Thursday, March 28, 2013

Sore Nonetheless

I'm tired.
 
My bones hurt from lifting. My eyes burn from lack of sleep.
 
I'm tired.
 
... It's like the sting on your lips after overeating sunflower seeds.  You know, where your entire lip burns but you can't stop...  Yea, like that
 
My legs hurt from lifting... But I've also been happy dancing in every room everyday.
 
My eyes burn from sleep deprivation but that's because I take 1 hour to walk around and look in every room before I "officially" wake up or go to bed.
 
I am sore with gratitude and in pain from praise.  My eyes burn from looking around at God's awesome blessing.
 
I'm excited.
 
 
 
 
 
But sore, nonetheless.
 
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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Update: The Move.



Hi-ya!  It's me.  Checking in.  We're officially out of the townhouse and into our new home.
 
It's been a LONG process. By long I mean that kind of process where you stop and wonder, "WHY the HECK am I doing this again?"
 
I also wondered, "where are all of those people I've helped move?"
 
Then I remembered, TABITHA! YOU JUST TOLD PEOPLE THE OTHER DAY!!!

Self, you're right.  I appreciate those who offered to help and Dani who came by the day before she caught a flight to Miami.
 
This move taught me a lot.  I learned that I have WAYYYY more craft and event supplies than I ever knew.  My supplies accounted for a little less than HALF of our entire shipment to the new house.  So many times Hubbs just stopped and stared at me like I needed to be on the next episode of Hoarders.
 
Cotton candy maker? I have 2 (plus a cake pop, pie pop, donut and shaved ice maker).
 
Apothecary jars?  I have about 30 (for candy buffets HELLOOOoOoOOoo) and vases for just-about every centerpiece you can imagine.
 
Table linen? Check!
 
Paper?  Tubs of it.
 
Ribbon?  I have close to 200 spools NOT counting the other hair bow making supplies.
 
AND THIS is just the beginning.  Paper punches, dowels, things I purchased to make into new things but never did, things I purchased to organize the things I purchased.
 
IT'S JUST A LOT.
 
I let a lot go... A LOT.  I also realized just how badly I needed a craft room.  I vow, however, to develop a system to keep tabs on my things to ensure I never wind up in this situation again.
 
I'm creating a cheery space that will serve as the perfect place to create.  Everything in it will make me happy.  I'm one step closer to achieving my Dirty30 goal of my MOM DEN!!
 
Remember my list?
 
 
Stay tuned for the room reveal.  It'll come in the next few weeks.
 
Just thought I'd give you an update...
 
Join me for the real fun when I FINALLY share the lumpia tutorial!
 
See you then,
 
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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Good News: The Move.

I've mentioned our major life changes going on.  Well, I think I'm ready to share what's happenin' 'round these parts. 
 
My life is, well...
 
 
Like, seriously.  My job is crazy busy, my hours are all over the place (remember the daycare incident? Well, we're still dropping her off and picking her up), I'm the MoH in a Vegas wedding in a matter of a few weeks (bridal shower and bachelorette parties, helloooo) and, to top it all off?
No, seriously.  Packing.  Yep, moving.  Closing...
 
Within 24 hours.
 
It's kind of a major deal, I know.  I'm late sharing, I know. It's just this market and this process has been full of question marks. 
 
Wait.  What's that you say?  How'd we get here?
...
Hubbs and I have been discussing the purchase of our new home for about a year.  You're never going to believe it BUT all of this talk stemmed from our typical home update conversation.  Hubbs was fed up with all my talk about granite (you know I want granite... and new kitchen, bathroom and entryway flooring...) and blurted out, "WHY would we waste money on this place when we're moving?!"
 
Yes, I knew we would eventually leave but right now (and for the rest of my time here and for the resale value) and-- did he just say we're leaving in a year?!
 
When did WE decide that?
 
