Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Living Room Updates

Updating our home to suit our style and taste is sometimes a frustrating experience.  It's a long series of starts and stops.  Paint the walls.  Stop.  Buy a new piece of furniture.  Stop.  Frame a photograph.  Stop.  Hang photograph three months later.  Stop.  Fix leak in roof.  Stop.  Repaint walls.  Stop.   Reevaluate color choice.  Stop.  Search endlessly for the perfect curtains, which do not exist...Stop.  What's the deal with curtains?  Does anyone else have this problem, or am I just the pickiest person on the planet?   

Finally, after nearly two years of home-owning bliss, we are turning our attention to the living room, which is good because we spend a lot of time...living...in there.  When we first moved in, we basically slapped some paint on the walls before haphazardly dumping our old furniture in it.  


 Really After... (keeping it real, folks.)

Although we've come up with many different plans for the space, I've had a hard time pulling the trigger on any of them. There are a lot of options out there, but if we're going to spend chunks of money on decorating, those options better be a.)  functional for our lifestyle and b.) something that I love.  

A few weeks ago, I decided I wanted one wall of our living room to look like this:  

Yet, the only item from that Photoshopped dream that we already owned was the rug.  So, I got busy doing what I do best...copying other people's great ideas.

I decided to make myself a chalkboard map.  

The image of the chalkboard map above is from Dirtsa Studio.  Her work can be found on Etsy, and I've seen it featured on websites such as Fab as well.  

My original intention was to add in other "stuff" to make my creation look like an old-fashioned school chalkboard.  (It's a teacher thing.)  But I got lazy, and without realizing it, I basically copied exactly what I had seen on the Internet.  Except, I like the size of Dirtsa Studio's map better, and hers is printed on canvas.  Mine is on wood.   

Still, I love the final product.  (Thank you, Eric for your handiness with a saw and drill.)   Unfortunately,  it looked ridiculous hanging above our television set....

Watch out, Donald!  

Even though it looked stupid to have one black rectangle hanging directly above another black rectangle, that's the wall that I want to eventually look like my inspiration picture.   I decided to try to ignore the irritation it gave me and get on with my life.   But by Sunday, I had had enough.

I started off cleaning the living room and ended up rearranging everything.

So what used to look like this:

Now looks like this:

And what used to look like this:

Now looks like this:
That chaise is not going to live there forever.  We're brewing up a love seat to take it's place.  However, I am not copying one I see off the Internet.  I am buying one.

And what used to look like this:
Now looks like this:

And will someday look something like this:

And the wall that used to house our TV, now looks like this:

Eric had to drill a hole in the floor to reroute the cable wire from the basement.  I was very scared that the new half-inch hole would send our 1870's floors crashing to the ground.  I am paranoid like that.  Luckily, it did not.  

The furniture in the room is much less spread out than it was before, but I actually like it.  It's cozier, and the area by the windows is now a nice, separate, play space for Madeline.  

I also feel a lot better about our future plans now because the furniture is situated where we ultimately want it to be.  It's giving us a much clearer view of what we can, and cannot, actually fit in the room.  The plan is to tackle some shelving solutions over spring break in a few weeks.

So maybe my random urges to create things I see on the Internet isn't so bad after all is said and done.  In this case, it gave us the push we needed to work on this room.  

Monday, March 25, 2013

Lessons in Bad Parenting: If at First You Don't Succeed...

If at first you don't succeed...you should probably just give up.  Cause I did it again.  I ruined my daughter's hair.    

After the debacle of giving Madeline her first haircut, one would think I'd have learned my lesson.  But did I?  No.  What I'm trying to say is this:  I am an ass-hat.  

After observing how long and shaggy Madeline's hair was during bath time last night, I felt the sudden need to cut it.  I was like Edward Scissorhands.  I just couldn't help myself.

The really stupid part is that my sister is a hairdresser, so it's not like we don't know a guy.  I'm not much of a planner, however.  I also don't possess much impulse control or patience.  The urge to cut Madeline's hair entered my brain approximately two minutes before I actually went for it.

