Saturday, May 31, 2008

Gettin' Jiggy Wit It

Jeff and I attended a wedding a couple of weekends ago at the Belk Chapel.

It is lovely, isn’t it? The wedding was scheduled for 5:30pm and it started on time. We know this because we showed up at 5:40pm where we happened upon the bride patiently awaiting her moment of glory out in the foyer. Fortunately, her cubicle is right next to Jeff's and I believe she will forgive us once she sees our gift...which we haven't bought yet, but will now have to be nothing short of spectacular since we nearly destroyed her walk down the aisle. Indeed, we are probably going to have to spring for the china. It's an adorable Kate Spade pattern so perhaps after I buy it I'll just pretend it's mine for a few days. And seriously, the barware?Regardless of the fact that a cupboard full of highball glasses would be a complete waste of space for a family currently contemplating building an addition onto their kitchen in order to store their vast collection of sippy cups, the fireflies speak to me.

The wedding was followed by a reception at Providence Country Club. In no way was it similar to the reception Jeff and I had in the fellowship hall of the church we were married in. We served salad with our cake. And punch. Because what would a wedding reception in a church fellowship hall be without the requisite foamy punch? It's like the common denominator of churches everywhere. And, just so you know, we did not serve our church punch in highball glasses. That would have been wrong.


When a wedding invitation specifically warns notes that dancing will be a high point on the reception agenda, it is more of an obligation than a request that you willfully and enthusiastically partake in the festivities. When Jeff read the invitation, I’m sure his only thought was, “Nice. I get to look at a golf course all evening.” Whereas mine was more along the lines of, “FREAK OUT! Now I have to come up with cocktail attire.”

This is just the sort of predicament that makes me break out in hives. For one thing, I am married to a guy with a much larger array of clothing options than I and he just doesn't get it. Jeff’s weight has fluctuated maybe 10lbs. since I married him nearly 9 years ago, whereas mine has fluctuated more like 60lbs. What this means for our shared closet is that he fits into EVERYTHING he has purchased over a 9-year span of time giving him a wealth of options from which to pick. That guy could walk into our closet blindfolded and come out holding multiple ensembles for pretty much any occasion. I, on the other hand, have no fewer than 5 different sizes of clothing on my side of the closet. This means that on any given day 80% of my wardrobe has the usefulness of a row of nuns' habits.

The remaining 20% of my closet has thus far worked just swimmingly for the vast majority of my daily grind. It's lamentable that more weddings are not held at say, the YMCA, for example. Because when it comes to gym wear, and pretty ratty gym wear at that, I have several sets of nearly identical items from which to pick. (As an aside, ownership of a lot of fitness apparel is not to be confused with being dedicated to working out, because that I am not. I just like to be ready to consider the option should I open my calendar one day and find it completely blank. As you can imagine, this rarely occurs.)

Mercifully, after several anxiety-filled days of shopping, I found something that I thought would be suitable. It required not only new shoes, but new underwear because, well, up until a couple weeks ago I was still wearing my old maternity underwear.

Did I mention that Peyton is now 20-months old? No?

My husband is one lucky, lucky man.

Regardless, a short celebration is in order because I now have a new $42 bra that the girls are much more elevated in. As that was about the only truly rewarding moment of my entire mall experience, I felt it worth mentioning. Predictably, after Victoria and I realigned the planets so to speak, I got a little neurotic that they were perhaps featuring too prominently in my overall look and decided a wrap might give me a false sense of security.

Of course, once I got to the reception, I realized my wrap was complete overkill as the phrase "cocktail attire" evidently equals = cleavage + a highball glass.

All in all, we really had quite a delightful time. We dined with other parents of small children - all of whom were marveling that we could actually hear each other speak, and that no one was incessantly asking us to cut their meat, or get them more milk, or that they didn't like what was on their plate. Dinner. With adults. What is this strange, yet blissful, phenomenom?

Finally, after dessert and much stalling, peer pressure prevailed and we ventured out onto the big square hardwood floor in the middle of the room.

What I experienced next was nothing short of a revelatory marriage moment.

