Monday, November 10, 2014

Upstairs Bathroom Remodel

When we bought this house nearly three years ago, the upstairs bathroom was one of the first things we wanted to redo. Even though the original black and white floor tile was cool, that was about it. The rest of the room screamed OLD! DIRTY! HELP ME!

There was a wobbly pedestal sink instead of a vanity with drawers, which was completely impractical for two growing girls with lots of hairbands and nail polish.

There was gross "white" tile and grout that you could never get clean and a heavy cast iron bathtub that had stains that dated back several decades.

There was a phone jack in the wall for conducting your business while you conduct your business. Sick.

And my personal favorite was the lovely 24 x 18 inch hole in the wall where the old wall furnace used to sit.

For three years we hated that bathroom. But, every time we thought we were ready to remodel, something else came up.

We filled in a leaky pool.
We put in a privacy fence.
We replaced the dishwasher,
sump pump,
hot water tank,
garage door,
washing machine, and
We redid the carport.
We got new shutters.
We had the trees pruned.
We landscaped.
We fixed electrical issues.
We added a kitchen banquet.
We painted inside and outside.
We bought a riding lawn mower.
We fixed the roof.
We fixed the porch.

Then, finally, we were ready.

Let the DEMO begin!

Once the crew took the old medicine cabinet out, we figured out what that little slit in the back of the cabinet was for...

It was where people used to throw away their old straight razor blades! We found dozens of them inside the wall!

After over 6 weeks of construction, due to issues with every phase of the remodel, AND the fact that we had to buy an all new heating and air conditioning system about three weeks in, we finally have a gorgeous bathroom to enjoy!

We are still working on the decorating details, but the structure is there and I'm loving it!

Next on our list is the Master Bathroom!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Onward and Upward

I am sitting on a beach towel, at the back of the crowd, made up mostly of parents and their small children. The movie UP is playing on the big screen in front of us. Anna is on my left. Happily watching the movie...munching on popcorn and playing with her light-up yo-yo. Brendhan is to her left catching up on the OU Football press conference on his iPhone.  And I can't stop staring at the girl a few rows up from us. 

She is beautiful, but you can tell she has no idea. 

Except, maybe, when she walks to get popcorn with her friend, she ads a little extra pop in her hips, like she knows I'm watching. 

Her long, curly, brown hair hits the top of her tank top and just pools there in a curly mass of highlights and summer memories. 

She leans over and listens to something her friend says and they giggle. 

She looks over her shoulder and sees if anyone is watching. I quickly look down at my phone so she won't catch me staring. 

I notice how tan her shoulders are against her white tank top. She has spent a lot of time at the pool this summer. 

She sits up straight and tall. She looks so graceful and collected like she is keenly aware of the placement of her right ankle over her left and her hands clasped in her lap. 

I wonder what she is thinking about as she stares ahead at the movie. 

I wonder if she is thinking about her sister and remembering the last time they watched this movie together on their fluffy chairs inside a tent set up in her bedroom. 

Or when they put a leash on a stuffed blue bird and pulled "Kevin" around the backyard until they got to the treehouse version of Paradise Falls, where they collapsed in a tangled pile of squealing laughter. 

I wonder if she is thinking about me and remembering the time she looked at me with tears in her eyes during the part where Ellie dies and Carl has to carry on without her, and said, "This movie is too sad, Mom" and I replied, "I know baby, it is sad. But, I think it will be better in a minute."

I watch the girl from the back row. 

An audience of one, watching a movie about a girl that is full of drama and comedy. 

A movie that has a crazy cast of characters and a twisting plot. 

A movie about growing up, falling in love and chasing your dreams. 

A movie that is too sad, but, hopefully, will be better in a minute. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Learning Through Doing

As the summer comes to an end, I find myself reflecting on the last few weeks and trying to decide whether I feel satisfied for checking all of the To Do's off my list, or whether I fell short and need to spend the next week doing ALL.THE.THINGS. to prove I didn't waste away this entire summer.

For starters, I didn't teach Anna to read.
In fact, I don't think I read more than 10 books to her all summer.
But, Ava did.
I can't count the number of times I saw Ava reading a book to Anna with the picture side facing out, like a teacher during storytime.

Speaking of teaching, I didn't do a whole lot of that either.

I had big plans.


