Friday, December 23, 2011

The Anatomy of a Christmas Card

Full disclosure: I HATE CHRISTMAS CARDS.

Yes, I know my amazingly talented sister creates gorgeous custom creations for me every single year. Yes, I know most people love sending and receiving cards every year.

But I am not most people.

And I suck at Christmas cards.

And yet, my husband LOVES them. He hangs every single card lovingly on our fridge and yells at me when I try to sneak cards from people I don't like in the trash.

I've been thinking a lot about my hatred of Christmas cards and I think it has to do with my innate laziness and complete lack of organization skills. I am HORRIBLE about keeping track of addresses and it drives my amazingly talented sister who prints all of my envelopes CRAZY. She seriously hates me and I don't blame her one single bit. Last year I sent her a list of 23 people and she had to add 40 additional names for me. I think I even forgot my parents.

But the single worst thing about Christmas cards is trying to get a semi-usable picture of my children. It's a NIGHTMARE.

So naturally I made Stacey take a bunch of pictures of my kids only to get this text the next day:

"I have no idea how it's possible for one little girl to have so many different awkward expressions."

Yes, that's right. Mia has inherited the anti-photogenic gene directly from The Regulator and The Regulator-in-Training (aka me). Ah, Mia. Your future is full of double chins, horrible profile shots and moments captured while you're stuffing cake in your mouth.

You're welcome.

So, the concept for photo shoot #2 was simple. Put the kids in embarrassing Christmas pajamas and cobble together a decent picture.


This isn't going to be easy. Mia is already doing shifty things with her eyes.


Mia looks cute so that means Jack has to give the camera a good old fashioned sideways glance. Or maybe he's just coming to the staggering realization that he's WAY too old for footie pajamas. Anyone care to take bets on how much therapy this little photo shoot is going to result in?


And we're back with Mia looking like she's angry and constipated.


Ken gets involved in the fun and immediately gives up because I scream at him for distracting the kids.


Ben refuses to sit still. Ah, Mia, I feel your pain.


And we're channelling Maculay Culkin.




Cutest picture ever, sadly Ben is kind of an afterthought.


Wonky eyed Ben and exhausted Mia. Now we're cooking with gas!


Yet another exasperated Mia shot. In her defense, I'm pretty sure Ken was saying something like, "Mia you're ruining the Christmas card. SMILE!" Poor kid.



And now we've moved to downright angry. Totally understandable given all of Ken's heckling.

Ben is eating a candy cane and putting his sticky fingers in Mia's hair. Nice.


Finally get a decent shot of Jack and Mia and cut off Ben's head. I'm guessing the fact that it took me 96 pictures to get one usable shot for a Christmas card has way more to do with my photography skills (or lack thereof) as opposed to my children's inherent inability to take a decent picture.

And somehow, the master managed to take all of that and create this:
I think it does a good job of capturing the day-to-day chaos of our existence. And it definitely helps that my sister is a genius. Thank God for Stacey and Happy Holidays!!!


Thursday, December 22, 2011

What I've learned the second time around...

It's been 3 1/2 years since we've had a newborn in the house. Not a huge amount of time, but enough to re-learn a few things.

  • Big sisters take their role very seriously. Well, some do. Lydia is one of them. It's super-cute.
  • Big sisters who take their role very seriously spend approximately 99% of their awake hours approximately 1 inch away from baby's face. It's kind of annoying.
  • How long does it take for said big sister's barking cough to be transferred to 4 week old? 2 days. Licking a newborn's face = bad idea.
  • James is a pokey eater and can give or take food. Lydia survived on very little food for a large portion of her early days. Lisa says I produce children who could survive the Apocalypse.
  • The 3 AM pokey feeds are semi-exhausting. But then again the house is quiet, the room is dark and I get to rock my little man while he stares at me like I'm the best thing in the whole wide world. It's hard to complain.
  • Someone asked me at 9 months pregnant if I was afraid I wouldn't love my second as much as I love my first. I looked at them like they were crazy. It never occurred to me. Now I know for sure that there is plenty of love to go around. Maybe just a tad bit less while Lydia licks James's face or James spits out his pacifier like it burns.
  • I'm waiting for that "my family is complete" feeling Lisa promised me I'd get when I looked at my new (and eventually final) addition. Haven't had it yet. I love newborns. I love the possibility and the promise and the hope that comes when you glance into the bassinet at the hospital and admire what you've created. And I can't imagine not doing it all over again. I'll get back to you when he's two.
Oh...and most importantly, I've learned that Thursday comes really, really quickly and reading a book right now is virtually impossible. I did finish HOW TO SAVE A LIFE though so be proud of me. It was incredible, by the way.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tell The Truth Tuesday

1. I was up until 1:30 AM last night finishing up some actual work for my actual day job. Bet you forgot I even had one of those, didn't you?

2. It took me 20 minutes to muster up the energy to remove myself from my bed.

3. Today was supposed to be my first day of vacation, but someone scheduled a meeting at 11:30.

4. So, like any good employee, I'll take an hour out of my vacay for one last meeting.

5. But first, I'm crawling right back into bed for a long, long morning nap.

What's your truth this Tuesday?