We had been putting money away but not actively saving like we should.  Long story... Hubbs was a victim of auto fraud and we emptied our pockets to win the case... By "win" I mean we got enough back to negotiate a payoff for the vehicle he traded in on the new vehicle (to an unlicensed dealer who never paid off his loan i.e.  we had two car loans, one for a car we no longer had in our possession - and could not find because it was sold to someone else - and one for a car we had but couldn't technically own because the "dealer" did the same thing to someone else)... Maybe one day, I'll get around to telling you about that.  Between the two luxury vehicle payments, the luxury auto insurance, the new car's maintenance, the travel to Virginia Beach for multiple hearings, the lawyer fees and much more, we were out more than $70K in just-under 3 years... From our pockets...  From our savings... Thankfully, our lifestyle didn't have to change too much to accommodate the bills.  For me, it meant getting comfortable in our townhouse... Working harder to make it a townhome. 
 
With the auto drama behind us and money coming back in our pockets, we worked to rebuild our savings.  Sure, life happened but we were on the mend.
 
Maybe we could get a house in a year.
 
I didn't want to nag at the idea.  I said what I wanted and I knew Hubbs would tell me when it was time.  I continued to make small updates to our home.

 
 
On our way home from Miami (February 3, 2013), Hubbs was on his cell phone.  Scrolling and clicking and tapping his screen...  He looked at me grinning and whispered, "wanna see what I'm looking at?"
 
Sure he'd been interested in the HGTv shows. I may have dropped realtor cards on the floor in the bathroom (in front of his throne).  Conversations of the next house update were creeping into our pillow talk but HOUSES?  He was looking at houses.
 
We spent the next few hours in the airport excitedly looking at houses.  The two of us sat down the following evening to discuss our path forward.  We looked at the savings account, identified the debt to remove and paid most of it off (freeing up close to $2,000/month).  The next day, with our pre-approval in hand, we were narrowing our requirements for our next home.
 
That's right.  Monday, February 4, we were scrolling through listings of homes discussing what we each of us wanted... We were excited at the possibilities.
 
After seeing some great properties and quickly learning the market is not as slow as it once was, we were ready to make an offer.
 
February 15, we had an accepted offer on our dream home.
 
Our plan is to rent our current property (we've got a tenant!!!!!) and enjoy all the amenities of the new place.
 
Property Deets?
 
A realtor-purchased flip property, the new place has been completely renovated and remained in its vacant state.  It's in an awesome community and we are very excited to join the activities!  It's got plenty of room for us to grow and to contain my crafts. I am just certain right now, with all that I've got going on, my excitement is what's fueling me.
 
God is so good and has shown himself faithful in every adventure of our small family.  I'll be back to share pics and such... I just have to figure out how to work this doggone PACKING TAPE!
 
'Til next time,
 
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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Monday, March 18, 2013

BFF Tea Party

My life is turned upside down this week.  I'll be revealing the reason(s) soon enough... In the meanwhile, however, I'm going to update you all on the life events that I haven't had a chance to share!

We'll start with a cute play date with one of Munch's close little friends, Chazzy:


First, the mommies and little ladies shopped a little, stopped for lunch at Panera then went to see the daddies play basketball.


Background

One of the saddest things is watching the girls say goodbye.  They hug for a few minutes arguing over who will miss the other more.  One of them is always very emotional and the other takes the role of comforting.  It's interesting because they cry, not a temper tantrum cry, but a genuine cry.  It's contagious... Deb and I often tear up with them.  Weird, I know.  Awhile back, after going on a joint family date night, the daddies witnessed the farewell process and both fussed us OUT.   They declared that it's unfair to make them say bye every time they see each other and, to ensure both couples have an opportunity for date night, we should take turns hosting sleepovers.


...

It was my turn... SO, the girls and I planned a BFF tea party on the way home from the basketball game.  I decided to give each girl $1 to buy a gift from the Dollar Tree. 

