Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hard to Imagine

I thought it was fitting that he was sporting a Red Sox shirt...true New Englander

The devastation from Hurricane Irene is hitting pretty close to home, and by home, I mean my home town.  The town where my Dad grew up (Brattleboro, Vermont) hosted the Today Show yesterday morning - I never thought I would see the day that the Today Show would be reporting live from Brattleboro, tragic. 

They have never seen anything like it and I hope for all those involved that they never do again.  The damage is obscene, there are massive roads just gone, for those that haven't driven on them, you wouldn't believe a road used to exist there, where now it appears as though the river has taken up residence.

Water is covering stop signs in some areas. My Parents are safe and dry, but they are the lucky ones.  It seems as though the storm dealt a very inconsistent hand as it went up the East Coast, my Parents are fine, my friends in parts of Northampton are fine, yet just down the street from both of them, the roads are completely flooded, major roads are gone and you see cars floating down the "street".

I can't imagine the clean up once the river goes back down.  Some of these towns, and some of these roads, are the one way in, one way out type of roads/towns, I don't know how some of the kids are going to get to school, or what they even plan to do about school, which was scheduled to start this week.

We are still waiting for the Claims Adjuster to come out, but we can wait on that, we are in no rush, let these people focus on those that really need their help.  Last I heard yesterday evening, of our 62 schools, only 50% had power and school is scheduled to start on Tuesday.  I am so fortunate to work for such a great company.  We are supplying folks with places to shower, health centers, ice, you name it, we are attempting to make it available to our associates to help ease their burden.  They are encouraging families to come and eat breakfast and lunch on campus if their homes are still without power...I wish all companies took such great care of their employees the way Capital One does, we are lucky!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

News = Good News

Right now we are feeling a huge sense of relief

1) Because we now know what has been causing Olivia so much grief
2) Because we now know how to help her and in turn protect her (and her Kidneys)

Olivia was a brave, brave soul yesterday, and I can honestly say she probably shed a few less tears than I did, likely because I knew what was coming, and she didn't, so I was able to shed a few pre-procedure tears and then was still full on waterworks after she was in my arms with her head tucked into my shoulder (best feeling!).

The VCUG wasn't fun for anyone involved, and I give Brad a lot of credit for going in with Olivia. I just knew that I wouldn't be able to hold it together for her, and I would just want to scoop her up and comfort her the second she screamed in fear or pain, and that wouldn't have helped, we needed these answers and this test was the path to said answers.  Olivia is a lucky girl to have such a caring and strong Daddy...which also makes me a lucky wife.

The best part about the test is that the results are instant, the second the good ol' Doc sees her urine moving around they can tell whether its heading for her Kidneys or not, and in Olivia's case it most certainly did, which results in a Kidney Reflux diagnosis.  We are beyond lucky though, on a severity scale of 1-5, she comes in at a 1, so that means daily meds for her, and unless we experience Kidney infections or UTI's that we can't kick, surgery is off the table - can I get an AMEN?

So all in all, while the best news would have been no reflux, that news also would have scared me just a bit, because then it would have meant no reflux, but that we were also no closer to understanding what was causing her all this turmoil, so my fear would have been more testing, so I am happy to know what we are up against and I am comfortable that our plan of attack is solid. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

I can see clearly now that Irene is gone...

The kiddos were thrilled to get outside and play today after being cooped up inside all day yesterday

Avery worked on her tan

Brad & Reese plotted tree removal strategies

And Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde did her thing...please note, the photo on the left is a smile, not the beginning of tears, I promise.

We had a great day. Brad and the guys worked on the tree, the kiddos played outside and played a little inside.  We had friends come join us for dinner with their 10 month old doll baby, they have been without power since mid-day yesterday and are hoping to get it back sooner rather than later. But with the latest reports of 60% of the city still without power, you never know when their power will return.

Tomorrow is Olivia's VCUG, I am sick over it. I am terrified that this will make future Doctor's visits very traumatic.  VCUHS doesn't use Twilight Anesthesia, so she will be awake through the entire procedure, and it will be our job to hold her down.  Our Ped prepared us for what we hope is the worst, needless to say, we aren't looking forward to it, and are hoping that the results give the Doctors the information they need to move us forward along her path to feeling better. Please keep Olivia in your thoughts and prayers, I can't imagine how scary it will be for our just turned 4 year old beauty.

