On this spooky night Brakes and I happened upon a very rare breed of baby owl.
We think we’ll keep her!
Warning: my inner-braggart is coming out. I am a fairly talented person. I swam competitively from ages 5-18, I was on the speech and debate team in high school, and in college I briefly dabbled in beirut (who didn’t?). In general, I have many gifts. However, these gifts have never amounted to much because I lack one very important characteristic; a competitive spirit. I was always too busy chatting with my opponents to really care about the outcome of the competitions. This character flaw has been a major source of frustration to various teachers and coaches over the years… not to mention Brakes, who would cheerfully shove a Grandma out of the way if she were blocking his path to the finish line.
Well, this morning Eloise and I happened upon the key to unlocking my competitive spirit; it all started with an innocent trip to the mailbox.
Several days ago, I received the newer version of this coupon. It came in a packet with other advertisements. Tucked away on the last page, I spied another deal. It said, “Whopping 50% off total purchase for the first 50 customers at participating stores!” I immediately called my closest store and confirmed their opening time and participation, then Eloise and I sat down and began to plot strategy. Would you think less of me if I confessed that I was tossing and turning all night with excitement?
This morning, despite Weezy’s double late night feedings, I got up when Brakes did. I splashed cold water on my face and dressed in comfortable clothes made for quick movement. I ate a high protein breakfast of peanut butter toast and Halloween candy (I needed the energy!) and waited for the Weez to wake up. Eloise takes after her mama and she typically likes to ease into the day. So you can imagine her disconcertion when she was whisked out of bed, popped into a clean dipe, had an orange bow jammed into her hair (being rushed is NOT an excuse to not accessorize with Fall decor!), and scooted into her car seat where I booked it to the nearest Old Navy.
After much debate, it was decided that a stroller would just slow us down, so away in the Ergo Weez went, down the escalator to join the other bargain hunters patiently waiting in line. I eyed my competition; mostly other moms with babies in strollers. “Fools!” I thought as I practiced my hip pivots with Weezy securely attached to my chest. “Try navigating tight corners with that boat!” I silently berated a mom with the double BOB.
a few hours about 20 minutes, an ON employee came out and explained the rules. The first 50 people in the store would receive a complimentary tote and anything they could shove in the tote would be marked 50% off. Elbows started snaking out to the sides and one woman kept tripping people with her foot as we all inched forward trying to be one of the first 50 in.
Eloise and I were lucky #17! Over the next hour we raced, jostled, tucked, and rolled our way to the check-out counter. At one point Eloise wanted to abort our mission and go home but I simply latched her on in a side carry and put the sun shade up for privacy, and kept marching on. (I do realize I have no shame.)
In the end, for $311.22 I got almost $800 worth of merchandise (most of my purchases were already on sale) for the family. We got:
29 shirts, 11 pants, 2 jackets, 2 packets of socks, and a pair of shoes.
It was a valiant victory and now the family won’t need any clothes for almost a year (although, Brakes, I make no promises. There will be some incidentals that pop up, I’m sure). Now I am exhausted but content in my glory. If bargain-shopping were a sport, I would have a full-ride scholarship at an ivy league school. Who knew it was the thrill of the hunt that would finally wake up my competitive drive?
67, 512 smiles ago,
22, 292 kisses ago,
10, 696 nugs ago,
5, 578 hienie love-pats ago,
1,462 days ago,
468 glasses of wine (and 52 dirty martinis) ago,
211 burritos ago,
115 Sean Connery impersonations ago,
55 Office episodes ago,
36 plane rides ago,
12 heated discussions ago,
6 hours of labor ago,
1 Weez ago,
0 regrets ago,
I married my best friend. Thank you for such amazing agos, my sweet man!
(Blog Challenge #3: When did you know you were a grown-up?)
You would think I would have realized I was a grown-up in moments like these:
*Pushing Eloise out of my pachina. (Am I obsessed with child-birth? Maybe. I just can’t stop marveling.)
*Doing the Heimlich maneuver on one of my preschool students. (Little turkey had swallowed a penny. Thank God, I’d gotten CPR certified the week before. The Heimlich is different for little ones, people. Take a class if you don’t know how to do it.)
*Signing my name on the marriage license that legally committed Brakes to me forever. (Yikes!)
But in all honesty, in each of those circumstances, I was faking. I am no more grown-up now then I was when I felt oh-so-grown-up as a hot-shot sixteen year-old tooling around in a beat-up convertible. In fact, I used to worry that my boss would one day realize he’d hired a child to shape young minds, or that it would suddenly dawn on Brakes that his wife spent an inordinate amount of time day-dreaming and playing house.
