Friday, November 14, 2014

7 Quick Takes-Shake It Off

1.  Over the past three weeks, I've heard Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off" approximately 135 times. Tony and Alessandra have decided that this particular song was meant for them, and it MUST be played whilst driving, first thing in the morning before Mama has her coffee, while they're "helping" me make dinner, and after nap time. I have to admit, it's a catchy tune, but at this point, I can feel my right eye twitching when I hear the first few notes of the song.

2. On the other hand, I have to give Taylor Swift credit. Tony and Alessandra can be in the absolute worst possible mood, and all I have to do is turn on my iPod, put the song on, and they're out on the dance kitchen floor, shakin' it like nobody's business. They're like, "well, today sucks and everything sucks and we're going to make everyone around us miserable and HEY THAT'S MY JAM!! Watch me shake it off!"

3. Speaking of Apple products, my birthday present from Will arrived a few weeks ago! A brand spankin' new iPad2. It is glorious. I am in love.

4. Will is in the field until Monday evening, so I've been a) trying to keep the kids as occupied as possible, so they won't be too upset by Will's absence to take it out on me, and b) saying lots of prayers that my back won't give out on me. I saw my ortho surgeon earlier this week, and while I can tell he's leaning towards spinal fusion surgery, he's going to run a few tests (blood work, bone scan, and something called a discogram, which makes me think of a bunch of people in bell bottoms standing on my front porch singing "Stayin' Alive." Anyway. Carry on). Soooooo still kind of in limbo, but unfortunately still in pain.

5. If anyone wants to break into my home and steal our remaining Halloween candy, I would be very grateful. If you let me know in advance, I'll even leave the door unlocked for you.

6. I was wondering if Facebook and Instagram could clear something up for me. I know that these two social media powerhouses don't hesitate to ban even the slightest suggestion of a mother breastfeeding her child, but despite the claim that Kim Kardashian broke the internet, I'm still seeing pictures of her ample (I'm being nice), or photoshopped (not so nice) "I just took a bath in olive oil" derriere all over my news feed.

7. I know, I know. Haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate.

(I'll show myself out now).

For more Quick Takes, visit Jen at Conversion Diary!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Jumping on the Jamberry Wagon

  So, Jamberry Nails.

  If you're on Facebook, or Instagram, or social media of any kind, chances are you're familiar with the Jamberry obsession that has hit everyone with the X-chromosome. I have at least eight friends on my Facebook page who are JB consultants, but I was resistant to the idea for a long time. Why? Glad you asked. Allow me to explain:

1. The process looked really, really complicated. I don't do complicated. Plus, I remembered those stick-on, press-on nails I used when I was in elementary school, and the results were dismal, to say the least.

2. While I thought some of the designs JB advertised were cute, I thought some of them were more appropriate for a 12-year old girl (ex. the turkey nails for Thanksgiving), than a newly 33-year old mom.

3. I have fairly short nails. Being a violinist since the ripe old age of six meant that I was allowed to have long-fake-nails for high school dances and my wedding. That was pretty much it. Even though I don't play as much as I should, I'm uncomfortable with even slightly long nails, and I tend to think that bright nail colors and designs look odd on short nails.

4. I'm cheap.

5. I'm lazy.

  I eventually visited the main JB website, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I really did like a lot of the designs and colors. There are some beautiful glittery, sparkly nail sheets (all the ladies out there who hate trying to remove glitter nail polish...can I get an AMEN???!!), cute designs that weren't too over the top, and a helpful instructional video for all of us in the back row who tend to screw up any type of beauty application. Something else that caught my eye was the lasting length of the nail wraps. I rarely go to salons to get mani/pedis anymore, because as I already mentioned, I'm cheap, plus within one or two days of getting a manicure, the polish is chipped and it looks like butt. What's the point of spending upwards of $30 if you can't even get something that lasts beyond a week? Slowly but surely, I was warming up to the idea of JB, but still not completely ready to take the plunge.

  A month or two ago, my friend Shaunacey became a JB consultant. She offered a free half sheet of wraps for anyone who was willing to write a review, so I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to set aside my fear of anything related to beauty products  hesitation. I won't lie, I was a little bit intimidated when I opened up the package from Shaunacey. She suggested I watch the instructional video on the JB website before attempting the process (no worries there, sister!). I was fully expecting for the filing, buffing, applying, blow-drying, and shaping to take well over an hour, but I'm happy to report I was done in less than 30 minutes. I imagine once you get used to the whole process, it will take even less time. Here are the pros:

1. It really isn't that hard. Trust me, if I can do it, anyone can do it.
Beginning the harrowing ordeal...

Success! Now to trim and file that bad boy.

