Monday, May 26, 2014

Not Me Monday... Being beautifully honest and living to tell about it

Welcome to Not Me! Monday . . . a time where we confess our faults MckMama style by denying them outright. If you have no idea what I am talking about visit MckMama’s blog for a laugh that will keep you smiling all week.

Okay... or don't visit MckMama's blog because she doesn't write it anymore.  But she does sell a diet drug which my neighbor met me outside one night while the kids were in bed to give me a few pills.  We made an all out drug deal- I then gave her a bag of Body by Vi shake mix and we were going to crush our diet and lose twenty pounds... That was three weeks ago... and we're starting tomorrow.:) P.S... If you order the diet pill- MckMama- the real MckMama calls you... but don't worry, I still haven't ordered because I'm on too many automatic renewal things and if I add one more, the hubz might kill me!

I didn't spend hours reading these random blogs of people I don't even know last week- Ya know all these sweet southern, Christian women like Kelly Stamps hoping that one day I become like her.  And I can assure you I didn't have conversations with one of my besties where we talk about Kelly like she's our next door neighbor and our children don't think they are Harper and Hollis's b-f-f's... Nope- not me.

I really didn't start composing a letter because of these things on every toilet in America because every one of my kids has been obsessed with them including little termite #3... 
Dear Toilet Bowel Company Makers of the World,
Can you please make these little pieces somehow lock in place?  It's bad enough that I have to pee with a baby at my ankles much less worry about a choking hazard while I'm taking a deuce. 
A mom that simply wants to poop in peace
Nope, not me.
And for those thinking its disgusting that she's right by my side sometimes when I do go- I've outweighed the pros and cons and a few shit particles in the air seem less harmful than what she could get into unsupervised without me.  And I can't time my bathroom visits around naptime. When ya gotta go, ya gotta go... Ain't nobody got time for that.
Riding to my soccer game, I didn't blare my music, roll down my windows, and feel young and beautiful riding down the road.  Something about a little rap with bass bumping, or a country song loud and jamming suddenly makes me feel twenty something. And I might have even gunned it at a stoplight smiling because the guy beside me was checking me out.  Nope, not me.
And after my soccer game, when I walked to my car and realized it's a minivan with carseats and car magnets covering the back of it, I realized he definitely wasn't checking me out and was probably looking at me like I had a problem.  That might have become even crystal clearer when I plopped my sweatshirt on my front cloth seat so my wet pants from a weak bladder didn't leave a stench behind.  I definitely didn't drive home with the same confidence.  Not me.:)
I didn't videotape my children cracking up as they made up a new version of Frozen's Let it Go... Holding their privates singing, "I have to go, I have to go... I can't hold it in anymore..."  Nope, not me.
And I for sure didn't go to a baseball tournament for my son, walk with two other families to a Mexican Restaurant, and then have to take a taxi home. Nope, not me.  We didn't then let our kids play while we sat in the hallway drinking until midnight having a good ole time.  Not me...
I didn't text my hubby on his last day of a business trip and say, "Wanna get lucky tonight?"... To which he may or may not have replied, "The Northrop Grumman IT department must love you."... I then didn't stay downstairs and watch my shows and ignore his texts asking if I was coming up... Not me... Never too old to be a dicktease.... or maybe I should just say, sometimes I'm too old and I "have a headache" and don't need to get it on.  Did I just say that? Not me.
I wasn't walking across a ball field this week and stopped in my tracks because I saw a ton of cellulite on my thigh.  When I took off my sunglasses, it looked a hundred times worse... So I put my sunglasses back on, looked around and noticed that almost everyone there was wearing sunglasses and smiled.  Sometimes ya just have to be happy with the little things in life.  Let's pray for a sunny week and lots of shades wearing. 
And I won't embarrass myself ever again on this blog.., Nope, not me..., It's only Monday.:)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Ode to Teachers... or Something Like That

All I've ever wanted to be was a Mommy.  And as the time grew near, I had so many dreams about how it would be- visions of sugarplums danced in my head.  Ya know, my kids would be perfect, I'd have the house with the white picket fence, and a sweet little black lab.  And then life happened- I've learned there is no such thing as a perfect kid, I'm living in an apartment, and my son is allergic to every animal on the face of the earth. 

