Thursday, May 19, 2011


So you may have noticed that the blog looks different today.  I have decided it's well past time for me to roll my sleeves up and redesign it a bit.  Like all other projects I undertake, this will probably take a lot longer than it should.  So, please bear with me as I attempt to try something new.  In the meantime, please enjoy the basic template provided by Blogger since I could no longer stand to look at the blog in its previous state.

Making wishes come true

Yesterday was K's final school field trip of the year. The class went to a local family owned market. K had been doing the countdown to the day of her field trip for almost 3 weeks. She was really excited to go, mostly because she was going to finally ride on a school bus.

(Since using the school transportation system would have my kids sitting on a yellow bus for nearly 2 1/2 hours each day, a neighbor and I take turns carpooling the kids to and from school thus depriving my kids of all the joys and delights that would await them if they were allowed to ride the bus.)

Ironically the market they visited was within walking distance from our house, but I still had to drop her off at her school 6 miles away. Since I was one of the parent chaperones, I waited in the parking lot of the school for 15 minutes & then hopped on board a big yellow school bus with the kids to travel the 6 miles back home to my neighborhood market. As expected K was thrilled with the ride.

It was a fun morning, the kids got a tour of the entire place including the stock rooms, receiving docks and even the large freezer where the ice cream is kept. Each child was given a paper grocery bag when we arrived and in each department we visited they were given something. It was like a grocery store version of trick-or-treat.

They picked out an apple in the produce department, small cookies from the bakery, a string cheese stick from the dairy section, a juice box from grocery and they even got to watch as 2 pizzas were made for them in the kitchen behind the prepared foods section.

(This may have been my least favorite part of the tour since we all --including the chaperones-- had to wear hair nets. It wouldn't have been too bad except for the fact that
1. The store employees all wear hats instead of hairnets - which by the way looked much cooler
...and more importantly
2. Many, many pictures were taken once the hairnets were in place. K's teacher was almost gleeful about getting pictures of us. Pictures I may add that she made sure she took so there was no photographic evidence of her in a hairnet. I fear those hairnet pictures will be appearing on the school's website in the very near future.)

But everything on the tour paled in comparison to the item that the kids got when they visited the meat/deli department. An item that is apparently coveted by children everywhere...Lunchables.

K squealed with excitement when she discovered the prize. K like her brother before her has discovered the harsh truth that her beloved mother will not buy Lunchables. When K accompanies me to the grocery store (which thankfully isn't too often) she asks for them and I always say no.

When she starts pleading her case I tell her the same thing I told her brother when he used to ask for them, "They're really not that good for you, and even if they were... you won't like them. I know they look cool, but trust me you'd take one bite and then decide you don't want to eat them after all. And I'll end up throwing them away and making you something else." To which always replies, "Oh I would love them, Mama I know it...please, please?!"

Clearly though I am not the only mean Mom that refuses to buy them, because most of the children reacted in the same way as my own child upon receiving their Lunchable - with total joy and excitement.

At the end of our tour the kids were shown to the loft area where they could eat the pizza that was made for them and drink their juice boxes. Most kids were disappointed that they couldn't eat their Lunchables right away, but they all decided that they would be eating them for sure come lunch time (our tour ended at 10:00, so the pizza was really like a mid-morning snack).

As we boarded the bus to head back to school, K looked at me and asked if she could eat her Lunchable for lunch. When I told her she could, she hugged me and declared, "It's my dream come true. I've always wished for a Lunchable and now I finally get one!" Seriously...all this joy over a few crackers and some bologna. Who knew?

While a lot of the kids in K's class headed to an extended day program once school was over at 11:15, K came home with me -much to her dismay- so we could eat lunch together. (K is longing for next year when she will head to all day kindergarten and can at last eat lunch with her friends instead of her boring mother.)

Once she discovered I was not going to let her eat the Lunchable in the car, she spent whole trip home planning out her Lunchable eating strategy (K forumlates an eating strategy before each meal. I have no idea why she does it or what it may mean. I figure if it gets her to eat, it's fine with me.) "I think I'll eat the crackers first, and then the cheese, and then the meat and then I'll eat the cookies. Or maybe I'll eat the cheese first and then the crackers. Or maybe...." I'll spare you the rest of her strategic ponderings.