1 nail done, only 9 to go!
2. I really liked the nail wraps Shaunacey sent to me. They were cute and fun, but not too loud for my taste.

3. If you screw up a nail, it really isn't that noticeable. If you're painting your nails and you accidentally brush polish on your finger or over the nail, you're going to be cleaning that up for a while. 

The Cons:

1. It was slightly awkward trying to manage the application of the wrap with the orangewood stick, all while trying to blow dry the wrap. (However, I imagine it's much easier if you have the JB portable mini-heater). 

2. I had somewhat of a difficult time applying the wraps on my dominant hand. I'm a righty, so trying to apply and trim the excess wrap off of my nails on my right hand was definitely kind of a challenge.

3. Every two minutes Will would look up from what he was doing, and remark, "Man, I'm glad guys aren't expected to do stuff like this." Okay, so that had nothing to do with the wraps, but I felt obligated to add it. 

However, the end result was totally worth it. Even Will looked surprised, and told me my nails were "very pretty." Coming from an Army guy who spends day after day in the field on a tank...that's a compliment of the highest order.

  So, I think it's safe to say JB has a positive vote from the Tenney household, and I'd like to thank my friend for giving me the opportunity to finally give it a try. If you're interested in trying JB but don't know where to start, visit Shaunacey's page here. The JB wraps are always "buy 3 sheets, get 1 free!" and they can be ordered from anywhere in the US or Canada.

*Other than the free half sheet of nails, I did not receive any compensation for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

7 Quick Takes-Happy Birthday to Me!

1, Today is my 33rd go-round on this planet, and I have to say, I don't feel any different. Not any older. Certainly not more mature. My birthday experience was already enhanced by a 6:40am text from my father, not only wishing me a happy birthday, but informing me that there was snow up at the cabin in Wisconsin. Sigh.

2. I received a package from my parents yesterday with these delightful, beautifully decorated sugar cookies from a bakery in Milwaukee. So much deliciousness all in one box.

3. My super awesome husband bought me the iPad Air 2, and I am beyond thrilled. Unfortunately the iPad had to make some kind of detour to Korea, so tragically I will not be receiving it on my birthday. 

4. Tonight is a first for all of us; our very first time trick-or-treating on a military base. Being the lazy thrifty woman that I am, I will be purchasing bags of candy from Target this afternoon, in hopes of massive discounts. You have to figure, if you wait until the day of Halloween to buy candy, they're already trying to make way for Christmas decorations, right? 

5. In addition to the tasty Halloween cookies, my parents also combined their miles and got me a round-trip ticket to Milwaukee this upcoming week. For two days. Since my back pain has gone from bad to worse, I'm seeing a neurospinal surgeon in Milwaukee for a consult/second opinion. My doctor here in Georgia suggested spinal fusion surgery, and I wanted to make the rounds (so to speak) before scheduling anything that drastic. So if you have any prayers to spare, I would greatly appreciate them.

6. In costume news, Tony is going to be a "inja turtle" (Michelangelo), and Alessandra is going to be a spider. Wrestling a fussy, already-sugared-up toddler into a costume with multiple legs attached to the body? Yeah, that's going to go well.

7. I received a birthday card from Will and the kids this morning, and it was one of the best presents ever. Seriously, nothing makes me happier than hand-written cards from my loved ones. When Will asked Tony what he wanted to write in my birthday card, Tony's response was, "Should I have some birthday cake?" Alessandra's response was to slap the card out of Will's hand, and to dump her lunch all over herself. 

That's love, baby. 

Happy Halloween! For more Quick Takes, visit Jen at Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Dream Home

  Having gone through this whole, "Let's pack up all our worldly belongings every two years and move across the world/country!" thing a few times now, I've done some serious reflecting on our next home in Colorado. I've heard from multiple sources that on-base housing isn't really all that great, but there are many beautiful, spacious homes within our budget that are always available for rent in the area. Since 2005, I've dealt with everything in our living quarters from:

a. Teeny, tiny, poorly designed kitchens.
b. Appliances from the 1970's.
c. Linoleum floors that looked filthy, even when they were clean.
d. A duplex where we actually had to walk outside, then go down two flights of stairs to get to the basement (i.e family room).
e. No air conditioning or screens on the windows (I'm looking at you, Germany).
f. No closets in the bedrooms *cough cough Germany again*.
g. A million different windows, rendering all of my previous window treatments and hardware completely useless.

