Baby Torture

First, you find an older brother avoiding homework.
He sits on you and holds your arms, in a typical torture hold.
He cajoles his drooly baby brother to come join the fun. Baby brother spots good flesh when he sees it, and cooperates excitedly.
He kisses. Wetly.
He mauls. Not gently.
He threatens. As only he can do.
Mission accomplished.
(Don't worry...we got him back. But I had put my camera down.)


Happy Birthday Dad! Random Pictures To Express My Birthday Wishes

I know that looking at photos of stranger's relatives is probably just the most boring thing ever, but today is my Dad's 71st birthday. So you HAVE to today.

See my Dad down there? He's the second to the last. Isn't he the cutest little boy ever? Sorry about the sideways photo, but that's the way it was taken. I have no idea why, but I'm sure there's a great story behind it.
Here he is when he joined the Marine Corp.  And when he married my mom. 
The VW Bug below is one of those little things I remember. My Dad owned several over the course of my childhood.. I remember how the leather seat in the back smelled, especially when warmed by the sun. My sisters and I would squish back there, and my Dad would drive us to Sports Haven for 'soft custard'.  I'd get a vanilla and my older sister would say, "Who likes just plain vanilla?" I do.
Here's my Dad reading to me and I remember my Dad combing out my long hair, because it was the most tangly hair you ever heard of. No More Tangles wouldn't touch it. He'd watch 60 minutes and I still love that sound of that ticking watch. Even though to a young girl that was just about the most boring show ever. (By the way, cool couch, huh?)
Here's a weird photo with terrible composition. But it's important. About 20 feet behind my Dad, in those palm trees, is a large red ant hill, just waiting for that cute little girl in the picture to step in it and scream bloody murder while the ants crawled up her leg and bit her hundreds of times. My Dad had me out of there in a flash and stuck my legs in a lobster pot of ice water. Those ant bites hurt like hell...which is probably why I remember it. And it made my parents feel sorry for me. And who doesn't love it when their parents feel sorry for them? This next photo is taken in front of the oldest school house in St. Augustine, Florida. The school house was kind of scary with a dark closet where the bad kids had to sit and the dunce cap and all. That was a little too much for sensitive me. But I LOVED this trip. First, because my mom bought us matching clothes, each girl with a particular color.
I love matching.
Second, because my Dad let us each pick something out at the school house gift shop. Spending frivolously on unnecessary things was not a big part of my youth. So I spent a long time picking out what I wanted. 
It was a pick leathery-plastic wallet with plastic stitching on the border and a picture of palm trees on the front with St. Augustine written on it. I loved that thing.
My Dad would do anything for anybody. Seriously, he would. And he'd do it that day. He still chops wood and clears land and plants huge gardens. 
Here's a pic of him last Thanksgiving sledding down the big hill with all the grandkids.
You can see that his age really tampers his activity level.
Thanksgiving pic again. He cut down this tree. No, he didn't really. But he could if you asked him to. He'd never leave it laying there though. It would have been cut and chopped and stacked neatly by your front door an hour after it hit the ground. Or maybe you would prefer a small log cabin instead? He could do that in his sleep.
Jeff and I always say, with my Dad, you could survive any catastrope. He's the one to pick if you're the last one standing. You'd have food, water and shelter in no time.

Happy Birthday Dad!


How To Paint Dining Room Furniture

My dining room was ordinary and boring and really really bland.
The entire dining room set was a second hand deal.  I loved the lines, but wanted to update it a bit.

I decided to give the furniture a coat of paint and paint the walls blue.

Here's how I did it.

How To Paint Your Dining Room Furniture

1. Go to a store and buy these things:

I went to Sherwin Williams. I have a thing for SW Oil Enamel in a Satin Finish. It goes on so beautiful and smooth and easy with just the right sheen. Do NOT get cheap paint. You will hate this project if you do. (1 quart of SW oil enamel is only around $15 and was plenty of paint.) Latex is easier and environmentally friendly and not so smelly, but this is dining room furniture and I did not want it easily scratched, chipped, etc. (If you insist on using latex paint, just make sure it is enamel so you have a super smooth finish.)

2. Concerning the sandpaper...buy medium grade, and buy a sander like the one above...NOT a spongy, soft sander...you don't want to be able to bend it. Using a traditional block sander like the one above will give you a nice edge when distressing. The sponge sanders tend to leave too many scratch marks around the nice little wood peaking through.

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING: Buy a GOOD paint brush. Spend around $15-$20. This (and the paint) is the key to making your furniture look like it has a professional, store-bought finish.

3. Unscrew the chair pads and put them aside. Unscrew any knobs on sideboards etc. Layout a huge dropcloth under the furniture. I used the sandpaper thingy and sanded only the top of the table and the top and the sides of the sideboard. I sanded them just enough to dull the surface. You don't want "SHINY" anywhere. My furniture was dull and old so I got out of this part easy. When you are finished, make sure to wipe off the surfaces well so there is no sanding dust anywhere. (I've been asked if I primed my furniture. NO! You don't want to prime, paint, then distress, or your white primer will show up when you distress. Like white granny underwear showing!)