When a Storm Hits...

Real Woman probably batten down the hatches....prepare meals for the hard working men in their lives, but Molly and I....we go Thrifting.  We left around 10am yesterday morning, pre-Irene and enjoyed a few stops on our Thrifting path...including a lovely stop at U-Fab (a fantastic fabric store).  I managed to knock out a few projects yesterday since we were cooped up inside, and I thought I would share...



What I used:
White Spray Paint for the Frame
Watermelon Spray Paint for the Mat
Fabric leftover from another project (you'll see in a minute)
An "O" from JoAnn's Fabrics ($1.00)
Ocean Sea Spray Spray Paint for the O
= Wall Art for Olivia's Room



Just a scrap of fabric and some hot glue and ta-da, a fashionable pencil holder that coordinates perfectly in our home office.



A Bulletin/Cork Board for our newly redone Home Office

I love the detail on the frame...

What I used:

Navy Spray Paint for the Frame
Cork Board from JoAnn Fabrics ($9.99 for the roll, I used a 40% off coupon and I still have some left over, that will likely take up residence in a kitchen cabinet or two)
Fabric ($7.99 a yard from a fabric store in Wilmington, NC, and I had plenty left over)
Fabric Modge Podge to adhere the fabric to the cork
Spray Adhesive to adhere the cork to the frame backing

Come On Irene...

The view from the side of the road, looking down the easement between our fence and our behind us neighbors.

How "Crabbie's" top didn't end up in Williamsburg is beyond me, but the sand is now mud.

That is a big tree

So blessed - it missed the girls swing set and our neighbors house

Two houses down from us, didn't fare so well...but everyone is safe.

Avery and I took a walk this morning (at 6am) and holy smokes, we are very lucky.  In our small 39 home neighborhood, trees were down in most yards and only 2 homes were hit, the others all managed to fall away from the homes. Talk about blessed. 

Two natural disasters in one week...I think I've had my fill of feeling totally out of control. For a control freak like me, watching your huge tree sway back and forth, knowing its just a matter of time before it comes down is not easy.  I just wanted to go out there and hold it up, or carefully take it down, I didn't want to roll the dice on where it was going to fall, but of course, I didn't have control over that, and while we have a mess to clean up (I hear the roar of chainsaws as I type) we are beyond thankful that it was just the fence, it could have been so much worse.
We do have a rather large leak in our Morning Room window, which we can imagine is going to be a small fortune to repair, but hopefully our Home Owners Insurance steps up to the plate on that puppy.  It was a long day inside for the girls, Olivia watched a lot of TV (parents of the year, I know) and Avery played pretty well, but holy toledo, they were freaked out and getting them to bed was a small nightmare.  We ended up having them camp out in our bedroom because our lone soldier of a tree (the only one standing) would have made a direct hit on their bedrooms had it come down, so we didn't want to chance it. 
The bugger took out Zack & Jules Play Set...

We are now saying our prayers for our friends and family in Western Mass who are facing what is left of Irene. I hope we weakened it just a bit for them because while Richmond isn't overly prepared for Hurricanes, we are light years ahead of Western Mass. A big thank you to all the guys outside helping Brad cut up that huge tree (Brian wanted to start chipping away, he figured we'd have a family size canoe in a few years if we just starting chipping away now - HA!) there is a chainsaw quartet preforming in our backyard right now and its music to my ears.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Five On Friday: Magazines

I happen to L-O-V-E magazines and I also happen to have a subscription to far too many of them, I just can't help myself...when I see one of those too good to be true deals pop up, I snag another year for a fraction of the price and the magazines just keep rolling in.

My Five Favorite Magazines no particular order:

Coastal Living Magazine - love it for the beautiful homes and snazzy fashion ideas.  I could only dream of living in one of the homes you see on the pages of Coastal Living.

