Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Necessity is the Mother of Invention - and I am the Mother of Stupidity

Let me ask you something....on what setting do you wash your Capri Sun drink pouches? Delicate? Ultra-Handwash? Perhaps a simple rinse and drain will do the trick. I digress....

My son, Deuce, will be confirmed this year in the Catholic church. His catechesis requires several service projects along the way. Last year, ZuZu went through the same thing, and along with several projects done with her various sports team and extra-curricular clubs, she sponsored a "Zumba for Haiti" day and collected over $600 to be sent for relief efforts after last year's devastating earthquake. She was very proud and loved being part of such a great effort. Her project was even mentioned in the local diocesan newsletter. Not to be outdone, it was time for little brother to come up with an impressive project (translation: can mommy outdo her own previous service project?).

As with every other elementary/middle school in America, my children's' school is very environmentally conscious. We have paper and cardboard recycling bins in the parking lot, we have gone to electronic correspondence, and our school cafeteria recycles EVERYTHING - water bottles, milk jugs, even the trays (no longer plastic sent through dishwashers - ours are a recycled material sent back to a recycling plant). I did a little research and thought, "we should start a POUCH BRIGADE!"

TerraCycle is a wonderful company that accepts those colorful little drink pouches (i.e. capri sun, minute maid, etc), gives $.02 per pouch to your charity of choice, and then UPcycles them into cute little products. Here's the lunch box we bought to promote the program.

Cute, right? Anyhooooo....it seems simple enough. We signed up online, named our school as the charity, bought a big tub for cafeteria collection, and every Friday, Deuce drags the big bagful home on the bus.

TerraCycle says no need to wash the pouches, but the pouches must be empty and no straws. Simple enough.

The first couple of weeks of school, we were on it. We'd outfit ourselves with surgical gloves, dive in, and throw out the various granola wrappers, milk boxes and potato chip bags that happened to find their way into our "pouches only" bag. We threw out enough straws to stretch from the Liberty Bell to Key West, Florida. And we were ALMOST at the required 500 pouches necessary to mail in our first shipment (postage printed out online and paid by TerraCycle).

Week three and four and five....things got busy. Bags were thrown in the garage to be dealt with later....

Yesterday was later....

Too late.


Yesterday we found not only random wrappers and milk boxes, but soggy bread and half chewed granola bars.

Deuce: "AWWW, somebody puked on this one!"

Me: "Nope, that's just two week old, soggy granola smears. Rinse it off and throw it in the sun to dry up.

Deuce: "That's disgusting."

Me: "Suck it up. One day it will be puke. Your child's puke. All over you. And the next thing you know, you'll be washing capri sun pouches in your front yard with a garden hose and nose plugs. Now stomp on that bee I just disoriented with the jet stream. Freakin' bees."

So as not to lose sight of WHY we were doing this mother/son bonding project, I forced him to say the "Our Father," ten "Hail Mary's" and a "Glory Be" during the festivities. My meditations were a little less holy.

As the Indian Summer comes to a close, I begin to ponder how we are going to clean those devil pouches through the chillier months. Let's face it, upcycling 500 pouches every three weeks is not going to close the gaping hole in the ozone, now is it? What's a mom to do?

WASHING MACHINE!! I dumped the next bagful of pouches straight into my front-loading washer, threw a little detergent in and pressed "Ultra-Handwash" hoping for the best. Thirteen minutes in, I couldn't wait. "Drain and Spin." Eleven minutes later, I open the door. Still reeks of stale, fake juice. Found a couple of "one of these things is not like the other...one of these things just isn't the same...."


Hand to God, this one was still half-full (note the positivity...me, the perpetual optimist).

It gets worse....I was hoping that a quick dryer cycle on low heat would finish the deed and prepare the pouches for packing. Sweet Mother of Mercy, now my dryer smells of stale, fake juice. There was a hazy, tacky film coating the drum. Clorox wipe, Windex wipe, hot rag wipe......I think the tacky is gone, but the smell remains. Doing my first load of laundry this morning since the debacle. We should be able to access the damage in another 44 minutes.

You may have won the battle, Pouch Brigade, but the war is not yet over. My next plan of attack - the dishwasher! Yes, I realize if those metallic little pouches fall through the racks and rest up against the heating coil, it could spell H-O-U-S-E-F-I-R-E. But I refuse to let these pouches get the best of me! And isn't a small, contained house fire a small price to pay for saving Mother Earth?

He thinks so.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Jumping the Shark

Wow! It's been awhile. So much has happened since we last visited, where should I start????

Well, I guess we should begin with Big Daddy. Life around the office is stressful, to say the least. Never a dull moment at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce - which is way too many names for a simple ad agency, don't you agree? I suspect there may be some office shenanigans going on, although certainly it can't last. Those mad men are sure to become impotent due to the Lucky Strike chain smoking that goes on in that office.

My daughter ZuZu apparently has broken into the blog biz herself. It seems she's "the one and only source into the scandalous lives of Manhattan's elite." Who knew?!? What can I say, "you know you love her. xoxo"

My son, Deuce, who is the quarterback on his football team recently joined the Glee club at school. He's a bit goofy and awkward, but can really sing (not so much dance). The slushies in the face bother him a little, but he's willing to endure because the girls in the club are hot and that's the way he roles.

MT had a great time down at the shore this summer. He spent a lot of time living in a pineapple under the sea. Took a job as a fry cook for a stingy lobster and LOVED it. His best friend, Patrick, is endearing, but stupid as a saltwater invertebrate.

As for me? What have I been up to, you ask? I'm just living my life as a real housewife of Philadelphia. Fundraisers, shopping trips, brawls and fake boobs (not me....those other bitches).

And that's what you missed on Aleighopolis!

