Monday, March 29, 2010

Finished! Ottoman slipcover for the playroom

Ok my funk is over and I actually have something to show you today! Remember this? Ugh. The couch and ottoman my kids managed to destroy in the 7 years it's been in the house?

There, that's better!

My lovely new view walking into the playroom :) I would love to say I made the slipcover for the couch, but I didn't. I have Pottery Barn and their January sale to thank for that. I did however make the ottoman cover to match, and the six pillow envelopes! It only took me 2 months to pull that off. I have no idea where the days go.

I didn't really have a pattern for the ottoman cover, I started by making the skirt for it, by copying the box pleats on the couch. All seams are hidden inside the pleats. I should have started with the top first, as I ended up having to adjust the pleats on the short sides of the ottoman. For the pillow covers I turned to Google & found directions for 'envelope pillow covers'. Easy! And I am so glad I did NOT attempt to reupholster the thing, as I can only imagine how awful that would have been, all torn up for months on end making me crazy. My mom swears the PB slipcovers wash up beautifully, hopefully she's right - I do love the cream down there (sorry for the awful pictures, it's a narrow room with low ceilings and no natural light, and professional photog I am not!)

My next project is to turn this

into two of these

Clicky the link for pattern info

in time for the girls to wear them for Easter. Can Harried Mom do it? Time will tell - I've started the blue one for Evie & the pattern says 2-3 hours work time. Stay tuned!

While I have you here, let me share with you what William has been doing all week: playing Wii fit. He's been getting up at a little after 6 every morning and playing all the different games all week long. I guess I don't really have a huge problem with it, as it is an active video game. Or maybe I'm just too lazy to care? Anyway - he was doing this bird flying-thing, and it was really cracking me up to watch him lean this way and that while flapping his arms :)

Happy Monday and I hope you all have a fantastic week!

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Maybe it's the weather. Maybe it's the two small people bickering all day. Maybe it's the fear that our country is going to hell in a handbasket - or at least toward financial ruin -but whatever it is, I'm in a funk :(

I'm sure this has something to do with it - last spring the hard drive on my PC crashed. Knowing that this would cost several hundred dollars if not more to recover, we stuck it in a ziploc bag and sort of forgot about it for a while. Then the new year came, and thoughts of tax time brought it back into the forefront - our electronic returns are on there for the last two years and I really didn't want to have to start from scratch. Mind you, also on there were ALL of our pictures from 2008 (pretty much all of Jason's first year of life) and early 2009, which were not backed up anywhere. I had sort of put this out of my mind, thinking that surely they were recoverable. Forensic experts can recover things from fire and water damage, right? Surely this was just a mechanical problem that needed to be corrected and all the data was still there.

So, we not-so merrily shipped it off last month for recovery and paid the $200 they wanted in advance because it had been opened (don't EVER open them - automatic $200 charge!). After some analysis they called about 3 weeks ago with an estimate, and the discouraging news that it was 'unlikely' they would be able to recover anything. I think I cried for hours.

We told them to go ahead and try, because if they didn't get anything we wouldn't owe anything beyond the $200, and in the meantime I emailed my dad thanking him for always going on vacation with us and sharing his pictures - at least I had SOMETHING.

He emailed me back with something I had forgotten, he'd visited us for Jason's baptism, Father's day and Halloween that year and actually had CD's of OUR pictures - hallelujah! All was not lost. I think I had copies of the discs in my hand 3 days later, because my dad rocks and is just awesome like that. Anyway.

Yesterday afternoon I received this lovely note via email:


We have completed the diagnosis of your hard drive. Your drive was evaluated in our lab where we were unable to read any data from the drive surface. There was an internal mechanical alignment problem which partially contributed to a head crash destroying part of the storage media. This occurs when an actuator arm or read/write head comes into physical contact with the surface of the platter(s). The head digs into the platter(s) damaging itself and also removing small pieces of the media where the data is stored. As the platter spins, magnetic debris from the crashes are often scattered to other surfaces, which in turn causes more media damage (a magnetic snowball effect). Unfortunately due to the type and extent of this damage the data is unrecoverable.

(Sigh) The tears started rolling again. Because while I am so eternally grateful to have some of the pictures I'd thought were lost, I'm missing so much - all the early pictures from January to April 2008 when Jason was so very little; William's 5th birthday at home; Evie's 7th birthday party and home celebration; Jason's 1st birthday (this is the one that's REALLY killing me.)