I also tend to be a wanna-be hippie.  I love me some Birkenstocks, my hubby calls me the voodoo lady because I have a stash of oils that I dab behind my ears, and I longed to be a nursing, baby-wearin', home-schoolin' granola-y mom.  But, I too, fail at that.  The second my kids turn two I'm searching for a preschool, and I realize I can not do it all- It really takes a village.

With the end of the school year upon us, I can tell ya how the next few weeks are going to go.  I'm going to start slacking on checking the kid's backpacks, forget to pack a snack here and there, and wait until the last minute to get teacher's gifts.  My hubby and I are going to then have the conversation we have every.single.year...

He's going to complain that we just spent money on teacher appreciation gifts and he's then going to go into a whole spiel about how he doesn't get presents for doing his job.  I'm then going to try and go out to Home Goods or some store to try to find a teacher's gift that looks way more expensive than what I actually spent.  I'm then going to realize I spent an hour and ten bucks in gas trying to save five dollars and tell the hubz that he just needs to get over it and grab a decent gift card because these teachers that we're trying to skimp out on are some of the most important people in our children's lives.

In fact, five days out of the week they are with our kids during more waking hours than we are.  And eventhough we've only had a babysitter a handful of times, we've never thought twice about sending our kids off to school- because we know they are going to be just fine.

In fact, more than fine.

Summer is almost here and I'm already downing Doritos just thinking about how long my days are going to be. 

My kids have learned so much at school- Yep, reading, and writing and arithmetic- but even more than that.  They've learned the golden rule, patience, how to be a friend, and everything in between. 

I try, I really, really do... but I just don't know how they do it... I mean a good seven hours with no iPads, Xboxes, or phones in hand?  What the heck?  My little first grader went from knowing a few sight words to being an all out reader this year- and let me tell ya- it wasn't because of me. She doesn't know time and I might have fibbed more than I should and told her to go ahead and color in the picture that we read all twenty minutes while my fingers were crossed.  And my son- he officially knows more history than me, knows his multiplication tables like a champ, and is about to write a book report- and let me tell ya- and I can't even get through a weekly ten minute extra credit math sheet with him without losing my patience and going bonkers.

Teachers amaze me, I see them walking kids down the hall in a perfect line, I see my kids sitting at the lunch table waiting to be excused and dismissed, and I see them turning into smart, respectful little people. 

And I owe so much of it to the teachers.  They pick up where I leave off... even when I just give up.  Ya know, like on days where they might have a cold, but Mommy needs them to go to school so she can get things done.  Teachers don't have a choice- they are there picking up the pieces and passing out a Kleenex.  They are there to kiss boo-boo's, discipline, and inspire.

I've tried so many times to be "teachery."  Like when I scour Pinterest for ideas- Like making mason jars with each kids name on it and telling them they can add a poof ball to the jar when they do something good and when it's full they earn a prize.  Day two and that bad boy was a waste of money and time- the kids could care less- and yet this morning my kids had to wear their best running shoes so they could run laps to beat the other classes for extra recess time.  I mean, really? 

Summer is my favorite time of the year, but I dread it because I won't have the threat of "I'm going to email your teacher" when the kids are fighting- that threat is better than Santa Clause.  Every year the summer starts off great- We love life the first two weeks.  Then, the kids start tiring of the pool and by the end of the day this a couple times a year drinker is willing to split a bottle of wine with the hubby. By the time August rolls around, I'm my hubby's dream girl because I'm starting to barter nightly blow jobs in exchange for a week of summer camp enrollment for the kids. 

And then the clouds open up and school begins again.  Some moms put the kids on the bus and start to boo hoo... but I feel a sense of relief and am ready to WOO HOO! 

Teachers.  They are a wonderful thing, and I'm so lucky to be at a school where they support and love on my kids in the most perfect way.  So, this year, I'm skipping Home Goods and telling the hubz to cough it up buttercup. These women deserve so much more than a bonus and a small token of gratitude.  While my parenting hasn't always gone according to plan, public school and the good 'ole Loudoun County School System has come through in the most marvelous of ways... and for that, I am thankful- and am okay with crossing homeschooling off my list. One thing down, a million to go... :)

Friday, May 16, 2014

Our Village

Closing time
Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end

Closing time

Four years ago, my hubby and I sold our house, moved into a rental, and agreed to "watch the housing market" for a year. That lasted all of four months  Nearly every week, I'd drive to my "dream neighborhood" and pray that a house would come on the market. I remember one day, as I was taking the tour of the hood, I met a lady and her daughter... the same age as Chris. They were playing ball in their front yard and when I stopped to ask questions, the ball rolled down the hill and that was the end of the ball.  I immediately clicked with this lady, and I left the hood knowing this was where I was meant to be.