Friday, July 16, 2010

I'm Sleep-blogging Again

Funny, when I rolled out of bed forty-five minutes ago (after giving up on sleep), I didn't expect to visit Aleighopolis. Yet, here I am. Perhaps when I have something to share in the middle of the night, and everyone else is sleeping, I turn to you! That's right. YOU! Even though YOU are probably sound asleep in your own 500-thread count sheets with the air set at a dehumidifying, ever-so-slightly chilled 73-degrees so-you-can-still-pull-the-down-comforter-up-over-your-shoulder! YOU. Oh, how I envy YOU and your REM....

So what did I want to share, YOU ask? Again, forty-five minutes ago (okay, now fifty minutes ago), I was making my way down the stairs Inspector Clouseau style using my iPhone as a flashlight, and suddenly, I saw movement across the foyer floor. Small, round, furry movement. ZuZu's freakin' hamster, who shall from this point forward be referred to as Houdini (and, maybe, S.O.B.). Thankfully, I didn't scream, break any more furniture, or wet myself. In fact, I'm actually starting to expect the little critter to fly the coup. You see, Houdini managed to escape from his cage THREE times while we were "vacationing" in Indiana last week (providing much entertainment for the 6-year old quadruplets that were pet-sitting during our absence). I'm still not in love with the little rodent, but I hate him a little less than I did a few months ago. I understand him a little better. For instance, I now know that if I put a little food in his green plastic exercise ball, he will happily crawl right inside - eliminating the need for me to physically pick him up, which would cause me to scream, possibly break furniture (or bones), and quite likely wet myself. So, here we are. Me, rat-tat-tatting on the keyboard.....Houdini "rolling" through the house, rattling the big sunflower seeds (which works as well as a bell around his neck).

There are many more things that have happened over the past couple of months that I would love to share....but......nah. I won't bore you. Perhaps I will share snippets every once in awhile. Just a splash of Aleigh...so to speak.

I must say, I was delighted to see the new templates offered by blogger - making the life of an amateur blogger easy-breezy, lemon-squeezy. This one lightened my heart, and made Aleighopolis so sunshiney. Again, making it impossible to resist the urge to stop in for a quick visit.

Bye, bye, Larry King set - Hello, green pastures.

I guess that's all for now. I think I'll leave Houdini inside the green ball and place the green ball inside a laundry basket and place the laundry basket inside the powder room and wedge a towel underneath the powder room door. Maybe then I can convince myself that it's safe to fall asleep.

Freakin' Houdini.

Friday, May 28, 2010

It's 2a.m. . . . Do you know where your blogger is?

This one is in front of her keyboard...regretting the two glasses of iced tea (realizing now, it was NOT decaffeinated) she had with a late dinner. That's what she gets for opting out of the red wine.

Enough of the third person....

Thanks to all who noticed my absence, missed me and told me so. This time, it was not so much a purposeful distancing as it was a literal distancing. I truly have not been able to sit in front of this screen and spend any quality time in Aleighopolis. It's true. Ask my facebook friends. I've been MIA there, as well. It started with a four-day trip "home" for a family affair. I returned just in time for my kids to begin a four-day weekend, during which my parents arrived for a week long visit. They left Sunday, and here comes another three-day weekend celebrating the unofficial kick-off to SUMMER!

What happened to May?

What happened to this school year?!?

As my friend recently reminded me. "Life is what happens when you're busy making plans." So what lifey things have interrupted your best-laid plans? I'm hoping all good.

Ooh! Let me guess!

I'm thinking a third of you finished a chapter, were signed by an agent, or have a book available on amazon; a third of you just finished a mini-marathon, the 26.2, or are training for a triathlon; a third of you are still pissed off because Crystal Bowersox lost on American Idol.

Am I close?!?

I'm thinking we're on the same wavelength, because other than visiting and being visited, this is what I've been up to:

Contemplating a book idea that a friend suggested I author (can you imagine?)

Updating Zumba routines as I branch out on my own, renting space at a local dance studio

NOT watching American Idol

Sorry, I lost interest after Andrew Garcia was voted out. He had THEE BEST rendition of Paula Abdul's "Straight Up" and Chris Brown's "Forever." I'd stick a link to youtube here, but alas, I still don't know how to do such a thing. And, it doesn't matter anyway....the polls have been closed for a few days, right?

Today should be Flashback Friday. With that in mind, how about we flashback to the Project 12 Rooms in 12 Months?



It's a good thing you're all holding me accountable.

I'll go get started now.

Scratch that.

I'll get started later today. After a little shut-eye.

Good morning.

And good night.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

There's an App for That

Six of the most annoying words in the English vocabulary:


I am unabashedly, unequivocally IN LOVE with my iPhone. That's right, iHeart my iPhone. Despite what that "other company" says about AT&T's dead zones, or lack of service area (or whatever they're calling it in their ads this week), I rarely have issues connecting to the server. And my phone is now over a year old, rendering it antiquated and nearly obsolete in the world of cellular electronics.

That, my friends, is what makes the last hour of my time with my beloved smart phone so completely frustrating. I was away from my PC for a mere hour and a half, and felt completely lost (that kind of says something about me, doesn't it?). Don't get me wrong, I can float away from cyberspace (with only slight detoxing side effects) for hours and hours, but this weekend, I will be leaving Big Daddy and the kids to fend for themselves for four days, so there are many a plan to be finalized and all that. This is no time to be unplugged. Unnecessary anxiety has set in.

What's wrong with my phone? What if it's broken. What if I don't have a phone over my weekend away?

I have tried to connect no less than 1,000,000,000 times over the past hour and five minutes, with those same God-awful words popping up every time.

Let me try to distract myself with something else.....

You know how, "they got an app for that?" Most (all) of my apps are FOC, just because I don't have time or $$ to invest in the fancy stuff. Many would accuse me of not fully reaching my iPhone potential. Call me a simpleton. I still have my favorites. Here are some top-billed (free) apps in Aleighopolis:

Words Free (Words With Friends) - my new favorite. My Sis-in-Law got me started in this virtual scrabble game, and now we're in constant battle - me in Philly, she in Ft. Worth. She and my nephew are the only people I engage in wordplay with, and I have yet to win a game. Although, I have to say, I WAS winning one round, and mysteriously, it disappeared. Never to be heard from again. I smell hijinks (which would make a kick-ass triple word play).

