Saturday, September 18, 2010

Something Old, Something New

Just a quick post today to brag on my new friend Ricardo. He is teaching me how to reupholster furniture (it's not as easy as you would think!) and is pretty much a miracle worker in my book. These two chairs were basically ragged remnants that were in our storage space for the last three years. I wish I had thought to take before pics, but I failed to think that far ahead. Let me assure you, however, they weren't pretty.

Apartment Therapy has been doing a lot of articles on antiques/flea/thrift treasures and all the reasons to buy old rather than's environmentally and economically friendly, and you're likely to have the furniture for life---as they say, they don't make them like they used to!

For far less than the price of ONE new upholstered chair, here is the magic that Ricardo worked on my two sad little chairs:
Cotton canvas outdoor fabric from Hancock on sale at $5 a yard...soooo comfy, and puppy/kiddo friendly to boot!

Spa blue linen and chocolate fabrics. Our puppy sneaked into the background on the right!
He put hidden zippers on all the cushions so they can be removed and washed. And yes, the blue color in each is the same. I didn't want them to match, just coordinate. Did I mention that he will pick up and deliver, too? Go see him at Greystone Antiques!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Why I Hate Moving

1) You always have waaaaaay more crap than you think you do, even after a garage sale, Craigslist, and the Salvation Army have been to your house.

2) It always takes three times as long as you think it will to move said crap. And that's just the moving part.

3) Within all the crap, even if you have the most anal retentive inventory and labeling systems in the world, you won't be able to find sippy cups, eating utensils, or the coffee pot when you need them. No matter what. Even if you hand carry them to the new house yourself.

4) Small children and puppies think that moving boxes, bubble wrap, and newspaper wads are their personal domain, to be used for play and potty. One or the other is probably fine, but not both. 

5) Big sweaty moving guys are only hot in the movies. In real life, there's lotsa back hair, plumber crack, and body odor. Blech.

6) Husbands apparently lose all sense of direction and organization while moving, causing them to ask you "Babe, where does this go?" like, a million times. Really? Really? I think I should just tell him to put his grandmother's china in the guest bathroom closet. Only to see if he would really do it.

7) Mothers-in-law don't show up until the week after you've moved. Just in time for you to flip out about not having any semblance of a guest room, but not in time to help scrub the old dog peepee out of the carpet in the old house.

8) It's amazing how well a screwdriver works to open wine. Seriously, who needs a corkscrew?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

F-Bomb on F Book

So, as most of you know, both of the boys are home with the stomach flu through the end of the week on doctor's orders. Both are doing much better, and in fact ate dinner tonight, and it stayed put. Thus far anyway. Additionally amazing is that so far I have somehow managed not to get the funk...Mom immunity is a wonderful thing, although of course it would be handy to be sick when faced with the mountain of laundry and dirty bathrooms that two sick kiddos have produced. Where's the maid when you need her anyway, dammit?

Anyhoo, since J Bird was feeling better and was a bit lonesome for his friends I let him have some computer time tonight to play online games and catch up with his buddies on Facebook...oh how they love the chat function. Me, not so much- I like to pop on, creep around a bit, and pop back off- in, out, done. So after his time was up I went to grab the laptop and shut it down (that's right- tween boys clean nothing of their own volition) when I noticed he had left his FB page open...and one of his, ahem, "friends" had sent him a chat message that used the F word, you know- the Big One. The Queen Mother of dirty words. The F dash dash dash word. Used correctly, like, in a Biblical sense.

And that's when my very own mother, circa 1985, sporting pantyhose with her khakis and espadrilles and smoking a B&H Deluxe Ultra Light 100 while sipping her Tab, entered my body, took command of my typing fingers and wrote this:

Young man (Oh yes, I did she did)- This is J-Bird's mother. If you continue to use that language I will have to call your mother and let her know what you are talking about on FB. 

To which he responded:
Yeah rite (oh, the spelling!) J quit messing wit me

To which I (I mean, my possessed body) responded:
No, not J Bird, and not messing with you. He is not allowed on the computer after 9 PM. You are on J Bird's football team, right? I am sure Coach and your Mom wouldn't be too happy with your language. Clean it up, please.

So now it's official. I am the totally Uncool Narc Mom. I might as well hand in my Seven Jeans and leather jacket for a sweatshirt and fanny pack right now. Hopefully J Bird doesn't get shoved into a locker when he goes back to school.

