Thursday, October 28, 2010

40. I guess I should talk about it at least a little.

So I turned 40 on Tuesday. It kind of snuck up on me, but then my birthday always does. It's smashed in there between Evie's birthday and Halloween, and this year we threw in a fire pit and a cruise, just to mix things up a bit! Why not, right? Anywho.

My 30's were pretty good to me - I had four beautiful babies, we moved into our current home, and I have been able to stay home with the kids pretty much since Evie was born. 39 was a really good year - I stalked a celebrity, learned to ride a motorcycle, ran a half marathon, and just had a fabulous break from reality while sailing to the Bahamas. And my hubby made me a fire pit! Now that I'm 40, according to him, I'm about to fall apart :)
My very own birthday cake, baked by Matt. Candles courtesy of Laura!
I can't tell you the last time I had my own home-made birthday cake :)

I've been thinking about 40 for a while now - I don't think anyone who is approaching that particular number doesn't - and I didn't really think it would bother me - age is just a number and all that. Now that I'm here and get to greet that lovely 4-0 on the scale every morning (because I will continue to weigh myself every single blessed day no matter what the scale says, thank you very much, and the damn thing wants to know how OLD I am for some reason!!! and why am I not just lying about it, instead of changing the number every year???) along with my weight, I'm not so sure. It does feel kind of....well, old.

My parents were young when they started their family. I remember my mom turning 30. And then they were 40. I was in my 20's when my parents turned 50. I have a 3 year old. I'm thinking this may be a big deal! When Jason is 20 I will be 57 years old. Surely someone who qualifies for the AARP and Early Bird Specials shouldn't be worried about what their college-aged kids are doing, right? And why didn't I think of this sooner? lol! Matt and I went to see Sherlock Holmes last winter when it came out in the theaters & while I was in the rest room looking at all the other people in there, I realized I'm not 20-something anymore, like I think I am in my head :) I'm a mom of four with hair turning grey that I cover up every 3 weeks to mask the fact that I'm 40. Because while my face may not tell the tale, those white hairs are a dead giveaway. And they must be banished at all costs.

I'm not sure where I'm going with all this, other than to say that maybe 40 is a bit of a reality check. Am I devastated to be here? No. Do I think I'm missing out on things and life is passing me by? Not one little bit, I couldn't be more content with where we are. I'd like to have a bigger kitchen, but in all the ways that matter I'm pretty happy with the status quo. And can any of us really ask for more than that?? Well - maybe I'd ask for a Miata :)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Cruising! Back to the real world

We're back! We've survived a week at sea with the 6 of us in two tiny cabins. Things went as well as they could, I think - we made these plans 7 months ago hoping for the best, but it's always a gamble. Jason was starting a runny nose when we left last week, and Sarah had some tummy troubles, so the Kid's Club was off limits to them for most of the week. Jason insisted on either holding my hand or being carried most everywhere, and due to the fact that we had 3 shore days in a row, the little two missed naps 3 days in a row, other than what they caught here and there when they just passed out. Sarah finally had a meltdown yesterday in the car when we were about 30 minutes from our house, and I really couldn't blame her.

The ship was amazing, and I know Evie and William had a fantastic time. Evie really enjoyed her birthday on Saturday - and honestly, how could she not? Tomorrow, I will spend my 40th trying to finish costumes, catching up on laundry and trying to get ready for Halloween - such is life :)

I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed my week at sea, even with the fussy little people. I didn't lift a finger to cook a meal, wash a dish, clean a bathroom or make a bed for an entire week. It probably would have been better to wait until S&J were a bit older, but hindsight is always 20/20. Our week could have gone better, but it also could have been a lot worse - no one was sea sick, and nothing happened that would have required us to fly home - good thing, as our passports are still MIA.

I'll leave you with this lovely picture I snapped Friday evening while crossing the balcony from my cabin to Matt's (yes, we split up and shared with the kids - all the adjoining ones were booked so we used the balcony to cross between the rooms & the little people couldn't open the doors - not that I'd have wanted them to...)

