It’s Snark Week…Check Your Local Listings

Am I the only Mom who is on Week 2 of Back to School and already in disbelief that it’s “same stuff, different school year” ??

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The classics are back!

“You can’t wear those postage-stamp shorts!”

“Why? I don’t have anything else!”

“Maybe if you tried bringing in your laundry more than once per Leap Year, you would!”

 

Ye Olde band instrument. Practice twice on the weekends. Get a signed slip for the next week’s lesson. All good.

“Mom can I practice now?”

“No, your baby sister is in bed now. Your saxophone is too loud and you should have practiced first thing when you got home.”

Exchange of words too long and boring to print here. Blah Blah Blah…All NOT good.

And in the absence of her two older siblings, Little Bee is now lashing out at the cashier at Target or the friend I see in passing at the grocery store. They get her new snarly look and some snappish two-year old comment and a wagging finger point.

There’s always tomorrow’s cup of coffee and the promise of 10 minutes to breathe and look at a magazine or catch up on some meaningless celebrity nonsense from the Today Show.

But as past experience proves…I have been re-warming that cup of coffee for the last week.

I still never get to my target while it’s hot! Grrrrrr…

© Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Do These Look Like the Eyes of a Wrecking Ball?

wpid-img_20140812_174749.jpgI pretty much got away scot-free with my two oldest. Except for Twinkle Toes’ mullet-cutting episode of 2008 (she cut, I freaked) and the red and blue crayon grout-drawing on my ceramic tile in the kitchen done by Techno himself (trust me it was no Monet) I never really had too many wild kid stories to share.

My friend’s son was dubbed the “Wrecking Ball” (her own moniker for him) when he was about two. I confess try as I might it was hard to relate to that about four years ago, sailing along in my Toddler-less world with two pretty self-sufficient older kids.

Until. Little Bee.

“Wrecking Ball” may have a soul mate and I fear it’s MY two-year old.

On a daily basis she provides us with one mischievous feat after the next. It’s like she can sniff out the weakness in any situation and use it to her advantage.

Got a coffee mug up high enough? Think again. By week’s end the carpet-cleaning professional was in my house after I tried to take care of the offending splatter myself (and broke my friend’s irreplaceable, trusty circa 1980 carpet cleaning machine in the process. Thank you for saving me, Ebay!)

Need to test out if the spindles on your decking are “to code?” Don’t worry she will try to stick her head through them and give you a heart attack.

Scissors left out by mistake? No problem, she will find them, run away with them and laugh in your face while doing it.

The one day I did not take the time to put her shorts back on after changing her diaper pre-nap, she made sure to “help” me get the process started after she woke up by attempting to change her diaper herself and make pretty pictures with it.

And my most favorite scenario of recent memory…sitting in the salon waiting to get Twinkle’s hair cut last week and listening to some sassy language blurt out of Bee’s mouth. Praying that the two elderly ladies waiting patiently beside us were not going to hear a four-letter word from my curly-haired darling.

I affectionately call her my fortieth birthday present (well, really I was 39 but I’m not splitting hairs over it) And oddly enough, I feel like some days I am way too old for this.  Other days it keeps me young.

By and large I choose to stick with the keeping me young deal. Bring it on, little pip squeak!  I shudder to think how old I would be now if we didn’t have her.

I threw myself a minor pity party a couple of weeks ago when for the second time in a row I was not carded when I purchased my beloved red wine.

Then BAM! This past weekend “May I see your ID please?” rung sweetly in my ears.

Thanks, Bee.

 

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© Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Always Blow Out the Candles

God sends children to enlarge our hearts and to make us unselfish and full of kindly sympathies and affections ~M. Howitt

This quote comes from a quote-a-day calendar that belonged to my Dad. When us kids were all grown-up it got passed on to my husband as we started having children and needed some sage advice.

This statement has been staring at me for a couple of weeks. Neither Ice nor I have changed the date over. I guess we like the reminder.

Recently we celebrated Little Bee’s second birthday. She loved the blowing out of the candles. It was the first time she was old enough to understand and make an effort.  She called it her “special cake”. She thought it was just going to happen every day.

So the day after her birthday, night time rolled around and she asked for “special cake” and wanted to blow out the candles again.

In a buzzkill moment, for whatever reason, I declined the candle request. And Ice wisely said, “Why not? Let her do it.”

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Nothing fancy.  Not the “Birthday Plate”, just a paper plate. Just a leftover, already-been-burned-candle.

It made her so happy.

It struck me then how many ordinary moments and ordinary days can become extraordinary with a little effort, a little sprinkles on top, a little sparkle.

And being reminded again from my husband and my two-year-old’s smile was just perfect.

What can you do to make a moment a little more special in your day today?

Hope you find a way. I would love you to share a picture or drop me a comment in the comments section.

Here’s to the sprinkles on top.

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© Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Does this Coupon App-ly?

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As I stood in my local grocery store this week it hit me how utterly ridiculous it is that I need to consult a COMPUTER (a.k.a. my smart phone) to access the best prices.  When did shopping become an exercise in how tech savvy you can be and how many apps you can use to clog your phone?