Eye Candy...

With both boys sick as dogs with stomach flu, Hubby on the road until FRIDAY for work, and our house currently awash in a sea of moving boxes, it's pretty ugly around here. I guess I have two options- run screaming into the street, or enjoy the brief respite while the children are sleeping (read: not barfing or bombing out diapers and potty). So, since I clearly have a shortage of pretty things to gaze upon at the moment, I present to you my collection of ideas I am dreaming of for our new house...
Copying a version of this for my foyer (House Beautiful)

Laundry Room Dreams... (House of Turquoise)

Master die for! (Phoebe Howard)

Thinking this may be my first DIY project for our bedside lamps. Feminine, but not over the top. (Blue Hydrangea) I loooove this office space! (Kelly Wearstler Interior Design)

Oh dear, J Bird is up needing more Gatorade and looking like the dog's breakfast. Poor buddy! Well, that's it for this post-hopefully in the next few weeks as we get settled and the Black Plague moves out of our household I can start posting some DIY project results...but that's all for now! Mommy duty calls...

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Paint me a Birmingham...

I have a confession to make. I have been living with one foot in this city for almost THREE YEARS. And it has been a reluctant, shy and retiring foot at that. Where, you might ask, has the other foot been? Until recently, firmly planted in the Midwest. St. Louis, to be exact. In said city also resides a big chunk of my family, Dillard's, Nordie's, Needless Markup, not one but FIVE decent radio stations, the best frozen custard in the world, direct flights to both coasts, and, oh, lest I forget,  the ability to walk into a grocery store and buy a bottle of vodka or Mad Dog 20/20 whenever I feel like it. Even on Sunday. 

When we moved here at the end of 2007 it was because Hubby had accepted his dream job with a company who promised him the moon- which included the ability to transfer back to the Midwest after two years if he made it happen in Alabama. So, when put in those terms, perhaps you can understand my reluctance to put down firm roots here in the Magic City. My sweet and supportive husband had been my champion when I decided to start my own consulting business and happily kept the home fires burning, working for a company he hated while I flew all over the country building my client base, so I figured it was my turn to support him. This was his chance to take a huge step up in his career with a great company where the sky was the limit. So we packed up the dogs and our son J Bird, said goodbye to the Lou and moved into a 3-bedroom corporate shoebox in the land of sweet tea, fried green tomatoes, and SEC football. 

At the time our son J Bird was busy with third grade, soccer, and sleepovers.  I was still working and traveling a little, and, much to our delight, we found out I had a bun in the oven. At that point I decided that maybe the minivan/PTO mom scene would be more my speed. Now, let me just clarify something- it was all but written into our wedding vows that I would never, ever, drive a mini-van. Not even if we decided to have seven kids. I mean, my mom had six of us and the biggest car she ever drove had two doors. We owned a station wagon, but on principle she pretty much refused to drive it. Our Dad drove it, and then we all learned to drive in it. But I digress...

After attending my first few PTO meetings I realized that these women were cutthroat when it came to things like committee duty, fundraising, and party planning. It had its own complex political landscape to navigate, and I, who prided myself on always being an excellent negotiator, planner, and leader (in the business world anyway), found myself sidelined. I guess I didn't take the bake sale seriously enough. Whatever. If you're looking for a ruthless CEO, come check out our district's PTO. These gals are sharks!  Besides that, these people lived for their kids. I mean, I am all about supporting my little guys to succeed in school and extracurricular activities- but our rule has always been one thing at a time- i.e. soccer or tae kwon do- not both plus piano and youth group. It seemed that from sunup to sundown something had to be done for, with, or to their children. Some of the PTO moms didn't even have kids in the elementary school anymore- they just had been involved for so long that they didn't know how to quit. Yikes. It was, in short, exhausting. And as I literally was growing greater and greater with child every day, I couldn't keep up. After almost two years in "the Ham" I was still pretty much friendless, and increasingly frustrated with myself and where we had chosen to live. I decided to devote my remaining energies to nesting and being the wife and mommy that I knew how to be, rather than continuing to put myself out there like the desperate wanna-be that I was. Loser, party of one. To me it was yet another clique that I didn't fit into, and never would. Somewhere out there, there had to be a group of fun, somewhat hip, non-mom jean wearing chicks who were (sort of) great moms and (mostly) happy wives but still maintained their own identities, right? So why couldn't I find them?