I bought like 10 Summer Bridge books. I pinned actual lesson plans. I bought a nifty planner and wrote down all of these BIG BIG plans in my neatest, smallest handwriting.

And, in the end, the lesson plans, and the pins, and the perfect penmanship, just weren't necessary.

We were simply too busy LEARNING THROUGH DOING to worry about STUDYING.

Things like swimming together every day.

Ava learned how to swim the entire length of the country club pool in one breath.
Anna learned how to tread water and how to go down a water slide without her floaties.
I learned that kids love when you get in the water with them.
Even if you just hold them like babies and walk around in the pool with them on your hip,
they love this.

Things like riding bikes to Chisholm Corner to get a piece of candy.

Ava learned how to pay for things and how to get the most for her money.
Anna learned how to ride her bike without training wheels and how to use the back brakes to slow down on the big hill.
I learned that kids open up to you when you are on a bike. Some of my best conversations with the girls occur when we are on two wheels.

Things like golfing.

Ava learned how to be on a team, how to play 9 holes without stopping for a break and how to be a strong female competitor in a male dominated sport.
Anna learned how to sell pretzels off the back of the golf cart to make a few bucks.
I learned how to keep score, which club does what and how to be Ava's biggest cheerleader.

Things like staying home. 

The girls learned how to play together. Really play TOGETHER.
They learned how to be big sister, little sister, friend, teacher, student and partner.
They fought, they made up, they put "Stay Out" notes on their doors, they slept in the same bed at night, they hit and kicked and they hugged and made up.
I learned to let them work it out. To stop hovering. That Ava can do a lot more than I allow her to do. That Anna will do too much if I don't keep an eye on her. I learned that I long for a quiet, peaceful home, but if they are playing too quietly, this is often a sign of trouble. I learned that Anna drives Ava nuts and Anna thinks Ava is bossy, but they can't go more than a couple of hours without missing each other like crazy.

I learned that I feel the same way. 

I learned that sometimes I just need to breathe, trust, let go, and see what happens.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Top Secret Girls Only Book Club - The Chocolate Touch

Reading is at the top of my Favorite Things to do List.
Over the years my tastes have evolved from chick lit (Kinsella) and Mystery (Patterson) to memoirs (Moehringer) and non-fiction (Hillenbrand).  But, I generally have anywhere from 5-20 books on my bedside table in various states of consumption. My family is used to seeing me retreat from the evening chaos to curl up on my bed to read for "a few minutes" nearly every day. 
Reading is my normal.
And I really want reading to be something that my kids enjoy, too.
That being said, reading hasn't exactly come naturally for either of my girls.
When they were toddlers, they would never sit still long enough for me to read to them.
Ava, especially. 
Ain't nobody got time for dat.
Which is probably why she didn't start *really* reading until First Grade.
But, even then (and now) she sees reading as a destination, rather than a journey.
It's just something else to check off her To Do List or,
most recently, as a way to earn AR points to buy trinkets at school.  
Anna started reading in December of last year.
She can sound out words,
has several sight words memorized
and can make her way through most of the BOB books,
but I wouldn't say she loves it.
Again, it's more of a means to an end.
And, if it's something that Ava can do then, by God, she's gonna do it, too.
I saw the idea of a Kids Book Club on Pinterest and started doing a little research.
And pinning. 
Lots of pinning.
(Sorry followers)
And I decided to give it a whirl.
Most kids, mine included, will read whatever you tell them to read,
 but they aren't just going to pick up a book and start reading...
especially during the summer. 
So, a Summer Book Club made perfect sense.
It will be a way for Ava and her friends to stay in contact,
stay focused and stop the "summer slide"
that occurs during the lazy summer months
when there is very little learning going on.
I invited a few of Ava's peers
that I thought were all on the same reading / interest level,
assigned our first book - The Chocolate Touch -
and we were off!
The first meeting was a hit!
A few of the girls couldn't make it due to graduation /
end of school stuff,
but we had a good group of five (plus little sister)
that made it easy to facilitate discussion and activities.
The girls answered about 25 questions about the book...some fact recall, some prediction and some comprehension / analysis, while they enjoyed a Hershey's chocolate bar. I was pleasantly surprised how well everyone did on the questions. Everyone obviously had done their homework!
Then, they completed a candy word puzzle (unscramble the letters),
while I prepared the chocolate fondue.
Next, we all enjoyed various foods
(strawberries, pineapple, pretzels, graham crackers, marshmallows, etc.)
dipped in chocolate!
Finally, the girls decorated their own book bags
and folders for them to store their Book Club goodies!
We plan to meet every other week during the summer
to encourage regular summer reading and to, hopefully,
spark a lifetime love of reading!