Last night, the dim lighting and freshly-washed hair hid a lot of flaws.  It didn't look terrible.  
This morning we let Madeline sleep in a bit later than usual since Eric was taking her to a doctor's appointment.  I left the house for work before she woke up.  Therefore, I didn't get a true assessment of the damage until I got her home this afternoon.


I let my poor child walk around with a rat tail all day long.  Awesome.  What must her teachers think?  My solution was to get the scissors out again to get rid of the tail, but (no surprise) I actually just continued to make it worse.  

Thankfully, there is a Supercuts right down the street from us.  Crisis averted...sorta....
Madeline loved getting her first real haircut. She kept smiling at herself in the mirror shyly.  She got a kick out of sitting in the chair and wearing a purple robe.

They even gave her a lollipop when she was finished.  Mumma never gives her lollipops.  Except when I try to bribe her to go on the potty.  There's that bad parenting thing again.  

Monday, March 18, 2013


According to the weather gods, we may be hours away from our sixth snow day of the school year.  This means we'll be making up for lost time in June when the weather is beautiful and the cherubs are gnawing off their arms at the elbows in anticipation of their freedom.  This possibility is enough to make many teachers cringe at these late-winter storms.  Yet, due to my glass-is-half-empty attitude, I usually don't mind having so many snow days.

I could be dead by June.  An asteroid may hit.  The zombie apocalypse may relegate us to our basements.  Bono could be the new Pope.  There are many things that could prevent me from enjoying the last day of school come June.  

Besides, we all know that someday in the near future all the polar bears will be dead and snow will only be a Game of Thrones-esque reference to an era long past.  I'll take my days off now, thank you very much!

After all, if my students have taught me one valuable lesson over the course of my career it's YOLO.   (I had a student openly mock me for not knowing that term a while back, but later that same week she revealed that she didn't know who Yoda is.  I think we all know who won that battle of street cred.)

The same philosophy generally prevents me from being a successful dieter.  I could be skinny later.  Or, I could eat the bowl of guacamole now before I lose my sense of taste in a horrific snowball accident thus forever robbing me of my joy of food.    

Speaking of which, last week I cut into a mango only to find it was the world's largest avocado.   I took it as a sign that God wants me to eat guacamole and chips instead of fruit salad.  I bent to His divine, and delicious, will.

Anyhow, if this storm turns to naught, and I end up in school tomorrow, I will probably be grumpy.  And if we do have another snow day, I'll probably be grumpy in June.  No matter how you look at it, I end up grumpy.

Moral of the story?  I've got a bad attitude and large thighs.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Letters to Maddie Bear: March, 2013

Dear Madeline,
I can't believe that you're half way through being a two-year-old already.  It was just September.  It was just last March when you were only one and still my baby.

You're having a rough week, my little one.  I'm not sure if the time change is throwing you for a loop, or if you are worried about the selection of the new Pope...but something has been off.  Your fuse is very short, and you've been demanding a lot of time and attention.  It's both frustrating and sad to watch you be so grumpy all the time.

This afternoon you were very upset when I wouldn't let you drink out of a purple cup because you already had a pink cup filled with fresh juice.  You lost your mind when we turned the news on after dinner because you wanted to watch a movie.  (Again, is it the Pope thing?  Don't worry.  They found a new one.)

You've been completely testing limits with every passing moment.  If we tell you not to do something, you just do it faster.

You were helping me cook dinner tonight, (Which means you stand on the step-stool next to me and grab all the spoons out of the silverware drawer.) and I started singing along to some Disney song that came on the radio.  With enough sass and attitude to make Regina George proud, you said, "Mumma you can't sing like Rapunzel.  You're not a princess."  Well excuse me, Miss Maddie Bear.

I guess it's just part of being two and growing up.  Maybe you're having a growth spurt?

Part of this problem is that you've developed a sudden fear of the dark, and therefore, are not getting enough sleep.  You've never been one to resist bedtime.  Although it often takes you a long time to fall asleep, you've always been very satisfied with some alone time.  