I have probably hundreds more pictures & will post them at some point, but for the moment real life is calling and I must answer. Now if only my head would figure out that we're not on a ship anymore and my house would stop rocking. Srsly - it's a bit unnerving :)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Happy Birthday! Evie is turning 9

My big girl turns NINE today! How is that possible? And how lucky is she to celebrate it on a ship somewhere in the Atlantic? Evie gets to choose where we eat dinner tonight, and she's chosen the Tsar's Palace restaurant on board. It will be like dining in a Faberge egg :)

Evie's really having a great time this week & we're seeing lots more of the big girl she will be. It's funny how kids can really rise to the occasion when they choose to.

Happy Birthday Evie, and many more to come!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Cruising! Passport Fiasco

We're cruising! Not without eleventh hour stress though. Somehow, in the two weeks since I'd completed our on-line registration with Norwegian, our passports managed to disappear. Not the kids', just Matt's and mine.

We were really doing great with packing on Saturday- it was 7pm & I had all our clothes packed, dinner was finished & the kids were ready for bed. We were trying to gather all the rest of the stuff- sunscreen, cameras, walkie talkies, and all. I asked Matt to get the passports out of the fire safe & he only came back with the kids'. I then assumed ours were on my desk, because I figured they were with the rest of the cruise info. Nope!

We started searching. And searching, and searching. Matt put the kids to bed while I continued to look. They knew something was going on, and kept coming downstairs. William thought he'd seen them on my desk that afternoon, and that maybe Jason had walked off with them. Well- try getting an answer out of a three year old :) He had lots to tell us, most of it conflicting. Honestly, I don't remember the last time I'd seen them, and have no idea what happened to them.

Matt looked online to see if we were totally hosed or not, and was not encouraged. I called my dad, who's cruising with us, to let him know we were hunting - he checked online too & it looked like we would be ok only with our birth certificates and licenses. Of course at 10pm on a Saturday night, there is no one to call. With sick feelings in our stomachs, we got our paperwork together (thank God they weren't locked up in a bank!), finished packing and went to bed at midnight. We had to leave our house at 6am.

We called Norwegian Sunday morning while on our way to NYC. They confirmed we could board, but that because we'd registered with passports, that might be a hitch at check-in. Also, if anything happened while abroad, we would be unable to fly back into the United States- which is the very reason we'd spent the money on passports for the kids in the first place- go figure.

Feeling slightly better, we finished the drive & got to the port right at 11am, the earliest we could check in. No lines! And no problems. Nobody even blinked. By 1pm, we were on board, and we set sail from New York at 4!

The kids are amazed- Evie said at breakfast Monday morning that she really needed this vacation- and I am finally relaxed and enjoying not having to cook or clean up :) Now just pray that we don't have to make an emergency trip home by air :)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, October 14, 2010


I love October. Cooler weather, brilliant leaves, pumpkin carving, my birthday, and it all culminates with Halloween. I love Halloween! Matt loves Halloween too, and he spends more than a fair amount of energy turning our house into a Haunt - which is why, when we booked this cruise back in the early spring, we questioned whether mid-October was a good time or not. At the time, we figured we just wouldn't plan any new things for the big display, Halloween is on a Sunday so we'd have all day Saturday and most of Sunday to get ready for it. HA! Things never turn out the way you plan, no?

Mayberry decided to have our Trick or Treating on Saturday the 30th this year! Which is great in that the kids won't have to go to school on Monday all tuckered out and crabby, but now we've lost a whole day to prepare for it. Then there's the whole Fire Pit Project going on - we'd hoped to have that finished by Halloween, but that isn't going to happen. Evie and I are doing an Alice in Wonderland theme for our costumes, so I need to turn her into the White Rabbit, and Matt at the 10th hour agreed to be our Mad Hatter. (Did I tell you that my sewing machine died last week as I sat down to get stitching? My kind neighbor loaned me her daughter's - Thank you Kerri!) Which all would have been ok, but for the cruise we stuck in the middle of the month. I know, you're all playing your violins for me in pity, right? :)

So back to my point - I LOVE October & all its glory, but right now I'm in a pressure cooker of my own creation and am looking forward to the more low-key month of November - or at least sailing away from it all for a week :) First thing on my ship-board agenda is a massage. Or a nap. Or a nap while I get a massage. Or a pedicure. Can I get a pedicure while I get a massage while I nap? Will there be wine readily available? Things to think about...

