Plant Murderer

While I have been successfully able to keep some of the most frustratingly delicate climbing roses alive for more than 10 years, I regularly murder every houseplant unfortunate enough to come into my home. Now I have had a couple of scares with the roses oweing to serious midwest winters and late frosts. I also pruned too viciously once and then over fertilized the next year.

Mr Mike, our sweet, long suffering,  neighbor finally gave me the best advice a few years ago: cut off the dead stuff, cover them if it frosts…then leave them the hell alone. I have mostly followed it since with good results.

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The same cannot be said for the plants living inside.

I love all things green. I attribute my proclivity for house plants to growing up in rural West Virginia surrounded by trees and mountains and wildflowers at every turn. I spent much of my time as a kid running in fields of waist high grass,  picking bundles to put in a coffee can on my dresser beside the jar of lightning bugs that would all be dead in the morning despite the holes in the lid.

Now these experiences did not lend themselves to the care and keeping of potted plants, just to the desire to have them. This means there are several victims of my neglect a year. I forget the water them or over water until it spills out and runs all over the floor. There are several scattered around right now in various states of dying.

My inability to keep them alive has become quite a joke in my family. They regulary send me articles about “impossible to kill” specimens with notes about the very same kind dying in my care. I get tagged in posts reminding me of plants they have brought to me that were quickly replaced by new ones after untimely deaths.

My very funny sister in law just told me to steer clear of this game.

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She is hilarious.  This was a jab about a 30 pound jade plant she gifted me last year. Can you guess where it is now? Yep, plant heaven.

Now Hubs has tried to be a savior for the condemned.  He gifted me several of those glass watering globes and even filled them when I forgot. He painted a lovely plant stand for the patio, so I  could rotate them outside for some sunlight and fresh air. He chases the cat away when she tries to dig all the soil out of the pots. The ones with any green remaining owe their survival to him.

But as with other such things like laundry and dinner, plants require lots of attention and upkeep.  Stuff like homework and activities and overtime at work get in the way. He forgets, I forget…they die.

Maybe if they screamed for water in the same whining, nerve grating tone 9 uses when she has to have a snack or she will die right on the floor in front of me they would have a better chance. In fact, you could say that I am conducting important evolutionary experiments. It’s the plant version of roman gladiators.  Only the strongest survive to breed the next generation.

From now on, just call me Darwin.

Ask Me If I Want To Go To Target

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Asking me if I want to go to Target is like asking a starving child if they want ice cream. The Hubs rarely volunteers to go along, and almost never suggests it. When I received a text suggesting that we do just that…together…on a week night, I was understandably surprised. 

I love Target. They are right around the corner from my house. I can breeze over to buy school supplies, wine, a pair of sandals desperately needed at the last minute for tomorrow, wine, lunchbox goodies… did I mention wine? I can wear my yoga pants and feel right at home amongst my wine carrying, yogapants wearing fellow shoppers.

Our Target employs many differently abled workers. The store has family and gender neutral restrooms. The clothing racks and isles are arranged widely enough to maneuver my cart around without getting stuck. They make using coupons easy. They are friendly to my kids in the checkout line even when they are whining and on my last nerve.

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From @targetdollarspot

Could Target get any better? Maybe if they put employees in yoga pants too?

Now the hubby does not feel this same attraction for Target. He will go if dragged as long as I promise to steer clear of bedding or curtains.  He is a little gun shy after we painted our bedroom a few years ago and I launched a two week navy seal worthy expedition to find accessories that fit the new color scheme and grownup ambience. Purses, sunglasses and anything requiring a fitting room is also strongly discouraged. 

Call me crazy, but I  can’t think of a single thing that would prompt such a suggestion. Unless he is hoping to spark my interest in something outside the stretchy pants and granny panty realm. Considering my fashion choices as of late, this is a very real possibility. 