Parents Magazine - practical advice, new research, great gift and party ideas and by far my favorite section...the stories on the last page, almost like a bloopers section of "Kids Say and Do the Darndest Things"

Real Simple Magazine - love the monthly topics, such as "best advice ever received" and I love the product tests. I think the fashion sections are hit or miss, sometimes they have reasonable suggestions, and other times their white blouse winner costs $395, who would spend $395 on a single white blouse? And the better question is, who uses the word blouse these days?

People Magazine - by far, one of the most treasured hours of my entire week happen from the time I get the mail on the way in the house on Friday afternoons, to the time my tush sinks into the couch and my eyes feast on the pages of People Magazine.  It is a perfect ending to a hectic week.

House Beautiful - amazing home decor ideas, beautiful fabrics, reasonable prices on items they recommend, all in all an inspiring magazine for someone who loves to dream about home decor and home projects.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Happy 1/2 Birthday Avery Emerson

Our littlest tot is 2.5 years old today.  I am ashamed to admit that I totally spaced on it until I was rocking Olivia tonight and telling her the story of Avery's birth (one of her favorites) and then it hit me like a ton of bricks, I felt like a complete dud.  How could I forget? I had it written in my planner! I had planned to make cupcakes for her class! I am scum of the Earth and a deadbeat Mom! But I am determined to make it up to her and the cupcakes are now cooling on the stove....

A few funny quotes from Olivia & Avery over the last few days (I need to get better about documenting the funny things they say and do, they are funny little people).

O: Mom, I think its time to get a new couch! (how did she know I have been dying to couch shop?)
Me: Oh yeah Liv, why do you say that?
O: Because this one hurts my back and makes me itch

Me: Olivia, soccer is almost over, do you want to play soccer again this Fall?
O: No
Me: Oh no, why not?
O: Because the coaches smell weird and it makes me sweaty, and when I get sweaty, I cough.
Me: Oh dear, well we wouldn't want you to break a sweat...(insert, me smacking my forehead with my open palm)

I picked Avery up from school yesterday and her teacher told me that Avery had a boyfriend, and he was the new boy in class, yesterday was his first day and Avery was all about him, trying to smooch all over him.  She spotted me the second I walked into the room, ran over, pointed to the boy and said "Momma, me like that boy, me kiss that boy" And for the record, he is an adorable little black boy, so I said "Babe, do you have the fever? You're YaYa happens to have a major crush on Denzel Washington" and she looked at me with her big brown eyes and said "Uhhhhh Huhhhhhh" as in "You bet I do", it was priceless and her teachers thought I was a loon for asking her in the first place. And today, I walked in and Avery was holding his hand - apparently they are going the distance, it wasn't a short lived crush...if Brad was home right now, he would be reloading shotgun shells.  I find it beyond hilarious that Olivia is still figuring out genders and Avery has her first crush!!

(Please note, the photos are my attempt at white balance and depth of field, all while messing with ISO, during my 3rd photography class)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Holy Earthquake Batman!

5.8 on the scale...never have I ever felt anything like it...I mean my husband rocks my world now and then with his handsome self, but this was on a different level, the room literally shook and the light fixtures were flying around the room for a good 15-20 seconds.  I was in a meeting on the third floor of Building took us a little while to realize what was happening and then we all just froze and looked at each other, not having a clue as to what we should do, or how we should react. How many Ivy League degrees does it take to know how to react in a natural disaster situation?  Someone finally went into the hall (we were in a room without windows, about 15 of us, we've been locked in there from 8:30-4:30 since last Monday - ouch) and saw that folks were leaving the building and then the alarms and PA system kicked in and advised us that due to the recent earthquake activity we should leave the building immediately and make our way to our assigned emergency meeting spots.

We all hung out in the parking lot for a good hour, finally made our way back inside, and then 45 minutes later they cleared the buildings again, and we were all sent home! A day to remember - that is for SURE. I find it amusing that DC is getting all the press, but Richmond and Charlottesville were MUCH closer to the epicenter of the quake.  It was a tad unnerving not being able to reach the girls preschool, but Brad finally got through on a Land line, and he and I were able to communicate via Blackberry Messenger, but mobile calls weren't going through.  The woke the girls up from their naps and they evacuated the building, all the kiddos were able to play outside in the beautiful weather we are having, no complaints from them, but the teachers seemed to be a little frazzled this afternoon when I picked them up. And of course...Irene has her sights set on us this weekend...hang on!