I've spent today downloading the very few pictures I had posted to Facebook (thankfully, you only really share good ones) and I just looked back at the pictures from my blog and am so very thankful that there are some good ones there I can download too.

My next plan of attack is to get our videotape digital somehow and try to get screenshots. While we don't do a lot of video, one thing we've always done is the kids' birthdays. Wish me luck.

So that's a lot of words to say I'm in a funk. I really hope to get out of this soon because I'm not really getting much done - although I have crossed one thing off my list thanks to Matt keeping the kids out of my hair for a few hours on Tuesday - I'll share that in my next post! :)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Fungus, Rocks and Grass = Bread!

Friday afternoon the Kindergarten at William's school took a 'trip' to the multipurpose room to make bread! Sort of an indoor field trip, each student paired up with a partner to make bread dough, and I was lucky enough to be able to spend the afternoon with them.

It was a really well organized event - as the kids arrived, they sat at prepared tables covered in craft paper & set up with a mixing bowl, wooden stirrers, and yeast. Each child was either a 'blue' or 'red' baker, and took turns adding various ingredients with the help of parents. The kids learned that bread was made from things like fungus, rocks, grass and bug goo (or in our world, yeast, salt, flour, and honey.) Everyone really had a great time playing with the dough, and when it was all said and done each child had a pan of dough to take home for baking.

Holy cow you should have seen all the flour that was on the floor when this was all said and done. I think I spent a good 20 minutes sweeping to help clean up.

Friday afternoon we baked our bread, and the next day we all had some with lunch. It was really surprisingly good! I always thought making bread by hand was a tricky undertaking, and somewhat unforgiving - but after seeing a roomful of 5 and 6 year-olds tossing their dough around I'm a bit more encouraged to give it a shot. This was certainly tastier than anything I've been able to get out of my bread machine, it was really very soft & edible. Jason actually ate his, instead of tossing it on the floor like he usually does.

Go to for more information on this fun event!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Marking Time

I was a band geek. Well maybe not geek. I don't know, maybe I was a geek. Anyway, I was in the band in high school, concert and marching. If you don't know, marching bands do what's called marking time, where you just stand in one spot and wait, lifting your heels up and down, until it's your turn to move, either the parade gets going again or you're supposed to move to your next formation on the football field.

I feel like I'm in the band all over again, marking time, waiting to move on to my next spot. Not that this is a bad thing, and I can actually see the parade ahead of me starting to move - but I'm still standing in one spot, waiting.

I'm waiting for Jason and Sarah to give up the diapers. At this point I think Jason may actually do this first. Not that Sarah can't, Sarah doesn't want to. So we wait.

I'm waiting for the day when mealtime is less 'sit up to the table', 'don't touch your brother/sister', stop saying 'nipple' and more 'tell me about your day'. I think I may be waiting a long time for this one - I remember meals at our house and us laughing and my parents getting really irritated...

I'm waiting for the day that I don't need to harp on small people to complete their tasks. Or is this what being a parent is all about? Am I expecting too much from my 8 year old?

We're waiting for the little people to be big enough to get out and do family things without too much of a meltdown/need for naps daily. Damn all you people and your Disney trips, now I have Disney fever!

I don't want to wish away my kids' childhood, but honestly having four so close together is an awful lot of work and each day feels like running on a gopher wheel - I'm running and running and running, and not really getting anywhere. However - I know that in four short years Jason will be starting Kindergarten and I will have seven whole hours to myself every day to wonder where the time went and how my kids got so big so fast, while I wait for them to come home...

Monday, March 15, 2010

It's Begun! Bathroom Remodel Part 1 - Pocket Door

10 months or so ago I posted about our desire to redo our master bathroom and I'm happy to say that we've (or rather, Matt) started it! After we went to Bedford Springs resort last May we both really wanted to rip out our builder's basic bath and remake it to our taste. Here's some pictures that we're drawing inspiration from:

Guest bath at Bedford Springs Resort

Featured bath from TOH September 2006

Victorian-style vanity from I have no idea where

The first step in this process is the 'water closet' or the toilet 'room'. This is a dark little room with nothing in it but a light fixture and the toilet. Seriously. The floor plan (below, I had to reverse it to give you our 'as built' plan) shows a window and a linen closet in this room, as well as a swinging door. We only had the door, which would completely block access to any storage cabinet. I also just noticed, the toilet in the plan was toward the inside of the house. Ours in on the outside wall; consequently, sometimes in the winter when it's really cold and windy the pipes freeze and it won't flush. Lovely. (The shower drain also freezes, we are really looking forward to fixing THAT problem!)
Home of future pocket door

Home of future window

Home of future storage cabinet

Some pictures of the rest of the bathroom - our eventual goal is to replace the tile, install a tile shower, replace the vanity, lighting, etc.