ESPN ScoreCenter - most fervently used during the fall to keep track of the Indianapolis Colts and the Philadelphia Phillies post-season play.

Shazam - musical voodoo at the touch of a screen.

Notes & Voice Memos - great for quick citations. Remember when we used to have to write notes on paper?!? How archaic!

I realize these aren't the most titillating of iPhone applications, but they serve me well on a day to day basis (and I suppose I would be remiss to leave off facebook mobile for obvioso reasons). If you want apps that would incite a riot (or at the very least, make a middle-aged mama squeal with delight), how about creating one of these:

The Carpool - At the tap of your screen, coordinate with your entire contact list to determine who could drive whom when and where, thus avoiding endless emails, texts, and phone calls with said network.

Copperfield Dinner - type in your random on-hand ingredients (mine would read 2 cans of chicken, a sleeve of saltines, a jar of green olives and ranch dressing), and feast your eyes on a delectable gourmet recipe, complete with calorie, fat, and carb count.

Personal Trainer (from Hades) - This app would work on an interval training schedule, alerting you to various cardio and strength-training feats throughout your day. One may find themselves shopping in Target, when "Personal Trainer" demands they "drop and give him two sets of ten!"

Extraordinary Excuses - Keep this one on page one for quick reference when asked to chair the next fundraising event at your child's school.

Grocery Getter - This app acts as a liason between you and your favorite, local supermarket. You input your grocery list and debit card info, and the store has everything grabbed off the shelves, bagged in recycled totes, and waiting for you curbside as you do a food drive-by.

And how about one more....

Because I'm the Mom! - this would be random comebacks to your children's most annoying questions and requests.

Tween Daughter: Mom! Why can't I go to the Katy Perry concert?

Because I'm the Mom: Because I said so!

Wait - I could create that one myself on my voice memo app!

So what's your favorite app? What's your dream app?

By the way....crisis averted. Very few iPhone problems CAN'T be fixed by simply turning it off and turning it back on.

Kind of like Big Daddy.

Monday, May 3, 2010

One Down. Eleven to Go.

Wow! My mind is 1/12 freer. Not kidding. I am on my way to a clutter-free cranium!

My apologies for not being much of a motivator for the Project 12 Rooms in 12 Months, but BIG THANKS to all of YOU for motivating ME to complete my first project in the first month. Accountability, people. I made you a promise, and I kept it. And here is my reward:

You know what I love? I love when one of my kids tells me they need a blue erasable pen for school and I can say, "mudroom, bottom right drawer" without hesitation. That's power, my peeps. Check out the big "OM" on my unitard - "Organized Mommy."

If you're wondering what's in those boxes up top, the answer would be, from left to right, top to bottom:

Fancy present toppers
"Extra parts" for "stuff"
Bows & tissue paper
Gift bags

The biggest accomplishment in the laundry room was getting all of the clothes upstairs in the proper closet. Claustrophobia cured! My itty-bitty laundry room now feels cozy instead of cramped. Note that I still keep the kids' team uniforms hanging here on the right. Again...

Them: Mom! Where are my baseball pants/shirt/vest/belt/socks?
Me: Laundry room. Hanging up on the right.

Organized Mom saves the day AGAIN!

You know what else feels roomier? This petite little mudroom closet. The over-the-door shoe rack is still filled with all kinds of things - from hole punchers to screwdrivers to fancy empty boxes to packing tape. I find no reason to disturb the organized chaos happening here. But check out the closet innards.....

And now, the piece de resistance....

Surprise! I had my powder room turned into a little jewel box! Isn't it adorable?!? I have a love/hate relationship with wallpaper. I hate "their" wallpaper, but I LOVE MY WALLPAPER! Actually, this is only the third time I have had wallpaper slapped up in my house, and one was a neutral textured paper, but I was looking for a bold, modern floral and this is it!

**DISCLAIMER: Project 12-in-12 is not about spending money on redecorating; however, if it is on the to-do list, "git'er done." **

Voila! So there you have it! My first of twelve rooms (which was actually three rooms rolled into one), is complete! And for my next trick - the living room:

I get a lot of compliments on this room, and at first glance I can understand why. It's trendy, but tasteful...well-balanced...warm and inviting. But, as the owner of this living room, trust me when I say it kills me (that's right, my LIVING room KILLS me).

Look at those 25 cubbies. Shelving units are our best friends and our worst enemies. Three words: Purge. Purge. Purge. And even though this room has been put together over time...pieces purchased for other rooms in other homes, brought together here, it still feels a little "Rooms to Go" to me. I need to edit and add in order to produce a more eclectic vibe, which is more my style.

This corner has always posed a problem...since moving in. It's a great hiding spot behind the foyer closet.

I have a bad habit of this, too. Propping "soon to be hung" items up against the wall. These were "soon to be hung" when we moved in 2 years ago.

And this closet needs the same TLC I showed in the mudroom...

One more thing. Take a look at what used to be a fabulous second-hand find for the "I love me some vintage furniture" shopper girl.

It's a liquor cabinet. Check out how it becomes a server bar. This little number has seen many a wild party in it's heyday.

Why is it lopsided, you ask? That happened Saturday night. No joke. Just two days ago.

Big Daddy was out of town this weekend. ZuZu had a friend stay over Saturday night, and the boys asked a couple of neighborhood friends to spend the night, too. As they were all having a dance party via Comcast On Demand videos in our family room, my neighbor (the boys' mom) was graciously inviting us all down for Belgian waffles and bacon the next morning. Lovely. We continue our chat, which suddenly veers a little off topic.

She: Do you guys have a hamster?

Me: Yeah. (she doesn't read my blog, but I thought she knew this)

She: Is he black?

Me: Yeah! WhyyYY?!? (escalating with realization) IS HE OUT?!?

