Thank you for coming in and saving us the cost of a stamp.

Photo Ops are going to have to take a break for a bit. I’m wholly uninspired. An hour ago I was on my stomach taking pictures of the flotsam made up of crumbs, noodles and I think what may have been a couple of gray hairs that was under my kitchen counter. You think I’m kidding? I guess you’ll have to just wait on those pins and needles to see, won’t you?

I had another interview earlier this week. Once again they professed their adoration for me as I was sitting there, promising me a second interview as well. I’m fucking adorable, I tell you! After I got in my car, my ego all stroked up and confident about the next step, I recalled the interview itself and of course worried some of my answers might not have been as strong as they should have. Like I should have answered that I don’t have kids when they asked me if I did. I should have said I was just diagnosed with malignant melanoma when they asked me if I was in good health. I should have said that my husband has excellent health insurance when they asked me if he did. I should have said that I have serious issue with God and we’re not on the best of terms when they asked if I had a problem with joining in their daily “prayer games” (my term, not theirs).

When I was reminded by my friends to make sure to send a thank-you card, I decided to go one step-further. I addressed a card to each of my interviewers with a personalized note in each and while Sparring Partner took care of lunch for Aitch, I drove into town and hand-delivered them personally. Aren’t I clever?!

I was thrilled when one of my interviewers happened to be at the front desk and she took them from me with a great smile and told me how they really enjoyed meeting me and that they really liked me (they really, really liked me!), but…

They just hired someone else.

Photo Ops: The Closets

Sparring Partner and I would make trips once a year to see what was described as the Street of Dreams inThe Metro. Multi-million dollar homes all custom-built by different builders on one street would be opened to thousands of dirty, hot and stinky strange feet belonging to rubber-neckers, much like ourselves. Since we built, we haven’t been back as I would probably regret many of the decisions we made when we built our own home, not that I don’t have some already.

Closets. That’s what Heather requested a view of as well as the garage, but the garage section is going to require a separate post (you’re doing a happy dance now, aren’t you?). Oh, closets. The Street of Dreams had closets that you could…well, only DREAM of. Humongous walk-in closets. Some so large, that’s where they kept the washer and dryer. Some so large, they had their own center island and furniture. As large as my kids’ rooms. No, larger.

I would have loved to have gigantic closets but I know myself all too well. They would be a catchall for everything else I had no idea where to store. My husband and I agreed to keep both our own closets and the children’s closets realistic and efficient. They’re realistic all right in that there just is never enough storage. First off, we have Doodicus’s closet:

This is exactly how my son leaves it in the morning after getting dressed for school. He has that same ability to fuck up the hangers as my husband does. I apologize well in advance to my future daughter-in-law.

Aitch’s closet actually is on the other side of that wall and is the exact same size, but in a slightly different layout:

I feel I should defend myself by mentioning that all the clothes on the top pole are things she has outgrown and I have been saving for a garage sale. I honestly don’t know how I’m going to part with a lot of it…

Now for our closet. Be prepared to be underwhelmed:

This is how it looks standing on the bedroom looking in, and I swear I didn’t edit or pick up anything (which, DER!…).  I strongly recommend pocket doors whenever possible, but make sure you use quality fixtures or they’ll be a bitch to open and close.

This is the husband’s side and yes, there are a lot of t-shirts on the top row, organized (L-R) by colored t’s, white t’s and then polos and button ups. Long-sleeved shirts are kept on the bottom. I do the organizing, by the way, not Sparring Partner.

And now my side:

Uh, yeah. It is organized. In a way…long-sleeves on top (there’s a whole section of tanks that you can’t see), short-sleeves and rarely worn on the bottom. 50% of all my clothes need to be removed because I’m getting too big for them (I would rather say, “They are too small for me.” but that’s really denial.).

I don’t have a medicine cabinet or I’d sneak that in here with this, you snoops.

Photo Ops: Breakfast

Ah, breakfast. The most important meal of the day.

Left up to be provided by the two Old People of the family who want nothing more than to just stay in bed. Stupid plan, Mother Nature, stupid.

It doesn’t help that the Young People want nothing to do with sitting down for 15 minutes to eat when they’ve been sleeping for the past nine hours and feel they must play. with. everything. at. once. Who needs caffeine when they have a supernatural supply of it coursing through their blood?

So breakfast is a simple affair on school days. Toast or cereal. Maybe a quick egg with toast. Doodicus doesn’t eat well. One of his medication’s side effect is that it’s an appetite suppressor, so if we didn’t give a shit, he could go all day without eating. Breakfast can be a bit of a battle, except on the weekends. That’s when we do a big breakfast, but it’s usually later in the morning, at 8:00 or 8:30 instead of 6:30.

This is just a regular day: Doodicus is having cereal without milk on it (he doesn’t like it to get soggy) and then he drinks a glass of milk. Aitch is on this kick where she has to have at least two bowls of cereal – separated of course – and then some OJ. Sparring Partner’s breakfast is usually toast or an english muffin and the ever familiar glass of Carnation instant breakfast, a staple for his breakfast every morning ever he was 9 years old. We even have to have it when we go on vacations or overnight trips.

