BIG Bubbles

Last weekend while Honey was out golfing, we braved the dreadfully humid day to relish in some BIG bubble fun!  We toted our BIG bucket (used for everything from transporting gear to icing beer) out to the yard and mixed up a bubble solution to use with the wands I picked up in the dollar bin a few weeks back.
Here's how:
1 part liquid dish soap (I used Palmolive only because it's what I had on hand.)
1/4 part light corn syrup
8 parts water

We mixed up the above recipe with 1 cup of the dish soap (and the resulting 1/4 c corn syrup and 8 c water) and it was plenty for an entire weekend worth of bubble fun.  The mix, costing just pennies to make, SURE beats the pricey stuff at the store that tends to stain our clothes before it inevitably gets dumped out on the ground.
Oh, and yes, we did all of this half dressed in our jammies.  All of us.  Thank goodness Honey didn't play the nine behind our house that morning...

Thrilled to have been featured at Sunday Showcase!!


On My Bedside

After countless recommendations from numerous friends, I finally read Francine River's Redeeming Love.  On the road to Rosemary Beach earlier this summer, I kept my nose buried in that book for five and a half hours straight (well... except when we drove through the Southern charmer known as Eufala, Alabama).  The novel is a masterful recount of the biblical love story of Gomer and Hosea.  It's deeply moving, incredibly humbling and, ultimately, a reminder of God's unconditional love.  It's one that just can't be put down.
From the author:
California’s gold country, 1850. A time when men sold their souls for a bag of gold and women sold their bodies for a place to sleep.  Angel expects nothing from men but betrayal. Sold into prostitution as a child, she survives by keeping her hatred alive. Then she meets Michael Hosea. A man who seeks his Father’s heart in everything, Michael Hosea obeys God’s call to marry Angel and to love her unconditionally. Slowly, day by day, he defies Angel’s every bitter expectation until, despite her resistance her frozen heart begins to thaw. But with her unexpected softening come overwhelming feelings of unworthiness and fear. Her final healing must come from the One who loves her even more than Michael Hosea does…the One who will never let her go.

As luck would have it, my book club just finished up a study of the very same remarkable novel!!

I hope you love it as much as I did...



After searching high and low for a "chore chart" (or what I like to call "expectations" chart) that would suit our needs today, grow with us in the years to come AND not totally tack-ify my mudroom, I landed in that dreaded place of "if I want it done right, I'll have to do it myself."  Okay, so by "myself" I absolutely mean "with a lot of help from Honey."  I think these are just the bees knees.

Here's how our system works:
The days of the week run across the top of the board.
The "to-dos" are in the left column and, as they are completed, they move across the white line to the "done" side.  Each day I have six expectations to complete.  Five are standard: make bed, read, pick up toys/clothes/etc, wash/brush teeth/go to bed, and use manners/listen/respect.  The sixth is "mommy's choice" and varies based on what we have going on that day.  It could be helping with laundry, setting the table, helping with dishes, etc.
When, at the end of each day, every expectation has been fulfilled, one of the "good job" magnets gets moved up under that day.  We don't give partial credit.
At the end of the week, the littles receive allowance for the days completed.  We follow the rule of one dollar per week per year of age.  So, John can earn up to five dollars a week.  If he misses a day he gets $4.30.  If he misses two days he gets $3.60.
And, each week after we pay him his allowance, we help him count out 20% to go into his savings account.  So many valuable lessons to be learned here.  

Here's the gist of how we got there...
1. Construct your base board.
Honey purchased two pieces of sheet metal (1'x2' each, based on our space) and framed them out in a thin piece of trim so as to not slice any little fingers off.  First pic = front view; Second pic = back view.  Supplies from Home Depot.
2. Go to town with spray paint
I purchased tall wooden letters for the little's names and 1 1/2" wood discs for the "expectations" and days of the week magnets from Michael's.  I painted the names a dull gold and gave the wood discs a quick coat of white paint.  The main goal in painting the discs is to get the SIDES covered in white.  Meanwhile, Honey sprayed the boards black.
3.  Modge Podge till your heart's content.
Ok y'all, this was my virgin modge podge experience.  And it was ALL it's cracked up to be!  If it weren't for the craziness of school, I'd likely have modge podged half of my house by now.  To make the "expectations" magnets, you'll need your painted wood discs, modge podge, magnets and chores printed out and cut to 1 1/2" circles.
To get your modge podge on, use a foam brush and paint a light coat on the top of the wood disc and on the back of the chore paper...
...then stick the two together.  Let dry for 15 minutes then go back and add a second thin coat on top.  Dry for 15 more minutes, wash, rinse, repeat for the third coat.
4. Hot glue
Once your modge podged discs are fully dry, glue a magnet to the back of each one.
5.  Finish up.
Glue the names to the top of the board and draw a line down the middle with a white paint pen.  Honey drilled the boards right into the wall with a screw.  I then put a dab of black paint on the screw to help it blend in.
This chart has helped tremendously around these parts.  John is extremely motivated by money and the threat of lost earnings is usually just enough to keep him in line :-)  Oh, and if you think my two year old that didn't know his name, age or gender last week has all of sudden started unloading the dishwasher, fear not.  Cookie's chart is merely a place holder for now.

