Halloween House- October 6, 2014

Halloween GB house

A detailed how-to for a Haunted Gingerbread House. Happy October!

1. Buy a kit at Trader Joe’s because only Pinterest show-offs actually bake their own.

2. Drive to preschool to pick up child with grandiose ideas of quality time after the baby goes down for a nap.

3. Get home after hanging out on the playground for a little too long with groceries in the car.

4. Put the sleeping baby down for a nap.

5. Bring in groceries after preschooler discovers the box in the grocery bags.

c gb box cropped

6. Tell her not to touch it when you see her trying to open it.

7. Try to distract her as you hurriedly put away any frozen or refrigerated items.

8. Open the box at the kitchen table and tell her not to touch the candy package she’s already managed to open.

c icing edited

9. Brew a cup of coffee so you don’t need a nap later.

10. Curse  under your breath when the doorbell rings, the dog barks and you hear the baby stir.

11. Go to the door to find the guy from the tree removal company. Realize your husband set up  an appointment for an estimate that he didn’t tell you anything about.

12. Check your shirt to see that your boobs have not leaked on your shirt after hearing the baby cry.

13. Try to remember which trees husband wants removed from the yard and tell the tree guy.

14. Yell to preschooler to not eat the candy.

15. Come back to the table to read directions while quickly eating a bowl of Pumpkin O’s, remembering that you did not eat lunch. Recall that Trader Joe’s is proof you can make anything pumpkin spiced.

16. Make a mental note of your weakness for pumpkin spiced anything and shop with someone who will stop you from buying things like Pumpkin O’s.

cereal edited

17. Follow directions on the box for how to use the icing packets, realizing the kit uses black and orange icing and nothing good ever comes of black icing.

18. Let preschooler hold your hand as you pipe icing on the designated grooves.

19. Smile as you listen to preschooler giggle.

gb house edited

20. Giggle to yourself when you read the word “erect” in the instructions.

21. Pretend not to see preschooler sneaking candy as you try to mimic the wildly unrealistic design on the box.

22. Allow preschooler to decorate the black cat and pumpkin included in the kit as she sees fit.

23. After decorating the sides and roof of the house, notice that preschooler is getting bored of this activity and just wants to eat icing.

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24. Allow preschooler to view herself in the mirror to bask in her icing glory.

c icing face edit

25. Help child wash up.

26. Negotiate the amount of candy you will allow child to consume and encourage her to put it on the house to “make it pretty.”

27. Kick yourself for allowing that amount of sugar before “nap time” or “quiet time.”

28. Set finished product out on the counter before spouse arrives home.

29. Look for receipt in anticipation that spouse will ask how much the project cost.

31. Take child upstairs for quiet time.

32. Marvel that there is no black or orange icing on your white shirt.

33. Finish coffee and ignore sugared-up child’s noises coming from their room.

34. Smile, realizing you had a lot of fun. Smile again, hoping she’ll remember that her mama made a Halloween gingerbread house with her and let her smear black icing on her face.

35. Repeat in December with Christmas-themed kit.

finshed house


Pout About- October 3, 2014

I’m over here pouting. Lips twisted, arms crossed, eyes rolled. Pouting. So is my nearly 4-year-old. She is pouting too. We sit and pout for one reason. The same reason. She’s trying to give up her nap.

I want her to sleep the same time as her baby brother so I can tap away on the laptop or unload the dishwasher without anyone trying to grab a serrated knife. I just want to watch “South Park” on the iPad while I clean the kitchen. It’s a new season! I want Eric Cartman to fire away with all the “shits” and “damns” he wants to without it falling on my children’s ears. I want to sometimes take my own nap because I’m tired after waking up at 5:30am with the baby, I’m getting over a cold and it’s Friday and I just can. If she would go to sleep, I could.

Other mothers say “Just do quiet time in her room!” We do that. She is still restless and begs for my attention. They say, “Put on a movie and crash on the couch.” Yeah, I could do that, but I’m always taking TV and movie privileges away as punishment and I have to follow through. Damn my conscientious parenting! Really, I just want her to take a freakin’ nap because she acts like someone else’s menacing, naughty child when she doesn’t.

No one feels my pain. No one cares about this plight. This is the look Erin gave me when I told her Charlotte was giving up her nap. It says, “Really, Amy?! No one feels sorry for you.”

erin edited

A dear sweet reader reminded me “You’ve had a good run.” after I was complaining on Instagram. ::sigh:: We HAVE had a good run. She’s almost 4. I hear horror stories of kids giving up naps at 2. I can’t, ya’ll. I can’t. That’s too early.