As soon as I got the car in the driveway she was out the door and in the house. She ripped open the top of the Lunchable before she even got her coat off. She ran to wash her hands (under much protest) and then ignoring all of her previously made eating strategies proceeded to make the "sandwich" shown on the outside of the package. She carefully piled her meat and cheese between the two crackers and took a big bite.

She looked a bit surprised, then turned to me and said, "Hmmm...I don't really like it. Maybe I'll eat them separately."

So she ate all her crackers and then took a tentative bite of the bologna before asking, "What is this meat? It tastes like cold hot dog." I tried to explain bologna to her as best I could, but since I'm not really sure what it is myself, I'm not sure I was doing a good job. I finally told her she was right, it's just like a cold hot dog. To which she replied, "Well, I don't really like it."

I told her to try the cheese. She took a bite of it, then looked at me and asked, "Isn't this the same as the yellow cheese it our fridge? " When I told her it was, she took another bite then looked at me and then sadly looked over at the two cookies that came with her Lunchable.

"Don't you like the cheese?" I asked.

"No. Can I just have the cookies?"

The answer to that was no, so I ended up making her a peanut butter sandwich which she ate with zeal so that she could finally get to those cookies.

When I commented that I the whole reason I didn't buy Lunchables in the first place was because I didn't think she'd like them, she just replied, "Well I did like the crackers and the cookies. Maybe next time I'll have to try another flavor."

Hope springs eternal...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Row, row, row your boat

Back in college Mr. Crackers was on the University's crew team (rowing team?). He often recalls his time on the team fondly and has shared many memories with me over the years. When I think of rowing teams (crew teams?) my mind has always immediately turned to that classic 1984 film Oxford Blues starring Rob Lowe. And while Mr. Crackers & I did not attend Oxford University in jolly old England, our college was located in the the town of Oxford (Ohio). The movie reference may help explain why, even though Mr. Crackers & I did not know each other yet back in those college days, when I picture him rowing (crewing?) a boat, I always picture him looking just like this:

Mr. Crackers love for boats with oars did not stop when he graduated college. Although he never joined the Atlanta Rowing Club, he often talked about it. So, on one fateful afternoon while driving through the north Georgia mountains, it came as no surprise when Mr. Crackers pulled the car into the parking lot of a canoe and kayak outfitting store. Admittedly though I was a little surprised when we left the store 30 minutes later with our very own (gently used) red canoe strapped to the top of our SUV.

Our friend Karen, who was with us on that fateful afternoon, took this photo when we got home with our new prize. You can see the pride & joy clearly evident on the face of Mr. Crackers can't you? You can tell he was ready for many canoeing (rowing?) adventures in our future.

Thankfully north Georgia was full of lakes and rivers, so Mr. Crackers and I (and our two dogs Max & Sadie) did have many fun times on the canoe. Although I will tell you that I will never again get in a canoe on a lake crowded with jet skis and ski boats on Labor Day weekend. I have never been tossed around so much in my life. I have learned that for me canoeing is best either on placid lake waters or on gently running small rivers.

But once C was born back in 2002, we never got in the canoe again - not even on a placid pond. Thankfully we were smart enough to realize that small active toddlers & canoeing were not a good combination.

So when we moved to Ohio back in 2004, we left the canoe behind in Atlanta with our friend Karen and never gave it a thought again. Or at least that is what I thought, until Mr. Crackers began talking last fall about how fun it would be to go canoeing as a family now that the kids were older. I kind of nodded my head and said uh-huh until I realized how serious he was. He wanted to plan a trip down to Atlanta to retrieve our old canoe from our friend Karen who was ready to finally get it out of her garage after 7 years.

While making our plans to get the canoe my biggest recurring question was always, "Where are we going to store it?" If my memory served me correctly, I remembered that the canoe was pretty large and I knew that our garage has got to be one of the smallest 2 car garages in America. I mean the thing just barely fits our 2 cars inside. In fact I can't even get into Mr. Crackers car if it's parked inside the garage. He has to pull it out in order for me to climb inside the vehicle.

In answer to my question, Mr. Crackers would just smile at me and say, "Don't worry, I've got it all planned out." Since Mr. Crackers is an idea man (as evidenced by his many past projects) I figured he had some plan up his sleeve, so I took his advice & didn't worry about it... for awhile. Until the next time I tried to figure out where the thing would go and I'd ask him the question all over again.