Speaking of the little monkey, I suppose it's time to get him fed before the scrawling (as we affectionately call his full lunged cross between a scream and bawl) commences.


Weekend Wrap-up

We had a crazy busy weekend, starting at our regular Friday night pool happy hour, then spending Saturday and Sunday afternoons back at the pool, kicking off the fall baseball season today AND, finally and most importantly, celebrating bestie SW's thirty-fifth birthday over a gourmet slider bar and enviable wine tasting bar.

With our sommelier for the evening...
Just the gals...
The littles are in bed and I'm not far behind them!


Pete the Pirate Fairy

Well gals, guess who lost another tooth?!?! (And guess who will be paying for braces in a few years??)
Despite my best intentions to be prepared for tooth loss number two with plenty of fairy dust and a coffer of unique coins, once again I was left scraping together something memorable at eleven o'clock that night.  Since Mimi gifted John with the Tooth Chest after his first loss down in Rosemary Beach, I knew I'd be trading in the Tooth Fairy for a more suitable pirate-esque boy version.

The little angel left his pint sized baby tooth in his chest and, while he sweetly slumbered away, Pete the Pirate Fairy not so gently stormed into his room... leaving the blinds askew and gold dubloons scattered in his wake.
Pete the Pirate Fairy absconded with that precious tooth and, inside the Tooth Chest, left a dollar bill and a pint-sized pirate note.
The note read:
John, me matey - Me thanks you greatly for the bloody fine tooth.  I'll bury it with me treasure.  Aarrgh, Pete the Pirate Fairy.

I must say that the PCP thought this new fairy was "super duper awesome".  Never fear, Pete's been offered a long term contract for his tooth fairy services.


Atelier Antlers

With the big basement re-do behind us, I have been enthusiastically pulling out some of the lovelies I've collected over the last eight months to find them a more suitable home than the bowels of my closet.  The first things out and up were my Suzanne Kasler (Suzanne was our girl name and it still makes me weepy that it will never be used) Atelier Antlers.  The moment I laid eye on these in the glossy pages of Ballard Designs, I knew I couldn't live without them.  So, I promptly put them on my Christmas list and lo and behold if they didn't show up under the tree!  It's just a shame they spent the last eight months living in stuffy styrofoam and cardboard boxes when they are SO splendid on the wall of my family room.
And I must rave about Ballard's customer service... recall that these were purchased back in November and not opened until a ridiculous amount of time later.  I was seriously boo hooing when one of the plaques had lost an antler and looked more like a unicorn than a deer.  Down in the doldrums, and thinking all hope was lost and ready to beg and plead, I called up Ballard's and explained the situation.  NO PROBLEM!  They sent out a replacement AND a pre-paid shipping label to return the broken one.  Yippee!!!

Always the over achiever (much to my delight), Honey didn't stop with the hanging of the horns.  He also drilled holes in the wall (one behind tv and second behind cable box) to hide the unsightly cords and cables running from the flat screen to the box.  My hero!! 
Before - no antlers + loads of cords + super bad lighting
After - no cords + loads of antlers
Happy Friday y'all.  I took my first dance class in... ahem... six years last night and now need to crawl away from my computer.   Oh, and HaPpY bIrThDaY besties SD and SW.  Thirty-five never looked so fab!