Never mind me. I’m just going to pout. I’m in good pouting company, after all.

pout edited


Fall Container GardenSeptember 29, 2014

Logo Weeds to Wow nopics 300     We’re so excited and honored to start our first project with Fairview Garden Center. They asked us to be part of their inaugural “Weeds To Wow” Family Garden Project. You can follow along with us as Fairview helps make our yard look amazing because seriously, we know nothing about having a big yard and we kill plants with lack of knowledge and neglect. We’ll be doing a project each month starting now and going into next summer. Check back here for updates. Or click “The Yard” on the menu bar. I promise dirt and shenanigans resulting in a fine looking yard.

For our first autumn project, Fairview suggested we plant fall container gardens for our front stoop. I buy mums and pumpkins each year because nothing says “fall ya’ll!” like a pumpkin and a mum. Fairview gave us mums and pumpkins for Charlotte and Henry. Now autumn can happen!

The gorgeous planters add a lot more to your front porch for the season. These were so simple, even our family could plant them. That is saying a lot. I’ll take you step-by-step and show you everything you need for this. It’s perfect for families because kids can help with this type of gardening.

Grow Your Own Fall Container Gardens

Here’s a list of what you need:

  1. A Planter or Pot- Fairview had a huge selection of colors and varieties. This one in neutral tan looks nice with our green house. Make sure there are holes for proper drainage. I have drowned plants making this mistake before.
  2. Proper Potting Soil- We used Fafard Ultra Container Mix. It turns out, different soils work better in different types of gardens. Who knew? I didn’t.
  3. Plant Food- I have never added proper fertilizer or plant food before. Fairview recommended Osmocote Plus Indoor/Outdoor.
  4. Gloves and a Shovel- These are adorable ones for kids. Fairview has a whole section for the kiddos. Charlotte loved her ducky gardening gloves.
  5. More Plant Food- Fairview recommended Jack’s Classic Blossom Booster to keep everything nice and pretty through autumn.

Fall planters 1

In each container we included a variety of plants and flowers. Shamefully, I couldn’t really remember the difference between annuals and perennials. Sorry, 7th grade science teacher! Here’s what Fairview recommended for our fall planter after filling it with soil:

  1. Acorus- Acorus is a perennial grass. We planted it first in the back center of the pot.
  2. Snapdragons- Snapdragons are evergreen annuals for fall/winter that will rebloom in spring. We planted 3 or 4 of them behind the Acorus because they will grow tall.
  3. Cool Wave Pansies- These are annuals that remain evergreen in the winter. I think everyone knows what pansies are. I was not aware of the Cool Wave variety that are great for containers because they grow more vine-like and can cascade down the side of the container. Very cool indeed!
  4. Ivy- Ivy is a perennial trailing plant. I wanted mine sort of on the edges of the pot to grow over.

Finished planter with acorus, snapdragons, Cool Wave Pansies and ivy.

We filled it in with more soil and added the Osmocote. As a child I used to have this irrational fear that fertilizer would make me grow really huge. I think it was the scare tactic my parents used to keep us off the lawn after it had been fertilized. Charlotte rocked her gloves just in case. She’s already growing too fast.

Charlotte striking a crazy pose with her gardening gloves

Side note. Gardening gloves are great for opening jars. They give you good grip. See, I’m learning so much from this project already!

Then we watered them thoroughly and allowed them to drain. In a week we will begin fertilizing with Jack’s Blossom Booster when we water and then add it every 2-3 weeks after that.

Charlotte protests not being able to play in the dirt.

I have to share this shot. This was Charlotte’s protest when we would not let her taste the fertilizer. I should have told her it would make her a giant. Also, please note the mess we made. Greyson was going crazy! He is a tidy chef and apparently a tidy gardener too. It is to the point of anal retentive. I told him to relax. Dirt is messy!

Fairview has a gorgeous selection of seasonal wreaths. I love this one! The red, yellow and orange pop. I can only hope the trees are this vibrant as autumn sets in.

Beautiful fall wreath

Here is the before and after. What do you think? What are you doing in your yard this fall? We’ll take your suggestions! If you need help in your yard and you live in the Raleigh, NC area. Check out Fairview! Even if you live elsewhere, check out their blog for tips and how-to’s. They can even recommend nurseries in your area!

Front porch before and after with fall planters, fall wreath, pumpkins and mums

Chelsea Clinton Has A “Charlotte”- 09-27-14

Chelsea Clinton Has A "Charlotte" Too image

Images from Baby Name Wizard & Twitter.

Technically I’m no longer a journalist so I can say with conviction that my bleeding heart leans left and always has. Since the news will always be a part of my life as a news consumer, I woke up and checked my news apps and Twitter feed for whatever happened in the world while I slept. I saw it. Chelsea Clinton had her baby and…wait for it…named her CHARLOTTE!

Well, that’s my daughter’s name!

