Thursday, July 28, 2011

pre-vacation thoughts.

my family is going on vacation together. to Colonial Williamsburg. we leave on Friday. this will be our second family vacation to Williamsburg. my oldest sister missed it the first time. (lucky her!) for those of you who are uninitiated to the tale of what will inevitably go down in history as the worst family vacation ever in the history of all family vacations, some highlights of the first trip included a 4th of July weekend with 100+degree temperatures paired with 100% humidity, no air conditioning, warm drinks, a closed wig-makers shop, an open blacksmith shop, (great idea for a hot day - small room full of a raging FIRE!) missing all the 4th of July festivities, all while being constantly reminded of what a great day it would be for the water park. did i miss anything? doesn't that just sound like such a good time? no lie, everybody's favorite part of the trip was the night we ate dinner out of a vending machine and watched junkyard wars on tv.

so we're going back to give it another try! this will be the first time we have all been together since my wedding in October.

two parents, four kids, three husbands, and two babies. all together for a week of fun, running, the beach, pools, amusement parks, hysterical laughing, a little bit of history, and a lot of straight-up relaxing, with (most likely) just a sprinkle of drama and (most definately) plenty of food.

i started packing last night. because i am nothing if not a horrible last-minute packer. just ask anyone who knows me. i stress about trying to remember everything i will need, overthink every single article of clothing i pack, obsess about how many pairs of shoes are acceptable to bring (a different pair every day? why not?!)(but seriously is 5 too many?) and ultimately end up freaking the freak out before blindly shoving anything and everything into a bag with un-wreck-less abandon and i inevitably end up forgetting my deodorant. or my beach towel. or my bathing suit. or all of those things. i do not enjoy this process, and neither does the hubs since a lot of the freaking out ends up being directed at him, so i'm doing my best to avoid it for this trip.

because honestly, i really really really want this to be the best vacation ever. so much so that it's tainting my over-the-top-my-head-is-about-to-explode-from-squealing-jumpingupanddownexcitement-eeeeekkk!!! with just a little bit of being nervous about the whole thing. what if i do end up forgetting something important? what if its not as grand or great or exciting as i have worked it up to be in my head? what if we dont all get along anymore? what if we spend the whole week sitting in our hotel rooms because we can't decide what we should do? (what do you wanna do? i dunno, what d'you wanna do? now dont start THAT again!)

but really, i should probably just get over that. because the most exciting thing about this vacation is not the place, or the activities, or a few days off work. the exciting thing is that my whole family is going to be there, and do i really need anything more than that to look forward to?

because who knows when we will all be together again?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

fun, food, fellowship, and softball.

last night was the softball league's fellowship game. the way i understand it, it's kind of like an all-star game, except without the whole "all-star" thing. a couple players from each team in the league all get together and play a for-all-intents-and-purposes meaningless game of softball before the final tournament starts on thursday. the thing that makes this game different from an "all-star" game is that the players aren't necessarily the best players from each team, but rather just those that are available that evening. its all about having a good time and getting to know people on the other teams.

and a good time was had by all, the pitcher tried some behind the back pitches (i didnt know that was possible!), the ump made some pretty wacky calls (calling strikes as soon as the ball was pitched lol) and the coaches/score keepers threw a couple faux-fits-of-rage. seriously, it was the most fun a meaningless game of church league softball can be.

since i was already in the area getting my hair cut, i decided to go watch my "all-star" play. including the hubs, i knew a grand total of two people there, but there was free food, which meant that i didnt have to make dinner. awesome.

also awesome: what this field has that might prove to be better than a creek... a pond!

i can't believe i didn't know about this before now. i am SO going to more games next season...

Monday, July 25, 2011

down on the farm.

this is (part of) my small group. we usually meet on Thursdays, but we got together this past Saturday to help out Becky with some work that she needed to catch up on at the horse farm where she works.

the farm crew: Abi, Becky, Mark, Me, and Alex.

we shoveled horse poop. we fixed fences with varying degrees of nail-pounding skill and success. in the rain. (that felt SO nice!) we fixed holes in the barn walls. we cleaned bathrooms. we combatted rats and spiders and biting flies. we raked and hauled and tossed hay. i ended up with giant broken blisters on both of my thumbs. by the time we were done, it was 97 degrees outside. we were hot and sweaty and dirty and stinky.

and it was awesome. we chatted and joked and laughed the whole time. we didnt even realize our own stank until we decided to go get something for lunch and realized that our options were limited to places that would not judge us too harshly for having horse poo on our legs. we ended up sitting on the ground in the shade outside the front door of the WaWa up the road. it was a really fun way to spend a Saturday morning.

and then i went home and showered and zonked out for a two hour nap. and that was pretty awesome too.