A week later, a foreclosure popped up in this neighborhood.  My hubby and I were there within hours, but couldn't get in  Yep, it was one of those shady deals and I was so bummed... until my soon to be next door neighbor told me to go take a look at the front door of the house one door down.  Yep, it had been served with foreclosure papers.  I peered into the windows and saw a two story fireplace with stone from the floor to the ceiling and almost wet myself. 

Fast forward a week, the house came onto the market and that was all she wrote.  With the help of some amazing realtors who went to bat for us, we landed our dream house. In our dream neighborhood.  And that's why today is a hard day.

The week we moved in, my next door neighbor had a wine night on the front porch.  Brendan and I moseyed on over, stayed until the wee hours of the morning, I broke out the vagina guitar, they still talked to me the next day, and friendships started.

Today is a hard day because the foreclosure house that became our home through blood, sweat, and tears isn't ours anymore.  It was the house with the most beautiful staircase ever that I knew for sure  Addie was going to want to invite people over for prom pictures on.  It was the house we painted, added a deck and patio, hung trim, installed a backsplash... the list goes on and on.  It was the house that I created my dream nursery in and rocked my last baby every night.  It was the house she was conceived in... It was the house that we added a sprinkler system to and I fought tooth and nail because I just needed my Japanese maple tree.  It was the last house of mine that my grandparents came to see.  It was the house that my kids made sweet memories in and where they made best friends.

And while the house was perfect for us, it's not the house that we'll miss. I got to the point where I was just over the big house. I'm learning that a house is just a place to lay your head and does not define you... but it's those precious relationships that matter so much. Courtland became our family.  The CRV was our hood, and full of our people.  It's the neighborhood where everybody knows your name, where people genuinely care about one another, and where you want to raise your children. 

Sure, the hood has problems- ya know- like when you are running late to meet the bus and your kids get off without you and you then look like a fool because you have to go door to door looking for them because they could be at about ten houses... because they would be taken in by anyone and wouldn't mind at all.  Or when someone sets off a firecracker, you better believe you're gonna have a hundred new emails... because there is a gunman for sure trying to take out all 300 houses and the messageboard is on fire.  And occasionally, there might be a loud motorcycle (ha!), a pack of wolves keeping you up at night, or a cornhole game and drinks down at the neighbors that causes you to win parents of the year by face-timing your sleeping children so you can get rowdy with your friends.  We only did the last one once... or twice. :)

So, today is a hard day.  It feels like a part of me is gone.  I shed tears thinking about sitting out with my neighbors, my children having the time of their lives just being at home in the yard with their friends, or how I won't be able to run up to my bestie, Danielle's and just walk on in through the garage and hang out. 

I'll miss looking out and seeing my kids setting up shop to sell loom bracelets, going door to door picking weeds to save for Papa John's... and I might even miss the times where they took bottled waters from our garage and mortified us by walking door to door selling them for $3/each without us even knowing.  Entrepreneurs, I tell ya, and nice neighbors that support our kids.:)  Today is a hard day because I'll miss Chris being able to run up the hill and grab Mason, or down to Stephen and Spencer's to play outside.  I'll miss picking up my friend that now plays soccer with me because I was crazy and posted to the crazy messageboard that we needed players.  I'll miss Ms. Kaye having all the kids over for sleepovers and Addie being so excited.  Ya know, how that was my goal to be the house where everyone goes, but then when your kid gets invited somewhere else, you just resign to the fact that being able to chill and watch HGTV sounds so much easier and letting someone else put up with the chaos.  Hell, I'll even miss the neighborhood bitch (so kidding)... who taught me so much about life... and at times, forgiveness. :)

Today is a hard day because I'll miss how my neighbor would always seem to know when the hubby was out of town or I was having a bad day and send the best homemade quesadillas over so I didn't lose it at dinner.  I'll miss Sarah's chocolate chip cookies. I'll miss hanging out with my girls Kelli and Heather on our redneck decks... Sure we all had beautiful decks (shout out to Builders Fence, heeeeyyyyyy), but there was nothing better than nights where we popped open our $5 chairs on our driveways, caught up, and watched the wonderful "shows" our children put on... or didn't really watch out children at all because we knew they were having a blast and so were we. And I'll even miss the young familes that have moved into the new section.  Yep, over the past couple of years, Brendan and I went from always being the young couple in our neighborhoods, to now being the "older" couple... and I'll admit, it's been a changing of the seasons.. I might, might- just come home from get togethers and cry how I'm a fuddy duddy, old, and need botox.  Issues.... thank God that man puts up with my crap.:)