Monday, August 22, 2011

A new favorite...

Horrible Photo - but amazing stationary, with the cutest address labels to boot!

And I am of course madly in love with her Life Planners...I have spent hours transferring my life into it, and I am thrilled with my decision!

Who? Avery?

Amazon came through, the box arrived just in time to get me off the ledge...and so far this is what I know thanks to Raising your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka 

On the Bad Days: "being the parent of a spirited child is confusing, frustrating, taxing, challenging and guilt inducing."

On the Good Days: "A warm snuggle and sloppy kiss awaken you.  He captures you with his funny antics as he stands in front of the dog, a glob of peanut butter clinging to a butter knife hidden in the palm of his hand and asks, Is Olivia Jessica a rotten sister?  Riley The dog listens attentively.  The hand moves just slightly up and down like a magical wand.  Riley The dog's nose follows the scent appearing to nod in agreement.  You can't help laughing". (Totally would happen in our house)

Why "Spirited"?

"I realized that Avery Joshua was much like her his father, a high-energy, sensitive, passionate and prudent adult whom I love dearly.  And so it was the good days that made me search for a better word to describe Avery Josh.  On those days I realized that this child who could drive me crazy, possessed personality traits that were actually strengths when they were understood and well guided."

That above section brought tears to my eyes.  I saw in print what I have verbalized and thought for months.  That while my precious Avery is a challenge to parent as a two year old, I can't wait to see the young woman she becomes.  The traits that make her difficult, are likely the ones that will take her far in life and help propel her success, who would I be to try and tame those or even squash them.  I need to find a way to parent her and keep those traits in tact.

I am on page 18 and I already know that the next 450 pages are going to be well worth my time. Being the Mom Avery needs me to be is top of mind, much more so than  just being her Mom.  I need to be the Mom that she needs, the Mom that helps her recognize her true potential and I have learned in just her two short years of life, that the Mom I am to her and the Mom I am to Olivia aren't likely going to be the same, they need different things from me, but the one constant is, they need to know I love them for them, and I always will. Motherhood is complex, it can fill your heart, break it and fill it up again in a matter of minutes!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Do Over?

We had what I am calling "a weekend to forget".  The girls were in rare (becoming less rare) form all weekend. Olivia couldn't get a sentence out without whining.  Avery was exhausted and insisted on being carried most of the weekend.  And to top it off, I think they both need hearing aids, because I have to believe that there is a medical reason behind their poor listening skills, because if not, they are going to pay when they are teenagers...back to school shopping will consist of a new set of uniforms...and you guessed it, they will be going to public school, no uniforms required in public school, but if these little beauties choose to not listen when they are older, their closets will be full of blue oxfords and khaki skirts, with the occasional pleated plaid mini tucked in there.

Friday Night I pulled in close to 6:30, in my mind, that means I was a good 2.5 hours late for the weekend kickoff, no one should get home at 6:30pm on a Friday, that is just cruel.  Brad hit the sheets early to rest up for his 9 hours of Camp Hilbert Mountain Bike Race on Saturday, and had I known I was in for 12 hours of Terrible Toddlers I would have hit the sheets the second I walked in the door at 6:30pm.

The girls and I attempted to join Brad in the woods around 9am to cheer him on, but Avery refused to tinkle and so we hung around the house while she threw fit after fit.  I think both of the girls had a handful of timeouts between them before 9am, not a good start to the day.  We finally made it to Camp Hilbert a little after 11am, saw Brad finish his 3rd lap and then hung out with him for a bit before he tagged his partner out and hit the trails again.  The girls and I headed home during Brad's 4th lap, and didn't even get to say goodbye....I was doing the other spectators and riders a favor, Olivia was throwing a major four year old tantrum and there was no end in sight, my ears were starting to bleed.

Don't worry, that isn't Brad, but since the girls were in such awful moods I didn't get a single photo of our 90 minute bike race experience and felt as though a photo was necessary to spice this post up a tad.

