Thursday, August 27, 2009

Free Nashville (sort of)-Burns Park

This installment of Free Nashville is not technically located in Nashville. It is technically in Kingston Springs, TN, which is a few miles west of my part of town. Which, by the way, where we live in Nashville is about as south and as west as you can get and still be in Davidson County.

The afore mentioned mom's club I belong to has been a wealth of information on events and places to go. And even though I'm a lame member, I am indebted to them for some of our most fun outings. This one is no different.

Many times I got emails about the group heading to Kingston Springs to a place called Burns Park to play at a "splash ground". For some reason I had it in my mind that it was quite a trek to Burns Park and just never went. Well, somehow having the moral support of Katy, it didn't seem so daunting. And then we laughed. Because it is SO close to home!! Now, if you are coming from the other side of town, it would be a trip, but one I feel is definitely worth making.

Burns Park is amazing. First, there is the splash ground, which in case you don't know, is a very trendy place to play. Splash grounds are springing up all over the place. This particular one has large "sprinklers", fountains and a playground surface that stays relatively slip free. I say relatively because Weston had a nice wipe out when we were there a few weekends ago. In addition to the super fun splash ground there is a traditional playground. The playground is great-it has play places for all ages-from the very little to the very big. Plenty of swings and loads of stuff to climb on and through. For the adults, you should know the bathrooms are clean, there are two very large picnic pavilions, and a walking trail-you know in case you have the kind of kids who would actually play while you walked. There is also a HUGE field.

I have a fantasy about having some sort of large gathering at this place. I'm still working on what I need to celebrate. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Works for Me Wednesday-Fast Food Drink Holders

I'm trying to get back on track! Here is some tip fun from me. And, if you just can't get enough, head over to We Are That Family for more!

My son is addicted to painting. If you asked him at any point in the day what he would like to do, he will, without pause, say "Paint". He has ripped through more paper than is appropriate and insists that everything "hang up with a magnet". As always, I'm looking for ways to grab a few minutes for what we like to call "mommy jobs" and painting gives me that time. IF and only IF the paint and brush water are safe from spillage. Otherwise, we're just creating more "mommy jobs" and that just defeats the purpose, doesn't it??

So, this is my newest system:

I just use a fast food drink holder to put each cup of paint and water cup in. I also put a sponge in the middle for "dabbing" - a trick we learned at the art museum. He doesn't really dab appropriately at this point in his life, but I'm sure someday it will all come together for him.

The only drawback to this system is he can only use three colors at a time. Usually this is enough for him. Since he seems to concentrate in one particular spot on the paper (sometimes until there is a hole!) he's not overly concerned about multiple colors.

I have used this same cup holder for approximately 5 painting sessions and it is holding up great. And, really, I eat enough biscuits that I could get a new one every week!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Procrastination Nation

I am just writing to let you know that I finally wrote that dang fraud letter to Visa. In case you missed it, my iTunes account was hacked and $100 was spent on my debit card that was on file and "protected". Riiiiight. By the way, if you haven't removed your form of payment from iTunes, you might want to take a little bloggy break and go do that. Anyway, this letter has been hanging over my head for almost two weeks (!) and I finally just made myself do it. It took all of 30 minutes. But seriously, that is 30 minutes of precious nap time/free time that I will never get back. You think Visa will reimburse me for that??

I've mentioned before that I'm a huge procrastinator. There are lots of reasons people procrastinate and sadly, I am a complex case that procrastinates for approximately every reason you could think of to procrastinate. Let's start with the most obvious. I'm lazy. Ok, and next, I hate conflict. And then there's the fact that I have an irrational fear of making business-y phone calls and have for all of my life. (I can hear my dad laughing as I type!!) Add to the list that I am a weird breed of perfectionist and it all culminates in a lot of my life wasted by not just doing what needs to be done.

I thought I had overcome this when I was working my last job. I finally got to the point, where at the end of each day when I was making a to-do list for the next day, (I LOVE a list!), I would put the most dreaded jobs at the top. I finally learned to just get those out of the way. So, my day would only be ruined for an hour or two instead of ruining the whole day!! Especially if a call to an irate parent was on the list. Talk about dreading Mondays!!!