  Therefore, I now have a pretty good idea of what I wish for, nay, what I require in what will eventually be our new home in Colorado Springs, CO. Mock me if you wish, but my requirements include the following:

a. A big kitchen with lots of counter space, cabinets, and relatively new appliances. Sorry, but I am so DONE with crappy kitchens, especially considering all the cooking and baking I do.
b. A walk-in closet in the master bedroom. Between all of my clothes, shoes, Will's clothes AND his Army getup, tiny closets no longer suffice.
c. A storage area/attic.
d. Fenced in backyard, for both the kids and the dog.
e. And, most importantly...a finished basement.

  Why a finished basement, you ask? Because despite my best efforts to keep Tony and Alessandra's toys confined to their respective rooms, every single day I find toys everywhere. Legos on the kitchen floor. Baby dolls on the living room couches. Thomas the Train puzzle pieces underneath the dining room table. Monster trucks in the bathroom. Bath toys in OUR bedroom. It's ridiculous. I've had many a fantasy of gathering up all the toys in the house, and throwing them down the stairs, one by one. Unfortunately, we live in a 1950's ranch style home, and we don't have a basement. Now, just to show you that this is really about making a special play room for my children, and not me being "Mom Who Wants to Erase Any Evidence That Children Live In Our Home," let me assure you that I plan on rocking this finished basement. It will be the playroom to end all playrooms. I even have a Pinterest board dedicated to my children's Heavenly Playroom. I've been dreaming of a reading corner (complete with beanbag chairs, and framed photos on the wall of cover pages from beloved childhood books), an imagination area with a play kitchen, a Fisher Price home, a Little Tykes tool shed, an area with building blocks, an "art" corner with an easel and paints, a little slide with gym's going to be amazing. Epic. Every kid in the neighborhood will want to come over and play, and I'll even get one of those video monitors (massively discounted at a consignment store, naturally), so we moms can sit upstairs, chatting over wine and cheese while keeping a watchful eye on our darling children playing happily downstairs. I have visions of this:
One day, I will win the lottery and buy everything in a Pottery Barn catalog.

Or this:

Or this:

Buuuuuuut I think it's safe to say we all know how our playroom will look after approximately 30 minutes with my children.
And this is on a good day.
  Yeah. I am demanding a finished basement because I'm tired of stepping on Legos (those things hurt like a beeyotch, in case you haven't had the pleasure), but perhaps I should adjust my expectations a bit, hmm?

Friday, October 10, 2014

7 Quick Takes-A Blessing and a Curse

1. Sooooo does everyone remember when I wrote this post last month? I had a lot of hope that the epidural injection would work for my back, and I would be able to live-relatively-pain free?

  Yeah. It didn't work.

2. Well, I take it back. It sort of took the edge off my pain for about a week and a half, and then my back went back to normal. And by "normal," I mean, "worse than ever." It got so bad one night that I started having spasms, and I was shaking and crying. Will was trying to get ready to go to the field for a 4-day stint, and he was in a complete panic. He ended up calling his commander the next morning (because my back was still in really bad shape), and told the commander what was going on, and explained that he couldn't leave me with two small children when I was having all these health issues. The commander, bless his heart, was very understanding, and he told Will he could withdrawal from this month-long course with no negative consequences, and he could re-enroll next month. This rarely happens in the military, and I am beyond grateful. So, while I am once again trying to make appointments with my specialist, and get some extra pain medication, at least I can take comfort in the fact that my husband is home with us for the entire month to give me a hand with the kids.

3. Speaking of kids, last weekend (yes, riding high on pain pills), Will and I took Tony and Alessandra to a pumpkin patch. I was quite impressed; free admission, $3 hayrides, and reasonable priced pumpkins. The kids had a blast, and someone we managed to convince Tony that the $6/person bouncy castle was really very boring, and he would have a much better time at Monkey Joe's. Don't get me wrong, I think bouncy castles were one of the greatest inventions of all time, but $6 for one kid to bounce around in a mediocre castle?
Proud owners of pumpkins that we will promptly forget to carve and decorate for at least another week.

4. It's October 10, and it's been in the upper 80's/low 90's all week. Not cool, Georgia. This is Fall. FALL. What's next, shorts and tank tops on Christmas Day?

5. Tony is completely daytime potty trained (finally, thank you Lord). Nighttime? Not even close. He's still wearing a pull-up, or I would be washing sheets and blankets every single morning. Parents, when did your children get the hang of NOT peeing themselves at night? I'm a desperate woman.

6. I have been binge-watching season 3 of Call the Midwife on Netflix. It's turned me into a blubbering, emotional mess.

7.  In the midst of everything that's going on with me, health-wise, I am incredibly thankful that I have never had to experience the heartache that this family is going through. I can't imagine losing one of my precious babies, and I am in awe of their courage and faithfulness. Please pray for them.