We headed down to Atlanta last week and the trip was really fun. We saw some good friends, had a blast showing the kids around the city we called home for almost a dozen years and after our trip was over, we strapped that canoe back on the car & headed home. After 7 years, we were once again the proud owners of a (gently used) canoe.

Once we got back to Ohio, Mr. Crackers began executing the plan he had hatched in his mind all those months ago. It involved hanging the canoe from the ceiling of the garage. It also involved many, many trips to Home Depot as he revised and then re-revised the plan a few times.

Pulleys, moving straps, heavy ropes, giant hooks, and a big red tarp were just some of the items he used trying to bring his plan into fruition. I tried to cheer him on during the day, reminding him of all his past project successes - but after spending one entire day trying to get his system to work, he shook his head, looked at me & said, "I don't think I'm going to get this to work after all."

Honestly, I was a bit relieved by this news. The longer he worked at it, the more I could picture the canoe breaking free of it's restraints and crashing down on our cars... or even worse on our kids. While I felt bad that he had tried so hard & hadn't gotten his plan to work, I felt like maybe we had dodged a bullet.

We talked briefly about some other options, including storing the canoe on some kind of stand outside the house. Little did I know that the next morning he decided to have another go at the whole garage ceiling system again. After another 2-3 hours of work he called me out the garage again. I thought it was to review a new plan he had, but instead it was to try to help him raise the canoe to the ceiling again. It was at that moment that I decided to air my concerns to Mr. Crackers. You know, the concerns I had about the canoe coming crashing down on our cars....or children.

To Mr. Crackers extreme credit he remained calm as he stared at me somewhat incredulously. "This might have been something that you should have shared with me a little sooner. You know, before I just spent 2 days working on this." he very calmly replied.

He was right. I should have spoken up sooner, but I really wasn't sure what the storage system would involve until he had spent quite a bit of time on it. I was trying to be supportive, cheering him on while all the time worrying about potential canoe disasters (as Mr. Crackers would tell you, I'm somewhat an expert at inventing things to worry about.) And honestly, he had spent so much time on it that I felt really bad telling him the whole thing was giving me some seriously bad juju.

In the end (after I am sure he silently cursed me for about 2-3 hours) he came up with plan B. A plan that seemed much less likely to smash our cars or kill our children if it had some kind of catastrophic failure. To his continued credit he called me out the garage to review the plans with me & make sure I had no lingering doubts about any potenial disasters before he put his plan into action (seriously the man has limitless patience with me sometimes).

And so, without further ado I present to you Mr. Crackers latest brainstorm...the side-of-the-house-canoe-holder (I probably need to come up with a catchier name, but that one works for now):

Here's another view of his handiwork.

Ta-da! Not only does it keep the canoe out the of the way, but it has the added benefit of providing our recycling container with a little shelter from the elements.

Thank you Mr. Crackers for your perseverance and your tolerance for your worst-case-scenario-imagining-wife. I love the new "system". And I'm also very happy the canoe is back in our hands again. With all of the non-stop rain and flooding that have been plaguing our part of the country for the past 3 weeks, we'll be getting more use out of that canoe than we ever imagined.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Updates around the house

So, I think I posted back in January that we were going to finally re-do the kids bathroom. Since it's one of the smallest rooms in the house, you'd be right in thinking we could have done it all in a single weekend. But why get it done so quickly when we could stretch it out and have everything in total disarray for weeks?

It honestly didn't take us three whole months to complete. The wallpaper border was a little challenging and took a bit more time to remove than I had planned. But once I repaired all the walls (Someone needs to explain to me why the previous owners felt the need to use over 20 drywall anchors in the walls of such a small room. Once I removed all of them, the bathroom walls resembled a piece of lacy swiss. A delicious bit of cheese to be sure, but not anything you'd want your drywall to look like. Needless to say, I went through about half a container of spackle to fill all the holes and make the walls smooth once again) the painting only took a couple of days.

Mr. Crackers helped out a lot by installing the new light fixture, towel bar and new faucets. Overall, I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out. At some point I hope to put a wood frame around the mirror, but for now I'm calling it done.