She: Yeah, he just ran under the couch.

Me: ZUZU!!!!!

At this point, I do a vertical leap somewhere between 6 inches and 6 feet, and my bum comes crashing down on top of this liquor cabinet, which proceeds to make a crunching sound as the wheeled leg is forced through 60-year old rotting wood and slams onto the foyer floor (me, sliding off, running into the kitchen and jumping onto sturdier, more stable Quartz countertopped kitchen island).

The kids have made a barrier across the room, and my friend urges ZuZu to go get the hamster. She's frozen with fear. I JUST NOW find out that Scooter bit my son on the first day we had the stupid hamster, and ZuZu has been afraid to hold him ever since (TOLDYA SO! TOLDYA SO! TOLDYA TOLDYA TOLDYA TOLDYA TOLDYA SO!)

My neighbor's son finally captured the rodent without further incident, and he was placed back in his cage with the non-secured hole NOW taped closed. You all told me it was just a matter of time. Luckily, he was lost & found all at once. In fact, he was kind of found first. He was found, before we knew he was lost.

Freakin' hamster.
Freakin' ZuZu.

p.s. Mudroom Before & Afters will be in an album on my Aleighopolis facebook page.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Flashback Friday: I am an Extrovert. Deal With It.

FYI, my MO is to OA (over-analyze). Oh...you noticed? Yeah, I know. This week's posts have been a tad dramatic, eh? A little lame. Self-absorbed, even. Humor me a smidge longer. It's time for (cue the reverb) FLASHBACK FRIDAY!!!

Back in the fall of 1992, Big Daddy and I were engaged to be married. Just a couple of crazy kids in love....fresh out of college...starting our careers...ready to take on the world. We were being married in the Catholic Church, and therefore, participated in Pre-Cana classes with the priest.

"Slick"ipedia has this to say about Pre-Cana:

"Pre-Cana is a course or consultation Catholic couples must undergo before they can be married in a Catholic church. The name is derived from John 2:1-12, the wedding feast at Cana in Galilee, where Jesus performed the miracle of turning water into wine."

(oh, that's kinda cool. see, even God knows a good marriage requires good wine.)

"Approaches to Pre-Cana vary among Catholic dioceses and parishes. Often six weekly sessions will be led by a priest or deacon with support from a married Catholic couple. Common topics include: compatibility of the couple, basic principles of Catholic marriage and family life (namely theological meaning of marriage), conflict resolution within marriage, rules the couple are expected to follow."

So, fine. Topics included child-bearing and child-rearing, finances, gender roles, etc. For the most part, Big Daddy and I were on the same page. No big surprises. But the most valuable part of the 6-week course proved incredibly insightful.

Father Bob: A, would you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert?

Me: Have you MET me?

Father Bob: Right, you're an extrovert. And you (turning to Big Daddy) would consider yourself an introvert, am I right?

Big Daddy: Yes.

Father Bob: So what do you think that means?

Me: Is this a trick question? I'm more outgoing and social. Big Daddy is more reserved and shy in big crowds.

Father Bob: It can mean that, yes. But what you REALLY need to remember as a married couple is that you, as an extrovert, make decisions EXTERNALLY. You need to talk your way to an answer. You pose both sides (or many sides) to the question before coming to a conclusion. And you (Big Daddy), as an introvert, INTERNALIZE everything quietly before reaching your conclusion. And then, and only then, will you give an answer.

Me: (squints eyes) Uh-huh.....so who's right?

Of course, Father Bob went on to explain that neither is right or wrong, but that it would be necessary to remember this as we navigated through life as a couple. He warned me not to get frustrated and think that Big Daddy wasn't listening to me just because he wasn't chiming in. And he explained to Big Daddy that as I'm working through my problem, it's not his duty to solve the problem or come to the conclusion FOR ME and blurt it out definitively at the end. Indeed, I may still be talking my way through the issue. Good advice. We still remind ourselves of this lesson often.

Do you see where I'm going with this? This week's posts have been my "out loud decision-making 'to blog or not to blog' extrovert-on-crack-kind of discussion. I've written about my personal hang-ups, discomforts, and even annoyances in the Land of Blog. And judging by the public and private messages I've received on the subject, it seems I'm not the only one who views those traveling awards as the blogosphere's equivalent of an e-mail forward promising that your wish will come true by morning if you just say the prayer and forward to seventy-two of your closest friends in the next three and a half minutes. But if you don't, you will have fourteen years of bad luck. And you will never get a book deal. And your dog will die. But for the most part, bloggers pass those awards on. To be nice. And because they want to be published. And they don't want their dogs to die.

More flashback:

Sonny Crockett: Are you going somewhere with this or just running laps?

Me: Thanks for asking, Sonny. It seems even though I haven't declared who I am as a blogger, or proposed a purpose in my writing, I have filled a niche of sorts. Many of you from the beginning have encouraged me to keep blogging. And this week your words have been especially kind. Thankfully, those who don't care for my writing haven't told me to bug off. There's really no need for that in the blogosphere. If one finds Aleighopolis a bore, a snore, or a chore (like this week), they can simply split town and never return. And for those of you who do enjoy visiting...as always...we'll leave the light on for ya.

p.s. Father O' would be doubled over in pain that I used Wikipedia as a source for Pre-Cana rather than the Catechism of the Catholic Church. My quick 1am search for the Catechism online resulted in nada.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Blog, Interrupted

So, two months and 25 blogs later, I would say I have established myself as a consistent blogger. Fairly reliable. Showing up nearly every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (albeit loosey goosey with the hour of day). I may be voicing my opinion (on all things frivolous); issuing a challenge (yes, I WILL have "after" pictures for the Project 12-in-12 challenge on Friday's blog); or sharing a sappy, sentimental story (a study is currently being commissioned to see if said stories correspond with monthly female hormonal happenings). My personal favorites are usually the anecdotal accounts of my everyday life. Those are the ones people seem to relate to on a deeper level. And by deeper, I mean they feel my pain. Whether it's dog dying, hamster buying, or bats flying, we've all "been there, done that, bought the t-shirt."