Now that I'm a SAHM (that is cool internet speak for "Stay at Home Mom") and I'm the master of my own domain, I've fallen right back into my same lame patterns. This has been especially true through two first trimesters of pregnancy. Did you know when you are first pregnant it's like someone (or something) goes into your brain and scrambles it around?? It is.

The last few weeks I've been trying some new things to get me back on track. (And now I can hear Big Dan laughing. If you only knew how many "new things" I've tried out in our eight years of marriage. Bless him.) It is helping a little. And by a little I mean I still put off writing that letter for two weeks and I pretty much begged Daniel to make some phone calls today!!

But I am on top of the laundry AND ironing. That's gotta count for something.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cheap and Easy

Well, shoot. I was on a roll there for a little while-posting every day and all. Sorry for the delay of a new post, but I've been way too busy procrastinating writing a fraud letter to Visa. And, no the letter is still not written. I have some sort of serious mental block about doing it, which is too bad, really, because there is actual money at stake. Anyway.

Last weekend Katy and I hit up a consignment sale (which could really be a post all its' own) and did I ever hit the ever-lovin' jackpot!! But, let me back up. There is some rearranging going on around here, in preparation for baby sister. It has been a major process just to make the necessary decisions, not to mention the actual moving of furniture. Which, by the way has not happened yet. In the middle of all the planning, I decided I wanted the "guest" bathroom to be Drew's bathroom. We have been bathing and grooming Drew in our bathroom for quite some time, and I decided it was high time to reclaim my tub. The one small problem with this plan was my complete lack of motivation to a) strip more wallpaper or b) paint. And this all assumes that I had some great inspiration about what to put in the bathroom...which I didn't. Then, it dawned on me. I could leave the hideous border that is in the bathroom and just work around it. There are many things in my home that do not reflect my style (i.e. horrible navy curtains in the family room) but because of lack of funds, lack of time or my inability to thread the bobbin correctly on my sewing machine, are still with us 4 years later. Take for instance this border in the bathroom:

{Disclaimer-all of the pics in this post are horrible. You'll have to use your imagination a little...)

This border is not the worst in the house. Daniel's office was sporting some awesome jungle motif border more fit for a "boom boom room" than an attorney's home office, but this is pretty bad.

I thought to myself, "It does have an elephant on it, and Drew does like animals..." And I decided to go with a safari theme in the bathroom. Which brings me (finally) back to the consignment sale miracle. As I perused around, with a heaping pile of stuff, I stumbled upon a gigantic ziploc "big bag" filled with...SAFARI THEMED BATHROOM DECOR!!! Inside the bag were: shower curtain/liner; little monkey curtain rings; decorative towel, washcloth, and hand towel; and toothbrush holder, soap dispenser, and candle holder. Now. Are you ready for the best part???? All of those items cost me a mere $30!!!! For those of you not well versed in bathroom accessories-this is a complete steal. All I had to do was add a $10 rug from TJ Maxx, wash everything, and throw it in there and VOILA! New bathroom. Amazing. Even my "guest" towels match.

Here are some pictures (minus the new rug)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Crafty update

I mentioned that Drew and I have been working on a project that I found over at the Crafty Crow. It has taken us a while to complete the project, mostly due to the fact that Drew doesn't like to get glue on his hands. Obviously, no one has explained to him how fun it is to peel dried glue off your hands. I know I wasn't the only one who used to put glue on my hands just for the fun of peeling it off...right?!

Anyway, we finally finished it up today.

I think Drew had serious doubts that gluing tissue paper to a balloon was going to result in a bird. But, when we added the eyes, the beak, and the feathers he could finally see it. He hugged it!! In all its' gluey glory, he hugged it! After the bird dried, he played with it a ton. The great thing is, there is so much glue on the thing, he can bat it around like a regular balloon.

Next up is making the nest. It involves another boat load of glue. So, be looking for the nest in about a month. Since it will take that long to convince Drew that glue will wash off.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Rookie Mistake

There are certain mom rules that exist in the universe. They are not written down anywhere, and even if they were, motherhood is not a test you can prepare for. (A friend and I were just discussing this today. And trust me, if any two people could be totally prepared for motherhood, we would be!)