Saturday morning Matt removed the original door to the water closet & cut into the drywall to install the pocket door kit. Pocket doors are SO under utilized. I know they're a pain for builders to install, but they save so much space! Anyway.

New header and studs installed.
The door (10-light french door!) is currently being painted,
hopefully for installation by this weekend.

And of course, no project is complete without small people watching and 'helping'. Or in this case, seeing how tall Sarah is :)

I can't tell you how excited I am that this project has actually been started! We've been talking about it for almost a year, and it will probably take that long to get finished, but I'm ok with that as long as there's somewhat steady progress. I've discovered this weekend, much to Matt's dismay, that I really really really like tearing apart the house and changing it :) Now to figure out how to make some money doing that...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

People of Freecycle

First let me say that I love Freecycle. Not so much for getting free stuff for myself, but for getting things out of my house without resorting to the dump. That said, it would be nice if the people using it were a little more, I don't know, mannerly? Or am I crazy here?

Yesterday morning I posted a listing for a hamster cage. Evie got a hamster back in January and the cage we were sold was just too small for her so this weekend she moved into a sweet new pad. Rather than hanging on to a used cage until our spring yard sale, I thought maybe someone could use it. Here were some of the replies - names have been changed to protect the ignorant.

RE: [WinchesterVAFreecycle] Offer: Hamster or gerbil cage, 2 months old - Berryville
Wednesday, March 10, 2010 11:06 AM
To: girlyshappymom at yahoo dot com

I want it i live n berryville also

Hmm, Edna 'wants' it, but can't write a complete sentence or use punctuation. Next!

Re: [WinchesterVAFreecycle] Offer: Hamster or gerbil cage, 2 months old - Berryville

Wednesday, March 10, 2010 11:07 AM
To: girlyshappymom at yahoo dot com

Do you still have this can pick up today

At least this one politely asked if it was still available; I contacted her about picking it up, but apparently yesterday was NOT good, and she wants to know if Saturday is ok now. And still no punctuation. Moving along.

Re: [WinchesterVAFreecycle] Offer: Hamster or gerbil cage, 2 months old - Berryville

Wednesday, March 10, 2010 1:27 PM
To: Jennifer girlyshappymom at yahoo dot com

We'll take it! We live in Winchester City. Could it be a porch pick up? Let me know. Thank you!!


I really wish I had waited and offered it to Kristi. Our local group encourages you to pick and choose who you'd like to give your item to, rather than doing 'first come, first served'. Oh well. Next!

Re: [WinchesterVAFreecycle] Offer: Hamster or gerbil cage, 2 months old - Berryville

Wednesday, March 10, 2010 7:59 PM
To: Jennifer girlyshappymom at yahoo dot com

hello, Im interested in your cage, do you still have it? also do you ever go to Bunkerhill? that's where my fiancee is at and she could maybe meet you somewhere in bunkerhill to pick up. thank you

Ok I left this person's email mostly intact because it scared the heck out of me - what is wrong with people?? Anyway - notice the lack of punctuation, capital letters, and the delivery request. I'm sorry, I don't ever go to Bunkerhill. Or bunkerhill. Whatever.

Maybe I'm expecting too much from people trolling Freecycle for free stuff, but a politely worded request in a complete sentence with punctuation goes a long way in my book and will move you to the top of the list. Just sayin'.....

Monday, March 8, 2010

Bright Lights, Big City - Stalking RPattz and the Remember Me Premiere

Pour yourself a cup of coffee, this is a LONG one!

Me, Kerri and Megan in the Big Apple!