On Monday, I returned after a week and a half hiatus with an excused absence slip. The slip said something like, "Big Daddy is home, and when Big Daddy is home Big Daddy demands my attention and Big Daddy deserves my attention." It could have also read, "Damn! After eleven baseball/lacrosse games, eight Zumba classes, three track meets, two girls' night's out, two parties to attend, one sacrament to celebrate and entertaining out-of-town guests (yes, all within ten days) - Mama is just too tired to type!

All of this is true, but there are a couple of other reasons why Aleighopolis was under quarantine...

First, I give you blogger's remorse. Why am I spending my days writing fluff for no apparent reason other than entertainment (most, of which, is mine)? I touched on this Monday, and many of you came to the defense of blogging, and eloquently commented on the needs of us to do so. Blog. And comment. We just do. Okay...good enough for me.

Secondly, truth be told, I became frozen stiff in cyberpeer pressure. Short story long, one of my blogging buddies is a real-life buddy who happened to have a real-life career as a writer in a real-life newspaper. Think Marley & Me with no dog. Well, actually, there IS a dog, but he wasn't the constant focus. I digress. She has been blogging for awhile, and has come into contact with many fellow writers. It's natural that writers would find a home in the blogging world. They trade insights and inspirations all of the time on their posts and comments. They use jargon like WIP's and queries. They hold contests for judging critiques and do guest-blogging at each other's sights and so on and so forth.

What the ?!?

How did little 'ole me with no focus or purpose get mixed up with this astute cluster of scribes?!? Don't get me wrong. These people are FABULOUS and I enjoy them immensely. I "follow" several of them who have caught my fancy. I am giddy with delight when one finds their way to Aleighopolis and takes the time to sign my guest book (leave a comment).

But there's this other thing that austere bloggers do. And here's where the pressure got to me.

They give out awards.

Lots of them.

For best doodle and sweetest remarks and prettiest handwriting and all kinds of things.

They give out awards, and if you receive one, you're expected to pass it along. Like a chain letter. It all seemed very sweet and encouraging in the beginning, but then it took a peculiar turn. It felt a bit gratuitous. And then a little incestuous.

YIKES! Now I've done it! I've offended the cool kids! They'll never let me sit at their lunch table again!!!!! What was I thinking?!?

Lucy, let me 'splain...I get that we're all just sharing the blogger love. Helping to promote each other's sites and their subsequent works in progress. Keeping things real, all the while rosy. Please.
I am a former cheerleader who's favorite tv show is Glee and all kidding aside, I truly love my life. Positivity is a daily goal of mine. A splash of sarcasm and a love of dirty dancing are the only things that keep my skin from glowing like a neon pink sign. Rose-colored glasses? I got your roses.

But the passing around of clip art awards was wearing me down, peeps (may I still call you peeps? do you hate me now? the cheerleader past was the nail in the coffin, am i right?). I am still trying to understand blog etiquette (is that a mushroom cloud above my head where a light bulb should be?) It was feeling like a "you scratch my blog and I'll scratch yours" kind of deal with the followers and following and contests and giveaways and awards and acceptance posts. I blame no one but myself for these overwhelming considerations. Again, it was just that kind of week. General chaos leading to....well...you know...blog, interrupted.

I needed to catch my breath.

I have.

I needed to remember why I bother doing this.

Actually, I still need to FIGURE OUT why I'm doing this.

I think I'm just having a conversation, one-sided as it may be.

I'm hanging with friends and family. And with you. If you're still there. Hello? Are you still there?

I wish I had a WIP.

Monday, April 26, 2010

My Mayonnaise Jar Runneth Over

Often times when people find out that I have a blog, they respond with one question:

Them: Who has time to blog?

Me: Uh.....

I'm sure they mean no offense, but truth be told, it feels like an insult rather than a question. It seems to imply that I have nothing better to do with my time. That I'm not as busy with life as them. Or that I choose to waste my time on meaningless rants and raves while they do much more worthwhile things - like watch reality television or shop. Not that those things aren't incredibly important.

I mean, God forbid we put Snooki and "The Situation," out of work due to poor ratings. And certainly we can all do our part to ignite this country's sagging economy by purchasing last year's Coach wristlet from the Poppy Collection at your nearest outlet store.

For most, discretionary time is a luxury. Those minutes come few and far between. And how one chooses to fill that time is their business - and they should own it. When people ask me why I blog, or what I blog about, I tell them it's a creative outlet for me. As my facebook page states:

"Apparently, couldn't get enough of myself on facebook, so I started a blog. How original."

I like to share. Sue me. Some people get a kick out of me. Sue them. Some people don't give a crap what I have to say. Screw them. I mean - c'est la vie (even though it doesn't rhyme).

My time to blog is usually late at night, after the kids are in bed, and often times when Big Daddy is out of town on business. In fact, that is EXACTLY why I have not been spending time in Aleighopolis, or on anyone else's blog site lately. Because Big Daddy has been home for two straight weeks. Not straight like, 24-hours a day; but fourteen straight days of no business travel. And no business trips again this week. I don't think he's spent three straight weeks in his office since we moved here over two years ago. I am enjoying turning the computer off by 10pm and spending some QT with Big Daddy. See how one must sometimes choose between leisure time activities (when in doubt, always choose your big daddy).

I have missed Aleighopolis. I have missed the other blogs that I visit often. I hope to get caught up this week, all the while remembering the story of The Mayonnaise Jar. Thanks to my friend, K, for sending this to me recently. Words to live by. (you know what other words you can live by? words like snooki and poppy. those are fun words. that's why i blog)

The Mayonnaise Jar

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle,
When 24 hours in a day is not enough;
remember the mayonnaise jar and 2 cups of coffee.

A professor stood before his philosophy class
and had some items in front of him.

When the class began, wordlessly,
he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar
and start to fill it with golf balls.