Hi Cookie, I'm Mommy

Until last week, I had ridiculously little time one on one with my sweet, fat, happy baby Whit (aka Cookie.)
He's three years younger than John (aka Precious Cutie Pie, aka PCP) and spent the first two and three-quarter years of his precious life being carted around to the PCP's events, activities, parties and play dates.  Always happy to just be included and never seeming to need much more, I've spent nearly every moment of his waking life with him but can probably count the hours I've had alone with him.  It's a kind of rare situation, I believe, since both of my littles went to preschool only two days a week and on the same two days each week.  We spent the other five days together, with Honey on the weekends, and just the three of us during the week.  Together, but not alone.

So, when the PCP caught that big yellow bus and rode off into the sun rise to start his Kindergarten adventure last week, it was a new beginning for Cookie and me too.  Once the tears dried and my head cleared a bit, I pulled out age appropriate toys (think Thomas the Train and those shaped puzzles with the pegs) and the board books and sat down on the playroom floor with my baby.  It started like this:

Me: Hi, I'm Mommy
Him: (with an odd look) Hi Mommy

Me: What's your name little baby?
Him: One
Me: No, silly.  And that's not your age either.
*Wow, we've got quite a bit of work to do.*
Me: Your name is Whit.
Him: I Whit.

Me: How old are you, Whit?
Him: I Cookie.
Me: Yes, that's your other name.  And you're two.  Two years old.  (holds up two fingers)
**I swear this child is smart.  I know it.  I just know he is!**

Me: Are you a boy or girl?
Him: I Batman.
**hmmmm....I'm pretty sure John had no earthly idea who or what Batman was at this stage in the game.**

Me: Are you a baby?
Him: No, I adult.
**This is going to be fun.**

With that, we spent the week doing just what two year olds do.  Puzzles, trains, bubbles and the little tot playground at the park. We've slipped into our new routine quite well.  And, since we seem to be playing the above conversation on a loop lately, I think we're going to go ahead and start practicing "almost three" for the "how old are you" question. :-)

Speaking of which, I'm off to play with the baby at the baby pool, of all places!


Stealing a Page

I'm stealing a page from my blog-ff calliespondence's book and writing about two must-shop sales today.

Lilly Endless Summer Sale
Hop on over to the mothership at Lilly Pulitzer for too good to be true prices on all the shifts, skirts and McKim's your heart desires.  Here are a few things I couldn't let get away:  (The first one I've been pining over for a year and am literally giddy that it's mine all mine.)

Calypso St. Barth Final Sale
Now that you're perfectly Lilly-fied, scoot over to Calypso St. Barth for 60% off the SALE price.  These prices are better than the Tar-jay line we were all swooning over a few months back.  I made these two mine for a song (and will totes have to get a twin pic with my aforementioned blogg-ff in our matching off white pompom eyelet dresses):
Happy shopping, y'all!

Wish List

At parent's night last week, John's new Kindergarten teacher had a few items pinned up on her "wish list".  I chose Clorox wipes (because I appreciate germ fighting as much as the next mom) and Skittles (because the PCP, clearly inheriting my sweet tooth, will do anything for a shot of sugar.)

Since John's class goes by "Mrs. B's Butterflies" and tends to favor the color purple, I took that and went to town... dolling up the wipes and providing a catchy container for the candy.
Now, I have my fingers crossed that the PCP actually uses the wipes and earns some of the candy.

Inspiration for the wipes found here.


A Year In The Making

I've shared our basement re-model in bits and pieces over the last eight months and have finally put together a recap of the space that was a year (plus some) in the making!

I only have a few pictures of the "before."  It was much too yucky for me to spend time down there photographing.  The space was loaded with navy blue carpeting, dark painted paneling, water stained ceilings, mirrored walls and various other unmentionables.

And, without further ado, behold the "after".  I can still hardly believe Honey pulled it off all by his lonesome!

the stairway gallery
TV Room
The Bar
Buffet and Dining/Crafting/Gaming Area
Pool Table / Toy Storage

Should you want to peruse the unabridged edition of ALL the titillating details for this entire basement project, including sources and how-tos, look here for the vision, here for a eight month update, here for the bar reveal, here for the finally finished banquette, here for the buffet, here for the stairway, here for the bath, and here for the den.

And with that, we're calling it a day year!

I'm thrilled to have been featured at Southern HospitalityBlack and BleuGrosgrain FabulousEclectically VintageArtful RisingLife on LyfordA Lived in HomeBeach House in the CityRemodelaholicMiss Mustard SeedThis Crazy LifeThe New Home Ec and My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia!

Beyond flattered to be One Project Closer's Grand Prize Winner of their annual Before & After Contest!

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