One of the biggest rules of mommy-dom goes something like this: Never, ever, ever, EVER brag about how well something is going in the life of your child. I used to think this rule only counted if you said something out loud. No. Oh no. You can just have a fleeting thought about how well something is going and that particular thing is certain to hop right off the tracks.

I have now been a mom for 2 years and 8 months. You would think I would be a strict follower of this rule by now. But oh no! Just yesterday, Katy and I were sitting on the couch while Drew and Lyla played outside. Every now and then we have one of those bliss moments when the kids play together without WW3 commencing and we actually get to sit and talk. We were experiencing one such moment when I had to go and open my big mouth. I said these words (and I can see all you veteran moms cringing as you read them...) "I don't really love the sand box, but the kids love it and they play so well and for so long with it. I mean, Katy, we're having one of those moments. They are playing so well together and we're just sitting here..." Oh. Why??

After nap time Drew and I went out to water the vegetables and I realized that 3/4 of the sand from the sand box was now spread all over my deck. I could feel the heat rising up in my cheeks. You may not remember, but getting that sand in the box was no small feat...

"Drew," I said, trying very hard to channel the sweet voice of Michelle Duggar, "why is there sand all over the deck????" And he replied, "Because Mommy, we were making a beach!"

I think we could all use a vacation!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Works for Me Wednesday: Product Manual Round-up

It's hump day! Only two more days until the weekend, and around here that means it time for some tipalicious goodness! Don't forget to head on over to We Are That Family for more tips than your eyes can bear to read.

When Big Dan and I got married, we were so blessed with an abundance of shower and wedding gifts. In fact, when we arrived home from our honeymoon, our entire living room was filled with presents from the wedding for us to open. It was awesome. And, of course, among all those gifts were every kind of kitchen appliance or home electronic you can possibly think of (or could think of 8 years ago!) As you know, for each and every appliance/product there is the pesky product manual. Just as soon as you throw one out, you realize that it is kind of a big deal to keep them.

I can't take credit for this tip. I completely stole the idea from my friend Debby. Debby is a good friend of mine who lives and works overseas as a missionary. Once, while we were there for a visit, there was a malfunction with one of her appliances. The next thing I know she whips out a giant three ring binder and starts turning page protector after page protector, each filled with an individual product manual. I think in that moment I bowed down to kiss her feet. Back in the States, at that very moment, all of my product manuals were crammed in a drawer. As soon as I was home, I implemented this system.

All you need is a large 3 ring binder (or small if you don't have many products with manuals), as many sheet protectors as you have manuals, and if you're really fancy, an electronic labeler. Just slide one manual in each protector and clip the page protectors into the binder. My sister saw mine and asked if they were alphabetized. Um, no. But great idea if you have some extra time. I now have an entire binder dedicated to baby gear/kid toys.

Having these manuals easily accessible has worked in my favor so many times. And, now with craigslist and consignment sales, anytime I sell an item, I am able to hand over the manual as well. I think it sends the message that the item was well cared for...which they are, most of the time. I have also had occasion to order replacement parts. With the manual at your fingertips, it is simple to do.

Which is good. Because when your Leap Frog Fridge Farm only has a pig butt, it's not really fun for anyone.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

So very cultured...

So, yesterday was the art museum and today was a music class. I mean, it's only mere seconds before we are drinking our icees with our pinkies raised!

I belong to a Mom's Club here (no laughing) and I'm kind of a cruddy member. It's just that I tend to forget events or have something else planned for the days they do things. Or it could be because my son goes into hibernation any time we are around strangers and it's just easier to play with people we already know. But, one of the co-presidents is my new neighbor, and she's fun and her kids are fun. I'm trying to make an effort. Ha! Today they had slated a free (don't think that didn't grab my attention!) music class for moms and their kids. In the spirit of togetherness, Drew and I went.

