports-lovin', basketball-playin' cousin. Who they believe hung the moon.)

Alex positioned himself at the door to their practicing and didn't move, even when I tried to coax him out with crackers.

So I gave up trying and corralled both of them all the way into the gym where empty bleachers greeted us. Without taking their eyes off the two coaches and ten players on the court, both boys sat down and continued studying the action for 20 solid minutes.

To them, I imagine it was like watching their cousin times 10...and they all had their OWN basketball. And someone to teach them how to use it. They must have thought it was heaven on earth...

Hmmm, hope those ten-year-olds don't mind an audience; they're about to get one for the next six weeks.

Friday, February 20, 2009

"How can I get me some o' that?"

The girls at 5 Minutes for Mom are at it again, this time with a photography twist...ya'll knew I'd have to get in on that! They're challenging us to shoot photos from unexpected angles to to add interest and variety. I like my little point-and-shoot digital camera for this very thing, since it has a flip-out screen that also twists so I can raise or lower my camera and still see what I'm shooting.

This feature allowed me to get this shot of Alex eyeballing his cousins' birthday cake last summer (that I did not make, or it would have squirrely writing all over it). Maybe the composition of it isn't stellar, but it captures that moment when I wasn't sure if he was going to swipe one finger across the icing or just sit and contemplate his next step.

(He ended up contemplating, not swiping. For once.)

For more cool photos, check 'em out at:


Well isn't that special...

Did you ever stop to think about how often you give yourself permission to indulge at mealtimes?

I did. It was scary.

Get the details over at

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Puh-leeze, cry me a river...

I know Mickey got a lot of attention at his birthday party, but seriously, did we deserve this from Alex?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The birthday goodies

Woo-hoo! I survived another Home Team birthday without purchasing a store-bought birthday cake. Although I came really close this time since I have not been feeling too domestic or creative or even much like opening up a can o' frosting.

But I did. And then some.

First, I've been talking about Bakerella's famous cake concoctions to so many people that I finally decided to take action...and came up with these little treats for Mickey's class at school on his birthday:

They don't look much like the perfect examples you'll see at Bakerella, but the concept is the same. I used vanilla cake and vanilla frosting and chocolate with sprinkles on the outside. Next time I'll be a little lighter on the sprinkles...some of them were so top heavy they were toppling out of the glasses.

But they made a lovely bouquet, which I'm sure all those five-year-olds stopped to view in wonderment before moving in for their take.

Really they were very easy to make...just a little time consuming, hence the boys stayed in their pajamas until noon on Monday. Come to think of it, so did I.

Then I set about to make a cake for our family party that night. Creativity? Zero. But the cake tasted good (which is an understatement: we are still forking the luscious leftovers tonight). And everything looks to be spelled correctly so I called it good. (This is the part where you forget you saw his real I need to keep reminding you of that?)

I know my boys won't stay little forever, and soon they'll catch on to the fact that birthday cakes can indeed come from Merritt's Bakery with intricate scenes of their favorite Marvel comics hero or their name written on it...straight.

But until then, let this be our secret. And let me continue letting them think their mom's a pastry chef. In training. Very early stages of training.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What Five looks like

Good morning, Mickey! I promise flash photography in the morning will only happen on your birthday. For the most part.

Thank you for being the sweet boy you are.

Happy Birthday.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Kids should have a Pain Transfer button to their moms

The other day I'm driving down Big Four Lane Highway on the way home from school with the boys.

Beautiful day.

Seemed like a great idea to crack the boys' back windows a couple of inches for some fresh air. So I did, and carefully remembered to hit the child-lock button so they wouldn't play the usual up/down, up/down, up/down with the electric window switches. That gets annoying.

Then I realized it wasn't such a great idea to have the window open...windier than I expected.

So I click the child-lock button. Raise up their windows. Click the child-lock button again.


Four of his fingers were caught in the window.

I frantically tried to click the child-lock button and get the window down while exiting Big Four Lane Highway and crossing two lanes of traffic to turn right to park in a handicap parking spot.

I felt very handicapped at the moment.