The rest of the weekend was a lot of the same, us asking the girls to do something, them ignoring us, us asking again, Olivia whining and telling us no, or that she doesn't like this or that, and then Avery demanding that I pick her up to take her to the bathroom (which was just steps away).  Both nights they were in their beds between 7:00pm and 7:30pm, well before their normal bedtime, but they needed it. I need a work day to help me put this weekend behind us...doesn't that sound like something that should NEVER come out of someones mouth?

High Note: I did get to spray paint a few projects this weekend, and I have taken some before photos to share with you, but I am waiting for the projects to dry so I can finish up the after shots and then it will be show and tell time...hold onto your seats. And just so you know the whole weekend wasn't a bust...Friday my gal pal Molly took a trip to Ikea and did me a solid and picked me up this beaut! I paint it? Leave it black? And where should I put it? The good news is, regardless of what those answers are, I don't think it will change how I feel about this little piece of perfection. I am over the moon, in love with it. I can't wait to see where it lands, and what it looks like.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Five On Friday

I stole this idea from Name5Things, I don't know her, but I love her already, we share a lot of the same of them being lists. So on Friday's I am going to list out 5 things...the things are going to vary every week based on the theme or topic.  This week I am going to focus on 5 things that make me happy, in a silly way, not a profound type of happy, just a not a care in the world, silly type of happy.

#1 - Planners, I am crazy, madly, deeply in love with planners. The handwritten kind, not the digital kind, sure I carry a Blackberry, my 9-5 day is managed by my Outlook calendar, but not my personal life, my personal life is written out, on a calendar, and beginning in the next week or so (its already shipped) I will be using the Erin Condren Life Planner

#2 Flip Flops - my feet crave them, they wait all year for Spring to roll around, they shudder with excitement the day the Flip Flops are broken out of my closet and slapped on. This summer I have bought a few new pairs and I have been loyal to Havaianas, they are comfy and come in amazing colors!

#3 - Target - it happens to be one of my favorite places on Earth. I could walk the aisles for hours.  My BP and Breathing go into an almost meditation like state when I walk in the doors, the smell is like peace on Earth to me. The aisles are just wide enough, the packaging of items and organization, perfection!.

#4 - Embellished T-Shirts - I would wear one every single day if I could. I love throwing them on with a pair of jeans, a jean skirt, a khaki skirt, shorts, you name it, I can coordinate with one of these embellished gems.

#5 - Lip Gloss/Chapstick - I have a small problem, I can't stop buying Lip Gloss and Chapstick. I actually found 11 different tubes in my work bag yesterday, no wonder I convince myself to buy a new one when I can't find one, they are all hiding out in my work bag...I do have to admit though, that I haven't the foggiest as to what color suits me best, I just buy what I like, I probably walk around looking like a clown most days...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Calling in the Big Guns...

I have heard wonders about this book, and I am hoping it sheds some light on a few challenges we have been experiencing over the last several months (aka 2.5 years). If you have any other books you recommend that might give me some ideas on how to be a better parent to our little beauties, please don't hesitate to throw them out there, I am all about recommendations! I'll let you know how it goes, I just ordered it tonight, so I am hoping I can get to reading just as soon as my favorite UPS man drops it on the back door.

Knowledge is Power

It is amazing how little I know about photography, and it is insane how much there is to know, but I am enjoying the process of learning how to make my images look how I want them to look.

I know, not the best landscape or view, but my Depth of Field skills are visible in these two photos...

I love learning about the art of photography, but I have to admit, a lot of it goes WAY, and I mean WAY, like super duper far, over my head.  The concept of triangular space, holy smokes, I can't see a triangle in a photo to save my life.  We were reviewing famous photographers work last night and the other girls in the class were seeing the triangles lickety-split, and I was still staring at the photo without a fraction of a clue....couldn't see it, my brain/eyes just aren't artsy like that.

The paper clip was hanging from the ceiling, so its suspended on string, hanging down...

I still have so far to go, and I can't really say that I have come all that far just yet, but the good news is, my interest is still peaked, and I am all jazzed up to keep the learning process alive. I think I might also try and pick up a book to continue my learning once this class ends, any recommendations out there from my photo wizard friends?