I think it was probably about a year ago that I took Drew and Lyla to a mommy and me music class. It was really fun. I sort of felt like since Drew was older he would like it even more. Can I just tell you that he sat in a chair in the corner for around the first half of the class??? Well, only during the times we were supposed to be standing. Otherwise, he was sitting on my ever-shrinking lap with his head buried in my shirt. The only thing that makes me feel more self-conscious than hopping around in a kids' music class, is doing so without my kid!! Oh, and um, you can be sure there was no hopping from me! Seriously, I get a contraction just going from sitting to standing. Had I been hopping and waving scarves around, we might have had a baby today!!

When the instruments came out, Drew was like a new man. Kid loves some musical instruments. He has a little bit of rhythm, too. We won't mention who he definitely does not get this from...let's just say white boys can't dance!! After breaking the ice with the instruments, he was a little more inclined to dance and act silly. Well, silly might be a stretch, but he did loosen up a tiny bit. It was a good reminder of why I don't pay for these sort of classes for him.

We followed up our culturally enriching morning with lunch at Target. Because you don't get much more high class than Target.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Free Nashville-The Frist Center

This is the art museum, not to be confused with a Dr.'s office called the Frist Clinic. Just saying. It would be two VERY different experiences!!

When we first moved to Nashville and I was in "retirement" (hee hee) I had a whole list of things that I planned to do around town. One of those things included spending some time at the Frist Center. It never happened, along with most of the other things on my list. Other than laying by the pool and reading celebrity magazines, I'm not really sure what I did with all that time. Anyway, all that to say, today was my first trip to the Frist Center.

Last week at story time I ran into another mom I know, who I hadn't seen in a while. We were talking about story time and how much we loved it and I mentioned that I really liked that it was all free! She said, "I have another great free thing for you to do!" Well, sign me up! She let me know that the Frist Center is running a program this year where on every Monday of 2009 you can bring a canned good to donate and get in the museum FREE! Normal cost for an adult is $8.50! Kids are always free, and they have a section of the museum called "Art Quest" where kids can make all sorts of art projects.

Drew actually liked looking at some of the paintings. He also like stomping his feet really loud (but his mouth was quiet!!) so we didn't hang around in the gallery for long. But, he had a great time making projects on his own. Each station has instructions, and they are mostly geared towards school age kids. That said, each activity is very easily adapted to the little kids. Drew loved painting, gluing, fingerprinting, and making an ink print. Most of the things are things we do at home, but the materials were much nicer, I didn't have to clean it up and I could focus on spending time with Drew because I wasn't inside my house that currently looks like a toxic waste dump.

We did have to pay for parking. I parked in the lot and paid $3 for 2 hours of parking which is kind of high for a cheapie like me. My sister suggested I park at a meter. I should've listened! They also have a nice cafe there with a kid's menu. I didn't go in, so I'm not sure about the prices. I'm sure that it is not a cheap menu. They do have a nice courtyard with tables. We packed a lunch but it was way too hot, so we ate in the car. In the A/C!

All in all, a great, FREE activity. The ArtQuest portion of the museum is open Mon-Sat 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Sundays 1:00-5:30 p.m. The museum also features periodic Family Free Days on weekends. The next Family Free Day is Oct. 18. Check the website for more info as the date gets closer. (

Friday, August 7, 2009

Spinnin' a Yarn

Whew. I just witnessed the most outstanding fit my son has ever thrown. Complete with an audience (Jon and Katy), high-pitched screaming, and hitting of the Mom. I was just waiting for his head to start spinning around. It was a long ride home from the East Side. His yelling and ranting was interrupted only by him taking deep breaths and asking me if I was happy. Really? You're seriously sitting back there acting possessed and you want to know if I'm happy? Oh heavens.

I'm not exactly sure what was behind this little episode. Not to be "one of those moms" but scenes like this aren't really a part of Drew's day to day. I think it is a sleep issue. He is too big for his toddler bed and woke up A LOT last night. Of course, if he didn't insist on 675 stuffed animals in his bed it would help. It's time for a big bed, with actual sheets and a comforter. Like yesterday.

