Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Red nails.  Red lips.  Red sparkly guitar tatts.  Red sangria.  Red signs.  Red truck.

Awesome time with my girl.

Anna got to experience her first concert Saturday night.  The coveted Taylor Swift 'Red' tour.  We'd been asked to go about a year ago - the last time Taylor toured these parts - with a good friend in North Carolina. But I didn't think she was quite ready yet (that whole freaking out in big crowds and overwhelmed with big spaces like indoor coliseums thing...) and didn't want her first concert experience to be tainted with being scared.

But this year, she was ready.  More than ready.  Excited beyond measure ready.

After collaborating with a few fellow mamas - a plan was put together for dinner out, a 'red' makeover, and then the show.

I gotta pause here and give my girl snaps.  See, all of the Party kids L-O-V-E Taylor Swift.  They all sing and dance and shake their booty's to her tunes.  But I wasn't prepared to take the boys just yet (they're still too young in my opinion - and I want them to remember their first concert experience.)  So when I told Anna that we had the coveted tickets, I made her swear up and down NOT to tell her younger siblings.  And to her credit, she did not.  She didn't ever mention it, discuss it, or utter one remark that could in any way elude to our planned night out.  I'm really proud she was able to keep the secret and not spill the beans.

So we all met up at Tio's (local Mexican joint) for nachos, quesadillas, and the best sangria I've had.  Ever.  5 girls at one table.  3 mamas + 1 daddy at another (within arms reach.)

Of course RED nails were in order - thanks to awesome Mama Nic who brought just the right shade of polish.

Followed by glittery rock star tatts for the girls - and perhaps the mamas too. (Much to my mortified daughter's dismay.)

A healthy dose of red lipstick - and we were on our way.

We piled in Nici's minivan - and headed to the concert.  Best quote of the night?  Madeleine (blue jacket):  Hey guys!  Let's pretend this is a limousine.  Even though it's DEFINITELY not.

Ensue mama giggling.

The girls were excited to wave their sign to Taylor - but the security gestapo confiscated it at the entrance.  Spirits were only briefly dampened, however, with the promise of concert t-shirts.  And seeing Taylor, of course.


Thank goodness for friends like Nici.  My anxiety and crowd phobia started to kick in while we were in 'line' for concert t's.  Line is a loose term.  More like mob of MOMS pushing to get up close to the table to get shirts.  And MOMS trying to get clothing for their girls are the worst.  I know.  I'm one of them.  It was hot.  People were pushing.  I could feel sweat dripping down my back.  My heart started pounding. Not a good scene.  So when Nici graciously offered to stick it out while I took the girls to a safer and more open spot, I happily obliged - and the girls and I perused some of Taylor's costumes from her famous videos and performances.  Very cool. (and no pun intended)

I managed to score really good seats (Row 1 of Section 201 - which is the section just opposite the stage and right next to the sound booth.)  So we had no one in front of us - no obstructed view - so we could relax and see everything.

And. It. Was. Awesome.

I didn't realize how much of a show this concert tour was - that every song was a skit with amazing costumes and theatrics.  (Neither Anna nor I understood the correlation of some of them - like the harlequin ballerinas before Love Story or the whole circus theme for Never Getting Back Together - but nonetheless - it was entertaining.)

I gotta say, my favorite performances though were the simple ones.  When Taylor came to the little stage right beneath us - just her, her guitar, a stool, and a microphone - and sang/played unaccompanied by the full band, sparkles, and lights.  It was awesome to see her play, hear her voice, and really see her true talent.

Of course the warm up guy was amazing too.  Ed Sheeran.  My new fav. I'm always a sucker for British dudes, and this guy was really talented.  The whole time he played I kept thinking of my Jack - and his love of guitar - and how he'd have loved to see something like that.  If there had been a way for him to see just the warm up show and then go home - that would have been ideal.

But maybe ole Ed will be a superstar by the time Jack is 8 (the promised age to get to go to a concert) and he can choose to see him.

It was a great night.  One of those nights when everything fell together seamlessly.  Anna was completely embarrassed at the start of the show - seeing me dance and sing and clap.  But about half-way through - she loosened up - started clapping and singing along as well - and kept looking over at me with a grin from ear to ear.

So not only was it a completely amaze-balls show - but it was an amazing experience to share with my daughter.  One of those moments I hope she remembers forever - a story she can tell her own kid someday of the first concert she ever attended....

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


One of the greatest gifts I hope to bestow on my children is an appreciation of the art of sarcasm. A witty sense of humor, a sharp ability to come up with clever remarks and a well-rounded vocabulary will serve them well in life.  (Oh, and an ability to see humor in the stupid crap people do.  That always helps.)  I figure that if nothing else, these children will have a good chance at growing up to be the people everyone wants to talk to at parties.  They may not become extroverts (although that seems completely impossible now given their non-shy behavior), but they'll be able to slide in a few conversational zingers now and then.  Interject a sarcastic comment here and there to make those around them smile.  Maybe even laugh.