Where has the week gone? I can't believe it's Sunday night already. Suffice it to say, there has been cleaning, running around, runny noses and bickering going on. That's where my week went! Anyway - if you read my last post, you know that I went to NYC on Monday March 1st with friends to attend the Remember Me premiere - Robert Pattinson's movie which opens on March 12th. Here are some numbers straight off to break it down - it's kind of amazing:

Total time we were gone: 33 hours
Travel time to/from Union Station: 3 hours
Travel time to NYC on the train: 6.5 hours
Time spent standing outside waiting/watching: 6.75 hours
Time spent sleeping: 5 hours

That totals about 21 hours. The other 12 hours were spent riding in cabs, waiting for trains, walking back and forth, and having dinner. We visited several Starbucks along the way, walked almost 4 miles, and had TONS of fun! It was like Girls Night Out on crack! Let me tell you all about it :)


Megan picked us up at 8:15 and we drove into DC to catch the 11am train to Manhattan. (Note to Union Station, please mark your parking lot better, it is NOT obvious at all!) The train trip took 3.25 hours & thanks to Kerri we were up-to-date on all the goings-on in New York related to the premiere. We were sad to hear that, because of limited space, you needed to have a wristband to be in the 'fan viewing areas'. We assumed they'd be all gone by the time we got there. While on the train, we made reservations for dinner at Carmine's, Megan's favorite restaurant (and may I just say, the iPhone ROCKS in situations like this? Truly amazing, the information readily available to you at any time, anywhere.)

We arrived at Penn Station at about 2:15 & asked the nice NYPD people where we could find a cab & they pointed us in the right direction. At this point I was trying to hold myself and my nerves together - I've only been to the city a few times, and only with either family, a school group, or most recently with Matt - 13 years ago. It was sort of overwhelming. Anyway. We cabbed it over to the hotel (Hilton New York on 6th Avenue), checked in, and then walked over to 58th Street to the Paris Theater to see what we could see.
Megan and I were looking around, checking out the area when eagle-eye Kerri spotted an official-looking person holding a bunch of blue wristbands - there were plenty of them left, however the only 'fan viewing area' or 'bin' as they were referred to was across the street from the theater - so off to our bin we went! At this point it was about 3:30; red carpet activity wasn't supposed to start until about 6:30 - we had a long COLD wait ahead of us.

I ran back to the hotel for gloves, hot hands, and some water & pretzels & by the time I got back our bin was starting to fill up.
Newly arrived in the BIN! Danny the security man took our picture for us.
Our view of the theater; white tent is the 'will call' area for people lucky enough to have tickets.We're standing to the side of the Crown Plaza hotel;
the red carpet area is across the street from us, as well as the theater.

Media gathered outside the theater before moving into the red carpet tent.Fox 5 news interviewing for their 11pm show

Around 5:30 pm security came over and said 'I'll take 20 people!' We weren't sure if we should go or not, being that we had prime spots at the front of our area and we'd been told Robert Pattinson might come over to say hello. In the end, we tried, but weren't quick enough. We consoled ourselves saying that we had no idea where they were going, but were bummed because we had lost our front row spots at the fence. Happily, not long after that he came back for 20 more - which, of course we jumped at. We couldn't believe it when he walked us over right outside the red carpet tent. Seriously, we were 2 feet away from the wall of the tent, on the back side.
My view to the right; we were across from all the press, at the end of the red carpet;
you can see the exit door behind the press; theater is across the street.

My view to the left. On the floor are cheat sheets so the celebrities know
who the heck they're being interviewed by :)

We were positively giddy at the point, as you can probably imagine. We had no idea we'd be able to get this close, especially after thinking we wouldn't be able to see much of anything. The plastic windows on the tent were a little annoying and difficult to get pictures through, but at that point it didn't matter - we were sure to see SOMETHING!

Around 6:30 people started to arrive, including Pierce Brosnan. Somehow we completely missed him, and I'm not sure how (I saw pictures later of him and there was a lady in the background I DID see, but not him, or his wife - he must have zipped through there). One of the early arrivals was Nick Osborne, the producer of the film, along with his parents. They were so sweet, his parents took pictures of us! They all looked so happy, and his parents were clearly so proud and thrilled for their son.
Another early arrival was Will Fetters, the writer, seen here with Tate Ellington who plays Rob's friend in the film. You can see that they could hear us yelling from outside :)
Now we couldn't see anyone arriving, but every so often we'd hear lots of cheering and all the flashbulbs would go off at the other end, telling us some VIP was arriving. Word got down that Rob and Emilie de Ravin had arrived so we started craning our necks trying to see whatever there was to see. Mind you, the more 'stars' arrived, the more handlers there were as well so it was hard to search all the faces looking for the familiar. Emilie had come down to our end & was interviewing across the way when I spotted Kristen Stewart walking through with Rob's agent, Stephanie. Can I just say - she is absolutely beautiful, and looked exactly like she does in her pictures. She looked very focused on just getting to where she was going, but it was REALLY exciting to see her! I tried to get a picture, but it happened so fast she was past us and gone before we knew it.
Just an idea of what we could/could not see
Emilie de Ravin talking with the press