Here's some pictures from our trip to the farm on Columbus Day:
Jason didn't want to cross the bridge with the rest of us and stood there for 10 minutes.
Off to a great start!
We played mini golf!
I love how 3 year olds play mini golf :)
Little Buddy had so much fun - this may have been the first time he's played...
Sarah loved the Spider Web...
Evie's friend Katie came along, the owner of my loaner sewing machine...
William catching some AIR on the jumping pillow!

After keeping the kids cooped up at home this past weekend while we worked on projects, they really had a blast at the farm on Monday & before we left everyone picked out a pumpkin to take home. I think William's weighs 22 lbs, but he was able to pick it up and carry it himself, so who am I to say no?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fire Pit Folly - Part 2

Want to know how to kill a 3 day weekend? Just ask me, I'll give you a project! :)

This was Fire Pit Weekend. Matt had his schedule mostly cleared from Friday afternoon through Monday, with the exception of soccer practice Friday evening and the games Saturday morning. We had no plans other than sewing for me (Halloween costumes!) and fire pit for Matt. He was still doing site work & there really wasn't any way for me to really help, so I spent the weekend doing other things and taking care of little people while he did this...
Laying out the first course of the retaining wall
Setting PVC for leveling the sand layer
Getting ready to do the LIMBO :)
William was given a sharp knife and the job of opening all the bags of sand
He did a terrific job. William is certainly a trooper who will stick with you to the end.
Where we began Monday morning, October 11

Now, while I showed you what he spent all weekend doing in 6 pictures, what you didn't see is the constant measuring, string-setting, and checking for level and slope that he did. All with a twisted up knee that decided to go out at soccer practice Friday evening. There's a reason they call this back-breaking work, under the 1500 lbs of sand is 7500 lbs of gravel - not to mention all the block that needs to be moved. Anywho - by Sunday evening he had the sand leveled and the retaining wall and fire pit laid out. We had high hopes for Monday!

I took the kids to a local farm and pumpkin patch Monday morning, leaving Matt to work on the fire pit. When we got home around 2pm, he was out returning the block saw & tamper we'd rented, as they were due back. He'd spent most of the morning cutting the blocks for the angles on the wall, and I think when he returned he was a bit overwhelmed by what was left & where things stood at that point. Matt and I spent a little bit of time talking and figuring out what to do next, and then I started laying brick down while he worked on the flagstones. We'd made this a bit more complex due to the fact that I wanted to mix in flagstone with the brick- while the flagstones are a lot bigger & cover more area, they aren't the same thickness as the brick & are also uneven, so each piece needs to be leveled individually.
Hey! It's Harried Mom in a picture! And she's helping!
Me and my Handy Helpers
Jason getting in on the brick toting action
Jason was so happy to be carrying bricks back and forth
The duck William made with the cut pieces of block

It was getting dark by 6:45 & we needed to feed the kids and get them to bed for school, so at that point we called it a day. I think we have about 80% of the patio laid, but the remaining 20% includes all the bricks that need to be cut for the edges and to fit in around the flagstone. We would dearly love to have that part finished before the weekend, but time will tell - the days are long and busy, WITHOUT giant projects like this :) All I know is, I will be very very glad to leave everything behind for a week as we leave on Sunday for a cruise to the Bahamas. Well - not everything, the kids are coming with us :) All the same, I'm looking forward to not having to cook, clean, wash a dish or make a bed for an ENTIRE WEEK. Wahoo! I just have to make it to Sunday with my sanity intact. Wish me luck.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Fire Pit Folly - Part 1

I have the most awesome-est husband in the world. It's like I have my own personal Field of Dreams. If I mention it, he will build it. Amazing! Seriously - if I mention that something would be nice, if he's on board with it, he takes the ball and runs all the way. He is the hunter to my gatherer and - I may be completely off on this, but it's what I've observed - he loves to hunt stuff down and drag it home in true man fashion. We don't do things halfway here at House of Harried Mom. It's a little crazy.