My emotions were two fold:

  1. Initially, I had all this name-nerd rage. “That’s MY BABY’S NAME!!!!” That only lasted for a split second because I realized I didn’t invent the name, nor does my kid own it. Also, when I named her that nearly four years ago I knew it was on the rise in popularity. It wasn’t “Emma” or “Sophia” but, it was climbing the charts back in 2010. Also, I didn’t want a made up name, so naturally other people would have that name and I needed to slow my roll and calm down, for real. I did check to see if the high-priestess of baby names, Laura Wattenberg, had weighed in on this. She hadn’t yet.
  2. Then I thought. “Ahhh! It’s the same name as a CLINTON BABY!!!! A Clinton!” I grew up during the Clinton administration when America was all like, “Peace and economic prosperity! Whoa! Did you hear someone cloned a sheep?! Let’s go watch an episode of ‘Friends.'”

The fact that I came of age in the 1990’s, coupled with my liberal leanings meant I got very excited about this baby. I speculated as to why they chose the name. I retweeted Chelsea’s tweet and posted it to Facebook and Instagram while chuckling at my friends’ comments. I thought of all the agony I put myself through before we chose the name I knew all along my heart was set on. No, my Charlotte wasn’t named after the largest city in my home state. She wasn’t named after “Charlotte’s Web,” although, that would be a wonderful reason to name a child Charlotte. Her name sounds lovely and looks great on a resume. Ultimately, it was just the most beautiful name to me, so we went with it.

I watched this ABC News report and listened as they said “Charlotte” over and over. I listened to my baby’s name with pride. I hope the Clinton family enjoys their Charlotte as much as we enjoy ours. The name means “free or freedom.” My Charlotte is witty, kind, feminine and fierce. She teaches us new things everyday. I can tell you Chelsea, that raising a Charlotte has made life more blessed, more wonderful and more free.

c tree pic

I imagined the one woman in this country who had previously named her baby “North” as she heard the news of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s baby and chuckled. Dude, I’ll take sharing taste in baby names with Chelsea Clinton over Kim Kardashian any day.



This One Time, At Starbucks September 26, 2014

"This one time, at Starbucks" photo of cup.

When I was a TV news reporter and I needed a “man-on-the-street” interview, Starbucks was my go-to place. Not only could I get my latte fix, I could almost always find an Average Joe, enjoying some joe with an opinion on the national story/city council vote/election result I was covering. Weird things happen to me at Starbucks. I’m not sure if that shows I spend entirely too much time there, or if Starbucks is just a good sampling of the public, thus resulting in better odds of weirdness.

I’ll confess, I had a strange request of the barista. You see, I was helping with a playgroup outside of the Starbucks in the common area of the shopping center. It’s an outdoor shopping/dining location in our city with a grassy area for children where my workout group frequently hosts playgroups. This week’s theme was bubbles. As one of the hosts I went to the dollar store and got some bubbles. I got my daughter this bubble gun thing from Target on clearance for the playgroup. She was SO excited. As toys are, it was packaged so that no human adult could open it without performing surgery to the packaging. Of course, the bubbles were blowing and I had no scissors. The three-year-old was getting anxious. I told her to hang tight with the other moms.

children at the bubble playgroup

I ducked into the Starbucks where they practically know my order. I asked if I could borrow some scissors to open the package. The barista had no scissors, but did have a box cutter to open all the pre-packaged goodies we enjoy. I thanked her and started cutting the thick plastic straps choking this cheap toy.

That’s when I heard, “Careful!” from a voice behind me. I was confused. Surely no stranger was scolding me!? I glanced over to see a man in his fifties waiting for his drink. His tone was patronizing, like I was his 10-year-old daughter and I needed to be aware of the dangers of Exacto-knife usage before my Girl Scout camp-out. I ignored him and kept cutting.

He tried again to get my attention and be clever, only it was pretty demeaning. He said, “Whoa! A woman with a knife! Look out!” He went on to chuckle at his own joke and look around to see if anyone else agreed. When I still paid him no mind he said, trying to be funny, “I’m just gonna get out of the way so I don’t get hurt.” I didn’t look up and said, “You’re fine.” He got his drink and walked out of the store, looking at me like I was the stankest bitch on the planet for not yukking it up at his brilliance.

Sir, did you think that you were the funniest, most clever man in Starbucks that day? Did you just have to hear your own voice and weigh in on what I was doing?  Did you want me to giggle at your condescending comments like a sweet little woman? I bet you never would have never spoken a word if it were my husband opening the toy or any man using a knife. You are not my dad. I’m a grown woman who knows how to open a package with a box cutter. Sure, It was kind of weird that I was doing it in Starbucks,  but understandable with the crowd outside and certainly not worth commenting on.

I got the toy open and the kids had a great time. This little encounter really wasn’t a huge deal and had little impact on my life except for writing this blog post. Maybe he was just trying to be funny. It didn’t really hurt my feelings, it just annoyed me. I could have done without, the “Oh, you’re a typical bitch.” look that he shot me. Maybe I’m making too much of it. Really, I feel sorry for him that patronizing women is a way that he gets a laugh. What do you think?