Friday, July 22, 2011


i'm running out of words to say about this project. and i'm just guessing that you're kind of tired of reading words about this project. that's why i went a whole week without mentioning it. arent you so proud of me? did you even notice?

but even though the gargantuan project we are currently in the middle of has not been mentioned lately, we have still been working on it, so here. have a pic of the fireplace room (taken with my back to the sliding glass doors) after two coats of primer to cover up the new smooth ceiling and the old half-green walls.

so much better already. now just try and imagine how nice it's going to look after we paint the trim a crisp almost-white, add two coats of white ceiling paint, and two coats of this color on the walls:

(this is Haze ICC-22 by Behr, in case that's the kind of thing you need to know)

so that's where we are. the color is picked, but the paint is not yet bought so i still have the opportunity to change my mind at least three more times and re-consider stripes or a blue accent wall or a colored ceiling before deciding once again that yes, this is the right color. i think.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

bag lady.

sometimes, it doesn't really take much at all to make you feel better about the state of your house and like less of a failure at housekeeping.
this is the story of my coat closet.

this is what it looked like two days ago...

...completely overrun by the plastic bags we had for some reason been saving. they were shoved in the closet wherever they would fit, mostly up on the shelf, but were always poised and ready for action. they would spring out at you when you opened the door, showering you in a barrage of crinkly plastic annoying-ness, hoping to be used for some sort of project or other various whatnot, relenting only after satisfying their sole purpose of making you pay attention to them for a few precious seconds before shoving them back up on their dark and lonely shelf.

finally, i decided that they deserved better than my pathetic attempts to make them feel useful. so i took them away. to a better place. where they could reinvent themselves and start a new life.

and we are all better off because of it. they get to go out and see the world and meet new people, and i get my coat closet back under control.

i kept one little bag of bags up on the shelf, because sometimes you really do need them. and hopefully with less competition around vying for my attention, they will no longer feel the need to attack me every time i open the door.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

playing hard-, i mean softball.

the hubs had his last regular season softball game last night, so i skipped jazzercise to go and watch him play. (and there was a cookout after the game, so i didn't have to make dinner. winning!) i hadn't gone to any other games all season, and the hubs was pretty excited that i was coming to see him play, and let's not forget about the whole food thing, so better late than never, right?

turns out i still have the attention span of my 12-year-old self when it comes to church league softball. during the top of the first inning, when the hubs was in right-center field, he made a spectacular diving catch. well, at least that's what i hear. i kind of missed it. (but in my own pathetic defense thats like RIGHT at the VERY beginning of the game and since when does anything amazing ever happen in the first inning?) (please dont answer that) (also i kind of missed the first few batters of the game because i thought it was still batting practice.) BUT i do know that he scored one of the team's 6 runs in the bottom of the first, because i watched him bat, and i watched him run all the bases, and i saw him steal home on a pop-up fly out to center field. (he tagged up, so it was totally legal)

then came the second inning. by this point in the game i had gotten myself in a rather deep conversation about hair, and haircuts, and perms, and debate about how soon is too-soon to re-perm one's hair straight to get rid of the perm that was put in about three months prior that you really never liked. really serious stuff you guys. my sister's first grade perm fiasco experience may or may not have been brought up.

sorry stasia.

at one point, this extremely important discussion was interrupted by some sort of commotion that was happening on the field. oh right, a softball game, yeah that. i looked up and saw the hubs throw out the runner at second, and i surmised that he must have also caught the ball, making it a double play! what i didnt realize was that i had missed ANOTHER diving catch. apparently of the variety where his whole body was airborne and the only part of him that was touching the ground was his glove with the ball in it. and i missed it. sigh. there goes my wife-of-the-year award. but on the bright side, he got up off the ground mostly unscathed, and we got free dinner afterwards!

 the tough guy modeling his battle wounds

he claims its not that bad. but it makes me feel worse that he got hurt and i didnt even see it.

amazingly, i think i could have actually been a worse spectator. i mean, i didnt spend the entire game playing in the creek, or chasing geese, or walking to my friend's house, all of which i did at most, if not all of my previous church league softball games. although if there had been a creek at this game, who knows if i would have been able to contain myself to just sitting in the bleachers... some habits die hard.

Monday, July 18, 2011


yes, i saw it on opening weekend.

no, it wasn't the first midnight showing. it was sunday afternoon.

yes, i prepared for it by re-reading the first 6 books.

no, i did not re-read the last book. because i do not own it. yet.

no, i did not remember what happened at all.

yes, this made the movie way more fun to watch.

yes, i dorked out through the entire thing.

no, i never thought i'd ever really be a fan when the books first came out.

yes, it is a little sad that its all over.

no, i did not cry.

yes, i kind of feel like i know those kids.

yes, i realize that they are all my age and i should not call them kids.

no, that does not change the fact that in my head they are all still little like this:

not all grown-up like this:

no, i don't regret that the last two movies i've seen in theaters have been Harry Potter movies.

yes, i loved it. i loved all of it.