So, in order to focus on something more fun about my son, I wanted to tell you about how he is currently honing his story telling skills. For a long time, Drew didn't really like to sit and read books. I was kind of sad about that, because I have always loved books (like I've mentioned a kajillion times...), but lately, he has really enjoyed sitting and listening to stories for longer periods of time. He has also started "reading" the books to us. This is super fun, because most of the time I'm suspicious about whether he's really listening or not. But, when he starts saying actual phrases from the book, I know he hasn't missed a beat.

This leads us to the new phenomenon of him making up stories to tell me. For a long time when he would start reading a book, he would start out by saying something that sounded like "Part time". I have been trying for weeks to figure out what the heck he was talking about. Yesterday, it finally dawned on me. "'Pon Time" As in, "Once upon a time..." Duh!! All of his stories currently involve the floor shaking and something crashing down. Not REAL sure what that's about!! His favorite part of storytelling is when I say, "What happened next??" He will remind me if I forget to say it.

I'm sure this is only the beginning. He comes by it honestly. He comes from a long line of guys who like to tell a good story.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

We Have Carrots, People!!

Hallelujah and Amen!

Granted, they are runty and hilarious, but they are orange and completely recognizable as carrots! And, my 2 1/2 year old planted the seeds, faithfully watered them, and got to eat them for a snack, which is pretty awesome! So thanks to all of you who sent up prayers for our carrots. I think if I had left the carrots alone for a couple more weeks, they would've grown a little bigger. But, Tuesday night I had a dream about the carrots, and I just had to know how they were coming along. Yes, I just admitted to having an anxiety dream about carrots. Just in case you were doubting the crazy, don't!

This picture seems to say, "Hmmm, that's an awfully tiny carrot!"

And, I should mention, there are still carrots growing in the pot. I will be leaving those alone. Maybe they will grow all the way to the size of a baby carrot!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Ode To Vinegar

It's that time again! Time to get our tip on! Don't forget to head on over to We Are That Family for more great tips!

This week I am declaring my love for vinegar. And this is not a culinary post. Although, don't get me started on some fresh cut fries doused in malt vinegar...mmmmmmm.

I have found so many handy uses for vinegar over time, and I now keep a giant bottle in my house at all times. These ideas are not original to me, of course. People have been using vinegar for, oh, I don't know, around 1,000 years or so, I'm sure.

Here are some of the things I regularly use vinegar for:

1. Our wine glasses will not stay put in our dishwasher. They always end up falling over, and then have a big water ring on them. One swipe with vinegar and they are sparkly and fabulous.

2. Place one cup of vinegar in the microwave and microwave for 1 minute. Take a rag, and use the warm vinegar to clean out the microwave. All the gunky bits will come right off. Not that I have ever have gunky bits in my microwave. Just what I've heard...

3. Fill an ice tray with vinegar and freeze. Put the vinegar cubes in the disposal and run. It will get rid of any skanky smells. Or so I've heard.

4. Ever forget about a load of laundry in your washing machine? No? Me neither. But the next time your "friend" asks what he/she should do about the mildew smell on the clothes, tell him/her to add 1 cup of vinegar to the wash and wash on hot. The smell will be long gone and the clothes will not smell like vinegar.

5. I dabble in cloth diapers. So, I've been stripping diapers to have them ready for Baby Sister just in case I decide to use them again. I refuse to commit. I'm rather loony when I have a tiny baby. I'm going to need some months to make up my mind. Anyway, it takes a while to remove all the soap from diapers when stripping them, but by adding 1 c. of vinegar to one of your last rinses will help remove the detergent residue from the diapers without damaging the dipes.

I found a website that lists 131 uses for Vinegar! Hot dang! Here's the website if you want to check it out:

Here are some of the ideas from there that I plan to try out:

Clean rust from tools, bolts, and spigots. Soak the rusted tool, bolt, or spigot in undiluted vinegar overnight. I'll be using this one because I may have left some tools out in the rain.

Keep car windows frost free. Coat the windows the night before with a solution of three parts vinegar to one part water. I'm a spoiled rotten brat with a double garage for now. But just in case that isn't so one day, I'll keep this one filed away.

