Friday, April 29, 2011

In honor of the, I don't mean THAT one

{this moment} - A Friday ritual inspired by SouleMama. A single photo capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Princess Wonder graciously posed for photos with the paparazzi on the way to the bus stop.

Each year the kindergarten classes at my children's elementary school hold a special wedding between the letters of Q and U.  The guests (students) dress up as queens or quarterbacks and two students - supported by shushers (in lieu of ushers) - are chosen to be Mr. Q and Miss U for the big event.  Princess Wonder was asked to play Miss U for her class and - as you can see from this photo - she took her bridal dressing quite seriously.  I don't know if the teachers moved the week that they studied the letters QU to coincide with today's royal wedding of if it just worked out that way, but I know that I'm looking forward to seeing the photos from a very special wedding later today...even if it wasn't the biggest wedding to take place this morning.

May your day be filled with love!

"Love one another and you will be happy.  It's as simple and as difficult as that."  ~Michael Leunig

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Last weekend we traveled as a family down to New Orleans, Louisiana while Running Man participated in his first Ironman event - the Ochsner 70.3 (a half Ironman - 1.2 mile open water swim, 56 mile bike ride, 13.1 mile run).  We started our trip down on Thursday afternoon and got back late this past Tuesday night.  I had big plans - also known as good intentions - to write posts ahead of time and schedule them to be published while we were traveling.  Clearly, with the exception of one day, this did not happen.  Nor have I posted at all since we returned home.  So although I've been absent from this space for longer than I had anticipated, I'm excited to be back and I'll share more about our trip in the coming week.

This afternoon - while Running Man was out on a 100 mile (!) bike ride - the kids and I enjoyed the glorious weather outside in our backyard.  I haven't actually planted a vegetable garden for several years and my raised boxes were full of weeds.  With assistance from the girls (Enthusiastic Explorer Boy was slow to come outside because he really didn't want me to put sunblock on him), we literally dug in and started pulling weeds.  Although it meant leaving more roots behind than I would have liked, I'm so glad that I chose to settle for "good enough" and include my kids in preparing the garden.  Their attention was spotty, but while they were focused on the task at hand it was tremendous fun to have them by my side.

Miss Intrepid and Princess Wonder were my gardening helpers - they especially enjoyed using the kid-sized gardening tools.

Spring in Virginia means temperatures that are all over the place (and pollen...lots and lots of pollen).  Friday was rainy with a high temperature in the 50s and today was sunny with a high in the 80s.  Needless to say, it was hot around here and in preparation for an afternoon of gardening I was sure to have something cool in the refrigerator to drink.  Last year Running Man surprised me one weekday morning by arranging for me to have a manicure, pedicure and a massage at a local spa while he stayed at home with Miss Intrepid.  It was a wonderful gift - for no particular occasion, which made it all the sweeter - and one of the things that I picked up on during my morning at the spa was this drink.  It couldn't be simpler - a pitcher of cold water with a few slices of cucumber (I tend to use the ends that I would normally slice and then toss).  On a hot day it is hard to beat the cool, refreshing taste of water with a hint of cucumber.

I love this vintage Pyrex pitcher...I can't pour from it without spilling all over the place, but it looks cute, right?

I recently discovered Foodgawker and I've been lurking there for inspiration in the kitchen.  When it comes to choosing new recipes to try, I am very visual so this website is perfect for me.  Just yesterday I came across this recipe for a Berry-Cado Avocado Smoothie and I knew that I wanted to blend up one of my own.  I doubled the recipe to make enough for a cool treat for the kids and I as a mid-afternoon treat and still have enough left over to store in the refrigerator for later.  A little lesson I learned while making this - if I expect to use frozen bananas as recommended in the recipe, then I need to peel the bananas before I freeze them.  It is common sense, I know, but apparently it was one of things that I needed to learn by doing.  Something the kids learned while drinking them is that if they set their smoothies down on the deck, then the dog will drink them (apparently she likes them, too).

The kids spied the swizzle sticks (thrifted, of course) the minute I walked out the door with these smooties and came running.

While I finished weeding and planting in the vegetable garden, the kids got down to the time honored childhood tradition of making, and then joyfully playing in, mud.  And really - is there a better way to pass a Sunday afternoon?

I hope that you all enjoyed a wonderful Easter and a beautiful weekend in your neck of the woods.

"There is an eagle in me that wants to soar, and there is a hippopotamus in me that wants to wallow in the mud."  ~Carl Sandburg

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Years Are Short

Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project put together this sweet - and short! - little video illustrating a simple (and simply beautiful) reminder of the fleeting wonderfulness of the present moment.

Because - especially with children - the days are long, but the years are short.

My apologies for the absence of new posts around here for the past few days...I'll be back soon!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

My Kids...they make me laugh, they make me cry, and sometimes they make me crazy

I have been a stay-at-home parent to my children for the past seven years and I am grateful that I have the opportunity to do so.  I'm also grateful that I went back to work right after Enthusiastic Explorer Boy (E2B) was born because I don't ask myself "what if" as it relates to my professional career.  I went back to work part-time and, while I was glad to be working, the experience also helped me feel more confident in my eventual decision to leave the paid working world for a time.  That being said, staying at home isn't for everyone and I think that what is best for mom (generalizing here, sorry dads!) is best for her child(ren).  If a parent wants to be at home and they are working, then they are going to be unhappy.  Likewise, if a parent really wants to be at work and they are at home, then they run the risk of resenting their kids.  As one dear friend says, she is a better mom because she works out of the home (and she is a great mom).

And the thing about being a stay-at-home mother is that - in one respect - it is like any other job.  There are days when I love my job and days when I feel like I should be polishing up my resume and looking for a new one.  As I said in the title of this post - sometimes my kids make me laugh, sometimes they make me cry, and sometimes they make me crazy.  They also make me proud, surprise me, frustrate me, keep me on my toes, amaze me, open the world to me, and teach me.  The magic of my children is often found in small, quiet moments and I wanted to share a few that have jumped out to me in the last couple of days with my son.

From E2B's letter of appreciation to Running Man and me (a requirement from his karate school for each belt test):

Dear Mommy and Da thank you so so so so much for being you.  I like the way you help me.  I love you so so so so so so much no matter what!  How did you learn all this stuff that you teach me?!  Love, E2B

During his previous belt test the school's Grandmaster asked the children how long they spent writing their letters of appreciation to their parents and praised those students who reported spending 10 minutes or more on the task.  E2B had me time him and, as much as I know he loves us, I'm pretty sure all of the extra "so's" are more about filling his own self-imposed time limit than anything else.  I'm cool with that and I'll be sure to keep this letter to remind him how much he loves us and appreciates us when he's a teenager.  And, oh yes, how very much we know because parents seem to know very little by the time their kids hit the teen years (or so I've been warned by friends with older children).

From E2B's homework assignment to write four sentences using four of his spelling words:

What a delight that I can play that game now.
I'm just amused here by his use of the phrase "what a delight".  I think he has been spending time with some older Southern ladies....bless his heart!

I do not know what righteous means.
I'm not sure that I could spell righteous now without the benefit of spell check.  This is from a first grade spelling list!

Lightning comes from the sky.
Partially/sometimes true...I elected not to muddy up the waters of his spelling homework with information about cloud-to-ground and ground-to-cloud lightning.  He's going to have a field day with that soon, though.

I have one right thigh.
Right you are, my boy!

From a birthday card E2B made for a friend:

The heart doubles as a baby and the peace sign an old man...notice neither of these symbols has hair :)

This was under E2B's signature.  When I asked about it, he explained that it means "Love and peace will be with you always, no matter if you're old, young, or in the middle."  Wow!  Color me one very proud mama!

"It's not only children who grow.  Parents do too.  As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours.  I can't tell my children to reach for the sun.  All I can do is reach for it, myself."  ~Joyce Maynard

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Baby Steps Back Into My Kitchen (with dessert...or, if you're me and the kids aren't looking, breakfast)

One of the things that I am challenged by, and that I want to be more intentional about (hear that good are, alone, are not enough!) is preparing home cooked meals for my family.  I first posted about this last summer - before I actually shared my blog with anyone that I know - and there hasn't been tremendous progress since then.  But because I'm willing to share and celebrate little successes where I have them (after all, I am willing to shame myself publicly by showing you my unorganized closets), I thought that I would post about something I recently baked for the first time.  Okay, so it isn't exactly a wholesome meal, but I'd like to think of this as a healthier version of brownies.

My friend Ray over at madeofglass shared a delicious recipe for Dark Chocolate Chip Brownie Bottom Banana Bread and I've had it tucked away for quite some time in my recipe file to try out.  Not wanting to waste the bananas that were starting to get a bit overripe on my counter last week, I decided that this was the perfect time to give it a go.  This recipe yielded me three full sized loafs and they were absolutely delicious...this is definitely going to make a reappearance in my kitchen.  The only changes that I made to Ray's recipe were to use neufchatel instead of cream cheese (about 1/3 less fat) and I used two 8x8 brownie mixes (my "go to" mix is made by Ghirardelli).

By the time I realized that the pictures I took of this chocolate yumminess were on the blurry side, it was long gone.  Not the best picture, but trust me when I say that it was delicious!

Update - with Ray's permission, here is the recipe itself (though please feel free to click on through to his blog for some background about the origins of this yummy treat).  Also, he has thrown down the baking gauntlet and challenged me with this recipe...stayed tuned!

3/4 cup butter, softened
1 8oz pack of cream cheese, softened
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (1 1/4lbs of unpeeled bananas, about 4 medium)
1 cup Ghiradelli dark chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 13×9 package of brownie mix
2 eggs
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup oil
(these last three are per ingredients needed on back of brownie box)
Set your oven at 350 (but I’ve found better results at ~335-340. This is a pretty dense mix, so cooking it a tad more slowly tends to let the middle bake without burning the edges.)
BEAT butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.
COMBINE flour and next three ingredients; gradually add to butter mixture, beating at low speed just until blended. Stir in bananas, chips and vanilla. 
MIX brownie mix, eggs, water, and oil according to directions on box. 
SPOON brownie mix into bottom of 2 greased and floured 8×4 loaf pans.
SPOON carefully (as banana mix is often denser than the brownie mix) the banana mix on top of the brownie base.
BAKE at 350 for about an hour or until long wooden pick inserted into center come out clean. You’ll want to check this at about 30 and 45 mins, shielding the top with tin foil to prevent browning. If you’re using mini-loaf pans, they’ll be done at about 34 mins. 
Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes, remove from pans and cool another 30 before slicing.
NOTES: you may have a tad too much banana mixture for just two pans. Or not. I typically do this recipe split between one 8×4 and three mini-loaf pans (‘cuz I like to share). I’m considering using two 8×8 brownie mixes the next time around and spreading that across three full sized loaf pans.

Happy baking, friends!

"Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity."  ~Voltaire

Monday, April 11, 2011

Thrift Share Giveaway and "Hot Spot" for the Week

Although Simple Mom's Project Simplify officially ended last week, I'll still be focusing on cleaning and purging around my home to provide myself and my family with an oasis of simplicity (or at least, I hope, a house not filled to the brim with junk that needs constant attention).  Megan over at Declutter Daily - who also happens to be the winner of last week's thrift share giveaway (congratulations, Megan!)  - recommended that I look into Org Junkie's 52 Weeks project.  I am looking forward to following along with the challenges and tips that Laura (the professional organizer also known as the Org Junkie) provides each Friday and sharing some of my own thoughts and results here from time to time.  In the meantime, I am challenging myself with consolidating all of the stuff I have set aside in a variety of places around my house/garage/car to give to - or return to - others and getting those things out of the door this week.

And now onto this week's thrift share giveaway.  This week I am offering up this fun and funky sweater to one lucky winner.  The tag says that it is a size large, though I would peg it more as a medium.  If I'm doing my vintage math correctly, then this little piece of vintage fun was made in 1973.  I thrifted this beauty from the bins of the Goodwill outlet, but it didn't survive the cut in my closet clean up so I wanted to help it find a new home where it would be loved.  This sweater is very light and would be perfect for a cool spring day or evening - if you're interested in winning it, please leave a comment between now and midnight EST on Friday.

The colors are as bright today as the day it was made.

I used this RN number (51277) and the Queen of Fifty Cent's tutorial to date this to the 1970s.  In case it wasn't obvious from the style :) 

I haven't been doing much thrifting lately so I haven't had any recent finds to share, but during a little bit of downtime between two soccer games this weekend I got the opportunity to stop by a few yard sales.  It was mid-morning before I dropped in for a peek, but I was still able to find a few goodies.

I bought these at a yard sale raising money for a youth mission trip to Mexico where the kids are going to build a home for someone currently living without one.  The young lady in charge of pricing quoted me $3 for everything but suggested a $5 donation (something I was more than happy to pay and I wish them much fundraising success).
I bought this gorgeous pair of Born sandals that look as though they had never been worn.  They're very comfortable and the color is hard to miss (hello spring!) in a wonderful way.  I also picked up this book of desegregation poetry that was signed by both the author and the illustrator.  Finally, I snagged a few packs of playing cards to be able to tuck into our newly organized game/linen closet and my car (for on-the-go play).

Running Man couldn't understand why I was taking a picture of my own foot, even after I explained that I wanted to share this lime green awesomeness on my weekly thrift share post.  I'm not sure that he gets the awesomeness of the lime green either!

This blue is so lovely, isn't it?

This yellow and the sunflower definitely put me in a summer frame of mind.  Good thing because it is supposed to be in the upper 80s around here today!

Like the green sandals, these lovely glass flower medallions make me think of the burgeoning spring season and I look forward to hanging them in the window.  I found these at the bargain price of $1 for the pair at a neighborhood sale.

I'm linking up with Apron Thrift Girl's Thrift Share Monday...hop on over to check out the thrifted treasures hunted up all over the world this past week.

"Spring is nature's way of saying, "Let's party!"  ~Robin Williams

Sunday, April 10, 2011


This weekend was full...full of soccer games, full of meetings (for me), full of training (for Running Man) and - thankfully - full of time with friends.  On Saturday evening we joined some dear friends at their home for an impromptu birthday celebration along with four other families.  In addition to all of the adults present, there were about a dozen kids running about.  We had a wonderful time full of delicious food and great conversation.  One of my favorite moments of the night was when the children decided to perform on a variety of instruments for the adults...we heard pieces played on the violin, the cello, and the piano.  Enthusiastic Explorer Boy (E2B) and Princess Wonder both take piano lessons, but they were enthralled by the violin and I have a sneaking suspicion that they'll be lobbying for learning a stringed instrument sometime in the future.

Earlier this afternoon, while Running Man was on a long bike ride followed by a run, the kids and I went to a lunch gathering with some folks from church. The weather today was beautiful and it was the perfect time to spend in fellowship with people that I don't usually get the chance to talk with in depth.  Often my conversations with folks at church take place while I am simultaneously trying to round up my kids after the service and make sure that they don't overrun the food table.  It was a real treat for me to enjoy adult conversation in a laid back environment while the kids played happily nearby (and wore out the hosts' dogs in the process).

And, of course, with the beautiful weather our neighbors were out in force and there were plenty of kids - and adults! - to hang out and play with until it was time to call it a night and come in for dinner.  But one of my favorite moments of the weekend was much quieter than the others.  During our afternoon "quiet time" (something that is as much for my benefit as the children's), E2B and I decided to read our separate books together outside on the front porch. Once out there, my sweet boy asked me to sit on the wicker couch with him so that we could cuddle while we read.  Why yes, I'd love to!

See those grass and dirt stains on his jeans?  That's the sign of a day well spent in my book!

All of our time spent as a family and with friends this weekend reminded me why it is that I'm on this path towards living with greater intention.  These are the sorts of experiences that I want to cultivate and how I want to be spending my time.  I hope that you, too, enjoyed a weekend full of fellowship and good friends!

"But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life, and thanks to a benevolent arrangement the greater part of life is sunshine."  ~Thomas Jefferson

Friday, April 8, 2011

Project Simplify - Week 5 Results

This week marks the end of Simple Mom's Project Simplify, though not the end of clearing clutter out of my life...both literally and figuratively.  In the coming weeks - and likely months - I will be featuring my own personal hot spots around my home as I tackle them.  But of course, being on a mission to live my life intentionally goes much deeper than having an organized and clean home.  It is a logical place to start, though, so without further ado here is this week's hot linen and master bath closets.

Before pictures:
Wow...this is actually my hallway linen closet.  As you might be able to guess, this was so full that I would literally shove things wherever I saw a space and hope that the door would shut.  Admittedly not the best organizational plan.

The closet in our master bathroom - it could also be known as the place that towels go to die, apparently.

During pictures:

I don't know what Miss Intrepid enjoyed most about this clean up - playing with the games that we took down from the closet or helping with the label maker.

I thrifted this vintage Memory game from the late 1960s in an op shop while living for a short time in Wales.    The pictures on the cards are just beautiful!

After pictures:

This is what is heading out of my house...woo hoo!  Those are a lot of games.  And a lot of sheets.  And towels.  I realize that most of the towels have been cut out of this photo, but take my word on this one.

I now know that games fall under the category of aspirational clutter for me.  I enjoy playing games as a family and - as is clear from this pile (which doesn't even include what we've kept) - I have good intentions for us to play them often.  I don't know that we've held a family game night more than once or twice since 2011 dawned.  We had more games lurking in our closet than we will ever play and, truthfully, many of these games we've never played.  Some we received as gifts, some belonged to Running Man or I when we were children, and many were thrifted.  For example, I bought the Chinese game of Go at a yard sale nearly a decade ago thinking that Running Man and I could learn to play it together.  True, we've been known to play cards when we're out to dinner (yeah, we're cool like that), but the two of us don't otherwise spend quality time playing board games.  In fact, this is one of those games that we've never played.  So why do we still have it?  Reminiscent of my guitar, I have been holding onto this idea of me/us that doesn't actually match reality...a reality that I'm happy with.

This is the hallway linen closet now.  I got rid of things that I didn't know I had and things I certainly didn't need.  Now I not only have much less stuff to contend with, but I can see it all and it is easily accessible.  Check out all of that empty shelf space!

And speaking of empty shelf space, I now have an abundance of it in the bathroom closet as well.

Another good, satisfying step in decluttering.  There is still a long road ahead and I look forward to sharing the journey.  I'm linking up to Simple Mom's results post and am heading over there now to check out the hot spots that others chose and the progress that they've made for inspiration.  Happy Friday, friends!

"I am thankful for a lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning and gutters that need fixing because it means I have a home...I am thankful for the piles of laundry and ironing because it means my loved ones are nearby."  ~Nancie J. Carmody

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I Got Dunked in the River by a 5th Grader...or Why Today Was AWESOME's true.  I did get dunked in the river by a fifth grader (well, the lower part of me did anyway) and today was awesome!

I've written about my goals for 2011 several times and I've even provided an update on goal #4 - "Complete my Virginia Master Naturalist certification."  What I haven't yet shared is what led me to pursue this certification.  There are actually many reasons why I want to become better educated about the natural areas and resources right in my backyard, but the one that resulted in me being dunked in the river today is that I want to be an environmental educator for children.  After a lifetime of soul searching to uncover my passion in life - which goes to the classic what-do-I-want-to-be-when-I-grow-up question - I've come to the unshakeable conclusion that teaching kids about the magic and wonder of the natural world around them is what sets my soul afire when I think about a career.  To me, this quote from Senegalese conservationist Baba Dioum captures what it is about environmental education for children that stirs my soul. - "In the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, we will understand only what we are taught."

And that brings me to goal #14 - "Partner with the local elementary school to share environmental education opportunities with the students."  This morning I joined the teachers of five fifth grade classes to test water quality in a nearby river.  And yes, when one student started to fall backwards in the water I grabbed him in a bid to keep him vertical and ended up with water down my waders.  It was fantastic - the whole morning was just fantastic!  The kids had a great time, I had a great time, and the teachers seemed to have a great time.  I am really looking forward to going out in the river again next month to see what changes the kids see in their data.

This little guy (who was about to be released into the river when this picture was taken) was - hands down - the kids' favorite critter.  Despite having reached the age of being too-cool-for-school, when the turtle came out of the river there was a virtual stampede of 10 and 11 year olds anxious to get a closer look.

The infrared cameras set up overnight by the testing site caught a glimpse of the beaver whose hard work can be seen here.

Deer tracks

After my morning of fun on the river, I had just enough time to pick Miss Intrepid up from preschool and meet up with a girlfriend for lunch.  Of course, this meant arriving slightly damp.  I shucked my socks, rolled up my pants, and went anyway (I know that my very fastidious brother is cringing somewhere right now - Running Man just shook his head and looked unsurprised when I relayed this story to him).  Luckily for me, my friend Ryan from The Woven Moments is one of those special friends who not only didn't mind my wet clothing, but accepted it as completely normal (or nothing to look askance at, anyway).

Making a soggy fashion statement
Do you have any friends who you just connected with on level after level the very first time that you met?  Someone that makes you laugh, supports you, and someone with whom you can really talk about your deepest hopes and dreams when you sit down for a mid-day meal?  Luckily for me, Ryan is one of those special friends.  You know...the sort of person who rolls with my less-than-ideal state of dress like it is no big deal, who can relate to my life in so many ways, and who looks upon the dining out antics of my youngest child with honest affection.  In fact, she is the type of friend who would happily take my three year old to the bathroom - at the request of said three year old - so that I could have a few minutes of quiet and solitude in the midst of my day.

After the excitement of wading in the river and the fun of lunch with a wonderful friend, my day was filled with sunshine and hours of outside time with Enthusiastic Explorer Boy, Princess Wonder, and Miss Intrepid.  Oh yes, it was an awesome day indeed!

"If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life."  ~Rachel Carson

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Rockin' My To Do List (sort of)

As I've mentioned before, I'm a list maker.  Between my tendency to take on more than I can comfortably fit into my days - I often seem to underestimate how long it will take to do just about anything (especially if it involves my children) or to overestimate how much time I have to get it done - and my tendency to procrastinate when I'm feeling overwhelmed, I end up with items perpetually residing on my to do list that never seem to get accomplished.  There they sit weighing heavily upon my mind and drawing me further into a bog of inactivity.  Ironically, many of these niggling to do items wouldn't take much time to just do and cross of my list.  So earlier this week, I finally tackled a grouping of tasks that had been staring at me from my list for longer than I had intended.

What were these niggling tasks?  They were items that I needed to pack up and mail.  This is the fourth week that I've linked up to Apron Thrift Girl's Thrift Share Monday - where I've hosted a giveaway for a previously thrifted item instead of sharing newly thrifted items - and until this week I hadn't mailed any of the giveaway items that have been awarded to their respective winners.  A big part of it has been that mailing vintage Pyrex is tougher than I had planned for - these pieces require careful packing and don't fit into standard sized USPS Priority Mail boxes (my preferred mailing method).  But certainly there has been an element of simply not getting it done right away, so these particular "to dos" started to loom larger and larger on my list, and rather than just take care of them I adopted the if-I-don't-acknowledge-them-then-they-don't-exist approach.  This is a perfect case of good intentions, but not enough deliberate intention + a dash of procrastination + too much "clutter" on my to do list = creating unnecessary stress for myself.  Nonetheless, they are on their way.

But my Thrift Share giveaways aren't the only thing that went out in the mail this week.  Don't get me wrong, I was excited to cross the giveaway mailings off of my to do list and to know that the recipients were excited about what they will be receiving in the next day or so, but I was even more excited about mailing these!

Eleven inches of what used to be my hair on its way to be combined with hair from other donors to make a wig for a woman facing hair loss on top of battling cancer.  I had my hair cut back in February.  My intentions were good, but this hair wasn't actually going to make it into a wig sitting in my closet.

There are several great organizations out there that accept hair donations and I've chosen to support the Pantene Beautiful Lengths program.  Pantene pays for wigs to be produced using hair donations and they are then distributed, at no cost to the recipient, through the American Cancer Society to women who are facing hair loss due to cancer treatment.  This was my second donation (the last time was when I was pregnant with Miss Intrepid and I was so relieved once it was long enough to cut - throwing up 10 times a day is miserable anyway, throwing up 10 times a day into your own hair is beyond disgusting), though I'm not sure how many more donations I'll be able to manage because hair becomes unusable one it is more than 5% gray.  As someone who has been graying since my late teens, I feel safe in hazarding a guess that I'll be at 5% soon.

Between now and reaching that 5%, though, I'd love to know what you do to stay on top of your to do list.  I can use all the help I can get here!

"Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair."  ~Kahlil Gibran

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Thrift Share Giveaway and Project Simplify Hot Spot #5

I had intended to share this post yesterday to match up the timing with Apron Thrift Girl's Thrift Share Monday and the announcement of hot spot #5 over at Simple Mom for Project Simplify, but under the auspices of better late than never, here it is today.

For this week's thrift share giveaway I'm going to offer up something a little bit different than the vintage goodies that I have posted for the past several weeks.  Looking for a new home this week are seasons one and two of Lost on DVD.  I was absolutely mad about this show when it first came out and I watched each episode of the first two seasons without fail.  I started out strong watching the third season as well, but then I was so very ill during my pregnancy with Miss Intrepid that I didn't keep up with the rest.  I decided that I would just rent the DVDs and watch them after the third season wrapped up to get ready for seasons four, five, and six.  And then real life happened.  I had a baby that needed much more of everything from me than my first two.  I was adjusting to having three young children under the age of five at home with me.  We moved to Wales temporarily.  Needless to say, keeping up with just about anything - let alone a television show - fell to the wayside.

About a year ago I was very excited to find these DVD sets at my local Goodwill.  I bought them with the thought that I could get Running Man to watch them with me (I think he saw an episode here and there, but for the most part it would have been new to him) and then we could rent the subsequent seasons.  That was a year ago.  We have watched none of them.  I am not going to make the time for them anytime soon.  At this point I'm ready to let these DVDs go to someone who might actually watch them because it is falling into the category of aspirational clutter at my house.  So - if you are interested in winning these DVDs, simply leave a comment on this post between now and midnight EST on Saturday (since I'm a day late it only seems fair to give folks some extra time to comment).

Warning: seriously addictive viewing enclosed

Congratulations to Kylie over at Lucy Violent Vintage for winning last week's giveaway - the vintage mushroom and ladybug latch hook pillow kit will be on its way to her soon!

On the Project Simplify front, Tsh announced the final hot spot yesterday.  Drum roll please...the final hot spot is whatever we want.  I have so many areas of my home that I'd like to tackle (and Tsh offered some great suggestions), so I had to think a bit about what I most wanted to take on this week.  After some consideration I have settled on my linen closets.  I have one in the hallway that is overflowing with linens and board games and my master bathroom closet also seems to be bursting at the seams.  I feel confident that I can completely get through these closets in a week (unlike some of the other hot spots like kid toys and clothes) and I look forward to sharing my results here on Friday.

In the meantime, I'm linking up to Thrift Share Monday.  Here's to wishing you all a wonderful day!

"Dear Diary, still on this bloody island.  Today I swallowed a bug.  Love, Claire"  ~Charlie upon seeing Claire writing in her diary (season one of Lost)

Sunday, April 3, 2011


This weekend Running Man, Enthusiastic Explorer Boy (E2B), Princess Wonder, and I participated in a 1 mile kid run and 10K (6.2 miles) race.  This was E2B's third year running in this particular miler and Princess Wonder's first (though she did run in a 1 mile trail run for elementary school children this past fall).  Running Man blew me away by finishing the 10K less than a minute off of his personal record set in high school!  I didn't meet my goal of running in under an hour, but the fact that I didn't work out at all for most of the month of March had everything to do with that.  My reasons for not keeping up my regular gym regimen ran from entirely legitimate (traveling out of state at the end of February to be with my grandmother during her last days of this life, sick children who needed me at home, etc.) to completely lame excuses with only a hint of legitimacy (a lot to do at home, feeling tired and wanting extra sleep, etc.).  As my work out partner - who also missed several weeks of working out during this timeframe - lamented, it takes weeks to build your fitness level up and only days to start losing it.  Nevertheless, I ran the entire race and felt great while doing so.  I finished just a few minutes over my goal time and I am confident that I'll get that down to under an hour before the end of this year.

E2B and Running Man snuggling for warmth before the race

And they're off!  This was the last I saw of them until the finish line. 

Run, Princess Wonder, Run!

About to cross the finish line

While running with Princess Wonder I actually got choked up watching a young boy - he was running in the 5-7 year old wave, I pegged him at 6 - run with two young men who I believe were in their late teens.  I was reading the back of the child's t-shirt - sponsored by a bereavement group whose name I can't remember - that said he was running in memory of (and this was written in his sweet little boy handwriting) "My Daddy" along with his father's name.  The only thing that kept me from actually crying was the fact that it would have been upsetting for Princess Wonder and I didn't want to diminish her excitement.  I was so incredibly sad to think about this young boy's loss and grateful for the two young men who woke up early on a Saturday morning to run with a grieving child.

This particular 10K race is one of my favorites to run and continues to grow every year - this year 41,000 people registered!  The course is flat and takes runners largely through a beautiful historic neighborhood.  Bands are set up every half mile or so and thousands of spectators show up to cheer on the runners.  There is a definite party atmosphere and I've not seen so many red plastic cups since my days as a undergraduate in college.  Even amongst the runners there is a great sense of fun, camaraderie, and support.  You just never know what you're going to encounter along the way.  One of my favorite surprises was seeing the elaborate proposal that had been set up for one of the runners.  At about mile 5 1/2 there was a large sign (think 20' X 10') hanging on the second story of one of the row houses asking someone by the name - or perhaps a nickname - of Hollywood "Will You Marry Me?"  The person proposing had a beautifully appointed table set up with champagne and flowers along the road.  I hope she said yes!