Finally some combination of my banging on the window buttons worked and the window released his fingers. After we got parked and I made sure nothing was bleeding or detached, I unbuckled him from his seat and held him until we both felt better.

Then I took him to the park where he did this for a looooonnng time.

And I watched him with that look of glee on his face as he played.

And I tried to imagine I hadn't just heard "Mommy, what are you doing?!!??!!" only five minutes before.

And really wished he would forget he'd been the one screaming it.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

New kid on the blog

I'd like ya'll to meet a new blog I've been reading...really for only a short time. I was captivated by Suburban Matron's writing style in this post about foil. That's right, foil. I nearly laughed out loud at the thought of my world being foil. But indeed it was.

I haven't caught up with her archives, but her posts of late are every bit as entertaining and well written as the one on...foil.

So I'm adding her to my lil' list at the your world can be rocked, too.


Learn, Love, Link at 5 Minutes for Mom

Ya'll know I'm always up for a contest, and this one has to be one of the most unique I've seen. My friends at 5 Minutes for Mom are encouraging their readers to share the link love with their mom-run sites. In return, lowly bloggers like me get a chance to win cool prizes.

So I perused the (seemingly endless) list of members on their site and found these gems:

QT Sunglasses is full of designer-inspired shades without the designer price, nice for those of us who "misplace" theirs often. They also have kids' styles: I think Mickey would love these (although they look just a little like a prop in Boogie Nights).

OnTray is a specially-designed tray that clips on to your shopping cart. It can hold snacks, coupons, a calulator, etc. I love the idea...although my boys are nearly too big to sit in the front of the cart, I can really see using this to hold the coupons I plan to use during that trip and as a writing surface for my list. May be a gadget I'm buying!

Check out 5 Minutes for Mom for more links to featured mom sites.

Fees, schmees!

Have you ever been annoyed at the fees and surcharges that are added to event ticket prices? Get the skinny on why these fees are charged in my post today at

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

WFMW: (Almost) new dining chairs for cheap

You can use fabric made for outdoor furniture for covering your dining chairs. It's highly durable and likes to hide out on clearance racks at upholstery stores. With this fabric, a staple gun, scissors, a measuring tape, and a screwdriver, you can easily give your dining chairs a new look for not a lotta dollas.

Now for the details. I was lucky. Extremely lucky. My mom friends and I had a garage sale last year (that's right: eight months ago) and during our pre- snatch-up-the-junk-before-the-sale-opens sale I snatched up a long length of outdoor furniture fabric for two dollars. I have, however, been thinking about this project for months and have perused a couple of upholstery stores. I saw a lot of possibilities for just a few dollars a yard (I planned to buy about four yards).

Then I happened upon this fabric at my garage sale and figured I wouldn't find a better deal on a neutral fabric. So this week I decided to finally release it from my crowded closet and either cover my six dining chairs like I intended or send it to the trash.

So rather than waste my (Pete's) hard-earned two dollars, I set about to put it to some use. Here we go, in pictures:

The "before" situation. Painful isn't it?

Don't be intimidated by your chair's array of bolts and screws. Search around for four screws only that attach the cushion to the chair. Or get Pete to come to your house and do it like he did for me.

This type of fabric cuts so easily. Allow plenty of overage around the cushion so you have plenty to pull and tug tightly. (FYI, this fabric measured 25 inches across.)

If you don't have one of these bad boys, you can buy one for about $13. I bought my staple gun about ten years ago...when I covered some other dining room chairs, come to think of it.

Pull the fabric tightly and EVENLY around one side. DO NOT try to curve it around the corners. Just do the sides for now. Trust me. Get your Bad Boy stapler and push it down on the edge of the fabric with all your might. Pull the trigger. Oooohhh, yeah!

Keep going around the sides, again don't worry about the corners. Pull the fabric as tightly as you can before stapling it to make sure it's nice and smooth on the other side. Also, don't worry about the number of staples you one except the dog will ever see the underside of your chair, and he's not judging.

Now for the corners. Gather up all the fabric in the corner, making sure to pull it as tightly as possible and taking care to smooth any gaps.