Monday, December 19, 2011

December 19th

December 19th is never an easy day for me. 8 years ago today we lost someone who was very close to us. It's not something we're ever going to get over. It's not something we're ever going to understand.

But as time goes on I'm learning that loss is part of life. Things happen that you don't think you'll be able to survive. There will be days you don't want to get out of bed. Days you think your marriage is over. Days you would do anything to turn back time and go back to the before.

But eventually there are incredible days in the after. Days that ring with your husband's laughter. Days that smell of new babies and beginnings. Days that remind you that however scary and sad life gets, there are still so many reasons to smile.

Life is never perfect. Not in the before. Not in the after. But we have to live in the now. And sometimes the now is kind of amazing.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Tell The Truth Tuesday - The Home Edition

I'm back! Kind of....

Right now my life is like one long episode of Trading Spaces, only instead of the ever chirpy Paige Davis annoying the shit out of me, I have three children, a job and enough publishing drama to fuel at least 10 chapters in our tell-all publishing memoir that will drop Spring 2060.

In case you're curious here's what I've been up to:


I made this chalk board wall calendar for the kitchen.



Cute, right? Also helps me keep tabs on the increasingly crazy holiday schedule.


Cute, right? Also helps me keep tabs on the increasingly crazy holiday schedule.

Sadly, there is a rather sinister truth to go along with this little DIY project. Laura brought James over to help me hang it. James was sleeping soundly in his infant seat in the dining room while I was pounding nails into the wall in the kitchen. A picture on the other side of the wall went hurtling toward the ground and missed James by at least a foot. Ok, maybe it was more like a few inches. But he slept through the whole thing, so I feel confident I haven't scarred him for life. Yet.

Next I tackled the back room. The people who lived here before us used this room as their family room. We've always used it as a play room/office/room that mostly remains empty and useless.

Here's what it looked like:


Feel free to judge this sad little room. It really was kind of awful. You can't really tell from this picture, but there was nothing hanging on the halls. No desk. Just some random toys and a couch.



Here's the after. I dragged a sofa table into the room to create a little desk and painted the entire room a bright, blue-ish green. My plan is to move the cedar chest into the family room and add some white Ikea bookshelves for toys and games, so it will look like a full wall of built-ins.



My proudest project to date are the cornices that I made myself using foam board, Waverly Modern Essentials fabric and a prayer. Honestly, I was shocked when I woke up the next morning and they were all still hanging from the windows.

True story: I had to call my dad to figure out how to get the cap off the staple gun. There was no cap. Let's just say it's a good thing they have a safety feature on those bad boys otherwise I'd have approximately 5 staples in my left cornea.


I'm in the process of recovering my dining room chairs with this fabric. It's a Dwell Studio outdoor canvas that was 50% off at Joann Fabrics. Super cute, bright and even better, stains will wipe right off.


I staged the bookshelves with color coordinated vintage books. (Thank you Laura for letting me borrow from her collection!)

You can't really tell in this picture, but I spray painted coffee beans silver and put them in bud vases to act as book ends. I also spray painted a couple of cardboard L's and threw them next to the books.


Ken gave me a framed Liar Society cover flat for my birthday, so I paired it with two of my favorite pages from the book on either side.

And now for my real truth this Tuesday....

THIS is what my couch looks like.

Yes. That is clean laundry that I've completely neglected to fold because I've been slightly distracted by my redecorating efforts.


On the plus side, at least it's clean!

Ok...now that I've completely bared my soul, you better leave me some juicy truths in the comments.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Bookanistas: FAIL

No, FAIL is not the title of a must-have new young adult novel. FAIL describes my bookanista posts as of late. I had plans, people, PLANS.

"I'm going to schedule a bunch of bookanista posts ahead of time. Leave the worrying to me!"

Um...yeah. I wrote one, incomplete post last week and forgot to a. complete it and b. schedule it.

I have four books stationed around my house that I'm really enjoying if it weren't for my heavy eyes and the mini-alarm clock that sounds approximately three times in the middle of the night. Luckily he's pretty cute.

I promise to get back on track next week, soon, eventually, some day. Poor, poor Lisa.

Does this help any?




At least one of us is getting some sleep.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tell the Truth Tuesday

1. I have 5 minutes to write this post because it's almost 1 AM and in spite of the cup of coffee I downed 45 minutes ago, I'm TIRED.

2. I'm helping Stacey out assembling her GORGEOUS Christmas cards and she scares the crap out of me. She's such a perfectionist that I'm taking like 10 minutes pasting a picture onto a card because I'm scared it won't be straight and she'll be mad that it's not straight and instead of telling me she'll just re do all of the cards and lose all this money and Poochie Prints will go under and it will be ALL MY FAULT.


Whoa. Did I mention I get a little dramatic when I'm tired? Because I totally do. (Truth #3).


(P.S. Holy crap her holiday cards are AMAZING. And even better there's still time to order your own custom cards. Just think I might be the one pasting your pictures! Or not. You can totally request that I don't have anything to do with the construction of your cards. I'd understand completely.)