I waited with bated breath through dinner to ask if he still wanted to head out. Not a word as to the purpose of the request. I had run down the mental list in my head of anything he couldn’t wait until the weekend regular grocery trip to have: toothpaste, deodorant,  must have daily gatorade… All supplies seem to be in order.

We like to play this game of withholding information from each other to see who will break down and ask/give details first.  This happens with kids schedules, appointments, packages that come in the mail, the results of internet research, you name it.  We like to play curiosity chicken.  It’s how we keep the spark alive.

I made it all the way to the entrance doors before buckling under the suspense and whisper- shouting “What are we here for?”  Hubs gives a side eye smirk before replying to let me know that crossing the threshold before asking still means I lost. “Slippers ”

Disappointment that I broke first courses through me. I folded for slippers. Wtf? As a conciliation prize, I  choose some lovely patriotic decorations for my office door from the dollar spot. As an added bonus, he didn’t find any slippers. Target’s selection of man shoes is woefully small right now. This means he will need to give in and order from Amazon or make another trip out. Either way, I  will not be some easily fooled next time.   I can already taste victory.

Artist For A Day

We love small businesses. America was built on small business.  When you come from a small town, small businesses are often all you have. There is no Giant Eagle around the corner. You shop at Garden Fresh where the produce is local, and you eat what’s in season. If the tomatoes are small this year, you can ask Tom if the drought is making his crop small at church on Sunday.

Moving to the burbs changed the way my family shops. We frequent Target, the mall and Mr. Williams doesn’t pump your gas and add the total to your account at our neighborhood Exxon. Now we hit the farmers market as many Saturdays as possible,  and shop local when we can.

It was during Small Business Saturday last November that I trudged through the snow to buy a gift card for 9 to Artist for a Day, a locally owned paint it yourself pottery shop.

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The paint palette on the front window had been beaconning to our little Picasso for some time. Studio time is only 8$ which includes paint, brushes, tools and firing.  You purchase your item to paint separately.  I took a quick look around and saw many items under $20.

Now I am not a fan of tchotchkes around the house, but I want to support the business. A ceramic puppy to clean around is a small price to pay to see 9 light up with joy, so in I went. The gift cards turned out to be beautifully painted tiles perfect for wrapping.

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Aren't they pretty?

I purchased a $25 tile and headed next door to buy some cookies from a local bakery. As predicted, the gift was a huge hit. Unfortunately the tile accidentally got tossed out with the trash in the excitement of Christmas morning.

This is the secong time this has happened during a holiday.  We really need to figure out a better way to keep track of tiny things. Predictably there were many tears and promises to visit anyway during the summer. 9 is the elephant that never forgets and has reminded me of this promise every time we passed the plaza- which can be several times a week.

With a rainy afternoon ahead of us today and a desperation to see the floor in 9’s messy bedroom, I struck a deal. Clean bedroom would allow immediate redemption of the Artist For A Day promise. I have never seen a kid clean so fast.

The studio was busy but the girls working took their time with us explaining how the process worked. We selected our items and then were taught how to choose colors and tools.

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The paint bar was cool!

9 took about 20 minutes to decide. There are shelves and shelves of choices. She eventually settled on a cupcake shaped dish that she planned to keep earrings in. I had not planned to paint, but once I got there I changed my mind. There were so many  tempting choices! I settled on a spoonrest since it was my first time.  I  really wanted to do a serving platter or pitcher, but the size and lack of desgn plan intimidated me.

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Painting our items took about an hour and a half.  9 went back to the paint bar several times getting refills and just the right tool to ensure her cupcake was perfect. We really had a nice time chatting and painting. I saw lots of families come and go during the afternoon. Many had been there before and brought snacks and drinks which is a lovely practice.

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Then tragedy struck- 9 dropped the carefully painted bottom which shattered into a million pieces all over the floor. Tears were instantaneous.  She was heart broken.