Anyway - the other reason I want to teach them the art of sarcasm is purely selfish.  It's completely awesome to watch their brains try to figure out if my responses are the truth or sarcasm.  Jack will pause - squint his eyes at me - tilt his head and say 'Mommy, you're teasing!  Right?'  James is quite similar - although he's usually giggling so much it's hard to know what he's saying.

Also - it's really fun to completely torture them.  Take Anna for example.  I relish in feeding her sarcastic remarks - and watching her squirm and argue in protest.  She's a different pickle from her brothers all together.  She gets offended when I tease her, and takes everything literally. And often times way too seriously.  It's been a struggle getting her to lighten up - to relax - and let humor in.  (I do try hard to tell her that I'm not laughing AT her - rather I'm laughing WITH her.  That we all need to learn to laugh at ourselves. And I do try to show her that I laugh at myself. All. The. Time.)

Sometimes it works.  Sometimes not.  But she's coming around. Slowly.

For example - we were in a rush to get to church on Sunday.  (When are we not?) The kids were dragging their feet from a no-nap day + late night the day before - coupled with being unjustly torn away from the treasure the leprechaun left them.  I may have bribed them a little - telling them I had a 'special treat' for breakfast.  That sorta prompted them to get their butts in gear - and get to the table - where the boys were delighted to see I had doughnut holes on the table waiting for them.

Anna slumped and slouched in her chair.  Rolled her eyes.  Said 'really?  Doughnuts?  This is what we're supposed to get excited about?  SO exciting mom.  Really. SO exciting.'

My first reaction was to get really pissed off - and to tell her to wipe that snarly grimace off her face.  However, I turned to her and said 'good job Anna!  Excellent use of sarcasm!' Then turned back to the kitchen sink.

I did happen to look up just in time to see her grimace turn into a smirk, and for a fleeting second, a smile.

So maybe, just maybe, this kid will learn to lighten up.

There's hope.

Monday, March 18, 2013


Or 'cheers' for you non-Irish speakers... 

So, St. Patty's Day.  I love St. Patty's Day.  Always have.  As a kid, we got to hang out at the Clover Island Yacht club with my dad and his drinking buddies - who always did something incredibly stupid jolly and festive like dye their winter beards orange, then shave them off, or make sure that the keg o' beer was green.  Mom always made her traditional corned beef and cabbage dinner, and we got to eat in the dining room with little golden chocolate coins decorating our plates.

As an adult of true drinking age (and not one day before - promise), I came to enjoy the festivities of the day, hanging out in Irish pubs in locations across the globe, toasting good friends and good times with big glasses of thick Guinness stout (the best pub experience was the year I lived in Scotland.  By far.)  Later, after I moved to Columbia, I came to relish the fun of St. Pats in 5 Points - and the complete crazy chaos that takes place in a four block radius.

But now that I'm a respectable MOM, I've come to appreciate the kid fun of St. Patrick's day - the non-alcoholic appropriate fun that doesn't involve orange facial hair or green beer.

The kids are at that magical age where they are filled of the wonder of the holiday.  Jack's preschool class tie-dyed t-shirts, made green paper-bowl hats, and painted flags to carry and wave in their traditional St. Patrick's Day parade.  That would be little Jack O'Long you see below...

So.  Stinking.  Cute.

This year, we got to hang out at a friends house on Saturday afternoon - for an Irish themed three-year old birthday party.  It was full of fun things, including a scavenger hunt to try and find a pot of gold and treasure left by a sneaky leprechaun, rainbow coloring, and shamrock-hand painting.  All to a background of Irish music and dancing - which Jack O'Long thoroughly enjoyed.

Before we went to the party, however, we decided to try our luck at catching a leprechaun.  We'd heard about making leprechaun traps from a few friends, and thought we'd see if we could make one ourselves that would entice the little fellow ... so we could trap him and take his treasure.

Anna created the doorway and entry into the trap... which was a clementine box that we decorated then propped up on cardboard dowels.  Anna and I taped a golden coin to a ribbon that would trigger the trap to fall if he took it.

If I were a leprechaun - I'd want to go into that cool little place - hang out under the little rainbow, and play with the glittery beads....

Anna was a little bit worried about our construction.  She told me that we didn't properly cover the sides of the trap - so the leprechaun could sneak in and steal the coin without getting trapped.  I told her it was fine - he'd go in through the door she made - then pick up the coin - and WHACK - be trapped.

Unfortunately, she was right.  When we came downstairs the next morning, the trap was closed, the sign she'd made had fallen, and the ribbon pulled out to the side.  Golden coin was gone.  No leprechaun had been trapped.

She was really upset with me.  'I told you MOM.  We needed to put something on the SIDES of the trap.'

Oh well.  I told them that next year, when we're together in Virginia, she and her daddy could put together a better constructed trap.  He is the engineer in the family and all ....

However, even though we tried to catch him (unsuccessfully), that sneaky little guy still left a pile of treats.  In addition to a trail of shamrock confetti, he put golden chocolate coins in Anna's slippers, made a castle out of paper cups in the kids bathroom, made a smiley-face of coins on the boys' bedroom floor, and a trail of coins leading to the TREASURE of all leprechaun treasures.  A big green box filled to the brim with all sorts of cool green things - from fluffy weird writing pens, to silly string, beads and necklaces to MORE chocolate coins, green candy dispensers, and green pinwheels.