My husband can dance.

I knew Jeff had an enviable sense of rhythm because he plays the bass, but he has never upon never wanted to dance with me – unless it is to some stupid slow song that you sway mindlessly to, and then he has been known to give in under duress. Not exactly ideal conditions for what could be a romantic interlude. But for what it's worth, I actually hate those slow songs myself. They feel like a cop-out. I like music with a driving beat you can feel and that makes you want to move. It’s the forbidden music of my youth and as an adult, I can’t get enough of it. So to see my husband, who has had an 8-year run of dance floor shunning, out there grinding grooving...well, it was a sight to behold.

I'm not saying that the guy did backflips or spun on his head or anything, because neither of us have a move to speak of. All I'm saying is that due to a combination of factors our inhibitions reached new lows causing the merriment quotient to soar. And a DJ playing songs like this really helped because who can deny Flo Rida?

I think I totally scored in finding a mate, I really do. But at that reception, I felt like I had just picked up the hottest guy in the club won the marriage lottery. Maybe a little of both. Which just goes to show, sometimes you need to throw your ego to the wind and shake things up a bit.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Suffice It To Say, Our Memorial Day Weekend Was Not Restful

I believe an update on the playset is in order, but first I'd like to take a minute to correct a small but significant typo on the front page of the installation manual.

Right. Try 36-48 hours.

Actually, maybe it isn't a typo at all. Maybe I and another lesser mechanicanically inclined loser could have gotten the thing put up in 20-24 hours. But what we're dealing with here at Chez Freshour is two highly skilled people who have elevated the simple act of measuring to an art form, and think levelness is next to Godliness. They're hard to argue with.

Efficiently assisting them are two little boys who can't resist the call of the power tools or the thousands of screws, washers, bolts, and nuts required for assembly.

This is Griffin demonstrating his expertise with a socket wrench he successfully lifted from the toolbox. In this particular picture, he is diligently trying to unscrew a bolt holding the ladder together.

The part about requiring two people, however, is correct as noted. This is why.

Eventually, the roof has to go on the upstairs cabin. Here you can see Jeff perched 8-feet up in the air precariously balanced on the window ledge. Looks a little dangerous, no?

What you don't see is his Dad on the inside of the cabin belaying holding Jeff to the side of the playset by his climbing harness and ropes the pocket of his khakis. Uh Larry, it's not that I don't trust the tensile strength of the common khaki, but how about at least using TWO hands to hold my babies' Daddy in place?

Thanks. That makes me feel a LOT better.

Only the tunnel, three swings, a lookout post, and a climbing wall to go. That shouldn't take long, right?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Around Here, His Name is Synonymous With Progress

Who is this I see in our backyard?

Why, it looks a lot like Larry, another highly skilled person! His presence can mean only one thing.

Progress is finally being made on the new house we bought for the kids.

And we are very, very happy about that.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Bringing Small Animals Together One Disgruntled Owner at a Time

Dear Cousin Paige,

You may want to schedule the guinea pigs for a play date at Kacy's house pretty soon because their hamster's days appear to be numbered.

Love, Melanie

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Diverting Destruction: A Tale of Hope

We live on a third of an acre and being able to have a relatively large yard for our children to play in is one of the primary reasons we moved to Charlotte. Yet, sadly, having only green grass, rocks, dirt, trees, and other assorted plants and wildlife is not entertainment enough. When God's green earth threatens to bore them, this is what commences.

See how there is a carefully constructed piece of lattice on the right hand corner of the bottom of the deck? There should be one on that big middle section as well, but it was torn off by two determined little boys. I know what you're thinking. That's a big piece of lattice, Melanie. How long were they unsupervised out there to be able to physically tear that off of the deck? Like five minutes. I had to (ahem) use the facilities. Indoors. Let's call this Exhibit A simply because one day I may be forced to consider bringing some litigation against the two of them.

Exhibit B shows the deck to the left of the above picture. You'll note the peculiar absence of lattice here as well. One afternoon they had a unquenchable urge to joust and deconstructed it to use as sabres...sabres that were just loaded with rusty old nails and staples. Perhaps in 2024 when they are both fencing in the Olympics, I will be able to look back on this and laugh, but at present I find myself choking back a more medieval response.