Someone came quickly to help us cleanup the mess. We were able to get another piece to replace the broken part and after some serious sobbing 9 revamped her design and got back to work. Other littles dropped paint or other things while we were there and the staff responded in the same no nonsense manner which allowed parents and kids to move quickly past any mishaps.

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Ready to fire

At the end of our afternoon, we were both satisfied with our work and had a nice time. We spent about $50 with discounted Sunday studio rates ($6) and the purchase of 2.5 ceremic items. 9 was begging to go again before we even got to the car. Usually after an activity I am not ready to consider a return trip before the first one is over, but I caught myself thinking I would try that platter next time. Lookout Artist For A Day, we maybe seeing you again soon.

Water Terror

With summer just around the corner,  many of us are prepping for fun in the sun. While children, mine included, are gleeful at the prospect of donning a swimsuit and heading to the water, there are parents who quake at the idea.   I am one of those parents.

I grew up with parents who couldn’t swim. Because they never took me to any body of water, I never learned to swim either. I inherited a fear drowning instead. This is a terrible way to live. I stayed firmly planted in the sand while my friends splashed and played in the surf, canoed, skied and otherwise frolicked in the water. As an adult, I  sent the kiddos to swim lessons thinking this would break the cycle of water fear. It didn’t because I never let them use their skills. I restricted them to waist high water. If something happened,  I  couldnt save them. Over time they took on my same fears.

Finally fed up with the shallows, I asked a friend at work to teach me to swim. We spent several evenings at the indoor pool in her parents building.  It was humiliating at first learning to blow bubbles under water and practicing strokes and floats in the shallow end. On the way home from the first lesson, I cried. She encouraged me to stick with it, and in a few weeks I was swimming the length of the pool.

I feel brave in the water now. Last summer, we made an effort to allow our girls the same freedom. During a camping trip, we rented a boat and intertube. I was able to leave the sidelines for the first time in my life. It was exhilarating. 

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My terror is only partially swimming.  I despise everything about wearing a bathing suit including the self esteem damaging process of shopping for one. I have two plain black tankinis that I have been recycling for many years. They are plain utilitarian numbers that hide the worst of my stretch marks. My husband hates them both and has encouraged me to try shopping for an update the last three years in a row.

I finally relented to subject my fragile ego to the chore.  I am always torn about taking him with me when shopping for any clothes. His opinion about what is attractive relies largely on how much of my boobs are visible.  He cannot understand why this is not helpful.

I tried instead to face the dressing room alone. I found two possibilities. Turns out, like my taste in men, I have a type. They were almost identical two the ones I already own. Now while there is something to be said for tried and true, I  was shopping for something fun and new. I returned them both to the rack and went home to evalute the process.

Many body positive blogs later, I was asking myself why I was worried about the stretchmarks and stomach fat.

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Need a little body positive in your life?
Love the skin you’re in: 9 uplifting body-positive blogs http://mashable.com/2015/02/28/body-positive-blogs/#VcskpcQKi05c via @mashable

Maybe I was ready to show some skin. Don’t get excited, Hubs-not that much skin. This weekend a 50% off swimsuits ad came through my email from Old Navy. Casually I mentioned that I might be in the market for a bikini. I flashed him the ad and suggested he help me pick one out. With visions of supermodels in string bikinis dancing through his head, we headed out.

Trying to be brave, I avoided trying one anything that looked like a grandma suit. I picked out only two pieces and even let Hubs choose a couple. Ignoring dressing room limits, I took the haul in and spent probably 20 minutes trying to figure what suits could magically meet all the criteria: boobs controlling cups, secure ties or straps, bottoms that stayed in places when jumping or running around, and made me feel both comfortable and confident.

Even with this impossible list, I managed to find a cute green bikini top and black booty shorts that seemed both daring and reliable.  Its certainly not the flag printed string suit Hubby hoped for, but a step in the body positive direction. I intend to wear it at the first opportunity and cross another milestone off my list.