Pull the gathered fabric toward the middle of the seat as hard as you possibly can. Puuuullll! Haaarrrdd! Then get out your gun, aim, and fire. A lot of times.

It's not pretty, but it gets the job done. Add reinforcement staples where you think they're is not enough, for sure.

There ya go... a nice tight corner.

Four of them.

After its extreme makeover, the cushion fits back on the chair without any problems. With the screws, of course.

I also added two coats of fabric protector because something, some day, far away from now I hope...could be spilled on it.

And here's the fabric I had leftover, apparently a perfect hiding place for two little boys.

For more great Works for Me Wednesday tips, visit Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Grown up kids in New York City

(And no, there's no statute of limitation on posting a recap of a trip. Especially a freaking awesome trip like the one I took to New York City in January.)

So my two sisters and my two nieces toured the streets of New York City for three whirlwind days. I get home and I'm flipping through hundreds of pics and I realized: I was a kid for three days. As in...child. As in...the fact that I didn't have to bring children was one reason this trip was so Freaking Awesome. So this was a little confusing to me.

And yet while we were there we couldn't stay out of the very places my kids would have loved. Enjoy!

The wall of M&Ms: Alex's favorite food in the world.

Toys R Us.

Ice skating at Rockefeller childhood dream. More on that in a future post!

The only thing that could warm us up after skating.

My niece fulfilling her candy fantasy at FAO Schwarz.

This dude was constructed entirely out of jelly beans, which apparently live forever.

The Magnolia Bakery...better known as the place where sweet chocolate clouds are made.

I guess we did do one thing decidedly NOT kid-friendly. "Chicago" isn't exactly a fairy tale...

The language of choosing a school

For the past several months Pete and I have been discerning where to send Mickey for kindergarten next year.

We live within one minute of the public school Mickey would attend. Nearly walking distance...if there were no streets involved. Pete went to public schools his whole life and he turned out fine (mostly).

Then there's the option of sending him (and ultimately Alex) to a private school. There are three or four very reputable Catholic schools within ten minutes of our house...any of which would provide a solid elementary education with the bonus of Catholic education. I went to a Catholic elementary school and I turned out just fine (mostly). Part of me feels like my kids deserve a Catholic education: after all, I've been Catholic all my life and we're very active in our current church. I even got them an extra parishioner when Pete converted! But alas, no one at the Vatican keeps we'd still have to pay what amounts to an SUV payment each month. For one child.

And there's a third option: a public school with a language immersion program. True to the name, students are completely immersed in a learning language (you choose either Spanish or French) from Day One. All their core subjects are taught in the learning language. They learn to speak it and write it and understand it.

The kicker?

They don't focus on learning grammar, the ENGLISH kind, until mid-second grade.

The other kicker?

Pete and I don't speak Spanish. Or French. So helping with homework would be, shall we say, IMPOSSIBLE.

Still another kicker?

The school would like us to commit to sending our child there for six years, in order for him to get the entire benefit of the program.

That's a lot of kickers.

And it's the choice we're making for Mickey.

Okay, well, I should say it's the choice we're attempting to make. There's an application process...they open the school up to kindergartners from all over the district. I heard about 300 kids apply for roughly 160 spots.

Despite these seemingly unorthodox practices, Pete and I are convinced this type of school is worth the effort. We've spoken to several families and former students, and even teachers of former students, and their experiences seem to be nothing but positive. Some of the kids have gone on to learn third languages; at the very least they excel when they get to middle school and high school.

We've completed our application and we'll find out in March or April if Mickey is accepted. It's hard to imagine him coming home able to speak a different language than us...but I know if he goes through this program he'll be developing learning skills he'll use throughout his education.

So now the waiting begins, and if he isn't accepted we'll send him to the public school down the street. And I'm sure he'll turn out fine.


Monday, February 02, 2009

We all have our weaknesses

Everyone's got a weekly feature of some sort on their blogs. Except me. I'm starting "Wish I Had One of These" Tuesdays.

Behold, the first entry: