7/31/11

Goodbye, July!

Twenty six days over 100 degrees. . . makes us a little wild.




Sayonara, July from the H2O Rambos.



Heat that no air conditioner can cool . . . makes us look cool in our ride.


makes us want to play some tunes . . .




makes us want to keep an emergency stash of cow brew in the kitchen towel drawer (!)




July is over. It has been one long, hot month. You, my faithful readership of 2, have survived a month of mindless blathering from me. Daily posting was a little harder than I anticipated - there's just so much awesomeness we can pack in around here, but we made it! Thanks for taking the time to read about all of our crazy adventures. I hope they made you smile. The goal of posting constantly for back to back fortnights was to increase consistency for a blog that had no new content from December to July. Done. Now we are moving to a maintenance schedule.


We'll see you soon.

7/30/11

Car Crazy



What do you do when it is sweltering outside and you have Matchbox car collection that spans more than 30 years? You build a "parking lot"!



Including an auxiliary "lemon lot" for the unsavory characters.


And you fear attracting the attention of the local Godzilla.

7/27/11

Misty Water-colored Memories



This week has been Jackson's first week of Preschool Swimming Lessons. They are Monday through Thursday evening at the local rec center. The pool is indoors and it is one happenin' place. There are 5 classes of preschool lessons, 2 or 3 classes of school-age children, a class for water babies and their parents, and a full class of water aerobics ladies. Add to that a hoard of parents, some miscellaneous swimmers and a multitude of lifeguards. And what does an indoor pool become when it is over 100 degrees outside for more than 20 days straight? A sauna! But Jackson is having an absolute blast. He spends most of the lesson bouncing up and down like a fisherman's bobber. And in 2.5 feet of water he is fearless, going under the water over and over. I would show you pictures, but from the parents' balcony I can't get anything that doesn't have extreme camera shake. Maybe next week.


Watching Jackson's swimming lessons brings back lots of memories for me. When I was about Jackson's age, I had a little water scare at a German swimming pool. The end result of that was that when we were back in the States, my mom signed me up for so many swimming lessons that my dad refers to it as my PhD in swimming. More Saturday mornings than not were spent at the downtown YMCA. My cartoon watching was seriously impaired. The Y's swimming lesson report cards at that time divided you into groups with cute amphibian life-cycle related names. I can only assume that I had to keep going back because I couldn't make it past Tadpole. The culmination of the whole process was the Flying Fish class. This little enclave of water sprites was led by a formidable force named Mary who appeared to me to be a screaming, whistle-blowing flurry of arms. She was a terrifying tower of a woman and I was all too happy to stay on my side of the floating dividers.


I am glad to say that this could not be further from Jackson's experience. There is nothing but fun going on in that pool. There's even mandatory splash time. May he grow into a fantastic fish. Maybe a marlin.

Oh my OKA b. sandals!

About 2 years ago, my mom picked up two pairs of OKA b. flip flop sandals for me. One was black with turquoise studs and the other was black with a black beaded chrysanthemum on it. They were from a little boutique type store in my hometown, and I wore them as much as possible. Every so often I would see their amazing features written up in a magazine. These are not standard issue flip flops. (from ShoesthatLoveYou.com)



  • They are exceptionally comfortable. They even have massage beads that sit under your arch. They were designed with your foot's own reflexology in mind.

  • They are easy to clean - you just run them through your dishwasher.

  • They are made in the USA - in Buford, GA to be exact.

  • They are anti-microbial and odor-resistant.

  • They are completely recyclable.

  • And best of all, they have a 2 year guarantee.

So earlier this season, some of the beads started falling off one of the chrysanthemum flips. I would randomly find them on the floor. Not good news for a house with a curious dog and a little one who puts everything in his mouth. I thought they were headed for the recycle bin. Then on one of the last nights of our beach vacation, one of the straps popped completely off. I was so sad. I checked on the guarantee. It was for 2 years, but I couldn't remember when I had received them. Not only that, but I didn't even really know where these were purchased or what the name of the style was. Thinking that there was nothing to lose, I sent a note to the customer service e-mail posted on their website. I received an immediate response letting me know that they had identified my sandals based on my description and they were sure they were about two years old. The customer service rep. told me to return the broken sandal with a completed form and they would send me a replacement for FREE! They were no longer making the sandal I had so I would have to pick out a new style for my replacement. SCORE! I had that package shipped out as soon as I could find the mailman. Then I threw the mate in the recycle bin, which felt a little strange and rewarding all at the same time. Then yesterday, Tara arrived at her new home. Love her!



I have been on both sides of the customer service fence and I was overjoyed that this was such a great experience. Not only are the shoes fantastic, but the customer service is too. And that is not something that you see every day!

DISCLAIMER: OKA b. is fabulous, but they did not give me anything in exchange for this post. . . just the spectacular customer service for which they are known.

Who needs a dog house?

Looks like Molly is interested in moving up in the real estate game.

7/26/11

Time-out for Two



Time-out just doesn't have the same impact when your little brother uses the opportunity to come and visit.

7/25/11

Tidbits


  1. MUSING: I spent 7 years of my education involved in choral music. Despite that lengthy tenure, I am still a terrible vocalist, but I did suffer an odd side effect nonetheless. I am filled to the brim with musical prose, and sometimes things just float to the surface. Today it was "Dies Irae, Dies Illa" in perfect rhythm to a long forgotten Requiem. The rough translation for this verse is "Day of wrath! O day of mourning!". Not exactly whistling a happy tune, huh.

  2. TIME WARP: This post is a list of 101 Free Printables. There are some pretty cute things there. I especially love #15 - Star Wars Tags and Stickers (they say "Student by Day, Jedi by Night"!) and #72 - You Get What You Get Print & More (The "& More" includes another printable that reminds us that "the purpose of the task is to strengthen the relationship". It's a great reminder for to-do list people (me).

  3. CONFESSION: I sent my husband to the grocery store at 8:30 PM . . . for Diet Coke. It was a crisis.

  4. UPDATE: Do you know how it feels to drop 10 pounds and 15 degrees in a few short hours? Unfortunately, me neither, but Molly the Labrador does. Apparently, it makes you feel like a puppy again. And when you feel like a new dog, you have no choice but to test out your teeth. This weekend's fatalities: a toy ball and a clothespin (metal portion not included).

  5. REBUFF: So the Kroger gas pumps rejected me this evening. They liked my credit card just fine, but they seemed to have a serious opposition to my zip code. Not wanting to think that Kroger gas is only available for the affluent neighborhoods, I put in a few other zip codes for good measure. The pump did not like those either. I tried a second pump. Same story. Eventually, I had to go old school . . . I had to talk to a human. And she wanted to know how much I was going to spend! It's like The Price is Right - "the contestant who bids the closest to the actual cost of their showcase, without going over, wins the prize". How did we survive those dark days of human interaction? Insanity.

7/24/11

We Can See Stars



7/23/11

Forensic Files for Five Year Olds

So the dog grooming adventure took a sweet forever and we were looking for a way to kill time. That's what led us to a stroll through the dollar store that was next door to the pet store. We were innocently wandering down the toy aisle and that's when we saw this little gem.




Really? How many ways can this go wrong? Yesterday's toy spy kits included things like a secret decoder ring, but today we are training children to be police sketch artists. This is just creepy.

7/22/11

Movie Roulette

We watch A LOT of movies at our house. Dramas, documentaries, comedies, and cartoons all have a chance on our stage. Just based on the law of averages there are few winners and a graveyard of losers. Here's a rundown of the notable viewing at our house over the past couple weeks.




  • True Grit - LOSER; This movie received numerous Academy Award nominations and oddly enough became a pivotal launching point for a number of sermons for an associate pastor who has recently moved West. So we thought we would give it a try. Nope. Still don't like Westerns. And this particular Western moves at the speed of a wagon train with a narcoleptic mule. Do you know what else I don't like in a movie? . . . Griminess. Bleeech. It just makes my skin crawl. I can neither confirm nor deny that the movie Waterworld is worthy of watching, because I cannot make through the whole show. If it's a WATER world, why is everyone so dirty?! True to its name True Grit was a B- on the dirt scale. However, it was an A+ on the nap-able scale so it's still a LOSER at my house.



  • The Box - Minor LOSER; This movie arrived via Netflix and kept getting pushed aside and buried under the mail. Finally it was unearthed and we watched it. Let me say first that this did not come from my queue so I was pretty in the dark as to where it was headed. And that's where it landed - in the dark. This was originally a short story that was made into a Twilight Zone episode that was made into a feature film. At the last turn in its creative journey they added about an hour and a half of sci-fi fantasy, which in my opinion was pretty unnecessary. I would have liked the 30-45 minutes of twisted terror that the Twilight Zone episode offered.




  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II - WINNER; Now this one we liked. It was a great last hurrah for our British friends. Of course, since the books have been bestsellers since I was in college and the movies played non-stop prior to the opening credits of this movie, it was a little hard to avoid a pretty complete knowledge of where things would all land. And no, I did not complete my book reading before going to the movie. It was a definite violation of my own personal book to movie rules, but the childcare was available and those are opportunities that must be seized. CARPE Dinner and a Movie.

7/21/11

MISSING: Half a Dog

It seems to be haircut week around here. After our unexpected relocation to a cooler environment last night, we found that Molly could not get cooled down while she was still wearing a fur blanket. She was making every effort to release herself from the blazing imprisonment, but the result was just a mountain of shed fur. So we set off for Molly's first haircut. This is her BEFORE picture:



And this is AFTER:



Notice how she's trying to bring back the rat-tail.



She was a little worn out from the day's adventures, but definitely cooler!

7/20/11

Today's Post has Melted



Due to an unforeseen indoor heat wave, today's blog post is unavailable. We hope to be back on track after a visit from the doctor of domicile climates tomorrow morning. If you need anything before then, I'll be trying to climb into my freezer.


Be Cool.

7/19/11

A New 'do for the Little Dude



Jackson has had a few haircuts by now, but they have all been focused on curl conservation. The end result of this is that the haircut lasts about a day and a half. So this time we went a little shorter, and I cannot believe how big he looks!

7/18/11

This Land is Your Land . . .



We did a little traveling to a vacation destination last month and during those travels there were lots of license plates to see. Each state seems to have a love for creating some catchy marketing slogan to bring out the best in their homeland. The ones that are currently on license plates cruising the interstates have become pretty familiar to us - "The Lone Star State" (TX), "Sportsman's Paradise" (LA), "Land of Lincoln" (IL), "First in Flight" (NC). These nicknames all seem to put each of those state's best foot forward, but research shows that the picture painted was not always so attractive. Check out these state monikers from the past. Just makes you want to hop in the car and go there, right?



  1. Italy of America - Arizona (don't go looking for canals or cannelloni)



  2. Toothpick State - Arkansas (how much dental digging can one state do?)



  3. Lead State - Colorado (must have gone over like a lead balloon)



  4. Land of Steady Habits - Connecticut (which habits? Handwashing or smoking?)



  5. Goober State - Georgia (Wikipedia claims that this refers to peanuts, the state's official crop, but it's hard to confirm)



  6. Baja Wisconsin - Illinois (this just makes Illinois sound like Wisconsin's purse)



  7. Tall Corn State - Iowa (now those sound like fightin' words)



  8. America in Miniature - Maryland (just like Legoland)



  9. Mitten State - Michigan (NOT going there and I will be avoiding its colder cousin Blizzard State South Dakota)



  10. Puke State - Missouri (I'm sure MO has it's problems, but I didn't think it was THIS bad)



  11. The Last Best Place - Montana (this must be part of the "we're all winners" strategy; I won the last best place every year in the 50 yard dash)



  12. Iodine Products State - South Carolina (this was on the license plates at some point!)



  13. Rip Van Winkle State - North Carolina (sounds like a good place for a nap)



  14. Forever West - Wyoming (an obvious choice for anyone who has driven there)



  15. Land of Infinite Variety - South Dakota (an entire state for the indecisive)

7/17/11

Culinary Fail 07.17.11



In 10 years of marriage, there have been lots of food failures. I'm not completely helpless in the kitchen, but it appears that the more simple the process the more likely I am to produce something less than optimal. How else can I explain why I cannot make Jello without at least a little grit and often a layer of ice courtesy of an overachieving refrigerator? The latest contender in the race for the Food Failure Cup is what is shown above. The intention was a pan of cornbread. The result is neither corn nor bread. It's actually a gold colored cracker. And most insulting . . . this is a mix. As in "add milk and egg, stir and bake". All of which I did. FAIL. So if anyone needs me, I will be in kitchen whipping up some souffle - because that would probably work!

In case anyone is wondering, the eyeball in the picture belongs to one of Jackson's building sets. It's there to keep an eye on things. If by chance we are secretly part of Toy Story, I'm sure it is reporting back to the other toys.

7/16/11

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Houdini

Logan moved from crawling to walking to running in a span of about 20 minutes. Now he's moved on the new heights . . . literally. He is a climber. This week his targets have included couches, kids' tables, and most recently the window ledges. Most frightening of all is that he accomplishes these fetes in seconds. I may not get a bathroom break without tagging in a new player for the next year.







7/15/11

What would Picasso's mom do?





It took every ounce of strength I could muster to not scream and madly dab at what was just moments before were 8 lovely and distinct colors. Because deep down (and sometimes not so deep), I am just like Susie.