Last night, however, you got so scared that you went into hysterics when I tried to leave the room.   You wrapped your little arms around my neck so tightly when I tried to comfort you that it made my heart hurt.

Not knowing how to handle this new phase, I tried a lot of different things.  After your tears had subsided, I let you come down stairs for a few minutes to get a drink and try to talk to you.  You told me, "I'm scared of night-nights."  When I asked why, you said, "I don't know."  I let you keep your light on for a little while hoping you would nod off.  You did not.  I finally convinced you that it was okay to turn the light back off, but you didn't fall asleep until way past your bedtime.

Tonight, you started to get upset when I got up to leave the room after we finished our bedtime stories, but I turned on uour special fairy lamp. I told you to watch it from your bed.  So far it's working.  Knock on wood.

Yet, in spite of the new challenges you're throwing at us, you really are just so much fun.  You are so proud of your accomplishments.  I asked you to put away a bag of lemons for me tonight, and you took the job very seriously.  "Okay.  Okay.  All we have to do, Mumma...put dem in here."

The other day you asked if you could close the bathroom door while we were brushing our teeth.  "I did it!" you cried.  And then, "Thanks for letting me, Mumma!" as if closing the door is such an important job.

I often get caught up in the excitement too.  I'm so proud of you, Madeline.

You've been open to trying new foods again. The other night we actually got you to eat a few bites of salmon.  It might be because we told you the name of the food was "pink."

And my goodness you are so, so smart.   Your vocabulary continues to astound me.  You observe everything around you.  Walking down the hallway at daycare the other afternoon, you pointed at a letter on the wall and proudly stated that it's the first letter of your last name.  Your former infant teacher was standing nearby, and it totally blew her away.  "What two-year-old knows that?" she asked.  

You've started making up your own song lyrics.  It's hilarious.  We've heard lyrics about lying in bed with Olaf and Huggy.  There was one with the lyrics, "In my life.  I'm going to run away."  That had me worried.   Two nights ago, we heard, "Katie Belle is so smart and beautiful."   Sweet.

I think you've inherited Dada's musical genes.

Also, I'm ready to officially make the call that you're a lefty.  You've been favoring the left hand for a long time, but it's so hard to tell.  Now that you are learning to hold crayons and pens properly, it's becoming clear that you almost always use your left hand.  Both your grandparents on your father's side are lefties, so it must have skipped a generation.  Our little southpaw.

I feel like your childhood is slipping through our fingers ever more rapidly.  I'm so worried that I'm taking it for granted.  I'm trying very hard, dear baby girl, to appreciate every moment that you cling to my ankles crying.  Cause someday soon, it'll be the other way around.  "Please, please, please stay home and watch Rapunzel with us, Madeline."

I love you sweetest girl.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Pet Peeves: The Run Around

Someday, after years of unresolved feelings, Madeline will download this blog post to the digital device embedded in her arm to provide her therapist with evidence  of her mother's lack of support.

"See!"  she'll cry, "My mother never understood me!  She complained about me on the Internet when I was only two!!" 

Meanwhile,  I won't even be there to defend myself because by then I'll have been cryogenically frozen before my time and tucked away in a drawer somewhere so as not to put a further strain on the economic crisis of the younger generation.  Either that, or I'll have been turned into Soylent Green. 

In order to save some money on future therapy bills, let me just preface this post by assuring you, future Maddie Bear, that I love you to the moon and back.   Nothing you could ever say, or do, could change that.  (Except maybe turning me into a food group.)   

However, even though you are a continuous ray of sunshine in an otherwise dreary world, sometimes you lead your mother to drink.  Those fun little wine corks you sometimes like to play with?  Those came from somewhere... 

Recently, my biggest pet peeve in raising a two-year-old semi-human is how long it takes to get her dressed.

What should be a simple, five-minute task of pulling simple clothing over my daughter's limbs has become an epic test of wills.

I don't think she's trying to avoid being clothed, although she does take immense joy in screeching, "I'm a naked baby!" on her way to the bathtub.   Rather, I think it's simply because she has the attention span of a gnat.