The local paper sponsors a costume contest for runners with both individual and group winners.  The kids had their favorite (who actually took first place for the individual contest).


Angry Birds
This contestant is apparently a second year med student who had to ride with his costume in pieces on the bus to the race where he reassembled it.

The kids said that they liked my group favorite, but it didn't hold quite the same "that rocks!" feeling for them as it did for me.  Someday - when they're old enough to understand and appreciate it -  I'll be sure to introduce them to the comic genius that is Monty Python and the Holy Grail (I took a class about the legend of King Arthur in college that makes me love this movie all the more).

The Three Headed Knight

The Black Knight - "It's just a flesh wound!"

That funny bloke with the coconuts
We had the most bizarre weather on Saturday afternoon that included sunny skies punctuated by brisk winds, thunder storms, and hail.  Nonetheless, Miss Intrepid got to play in her first official soccer game before the rest of the day's games were called off.

Miss Intrepid frequently stopped while she was on the field to flash us a big smile or to run over and give her sister a hug.  Really, how adorable can you get?

Although it was entirely too cold for short sleeves, E2B couldn't wait to take his sweatshirt off (I think he was just excited about the new-to-him shirt I had thrifted last year for him).  He has his hands over his head because we were in the midst of a small hail storm.

Princess Wonder looking for special rocks in the grass while singing to herself.  Her game was cancelled just after we arrived on the field - it was raining and the wind was blowing so hard that the goals wouldn't stay up.  She and her teammates seemed completely flabbergasted as to why they wouldn't be playing.
I hope that you enjoyed your weekend, as well, and that you'll join me tomorrow for Simple Mom's reveal of the final hot spot for Project Simplify and Apron Thrift Girl's Thrift Share Monday.

"Running has given me the courage to start, the determination to keep trying, and the childlike spirit to have fun along the way.  Run often and run long, but never outrun your joy of running."  ~Julie Isphording, Marathon winner

Friday, April 1, 2011

Project Simplify - Week 4 Results

I'm checking in for a quick post tonight to share partial results of my Project Simplify hot spot #4 clean up.  As I said on Monday, I've done a fair amount of decluttering and reorganizing in my kitchen over the past couple of months, but there have been a few lingering areas that I either haven't dealt with or that get used often enough that regular attention is needed.  One of the biggest if-I-don't-look-at-it-I-can-pretend-its-not-there spots was this cabinet that I originally designated for cleaning supplies.  After having children I moved all of my cleaners - whether all natural or the equivalent of toxic waste - up high so that little hands could not get into them.  As you can see from my before photo, a whole lot of stuff got jammed in there around those cleaning supplies.

Junk drawers are bad enough, but a junk cabinet is just over the top!

Here is what my formerly overflowing cabinet shelves look like now.

It might be hard to see from this photo, but I got to indulge in my love of label making by whipping up some labels for certain shelves/sections.  How did I end up with so many bottles of bug spray and sunblock (bottom right hand corner)?  Oh yes...I just need to refer to my before photo for an explanation.

To get my cabinet to this point I got rid of some things, but mostly I moved things to areas that were more sensible.  We somehow ended up with a LOT of water balloons.  I limited the number of balloons that we kept to what would fit into a clear plastic storage container (recently purged from the kitchen) and then moved them out to the garage for easy access once the summer heat is upon us.  I moved the pet care products that I don't need on a regular basis to my laundry room where I keep the rest of their "stuff".  And so on and so on.  I can now actually get to everything in this cabinet and I'm not worried about causing an avalanche whenever I open the door.

I still have more work to do in my pantry and refrigerator.  Mostly I just need to clean shelves, etc. because Running Man cleared out any science experiments from the fridge last week and - honestly - I really need to go the grocery store so there's not that much in there.  Just for fun, here's a little look at some of what came out of my kitchen during a recent purge.

Yes - that's all vintage Pyrex.  Not to worry, I still have plenty lurking around my kitchen!

I'm linking up to Tsh's results post over at Simple Mom...stop on by to be inspired by everyone's hard work!

"Even though you can't have your home exactly the way you'd like, just doing something is important.  Imagine if you never cleaned or organized anything at all - your home would implode from the disaster. Your work has meaning.  Your family needs you."  ~Tsh Oxenreider