It is complicated enough for me to push a cart, keep Little Bee pumped with Goldfish crackers, watch for stray items being grabbed off the shelves by her or hurled from the cart, navigate each store’s aisles for what I want (because you can never shop at just ONE place for everything you need) AND be expected to walk a straight line without crashing my cart into some unsuspecting senior citizen (because I am looking at my phone for that store’s “Deal ‘o the Day”).

Why is it such a game? Why can’t you just offer me your best price?  Am I in a real-live domestic goddess game of Survivor? Will there be a year’s supply of Pop Tarts at the end if I can balance all of this nonsense without losing my mind?

They want your dollars. They want your loyalty.

Every store has an app you should download. E-Clip coupons. Downloadable deals. Save 5% if you do this. Save an extra 10% if you do that. Take $2 off your next order if you throw away 10 minutes of your life every time you shop here and fill out our survey to “tell us how we’re doing”.

What if I do a cartwheel round-off down your aisles while singing your commercial’s jingle… then what does that get me?

I will tell you. A one-way trip to a rubber room.

Stop the ride, I want to get off.

Speaking of rides, remember when you were a kid and for a penny or a nickel you could take a ride on an electric pony? That was some fun technology at the grocery store. I can get behind that.

Ode to Coffee

I met you late in life.

I didn’t even know I was looking for you.

What started out as a chance meeting and then a few visits here and there, turned into a regular thing.

It was a little shaky and jittery at first. I’ll admit it, I was shy.

You were aggressive. Bold and bitter.

I wasn’t sure I could stomach your bite.

But over time, you grew on me.

The things I accomplished with you by my side kept me wanting more.

Those sleepless nights with Little Bee, my party girl.  Come morning you were there to help me jump-start my day.

The “taxi service” I now run is so much more enjoyable with you as my co-pilot.

The intolerable cold of winter seems less intolerable.

Even the 5:30 wake-up call to pound the pavement or jump in the pool is easier to stomach if I know you are waiting for me when my eyes open.

I don’t want to know what life would be like without you.

I have grown accustomed to your presence.

Promise me you will never be too far.

I know, gag, right?

Couldn’t help it…Long live COFFEE! IMG_20140428_164235338

The 13th Boy at the Party – Our First Foster Placement

Friday May 30th 

Twelve very rambunctious and excitable 12-year old boys run around my backyard with Nerf guns, footballs and frisbees. Water fights are breaking out at both hoses on either side of the house in celebration of Techno’s upcoming birthday. My A-1 babysitter, Twinkle Toes, left for a sleepover at one of her besties’ house. And my little wrecking ball on the verge of age two is wreaking havoc wherever she goes.

The phone rings around six o’clock. And by 8:15 we have our 13th party guest. An eight-month old little dreamboat who needs a place to stay for the weekend is being handed to us in the driveway with my son’s friends looking on in amazement and wonder.

Just the day before I had lamented to friends.

Why haven’t they called us yet?

We were licensed to be foster parents the second week in May. And I knew the demand was high.

Ask and you shall receive.

We knew it was probably temporary. We probably couldn’t keep him for long.

After the festivities were over and the last child was picked up from the party, I found myself on the way to the store to buy formula, diapers and baby food at 10 o’clock at night.

We had him for one week. He crawled in our hearts and under our skin right away. The smell of my entire house changed instantly. His baby smell was in almost every room. In that one week I was amazed at how much we learned about him – his quirks and delights. His learning and our growing.

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Friday June 6th 

The case worker came to take him to his more long-term foster home. He was so kind to do everything slowly. He knew it was hard.

We sent him with clothes he wore of my son’s that I had saved.  I especially loved how he looked in the Cookie Monster overalls.

I wanted to buckle him into his car seat myself and make sure I was able to see his beautiful dark brown eyes and say goodbye. Strange as it may sound, I didn’t want any remnants of his clothes or food or baby supplies here. Just thinking about it made me know it would be even harder for me later.

But the bear my son wanted to give him was left behind. I had made sure to place it among his things that morning. I knew Techno really wanted him to have it. But they played with it that morning and it never made it back into the pile.  So I called the case worker to ask how I could get it to him. He assured me he could get it that day and make sure it traveled with him to his new home.

I found something else before he came to retrieve the bear. But I never gave it back. That little guy outgrew it long before he got here. It smelled like him. And Techno has a nose like a wolf. I knew he would love it.

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Just last week he came and asked me to smell it.

Heaven. Truly.

 

7 Steps to DIY Landscaping (A Guide for the “Black, not Green Thumb”)

If you’re from parts of the country that learned what a Polar Vortex was this past winter then your landscaping might have taken a beating this year.

For the last 5+ years I have had the desire to re-do our original landscaping. So when my husband and I discussed greenlighting the project this year it got me pumped to channel my inner gardener. (Did I even have such a thing?)

The concept of curb appeal has always been important to me. And let’s just say some failed attempts with my black thumb have left some of the best-laid plans we had for our landscaping in the dirt.