The kids were excited.... well, except for my negative-ninny son - who kept wandering around the house looking for other things that the 'leprechaun was supposed to mess up.'  Sorry kids.  I guess the leprechaun that came to our house was a bit of a dud this year - perhaps he was just tired and didn't have the energy to turn toys and books upside down, or unroll rolls of toilet paper in the bathroom.  

It was still a great St. Patty's day - complete with a bit of afternoon baseball at a friend's house and mom's traditional corned beef and cabbage.


Friday, March 15, 2013

Conversations from the Breakfast Table

I really wish I had a tape recorder handy to save some of the conversations that take place around my breakfast (and dinner) table.  (Crap - did I just date myself or what?  Who uses tape recorders anymore?)

Anyway - some of the random discussions we have are hilarious.  Thankfully the humor is not lost on me despite the chaos that is normally going on when I'm trying to get them all to the table.  With washed hands.  JAMES.

I've gotta start keeping track of these - so I can look back one day and remind myself of the innocence of their childhood.  And perhaps blackmail.

Here's one from yesterday.

7:40 am (FYI - The school bell rings at 8:00 at the kids' school. And on any given day it takes approximately 15 minutes for three kids to put on 3 jackets and 6 shoes.  Slip on Crocs and Emu boots, mind you.  Which is the topic of another post entirely.)

Picture me - trying to hurry Jack along to finish his breakfast while reminding Anna and James for the FOURTEENTH TIME to put their dishes in the sink, get their backpacks, go downstairs, put said shoes/jacket on, and get in the car. While making sure everyone has had their medicine, lunchboxes, books, and that I have my work laptop and all of the miscellaneous crap I haul around on any given day, while also grabbing leftovers from the fridge for lunch.

Jack:  Mommy?  What are you doing?

Me:  Putting my lunch together to eat at work.

Jack:  Oh.  What do you have?

Me:  Leftovers from last night.

Jack:  Oh.  I didn't like dinner last night.

Me:  Yes, Jack.  Thanks for the reminder.  Now can you please finish your waffle?

Jack:  Mommy?


Jack:  Where's your blankie?

Me:  My what?

Jack:  Your blankie.  For nap time.

Me:  Jack, sweetie, I don't have nap time at work.

Jack:  Well.  Where do you sleep?

Me:  Jack.  I don't get a nap at work.  Some days I barely have time to eat, or even go to the bathroom.  (yes, in retrospect, I realize that's probably too much information for a three year-old.)

Jack:  What?  No nap?

(Insert his befuddled look of complete shock.)

Me:  No.  No nap.  And you know what?  I take back every single time I protested napping as a small child.

Anna:  (interjects from the top of the stairs) Yeah, Jack.  When you get to be a big kid - you don't get to take naps anymore.

Me:  That's interesting that you say that Anna, miss smarty-pants, as if you miss taking naps - when YOU protest every weekend afternoon when I merely ask you to have some quiet time and read books.

Anna:  (no reply - just the eye-rolling stink eye as she FINALLY slinks down the stairs)

Jack:  Well when I grow up, I'm going to take naps.  I'm going to work as a worker and I'm going to get to take naps.

Me:  That's great Jack.  When you figure out what job that is that will allow you to take naps during the day, you let me know, m'kay?

Pause while Jack fiddles with his waffle, wads up his paper napkin, and turns his cup over - that thankfully is empty save a few remaining drops of milk.

Jack:  Mommy?

Me:  YES Jack?

Jack:  Did you know there's no kangaroos in Africa?

There is no response for this.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Uh Oh, It's Magic!

Our little magician James turned six in February.  Because of the way the weekends fell around his birthday and Deonne's ability to come home for weekends, we postponed his party until the first weekend in March.  I tried to keep it somewhat smaller and simpler this time - having him invite only his closest friends - the kids he actually plays with - rather than everyone he (and we) know.

But you know me, and 'simple' just isn't a word I'm used to when it comes to party planning....  So when I asked him what kind of party he wanted to have - it came as no surprise to me that he wanted a magic party.  He loves all things magical ~ from magic tricks and pranks to magical stories and shows.

He'd been dying for YEARS for local magician/children's comedienne Sarah Dippity to come to one of his parties - so once we figured out the theme, tying her in was an easy task.

Now - I gotta give credit where credit is due.  Thank god for Pinterest.  There are so many awesome ideas out there - so many cool things that I had a hard time keeping things 'simple' and focusing on just a few.  But I managed - and the details are below:

I struggled a lot with this cake.  I think the fondant was too thin and the cake too tall...

 Playing Card Sugar Cookies

 A box of magic tricks and whoopie cushions for favors

 James started the show off with a performance of his own magic trick!

 Ta Da!

 Anna and EG, bffs

Gotta love Sarah Dippity!

I'm not sure who had more fun - James or Jack! 

Buddy Blake from FLE

 Sweet Maddie

 James was laughing so hard during this that I thought he was going to explode.

A magical birthday for a magical boy.  Happy day sweet James!