Relieve itching by using a cotton ball to dab mosquito and other bug bites with Vinegar straight from the bottle. If this works, this will be the best vinegar tip of all time!!!

Treat sinus infections and chest colds. Add 1/4 cup or more vinegar to the vaporizer. Oh. If only. I'm sure it's only a matter of 5 or 10 minutes before I'm having sinus issues again. If vinegar helps my sinuses, I'm erecting a shrine.

Freshen up the washing machine. Clean the hoses and unclog soap scum. Once a month pour one cup of vinegar into the washing machine and run the machine through a normal cycle, without clothes. This, again, assumes that I might have funky smells in my house. Which I don't. But, IF I did, I'd try this out.

Clean and disinfect wood cutting boards by wiping with full strength vinegar.

Unclog a shower head by unscrewing it, remove the rubber washer, place the head in a pot filled with equal parts Vinegar and water, bring to a boil, then simmer for five minutes. You should see the way the water comes out of our shower head currently. Sigh. In fact, I'd better go do this RIGHT NOW, before somebody loses an eye.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Meal Time

I pretty much hate meal time currently. My son is much more interested in hopping than eating. Meal time cramps his style. He eats better when we all sit down to eat, but Big Dan and I walk away with a serious case of indigestion. And, can I just say, that for two people who like to really enjoy their food, it's kind of cramping our style, too?

Today I asked Drew what he might like to have for lunch. He said, "I'm not eating today. Maybe on Saturday. [looks at pretend watch on his arm.] At 10."

Ok then. Just keep me posted. I'll be sure to have your first meal of the week ready by 10 on Saturday.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Flip Side

Every coin has two sides.

You might remember this post. And you may have heard me tell stories of Lyla locking me out. And Drew locking me out. Somehow, Lyla has been particularly adept at turning locks for a very long while. She has fantastic fine motor skills. Those were funny and frustrating times. But Lyla has COMPLETELY redeemed herself for all time.

Over the weekend Kristin, Weston, Wade, and Grammy came down for a visit while Uncle Travis worked. It was a great time. Saturday morning we headed out to a Splashground/Park and had a great time. But as is usually the case, lots of water, sun and running makes for three very tired toddlers, cranky babies, three mommies trying to hold it together and one wiped out Grammy. You know, just to set the scene. We were one misstep away from a complete revolt.

Enter big, fat, preggo with mush for brains. (That would be me...) Uncle Jon and Big Dan left the park to head out for a golf game-in my car, which houses the garage door opener, with my keys, which includes my house keys. Do you see the breakdown here? We have two cars full of tired, hot people and I have no way to get into my house!!!! For pity's sake.

At this point we believed our only option was to drive an additional 30 minutes to pick up the keys. This was not optimal, given all the various schedules we were juggling. There was a SLIGHT possibility one of the doors was open and there was a SLIGHT possibility that Katy had a key to my house on her key ring. So, we decided to chance it.

Doors unlocked? No dice. Key on Katy's key ring? Notsomuch. Of course, we do have a new mystery to solve because we tried three different, random keys. What do those keys go to?? Anyway. By this point I was sick to my stomach. Just for the record, it is NOT being a good hostess to have all of your guests locked out of the house.

Our last ditch effort was sending Lyla in through the dog door. From my previous lock-out experiences, I knew how to finagle the dog door open. And, trust me, I've tried going through it myself (not in my current state) but there is no human adult getting through there. And of the three littles, Lyla is the only one with the door locking/unlocking skillz. It was truly hilarious convincing her to crawl into my house. Katy was awesome and talked it up like the biggest, best special mission ever. Lyla peeked in, looked back at us and said, "I'm not a dog!" After much coaxing and promising of treats, she finally climbed through and UNLOCKED THE BACK DOOR!!!! You have never seen grown women act such a fool in your life. And there stood Lyla with the biggest grin ever on her face. It was one of the most fantastic things ever! Her hard work earned her pretty much anything she wanted for the rest of the night and a promise from Aunt Kel that we would go and get her fingernails painted.

The girl's got spunk. And mad fine motor skillz. I love her to bits!