That Time it "Snowed"

It accumulated. Sort of.
One day, we'll look back of this period and say, "Remember the time we were out of school for six days because it snowed?" And then we'll laugh and laugh. One day.

But today. Today is not that day. Today is the day we wanted to lock our children out of the house due to insufferable whining. Today is the day we want to throw our laptops across the room because we're frustrated by all this "online learning" we're being forced to post, moderate, check, recheck, and respond to. Today is the day we would pay huge amounts of money if a) the forecast had been correct and there was six inches of fluffy white to justify another snow day or b) we could have just gone to school.

Yep, today is the day I decided I would prefer just to have had school all along, as opposed to the fiasco the last two weeks have been. And note, I'm not blaming anyone. Not the weather forecasters, who do the best they can with the information they are given. Not our superintendent, who is actually a decent, humorous guy who is trying to make the best call in a county that seems to sit in two entirely different weather zones.

I might be blaming the groundhog. Stupid groundhog and your predictions of early spring! I'm definitely blaming it on the rain (sing it with me now!). Did everyone overreact a little bit? In hindsight, perhaps. But again, who can predict?

At least it was pretty!
In the last two weeks, our students have gone to school two days. Last Friday and this Monday. We're crossing our collective fingers we can go back to school tomorrow. I'm luckier than most, because my kids are still young enough to daycare, and said daycare has been open a majority of these days. Which is a good thing, because I've had school to do.

After we used up our two scheduled weather days, our county moved into "Online Learning" days. Teachers post assignments, students log on to get assignments, crash website, try again, submit assignments. We have to log on, check work, grade it, ask students to resubmit if it's incorrect, field questions/comments/complaints from parents, and keep track of who has done what so we can turn in a roster of students who completed each day's work and are therefore considered "present" in attendance for the missed day.

Complicated? Yes. But it beats having make-up days into June! And anyone who doesn't like it can move to Gwinnett County, where they never cancel school. Seriously, Jesus himself could come back on a cloud of fire and they would still have a regular school day.

If you don't look too closely, it's starting to seem legit!

Anyway, we've survived the best we can. Last week wasn't so bad - the girls spent most of the days in daycare and I ran around and had lunch with friends, did some shopping, read three books, took it easy. This week has been a little different, with school to do, patience wearing thin, stir-craziness setting in. Now that we're faced with the loss of two instructional weeks, panic sets in a little.

Ah well, this too shall pass. In the meantime, we'll continue making mini treats in the Easy Bake Oven while we wait for spring. It's supposed to hit 70 next week!

Busting out the Easy Bake Oven!


Interview with a Five-Year-Old

Q:How old are you?
A: Five

Q: What's your favorite color?
A: Pink

Q: What's your favorite food?
A: Strawberries... no, pineapple. Actually, I think grapes.

Q: What's your favorite thing to do?
A: Let's see, not "watch something"... Play with Annie!

Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?
A: A teacher.

Editor's Note
I would have thought her favorite food was pizza or spaghetti, but I had just served up some fruit for breakfast. Also, she clearly knew claiming her favorite thing to do was watching Netflix would perhaps not be the best answer... ha!


A Whole Hand

My first-born is turning five. 5. A whole hand. It's amazing. Unreal.

It's always stressful coming up with party ideas. Violet's birthday falls right at the beginning of party season - it seems like all her school friends have parties in January and February. Having a winter birthday presents its own challenges - must be inside, etc. Plus, I tend to be more low-key when it comes to birthdays. I didn't grow up with elaborately themed parties; usually a group of friends just came over to hang out at the house. (The notable exception being my old-fashioned dress up tea party for my 12th; we made hats. It was awesome.)

I still think the best party I've thrown was Violet's second. Ah, the birthday breakfast party. There was a doughnut cake, everyone wore pajamas, the kids decorated pillows to take home. I even splurged on custom designed invitations hand-painted by my artist friend.