7/14/11

Clothing Complaints


I seem to do laundry under a mountain moving philosophy. I like to build up a nice mound of dirty clothes before I attack the task. Each of us seems to have a piece of clothing that is our own personal wardrobe bench warmer and is the final indicator of a full-fledged laundry code red. Because the task is so gigantic, I am thoroughly annoyed at anything that slows the glacial progress. Today, I have two complaints about clothing that does just that.


  • First, there's little boy underwear waistbands. This is a product that has been manufactured for centuries. Therefore, I see no reason that the elastic in the waistband should be so worthless. A few washes in and they are unraveling, leaving long trails of thread that wrap around other innocent pieces of clothing. The little boy underwear seems to be the pro wrestler of the spin cycle - putting other clothes in a half Nelson until they are mangled beyond recognition. Perhaps we should consider that the underroos are the real villains behind the many socks that have been lost their way in the gentle breezes of the dryer.


  • My next beef is with the expedition I am forced to embark on just to find out if I can even let my clothes tumble leisurely in the dryer. For as long as I can remember, there was no question as to where to find all the answers to your clothing care questions. Tags were in collars and waistbands. Period. Now it's like having a first date with my shirt in order to find out if they like to feel the wind at their back or just hang out. Will I find this information in the collar? What about the side seam? And once I do find it, will it be on a heat transfer label, because those seem to have a definite expiration date - "this communication will self-destruct in 5 washes . . . 5 . . . 4 . . . 3"? The other day I had to wash something and its care instructions had no words, just laundry related pictures. It felt a little humiliating to look to Google for a translation in laundry-ese.

So there are my laundry woes for now. However, the fact remains that no matter how much complication gets added to what should be a pretty simple task, my family likes to wear clean clothes. So I'll keep rescuing the socks and interviewing the shirts. But I do think that Mt. Laundry needs a catchy name. Send me your suggestions . . . I'll read them right after I figure out what a triangle with a dot in the center means.

7/13/11

Built by Books

Thank you for sharing your favorite books. There are so many great ones out there that I had completely forgotten. Two of them are below - The Boxcar Children and Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel. Both of these books are great, and seem to have a significant following - their Amazon reviews are positively effervescent. The most exciting thing that both of these books demonstrate is a great spirit of ingenuity and problem-solving ability. These are two qualities that I definitely want my boys to develop.




Problem solving is a funny thing in the life of a preschooler. It seems to be pretty easy when it comes to inventing new reasons why it is NOT time for bed, but it's really hard when it comes to turning your underwear right side out.

7/12/11

Howdy, Hiram



When I was a preschooler, my family lived overseas. We lived on a hill and as a result there was no television reception. Not only that, but there were no DVRs, no streaming HD, and no television monitors strapped to the back of the car seat in front of me. The phone had a rotary dial and a cord. No, it was not Little House on the Prairie, but it was a time that was a lot less "plugged in". So without data being constantly pumped into our consciousness, we only had one way to explore the world. BOOKS! I got new books almost every week. Library books and bookstore books. Picture books and story books. My mother read me books every night before bed. She is a much better story reader that I am - she would read more than 1 book a night and I'm pretty sure she never took a literary license to shorten the story for the sake of bedtime as I have done more than once. One of my favorite books was Hiram's Red Shirt. I have no idea what made it so fascinating to a 4 year old, but it was great. Now I can admire the "make it work" spirit that Hiram shows as he continually transforms his beloved red shirt into useful creations rather than part with it. Where is Hiram when I need my window coverings completed?!

Do you remember any of your favorite books from childhood . . . or last week if they are still the same?


7/11/11

Logan and the Long Ride Home


This summer we've really been able to enjoy all kinds of water activities with both boys. It's pretty different from last summer when we spent many hours indoors completing the two favorite activities of newborns - sleeping and eating. Over the 4th of July weekend we got to go to a pool that had an awesome attached splash pad. Logan once again confirmed that he has no fear where water is concerned. He left no puddle unsplashed and no sprayer undiscovered. And when your legs are a little less than a foot long, that's a lot of acreage to cover. Thus, this is what our drive home looked like for Logan.


7/10/11

Bits and Pieces

1. Breaking NEWS: Wal-Mart is weird. Thank goodness we got confirmation from the Wall Street Journal.


2. Swamp People is embarrassingly addicting. I'm not sure how this made it to the streaming Netflix list, but I would sure hate to have watched every episode of American Logger and miss this Cajun showdown.



3. This dollar store craft project is about to take a turn for the bone yard until I can find motivation. Pebble mosaic . . . that just sounds like something I will be doing in the sanitarium.




4. Here's one author's perspective on the Harry Potter impact on children's reading. Oddly, there is no mention of redemption for British authors. I guess that's just me.