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Help!

Why on earth am I geeked about landscaping you ask?  And how does it even remotely fit in with the content I usually post on this blog? Because it’s a project almost completed that taught me a thing or two about doing my homework before I jumped in (like the last time we landscaped), pushing through the desire to throw my hands up and say “forget it” when I was intimidated or throwing money at it that we could easily spend on many other important things this year.

I am no expert nor do I claim to be.  But the following steps may provide a jumping off point for anyone else who may be as skeptical of their skills as I was at first.  You might even find a way to save some money, utilize existing plants you already have and even experience some amazing stress-reducing benefits.

1. Do some homework: Drive around your favorite neighborhoods and take notice of what you like. Do you like the look of annuals and lots of flowers? Do you favor low-maintenance shrubs and bushes? Do you value symmetry and a more organized design or do you like a more natural look? Taking in to account some of these factors gives you a good place to start.

2. Locate your Gardening Zone: The plant hardiness zone map is a standard used by most growers and gardeners to indicate which plants will thrive best in different regions of the country.  Click here to find out your zone: USDA Plant Hardiness Zone.

Also researching online can provide some great inspiration and useful information about the types of plants that may work in your yard.  One of the sites I especially liked was Bloom IQ.com. This site offers care tips, gorgeous photos for design inspiration and my favorite tool under the heading Plant Information. Here you can select the plant type, zone type, lighting, bloom time and bloom color and it will search the database and provide you with the results that fit this specific profile.

3. Divide and Conquer: Start with a Google Earth map of your house. Google Earth uses satellite imagery and aerial photography to map the earth.  I loved this idea to assist in mapping out a plan.  My husband suggested this and it proved to be very useful in helping make this overwhelming task for me into a more manageable project.

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After downloading the program I found our house, zoomed in and printed a snapshot. We divided the landscaping into different areas of focus. Based on the Zone we live in and the lighting each landscaped area gets at different times of the day it helped me focus on what types of plants may work based on my preferences.  It also highlighted what had been hastily planted the last time we landscaped just because I liked it but didn’t really take into account what type of sunlight would be required or whether certain fertilizer was needed etc.  Click here to visit Google Earth and access a free download.

4.Visit some local greenhouses, garden stores and growers: Hopefully there are some real experts on-hand that would be happy to share their vast knowledge with you. I visited a couple of local places and talked to the person referred to me as their in-house expert. I showed them my Google Earth plan and gave them an idea of some of the plants I liked.  With input on what would grow well in our Zone as well as the lighting requirements of each plant, a plan started to materialize.  It was further refined by getting input from another well-respected grower and adding some of those suggestions to the plan.

5. With plan in hand GO SHOPPING! (My favorite part!) Have a budget in mind before you go and try to stick to it. Be prepared that once you get to your destination all the colors, smells and sights can easily get you off track. Most everything is looking its best and it can be hard to say no to every gorgeous hanging basket or tropical plant that may require a lot of attention. If you have a plan and know specifically what you are looking for it will be much easier to stick to it and your budget.

While we’re on the topic of budgets, before I went shopping, we looked around the yard to see what plants were thriving but just needed to be relocated to another area to make room for something else.  We also took into account what plants could be split and planted elsewhere in the yard to fill in spots that needed it.  This saved a lot on expenses too.

6. Do a Mock-Up before you Start: Once you return home with your new plants, invest the time in a mock-up before you start planting.  Placement is key!  Some plants may grow five feet wide and eight feet tall.  If you don’t take note of that on the information card that comes with the plant you may end up losing a plant you love if it can’t later be transplanted.  This happened to us.  Years ago we had placed two beautiful purple leaf sand cherry shrubs near our children’s bedroom windows.  When they got about 8 feet tall it was kind of overbearing.  We wanted to move them but by this time it was too late.  So we lost one in the process and decided to leave the other one as it was but prune it down considerably.

7. Enjoy the benefits!  Did you know that plants improve air quality, reduce soil erosion and reduce noise pollution?  According to Green Leaf Nursery, one of America’s largest nursery growers, landscaping can add as much as 15-20 percent to the value of a home or building. By spending as little as five percent on landscaping, the value of a home can jump as much as 15 percent!  And research shows that children who interact with plants and nature are less apt to be hyperactive, more creative and focused and cooperative at play.

Studies also show when adults interact with plants and nature they have less stress and depression in their lives as well.  I am finding this out now.  Ten years ago I was not really interested in taking these necessary steps and doing the work.  But I am so glad I made the investment to see this project through.  I am thoroughly enjoying watering my new pIants and just zoning out and relaxing each day for twenty minutes or so.  I know I will reap the benefits for years to come and our home is better for it as well.

Lastly, I kept all of the information cards on each plant and made notes about what kind of care it will require each season.  These notes are now housed with all my gardening supplies.  If it took us almost a decade to re-do the original landscaping, I want to be sure what we do now flourishes and works well for years to come.

Keep in mind many of these plants need to mature!

Keep in mind many of these plants need to mature!

Happy Landscaping!

© Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.