Things went downhill after that. Birthday three was going to be a Build-a-Bear bash, until the birthday girl came down with the stomach bug the night before. We were able to reschedule, but by then most of the guests had other plans. The next year Violet wanted one of those inflatable jumpy places. It was nice having a place to go and other people to handle the details and clean up, but that's about all I can say for that party.

So this year, the big five, I wanted something different. (We've been to plenty of Frozen-themed, gymnastics/dance, dress-up parties already.) I wanted something easy. I was even willing to have it in my house. I needed a decent, easy-to-execute theme, and I wanted it to be something Violet was genuinely into. Right now, Violet's two favorite things are Hello Kitty, and watching tv. She loves tv passionately. At any given moment, she knows exactly where our iPad is and can navigate Netflix blind. I'm not proud of it. But it got me thinking.

Movie Night Pajama Birthday Party! I'd have it on a Friday night, our traditional family movie night. There shouldn't be too many conflicts, because who plans anything for a Friday night? An evening event means I could kick everyone out of the house at a fairly decent hour. No one has done it before. There are plenty of Hello Kitty themed decorations to be had. My house looks awesome with new floors. Piece of (birthday) cake!

The grandmas had "fun" getting these ready one babysitting night.

It's all about the cake.
So Friday evening, nine little girls descended on the house under heavy, gray clouds, dressed in their pajamas and slippers, ready to celebrate my little girl. I was stressing the weather (more snow/ice/cold forecast, after school activities cancelled, general panic starting to ensue again) and reassured parents they could come back early if they were worried. I really just wanted everyone to show up (visions of the rescheduled Build-a-Bear fiasco danced through my head). Most moms gave me a "are you sure you're okay with this?" look as they dropped their daughters off. I responded with my best "dude, I handle 26 on a regular basis - 10 girls is nothing" look in return.

But wow, can ten little girls get loud! There was much running and shrieking and laughing and jumping on furniture. So while it was loud, I guess that means that everyone had fun. I can't say how much pizza or cake was consumed. Popcorn was refilled numerous times, however. I know that less than half the crowd lasted the entire movie (Violet had no trouble with that) but the rest of them enjoyed the playroom. And since they found all the Tinkerbell fairy toys, at least they stayed with the movie theme! The evening was relatively drama-free, no one cried, Violet seemed happy with the proceedings, and Matt and I had the house put back together by 8:15. Success!

Her face is priceless!

Happy birthday to you!

Settling in to watch the Tinkerbell movie.

Violet and Emma, BFFs!



As I type this, school has just been cancelled for the fourth day in a row, up here in the 'burbs of Atlanta. We are iced in. Today we were lucky enough to enjoy some actual snowflakes for about 15 minutes, but for the most part, it's the ice that has done us in.

Joke all you want about snow in the South, but no one messes with ice. We were fortunate not to lose power, as so many I know did. Four days of no school, even for this happy teacher, seems to be bordering on ridiculous at this point. But our superintendent took a tour of the area and apparently conditions differ drastically from the north and south parts of the county.

So I'm enjoying an unexpected long vacation from work. Daycare has only closed one of those days, so it's actually been quite a nice break! I've continued putting back the disaster that is my house after getting new floors, I've finished some last minute details for Violet's Movie Night birthday party this Friday, I've read two (2!!) books...

This was supposed to be Teacher Appreciation Week at the school. Needless to say, I'm enjoying it!

I can't stop taking pictures of the trees... they are so sparkly and glittery!


How We Celebrate Valentine's Day

This picture, and Matt's caption... So true, hilariously true.
We don't really celebrate Valentine's Day around here. Proof? See above. I think back when we were dating, Matt and I probably did the typical dinner date night. Although even then, it seems like we went a day or two early, or stayed in a cooked for ourselves. There might have been cards exchanged, but more than likely not. Definitely no gifts. Valentine's Day is a lot like New Year's Eve to me... lots of hype, overrated, full of letdowns. Heart of stone, perhaps?