Tonight's bedtime routine is a perfect example.  As soon as we made it up the stairs, she ran into her bedroom full speed ahead and jumped on her bed.  I finally managed to coerce her over to me to change her diaper, but as soon as she got there, she suddenly changed direction toward the other wall to climb into her bucket of stuffed animals.  From there she got caught up in trying to turn her noise maker on all by herself, but of course she couldn't reach it over all the stuffed animals.  Instead, she ripped all the blankets off her bed in an attempt to get to it.   When I finally got her to lie down, she spied a book lying on the floor that she just had to read right that minute.  By the time that wrestling match was over, I was the one ready for bed.  Meanwhile, Madeline skipped over to her rocking horse and started rocking away.   

I am so sick of demanding, "Madeline are you listening?  Come here and put on your shirt!  We're not done yet."   

Do I need to strap her down?   

Sometimes I wrestle her.  Sometimes I grab her by her ankles and drag her back to me.  Sometimes I make it into a game...which sometimes works, but I'm so damn tired.  Sometimes I yell...which never works.   Sometimes I keep my cool and leave the room until she misses me and begs me to come back to dress her.

Seriously, Maddie Bear, I just. want. to. put. clothes. on. you.  We live in New England.  It's cold here.

On the other hand, in this picture she's wearing her regular clothing, a fleece jacket, a faux-fur vest, and one of my camisoles.  There is no middle ground with this girl.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Winter Family Get Away

When my family started talking about spending a weekend in the White Mountains a few months ago, we skeptically agreed upon the first weekend of March.   After all, would there really still be much snow in March?

Bam.  Snow.

In fact, it snowed all weekend.  Not enough to make us re-enact our own family version of The Shinning, but just enough to frost the treetops and tickle our eyelashes.

We stayed at the Bretton Woods resort at Mount Washington.  There are town homes available to rent, which was the perfect space to accommodate our large group complete with two little ones.

The funny thing about visiting a ski resort piled high with snow is that I don't ski.  In fact, I only came home with one sore spot on my body, and that was from a slip I took on the stairs.  My rugged athleticism knows no bounds.  

Thankfully, there's plenty to entertain besides the slopes.  We went snow tubing on Saturday afternoon.  

I was a bit worried about how Madeline would react to rushing down a gigantic hill in a rubber tube.  As you can see from some of these photos, her scared-y-pants mother, wasn't quite sure herself.  

However, Madeline was barely phased by the whole experience.  After her first run, she quickly asked to go again.  The second time, she just looked around curiously.  The third time?  She fell asleep at the top of the hill.  No joke.  Thrill-seeking sports put my daughter to sleep.  Not. Her. Mumma's. Daughter.  

Oh, and hey, there was a snowman!  

We also got a chance to tour the Omni Mount Washington Hotel, which was pretty amazing.  It looked like something out of a movie....high ceilings, mountain views, crystal chandeliers, and a roof-top ice-skating rink.  The little girls got to attend afternoon tea with the grandparents, while we big kids had a few drinks and snacks in one of the many seating areas off the lobby.  It was Downton Abbey New Hampshire style.  

My favorite activity was the sleigh ride we took that evening.   It was so cozy under the wool blankets listening to sleigh bells as the daylight faded and snow swirled around us.  

The remainder of our time was spent hanging around the condo...mostly eating.  The little girls had a ball playing together.  They got to watch movies in bed, hide in closets, and basically run around till they passed our from sheer exhaustion.

The White Mountains are so close to where we live, and yet, we hardly ever go there.  In fact, other than a brief trip in college, I think the last time we went, I was probably around ten years old.   I'd love to visit more often.

It's so beautiful, and there are so many other activities I'd like to try.  Maybe next time I can injure myself doing something more interesting than falling down stairs...like snow shoeing.  

Sunday, March 3, 2013

February 2013

February got off to a rough start due to a yummy stomach virus. Then, it quickly went uphill.

It was a nice mix of lazy and exciting. We got snowed in, traveled to New York, gained five pounds, and made some small changes around the house.

If March goes by as quickly as February did, it'll be spring break before we know it! I'm ready for warmer weather and longer afternoons. Soon...