Last month when we were planning William's birthday party, we decided to do a backyard movie and a camp out. I thought it would be nice to have a fire pit! We've never roasted marshmallows in our yard, because it always seemed silly to me to gather around the gas grill and do it - even though as a kid we roasted them over charcoal briqquetes - YUM! So I started google-ing 'fire pit' and emailing links to Matt. I'm sure he LOVED me adding another project to the list :) This is sort of what I initially pictured, only even simpler.
Really I was just thinking a ring of stones. But we have a hill in our backyard & we didn't want to waste any flat space so I started looking for pictures of fire pits built into hills...

I guess I can see now why we got a bit carried away. Needless to say, this did not get completed in time for William's party.

Anywho - Matt took a trip to the stone store by himself & brought back some stuff for us to peruse. A week or two later, we'd placed an order, rented a Dingo, and he started ripping up somewhere around 150 square feet of our back yard :)
These pictures were from September 29th. Figures that we haven't had any rain for 3 months, and we decide to do some work in the backyard and it starts raining. Matt worked in the drizzle for hours that afternoon, moving all that dirt.

By Sunday, October 3, he was ready to start marking out the pit, retaining wall and small patio. William was only too happy to help!
Actually the first thing he said to me after school Tuesday was, 'Is Dad working in the backyard??' William is all about knowing how things work, and helping with stuff like this.
After Matt took a nap next to the dirt hole (hee hee! he's really looking at it from ground level) and made sure it was the size and depth we needed, he shoveled in the aggregate for the base of the patio. By hand, using a wheelbarrow to move it from where the delivery truck dumped it in the side yard. All 5000 lbs of it. Yes, 5000 POUNDS. And he's decided that it's not enough, we need 5000 more. That would be 5 tons of rock total. I think I owe him a cake. Or something.
Anyway! That's what it looks like right now! Today they delivered the fire pit kit, block for the retaining wall, and the brick and flagstone for the patio. I really hope this looks like what I have pictured in my head :)
So I guess you know what we're doing this weekend! Hopefully we are extending the time we can use our back yard, as well as creating a space that we can enjoy as a family for many years to come. Stay tuned...

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sarah turns 4

My beauty turned 4 today. Where has the time gone? I know as parents we all say that - how did they get to be so big so fast? And I realize - 4 is not THAT big - but Sarah acts a lot bigger than 4 sometimes. I wish you could hear her talk, she uses the biggest words in her little Cindy Brady lisp. Grandmom mailed her a much-desired Zhu Zhu pet and Sarah kept going on about how adorable it was. Our kids have always had big vocabularies and spoken well for their age, and because of that it's been hard for me to remember at times that they are still so small - I'm often baffled when they ACT like the little kids they are, because I expect more from them based on their speech. Anyway. I think Sarah really enjoyed her birthday - we started the weekend on Friday by having a few friends over for lunch and cupcakes - pink, with sprinkles, just like the picture on her Strawberry Shortcake sticker...
On Sunday Sarah spent HOURS outside playing with William. These two had so much fun together, he really was a terrific big brother to her all day long. If only every day they could get along so well :)
William dragged her in the wagon up the hill in our backyard over and over and over again. Srsly. They were out there for HOURS doing this.
Sometimes she rode down alone, sometimes he hopped on for the trip down...
...and sometimes they tipped over! No harm done though, they were laughing the whole time.
The birthday girl gets to choose her own dinner and cake on her birthday, and Sarah went with Macaroni and Cheese and Cheesecake. Let's just say I am all cheesed out now. I think she was expecting Kraft in the blue box, but I tried to do a little better than that & made up a batch from a recipe, along with some chicken and a veggie. Need to find a little balance here, no?
I think she likes it!
So that was Sarah's big day! She really is a sweet, sweet girl with just the brightest personality. Sarah brings a smile to my face every day in one way or another, and I look forward to watching her grow and mature, and become the lovely person she's destined to be. Happy Birthday Sarah!

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