One girl would stand at the end of the aisle with their eyes closed while the other would "shop" for a gift to surprise their friend; they had a blast!

We arrived home, the girls took turns hiding gifts then set to making cards for each other.




While they worked on their cards, I made a quick dinner - chicken salad, grapes, carrots and their chip of choice.  When they finished making cards and jewelry, they went upstairs for hair and makeup.  While they got pretty, I pulled decor from the stash and surprised them with a simple BFF tea party tablescape:


I used a hole punch, scrapbook stickers and kabob sticks to create the 'C' and 'Z' centerpiece:


I even pulled out my REAL wine glasses:



They came downstairs looking FABULOUS!



I welcomed them to the restaurant where friends don't fuss, took their orders (for butterfly sandwich sizes) and they took turns presenting their cards and gifts:



In the above pic, you can see where Chazzy was counting her hearts. 

Me: "Chazzy, WOW!! Seven hearts?! That's one for every day!"

Chazzy: "No, it's because I love my friend everyday... Even when I don't talk to her."

Sometimes, I think everything I need to learn about friendship I learn from a Kindergartner.



Zion wrote a long letter to Chazzy.  She started by saying, "we are little but we been through a lot.  we might be mean to each other sometimes but I love you so much I don't ever want you to go home.  You and me will be friends for ever and ever and ever."


Chazzy presented Z with a necklace and explained it had turquoise on it like her baby sister's room because Chandler loves her from heaven.  I teared up.  Toldya, these kids teach me new things all the time.


I baked peppermint sugar cookies for them to decorate:



Once I saw how many sprinkles were on the cookies, I announced the cookies were for Hubbs, LOL!  They took them to the basement and he actually ate them, lol.


It was time to find the presents! The sounds of giggles and squeals filled our home during the search.




Time for dessert:


They really had a blast!  I've found that the best way to minimize issues with little ones is to have planned activities!  It's true that kids thrive in structure.  This BFF Tea Party was a great way for friends to remind each other how much they care. 

Maybe I could plan a BFF tea party with my friends or women's fellowship... OR HUSBAND, lol.  Everyone can use a 'just because' reminder of why you love them, right?!

Just thought I'd share this small play date that really warmed my heart!

I leave you with the picture Munch drew for Chazzy... I was so focused on helping Munch with spelling the word MUCH that I ALMOST missed those boobies, LOL!


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Friday, March 15, 2013

Craft Vault - An Easy Photo Backdrop

Happy Friday, Islanders!

I'm working on a bridal shower for a dear friend and, while scrolling through my photo files, I stumbled upon some crafts I've done but haven't shared.

In honor of Frugal Friday, I'd like to share a quick and affordable photo backdrop tutorial.

The Polka Dot Backdrop

Supplies

- Banner paper (at Walmart for $7)
- Acrylic Paint in event-coordinating colors
- 20 oz bottle tops (or round sponge brushes)
- paper plates

Steps

1.  Roll your paper out in the desired length.  I used about 25 feet (then cut it in 5-foot increments before hanging).

2.  Pour paint onto paper plates.


3.  Use the bottle caps to create dots.  To vary the size of the dots, move your hand in a circular motion and slowly expand the size of your circles.  


4.  Repeat with all colors


5.  Allow 30 minutes to dry.  Then cut into 4-5 ft. long strips and hang on the wall.


6.  Enjoy!



To see more from Sheena's About to Pop shower, visit her blog.

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Rider Tag.

Have you ever read something in the news or watched something in a scary movie and had it STICK with you?  Almost like a smudge of dirt on your brain or heart?  I have...  No matter how I try to remove it, it just stays with me... Sometimes I wonder if I'll always have that smudge.
One of my recent "smudges" occurred in December with the Connecticut elementary school shooting (you might recall when I blogged about it).  Well...
 
LET ME START WITH THIS:
 
Everything I am about to share is true.  I saw all of it with my own eyes.
 