And then - we saw him. Robert Pattinson! Mission accomplished, we did what we'd set out to do - a blurry picture of Rob, in person :)
This is Kerri's picture, mine didn't turn out. and honestly? I wish I hadn't even bothered trying to take one & just watched the moment unfold before me. In my mind it's such a blur, while I clearly remember seeing Kristen walking towards me. Anyway. He's tall, he's handsome, he looked happy! There was a young girl from our 'bin' who was standing in between the fence and the tent, probably so she didn't get crushed & Rob saw her and touched the plastic in front of her to say hello - very sweet :) And then, before you could blink, they were gone & it was over!

We walked over to the street in front of the theater and could just make out Rob signing autographs before heading in for the show, and at that point we realized how lucky we were to have been standing by the tent - if we hadn't moved, we wouldn't have seen ANYTHING and we certainly wouldn't have gotten an autograph because no one went over there. Fate! (Did I tell you our hotel was unknowingly only 4 blocks away?)

At this point we were famished and cold so we hoofed it back to the hotel, and then over to Carmine's on 44th street for dinner. We walked through Times Square, and tourists that we are, of course took pictures!
Dinner was absolutely fabulous, our waiter was superb, and we thoroughly enjoyed our meal while we recapped our fabulous day. After walking back to the hotel & deciding we'd try to get standby tickets to The View (Rob was to be interviewed), we crashed at 11:15.


Up at 5 am, checked out of the hotel by 6; we grabbed coffee from the Starbucks across the street (and I SWEAR, there is one on every block in NYC!) and grabbed a cab over to The View at ABC's studios on 66th Street. We were waiting in line at the cold dark hour of 6:30. There were 15 people ahead of us, the first ones having been on line since 4:30. Crazy.
At 8 am an intern from The View came out to hand out numbers to every one in line. We were instructed to go 'somewhere' and then report back at 9:30 to see if there were any available seats. We walked up to Broadway & got more coffee at yet another Starbucks, along with I think every other person trying to get standby tickets to a morning show in the city. Rumor has it that Steve Guttenberg was sitting there at the window. We didn't see him, so who knows?

At 9:30 we were back in line, waiting, when some of The View's staff came out & said they wanted to tape us for their 'cold opener'. Using a little flip recorder, they did two practice runs and then a final run of all of us chanting 'Pattinson' & finished up with a little schpiel said by one of the girls at the front of the line. Fun!

We waited and waited and waited, and while we were waiting, a group of people walked past us to enter the building & Kerri started quietly saying, 'that's Rob's parents! It's his parents!'

His dad is on the left; his sisters have long hair;
unidentified friend on the right.

At this point it was around 10am and taping was supposed to start at 11. We knew at this point that it didn't look good for us, but everyone was still hopeful. In the end, people who actually had tickets were turned away, and no one on standby got in - but we WERE on tv!
Screenshot courtesy of Matt - thanks hubby!

After that, we walked back up to Broadway, grabbed a cab back to the hotel to collect our luggage and head back to Penn Station. We caught the 11:30 train back to DC, and were home by 5:30 - only 12.5 short hours after we got up :)

If I were to do this again, I'd do a couple of things differently:

1) Go up the day/night before so as to be there early to get a better viewing spot at the premiere.
2) Bring a better camera. If I'd brought the good one, the flash wouldn't have bounced off the plastic tent so much.
2) Hit the Today show. Rob came out & signed autographs & one lady we met had terrific pictures, with no annoying tent in the way
3) Skip The View. The studio holds 189 people and they issue 300 tickets for every show. It's not uncommon for ticket holders to get turned away, and stand-bys rarely get in.

All in all we had a CRAZY AWESOME time and I'd do it again in a heart beat! Eclipse comes out in June - who's with me? :)

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