For more Quick Takes, visit Jen at Conversion Diary!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

My Favorite Blog Posts (and Bloggers)

  So, I know this is kind of  a lame idea for a blog post, but it's been a rough week(s), with my back pain, day-to-day Army life, and preparing for the holidays. Well, preparing for the holidays is actually pretty fun, especially with little kids, so I suppose I can take that off my "things that are stressing me out right now" list. In any case, I wanted to share some of my all-time favorite blog posts, by my all-time favorite bloggers. There's really no rhyme or reason to any of these posts; some of these bloggers were huge inspirations to me when I was really discovering the beauty of our Catholic faith, some I found purely by accident and I was drawn in by their writing, and some I just read whenever I need to laugh hysterically (in the privacy of my own home, of course. I wouldn't suggest reading some of these blogs at, say, a cocktail lounge at an airport). Some are serious, and some are light-hearted. I'm sure all of these bloggers appreciate the extra clicks, so if you're as impressed as I am by their writing, by all means, spread the word.

1. Jennifer Fulwiler, at Conversion Diary

  For those of you who have been reading my blog for at least a year, you know that I've referenced Jennifer and her posts many, many times. She's an atheist to Catholic convert, and so many times I've read her blog posts thinking, "She said exactly what I want to say...only she said it much more eloquently than I ever could have." Jennifer has a wonderful way of finding humor in everyday things, while maintaining her faith-and sanity-while raising and homeschooling six children in Austin, TX. The following are my favorite posts of hers; a mix of hilarious and thought-provoking.

a. Buying a Cookie at Whole Foods-An Epic Voyage
b. How I Became Pro-Life (which is pretty much my experience, word-for-word. I found myself nodding my head when I read this blog post for the first time, knowing that I would never be able to write about my own pro-life conversion as well as she did).
c. My Answer to "Do you want more children?" (Yep. Again, word-for-word).
d. Notes from beneath the veil A wonderful post on the beauty of veiling. Complete with laughs!

2.  Dwija Borobia at House Unseen, Life Unscripted

  I love Dwija (which sounds weird, considering I've never met her, and even though we follow each other on Instagram, I'm 99.999% sure she couldn't pick me up out of a lineup). But I digress. Dwija has a very interesting story; she was raised as a Hare Krishna, and spent her childhood moving from place to place. She converted to Catholicism when she was in college, got married, and she and her husband purchased a house sight unseen (yes, the title...get it?) off the internet in Michigan, and moved their family out there. She's written many wonderful blog posts, but this one is my favorite.

Why I Stopped Not Caring and Started Wearing Concealer

  This is a wonderful reminder for someone like me, who, umm, on occasion *cough cough* bums around the house, makeup-less, clad in yoga pants and a tank top, because who do I have to impress?

  Oh yeah..just my family.

3. Libby Anne at Love, Joy, Feminism

  I found Libby Anne's blog a few years ago, after reading one of her posts about the Duggar family. She was raised in a fundamentalist Evangelical home (of the "Quiverful" variety), and she turned away from her parents' teachings and her religion once she went to college. She is now an atheist, and she is married with two children. I was fascinated by her story; growing up in a fairly ordinary Protestant home, I never knew that sects like this even existed. The Duggar family was unheard of when I was in high school, and the only people I knew who had large families were either Catholic or Mormon. I'm only linking the intro to her story, but I would encourage everyone to read all ten parts. It's truly eye-opening, and I give Libby Anne (not her real name, by the way-she writes under a pseudonym, lest her parents discover her blog and forbid contact with her younger siblings) lots of credit for her bravery in sharing her story.

The Beautiful Girlhood Doll

4. Anne at We Make This Look Good

  Like Jennifer, Anne is one of my all-time favorite bloggers. I discovered her blog when I was slowly making the transition from "food blogger" to "Catholic crunchy military still foodie mama blogger," and I was so inspired by her deep devotion to Catholicism and her family. She's an excellent writer, and I really consider her a role model of sorts (in a completely non-creepy, internet stranger way). Her daughter Gianna was born with a profound hearing loss, and after learning ASL and transitioning her to a school for the deaf, Gianna had cochlear implant surgery. Their second daughter, Pia, was born deaf as well (their son Dominic was not), and shortly after Pia's surgery, a doctor called them with troublesome news about their daughters' conditions. I'll let you read more here.

a. The Swing of Things
b. Operation Contain and Placate: Addendum (because you will need a funny post after the heaviness of the first).