I'm setting the bar pretty low for our children, too. Violet had her party at school, so I considered my job done. I don't think anyone even mentioned Valentines on February 14 in our house. My gift of love to Violet was saying yes every time she asked if she could eat a piece of her candy (I've learned to let her get it out of the way quickly... less painful for all of us).

She did partake in Daddy Daughter Date Night at Chick-fil-a a few weekends ago, however. My brother was able to pull some strings and snag Matt a reservation (a perk of running the restaurant), made extra fun by the fact that my dad was providing the live musical accompaniment.

My dad's hands, jamming out at Chick-fil-a Daddy Daughter Date Night.

The Daddy and Daughter.
And I had my own Galentine's celebration with some lovely neighbors. Actually, we went out to celebrate all our January/February birthdays, it just happened to be Valentine's weekend. We decided to class it up at The Melting Pot, since most of us had never been before. You guys, I'm still painfully full. I might have to take the day off from eating. But we had fun, despite the fact that we had to cook our own food.

Happy Birthday to us!

It's embarrassing how much we were able to eat.

Death by chocolate.
 I leave you with a recent drawing of Violet's. This is her and a boy in her class, holding hands (!!)

From the Floor

So this finally happened...

Before and After
Ever since we moved into this house five years ago, replacing the nasty carpet has been on our to-do list. The carpet was gross. So bad, in fact, that when the house was for sale, the owners were offering to replace the carpet as an incentive. That offer came off the table when they decided to drop the price by 15k, which suited us better anyway, but it meant we were left with the old, stained mess.

About six months ago we finally decided to pull the trigger on new floors. Our neighbors had just had theirs done beautifully, we had a great recommendation for a contractor, it was finally time. "The Year of the House," we declared it. And we really stopped caring about the stains being made on our carpets. Annie threw up all over the floor... meh. Spilled your coffee everywhere,.. no biggie. What was bad quickly became salvageable. But who cares? We were getting new floors. Oh, and doors put on our office/Matt's guitar room.

Looking from the stairs towards the front office.

New doors! Now Matt can practice guitar in peace.
Well, after the initial consultation to pick our floors, we waffled. Big time. Months passed with no further movement. There was uncertainty about the color. There was obvious dread about the price. There were commitment issues in general.

Finally Pat, our floor guy as I call him, called and suggested we visit some neighboring houses where he had recently done some work. Perhaps we could get inspired. So we visited two delightful homes, fell in love with the floors, and promptly decided that "Toasted Malt" was the color for us. This was finally going to happen! Goodbye gross carpet! Hello beautiful, improved home! We called Pat and gave him the good news...

...and promptly waffled for another two months.

I had no idea that kitchen island even moved.
Violet's birthday party is what finally lit the flame. I told Matt, there was no way I could host 10 little girls for a movie night party with our disgusting carpet. And within a week, we had a date scheduled, the downstairs was packed up and moved to the garage, the materials were ordered, and it was show time. Two days, people. Two days was all it took to transform this house. Amazing.

Slowly putting things back where they belong.
It's so pretty now! It is like moving into a new house - we got to decide where to put furniture, what to bring back in. The playroom is still empty of toys because I'm just enjoying how neat and uncluttered it all is. Multiple boxes have been packed up for Goodwill, I want to make do with less stuff.

So there you have it. After five years of leaving our house the way we bought it, we've finally put our stamp on it with new wall paint and beautiful new floors. Of course, we have the immediate itch to keep doing more. But I'm quite content with what we've accomplished with our "Year of the House" budget. As soon as we get a few new rugs we'll be done. Oh, and perhaps an upgraded entertainment center. And some new shelving for our pantry...


Life Runs Better With...

On days Matt plays in the band at church, he has to leave the house by 6:30. Early enough on a weekend that he's usually long gone by the time the girls and I get up. So it's up to me to get all three of us dressed, fed, and in the car. Some mornings go better than others. This morning, for example, Annie figured out how to climb out of the empty bathtub where I normally corral the girls while I shower. She bopped her head pretty good on the way out, so that was fun.