I only WISH I was kidding.

Me? I’m usually cupping my coffee like a lover and refereeing the bickering between any two of the other three people in the vicinity. Good thing they’re cute.

P.S. Ooops! Almost forgot to include that this request came from Betty. Sorry, my sweet.

Photo Ops: The Fridge(s)

What’s with the kitchen obsession, people?? Katrina asked to see the inside of my fridge (god, the humiliation!) while Michelle added to the fridge-peeping by also requesting a pantry (pantRy) shot. Of course, I was immediately self-conscious and considered running to the farmer’s market to set up props of fresh veggies and fruits, but then I remembered it’s the dead of winter and the only farmer’s market around here is the one in Hy-Vee.

So here’s the fridge. I know, ick, the fridge is black (which is OK if you like black appliances). I really wanted the stainless steel appearance (not actual stainless steel since 1] it is impossible to keep clean; and 2] it’s not magnetic), but Sparring Partner said No Way. He suggested white – actually he had the gall to suggest Beige. Beige! Blech!! So we compromised (I compromised).

I made the second picture bigger so you can make fun of me and my Ho-Ho and Bryer’s Ice Cream addiction and the fact that there is one lonely lemon in the fruit storage. A must have for my Dos Equis (which are kept in the garage fridge to maintain a more wholesome appearance within the family fridge).

When we designed the kitchen, we realized we didn’t need a fancy walk-in pantry. The odds would be we’d throw out more dry goods, losing money, so we went with an in-cabinet pantry. It works very well for us. Here’s how it looks when the cabinets are closed:

(You can see why I need a magnetic fridge, right??)

Quick note: if you ever have an opportunity to design your kitchen, I strongly urge you to go with drawers. We have two sets of drawers like the ones on the right of this photo and I wish we had more. LURVE the drawers.

We made sure to have quality pull-out shelves in the pantry, which when you have a toddler who looks at this as nothing more than a climbing wall, it’s a REALLY smart investment. Snacks are right in the middle. Candy is at the top, next to the open box of white rice that was moved when Aitch thought it would be fun to pour out on the floor.

I also thought I’d show you what we did for our toaster (on the right). I didn’t want the corner garage that so many kitchens have, so I had our kitchen dude design the cabinets so the doors looks like the open normally, but it actually lifts up and out-of-the-way like a real garage door. We then had a heavy-duty sliding shelf installed that is normally used for a TV. There’s plenty of room for the toaster, two loaves of bread (SP won’t eat my “enriched” bread), the butter, Nutella, peanut butter and a plate to put it all together.

And for anyone who has a fetish for fridges, be prepared to tingle. We actually have three. The one above, the one in the garage (which stores extra loaves of bread, soda, beer, milk, eggs and juice – the items we go through a lot of), and this mini fridge under the counter:

(I swear! The dust was attracted to the flash photography!)

I wanted something that we could use for entertaining, to store a couple of bottles of wine, beer, cold vodka and gin…the stuff I didn’t want guests reaching past my Ho-Hos for; the stuff I didn’t want them walking into the garage for. Instead, it is full of apple sauce, juice boxes and pouches, cold treats and Pepsi. So much for the glamorous life.

Photo Ops: The View

There’s no particular order that I’m following with the Photo Ops. It’s based purely on what pictures I have taken or was able to take since the original post.

First up is the suggestion from Serenity: Views From The House.

The first set of pictures I took all on the same day and literally, from the inside of the house looking out. Because of that, you may see dirty screens or tiny, greasy handprints on the glass. Keeping it real, yo!

These are the two large windows in our bedroom. It’s hard to get a sense of scale, but I think each set of windows is about 60″ across. We eventually will turn this area of the bedroom into a seating area, but currently it is empty save some toys and where I fold laundry.

The next two pictures are taken standing facing out from each set of the windows above:

There’s a short hallway from the master bedroom to the main part of the house and we almost went with a solid wall, but I pushed for another big window. I’m glad I did:

Also, not sure if you can see it here (above) but there are tracks in the snow that go from the exposed grass past the stairs. Those are deer tracks. Fuckers. More on that another time.

The following pictures if from the one of three panels in the dining room. It’s one of my favorite views. There’s actually a four-lane highway hidden by the thick horizontal line of trees, which is about 1 1/2 miles down the hill. There’s a bench under this window where Aitch can climb up and look out. Hence the faint handprint.

On the perpendicular wall next to these windows are the deck doors. We have a three-sided porch which ends (or starts) here. The porch is covered on all three sides as well. We’ve had some impossibly beautiful (and sometimes dangerous) views of spring thunderstorms here.

Now we move into the living room where the three-panel windows are repeated two more times. It is here that I have the most beautiful views of the sunset. We can see the fireworks that the village to the west of us shoot off during special occasions. It’s about six miles away. If you were standing next to me, I could point out the cemetery a mile away; the mostly hidden farmhouse down in the valley; the edge of our property; where the deer settle for the evening (fuckers) and where every moment the view is heaven on earth.