Our next book is Clementine by Sara Pennypacker! Can't wait!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Mother's Day

At first I didn't think I liked this picture because it looks like Ava was giving me a fake smile...the kind that didn't make it all the way up to her eyes and like Anna was just following my instruction with no emotion...hug your sister and try not to choke her out.

But the more I look at it, the more it tells the whole story.

Long, lanky limbs, full of scrapes and bruises and sweet awkwardness. Always on guard. Wanting to please but not sure how to go about it. Very protective of her sister but a little jealous too. Teaches Anna everything she knows about life. Growing more mature and more beautiful every day that passes.
Loves her Mom deeply and privately.
Sticky and sweet and a little mysterious, like snowcone that has several flavors blended together that you can't quite identify. A hugger if there ever was one. A quickwitted comic with stories to tell. Eyes that capture you and dimples that deliver the kill shot. A born pleaser. A sponge for Ava's love and attention.
Loves her Mom openly and unrelentlessly.
I've said this before and I'll probably say it until my dying day.
I don't have a clue what I'm doing with this whole mothering thing.
I literally wing it
Most days I make mistakes.
Some days, my mistakes are bigger than others.
But, every day, my love for them is bigger than any mistake I've made.
I don't need a day on the calendar to tell me I should feel special for being a Mom.
I honestly feel special every day that I am able to be with these two.
They make every day Mother's Day.

Monday, March 17, 2014


In two weeks (God willing) I will turn 38 years old. Which means that in one week, it will be six years since my mom passed away. 

I don't know which number shocks me more...I mean, 38 seems so...well, old. And six years?! How is that even possible? 

March 24, 2008 has become a timeline marker by which I measure all significant life events. Getting laid off, having Anna, starting a new job, moving to Oklahoma, becoming a stay at home mom, Brendhan's new practice...All after. 

With each new hash mark that takes me further away from DOD, I find myself grieving her loss all over again because I hate things being so different from how they were when she was alive. Like if she were to somehow come back to earth she wouldn't even know where to find me because I live in a different house, in a different state and I have two little girls, not one. Irrational much? 

That's not to say I haven't felt her presence in the last six years. 

I have. 

I feel her with me when the late afternoon sun shines through the kitchen window and you can see a million microscopic dust particles caught in the light. I feel her when Brendhan tickles Anna under the chin and she erupts into a fit of deep, slobbery belly laughs. I feel her when Ava and I ride bikes down quiet streets past clapboard houses with chippy paint. I feel her when Rusted Root sings "Send me on my Way." I feel her when I am running alone. Confident on strong legs. And I always feel her when I see 11:11 and I know that is her way of saying she sees me too...regardless of how different things look now from six years ago.  Kairos in spite of chronos. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Teen Beach Movie Birthday Party

Today, we celebrated Anna's 5th Birthday with a Teen Beach Movie party. The girls have been *slightly* obsessed with this movie since it came out this summer. We have the movie DVR'd twice (one with dance instruction / song subtitles and one without) and also on DVD, CD and iTunes. Ava dressed up as Lela for Halloween in a custom dress from Etsy and Anna has been asking for a Teen Beach Movie birthday party since August, so yeah, slightly obsessed.

{Door decor from Hobby Lobby}

{Banner downloaded from Disney Channel website and printed on cardstock}

{Dress from pinkbubblesclothing on Etsy}

{Sodas from Wal-Mart, umbrella straws from Hobby Lobby, Twine from Target}

{Treat cups from Oriental Trading}

{Plastic shot glasses and umbrellas from Oriental Trading}

{Bohemian necklace craft kit from Wal-Mart}

{Cake from Special Days Cake Boutique in Duncan, OK}

{Goodie bags with sunglasses, leis and surfboard key chains from Oriental Trading}

 {Scooby Doo pinyata from Party City}

{Cardboard surfboard from Oriental Trading}

Anna at the end of the party wearing her new PJ's with her new gigantic teddy bear!

Best party ever!