4. Open a window for ventilation. I painted the sideboard first, then the chairs and then the table. I put on the first coat, let it dry and then touched up spots I missed the first time because I went so fast and didn't notice I missed some areas on the chair. You can probably get away with just doing one coat if you are careful.

5. After the paint is TOTALLY dry, take your sandpaper thingy and lightly sand the edges to create the distressed look. Do not be nervous about this...it's so easy. Hold your sander so it just touches the edge and rub back and forth...stick with the edges only of every piece, go light at first till you see the wood peeking through. You can do as little or as much as your prefer. Start with a chair till you get the hang of it.

6. Optional But Highly Recommended Step: Because my DR is not a show room by any means, I wanted to take this extra stop to ensure a kid-proof table top. After I completed all the steps above I put a coat of polyurethane on the table top only. Make sure you get POLY urethane...that means it's OIL based, just like your paint. You need just a pint size if you just do the top like I did. Make sure you use the tackcloth you bought and go over the surface very well so you don't get tiny dust particles showing. I didn't sand it...just wiped it clean with the tack cloth. You can use the same brush you used for the black paint, if you wash it out with mineral spirits. I was too lazy to do that...I just bought a second brush and threw them both out when I was finished. Polyurethane is a little tricky..it's sort of sticky and thick to put on. Stir the can gently, use a good brush, and quickly put a nice smooth coat on, not missing any areas. Don't overbrush.
PS. After 6 months, I have not had one scratch or chip! Still good as new.


Yard Panic

Every year about this time, when a burst of warm weather hits, I stand in the yard and panic. It looks so ugly. Brown soggy grass, leaves everywhere, no green at all. What if it stays like this, I think. What if the grass doesn't grow and turn green, the branches don't burst with buds, and my perennials never come back? And look at all the work that needs to be done. Where to begin?


Poor George

Patrick tries endlessly to get this little wooden ball in Curious George's tin box. I have no idea why he deems it necessary to shove it down George's throat, but he will not be defeated. See the look in his eye? Slightly puzzled but determined, nonetheless.


Lock Down

The other day I found myself in the hardware aisle, purchasing, once again, these:

It's not the first time, but it may be the last.
I've been waiting to throw open the windows and the doors and let the fresh air come in.
But not so fast.
I've got an escape artist in the house, one who has absolutely no regard for his life or the heart or mind of his mother.
He's a boy under the age of 3. Which means he waits, stealthily, like a caged animal, for the perfect moment to make a mad dash for the door, left ajar by an unassuming, or just negligent, sibling (or parent???).


Abbey Goes To Camp

Abbey's at 6th grade camp all week...she left us this note. Jeff and I both went to open it on Monday, against her wishes, and then found that sweet little note on the back of it. She knows us well.


The Long Walk

This child would walk for miles and miles if I let him.
His own slow pace, sometimes veering off the path to check out anything that catches his eye, or see how different walkways feel underneath his feet.
I'm trying to teach him to stay on the sidewalk, as he sometimes makes a mad dash for the road. Just to keep me on my toes I suppose.


10K in the Basement or If the Wii Told You To Jump Off A Bridge, Would You Do It?

Andrew had been calling me, "Mom, I need you!"
Then ten minutes later, "Mom, can you help me?"
I was busy doing last minute, before-bed tasks.
I kept saying, "Just a second! I'll be there in a minute!"
I knew it was something about the Wii because I had allowed him to play for an hour before bedtime. And I HATE when he calls me when he's playing the Wii, because I know what he wants...the disc is skipping or he needs help figuring out how to go from one player to two players...and I can't help because I HAVE NO IDEA how to work that darn thing.
So I ignored him.
Finally, he said, "Please Mom, HELP ME!"
I made it down to the basement and looked at him.
He was dripping with sweat and shuffling along, jogging in place.
A little pale.
"Mom, I'm not getting to the end yet! This thing is going forever...it won't stop! Something is wrong!"
He had accidentally set it for a 7 mile race, instead of the usual little fun run.
And he was on mile 6.
He just kept plugging along. Maybe thinking his Mii would jump out and slap him silly if he stopped. "You signed on for this, and you are going to see it through! There's no stopping now! Stop calling for your mommy and get those knees up!"
I laughed so hard I cried. The kids all ran downstairs to see.
We cheered him on as he rounded the bend to finish up.
6o-something minutes.
He asked for a glass of water and we got PJ's on and I tucked him in bed.
I think he probably slept good?




And The Results Are In...

14th in the state! THE STATE! And we live in a really smart state, let me tell you.
Congratulations, Matthew. We are PROUD! All that sugar paid off...


Any Minute Now

Waiting for the kids to get home.


Waiting Impatiently



Cute PJ's

Thank you to the reader who gave me the link to purchase this incredibly cute pair of pj's for Patrick. Andrew was helping me get Patrick ready for bed and was checking out all the buttons, and reached his hand down the back, and said, "Mom! I can feel Patrick's diaper in this butt pAcket!" I think he might have meant butt pOcket, but either way, it stuck.