 
BACKGROUND
 
I chose Children of America as the facility for Munch's before/after childcare for a number of reasons:
- Convenience (hours, location, shuttle to Munch's school, etc.)
- Security (personal entry code for parents and staff linked to check-in/out process, video cameras with online access to view at any time, privacy fence in rear of building)
- Commitment to Curriculum (on-staff tutors for homework assistance, structured play, etc.)
- Meals (quality home cooked meals and snacks included in rate)
 
THE INCIDENT
 
It was Monday, March 11th. I was on the phone with my friend, Jelonda (J.Lo), prepping dinner before I picked up Munch. I left the house and, as I parked at Children of America in Woodbridge (on River Ridge Blvd), J.Lo and I said our goodbyes.
 
As I approached the building what appeared to be a "young boy" (14 years old maybe?) stormed out of the facility yelling, "LET'S GO!!!"  Of course, I thought it was one of those attitude-y teenager moments I've seen parents experience in public places because behind him came a woman with 3 small children.
 
"I've been waiting a LONG m'f-ing time for this!!! A LONG TIME.  LET'S GO!!!" "he" said, removing a lanyard of keys from around "his" neck and stretching. 
 
I continued toward the building and, in passing, asked the other mom, "who is that?"  She responded pointing into the facility, "I think that's his brother."
 
In the lobby, I saw Mr. H., a tall young guy who is great with the kids and who is always very professional and fun.  I also saw other staff members standing in the lobby area.
 
Before I could assess who else was in the area, the "young boy" ran inside the building (how'd he get access so fast?? I have to enter a 16-digit code with 4 clicks to confirm my identity and purpose of visit) and tackled Mr. H.  I was trapped in the receiving area behind a glass wall and door.  Ms. Tiffany, the admin, yelled, "we have babies here! STOP! STOP!" She tries to break it up and another staff member jumps in the fight.  It turned into an 8-person brawl in the CoA lobby.  It was like a growing human snowball bouncing from wall to reception desk to the glass door (where I was). 

Kicking.  Punching.  Screaming. Blood. 
 
I dialed 9-1-1 and began to report the incident to the dispatcher.  The "young boy" ran out of the building while the other staff continued to yell at each other.  I ran around the corner to Munch's room (which also has an entrance right off of the lobby). I told her to put on her coat and noticed all of the children were by the window looking into the parking lot.
 
I ran to the window and saw the other staff in the parking lot fighting again!  First, I couldn't get to my daughter and now I can't get to my car?!  My fear came to reality when I saw the "young boy" looking in a car for something and get out running back into the building. 


What if there's a-DON'T THINK- ACT!


I moved into protector mode and made all of the children get on the opposite side of the room.  I closed the blinds and told the class attendant to guard the main hallway door. I then stepped into the lobby guarding the lobby door.
 
You don't know how you'd react in times of crisis.  My fear made me protect.
 
 
The "boy" ran in and tried to start another fight with Mr. H. With the assistance of other staff members, "he" was unsuccessful and fled the scene.  This time for good.
 
5 officers arrived shortly thereafter and took my statement, along with the statements of other parents.


>end<


OR IS IT?
 
 
Hubbs and I have, of course, removed Munch from the facility effective immediately.  We'll look into other facilities, however, I have added some questions to my list for the future facilities and thought I'd share with you all:
 
- What is your facility's crisis management plan?  How often is the staff refreshed with training of this nature?  Do you have a written copy of the plan or copy of the training?  May I see it?
 
I was the person who moved the children away from the window and locked the door to prevent access to the classroom.
 
- What are your triggers for parent communication?  How do you determine what incidents warrant parent notification?
 
The parents who were not there to pick-up during the time of the incident have NOT been made aware of what transpired.  I would want to know.
 
- What is the policy for conflict resolution as it relates to your staff?
 
 
Clearly there were issues internally that were known by management.  Why wasn't anything done to mediate this situation?
 