Doodicus has two views, one being much like this one. And then another to the south. Not a great picture (did I imply these were going to be “great” pictures? my bad), but it’s realistic. The original house plan called for a door where this following window shot was and I stupidly thought that would be really cool! And then I remembered that someday he’s going to be a teenager sneaking out of the house…

This is also the second side of the porch, the part that transitions from the front porch to the back deck. More deer tracks…that line of trees grows along the street that takes one past our lane.

By the way, here’s how my son’s room would look if you were standing in his doorway and how the windows fill that one wall (I didn’t do a wider shot because his bed wasn’t made. I’m a terrible mother):

Here’s the view towards that same road that goes by our house but as viewed from Aitch’s room. That truck was photographed right at the lane, which you can barely make out from this vantage point. Also, I’m hoping by summer the swing set will get moved right about where that patch of grass is:

And here’s the inside of Aitch’s room looking at the window (the one to the right of the crib) that looks at the view above. See now if I had waited to do this until I had cleaned and picked up, these photos never would have met the light of day:

Now here’s the least attractive view which seems odd since it’s out the front door, but the only time I ever see it is when I’m going to the front door, which is very rare. Family (read: in-laws) have a habit of going through our garage which I LOATHE but am forced to tolerate since they can’t use the steps. That building is the maintenance building for what use to be a microwave tower but was inactivated years ago.

We have a circle drive which you can see (above) and inside that circle we’ve planted several crab trees. Eventually those trees will fill in enough and I won’t have to see the tower or its building from the house. On the plus side, it’s an unavoidable landmark which makes it easy for visitors to see when driving to our home.

This is just a miscellaneous shot that I took standing in the kitchen looking out over the dining room. The view to the horizon is truly endless:

Serenity specifically asked about the view out our kitchen window. Another mistake I made is not going with my original vision and positioning the window directly above our sink. Instead, it sits up almost a foot above and I have to crane my neck to see out. The view for now is not much different from above but every once in a while I’ll look up from the sink and see a herd of deer walk down the lane towards the house before turning north to the field next to us. Herd = 20 head.

So moving (L) to (R) top: the set of two windows in the master BDRM, the single in the hallway, 3 panel in dining room, patio doors, the long wall with the three sets is broke up into the living room and Doodicus’s room. The basement’s windows facing west are basically mirror of above but it’s not finished. Nothing down there except the storm cellar, my husband’s workroom, and thousands of japanese beetle bodies.

I’ll have more landscape photos that aren’t shot through a window screen in a subsequent post under Photo Ops. Thanks again, Serenity!

Your Photo Op

I need a diversion. Something to motivate me to do something – anything – other than sit in the glider-rocker with the laptop oozing godknowswhatkind of radioactivity into my groin. Speaking of which, the results of my PAP smear (smear? really? we haven’t come up with a better word than that??) were all negative. My cervix has always been so dependable. Good, cervix! *pat pat*

So this diversion really is going to come from you. Without sounding like I’m comment-whoring, which I swear I am not and if you would prefer not to fall into my evil plan, you may choose to email me instead, I would like to play around more with my camera so I would like your input. Tell me what persons, places or things you would like me to photograph and then I will post them here. Obviously, the limitations would be something or someone I would have access to: no requests for the Eiffel Tower or President Obama. Also, nothing considered X-rated. Keep the requests realistic and I will make the photos real.

Do you want to see a picture of my favorite pair of shoes or the inside of my sock drawer? Or a picture of the city office? Maybe a photo of the tops of my toes to confirm that yes, they are a bit hairy? If you have wanted to know what something I’ve talked about looks like (again, within what I would consider reasonable limitations), just let me know either in comments or an email: thismamasaid (at) gmail (dot) com.

I live to serve.

Crappy Crafting #3: The Scarf

It’s time for another installment of Crappy Crafting. Another? That implies we’ve done this before, doesn’t it? It does, and I did! So what if there’s only been two in two years. Crappy Crafting is not something one rushes into. Oh, wait. That’s exactly what it’s for: quick and cheap. Just like how I prefer my women.

Here’s how to make a simple no-sew child’s scarf out of fleece fabric.

1) Buy some fleece that matches the jacket. You will need at least 12″, which if you don’t want to look like an idiot, ask for 1/3 yard.

2) Cut the sides down so they look relatively straight. I prefer the final width to be about 7″ for Aitch right now.

3) The final length depends on the age of your child. I just draped it around Aitch’s neck and eyeballed it so that it fell just below her jacket hem (about 4′).

4) Cut a vertical slit about a third of the way down the scarf. Don’t make the slit too long, about 4″.

5) To wear, drape around your child’s neck and run one end through the slit.

You can fancy it up by cutting a fringe on the ends. Another option is to leave it much wider than recommended in step #2 and cut fringe all the way around it. If you’re going to go that route, you won’t be able to trim much off the original 12″ (excuse me! the one-third of a yard) you bought since a good fringe should be about four inches on each side. However, you could always just cut fringe on one side and that would be really cute, too.

Oh, mother. Violet is sooo 2010.