He then asked the students if the jar was full.
They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured
it into the jar. He shook the jar lightly.
The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls.
He then asked the students again
if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand
and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else
He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded
With an unanimous 'yes.'

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table
and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively
filling the empty space between the sand.
The students laughed.

'Now,' said the professor, as the laughter subsided,
'I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life.

The golf balls are the important things - God, family,
children, health, friends, and favorite passions
Things that if everything else was lost
and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the things that matter like your job, house, and car.

The sand is everything else --
The small stuff..

'If you put the sand into the jar first,' he continued,
'there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls.
The same goes for life.

If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff,
You will never have room for the things that are
important to you.


Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.
Play with your children.
Take time to get medical checkups.
Take your partner out to dinner.

There will always be time
to clean the house and fix the dripping tap.

'Take care of the golf balls first --
The things that really matter.
Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.'

One of the students raised her hand
and inquired what the coffee represented.

The professor smiled.

'I'm glad you asked'.

It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem,
there's always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend..'

Amen, Professor. Amen.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Color Me Coral

I have absolutely no time for anything today, other than teaching my three Zumba classes and preparing for my daughter's Confirmation on Friday night.

So, I shall blog about ZuZu's Confirmation! (don't tell Big Daddy I'm blogging today. he'll start his speech about time management again)

Family will be arriving from the midwest in approximately 27 hours to witness and celebrate my daughter's Confirmation, a sacrament in the Catholic Church. The introduction to the Rite of Confirmation states:

"by the sacrament of Confirmation, (the baptized) are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed."


It seems like it was just yesterday that we were cutting lace and trim off of my wedding gown and detachable train to embellish her First Communion dress. It was four years ago, to the month. Time flies. And without getting too religious or spiritual or philosophical, I'm happy my baby will be aided by the Holy Spirit to get her through this world.

Speaking of dresses....that was our mission last night (yes, three days before said event). We had a backup dress, but it was black. We wanted something more springy and Holy Spiritish. The Holy Spirit would imply red. But CORAL seemed a little more the season.

Behold, the dress of ZuZu:

I know, right?!? So cute! And it pretty much lays on her exactly the way it does on this hanger...slim and straight.


And it's got this beautiful little detailing on the hip with this satin bow and rhinestone clasp doohickey. Which is why we MUST find a pair of sandals with rhinestone accents! Of course, a coral pedicure will then be in order. Lucky thing the dress was on sale!

As was the necklace. $2.40 at Boscov's, to be exact. Holla!

Funny thing hit me as I was propping up the dress for the photo op....coral has been a go-to color for special nights for me and the ladies of my family. My mom found a beautiful coral suit with pearl and rhinestone buttons to wear on my wedding day. I was wearing a stellar coral dress and jacket on the night Big Daddy proposed to me. And now ZuZu will wear it as she professes her faith and experiences a rite of passage (yeah, it will be under a big white robe, but still).

Coral is the color of ocean reefs. Alive and vibrant. Bright and cheerful. Crisp and fresh. And apparently, nostalgic and sentimental.

So other than the whole cleaning the house and washing the linens and stocking the fridge and wrapping the gifts and finding the shoes and meditating on the signifigance of this special day for my daughter - I'm good to go!

Good thing I didn't waste time blogging about something meaningless today. Right, Big Daddy?!?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Home Alone (Wishful Thinking)

Many people abhor Mondays. People with jobs they hate. People who don't spend the entire weekend trying to catch their breath (and a sandwich) running from baseball fields, to lacrosse fields, to track & fields. People who are awakened before sunrise, and remain trapped in their own home with tiny minions that need constant diaper changing, feeding, and attention.

I am not one of those people.

Monday mornings, my house empties by 7:40am, and I am alone. At peace with my coffee, my computer, and my to-do list (insert "happy dance" here). It's my prerogative to either deal with the list, or not. I may find a good movie "on demand." I may camp out in front of my computer, bouncing from website to website. I may even get a phone call from a long-distance friend and spend an hour or more catching up. Don't judge me. I've paid my dues.

None of that is happening today. Today, I have a gentleman here to wallpaper my powder room. After two years of being "a work in progress," it's time. Summer is just around the corner (we refer to it as, "visitors' season"), and I'm thrilled to cross this project off the list. And since neither Big Daddy nor I have skills in this area (obviously....not even good at getting the stuff down, let alone, back up), we have hired out the job. The gentleman came highly recommended. He does great work, is quick, and is cheap. SOLD! However, he likes to strike up conversations with me as he works. UGH!!!

Don't look now, but he's about 12 feet behind me, preparing a strip of paper. I'm good for the 10 minutes he's in the powder room, but just as I'm about to get my mojo rolling, he comes back to cut another strip and the small talk begins. Don't get me wrong, he's a nice guy, and I'm the Queen of Small Talk, but IT'S MY MONDAY! MY DAY! MY QUIET, PEACEFUL, DO WHATEVER I WANT DAY! And I don't want to explain what Zumba is or discuss how the neighbor with cancer is doing or hear about where his daughter goes to college.


So this is it, people. Here's my Monday blog. If I had a laptop, I would retreat to the deck (out of ear-shot where it's sunny and mid-60's) and be a little more creative, thought-provoking, or entertaining. But alas, I do not. So, instead, I will grab a book, my iPhone, and an iced coffee. I'll be close enough for emergencies....far enough for some privacy.

Monday sucks.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Flashback Friday: Like Mother Like Daughter

I was a child actor.

No, not in movies.

Not on television.

Not commercials (well, actually, there was that SuperValue Supermarkets spot I did my junior year in high school but good luck finding a copy of that!)....