For those of you who can't remember, here is what the bathroom used to look like:

It was a fish theme that had started to get on my nerves. The wallpaper border, the worn out rugs, the "Hollywood dressing room" light bar all needed to go.

Not to mention that the brass fixtures in the room had all started to corrode a bit.

So, I found this cute shower curtain at Target & we (eventually) proceeded to update the room to it's new look:


I don't know about you, but I like it much better. The paint and accessories are bright and fun without being too juvenile. And I really like all of the new bronze fixtures in the room. I seem to have a thing for bronze, so now this bathroom matches the powder room downstairs. It's almost like we've got a design point of view for the house.

And I just fell in love with these little owl pictures I found on Etsy. They are so cute & just happened to match the colors in the shower curtain perfectly.

Since this room serves as our guest bathroom when we have overnight guests, I'm happy that we finally got the room done. Our first guest arrives in less than a week. Nothing like cutting it a little close.

We (and by we I mean Mr. Crackers) also managed to hang new shelves in the pantry and in the laundry room to make the room usable again after the "cabinet incident" back in February. All of these projects have had the nice side effect of getting us to organize and clean out a lot of the spaces where we had let junk accumulate. I ended up selling a lot of stuff on Craig's List and made a nice amount of cash from the sale of all of our old stuff.

So now that all that Spring cleaning is done, we're ready to spend a little time outside...if it ever stops raining. It seems like it has rained non-stop for the past four weeks. Hopefully all of these April showers will bring us some gorgeous May flowers.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I think my laundry room might be haunted

So as you can tell I really haven't been delivering on either of my resolutions for 2011. Unless you count posting once a month as "more regularly" or if sitting at my computer can count as "exercising at least 3 times a week". Oh well, as usual I will shoot to do a little better.

It's kind of imperative I get going on the exercise regime as soon as possible since in the last 3 weeks I have had to retire 2 pairs of jeans. I was still able to wear both of them somewhat comfortably (a big thank you to whoever came up with the genius idea of adding spandex to denim. A marriage made in heaven for those of us in our 40's!). Although I could button & zip them up, I had been noticing that they were getting a bit snug around the upper thigh & derriere. In the end it was my keister that did them in. Apparently the task of stretching over my ever-widening tuckus was such a strain that the fabric just plum wore out. The first pair ripped as I was sitting down to play a game with the kids. I could have chalked that up to shoddy workmanship except for the fact that about a week later (while wearing a different pair) my daughter pointed out that she could clearly see my underwear through the holes in the bottom of my jeans.'s probably a little past time to get myself under control again.

But before heading down to see what special kind of pain Jillian Michaels can inflict upon me today, I thought I'd share a little bit of the craziness that has been the House of Crackers over the past couple of weeks.

I'll start with Valentine's Day. This is a somewhat meaningless holiday as I seemed to have married a man (who just like my father) feels that it is a made-up/phony holiday created for the sole purpose of selling cards and flowers. And while I may agree with their opinion, I still like getting flowers from time to time & don't begrudge the floral industry their chance to make some money while at the same time delivering beautiful spring blooms to my doorstep.

But since flowers have not made an appearance in my house for many years, I choose to think of Valentine's Day in a different light...the day before my birthday. Having a birthday the day after Valentine's Day served me well in the years before I met my husband as in "Who cares that I don't have a Valentine, tomorrow I'll get presents & cake!". And it has served me well in the years after I was married when it was decided that we wouldn't celebrate the holiday anymore since we were long past the wooing stage.

Anyhoo, as I was saying I really had no expectations for Valentines Day beyond the fact that I would be helping out with my daughter's Valentine's Day party in the morning. Except for that small diversion, the day was looking like any other Monday. At least it was until C found the last tiny bit of ice left on the driveway and promptly fell down right as my neighbor arrived to drive him school.

He promptly screamed and clutched his left arm to his chest. He's a pretty tough kid, so as soon as I looked at the pain in his eyes, I got my daughter into the carpool van and then took him inside to assess the damage. Since I have no medical degree, my assessment didn't take very long, and my conclusion was simple. A trip to the doctor's office was in our immediate future. So instead of attending the Valentine's Party for my daughter's Early 5's class, I spent the morning in our doctor's office and then in our local Childrens' Hospital X-ray facility where we discovered that C had indeed broken his wrist.