In December 2008 we welcomed our second bouncing baby boy into the world.  Yes, our youngest is an Alabamian by birth. Little Boo will not have the same memories of the STL that hubby, J Bird and I do. He won't remember walking our dogs to the neighborhood deli, or playing in the alley behind our old house, or sledding in Forest Park. He won't attend the neighborhood Catholic school, or know how totally awesome Halloween in South City is, with the whole block closing off so the kids can run wild. Oh sure, we'll tell him the stories and go back to visit friends and family and our old stomping grounds, but to our Little Boo, Birmingham will be the home of his heart the way that St. Louis was to us.

When I finally realized this, I also realized that I had been selling myself (and thus my family) waaaay short. I hadn't given Birmingham a chance. I had ironically, done the thing I hated the most- made a superficial snap judgment about the people, places, and things around me. I had cut off opportunities to make friends before they even existed, and made myself miserable in the process. I felt like I owed someone a huge apology. I decided that it was high time to get with the program, and start making this place home.

So, fast forward to the beginning of 2010 which found us in decidedly different circumstances. After the Great Recession finally made its way to my husband's corner of the corporate world, he lost his job. This of course, was not exactly a positive development in and of itself, but within a few months he found another, even better opportunity with a truly great company. His co-workers are genuinely nice, fun, and kind, and most important, he is happy and successful there. We finally found a house we absolutely love (in J Bird's school district, woo hoo!) and I have become a proud football mama, though I do draw the line at decorating my vehicle and bedazzling my baby in our chosen SEC team's colors.

Speaking of babies, in looking for a playgroup for Little Boo, I lucked out and found an incredible group of mommies, some transplants, some native Birminghamians, but all lovely, sane, and real. These wonderful, fun, and real ladies know who they are- but perhaps what they don't know is that they came along at a time when I really needed them. Talk about answered prayers. Since meeting them I have made some amazing new friends both within and outside of the group and have realized what a lovely, diverse, cosmopolitan, and kid-friendly city we live in. Seriously, there are so many cool things to do here! I have had so much fun exploring it with my kiddos- and eating my way through it with Hubby.

So now it seems that despite my initial reluctance to claim Birmingham, it has claimed us. Like kudzu growing on the side of the road, this sweet southern town has slowly wound itself into my heart and mind, and is becoming- finally and truly- home. I no longer, most of the time, feel like I am living in the middle of a Tennessee Williams play. I love the view of the mountains from the back patio of our rented builder beige shoebox, and in a few weeks we will enjoy the same view from the front porch of our new house. We are busy building memories of time together at the Farmer's Market, hiking Oak Mountain, driving down country roads and taking trips to the lake and the beach, and yes, watching the occasional college football game. I discovered that my beloved Nordies has a great selection for online ordering, and may actually even put a store here...well, maybe someday. In the meantime this Yankee gal has learned to make decent sweet tea (with stevia, ha ha) and pretty good shrimp and grits, though I'm clearly no Paula Deen.

So the other day on the radio I heard a country song. Yes, I occasionally listen to country music- it's one of my guilty pleasures. What? Yes, I realize the irony considering some of my aforementioned smart-alecky commentary about the South. Whatever. Just because I don't swim in the pool doesn't mean I can't dip my toe in the water occasionally, right? Besides, country songs always tell a story, and I loves me a good story. I watch Lifetime for the same reason. Anyway, like most country songs, it was a guy who was singing about losing his best gal. But what got me was that the song mentioned Birmingham. I immediately Shazamed the song to confirm what I was hearing,  and the words went like this:

Paint me a Birmingham
Make it look just the way I planned
A little house on the edge of town
Porch goin’ all the way around
Put her there in the front yard swing
Cotton dress, make it early spring
For awhile she’ll be mine again
If you can paint me a Birmingham

It was a sign, for sure. As it turns out, the house we bought is: 1) on the edge of town; 2) has a porch that wraps all the way around ; and 3) has a swing on the front porch. And yes, I own not one, but a few cotton sundresses. I mean, you pretty much can't wear anything else here between May and September when it's hotter than the surface of the sun. We are already planning our first party, which, after living here so long, we are waaaay overdue to throw, and I plan on hanging out with Hubby, J Bird, and Boo all night long...or at least until we put the kids to bed and then hubby and I drink too many cocktails on the back porch with our new friends. We are blessed and definitely have a lot to celebrate. I can't wait.