In Exhibit C, I'm proud to say I caught them in the act and screeched at them for an extended period of time. Because that is what a calm, collected, self-controlled parent does when she realizes that her kids are more than capable of taking apart their ENTIRE HOUSE and she begins to panic.

Exhibit D. Disturbingly, their urge to destroy is not limited to the deck. This is a blueberry bush. It is one of seven I planted early last spring in hopes of this being their first big year of production deliciousness. Alas, six of them were ripped from the ground in January having commited the lesser known crime of deciduousness. Here at Chez Freshour, daring to look dead while dormant is a crime punishable by actual death.

The evidence notwithstanding, while Jeff was in Hong Kong in April - a period of time I fondly refer to as Two Weeks of Terror - I decided I just couldn't take it anymore. I have to be able to leave the boys in the yard for two seconds without calling in the National Guard to protect our property. And after assesing the repair work that needs to be done to the deck, Jeff agreed.

Brilliant strategists that we are, we've decided to try an elaborate method of diversion as far as keeping our kids occupied outside goes. We're going to build them their own house that they may systematically destroy at their leisure in hopes that they will keep their grimy little hands off of ours. Right now it looks like this.

But we hope one day it will look like this.

According to the 68-page instruction manual, assembly should take two moderately skilled people 20-24 hours. We have one highly skilled person and one person who looked at Step 1 and knew she was going to be of limited assistance when she saw the following words; Tower Leg, Spike T-Nuts, Hex Bolts, Lock Washer, and Flat Washer, incorporated into just TWO sentences. It's like a Home Depot vocabulary test. Give me an Ann Taylor or a Sur La Table vocabulary test. I'd do better. In the meantime, Honey, call me if you need me.

Friday, May 9, 2008

This is What Having 6 Children Would Be Like

My brother and sister-in-law along with their three girls came to visit us last weekend. Amazingly, we discovered that going from 3 children to 6 children brought instantaneous peace and harmony to a previously conflicted household. I'm sure my friends who have 6 children of their own will attest to the fact that this is a typical result when you choose to up the ante and produce more than the national average. But do the majority of them have to be girls? Because if so we would be treading on thin ice.

This is Peyon (ours) and Sahara (theirs). See how nicely they are playing? I took seventyonehundred pictures of this precious, tender moment because I was so mesmerized by their enjoyment of one another. And you know what? Every one of them has that massive dirt patch in the background. To say that I have enviable photography skills would be an understatement.
This is Bria (theirs). She is a quiet, collected child which means she is the inverse of the one you see below.

This is Griffin (ours). We have yet to raise anything soft-spoken.

When it comes to ice-cream lovers, however, we are 3 for 3. This is Carter (ours). He would look at you and say, "Hello", but he is busy right now.

This is Tirza (theirs). If her shirt is any indication, she will someday defect to Canada where she will gleefully raise flowers.

This is Jeff with all six kids right before the sugar high hit and they dispersed to play in the dirt. See how he has them all corraled and sitting nicely? Honey, we could TOTALLY do 6! Let's consider it.

I kid.

The only downer about the weekend is that Mark and Hannah are on their way to Portugal this summer with the IMB which means our children won't even grow up on the same continent. It will be months and months and months before they get to eat ice cream, much less play together again, and that just makes me sad. Jeff and I both grew up overseas, and while Jeff did a lot better maintaining contact and building a relationship with his cousins, I'm pretty sure mine don't even read my blog. Cousins, cousins? You out there? Yeah, I didn't think so. I don't take it personally, I just think this is a testimony to what happens to relationships if you don't determine you are going to prioritize them. On that note, it is apparent I need to dig out and hook back up the webcam.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

A Few of My Favorite Things

Here are a few things that make my life a little easier - but just a few because I wouldn't want to cause anyone out there to stumble.

This is a picture of the shower in our master bathroom. I know a lot of you have been secretely wondering where we bathe and, well, this is it.