Friday, July 15, 2011

setback #762.


in the ceiling.

teeny, tiny cracks along every single joint.


we have a few theories as to why this might have happened. my first guess was that it was the water in the water-based primer's fault. and in response to this idea my loving hubband pretty much laughed at me and called me crazy.

so i changed my story, and surmised that it was all the humidity that was let in when we Mark was sanding with the windows open, and the water in the air ate away at the spackle. again, the hubs was skeptical.

and then he came up with his own theory, that since he spackled with the windows shut and the room was cool and conditioned, but then he sanded with the windows open and the room was hot and sweaty, the drywall expanded and pushed together, making all the joints look good while they were sanded. but then when we closed the windows and everything cooled down again, it all contracted again and pulled the spackle in the joints apart eversoslightly. he is very proud of his theory, and so thats the one we're going with.

and so, we have once again inserted a step into our fireplace room to-do list: RE-spackle all the joints one more time and sand them again. (with the windows shut!) and THEN we can prime and paint and all that other stuff. and then maybe? hopefully? possibly? sometime before it snows? we will have our fireplace room back? please?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

getting closer.

are you starting to get tired of all these fireplace room updates every week without ever getting to the grand reveal? yeah, us too. which is why we just keep going. and by we, i mean Mark. because while i do things like fun projects and inviting my friends to go to the beach with me for the day, Mark dutifully stays at home and keeps working hard and making progress. i love that guy so much.

this weekend, he put up the final layer of spackle around all the inside corners of the room, sanded them all down, and started priming! as of now all the corners and edges have been cut in, the whole ceiling has one coat of primer on it, and might take a second. but we'll need to pick up some more primer before we can keep going. apparently we didnt have enough left over after we painted the two bedrooms at the end of last summer.

and in what is probably one of the most exciting developments of the past few months, the plastic was taken down off of the doorway that leads into the front room!

i may or may not audibly squeal every time i walk through the front door and i can look through the doorway into the fireplace room. and now that the doorway is open, can you see the difference between the two ceilings?

L to R: old swirly stuff, doorway, extra wall thickness, nice new smoothness

and for my extremely important contribution of the weekend, i almost finalized the paint color for the walls. i have it narrowed down to two very similar shades of a nice neutral tan color that will not blend in with the floor, not overwhelm or clash with the brick fireplace, and will work with the furniture that we have. but i will need to get bigger paint chips in order to make a final decision.

we only have two more weekends before we leave for vacation. we still have to finish priming, paint, fix the doorways, paint the fireplace doors, and maybe replace the warped mantle. i'm really hoping we can fit most, if not all of it in before then. because we're already starting to think about the celebratory cookout we're planning to have at the end of the project and oh man is that going to be sweet.

Monday, July 11, 2011

toes in the water, toes in the sand.

 i really have no words to adequately describe the over the top awesomeness of my weekend. so instead of a detailed play-by-play of my Saturday, (from the on-sale beach towels we bought to exactly where and how severely i got sunburned) i present to you the day by way of a series of short letters.

Dear Delaware - thanks for having such great beaches. and thanks especially for clearing up all those clouds about 10 minutes after we pulled into the parking lot. you had us worried there for a little bit, but it turned out to be a gorgeous, cloudless, sunshiney, perfect day for to spend at the beach.

Dear BFITW - i have missed you. i am still just a little sad that you left Maryland, but i am glad that you are having fun back home in PA. thanks for always being my best friend even though we live far apart now. i am sorry that we didnt get our matching tattoos when you came to visit this weekend. i hope the matching beach towels made up for it a little bit. thanks for waking up early and staying up late every day this weekend in order to fully cram each day full of as much fun as possible. you're the best.

Dear Deenie - thanks for suffering the extreme hardship of your third beach weekend in a row to spend the day with us! i'm so glad that we met in college and that you're so much fun to hang out with and that we get to be real-live friends. your cooler and umbrella and sand toys and your general all-around awesomeness were the perfect additions to the day. (ps we should have a chinese take-out date sometime soon.)

Dear Killer Turtle - you are the best failed-double-decker-sandcastle-attempt-turned-into-a-buck-toothed-turtle-crossed-with-a-killer-whale ever. you are welcome for the tasty fish we made for you to eat. i am sorry you are about to be eaten by that shark.