I'm happy to report that it was a minor fracture and that it was splinted and he was able to return to school in time for his second grade class Valentine's Party. Thank goodness! He's still upset over the fact that he missed the class Christmas party because of an ear infection.

Sadly though, Valentine's Day wasn't quite done with me yet. Later that evening I was upstairs talking with Mr. Crackers on the phone when I heard what can only be described as a giant crash coming from downstairs. Knowing that C was down there alone with his newly broken arm put me in a tizzy. I frantically hung up on Mr. Crackers and ran down the stairs two at a time. Visions of him pinned under a large piece of furniture began running through my brain. When I ran into the kitchen, I was relieved to see him standing there looking at a magazine. He looked up at my panicked expression and simply said, "It wasn't me."

I did a quick scan & found nothing out of the ordinary in the kitchen and family rooms, so I headed toward the laudry room since it is adjacent to the kichen. It's a tiny room, really more of a hallway that links the garage to the kitchen than an actual room, but I figured I'd check and make sure everything was A-OK. But as soon as I started to open the door my nostrils were assaulted by the smell of alcohol. Lots of alcohol. My laundry room smelled like a distillery, and for some reason I couldn't seem to get the door open all the way. That's when I looked down and saw the 3" layer of broken glass all over the floor.

Apparently the noise I heard was one of the laundry room cabinets -- the one that held all the laundry detergent and most of our crystal vases along with a few bottles of alcohol -- falling off the wall and spilling its contents all over our tiny laundry room. Sincerely, forget the fact that it was Valentine's Day, this was shaping up as one of my worst Mondays in recent memory.

Once I called Mr. Crackers back to tell him what had happened (it turns out that screaming "Oh my God what was that!" Followed by "I have to hang up now!" is not the best way to end a conversation with a spouse who is making his way home in rush hour traffic.) I began to pick up the million pieces of glass that now carpeted the floor. Mr. Crackers walked in the door about 20 minutes later just as I swept up the last of the glass and helped clean up the rest of the mess. We were both happy that no one got hurt and that we didn't really loose anything that we really needed. In the words of Mr. Crackers, "We never used those crystal vases for anything anyway." Truer (and more depressing) words have never been spoken.

Thankfully, I'm happy to report that the rest of the day passed uneventfully. True to form, my birthday was great and filled with more than enough good stuff to make up for my lackluster Valentine's the previous day. It was a wonderful day that included both presents and cake as well as chocolate fondue. Trust me, the chocolate fondue was so good I completely forgot about the laundry room accident. At least temporarily.

We haven't had the time yet to fix the laundry room yet, so all of my detergent, dryer sheets and other laundry stuff has been living in a large plastic tote on top of the dryer. Since all of us were down to our last remaining pairs of clean underwear, it was time for me to do a little laundry yesterday. So I took the detergent out of the tote and placed it on the dryer so it was easier for me to access as I began my weekly laundry marathon. I put the second load into the washer & left the room to finish making lunch. When I left the laundry room the detergent bottle was on the dryer -- but when I came back 45 minutes later to change loads, the bottle had fallen off the dryer and the floor was now covered with bright blue Cheer laundry detergent. It's like there's a poltergeist living in my laundry room.

Seriously I don't know how else to explain that the bottle fell and manged to spill its entire contents (96 loads worth of detergent if the label can be believed) on to the floor. The bottle was completely empty. Not a drop left. I can't empty the bottle that well when I'm trying to squeeze out the last little bit. Clearly someone doesn't want me in the laundry room anymore (I mean someone besides me).

I'm still working on the laundry and I a little afraid to see what happens next. I just hope whatever it is doesn't ruin any of my jeans. Only a truly evil spirit would force me to go jean shopping before I can shed a little of the extra padding I've put on over the past few months.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Peace and other dreams

Like many schools across the country, the school that my kids attend has been busy this week working on all kinds of projects to honor the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King. K brought this particular project home today & I thought I'd share it with you...

Dr. King had a dream... Peace

My dream... is to pet a unicorn.

Clearly our dreams aren't as lofty as Dr. King's...

Hopefully we may someday fully realize his dream (I don't think K has much of a shot at achieving hers though).