No, I got my start where many of the classically-trained began their careers - in the theatre (or, theatah, if you will). Granted, it may look like a decrepit barn to the unknowing, but believe me people, this was a bona fide summer stock theatre in Syracuse, Indiana, with a paid company and everything. Unless, by everything, you were expecting air-conditioning. Because in the summers of '84-'86, there wasn't any. Nothing says, "sweatin' my ass off" like pancake make-up in August. I know. For the love of the craft, baby. Anyhoo, as I said, EHP did have a paid company of actors and musicians and the like. And then they had "the others." Local, young kids who came to fill bit parts and beef up the chorus. (Enter me)

My journey to the stage began when my dance instructor told me and a few other students about an open audition for the musical Carousel. They were looking for a 14 or 15 year old to dance a ballet solo (Julie and Billy's daughter). I remember the audition vaguely. I told them my name and how old I was. I was taught a dance by the choreographer and performed for the director. And I sang. "Happy Birthday To You." That's right. I came to an audition with no prepared music, therefore sang "Happy Birthday To You." No one ever called me a triple threat, but if they had, the order would look something like this:

1. Dancer

2. Actor

3. Big smile ("singer" would have been more like number twelve on the list)

Anyway, I did not get the part. None of us did. The role of 15 year old Louise was played by the 25-ish year old choreographer Leta (who reminded me a lot of Joan Jett with her mid-80's bi-level cut - which was a good thing back then). Whatev, "Low-Leta." I did, however, get a chorus spot, which led to playing Don Quixote's horse, Rocinante, alongside my more petite, waif-like friend (and Sancho's donkey, Dapple) in one of my all-time favorites, Man of La Mancha. That was it. I was smitten and bitten and all things thespian (read carefully, Big Daddy...Thes-pi-an). There was The Music Man and 'Lil Abner, West Side Story (I had to play a Jet. No "I Want to be in America" for me. Boo). My last role at EHP was as one of the title characters in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Here's a company photo from 1986. I'm the one slouching by the guy who thinks we're taking the wrestling team photo.

Now, to fast forward...there was high school theatre and a minor in theatre at Indiana University (as a theatre minor, the closest I got to the stage was seating people in the front row as I fulfilled my twice a semester ushering duties). I was stage-less for years after college and as a newlywed, but fell into a local civic theatre in Grand Island, Nebraska after Big Daddy was transferred for work. Who knew I'd be reculturefied in the middle of corn country?!? Several years later, we're back in central Indiana, I'm a stay-at-home mother of three, and I'm wondering what ever happened to my Broadway career? Are there any casting agents in my playgroup? Will my kids give me a standing ovation after a well-delivered reprimand or a gracefully prepared snack? Well, time to start living vicariously through my children! (enter ZuZu)

I remember taking ZuZu to her first ever show. It was a children's theatre production of Charlotte's Web. She was almost 4 years-old. I remember keeping one eye on the performers, and one on ZuZu's face throughout the first act. Her big brown eyes were fixated on the stage. She was completely engaged, and I was thrilled at her response.

When intermission came, I was hoping she didn't think it was over and expect to leave.

Me: Now there's a break and they'll come back and finish the story! Do you like the show?

ZuZu: (smiling, energetic) Yeah!

Me: Isn't it fun? Do you think maybe, you might like to be in a show like this someday? (nervous nodding and crazy stage-mom smile on face)

ZuZu: (smile gone. face looks serious) No.

Me: (backpedalling) I mean - not NOW....not like, right now, but when you're older...like the girl that's playing Charlotte? (again with the nodding)

ZuZu: (complete straight face so as not to be misunderstood) No. (short, reflective pause) But Deuce could be the pig.

Me: Yeah....he is a ham. (settles back into seat defeated)

My ZuZu went on to be a somewhat reserved girl for several years. Never wanting to stand out too much. Shying away from the limelight (seriously, if she didn't look just like me, I'd wonder where she came from).

And then it happened. Out of the blue. During a school project. She was bitten by that same bug that got me when I was just a couple of years older than her. Long story short (what? too late?), her school's drama club asked a couple of students from each class to be recorded answering insightful, subjective questions. Things like, "what makes a person beautiful," and "what qualities do you admire in your friends?" Apparently, my little ZuZu gave some impressive answers. She was told by her friends in the drama club that the director raved about her on-camera antics.

Those accolades spoke volumes to my daughter, and something changed in her overnight. Her smile was brighter and more frequent. Her stride was bouncier, and more graceful. Her comments were more forthcoming and wittier. I'm not writing this to brag about my daughter (although, that is totally allowed. it's my blog). But my point here is this. Most of us can think back and remember an authority figure (a teacher, a coach, a mentor) that uttered just the right words at just the right time in our lives. The words that gave us our confidence. Our belief that we could do something we loved doing. For me, that was my dance instructor. She had me believing I could go anywhere and be anything. No, I'm not on Broadway. Or a topless showgirl in Vegas. But, the confidence and skills Miss Marcia gave me followed me through many, many activities and stages in my life. I think the first person to do this for my daughter is Miss L.L., and for that, I am eternally grateful. Unless, of course, she becomes some Drama Diva Divine Miss Z. Then I'm suing.

If you play a part in an adolescent's life (not as a parent...that doesn't work in this scenario. Remember? Charlotte's Web?), go be that spark for them. They'll be a better person for it. And so will you. Maybe one day, Miss LL will get a shout-out at the Academy Awards. Or at least a bouquet of roses after this weekend's performance.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

"One Blogging Moment"

I'm a sucker for a great sports story. Remember the Titans...Rudy...Field of Dreams...Rocky...

I grew up in a small town. So small, we didn't have a football program. Well, not an American football team. Our boys played the European version - soccer. And while Bend it Like Beckham was also a great movie, this story is not about soccer. You see, the boys in our school played soccer for two reasons and two reasons only.

1. Because it was the only fall sport.


B. Because they wanted to be in great shape come BASKETBALL season.

Did I mention that small school I came from was in Indiana? Where basketball rules. The state that brought you one of the greatest sports movies ever - Hoosiers. The Land of Larry Bird...Bobby Knight...Gene Keady...Reggie Miller...and now, the Butler Bulldogs.