Dear Hubs - thank you for staying home and working on the fireplace room again this weekend so that i could have a fun day at the beach with these amazing girls. you are so good to me. this was just the kind of relaxing, fun-filled day that i needed. i owe you one.

Dear Random Lady on the Beach - thank you for being so kind as to let us interrupt your sun-tanning and gossip-rag reading to take a picture of three awesome ladies having an awesome day at the beach. thank you for understanding how much fun we are and for having fun with us. it's nice to be at the beach with nice people.

Dear God - i can't thank you enough for all of the awesomeness in this day and in my life. i am so blessed to have such fun and awesome best friends, and i'm pretty much convinced that you created friends, and beaches, and friends who love the beach, just for days like this. you are amazing and i don't deserve any of this good stuff, and yet you continue to pour out these blessings into my life. you deserve all the credit and all the glory.

Love Always, Mando.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

what else i've been up to.

so, since Mark has been doing most of the work up to this point in the fireplace room, i have been finding other things to keep me busy and productive.

first, i designed and made the tshirts for our family 5k that we are going to run on vacation at the end of the month. i want to share the final design SO badly, but i'm also having fun keeping it mostly a secret.

next, i put together a photo album of our wedding pictures. i combined the shots from our photographer with my favorites from my sister and aunt. i finished it exactly 9 months after the wedding. and right now it kind of feels like my baby. the next step would be to fill in the last few empty pages with pictures from our honeymoon, but those are not exactly in my possession right now as they are stuck in our external harddrive that refuses to turn on anymore. i hate that thing. lets not talk about it.

i also decided to finish a painting project that i started over a year ago. i saw a similar tryptich once and it inspired me to make my own. i think i might hang it in the fireplace room once its all done.

it feels good to start and finish projects that are so much fun, even when there are countless other projects looming all around. next on the 'fun projects' list are the not-a-credenza and our new hand-me-down dresser for the guest room! stay tuned because we'll be tackling those sometime in the next few months or so!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

party animals.

just in case you were worried that we spent our entire long weekend inside working on the house and never went outside and had no fun and didn't properly celebrate the Fourth of July, i am here to tell you that you are so wrong. sure, we spent our days inside dealing with drywall and dust, but when the evenings rolled around we were bonafide party animals.

it all started on Thursday night with a fantastically fun cookout with our small group. burgers, mac n cheese, a fire, s'mores, laughter and good conversation... and to think that was just the beginning.

on Friday after work, we ended up meeting up with Ed and Nadine, going to the batting cages, (i dont think i hit a single thing) and then playing frisbee in the park until it was too dark to see.

on Saturday evening, we went out to Ed's parents' house to watch the UFC main event and to hang out  with Ed and Nadine and Nick. at this point, i had already had such a good weekend and was more than happy to declare it a complete success, even though we still basically had a whole 'nother weekend left ahead of us!

Sunday morning, we met a new couple at church, Tim and Tiffany. we sat in the same row and chatted during 'stand-up-and-greet-your-neighbor' time, and at the end of the service they invited us to a bonfire at their house that night with Andrew, Kerri, and Bridget. there was a fire, and s'mores, and sparklers, and stories, and a good time was had by all. yay for new friends!

Monday afternoon took us to Mark's parents' house for a family 4th of the 'ly party combined with a birthday party for Aunt Denise. we thoroughly enjoyed burgers and dogs on the grill, fun in the pool, and birthday cake and desserts of all sorts.

then we were off to Bel Air with Ed and Nadine to round out the weekend with some fireworks.

and i honestly dont think it gets any better than that.

are you surprised at our awesome social-ness? yeah, we are too. we had so much fun chillin' with friends both old and new and i didn't take nearly enough pictures. and even though it was SO hard to actually wake up on time for work this morning, the fun we had this weekend was more than worth it.

Monday, July 4, 2011

long weekend, long project.

so, the room is still not done. BUT! there is progress! we are still moving forwards and we are happy about it!

Mark spent all day Saturday and Sunday putting more layers of spackle on the walls and ceiling. all the joints, all the holes, and all the corners. thats a lot of spackle. i think we used two whole buckets.

today, Mark is sanding. we have the doors to the room completely plasticked off to contain the dust and keep it out of the rest of the house. the windows and the sliding glass door are open to try and let as much dust as possible out of the room. its a pretty good system so far. too bad it doesnt keep the hubs as dust-free as it does the rest of the house.

Mark thinks the corners might need one more coat of spackle. sadface. but once that is taken care of and all the dust is cleaned up, then we can take the plastic off the doorways and start to prime and paint and fix the doorways and put the room back together and someday hopefully maybe call this project DONE... just in time to move onto the next one.