One thing I've learned over time is that the less time we linger in the house, the better. There is a direct correlation between the amount of time spent in the house before church and the volume of whines. So we leave as soon as everyone is ready, regardless of what time we'll end up arriving. We end up staying through the second service anyway, and a little extra Jesus never hurt anybody.

A couple weeks ago, things were headed south pretty quickly. So I pulled the typical Mom of the Year prize winning move - I bribed. With sugar. And off to Dunkin Donuts we went! Thankfully we were the only ones in the place and had no problem taking over the best seats in the house.


I'm pretty sure this was Annie's first doughnut; certainly the first one I let her have all to herself. Girlfriend can put down some holes, let me tell you. Both my children are experts when it comes to sweets. They learned from the best!


The Worst of Times

I can write this because it appears we're out of the woods now (knock knock on said wood). But 2015 has not had the most auspicious of starts. I can't remember ever being so sick before. For three straight weeks, I received a call from daycare that one of the girls was running a fever. Sometimes there were calls about both of them. Violet would go home sick on Friday, Annie would end up sick the following Monday. Once it happened the afternoon Matt and I were scheduled to go out of town.

Because January was also jam-packed with events. Three concerts we were scheduled to go to, all involving one of our moms needing to spend the night. The poor grandmas, they really had it the worst. Every time daycare called me, I called them. And of course, they were always willing to come up and bail us working parents out. What do people do who don't have this kind of support system?

Not faking it.
On MLK Jr Day, I dropped the girls off at school so I could use my day off to run errands. I had just enough time to end my day with a pedicure before I needed to pick them back up. There I was, relaxing with a good book, feet soaking, when my phone rang. Annie, temperature of 102. ARGH. She had already stayed home with Matt on Friday after a miserable night, but everything checked out at the pediatrician. Were we going back again? Was this all a cruel trick to test out our new insurance? I dashed out of the nail salon, swung by to grab the neighbor's dogs from the groomers, and headed to get poor Annie. I made them check her temp again before I left daycare - 102.8. Awesome. Back to the doctor we went. This time, she had an ear infection. Is it sad that I was almost relieved? Here was a medically diagnosable problem that could be treated with good drugs and earned us a get out of jail free card.

Pretty puppies! They loved their trip to daycare, the doctor, and pharmacy!

Feeling better already!

Another Friday, the day we were headed to Chattanooga to watch the Tedeschi Trucks Band play, daycare called around 11, this time about Violet. The moms were on their way, but not scheduled to get here until one o'clock or so. Matt had a work lunch he couldn't get out of. Because we were planning to leave town right after school, he had dropped me off that morning. So I was stranded.

Across the hall I went, to ask to borrow my neighbor's car. Then into the pouring rain, where I frantically circled the parking lot, looking for the car. (It was in the other parking lot, a fact I only learned after I dragged my dripping-hair self back into the building and called her from the front office while a group of slightly horrified parents watched.) I picked up Violet and only remembered that no car of my own meant no house key of own as I pulled into our neighborhood. Fortunately my other neighbor was home with her own sick kid. I borrowed her spare to break into my house. Then, in a move that will surely win me Mother of the Year, I dumped my sick kid at the neighbor's house until the grandmas could arrive, and went back to work.

While the parents are away...

The grandmas came and rescued Violet, Matt arrived and took her to the doctor (strep throat), meds were procured, Annie was procured, and all was abandoned at our house while the two of us got the hell out of Germlandia and enjoyed our weekend getaway. (Pats self on back, feels slightly sorry for grandmas.)

Totally worth it.
But as I said, things appear to be getting back to normal. No one has been sick for two whole weeks! Matt never got sick at all, by the way. But then again, he's the only one of us who doesn't spend his day in a cesspool of germs and snot. Lucky. Here's hoping we're done for a while!
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