Allow me to direct your attention to the bad 80's floral wall paper that no doubt rocked the Kasbah in its day. Also garnering an honorable mention is the ubiquitous beige carpet. The house was built in 1990 and that very-poor-excuse-for-tile is original. Original means its 18 years old and, having lived it's life in a sometimes steamy, wet bathroom, also means it is undeniably gross. But oh-so-cozy-soft in the winter time - let's look on the bright side shall we? And hey, Vintage! Anyway, neither the wall paper or the carpet really have anything to do with this post, I just thought I'd give you all a little opportunity to go into your own master bathrooms and see them in a whole new light.

What is notable about this picture is that you can actually see through the glass to the wall the faucet is on. A few days ago, when I came back from DC (otherwise known as a little slice of heaven where your hotel bathroom is cleaned for you every single day), I realized two things:

  • A) I hadn't cleaned our shower in a really long time.

  • B) It was revolting.
Under normal circumstances, I would take this banner opportunity to delve deep into the minutia of just how revolting it was, but I read a post recently that pretty much trumps any adjectives I've got, so let me just point you there. While the situation is not the same, I feel supremely confident you will get the idea. That said, the issue came to a head when I became aware that while taking a shower, I was having trouble making out my daughter playing on the floor with her trucks doll. It was clear something had to be done because without an unobstructed view of her, it was almost as if I was taking a shower alone. And goodness knows, we can't have that. Privacy is dead to me. To be afforded even an illicit whiff of it now might cause my pacemaker to suddenly short.

So the next time I was in the blue lagoon, I took it upon myself to do a little market research and test drive this new Scrubbing Bubbles product that...suspense, suspense......ACTUALLY WORKS! Hot diggity is that ever a novel concept in bathroom cleaning products. You know what else is novel? Unlike the usual sprays, sponges, and scrub brushes, it requires a minimum amount of effort. Not only can you can actually see the fruit of your labor right there on the disposable cleaning pad, it's flexible enough to get in all the little crevices - like where the 80's brass shower enclosure meets the 80's almond shower wall. Best of all, my brief moment of domestication occured while my Bed Head conditioner was working to make my coarse, unruly hair soft, shiny and manageable. The Maniac has a delectable pina colada scent that almost made me forget that I was sloshing about in a puddle of soap scum and bacteria. That is Thing 1. The Action Scrubber, not the conditioner. Though I dare say my hair is softer and shinier, albeit still unmanageable.

Thing 2. I have a close friend who lived near us when we were residing in the aforementioned little slice of heaven. When I would visit her, she would frequently lament her inability to get organized. At the time she had three little boys and we had none, so I would basically nod as if I understood exactly, but in reality I had no real concept of what she was talking about. Now, nearly 5-years later, we have brood of our own and with the abundance of toys, books, and their constant need for whole new wardrobes, it is possible my Type A-ness has been almost snuffed out. Also, I'd like to take this moment to declare: Hey Jenn, about the organization thing? I TOTALLY GET IT!

And that is why I so heart these long underbed storage boxes from the Container Store that I use to store the hundreds of dollars of clothing that my children each wore for THREE ENTIRE WEEKS before they grew out of them. Because I don't live near a Container Store, I generally buy a case of 6 - which baffles my good natured husband because, "Who in the world could possibly need this many plastic boxes?" And, "Can't we get this exact same storage box from Target?"

But then I show him the magical, glorious thing I have done with them and he is forced to skulk off to dream of the 42" plasma TV that costs roughly 10 x as much as my organizational system. I love these boxes so much, I have two entire closets almost full of them. See, here is another.

Baby clothing is my own personal Kilimanjaro and I feel I have conquered it. The rest of the junk in the closet, well, not so much. I do know that when I run out of closets to fill with plastic boxes of childrens' clothing, we'll be forced to move simply because I can't bear to part with them. And at that point it will be obvious that I have gone from Type A to Pack Rat and should probably be institutionalized.

Favorite Thing 3 is this.

I had one or two or eleven today. This because I am weak and cannot resist the call of 4 pounds of red, rubbery goodness.