Now, I don’t worry so much; I quit my job (so no boss to concern myself with) and it occured to me that Brakes knew exactly whom he was getting when we wed. I am the girl who throws tantrums during long-car rides, thinks her birthday lasts the whole month, secretly still believes in Santa, and loves him with the intensity that only the un-jaded can manage. It is okay that Brake’s wife is still not a grown-up because he has been a grown-up since he was born. With my imagination and his sense of responsibility, Eloise should make out just fine!
(Oh, no! The above sounds awfully introspective; is that the wisdom of years talking? Nah! I’d better go though; it's way past my bedtime.)
Here I am with my favorite playmates:
Look at me all fancy with a tutorial! Ha! Okay, this does not really count as a tutorial because it is only two steps but I still thought it was cute so I decided to share:
I am teaching an edible art class for the Parks and Recreation department (Brakes keeps telling me to “Keep it in your pants, Knope.” He thinks he is very funny.) I am combining healthy recipes that are designed to get kids excited about food and expand their palates, with an art class that fosters creativity and works on fine motor skills. I love kids cooking activities because it encompasses so many skills: sequencing, following directions, self-help, etc. The list goes on and on. (I am kind of an early childhood education dork.) Oh well. Anyways, the first lesson is Picasso Pita Pizza. Allow me to present my lesson plan (were these required to teach the class? Certainly not. I already said I am a dork; I often make color coded power-point presentations for fun):
I was concerned that making Pita Pizzas could be over in a flash so I decided to beef up the class with a little art project. The kiddo’s are going to decorate aprons. Since I am not a zillionaire and aprons don’t grow on trees, I knew I would have to fashion these beauties made out of items from my fave place: The Dollar Store. I bought 10 gingham dishcloths, a set of white muslin napkins, and some grosgrain ribbon for $7. I sewed a hem over the top of the dishcloth and threaded some grosgrain ribbon through. Then I tacked a ribbon on either side of the “aprons” waist. Last I glued a square of napkin to the front of the apron to act as a nametag and to personalize the look. I am planning on the kids decorating the name patch while the Pita Pizzas are baking. In my experience kids love making things they can use! I cannot wait to see my little students toddling around wearing their matching aprons.
My dining room chairs are the most preschooler sized thing currently residing in my house, so I had to make do with Chair modeling the ensemble for me. Obviously I did not iron my finished product.
Yes, I did in fact crop out my messy kitchen. An expert seamstress/apron designer does not have time to clean. It is a little short on an adult but it should look pretty cute and provide good coverage on the little ones!
Next up: DIY Dish Towel Chair Covers… I kid.
(Challenge #2; Watcha reading?)
One of the greatest legacies my parents passed down to me was a love of reading. From my earliest memories I can recall snuggling with my parents reading Good Night, Moon and The Sweet Pickles books. My parents didn’t just love to read with us kids; my dad always had a paperback in his back pocket and my mom has authored several children’s books. Reading was and is an important part of our family culture. This is tradition I really look forward to passing down to Eloise. (Who, by the way, was named after my favorite childhood story-book character ever, Eloise from the Plaza.)
Upon confirming that Eloise was a girl, my mind began to race with all the possibilities our life together held. I pictured tea-parties, and father-daughter dances. I imagined spa days and whispered secrets. I began compiling a list of things I wanted to share with my daughter; topping the list was L.M. Montgomery’s Anne books. After my Nonnie gave me the classic Anne of Green Gables for my birthday one year, I quickly read the rest of the series. These books provided so much, “scope for imagination,” and they truly helped me appreciate beauty; beauty in nature, people, and in the written word. I read these books almost every summer until I went to college and now, guess what? I am reading them again! As I rock my sweet baby to sleep every night I share with her the beautiful prose so artfully spun by my favorite author. The gentle cadence of the fanciful words accompany Eloise as she drifts off to sleep. I know she is too little to follow the story and her vocabulary comprehension is likely limited to “more moomoos?” and “There’s Daddy!” But I believe that some part of her subconscious is soaking up the essence of the words and that their special magic sweetens her dreams.
Around this time of year my loved one’s voicemails and inboxes are inundated with requests to discuss Fall Decor aka FD aka My Obsession. With the first whiff of Autumn and the first crackle of leaves, my body has a kinesthetic reaction. My heart starts racing, my pupils dilate, my mouth begins to water. I feel like I might throw up with the anticipation. I have self-control though (barely). I always wait until the weekend following the first official day of Fall to begin my ministrations. And that time, my friends, is NOW! This weekend begins it all! Candy corn laden apothecary jars! Warm rust silken throw pillows! A spray-painted pumpkin or two!
My bean jars! I almost forgot about my bean jars! They are the BEST part! Stay tuned for a viewing of this year’s finished creation. Until then, I will provide you with this teaser from last year’s festivities!
Don’t worry… we will not be redoing this idea again this year!