Friday, January 14, 2011

Blue, Green or Yellow?

So I finally decided yesterday that it was time to join the party and get going with some New Year's resolutions. I suppose one of my resolutions should be to get a little more on top of things in a timely manner, but meh...I'll save my energy for other resolutions instead.

I won't bore you with the whole list (I can see the relief written all over your face), but I will tell you that one of my resolutions is to try and blog with a little more frequency than I have of late. While this resolution may go by the wayside as so many do, I'll at least make an attempt to get into the spirit (two weeks late) today.

In the almost seven years we've lived in our house, we've made a concerted effort to repaint and redesign the rooms to better fit our family "style". I'm not sure I could actually define what our style is, but I can tell you that it is very different than the people who lived in the house before us. The previous owners were really big fans of sponge painting and wallpaper borders. Not that there's anything wrong with that...I'm not here to judge. It's just that personally I don't happen to be fan of those two particular design tools. I'm more a fan of traditional paint jobs with an accent wall thrown in here and there to inject a bit of color.

Within the first two years we lived here we got most of the rooms repainted and removed almost all the wallpaper borders in the main living areas and bedrooms. It was a relief to put our own stamp on the place, but as life got more busy we slowed down and then finally stalled out completely with two rooms left unchanged.

This past fall we finally tackled one of those rooms - the office. Not only did the room have seafoam green carpeting, but it had a sports themed wallpaper border, a chair rail, and a maroon and tan sponge painting job. It was honestly a lot to take in, especially considering the office is the smallest room in the house.

Finally Mr. Crackers had had enough (Since I spent more time in that room than anyone else in the family I had become immune the room's wild decorative elements) and so we decided it was time for a change. Mr. Crackers took down the chair rail, made me a new desk and put a new closet system in place so that I could organize all of our accumulated junk important stuff. Once all the hard work was done, I repainted the room a light tan with a burnt orange accent wall (I wasn't kidding about that accent wall thing - I'm a huge fan). I'd post a picture of the completed office here, but I can't seem to locate them on my hard drive & honestly I'm just too lazy to re-take pictures to show you right now. But trust me, it looks great!

That left just 1 room untouched. The kids bathroom. Thankfully this room had been spared the sponge painting found in so many of the other rooms in the house, but it did have a wallpaper border - a school of brightly patterned fish. We didn't love the border, but the walls were a satisfactory shade of light blue and since the fish theme was an easy one to work with, we ran with it.

And seven years later we still haven't done anything to update the room. To be honest, I am really starting to hate the fish. I didn't like them that much seven years ago and they really haven't grown on me since that time. So since the walls need a fresh coat of paint anyway... you guessed it. It's time for a re-do.

I found a really cute shower at Target that fulfilled all of my needs:
1. It was cheap inexpensive
2. It was colorful, but didn't hurt the eyes
3. It was NOT a fish theme
4. It was whimsical but not too juvenile (I'm hoping to go another 7 years before the next update)

Now comes the hard part...what color should the walls be? Here's a picture of what we're dealing with.

Even though the walls are currently blue and I normally like to make a big change when I paint a wall, I'm still leaning toward repainting the walls a slightly darker shade of blue that is already on them.

I like the green too, but I think since our bedroom was close to that same shade when we moved in & I was so relieved to paint over it that it seems a little weird to reintroduce the color in another room (Of course since this room will NOT be sponge painted the green will probably look a lot better).

I'm really not sure how I feel about a yellow bathroom. Does anyone want to enter a bright yellow bathroom first thing in the morning? It seems like it might have the potential to permanently damage your retinas. It could be a little overpowering in such a small place. Hmm...I just don't know.

I put a ballot up on the wall so everyone can have a vote. We'll see what happens. Do you care to weigh in on the subject? What's your color preference? I'm open to all opinions at the moment, so fire away.

I'm slowly acquiring all of the accessories to go with the shower curtain. Hopefully within the next month or so I'll have the paint and everything else I need to start the job. And even though completing home improvement tasks in a timely manner is not on my newly minted list of resolutions (much to Mr. Crackers chagrin), I'll still try to have the whole thing completed by the time spring break rolls around. Since more regular blogging is on my list, I'll do my best to keep you updated on the status (or lack thereof) of my latest home improvement project.