I will miss days at the pool with the foreign lifeguards, Erik and Natasha always making it a hoot, and crazy nights with Tonia- when we are together- watch out.:)  The list could go on and on with so many families who know who they are... and that's why today is a hard day.

So, yes, today is a hard day.  But we are McCullers, and we can do hard things.  Holding on to faith that we are making the right decision for our family...   and that Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end. 

It's just a little hard when you aren't sure you wanted it to end.

Courtland, you will forever be in our hearts.  It's been real.  And I know we have made lifelong friendships, and for that I am so thankful.

P.S.  If anyone posts pictures on Facebook of y'all gathering with the new owners of our house doing s'mores, I might be institutionalized.  :)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Close Quarters

Friday morning, the movers came... and right before the bus pulled up, both kids broke down sobbing, in tears, losing their shit.  It broke my and Brendan's heart.  Chris has made comments here and there how he didn't want to move, but never showed emotion.  Addie, my easy, breezy, piece of cake child had been go with the flow up until that moment- and to see her so crushed was awful.  Thank God the bus pulled up, they wiped their tears and hurried off to school.

Children are so resilient.  They amaze me.  Knock on wood, they are handling this move like champs.

After swimming, they came home to their new home... their apartment.  I expected to see more tears, but instead, they both ran in, checked the place out, and exclaimed that they like it!  Hallelujah! Chris looked at me and said, "Mom, this is really nice- I thought you were going to take us to some raggedy place, but I like this." 

We've got this.

Short term sacrifice equals long term rewards... That's how my mathematician husband puts this journey into perspective.  I, on the other hand, tried to relate it to being in college- and my best friend oh so politely said, "Yep, have fun in college with three kids!" Ha!

When we were packing, we filled our garage not once, but twice with things to donate.  I would look at it and realize- Life is full of stuff.  Look around, it's all just things and stuff.  Stuff that I somehow easily get caught up on.  And then you have a yard sale and realize even more that at the end of the day, things that were once precious to you are really just stuff.

Ya know, like Christmas presents you searched high and low for for the kids and they sit in piles in the garage and they don't say one word about them going to the trash.  Or your piles of Vera Bradley that you just had to have every time a new pattern came out... and you give them away.  Stuff, stuff, stuff. 

Living in the apartment, we have what ya need.  Pots, pans, beds, clothing, food.  No frills.  This OCD Mama is letting the kids have stuffed animals on their beds, we have mismatched towels hung all over the bathroom, and we're drinking from our finest plastic cups.  And ya know what, we are a.o.k. 

Hell, Chris and Addie aren't even in a room.  Yep, we have a 2 bedroom with a loft.  One bedroom is filled top to bottom with storage... and we wanted to be on the same floor as the kids... so here's their new pad- that they share.:)

Welcome to the mudroom... AKA downstairs bath.  AKA outside storage area, AKA Brendan's uniform hub.  Yep, closet space is lacking, and we already received a citation for having something other than "patio furniture or flowers" on our deck... so we're making do.:)

 This is exactly what our kitchen looked like the first year we got married... almost 14 years ago!  Yep, same toaster, same set of knives... missing one or two. For years, these things have hidden in my cabinets because they didn't "look good" sitting out.  I'm letting go people, letting go.  For now, anyways.:)

Our bedroom, and Queen Elle's nursery... If she's upset, I'm only a toe away, I can almost touch her.:)  And she's sleeping like there hasn't been a change in the world. 
Sure, we've had some hiccups.  Yesterday, they tested the fire alarms all morning, we are right by the dumpster and on trash day, there is definitely a stench, and I'm still afraid someone is going to stab and kill me every time I run my bag of trash over there at night.  The washer and dryer are half the size of mine and sound like an airplane taking off... But ya know what, they do the job.
The kids have also have had a few first world problems..,. Like when Chris looked at me and seriously asked, "Really Mom, how am I supposed to get water?"  He was clearly dumbfounded the fridge doesn't have a water dispenser.  I gave him a quick lesson in how to turn on the spicket, and then realized... these kids don't know how good they have it.
So, our situation isn't ideal, but I'll keep it real for ya through this whole process.  At the end of the day, Home is where your heart is.  And I have mine all right here with me. In fact, this place is nice and I'm enjoying it... No yard work, if something breaks it's not my problem, and we won't be spending money on yet another "Shelley project." We just may be in college... so pray that I don't kill my roommates in the next six months.:)

Friday, May 2, 2014

What's the story, morning glory?

Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.  Yin and Yang.  Opposites attract.  Well, by golly, my hubby and I are overachievers.  Hot Damn!  I like to sleep in until noon, and he's up and at 'em before the roosters, I like to stay out and close the bar down, and he's ready to go at 10, I love clothes, and he's perfectly content wearing his t-shirts that are twenty years old and his dress-up Polo's still have Warthogs on them from Britches... which has been out of business for a decade, he's an extremely private person, and well, if ya read this blog, I guess you could say I'm not, I like it on top, and I know if I continue with that, that private person is not gonna be happy with me.:) 

As much as that man drives me crazy and gets on his my last nerve, I love him.  Forever. And he's stuck with me...  And I'm sure people are wondering "Why is that family moving when they love their house, their hood, the schools... sounds stupid, right?"  Don't worry, we think so too.

But ya see, my hubby is like Dave Ramsey on crack.  Over the years, I've learned that's a good thing.  No wait, that's a great thing- even if I might use the word tyrant when we're really having it out.:)  Unfortunately for him, that ultra saver and planner is married to a fly by the seat, let's home equity that bad boy and have a party, I'm gonna die if I don't get my plantation shutters kind of girl.  Yin and Yang I tell ya.:)

So, how do I write a blog about money without my best friend dialing me right up and calling me tacky, or my mother getting on my case?  Can I do this tactfully... I hope.:)

Ya see, if it weren't for the hubster, I'd be in debt.  But instead, I go to the grocery store on a "budget"- and yes, I've learned that Target is not a grocery store and everything in that store does not get to be filed under groceries on the hubby's little money tracker.  I am the queen of being in the McD's line pulling up my account on my phone and checking my balance to see if I have enough for my Sweet Tea, and more often than not, the hubby gives me a call because he received a "ding" to let me know I only have 17 cents in my account.  He knows me all too well.

Thankfully though, I have him looking out for us... and tracking every penny.  We have no debt, I'm convinced I'm going to be rich if I live long enough because he saves for retirement like no other, every month our credit cards are paid off, etc.... But things are expensive.   

One night, the hubz called me into the kitchen and said what he usually says... "I had to take money out of savings this month to pay the bills." Dag.  It wasn't like this a few years ago-  but add the cost of propane, kids that are now in activities, another baby, higher insurance, and our budget has gone up so much.  And we look at things and there's nothing we can cut.  Sure, he suggested we cut cable and watch TV on the internet and I might have snapped like he asked me to give up my kidney, but its all good.  And then he said it, "we're living above our means right now."  And I knew, with my hubby, things were going to need to change. Shit.

Sure, we could live here for years and keep dipping into savings a little every month, but the fact of the matter is that we are on the verge of braces, we have another baby that will need a preschool payment, and a car for our first born isn't too far away.  Things are just going to keep going up.

So, we decided to sell our house.  The one that we love.  Ok, maybe it wasn't a decision that we made in a hot second.  Sure, I could go back to work, but I'm lazy as shit.  And we might have a hundred other reasons why that's not an option, but that was out.  We could move into a townhome- and while that crossed our minds because there comes a point when you are just over a big home and you envy those that live in a townhouse and live life doing things, when we looked, we decided prices are high now, we'd be paying market price, and that's almost what we paid for the house we're in.  We considered Winchester and were convinced that was the solution.  We could get away from the rat race of Nova, save a ton on taxes, and call it our home.  But after a few trips out there, that was scratched, because let's face it- Loudoun is my home- and as my brother and mother would quickly tell you "I'd get out there and hate it."   And then we talked about how building on land has always been our dream... let's just move that timeline up, use the equity from our home sale to buy a lot, and do it.  Fingers crossed it works out... 

And the next time on a real housewife of Loudoun County... watch Shelley go bat shit crazy as she tries to deal with a move...