4. I haven't folded laundry in almost 2 weeks. I'm in house staging mode, we live out of laundry baskets these days.

5. I think it's really weird that Justin Bieber is hawking perfume for girls. Me = confused. Yet another sign I'm getting old.

OK, you know the drill. Spill your guts in the comments while I collapse, semi-caffeinated into bed.

Monday, December 5, 2011

What I've Been Up To: The Kitchen

OK, so I've written about a million insightful blog posts about how staging a house is almost exactly like writing a book and submitting it to agents and editors, but I'm too high on paint fumes to put my thoughts together.

Instead a preview of what I've been up to the past week:

Here's what my kitchen has looked like for the past 6 years:


Not a bad kitchen, but the red was definitely a little dated and probably made the space look smaller than it already is.

Here's the after: (Forgive my craptastic photography. That noise you hear is Stacey weeping.)




Stacey helped me pick a light neutral grey color for the walls which I LOVE. I used Behr paint and did it myself because my husband thinks all of this house staging business is complete nonsense, so I'm on a strict budget.


For the curtains I bought a Dwell Studio shower curtain from Target ($27) and cut it in half. I hung it on the existing curtain rod using shower hooks. I loved the colors and the linen lets tons of light in. 



Instead of curtain hooks (or whatever the hell they're called) I bought two spoons at Target for $1.99 and bent them. We had Yavuz (the best handy man on the planet) over to fix a broken window and he drilled holes in the spoons and mounted them for me free of charge!

I'm stealing a lot of these ideas from Pinterest. Click here to follow my board. I'll post more pictures as I finish staging the dining room and complete some wall art for the kitchen.

Lucky (or not so lucky) for you guys, there will be a lot more where these came from because I'm tackling the living room and family room this week!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Happy Friday!

This made me laugh so hard that I peed a little. I'm only slightly ashamed to admit that I didn't realize this was a doctored spoof until the porcupine clip showed up.

Of course, there's a small chance this isn't really funny at all and I'm still high on paint fumes.

Either way, HAPPY FRIDAY!


Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Bookanistas: How to Save a Life

On my quest to find the perfect book to pack in my hospital bag, I remembered seeing a copy of Sara Zarr's newest gem HOW TO SAVE A LIFE. After reading the cover copy, there was absolutely no way I was passing it by. Check it out.
What the back cover has to say:

Jill MacSweeny just wishes everything could go back to normal. But ever since her dad died, she's been isolating herself from her boyfriend, her best friends—everyone who wants to support her. And when her mom decides to adopt a baby, it feels like she's somehow trying to replace a lost family member with a new one.
Mandy Kalinowski understands what it's like to grow up unwanted—to be raised by a mother who never intended to have a child. So when Mandy becomes pregnant, one thing she's sure of is that she wants a better life for her baby. It's harder to be sure of herself. Will she ever find someone to care for her, too?
As their worlds change around them, Jill and Mandy must learn to both let go and hold on, and that nothing is as easy—or as difficult—as it seems.

What Lila has to say:

Okay, full disclosure...I had no idea today was Thursday. I also had every intention of finishing this book. In fact, I had this particular post ALL ready to go, spot left open for my impending review. But then I fell into a half-sleep state some time around last Wednesday and haven't completely woken up. BUT, I will say, the first thing I will do when I do wake up is finish this book. It is good. Like, good good. And not because it involves a pregnant girl--I'm not pregnant anymore!--but because Sara Zarr has officially grabbed me with those first few chapters and cannot possibly let go.

Fortunately (or unfortunately depending upon how you look at it and if you really care about these reviews, which I'm not sure anyone does), this little guy has grabbed me too. He's currently being held by The Regulator giving me the chance to actually open up my computer.




But, if you know what's good for you, you'll order the book for yourself. I cannot wait to work out what's actually going on. It's fascinating.

The Bookanistas: How to Save a Life

Hmm...well, here's what I know about HOW TO SAVE A LIFE. It has about a bazillion starred reviews. Laura is currently reading (and loving it) and considering she nodded off in the middle of our conversation yesterday the fact that she can stay awake long enough to get through more than a paragraph is worth more than any fancy schmancy starred review.

The other thing I know about HOW TO SAVE A LIFE was that Laura was supposed to write a Bookanista review about the book today. But she's probably a sleep in a pile of diapers or something equally new-momish. So, um, INSERT LOTS OF GLOWING, WELL-WRITTEN OBSERVATIONS ABOUT HOW TO SAVE A LIFE HERE.

I can't wait to read this book as soon as my paint fumes contact buzz subsides. If you're looking for some real book reviews, be sure to check out what the rest of the Bookanistas are up to today.

Shannon Messenger raves about CINDER--with an ARC Giveaway!
Megan Miranda spreads the love for UNTRACEABLE
Corrine Jackson falls for UNDER THE NEVER SKY
Stasia Ward Kehoe celebrates MY VERY UNFAIRY TALE LIFE
Debra Driza sings the praises of EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS
Katy Upperman gets swept away by THE SCORPIO RACES