5. My love for Mexican food is legendary. I'll try anything from Taco Bueno to Taco Diner. Last weekend it was time to give Fuzzy's Taco Shop a shot. Fuzzy's appeared in the metroplex a few months ago and seems to be more Latin American than Tex-Mex. That small difference always provides a conundrum for my refined Tex-Mex palate. I got the shredded garlic beef nachos and they were good but not life-changing. I would say a B+ overall. We will have to go back for a second visit - because any restaurant that has their own "butt burning hot sauce" has our interest piqued.

7/9/11

Wands Win




My plan to forge through all of the Harry Potter books before the release of the final movie is about to be declared an official failure. I am currently mid-Book 5 of 7. On the plus side, I am going to have to concede my distaste for all British authors, because Ms. Rowling has an amazing measure of creativity. I have loved reading all my life, but for some reason I have never been able to really enjoy things written by British authors. Tolkein and C.S. Lewis are both authors that I am certain I should love and yet I cannot make it through any of their books without leaving a drool puddle on the pages. Maybe I've finally found my way because I can see so many applications for some HP style magic. Can you imagine the time-outs that my children would be enjoying? Hobbit feet, on the other hand . . . not so inspiring.




7/8/11

What's more fun than a barrel of monkeys?



A tent full of every pillow and blanket in my house, two wild and crazy guys, and their fearless leader.


Life is short.

Have FUN every day.

7/7/11

Battle of the Bathroom ROUND 2



Molly was over the moon when she found out that her story of bathmat destruction had been reported on the world wide web.


So overjoyed that she decided to throw a little party. . .



with confetti . . .


and snacks . . .





This is all that remains of a roll of toilet paper. The cardboard tube has yet to be located. There are going to be some good times in the backyard this week!


At some point, things got a little wild . . .

that's when the toilet paper holder got ripped off the wall.



WAIT! You don't think this could have anything to do with these behaviors?!




Does anyone else have a "bad dog" at their house?

7/6/11

Breaking Up is Hard to Do





Little Boy Blue #2 has made it clear in his very best 1 year old way that he will not take breaking up with his "best friend" lightly. Unfortunately, his bestie is his pacifier.






We were making slow and steady progress on segregating the little suckers to naptime only, but then we ran into the family vacation and the 10 hour car ride. The pacifier was everyone's best friend then. We even let him bring it down to the beach - sandy paci . . . yummy. Now we are home and back in the fight. This is our second round as parents so we are pretty confident that he won't be smuggling these things off to college, but I would still like to stop carrying around what looks like a tiny scuba diver. However, in a short amount of time Logan has shown that he has unmatched determination, so this should be quite a battle of wills.

7/5/11

Battle of the Bathroom


Our dog has now destroyed bath mat number 6 for the year. 6 bath mats! We like to give her free run of the master bath when we are away during the day. It's doggy paradise - nice, cool tile floor, plenty of sunbathing under a big window, and apparently bath mats. In her undeserved defense, it appears that she thinks she's just doing what any other dog would do - fluffing up her sleeping spot. But then a few strings come flying off and she thinks she's under attack. That's when she has no choice but to let the fluff fly. She's obviously always the victor. The concerning thing is that she seems to be getting a little cocky. This last bathmat was hanging over the shower door. I can only assume that it was taunting her.

7/4/11

Happy 4th of July!





Happy 4th of July!






I could not be more proud to be an American and I am so grateful for the sacrifices that have been made to protect the freedom I enjoy. I hope all of you are enjoying a fantastic 4th full of family, friends, fireworks and fun.

7/3/11

Crazy Craft: Dollar Store Hurricane Vases





I haven't been doing much in the way of decorating in the past few years. When we moved into our current house, I was pretty pregnant and the mantra for the new decor was "make it work" - as in, use what we already have and make it work in a new space. But lately, I've seen some amazing design work on several blogs. And when I saw a project to make hurricane vases completely from dollar store materials, I was dying to try it. After trips to two different Dollar Trees, I was ready to start. I picked up 4 candle sticks, 2 vases, 1 candle dish, and a drinking glass. The glue shown above is E-6000 and it comes highly recommended for all your craft adhesive needs. I was a little put off by the warning label which states, "WARNING: This product contains a chemical known to the state of California to cause cancer." Really? Oh well, carry on.


So here's what they look like all glued together.





And here's what they look like on the mantle all done.



I wanted fillers that were fun and summery so we have drink umbrellas, shells and marbles. I'm not sold on the fillers yet, but the project was too easy to be believed.


Of course, I have about a gazillion other projects in various states of completion that I cannot say the same for.


Here's a fun page that shows how to make apothecary jars in pretty much the same way.