I learned later that evening, the "boy" who initiated this incident was a 30-something year old WOMAN.  While she does not work at CoA, her mother (the Deputy Director), her girlfriend, her sister and her cousin are all teachers on staff.  This started because she heard a rumor that her girlfriend had a crush on Mr. H.  Those members of staff who jumped in were all her family fighting with her.


Until further notice, we are Munch's means of transportation to and from school.
 
 
We are well-versed in the process and have received a fancy rider hang tag for our vehicles.   It isn't until LIFE HAPPENS that you learn what you're really capable of.
 
 
Wish me luck in the before/after care hunt!  Matter of fact, wish the facilities I'm interviewing luck; this experience has SMUDGED me for real!!!
 
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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

WW: School Pictures 2013

Wordless Wednesdays:  She dressed herself for first grade Spring pictures.


 
Boots, cardigan and leggings: Children's Place
Skirt: Target
Bow: I made it, tutorial here.
 
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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Mom Review - The Boon Flo.

Have you created a Pinterest account? If not, you totally should!  I always find loads of inspiration - recipes, crafts, party planning, decor, fashion and nifty products.
 
One day, I stumbled upon a product that looked GENIUS!!
 
 
The Boon Flo.  From the picture, I gathered that it was the answer to prayers around these parts.  There were several issues with washing Munch's curls.
 
1.  Water in the face.  If 1drop gets on her face, she freaks out and begs for a towel and acts like she's drowning and... it's just a bit much.
 
2.  Washing hair in the bath tub.  Using this method, I ran her bath water, she leaned back to wet hair. I bend over the tub to apply the products and she leans back to have it rinsed off.  We ran into issues with this approach because it was uncomfortable for both of us, I could not rinse the back of her head very well AND she got an ear infection after every wash (due to water in her ears).
 
3.  Washing in the shower.  This seemed to be the best approach except, I would get soaked trying to rinse her hair and she would cry for a towel at every step of the process.  It also prolonged her shower time and I hated the amount of water we wasted.
 
When I saw a product that covered the faucet to spray the water in a fountain style but protected her head from the sharp edges of the faucet, I was SOLD.  Here's the online description:
 
"This Boon flo water deflector is also a protective faucet cover and bubble bath dispenser. All you do is slip flo over your faucet to gently divert the flow of water and create a waterfall effect for easier rinsing. Flo projects water away from the faucet and is composed of soft, protective material to guard against injury. The bubble bath reservoir dispenses suds with the press of a button and still allows access to the shower diverter. Flo is phthalate-free and PVC-free and measures 8 inches L x 4 inches W x 3 inches D"
 
 
I HAD TO ORDER IT.
 
I searched for more product information and was pleasantly surprised that it costs ONLY $14.99.
 
A life saver for only $14.99?
 
Ordered.  Shipped. Delivered.
 
Used. 
 
 
 
LOVED!
 
OMG! Do you see those teeth?  The little ones keep leaning rocking falling out and big ol' grown-up teeth keep poppin' up in their place!  Just look at them:
 
 
Sometimes, she smiles and I'm caught off guard.  It's crazy.  She's officially a kid.  Always my baby but not a societal "baby."  Her legs are getting longer and her teeth are getting bigger... Luckily, UNLIKE her mama, those knees haven't gotten freakishly large (what?! I've got big knee caps).
 
Speaking of things that catch me off guard, her hair has grown so much.  Check out this pic of her hair taken right after we used our new Boon Flo:
 
Before detangling and without product.
 
The day after using our new Boon Flo, Munch wore her first big-girl bun to school.
 
 
You know we love our buns!
 
This is my new go-to mom product to recommend.  Trust me, washing hair is just one of those mom chores that can be a pain for all parties involved.  I'm going to start giving a Boon flo as a gift.  It just solved so much for us :)
 
Do you have any new products you'd like to tell us about?  Feel free to share in the comments!
 
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