A couple of weeks ago, none of us knew the names Brad Stevens, Gordon Hayward, Shelvin Mack and Matt Howard. Many of you out there probably still don't. But a new wave of basketball fans indeed do. They were key figures in Monday night's final game for the NCAA National Championship. The game that matched up a legendary coach and his team of Blue Devils against a "mid-major" from the city of Indianapolis, IN. A school with about 4200 students and a home-grown head coach.

Brad Stevens was a standout basketball player in Zionsville (Indy 'burb) who went on to play at a small Indiana university (DePauw is about half the size of Butler). He had a cushy career started at the infamous Eli Lilly, but gave it all up for his love of basketball. Stevens began as a volunteer with the Butler program, and after only three years as head coach, was only three points away from a national championship.

If you're even remotely a sports fan (or, your hubby or children watch Sportscenter twice a day), you've seen the last second shot by Butler forward, Gordon Hayward a bazillion times. The half-court shot that hit the backboard, hit the front of the rim, then bounced out - saving the Duke Blue Devils from the BIGGEST UPSET EVER in college champsionship hoops. The entire game was a nail-biter. One of the most intense NCAA championship games I have ever seen. And it couldn't have been more of a David and Goliath story.

Now, I ask you....is that a Hoosiers sequel, or what? Yeah, probably more so if the ball would have actually went IN the basket and the place would have erupted and Gene Hackman and Barbara Hershey started dating. (FYI Genie, no way you're playing Brad Stevens. Maybe Coach K?)

A quick dye job
and some brylcream - good to go!

In all fairness, the Goliath side had some stuff that good movies are made of, too. Yes, this is the school's fourth national championship, but the first in nearly a decade from a coach who has been loyal to the school for thirty years. And it's not at all lost on me that 6'2" Duke guard, Nolan Smith won his championship ring in the same city his late father, Derek Smith won his exactly 30 years prior (while playing for Louisville against UCLA at the old Market Square Arena in Indianapolis). Good for you, Nolan. You did your dad proud (also a sucker for a good father/son storyline).

Just one more thing to note about Monday night's game (wake up, Julie! I'm just about done talking about sports!). The song, "One Shining Moment" has been the anthem for the NCAA champsionship game since it was first played when my alma mater, Indiana University beat Syracuse in 1987. Legend has it (and by legend, I mean according to Wikipedia), it was written by Michigan singer/songwriter David Barrett after seeing Larry Bird play in the 1979 NCAA championship game (Bird for Indiana State against Magic Johnson and his Michigan State Spartans - CLASSIC GAME). It's the last thing played after trophy presentations and locker room interviews, and includes a video montage of all 64 teams in the Big Dance. It's one of the highlights of the night. And this year, the esteemed Jennifer Hudson (of American Idol, Dream Girls fame) sang the newest version of the song. Way'da belt it, Diva! You're quite the Cinderella story yourself!

To conclude, congratulations Duke and Coach K. Hold your head up high, Butler and Coach Stevens. And to Butler mascot, Blue (officially, Butler Blue II), better luck next year, you chunky little bunch of bulldog love!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Kick-Off & Kick-A$$

It's Monday, April 5, 2010. Do you know where your clutter is?

I do! I know all too well. As promised, I am delivering photos today for the first "zone" targeted in my Project 12 Rooms in 12 Months. I'd like to go on the record here, stating that I took these photos last Friday after a typical, busy week, and I left them EXACTLY as I found them (don't judge me):

This is the first thing you see entering through our garage. It is the "information center." It is informing me that I should turn around and run while I have the chance.

As you can see, much effort has been made in order to keep this mudroom functional. I have the Ikea bookshelf, the corkboard, The vertical filebox on the left to hold "'portant papers".....so where did I go wrong? Well, first of all, as we grab everything out of the car and drag it into the house, where do you think it lands? Right on the make-shift credenza. Water bottles, gift bags, receipts, etc. That's an easy fix. A quick daily sweep will keep that in check. But the big problem here is the plethora of paper. I took a good look at all the paper tacked up there, and I'd say about 98% of it could be filed appropriately in a real file box (more like 68% with 30% being filed in the trash can). THAT is my first task to tackle. Won't those cute corkboard disks that I found on the internet be more appealing holding kids' artwork and fancy invitations?

This is inside the mudroom closet. Those pockets are very handy to hold scissors, screwdrivers, hole punches, etc. Clever, right? But a mess, none the less. Needs editing.

Ugh. Undersized closet for oversized kids. Please tell me this, why don't kids want to stick their shoes in those convenient little cubbie holes? What is it about those neatly squared-off boxes that repels high tops and crocs?

The laundry room is barely bigger than the closet, but it works. The focus in this room will be making sure the clothes get transfered from this rod to the closets upstairs, and purge unnecessary things in the boxes above. Those boxes are my "gift closet" with gift bags, ribbons, and an assortment of knick knacks to throw in for presents. It's a very handy solution, but it only looks tidy when everything is kept INSIDE those boxes.

On to the powder room. The week we moved in, I started peeling the dated wallpaper off the walls. Two years later, notice the remnants still lurking behind the toilet? That project got pushed waaaay back when I noticed the walls hadn't been prepped properly and I began tearing into the drywall. Wallpaper. I can't tell you how many layers I've stripped from how many walls in how many homes. The bane of my existence. And yet. I just ordered four double rolls to solve the problem here! Resale shmesale. I'm doing things MY WAY.

Does anyone else still have Christmas/winter decor still looming in scary rooms? No? Just me? 'kay.

Anyone else have random cosmetics hanging out in candle jars? No? Just me, again? 'kay.

In conclusion, P:12-12 is now in full swing. Time to make a plan. I know that I am going to hit the kids' rooms in June, July, and August when they are around to help. I know I will be saving the family room (with the least amount of clutter) for the busy month of December. I know I am going to break each room down into digestable chunks. Lists are good. Focus is key. Drinking is optional.

Post your pics on Aleighopolis so we can all hold each other accountable. It just takes a few minutes. I'm a sucker for a good "before & after."