5. Jen at People I Want to Punch in the Throat

  Warning: do not read Jen's blog if you are easily offended. Or you can't handle swearing. There, I warned you. I'm sure many of you have read her Elf on the Shelf post (yes, I'll add the link, because it's my all-time favorite) that appeared on a bunch of Facebook news feeds a few years back. Since then, she's written posts about annoying and entitled celebrities, parents who let their kids run the house, over-the-top kids birthday parties, you name it. I recommend her blog whenever you need a good laugh. Or to remind yourself that there are some seriously insane people in this world, and thank you sweet baby Jesus I'm not one of them.

Over Achieving Elf on the Shelf Mommies

  I will be back tomorrow to participate in the 7 Quick Takes, which I've neglected for a few weeks now. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy these blog posts. If you have any more blog suggestions (and yes, feel free to add your own. No shame in self-promotion!), leave a comment.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Mornings Gone Awry

  So, anyone out there feeling guilty about mornings with their children? Maybe you didn't get a chance to have your coffee,and you were unable to form a non-snarky response when your husband asked you what you were making for breakfast. Maybe you woke up with ambitious plans to make a healthy breakfast for everyone, get a load of laundry going, get dressed in something other than yesterday's yoga pants and a ratty t-shirt, and get everyone out the door in record time, only to discover that both your preschooler and toddler wet their respective beds? Or maybe you just reeeeeeallly wanted an extra 45 minutes to sleep, but the dog decided 5:30am was a fantastic time to start howling at the top of his lungs?

  Don't worry. I'm here to make you feel better about yourselves.

  For the past 8 days, my mom has stayed with us while Will was in the field for an extended period of time. This was exceptionally fortuitous, as I had my very first epidural injection in my back on Monday and I was more or less useless for the next two days. Nanas are awesome; they get up with the kids so you can sleep in, do laundry, mop the kitchen floor, and put the Thomas the Train puzzle together overandoverandover again with your 3-year old whilst you are confined to your bed. Unfortunately, my mom had to return to Wisconsin yesterday. So...this morning. Exhibit A:
Alessandra "dismantling" Will's Monty Python's Flying Circus collection. Papa's gonna love this. 

Exhibit B: So, um, I should probably go to the grocery store at some point.
I'm sure there's a ton of recipes out there involving 1/2 can of pumpkin, fresh mushrooms, filtered water, 2 English muffins, Costco organic strawberry jam, crumbled feta cheese and butter! Don't sell yourself short!

Never fear, though. This guy is on the job.
Toddler fashion: Will's hat, my sunglasses, Nana's flip flops.
  It doesn't help that I started writing this blog post a week ago, and I had a to take an 8-day break because I was distracted during the writing process. And by "distracted," I mean Alessandra straight up destroyed the $50 blinds in Tony's room.

  Speaking of things being destroyed, Tony has an imaginary friend. His friend's name is "Histins." I have absolutely no idea where Tony came up with that name, but trust me, it's the least of my concerns. Now, I'm not concerned about the imaginary friend part. Pretty much every child psychologist in the world is quick to reassure worried parents that an imaginary friend is completely normal. The troublesome part is that Histins appears to be Tony's evil twin. For example, a few months ago I was irritated at Tony. His room was a disaster, and I told him we couldn't go to the park until he straightened it up a bit. He pouted, but got to work with putting the toys and books away. A few minutes later, I returned to his room, only to find a greater mess than before. I told Tony, once again, that a trip to the park was not in the cards until I could see a clear path on his bedroom floor. In exasperation, Tony said, "I did clean up my room, but Histins messed it up again!" Hmmm. Since that day...

Someone peed on the floor? Histins.
Milk knocked over? Histins.
A loud crash from a room other than the one I'm in at the moment? "Histins did it, Mama!"

*A disclaimer, if you will. Lest anyone believe that I'm a tyrannical parent who loses her mind over spilled milk, a potty accident or a cluttered room, rest assured I'm not. I don't freak out over typical preschooler antics; I'm more the eye rolling, okay-let's-try-this-again-and-get-this-show-on-the-road type of mom. So, I sincerely doubt that Histins was created out of some bizarre childhood trauma.

  So, initially Histins was nothing more than a joke between Will and I. ("Will, did you seriously forget to take the trash out again?" "Of course I did! Histins took it away from the curb!"). That was, until the day Tony said this:

Me: *enters Tony's room, sighs audibly upon seeing dirty clothes tossed out of the hamper and thrown haphazardly around the room* "Tony, what have I told you about taking dirty clothes out of the hamper?"

Tony: "Histins did it, Mama!"

Me: *impatient now* "Yeah, yeah, well, tell Histins Mama has enough cleaning and laundry to do without him adding to my workload."

Tony: "He heard you, Mama. Histins is standing right next to you."


  I dare say, we may be in need of an exorcist around here.